Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tim Hawkins - A Homeschool Family

This was sent to me by a fellow homeschooling mom, and I just loved it. Mike and I explored more of Tim Hawkins' comedy online, both on youtube and his website - he's very funny on a variety of topics (with clean humor). If you need some good laugh therapy - do check him out. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Beatles - Birthday

December 15, 2007

Click the above for your listening pleasure while I tell you that "TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!"

I knew I would have a good day when while still in the shower this morning, the shower curtain was slowly drawn back slightly by my darling husband who held out a fork with a chunk of brownie on the end ... fresh from the oven still oozing and warm to wish me a "happy b-day"! Fresh baked brownies for breakfast (!??), certainly not the norm here, but a fun and romantic surprize to be sure! He's just that way sometimes, could I be more lucky?

I had a very nice day, that included being sung "Happy Birthday" to at church potluck, Christmas caroling, and an enjoyable Christmas party that I helped plan and coordinate at the church.

This evening I am alone and will soon watch a movie I have been wanting to see. My kids are having a slumber party in one of their bedrooms, while Mike took our extra kiddos for a visit with their mother - they departed this evening (late) after the Christmas party and will return Sunday night.

Maybe after I conclude this post I'll enjoy my pan of birthday brownies, or some of the scrumptious chocolates I received as gifts from my crew. Or maybe I'll listen to my lastest addition to my Christmas CD collection (a b-day gift tradition since my first year with Mike)... who knows - maybe I'll just go all wild and crazy and hop in bed all by myself and sleep in late while the kids gorge themselves on candy from the Christmas party loot..?!

After all.. I SAY IT's MY BIRTHDAY!

Who else may claim..."It's My Birthday too, yeah!"... you may wonder? Since you asked, one famous fellow I've always known shares my birthday is Tim Conway, legendary funny man from my youth. Name doesn't ring a bell.. see the post below.

Tim Conway the Dentist

I was reminded of this skit recently - I had seen it years ago when my family watched The Carol Burnett Show every week.

Happy B-Day to Tim today too!

Does having seen this air originally date me at all? Whew! Sure feels like it!

Happy Christmas music video by John Lennon:

This song has spoken to me each Christmas for a long as I can remember. Recently we heard it on the radio and my son Christopher commented, "That was a really good song Mom" and I knew he understood the deeper meaning held within the lyrics and I was moved by his sensitivity. I have never mentioned my fondness for this song to anyone previously, so his comment was genuine, and all his own.

Tonight I did not expect to discover the film above while exploring what was to be found on youtube to accompany this music. I thought long about whether to post this video on my blog... or not, due to the upsetting and disturbing images it includes... but ultimately I decided that is the very reason it should be shared with others.

As much as I enjoy celebrating the birth of Christ each Christmas, it is of utter importance that we not stop there, but remember the lessens he taught and the message he preached during his life here; and when I take pause to look beyond my own "little world" into the much bigger one that demands all of our attention, I long for the day Christ will return again and there will be no more tears.

May this serve as a reminder for all of us who live in a country where it is easy to forget about the war, famine, poverty, and weeping "over there" that so many suffer everyday - even Christmas Day.

" And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Rev. 21:4

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Speeding Ticket Rant - AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

There are many reasons I utilize this blog, mostly to record our life events, sometimes to journal for myself (occasionally forgetting others may be reading it), and rarely to vent - like today. Since I am the only adult in my little world right now until Mike arrives home for supper, and then there is no time for adult discussion for hours anyway, dear blog (and readers) today you are my outlet for frustration... you may wish to move on to another entry if at this point you don't wish to be privy to my keen irritability at this moment.

But, in hopes that I can "get it off my chest" and move on with my day and care for the kids without being a nasty beast.. here we go...

Reasons why my day was ALREADY rotten...

1) My two nephews spent the morning being cranky & testy towards each other during breakfast and down the driveway to the bus.... nice start to the day.

2) Spent the morning preparing for tribal court at the beginning of next week, a very pivotal hearing is planned. As always an emotional, stressful process.

3) Trying to get house clean, schoolwork done, and ready all for church social and supper I am helping organize for Saturday night before leaving late morning to take Justin to the dentist at 11:30am.

4) Receive a call from Justin's teacher that he has had a "meltdown" at school related to the upcoming visit with his mother this weekend. He is missing and cannot be located at present moment. All students are looking for him, and I need to come in. This is the first time this has ever happened since him coming to live with us, so I am surprised, concerned, and irritated all at once.

5) Yank Ruby out of her bath with wet hair and get she & Fawn ready to dart to the school, while assigning my three oldest children lessens and chores to do while I'm gone.

6) Trying to leave, and Fawn's preschool bus shows up, blocking me in the driveway and I need to get out and spend 10 minutes explaining that Fawn does not go to preschool on Fridays and correct all paperwork on the spot, standing in the cold (while the driver remains warm inside the bus and my two itty-bitty's wait in the van).

7) Arrive at the school and get debriefed by Justin's teacher as to the details of "the event". Am still being informed as I realize I am supposed to be standing in the dental clinic at that very moment and it's across town - which in Brainerd due to the stop lights set to keep the 87% elderly population that resides here driving at a comfortable pace equate to taking FOREVER to get there. I depart - driving the speed limit regardless, and arrive 20 minutes late.

8) I leave appointment with a boy who has a mouth full of gauze and is even more sullen than when I picked him up - still wondering what is up with him. Make 2 fast pit stops on the way home for items that were needed ASAP.

9) NOW... the clincher.. I am driving home (the legal speed limit) and am about 1 mile from my house. Ruby had mentioned a few times earlier she had to pee - now she really has to go. I speed up to just under 65 to get that extra mile home covered quick, and who turns the corner... yes... it's Robocop... with a short circuit, I kid you not. After he saunters back to his vehicle, takes a nap there and decides to finally return, he hands me a ticket for $117 and says "You're a really good driver, nothing on your record." I wanted to say... "Gee, thanks for the break, Merry Christmas and be sure to ask for a sense of humor from Santa", or "hey, maybe since you seem to have nothing better to do, maybe you'd like to clean the urine off my daughter's booster seat now before you head out?" All I could do was remain silent and look at the ticket in utter disbelief - I have not received one in over 11 years and was dazzled by the inflation in prices I was now subject to.

I returned home (about a 1 minute drive), slapped the ticket on the fridge with the rest of the papers and forms to be dealt with ASAP, put Ruby back in the tub and made lunch for the kids. I now need to close this rant session, do some deep breathing and have a counseling session with Justin in hopes of finding out what is in his head today.

Breathe in... breathe out....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Family Weekend Getaway with the MN Orchestra's Sleigh Ride Performance

This past weekend we had a special family getaway to Minneapolis that included attending the MN Orchestra's Family Christmas Concert Sleigh Ride on Sunday afternoon.

