Tuesday, September 24, 2013


God is at work in His world. 
God does not care...whether I am happy or not. What God cares about, with all the power of God's holy being, is the quality of my life...not just the continuation of my breath and the health of my cells - but the quality of my life, the scope of my life, the heft and zest of my life...fear of death always turns into fear of life, into a stingy, cautious way of living that is not really living at all...to follow Jesus means going beyond the limits of our own comfort and safety. It means receiving our lives as gifts instead of guarding them as...possessions. 

~ Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Celebrating Constitution Day

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
(We the people, do not like pictures lately.)

We the people, had a little fun yesterday learning about the formation of our government. We began by filling in the blanks of the Preamble to the United States Constitution. Yes, we complained about it a bit, but we were working for a reward. Then, we watched this dvd:
Shh! We're Writing the Constitution 
 Then, we made something yummy to eat. 

We were surprised to learn that all federally funded educational institutions are required to teach about our Constitution on Constitution Day. I encouraged brother to share this information at school.

Brother, you should share this with your teachers. 
Why not? 
I'm not the kind of person who wants to write out the whole Constitution.

He does however like to eat cookies!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

 His 3rd season and he scored 3 goals Saturday.
Win or lose, we love what soccer is teaching him: 
boldness, bravery, confidence, and team work.
He loves the game.
 Hoping you laughed hard this weekend,
 enjoyed some Patagonian spit roasted goat,
sat with someone you love,
 swung high with a mile high smile,
 gave it your all,
and found time for quiet and reflection.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On the Night Stand: Books to Read and Review

I'm busy with canning and yard work, but we are reading some mighty good books, so I thought I'd share what we're pondering.

As the days are full to the brim, I'm reminding myself that winter evenings are fast approaching. Time to read will come soon enough. The earth is tilting and the dark hours arriving. I wonder: Do we learn best in the dark?

 My Book List

Every Good Endeavour by Tim Keller 

Finally finished this. Great thoughts on working in our world in a way that is fulfilling. Keller does a great job of identifying the idols of traditional/ancient cultures, modern cultures, and now post modern culture and how these idols affect our joy and ability to work. He presents what the gospel shares about work that we might be free and at peace in our work in God's world.

Mindset by Dweck

I can't share enough positives about this book. Dweck is very practical in helping you understand mindsets and how to work on changing them when growth is needed. This has been a great book to read alongside, Say Goodbye to Whining, and Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids. Trying to grow my "growth mindset".

The Rocks Don't Lie by Montgomery 

Because we have a pint sized geologist and rock hound. Because we seek the truth, even in differing perspectives. Because we want to engage our world and engage in our world. That means understanding differing opinions, so we can legitimately take our place at the conversation table, and have a genuine dialogue, not debate.

Life in the Soil by Nardi

Reading snippets with the boy. Last night we read that all mineral soils come from parent materials (weathering of the rocks), slope of land (topography), exposure to wind, rain, and sun (climate), and time. The ultimate result of the weathering of most rocks is the formation of sand, silt, and clay and we discussed particle sizes. We also learned that lichens cover about 8% of the earth and are made of both alga and fungal material. Alga doing the nutrient fixing and fungus providing water and other materials. He was fascinated, and I admit, I didn't know dirt could be so interesting! 

Autumn Across America by Teale 

Reading this series again. A lovely story of time travel across America by a naturalist and his wife in slower times. Teale reminds me that only in slowing down will I see the heron and deer that are sitting right in front of me.

Booked, Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior

"...but for much of my life, I loved books more than God, never discovering for a long, long time that a God who spoke the world into existence with words is, in fact, the source of meaning of all words." 

Reading Booked because I didn't discover a love of literature until my late 20's, but I have a child who loves literature now, and I believe God is drawing her near to Him through the world of story.

What He's Reading

The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next by Smolin

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Kuhn

The House on the Cliff (Hardy Boys) 

The kiddos got some new Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books from grandma, and they are being enjoyed!

What The Kids Are Reading

The Elements (He is loving this book, I heard there is an app).
Word After Word After Word by MacLachlan
Eight Cousins by Alcott
Navigating Early by Vanderpool
National Geographic Daniel Boone
Do Re Mi, If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d' Arezzo
What Do You Know About Plate Tectonics?
Special People, Special Ways
In Jesse's Shoes, Appreciating Kids with Special Needs
Digging on Dirt
Describing Words
Ben Franklin, His Wit and Wisdom, from A to Z
Experiments with Rocks and Minerals
Kenny and the Dragon by DiTerlizzi
Betsy Ross
The World of King Arthur and His Court by Crossley-Holland
Gross Brain Teasers
The Day That Changed America by Wheeler (Remembering 9/11)
Henry and the Cannons
Magic School Bus Gets Programmed
The Most Magnificent Mosque 
Electric Ben 
Geography Encyclopedia (afternoon mapping)
Fizzing Physics
The Beetle Book by Jenkins
Rock On! Groovy Gems
The Eagles Are Back by Jean Craighead George 
Bill Nye Earthquakes
Felicity (American Girl)
The Men Who Built America (PBS DVD)

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.

~ C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Review: The Heart of Robinhood, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Checking it all out; The Elizabethan Theatre at OSF is truly quite amazing. Brother ran laps through every single row on the main level to "experience the theatre" pre-performance. Later that night, he was awake, and on the edge of his seat the whole performance. 

Ashland is a special place to our family. We honeymooned there many years ago, and we try to get down there yearly. The kids have been to Ashland, but never for a play, until now. This past weekend, we ventured south for The Heart of Robinhood, a United States premier. Robin (and Marian) lived up to their expectations and ours. They both enjoyed the show enormously. I'm not sure whether I enjoyed the show best, or watching the changing levels of surprise on their faces. We had cheap seats, but they were down front, to the side, and very good. OSF does a great job of keeping the action to the forefront of the stage, so we were literally within spitting distance of the actors. Yes, literally!

The play was labelled kid friendly, but there were not many children present, which was sad. The scariest part for children was how nasty Prince John was, and he was nasty through and through.  During intermission, after an especially dramatic scene that displayed John's cruelty, I asked brother what he thought of Prince John. He immediately said, "Prince John does things in the name of God, that God would never do." For a kid who prefers joke and science books, soccer, rocks, and fun conversation, we were amazed how well he was able to articulate Prince John. A well done work of art, calls forth a response from us.

Overall, the play was kid friendly, and was advertised as such, but we have learned to always check. I asked an OSF volunteer and two staff in the gift shop about language and lewdness and none felt that was an issue. They did feel the be-heading which happens early in the play might be a bit scary to some kids. The beheading was fine: it was a very well dressed coconut head that went rolling, but there were a few things including a few words, that could have been left out. Those words didn't, and don't add anything to the play. We are constantly trying to balance those kinds of things while learning to appreciate the arts. One particular incident, was when one of Robinhood's men asks the priest, in jest, for forgiveness for spying through the peep hole on his neighbour's wife. Why does this need to be included? In a day and age, when the stats conclude that many struggle with pornography, why must we make a joke of something that is destroying families and marriages in our society? Let's call pornography in any form, what it is: evil.
image from OSF
In addition, while Ashland is a great town,  it can at times feel a bit non-welcoming to kids. We stayed at a small hotel with a pool that takes children (most B and B's do not), but unfortunately, a group of ladies acted like the pool should be devoid of children. The kids didn't splash or kick anyone, didn't cannon ball, and were well behaved, but still we felt there was an attitude that they weren't welcome. When do we instill a love of the arts in children, if not, while they are still children? That means inviting them into adult spaces and making them feel welcome, and better yet, asking them to thoughtfully dialogue about the plays. 
The playground in Lithia Park
Deer on the walkway in Lithia Park
The pool
Morning Glory Cafe Bacon Belgian Waffles with Walnut Butter:
They were so good, we had them two mornings in a row!
Ashland High School Garage Sale:
New keens, books, soccer balls, and 2 sweaters: $12
Baby chicks at the Ashland Farm store
Playing on the creek while eating dinner at Thai Pepper 
A new ableskiver pan

Get thee to Ashland and take in a play. 
OSF is one of Oregon's true gems.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Prayer for the Rosh Hashanah Mama

 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth. 
Psalm 119:103

Dear Lord, 

I pray for the mama who was new at school today. She doesn't know many people here, and her children are new in these hallways. I pray you would bring her heart peace. I pray you would awe her with your provision for her children. She is not failing her children by bringing them in town. She is, and will always, be their teacher. Help her to know it's okay to let them stretch their wings and fly. The soaring hawk reminds us, we see our world clearly, when we rise above the misguided judgements of others. Heal her heart, where words have splintered, and broken off in her soul. Heal the lies that have been spoken over her, "that there is only one way that is right, and that is to school at home." You alone, Oh Lord, are the true and right wayAmen.

Dear Mama, 

Don't listen to the voices telling you, that you must do it all. You cannot do it all. No one can do it all. Hear me? It's okay to ask for help and it's okay to let your children begin something new without you this year.

You are their mama and their teacher, and you always will be. No one can take that from you. No matter how much they huff and puff, they will not blow your house down. Mama, God has got your back, and it's going to be a good year. Some days will be harder than others, but God can handle every single day and moment your children and you will face. Never forget, all things work together for good to those that love the Lord.

Mama, make something sweet this year with your kids. Don't let the bitter words of others, harden your heart. Let your kids do what they can do. Teach them to depend on God in their classrooms. Talk and pray, and teach them grit, determination, and perseverance. Then choose to trust that this new year will be as sweet as honey in your mouth and home. Amen.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rosh Hashanah

A little something sweet for our New Year,
apple hand pies.

 My soul anticipates sunrise.
Sitting in the dark,
So often, I am dark.
Sitting in the dark,
I wait for sunrise.
Make me new.
He talks and listens.
Hope for a New Year.  
Sun Rise.

Rosh Hashanah emphasizes the special relationship between G‑d and humanity: our dependence upon G‑d as our creator and sustainer, and G‑d’s dependence upon us as the ones who make His presence known and felt in His world. (Chabad)

Some evenings at dusk, we hear a shofar...the central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which also represents the trumpet blast of a people’s coronation of their king. The cry of the shofar is also a call to repentance...(Chabad)

My soul responds, and I take our budding geologist (and his sister) to the creek.
 Rocks speak to us.
Rocks connect us.
He collects them. 
I carry them.
I feel rocks in my pockets and rocks in my soul. 
I release them.  
I dip my toe in the stream of repentance. 
The water refreshes me, again and again.