Archive for February, 2008

Marriage and Manure

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about MARRIAGE, probably because of the emphasis on romance that is part of the holiday just past.

In theory, most of us are willing to admit that we have our faults. We will admit, as well, that our husband has his faults. This leads to the reasonable conclusion that there is no such thing as a PERFECT MARRIAGE.

Personally, I have noticed some faulty thinking on my part which does NOT contribute to happiness:

  • I am generally surprised and disappointed at instances of imperfection which occur. I want them to be fixed. NOW.
  • I tend to FOCUS on the imperfections and failings (of myself; of my husband), until they seemingly FILL my view of the marriage.

I was thinking today what a downer it must be for my husband that I get so sad when things are not PERFECT. I have been praying that the Lord would help me, through His Word (the Bible) and through the teaching of His Holy Spirit, to think about things properly.

I read something this afternoon from the titus2talk blog that really hit home. It puts into words the vague resolution that had been swirling around my heart and head. This portion of the post is my favorite, and is from a sermon by John Piper in a series entitled Marriage: Forgiving and Forbearing:

Picture your marriage as a grassy field. You enter it at the beginning full of hope and joy. You look out into the future and you see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills. And that beauty is what you see in each other. Your relationship is the field and flowers and the rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies. Some seasons of your marriage they may seem to be everywhere. Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and your spouse. You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.

But they have a way of dominating the relationship. It may not even be true, but it feels like that’s all there is—cow pies. I think the combination of forbearance and forgiveness leads to the creation of a compost pile. And here you begin to shovel the cow pies. You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies. But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then, we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of field that is sweet.

Our hands may be dirty. And our backs make ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is the gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved.

So, what do you think? Do you find this advice to be biblical and helpful, too?

Uh-oh . . . Where’s yesterday’s post?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Sorry I didn’t get a post up yesterday. However, I DO have an excuse.

Our receiver/transmitter for our Clearw’re connection is usually mounted on a pole atop our roof, but . . . our house is busy being reroofed, thus, I lost internet connection JUST as I was ready to post.

The old shingles lasted five years beyond their guaranteed life, but they wouldn’t have held up much longer. In our wet climate the moss is hard to keep off the shingles, and it just eats them up.

Two crews of guys showed up to do the work, with (I think it was) four large trucks. Almost twenty years ago Rick did the entire roof all by himself, in his “spare” time. However, I’m sure thankful he’s not the one laboring up there this time; that is grueling work.

Well, I came in early to work so I could get this little bit of a post done. If the internet connection is restored today, I’ll try to put up some pictures of the reroofing operation. Rick got some good shots of the operation.

Hope you all have a good day.

(Edited at about 6pm: Here are some photos from the re roofing.)

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We had Mt. Baker Roofing come to do the work. They came with plenty of trucks and two roofing crews, even bringing their own outhouse as well.

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Some of the crew at work.

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I want to post a few more photos, but the Internet connection is INCREDIBLY slow just now . . . so, that’s it for now. 😛

Party report and Ratatouille

Monday, February 18th, 2008


We had a very nice time at the Valentine’s themed party we attended Saturday evening. We got to know some couples from the community we hadn’t met before and had a good time of conversation, playing foosball, a gift exchange, and eating appetizers.

For my contribution to the refreshments, I finally settled on bringing a layered dip. I got the basic idea for the dip from the kraftfoods.com site, modifying their recipe for 10-Minute Appetizer. I used half as much mayonnaise as called for in the cream cheese layer, topped that with prepared pesto, and then topped that with Ratatouille, sprinkled with shredded cheese.


The Ratatouille recipe is from my old Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes. Here it is:

RATATOUILLE

“Even beyond its rich flavor yet relatively low calorie content, Ratatouille has other qualities which account for its popularity: It tastes better made ahead (even a day or more old) and is just as good cold as reheated.”

About ½ cup olive oil

2 large onions, sliced

2 large cloves garlic, minced or mashed

1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled and cut in ½-inch cubes

6 medium-sized zucchini, thickly sliced (I forgot the zucchini, but it was still good)

1 green and 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in chunks

About 2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried basil

4 large tomatoes, cut in chunks (I omitted these also)

Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions are soft but not browned. Stir in the eggplant, zucchini, peppers, 2 teaspoons salt, and basil; add a little of the oil as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking.

Cover pan and cook over moderate heat for about 30 minutes; stir occasionally, using a large spatula and turning the vegetables to help preserve their shape. If mixture becomes quite soupy, remove cover.

Add the tomatoes to the vegetables and stir to blend. Also add more oil if vegetables are sticking. Cover and cook over moderate heat for 15 minutes; stir occasionally. Again, if mixture becomes soupy, remove cover. Ratatouille should have a little free liquid, but still be of a good spoon-and-serve consistency. Add more salt if required. Serve hot, chilled, at room temperature, or reheated. Garnish with parsley and tomato. Serves 8 to 10.

Do-gooder

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Here is an excerpt from today’s edition of Day By Day Grace by Bob Hoekstra. I appreciate the reminder that I don’t WORK my way into heaven, yet there are plenty of good WORKS the Lord expects me to do:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)


Although we are not saved by good works (“not of works, lest anyone should boast” — Ephesians 2:8-9), we are saved unto good works (“created in Christ Jesus for good works“).

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(Image from Snapshots of Joy)

Saturday To-Do List

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

It’s an unusually quite morning here.


  • Rebecca is gone for the weekend on a ski retreat with one of her girlfriends.
  • Lydia is spending the day with a group of girlfriends, celebrating one of the girl’s birthdays.
  • Rick left a while ago with Seth, who is playing one of the last 6th grade basketball games of the season.
  • Our grown boys are here visiting for the weekend, but stayed up playing the XBOX until the wee hours, so now are catching a few winks.