I was blessed enough to WIN 6 free tickets in early October, after trying to purchase them in August, to find them sold out for all nine performances - and was placed on a cancellation waiting list. I was incredibly disappointed when I thought we would be unable to attend, then was elated when I received an email several weeks later notifying me of winning FREE tickets - it was certainly a "God thing", because I NEVER win anything... ever - and the email was discovered at the end of a particularly challenging day. I felt it was a direct gift from Him to me to lift my spirits and remind me he cares about even the little things that matter to us.

Justin, MJ, and Fawn spent the weekend with a lovely foster care couple here in the Brainerd area that have a horse ranch (40 total) and 5 dogs. This is an older couple with adult children who adore kids. Their home was so decked out in Christmas decor I was even amazed! The kids of course had an absolute fabulous time and are asking when they can visit them again...

Meanwhile, our now "small" family of six set out in the seemingly empty 12 passenger van to Minneapolis where we spent the weekend in the home of our good friends Jim & Jan Hiner. We never tire of their company and our kids adore them... plus Jan makes the best vegan food - how can you go wrong? We were honored to help Jan celebrate her 52nd b-day on Sunday morning with a lovely vegan brunch that Jim did the majority of the cooking for.

While there, we attended the church where Jim is the pastor and got to enjoy his sermon, we also spent time shopping Saturday evening at a fun toy store, a fabulous book store, Maegers and Quinn, that I highly recommend, and the Whole Foods Market and Byerly grocery stores for fun food.

On Sunday we attended the concert which was full to capacity, and were in the fifth row on the floor! Great seats! We have enjoyed the Fargo Symphony Orchestra which is very good on many occasion, and also the Heartland Symphony that travels through our current area.. BUT I must say that the MN Orchestra is without a doubt exceptional - so much so, they were just nominated for a Grammy Award for their CD release of Beethoven's 9th.

The concert was extremely enjoyable and it's theme was sleigh ride songs from around the globe throughout history. There were also other pieces intermingled within and amazing performances by a ballerina from the MN Dance Theater and dancers performing to a Russian Dance, as well as enormous puppets (the kind with people inside of them), and the String Students from MacPhail Center for Music joined in on the last piece (Beethoven's 9th). As a former Suzuki method family, it was amazing to see between 80-100 children of all ages play the violin beautifully alongside the Grammy nominated orchestra! Inspiring!

All of us enjoyed the entire concert immensely, little Ruby was absolutely transfixed the entire time. Following the concert we ate at a pizza kitchen, then hit a coffee house and savored delicious cups of hot minty cocoa (w/soy) topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy canes. Can you say... kids gotta BUZZ????

Then the journey home - listening to Christmas songs all the way...
"oh what fun it is to ride in a.... great big empty van! Hey!"

Notes about the concert:

Sleigh rides guided by many composers will help you travel from one country to the next. In Russia, you'll find highlights from The Nutcracker. In Germany, watch as In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre brings to life the “Evening Prayer” from Hansel and Gretel. Celebrate the New Year as they do in Japan, with the stirring finale to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, featuring a “chorus” of young violinists.

Sleigh Ride
December 9th, 2:00 Orchestra Hall

Leroy Anderson Sleigh Ride

Sergei Prokofiev Troika, from Lieutenant Kijé Suite

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Selections from The Nutcracker Suite
Miniature Overture • March
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy* • Trépak (Russian Dance)*
Minnesota Dance Theatre*

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart The Sleigh Ride, from Three German Dances

Englebert Humperdinck Evening Prayer and Dream Pantomime, from Hansel and Gretel
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre

Johann Strauss, Sr. Radetzky March

arr. Percy Faith/orch. Lee Norris Brazilian Sleigh Bells

Ludwig van Beethoven Finale, from Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Choral
String Students from MacPhail Center for Music

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Steven the Vegan (G) Version

I LOVED this video when I saw it and wanted to share it with everyone - and was elated when I saw someone had created a "G" version! Enjoy a glimpse into the life of a vegan, with my buddy Steven! And yes, you do get questions like these believe it or not!

A Treasure Hunt At The Christmas Tree Farm

On November 26th, we set out to a nearby Christmas Tree farm to select the Amick tree for 2007. We did not tell the kids where we were headed, only that it was a surprise and they needed to dress warm. We met our friend Marlene at the farm to assist her in getting her tree as well and help her get it up in her home (a hard thing to do alone with those frustrating Christmas tree stands!)

After hiking about the farm we decided on a... ummmm.... a VERY lovely tree. I will let the pictures above tell the story.... needless to say, we are all enjoying our majestic tree (all but Dad I guess, who is having claustrophobic attacks).
This is our families second year visiting the Christmas Tree Farm and it is so much more fun and special than just picking a tree out from the boy scout stand, or the Nodak parking lot as we had done in Fargo for so many years.
It's fun to march about in the evergreen forest looking for just the right tree and then witnessing the process of cutting it down, putting it in the mesh and getting it on the van. We also dig the great crew of teenage elves that work there every year. They are really a great group of kids who have a cheery attitude and make it all the more fun... plus they do all the work, you simply stand and point (that is until you get home, then Mike becomes the elf... but I still get to stand and point!)
Note: Eye Spy with my little eye the kid in the Christmas tree hat in the photos...a.k.a. Gabriella who wears her new hat with brimming joy, but was especially excited to hike about in it during the tree hunt!

Move Over Chicken Noodle... here comes something even better...Hotdog Soup!

Illness at the Amick house struck Saturday night, November 24th, while we were having a fun evening out at the home of the Olson family, who have become good friends of ours. We were enjoying an evening of board games and conversation, when Justin began to complain of a tummy ache. He hung in there all night while we visited, spending most of his time on the sofa - but vomited shortly after arriving home. Thus begun the plague of stomach pain, nausea, headache, and fever that swept through our home afflicting all but M.J. over the course of nine days. We seemed to go down in sets of two, then experiencing a mild recovery period followed by a relapse = fun. Through all of this, the kids had very sensitive stomachs that did not tolerate much, so we stuck to simple foods like... toast for awhile. Towards the end of the week, I had a desire to make a soup that would be power packed with nutrition, yet appealing to them, since they had lost much of their appetites. It was then that I discovered an idea sent to my very own email address via my Mothering Magazine weekly email newsletter... Potato Kale Soup (a.k.a. "Hotdog Soup") I looked it over and thought it was just the thing I needed to spark their interest in a healthy meal, so I called in my shopping list to Mike and set to task when he arrived home after work with the goods.

Needless to say, it was a HUGE success and the entire HUGE soup pot was devoured with requests for more. It was deemed the new "favorite" soup by several of the kids. We've made it twice already (the second time w/o the hotdogs, just adding more veggies and they still loved it!)

I have shared the recipe below along with the adaptations I made. The recipe is from one of Cathe Olson's cookbooks. I have her book The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook: Whole Foods To Nourish Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women - And Their Families which I love and cannot recommend enough - so I am always game to give one of her recipes a try.

Potato-Kale Soup

By Cathe Olson

We call this dish "Hotdog Soup." Kids love the veggie-dog chunks.

6 medium potatoes peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)

2 cloves garlic, minced (I added extra)

2 stalks celery, diced

1 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

6 cups water or vegetable broth (I used homemade veggie broth, since I was going for maximum nutrients)

1 cup minced kale (I added extra, as well as some fresh spinach and put it through the food processor first to make the pieces very small... impossible to pick out of the soup!)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (I added extra)

1/2 cup powdered milk (dairy or soy) dissolved in 1/2 cup water (I used regular soy milk from the carton)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

6 Tofu Pups or other vegetarian hot dogs, sliced

1 tablespoon miso (I used light colored miso - could be left out if you have none)

*I also added big chunks of carrots, then removed them when cooked, mashed them, then added them back to the pot
* In addition to the veggie broth, I tossed in a few Rapunzel brand vegan vegetable broth cubes for added flavor

Place potatoes, garlic, celery, salt, and bay leaf (and carrots if using) in large pot with water or broth. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaf. Add kale, nutritional yeast, milk powder/milk, and pepper. Mash until smooth. Stir in hot dogs. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in miso.

Makes: 6 servings

Recipe from Cathe Olson's Simply Natural Baby Food: Easy Recipes Your Infant and Toddler Will Love. GOCO Publishing, 2003.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pepper Love - A Boy & His Dog

Some of you may remember a few years ago the joy our family experienced in being able to bring a dog into our family for Christopher, who had dreamed and hoped to have one since he could say the word "dog". Due to Christopher's pet allergies it was not something we could consider for many years, and because of his simple hope and strong faith we began to work with his (and our) diets and doing as many things as we could to prepare his immune system to be able to handle a dog. For many months we looked at and planned to adopt a greyhound, or another short haired dog. We lived in Moorhead at the time and could not even consider an outside type dog and had a small house, so we needed something small, or at least lazy. God as always, had other plans for us though...

Our very dear friend is a strong animal advocate and volunteers much of her time to the organization "Adopt A Pet". She often fosters various dogs and shares stories with us about her experiences, so my kids would often view the Adopt-A-Pet website to see the animals up for adoption and be able to converse with her about them - but we did not plan to adopt from them. One day, for some reason I cannot recall I decided to take a peak at the site for fun and saw a photo and brief description of a sheltie mix named Pepper, I cannot explain why, but I knew that this dog was THE dog. When these experiences happen to me, I can only attribute them to God's leading.. which this certainly was.

When we learned about Pepper, she sounded like the perfect personality we needed, but what about all that hair... and dander?? When we met her we all agreed she was wonderful and she was perfect, except for..all that hair... and dander? When we had her come stay with us things started off well, but slowly Christopher's allergies began to creep up on him until Mike and I were very concerned that this was not going to work out and that the trial period would be just that...a trial period that would end with a broken hearted little boy, a risk we had been hesitant to take. I remember praying for my little boy, whom I would find sleeping beside his new best friend on the linoleum floor in the kitchen in the middle of the night - he had already come to love her so. How could we take her away after he had waited for so long for her?

We tried it all, special shampoos, sprays, the list was long and none of it very effective. Then my dear friend on a whim ran into a woman who treats animals naturally and also worked with their owners for the very type of problems we were experiencing. We decided to make an appointment. To make a long story short, her work was nothing but miraculous and after a week of treatment Christopher was able to coexist with HIS dog w/o problems and was remarkably improved around other animals for short periods. Pepper was with us to stay, and it was an answer to Christopher's longest, dearest prayer.

Now Pepper has been a member of our family for almost three years and it is hard to imagine life without her. She has become an outside dog since our move to Brainerd and now thinks she's a wolf... continually patrolling our property and scaring the pants off of anyone who dares step foot on our borders (human or animal). She has become a second mother to the children and escorts them on all their bike rides and hikes, making certain they are safe. Her favorite game is Pepper- soccer, in which she is the star and doesn't like to share the ball. Her current naughty habit is "haul the shoes and boots out of the garage & into the yard and hide them from the owner"... we all just love that!??

As for Christopher, I am always proud of him and admire his tender care of her; daily changing her water - 3-4 times in the cold months due to freezing, feeding her happily, checking for and removing ticks, taking time to play with her even in nasty cold weather, and always and forever being her advocate. His loyalty and love for her is paralleled only by hers for him. They are truly... a match made in heaven. God hears the prayers of even the youngest who come to him in faith.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving with My My Knee Immobilizer

November 16th held a most unexpected event for me. It began as any other Friday in which our family gets Mike off to work, then my nephews off on the bus, then the remaining six of us dart off to our homeschool co-op for the day, except this day would be different. During the P.E class in which I am a co-teacher, we are teaching the children the game of volleyball... one of my all-time favorites! Volleyball is MY game and always has been since 8th grade - I was co-captain of my varsity team senior year and was involved in the college program at MSU. I was enjoying focusing on it in the P.E.class for the homeschool group... until that day. It's amazing how everything can change in one simple movement that does not even take up a minute of time in your life, but can affect the rest of your life thereafter. Quite simply, I jumped in the air, I landed on my feet and my knee exploded leaving me to collapse onto the floor feeling intense pain that I had not recalled since i had broken the same leg in 3 places in elementary school decades previously. All pain, not able to see anything but blackness and stars, and feeling nauseated I focused on the deep breathing techniques I have used in labor and taught for years in the childbirth classes Mike & I present. I could do nothing more.. except pray - which I did repeatedly for pain relief and repeatedly that my leg was not broken or seriously damaged. Although people were talking to me, I had great difficulty responding with more than a head nod or shake and then I was alone and in prayer again... suddenly there was a incredibly substantial decrease in the pain and I was able to retain composure and open my eyes and actually see again; what I saw moved my heart and I understood instantly why my pain had so suddenly subsided. I looked upon the entire student group and the teachers halted from the volleyball activities and joined in prayer on my behalf... it is a moment I will not ever forget and a permanent testimony to the power of prayer that will remain in my mind forever.

To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with damaging/tearing my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in the middle back of my knee and put in a knee immobilizer to prevent further damage in the area during healing. This monstrosity was quite something to wear and while probably helping my injured knee, was sure taking it's toll on my good knee and hip due to the fact I had to walk around like Quazimoto.

Now with Thanksgiving soon approaching and me being "Gimpy" as my dear Brainerd friend newly adorned me, with doctor's orders to elevate and ice the owie many times daily, I was wondering how I was going to plan the holiday and cook. I had no choice but to call in.. "the gang". I had them get the best cookbooks off the shelf and we made our menu of regular family favorite food items and then I set them to work finding recipes for the items that we experiment a bit with each year, then we formed the shopping list - this is where Mike came in! We also had fun sitting and making place cards for everyone and reading some holiday stories and poems.

Thanksgiving day turned out to be very lovely. I had plenty of help in the kitchen, and with the cleaning; then we had a quiet day together which included a short Thanksgiving worship service here at home after our delicious feast! In the evening we broke out the Christmas movie collection and got off to a good start viewing favorites.

Interestingly, during the week leading up to Thanksgiving in our evening family worship time I came across something I was reading to the kids that struck me as quite profound. Ann Hibbard in her book Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in Your Holidays and Special Occasions says the following: "Yet we don't always feel thankful.... When hardship comes, the natural reaction is one of anger, resentment, and complaining. Thanksgiving seems absurd at such a time. God's word, however does not command us to feel thankful, rather to give thanks. Thanksgiving is something one can do, whether one feels like it or not. It is a discipline, like prayer. Someone once said 'Pray when you feel like it, pray when you don't feel like it, and pray until you feel like it.' The same can be said about thanksgiving. It is an act of will, a recognition of God's goodness and provision in our lives. Thanksgiving is to take place in our solitary prayer, in corporate worship, in casual conversation, and in our thought life as we go about our day. Emotions sometimes accompany thanksgiving. More often they follow the act of giving thanks. Many times the feelings simply are not there at all - the business of giving thanks is a mere act of obedience, nothing more, nothing less."
I found that this passage hit me over the head like a 2'x4' because it had been that very day that I had been at the doctor, received the knee brace, and was told that surgery was probably necessary if I wished to play sports or be active again with my children... or quite simply, be able to do anything where I needed to jump. My half hour drive home from the clinic was one of many emotions - not very many thankful ones (but a few). That night when further contemplating what I had read, I realized that once again God was forcing me to have a stopover. I simply had not been doing it enough (or ever) on my own - so here I was physically forced to. What required my full attention so much? Many things, but mostly, just me I think. In all my years of sports and lifetime of physical activeness I had never sustained an injury until now... was it because I am just getting old (that nasty b-day creeping up again in December ya know) or was there something more to it?

My knee continues to heal and I abandoned the knee immobilizer early before I crippled my good leg... but the doctor forgave me! I have more appointments set up for MRI's, evaluations and physical therapy. I continue to be "Gimpy" and have discomfort, but I continue to try to find reasons to thank God for this situation and pray for his healing hand on me and guidance in the choices that lie before me.

Amick Thanksgiving Menu

Vegetarian Turkey Slices in Vegan Gravy
Mashed Potatoes with Vegan Chicken Gravy
Sue's Super Stuffing (adapted from Grandma Julie's recipe)
Fruited Wild Rice Salad
Spiced Sweet Potato & Sliced Tart Apple Bake
Herbed Bread
Cranberry Relish (our Amick family recipe tradition)
Sparkling Pomegranate Juice
Egg Nog Pumpkin Pie (Sue's recipe)
Pecan Pie (Grandma Helen's secret blue ribbon prize winning recipe)
Homemade Whipped Topping

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Peek-A-Boo in the Woods

A Blessing for the Woods
by Michael S. Glaser

Before I leave, almost without noticing, before I cross the road and head toward what I have intentionally postponed—
Let me stop to say a blessing for these woods: for crows barking and squirrels scampering, for trees and fungus and multi-colored leaves,
for the way sunlight laces with shadows through each branch and leaf of tree, for these paths that take me in, for these paths that lead me out.
Autumn Apple Tree
by: Christopher
Twice a year we
Reap your
Everlasting harvest and
Enjoy it.

Wonderful Tree
by: Gabriella
Tree, Tree
Wonderful Tree,
I like You.

Tree Songs

by: Elliot

Tap - Tap says the woodpecker in the tree

Robins sing beautiful songs

Everyday, every night
Every bird tries to do their best to make the world bright.
Contemplating Trees
by: Susan
Tickling me as sunlight glits through your leaves and branches
Rewarding me with the fruits of your labor
Every season endured, yet continuing to grow strong
Elevating me to remember your creator and mine.

Visiting the Local Fire Station by Gabriella

In October Dad took us to the fire station and we had a lot of fun! We got balloons and we got to spray the big fire house, and go inside a large fire truck. It was too bad that Mom and MJ had to stay home because MJ was sick.

I learned that when you hear a fire or see smoke you should only roll on the floor and touch the door and if it is hot, open the window and jump out and you and your family should meet at the end of the driveway.

I learned firefighters wear a big red suit, boots, oxygen mask, and big hat, and they use a huge hose to spray the house until the fire is out. They need the fire truck because the hose is hooked onto it and a long, long ladder to climb on to rescue people.

My favorite part of the visit was spraying the fire hose!

Homeschool Fieldtrip to the Science Museum - A Day in Pompeii - told by Elliot

Near the end of September our entire family went to the Science Museum in Minneapolis for a fieldtrip. We went there because we will be studying Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome in our homeschool this year and the main exhibit on display at the museum was A Day in Pompeii along with an omnitheater film on Greece.
We began the day with the film about Greece. There is a huge, huge theater in the museum that is bigger than a regular movie theater, this is where we saw the film. It was all about Greece and how they found the homes and remains of people from ancient times. The movie had many images of volcanoes erupting. Being in this theater is kind of strange at first because it seems like you are moving when you are not because the screen is so big.
Next we went to the Pompeii exhibit where we saw a whole bunch old, old dishes, coins with pictures of ancient leaders from Greece and Rome, & a huge balance they used for weighing things at the market. There were loaves of bread, olives and other food that had been preserved in the ruins. There was a movie you could watch about life in Pompeii and how the volcano erupted. At the very end there were body casts of humans and animals that were discovered. Before going to the exhibit, we watched a movie at home on Pompeii and we were able to see some of the casts that we saw in the movie. Lastly we looked at a display about the different volcanoes in the world today and where they are located on the world map.

Before leaving the museum, we took Paster Hiner (a friend who met us there), and Justin, MJ, and Fawn to see some of our favorite things in the rest of the museum, including the dinosaur area, the tugboat, the giant fish scale and more.

After we left the science museum we went with Pastor Hiner to a really good pizza place that even had vegan pizza with vegan cheese. We were sure to try the Greek pizza (to keep with the theme of the day), as well as a BBQ, a vegan cheese w/olives, and another one I can't remember!

A Modern Day Saint Nick Story by Christopher

The following is a story Christopher wrote for his writing class. It was a lesson on how to create a story from a set of three minimally sketched drawings. The pictures he had to work with were 1) A person snorkeling in water, 2) A law officer beckoning the person towards him, and 3) The officer leading the person away in the background of the drawing with a water fountain in the foreground. He came up with the following story to turn in, and for fun we searched the Internet for pictures to post here to accompany it... we came up with some very interesting images indeed... but decided to use the one you see here.

A Modern Day Saint Nick
by Christopher Amick

One night in New York City, an Italian man named Giovanni was snorkeling in a public fountain because he was stealing coins that people had tossed in. He happened to look up and saw a police officer beckoning to him with one hand, and with the other he held a pistol pointed directly at him! Hopelessly Giovanni just stared at the officer dumbfoundedly until the law enforcer fired his pistol causing a bullet to zip by just two tiny inches from his face! It was so alarmingly close that it actually hit his snorkel tube causing Giovanni to to have water fill his mouth. Energetically he spat his water in the policeman's face. Giovanni was confused; he could not figure what he had done wrong since he swam in the fountains in Italy often.

The angry officer kept his gun raised while Giovanni asked his pardon, but before he could do anything else the officer had him by the scruff of his neck and was dragging him along when suddenly Giovanni howled "Wait! I need my hat!" Then he quickly snatched up a Santa Claus hat that was lying beside the fountain. Next the law man put Giovanni in the back of his car and drove him off to police headquarters. Upon arrival he was taken to a room to be searched - even though he was only wearing swimming trunks?????? They discovered coins from the fountain hidden in his speedos (which had a secret hip pocket sewn into them)! After this he was taken to jail until the time of his trial, sadly his orange prisoner suit did not match his Santa hat.

A few weeks later at his trial he explained that each year on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) he honors the memory of this special man by placing gold coins in the shoes of poor children just as St. Nicholas had done. Since he was from Italy and only had coins from there, he realized at the last minute they'd be useless to American children, so he desperately began trying to gather American coins. Noticing the fountain and all that it held he decided to collect them to distribute. The judge was so deeply touched by the man's kind intentions that he set him free from bondage to follow in the footsteps of the great Saint Nick.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Painting Nudes or Painting in the Nude?

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
--Pablo Picasso
Tonight we whipped up the paint and the kids began a holiday gift project for special loved ones. They were painting a wooden family tree photo frame into which we will place an assortment of the photos we took on our official family photo shoot back in October. Since we did not have paint shirts for all involved it was time to just strip down and follow-up with baths and showers for those who needed it.

All the kids enjoyed the activity, but I'd have to say Ruby did most of all. This little girl just loves to paint and will do so for very lengthy amounts of time. There is not a week that passes when someone from homeschool co-op does not approach me and share with me how amazed they are with her artistic tendencies as well as her attention to detail and level of focus/patience during her classes. Ahh, the wonder child? Future Artist? Who knows.. but she sure does love it!

This evening, even though she had painted her entire tree completely (ALONE and better than several of the other kids) she continued to paint and touch-up for another 30 minutes after the rest of the kids were long gone from the scene. We finally had to drag her away for Pj's & storytime. Below is a short video of Ruby during this evening's family project... enjoy.

Here is a video of: Ruby The Artist!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Amick "Nog" Creation

Are you an egg nog fan? I most certainly am, and Mike and I have a history of nog drinks being a part of our relationship since our first year of dating. It all began when my roommate and I were hosting a Christmas party for friends and co-workers and coming up with a menu. Mike and I decided to try our hand at making homemade egg nog (w/o the alcohol) and it turned out so yummy and was such a hit that a tradition was born!

For several years we used that traditional recipe that took over a dozen eggs, and all the other usual ingredients with some rum flavoring, and it continued to be enjoyed at the yearly holiday parties and gatherings that we regularly took huge batches of it too.

As years passed, and children came along, we weren't so interested in giving our kids a drink so full of raw eggs so we began buying some of the egg nogs sold at the store. These were okay and the kids enjoyed them as part of winter traditions. Soon, with the elimination of milk from our diets, we converted to the Silk brand "Soy Nog" which we have been enjoying for the past several years; but yet, Mike and I were still mourning our original nog recipe that was far superior to anything store bought.

In October I accidentally created a recipe that has revolutionized our family's "Nog Experience". It has become such a favorite with ALL SEVEN CHILDREN, as well as Mike & I that we felt we must share it in case any of you are searching for a more satisfying, delicious, and healthy nog option that will knock your socks off! I have been told it is "THE BEST NOG" that any of them have ever had AND they request it several times a week for dessert, therefore I gladly make it... when you see the ingredients you'll know why!

It began when one day I cooked up a big batch of butternut squash and then decided not to serve it with the meal, so needed to find a use for it the next day. Somehow a smoothie recipe popped into my mind that I had made over a year ago that called for sweet potatoes and I thought I would find the recipe and see what I could possibly do with the squash instead. When I looked over the recipe I decided to give it a try and make a few changes - and of course since I was preparing enough for 9 people, I do not measure and just dump and add stuff until I think it tastes good. When I did this, what I created was incredibly different from what we originally had the year prior, and to my astonishment it tasted like... egg nog!??? I said nothing about the ingredients and served it up to see what kind of response I might get from the gang, (I did not even mention that I thought it tasted like egg nog). The feedback I received was one of overwhelming delight. Everyone loved it (Mike too) and declared it the "Best nog ever!"

We continue to make it and they do not grow tired of it... maybe we'll try it out on guests during the holidays to see how others may like it. I also shared it with my childbirth students who were struggling to get their orange veggies into their diets. This is a fabulously healthy, yet super yummy concoction. Don't be put off by the ingredients... the final product is surprising!

Below is the original recipe, accompanied by my changes. I do not follow the measurements and add way more squash than called for. I also add more ice when I want to make it cold and frosty (the best!). Throw it all in your vita-mix or blender and enjoy! Make it your desired thickness.

Amick Nog

1 medium sweet potato, cooked peeled, and cooled (I have used butternut or delacata squash thus far, but plan to experiment with pumpkin and sweet potatoes)

1/2 cup milk (I use Silk brand Soymilk with DHA added)

1 banana (I use FROZEN bananas)

1/2 -1 apple (core removed)

1/8 tsp nutmeg (I use freshly ground or good quality pre-ground, and add extra to taste)

1 Tbs honey or other sweetener to taste (I use raw honey)

1 tsp Vanilla extract

2 cups ice cubes

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Christopher's Report on Cephalopods (If You Don't Know What They Are - You'd Better Read it!)

What Makes Cephalopods Unique?
By: Christopher Amick

Octupi, squids, cuttlefish, and nautiluses... these are the creatures who make up the species known as cephalopods. Amazingly cephalopods can quickly change their color, texture and shape, as well as defend themselves using ink that their bodies create,or by squeezing through minuscule spaces! They have three hearts and blue blood making them very different from other species such as mammals. Zipping along the ocean floor they can propel themselves at a tremendous speed! Regarding location, cephalopods can live in all oceans, no matter how yawning, or in any temperature of water. Cephalopods are more intelligent than their variety of cousins the oysters, clams, and garden slugs; yet their senses rival ours. Many sagas and epics have been inspired because of cephalopods since recorded history, including the classic story 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which stars a giant squid. Cephalopods are indeed a unique group of creatures.

The year has turned its circle, The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in and chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures, The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway- Thanksgiving comes again!

I cannot believe we are already this far into November! The days pass by so quickly as an adult, unlike childhood when time seemed to crawl along at a painstakingly miserable pace.

The calender has been filled with classes, teacher conferences, appointments and events. Last weekend we took in the fall festival at our church and happily returned home cake walk winners (we sorta loaded the wheel up with all of us - how could we not win?) as well as the owners of many prizes. Mike was in Utah on a business trip for several days, therefore missing this fun, but thankfully arrived home safe and sound with many funny stories to share... including seeing entertainment such as "The Dancing Grannies" and "The Cowboy Poet" - entertainment meant to be taken seriously, but was actually hilarious.. if you know what I mean?

Looking ahead to the Thanksgiving meal.... what to make? We'll be having Mike's mom join us which will be nice. We haven't seen her for some time now.

I am so looking forward to the end of November this year because we will be on break from teaching childbirth classes and from our homeschool co-op until January. This will free up two days of our week for the month of December... Yippee!

Well... on to the school work.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Stopping to smell the roses....

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening...

Stopping to "enjoy the moment"...

We can all read the famous phrases above and have an understanding of the meaning within the words, but yet... do we do it enough in our daily life... or even ever? Do we really possess a complete understanding of words like these at all?

In the book Stopping: How to Be Still When You Have to Keep Going by David Kundtz, the necessity to just stop and do nothing, if even for just a moment is explained and stressed as being necessary in this crazy ADHD world we all currently reside in. Various kinds of stopovers are explained ranging from short to extended, planned to unplanned, and the reasons we need them, or why our body and/or mind enforces them upon us.

I purchased this book several years ago and enjoyed it very much, I thought so highly of it that I actually purchased several copies as gifts for friends and relatives whom I felt might enjoy it and employ the wisdom within it's pages. I admit though, that my book and it's teachings recede into the back of my mind lying long forgotten until periodically (usually once per year) my body forces an involuntary stopover on me out of necessity... then I remember my book and I dust it off and re-read part of it during my recovery from illness. An odd tradition? Yes, but it has become just that.

I was due for one of these stopovers just last week, but one such as I had never experienced before awaited me. I began my Monday as always, and faced an incredibly full week. Everyday a list of meetings, classes to teach (at home, in the community, at church), court dates for our foster kids, meetings with social workers, travel time, shopping, HOMESCHOOLING and caring for kids, meal prep, the list was endless...

Then on Monday, late afternoon within minutes while doing errands a little tickle developed in my throat and with 15 minutes became a raging sore throat with a fever out of nowhere with chills coming and going... aches soon to follow. By suppertime I was toast and zonked out on the couch leaving Mike to feed the gang. I was totally out of the game. The next day I was doing better by early afternoon (after a shaky morning) so was off to the dentist with three of the kids. As I sat in the waiting area my fever crept back up and my symptoms returned... back home ill once more (but not as bad as the previous night) I surrendered over our childbirth class for the evening to Mike - who did a fab job from the reports I received. The kids and I hit the sack.

Wednesday... HAD TO be well due to the fact I needed to head out of town with 5 of the 7 kids for the nearly 3 hr drive to meetings with case workers and spend the night to be at an early court hearing the following day. I got through the day physically, but due to stressful events, was growing weary mentally. Arrived home Thursday late afternoon in time to feed everyone, tag team with Mike and head off to a mandatory meeting with my homeschool co-op group. Unexpectedly, this is where I found myself entering into a kind of stop, more like a grinding halt, that left me reeling. During the later part of our meeting it was a time to discuss any personal things happening in your life that others could support you with in deed & prayer. When my turn came to share, I can only say that months and months of "stuffed" emotions, thoughts, and tears came pouring out beyond my control. I had never experienced anything such as this, with a group of women who are practically strangers to boot. I left exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I was worn out. The following morning I was to teach a class at the co-op, it was the most difficult class I believe I have ever done - only because I could not think, and I was so incredibly weary in every imaginable way. I had to quit teaching early and fill the remainder of time with craft activities (which was fine, but unplanned, and not me at all). The rest of the day I felt like I wasn't even present... I longed to go to bed, I longed to sleep... if only I could just get through this day. By afternoon I was very ill once more - this time respiratory related - lungs on fire, excessive coughing, asthma attacks... the sore throat and aching were back.... I just ached to sleep, nothing more. I learned that night that my mother-in-law had decided to come for the weekend, but as much as I wanted to see her I nearly broke into tears due to my only desire & need to escape into sleep. I did go to bed that night at 7:30pm and slept until 11:00 when a sick child woke me up for a few hours.
The next day I did not attend church (or teach my class there) and I stayed home (with the one {now} only sorta sick child). My mother-in-law, being the wise woman she is, decided to postpone her visit to avoid illness and allow me to recover. I spent the day resting, and when I felt better I remembered my Stopping book... ahhhh the ritual. I read parts of it. That afternoon I also shared with Mike my Thursday night experience (which I referred to as "my breakdown"?) It was incredibly helpful to have him to discuss it with.

Although I was back in swing & out the door by that night, what I was still experiencing continued processing in my head throughout the weekend. It was by no means a grand "stopping experience", but it was enough to get me to pay acute attention to some things I need to address in my life for the positive... that I guess, is what stopping is all about.
*If you want to look over samples of this book, this is a great site with many pages/chapters online you can read. Visit the site and do a search for the title.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Tale From Redwall by Christopher Amick

Watch out Brain Jacques... here comes Christopher Amick! If any of you are Redwall fans, you may enjoy the short story below that Christopher wrote to fulfill an assignment for his writing class. I was quite pleased with his zestful use of words - the thesaurus is his friend!

Christopher is a regular reader of the Redwall books and found his inspiration from the many stories and characters he has enjoyed within those pages. He was also inspired by a another classic story that you may be be familiar with... see if you can bring it to mind as you enjoy Christopher's original installment to the Redwall writings!

Reed the Red Becomes A Better Fox
by Christopher Amick

A long time ago in the Moss Flower Woods where clan animals lived, there was a certain clan that had an utterly vain fox. Since *culled at birth to be known as Reed the Red he was chief of many ferrets, weasels, stoats, foxes and rats. One day two scoundrels, a stoat named Black Fang and a ferret called Jade Eyes decided to try to procure leadership of the clan with a bold plan of deception. Enthusiastically the deceivers went to the chief, Reed the Red, and said "Because we are talented tailors, our desire is to create a cloak for you that is exceptionally glamorous! The material would possess the wonderful quality of being invisible to the simple-stupid-headed creature." Reed the Red thought that this would be stupendous even though he already assumed most of his clan members were dull-witted, he thought it could still prove useful. Then the fox chief, who was a bit stingy inquired, "How much will this magical cloak cost?" Regarding this question, the stoat named Black Fang stepped forward and answered, "It will cost many sapphires..." "And cold coins!" added the ferret. "Let it be done, but it must be ready by the time of my clan feast six days from today in Moss Flower Woods," Reed the Red decided.

That night the two fablers used bone needles falsely sewing and clipping away at thin air, they continued this for three days. Now it came that Reed the Red wanted to know how the cloak was coming along, so he sent his captain to check on progress. As the captain arrived, the tricksters were cutting imaginary fabric with their scissors. Dramatically they pretended to hold something as the captain approached them. "Doesn't it look colorful?" they questioned. "Oh yes!" the captain replied, even though he could not see a thing. The false weavers explained the patterns and colors of the cloak in great detail to the captain before he departed. He did not want the chief to think him a fool so he reported all that the cloak weavers had related to him of their three days of work. The next day, Reed the Red came with his captain to view the cloak. The chief could not see the cloak, but agreed with the weavers about everything, then left. About morning the cloak was finished. Reed the Red merrily waited for the cloak weavers to show up. When they arrived, he asked if he could try it on. Black Fang and Jade Eyes pretended to adorn the chief with the cloak. Reed the Red then suspiciously stated, I cannot feel anything on my shoulders." The vermin weavers replied, "that is because the material is so light." They proceeded.

When the day of the feast arrived, Reed the Red was wearing his new cloak (although he really wasn't) and all the clan beasts were praising it, even though they honestly could not see anything of the sort! Forbid they be thought stupid! Anxiously they continued to praise the chief and his supposedly fabulous cloak. A ratling (which is what they call baby rats), suddenly squealed, "there is no cloak!" Everyone stopped eating, slowly every other creature began to agree, even the rat captain. The chief fox slowly realized what was truly happening. Clenching his teeth, he immediately ordered his guards to bring forth the lying stoat and ferret, and sentenced them for life to a newly created official court position... Master of sock,diaper and underwear wash and repair. They were supplied with plenty of real fabric and thread to sew with until the end of their wretched lives. Throughout his lifetime Reed the Red always remembered how proud and vain he had once been, and became a better fox because of it.

*culled: named, called, christened

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Capturing the Family Photo

I LOVE & dearly treasure family photos and individual portraits of my children, therefore taking them yearly is a must for us - no exceptions! This year we decided to try our hand at doing our own (actually we decided on this late last year, so one of Mike's 2006 Christmas gifts was a tri-pod!). I began sifting through area second hand shops last fall trying to get burgundy shirts for all of us and guesstimate the sizes we would be needing for the 2007 fall photo shoot. I would pick up long sleeve shirts in this hue here and there and throw them in a large bag I had in my closet until I had accumulated enough, extra even - which turned out to be a good thing since we had a few more bodies to outfit for the pics this year!
We had planned all along on having outdoor family, group, and individual photos taken during the fall in the peak of the colors here in the woods, but sadly there were only a few days that would have been ideal in mid-late September and we were already busy on those days... so we waited and waited for a day w/o rain, wind, cold, etc. that might work to get the job done. As we waited we watched the colors fade, and the leaves fall and began to give up the hope of our fall shoot... BUT then I heard there might be a glimmer of hope for this past Saturday. Indeed, we discovered a short window of a few hours Saturday afternoon - so quickly we suited up, grabbed the equipment and went to scout out possible locations where there were: 1) Still leaves on the trees that looked nice, 2) Areas we could pose with kids of various ages and heights, 3) not too far away because we had early evening plans.
Amazingly God pointed the way just 3 minutes from our home and we were off in a whirlwind of creativity. Mike took many images that day and of course with 7 kids to try to pose and get all looking half happy and presentable in the shot while Mike set the camera timer and came racing into his spot was quite mmmm... interesting - but we got it accomplished!
Now, begins the selection process for Christmas cards, enlargements for framing and so on. Our goal is to mail holiday greetings to all of you by the end of November - let's hope! The pic you see above was one of the first ones taken that day... many, many more followed.

Rain and Yet More Rain

It's been cloudy here for over a month and it feels like forever since we've had a sunny day. The rain continues to fall, varying from sprinkles to pouring. The color and feel of the day never changes from when you awake to cloudy grayness in the early morn until the sun sets all the sooner in the early eve due to the smothering clouds that continue to hover in our skies above. It grows wearisome and does nothing for my mood... yet again today.

The Rainy Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

** Gabriella is most definitely my own little Gene Kelly. She loves to venture out into the rain wearing one of her bright raincoats or carrying her ladybug umbrella - and don't forget the mud boots! And, yes of course.... sing at the top of her lungs whenever she is moved to do so! Then there are also the days when I believe her to be playing quietly inside, only to discover her at the door soaking wet (with no rain gear on) after being outside enjoying the rainfall for up to an hour...
I am thrilled with a series of photos (including the ones above) Mike caught of her out one day alone enjoying rainfall in our front yard.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mini-Devotions that Speak to Me

This past week has been one where we are dashing from one thing to the next and getting ready to do so in between! I have a list of things I want to write about, but that will be for when my mind is a bit more "fresh". I need to go to bed so I can be off and running to start the new week in the early a.m.!
I happened to be watching a music video moments ago that I have in my favorites list. For me, it's like a 5 minute mini-devotional time to get me reconnected. I thought you might enjoy it as well.

The Voice of Truth - Worship Video

The image above is of a painting by Nathan Greene. His artwork also inspires me to think deeper about everyday things I do, and how I do them. I enjoy studying them very much... they also serve as mini-devotionals for me at times.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Teaching Natural Childbirth Once Again

It's hard to believe that the last childbirth class Mike and I taught was the summer of 2005 - how time zips right along! I remember finishing that series, then breaking due to the fall being upon us and not being able to squeeze in another series before the holidays began. It was that December Mike was offered his job here in Brainerd and life went crazy busy with preparing to move, then actually doing it.
We've been here for over a year now and last night we began our first Bradley Method Natural Childbirth class in this area, teaching three lovely couples. All of the couples already have children and were unhappy with the birth situations they previously had, and are looking for a birth experience this time around that we, as instructors like to help couples achieve - so I guess they came to the right place!
I have been debating on teaching this class for some time now and took wayyyy too long in making the decision and getting back to these folks, but they were ever so patient and understanding with my heavy concerns about being able to fit one more thing into our busy days. Ultimately, we decided to do it and I think it will work out well for us all - everyone hit it off splendidly during class #1 - so I think it can only get even better.
Our kids had a grand time while we taught - we are teaching at the school Justin attends and so they had the gym to themselves . Additionally, the kids from one of our student couples joined them to play - they too will be coming each week with their parents - so there will be great fun to be had burning up lots of energy. It will definitely give our gang something to look forward to while we teach the 12 week series.
Whew! Just hope we can all take the big weekly night out and I can keep up with it all.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Family Style Drive-In (Walk-In) = Weekend FUN!

This weekend we had some good old family fun that we all immensely enjoyed. The college where Mike works was showing a family film on a huge outdoor screen that they had rented. The community was invited to attend for free - just bring something to sit on out on the lawn. Since I grew up 2 miles away from one of the last remaining drive-in theaters in the state of MN (which I just loved going to!) I have always wanted to take my kids to one, just to experience it - it's just too fun! Anyway, when I learned about this event, I was all over it!
We were so fortunate to have absolutely beautiful weather this past Saturday (85 degrees on Oct. 6th!). It was warm, with a soft breeze and sunshine. So that evening Mike and I kept it secret what the outing was and we gathered blankets, water bottles and made brown paper sacks full of popcorn and loaded up the gang. A few of them were quite suspicious, due to the popcorn (a regular treat for our family movie nights at home) and were onto us - but could never have imagined that we were going to watch a movie outside on the Goliath of a screen we saw when we arrived at our destination - what squeals of delight! We made a camp, broke out the popcorn & water bottles and awaited the film to begin. Plus the college was giving away free popcorn - so we had lots of refills when needed.
The movie for the night was "Cheaper by the Dozen" starring Steve Martin. This was another reason we chose to go to this, since it is one of our kids all-time favorite flicks. What could be funnier than a couple with 12 kids? Hmmmmm... one with seven? J/K. Anyway, regardless of the fact that the adults in the viewing crowd often find themselves thinking the parents in this movie should really just take charge and begin acting like parents, it's still just plain enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny!
Despite the great humor in the film, a very strong message binds the story together - one on prioritizing your family over everything else. I have seen this film at least three times before this particular outdoor viewing, and I'm not sure why it wasn't until this time I took note of what is most definitely Steve Martin's most profound line in the entire film... "If I screw up raising my kids, nothing else I achieve will matter much." Doesn't that ring true huh? Maybe I just needed the massive screen and speakers blasting at me to be able to catch it this time - after all watching a film with 7 kids does lend itself to frequent distractions... grrrrrrrr.
After the film we joined with the crowd in a round of applause, shook the popcorn off our blankets onto the grass (what joy - my kinda clean-up it wasn't on my sofa and carpet for once), collected our garbage, our kids, then made the short trek back to the van. The 2 little girls were sound asleep by the time we got home - great fun was had by all. We will definitely check out next year's film since they said it would now be an annual fall event. Yippee!!! I no longer have to mourn for the dearly departed drive-in that once signaled the turn to my road home.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Book Review - "Someday"

Love books, I love to read... sadly I have so little time to read anything other than things related to homeschooling - but it still provides me with joy. Along with my love of books is my passion for children's books, especially the kind that have wonderful illustrations and a story or message that is captivating to the reader - the kind that are timeless and will never lose their magic no matter how many years transpire before the cover is opened again, whether it be 2 yrs or 32 yrs.

Today was a good day... sunny, productive, positive. I was also looking forward to the fact that it would be the first weekend that Mike and I would be able to have the weekend alone to spend with just our own children (the first since late spring) due to the much anticipated first visit alone my nephews and niece were to have with their mother (my sister)... they were bubbling with excitement and counting down the days until Friday. Sadly, this all came to a screeching halt late this afternoon when I received a phone call which cancelled these plans for all of us due to reasons I won't expand upon, that needless to say, left me quite livid, with my sister.

After breaking this news to my nephews, we had to head off to MJ's school bookfair/family fun night. Since we all love books I thought this might be a good thing to lift our mood. While we were scanning the rows of tables filled with absolute "twaddle" I found one educational book that I liked for a bargain price about historical princesses and their lives. Soon enough everyone was ready to hit the playground - so I was left to stand in the checkout line. While waiting, a small book, nearly buried with only the corner sticking out from under a stack of books caught my eye. The last of it's kind, the title read "Someday". I was intrigued, so I read it as I waited in line. I knew after the first page that I was hooked and this was to surely be purchased because it touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes with a message that penetrated one's mind strong and clear.
Tonight after a sort of crumby night for us all (icky supper due to new recipe being a failure, tons of homework for Justin, bickering, ill Christopher, crabby mom, tired Ruby, the list goes on...) I pulled the book out before bedtime and read it out loud. The children understood it's message completely and it touched them as it had me - they understood immediately why I purchased it (and not the many books they had asked me to buy). They knew what I was communicating to them through the writer's words in the book.
Yet another reminder from God... yet again on the temporariness of childhood. He seems to beat me over the head with this message I think, and for good reason :-)
Below is a review of the book to give you a glimpse into it's simple beauty. I plan to read this to my children often so that the words are firmly fixed in their memory to recall someday when they are grown. It's the message of every parent's heart & hopes. Read it the next time you're in a bookstore, you won't be sorry.

Novel Review: Someday by Alison McGhee
Written by Gina Ruiz
Someday tells the beautiful story of a mother and her baby daughter in eloquent but spare prose accompanied by simple, yet powerful illustrations.
The book is very sweet and moving. It tells the story of a mother and her baby daughter from babyhood to childhood. "One day I counted your fingers and kissed each one," the mother says. Moving on to present day brings the declaration, "Then, you were my baby, and now you are my child," then, finally imagining the future of the child, a bittersweet send-off: "Someday I will stand on this porch and watch your arms waving to me until I no longer see you."
Someday is very touching and almost made me cry thinking of my own children and how they’re grown now with families of their own. The emotion builds with each page and I found myself smiling, teary, wistful and hopeful. The book portrays a young mother’s hopes and dreams for her child in such a beautiful way.
The simple pen-and-ink and watercolors quietly and profoundly emphasize each page in a way that compliments the text perfectly. The colors give a sense of the dreams and hopes in a soft, almost wispy way. I found this story to be absolutely lovely.