As usual, I’ve enjoyed a quiet time of reading my Bible online, cup of coffee in hand, and then checking out some of the blogs that I enjoy following. I want to get a lot done today, so I’m really trying not to just keep on reading and reading and READING. That does happen sometimes.


This evening, the parents of one of Rebecca’s school friends have invited Rick and me over for a Valentine-themed appetizer party. I’m still debating whether to bring Rosemary Breadstick Twists or a layered dip, Italian-style. I’ll leave the big boys to go buy pizza tonight, so I won’t have to also prepare a dinner for the few who will be home.

Today I need to bake bread for the week, and while the dough is rising I usually pop some Simple Granola in the oven to bake, too.


It’s a drizzly sort of day here today, but – NO EXCUSES – I’m also going to take the doggie for a good, long walk. I really DO love going for a walk, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. It’s so much easier to stay sitting in front of the computer than to get up and get going sometimes.

So . . . on that note, I think I’d better get going. I hope you have a great Saturday, too. Is this usually an über-busy day for you, too?

Valentine’s Day (almost) Haikus

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Haiku Friday

Floral arrangement:

Carnations, ferns, baby’s breath;

Sweet gift from Debra

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She made this, I mean

There’s a class: Floral Design

Quite nice for first try!

Haiku-loving friends,

I wrote something else; you like?

A silly sonnet

For more Haiku, visit Jennifer over at Playgroups are No Place for Children and Christina at A Mommy Story.

13 Things I Loved About Home Schooling – Edition X of Thursday 13

Thursday, February 14th, 2008
Thirteen Things I loved about Home schooling

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Back when we were beginning our family, about 25 years ago, home schooling was not the popular, cool thing to do that it is today. We became friends with some pioneering families who were really dedicated to the concept, however, and became convinced that home schooling was the only option for us.


As things have worked out, our oldest child was the only one who was exclusively home schooled (until he went to college). The next four children were home schooled plus Christian schooled. Now, the youngest four children have been home schooled, Christian schooled, and are currently public schooled. There are many reasons for this change from exclusive home schooling. One of the main reasons, I guess, is that we view home schooling as a TOOL, not as an end in itself. When the home schooling “tool” worked to the best advantage of our family and our children, we employed it.

For this Thursday Thirteen, I would like to tell you 13 things that I LOVED about homeschooling, not home schooling in general, but OUR home schooling (There are lots of different versions out there, ya know.).

  • We were able to provide a warm, nurturing environment for our young children.


  • We were able to be the main influence on our children’s developing characters when they were very young.
  • The children were not rushed into academics too soon, but had lots of opportunities to play and explore, and to learn to help with the work of the home. You have probably guessed that I agree with Raymond and Dorothy Moore’s approach to homeschooling, explained in their books such as School Can Wait and Home Grown Kids.


  • The children learned how to handle themselves confidently in varied settings because they went everywhere that we did, and were prepared beforehand on what to expect at the library, the store, the church, etc.
  • We were on the lookout for the children’s special talents and interests and were able to facilitate their development. An interest in art, for example, led to us hiring an artist one summer to teach the youngsters watercolor techniques. We made sure to have plenty of art supplies on hand as well.


  • I love interest-based education, something which is ideally suited to the home school. For example, when our first child became interested in WWII, American Indian chiefs, or astronomy, he had the opportunity to explore those subjects in depth, WHEN he was interested in them. When one of the girls became interested in breeding gerbils to obtain as many coat colors as possible, she did that.
  • We went to the library A LOT. They have a limit of 100 books maximum which may be checked out at once, and we sometimes reached that maximum. Our rule with the children was, “You have to check out as much non-fiction as fiction.” All of our children continue to love books.


  • I loved reading aloud to the children. If the children were interested, I would sometimes end up reading to them up to three hours a day.
  • The children had time and energy for music lessons and practicing their instruments (3 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello). They still play occasionally, but I miss the “all-the-time” music.


  • The children learned to take a lot of responsibility for their own learning, helping to research and select the curriculum, and helping to decide the time-table of completing their work.
  • Life was more relaxed. The children got enough sleep. I got enough sleep.
  • We could pretty much go where we wanted, when we wanted, without worrying about missing school.
  • I enjoy my children. I love being with them. They have learned to be thoughtful and pleasant people. We had (and continue to have) such a good time together throughout those home school years.

Flowers and Some Chocolates

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

I received a gift which was small (the little kalanchoe plant) and a gift that was red (the box of chocolates), which means these gifts qualify as genuinely ROMANTIC. To commemorate this important event, Rick decided to snap some shots of us with the gifts the way our kiddos do self portraits: by holding the camera at arms’ length. Here you have the results of that photo shoot:

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Which one do you like the best? 🙂

Birthday Delicacies

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Darren and Laura went all out on a birthday gift for Rick. Today we received this lovely package via UPS:

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What is inside, you may well ask? Behold:

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Yummy snacks galore. 🙂 Thank you so much, Darren and Laura.

Appalachian Dulcimer music

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

I was looking for some good music on You Tube this evening. I started off with some kletzmer; there are some fantastic clarinet and tuba solos out there, as part of the dance music. Then I got to hankerin’ for something Celtic, and listened to some fiddle and guitar artists for a while. Then I got to thinkin’ what I really was craving was some good, old-fashioned dulcimer music. That did indeed prove to be the best of all. Come to find out that a wonderful dulcimer artist and teacher, Robert Force, lives near here, and used to teach at Western Washington University, where two of our children are currently studying. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Robert Force: