Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mussolini's wish list

We were learning about Mussolini in history.  His nickname was "Il Duce" (the leader).  Sarah thinks it should have been "Il Dummy".  We read about how he got on a tractor and plowed around the borders of new cities that he was planning to add to his empire.  That made Noah laugh.  He said, "What, was he making himself a little wish list or something?"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Guest blogger--Kozmo

He's been running across my keyboard, so he's obviously got something to say.  Here he comes....



Last week in our Bible study, the kids and I were talking about making restitution.  When you mess up, it's not enough just to say you're sorry; you have to do something to try to make it right.  There are lots and lots of references in the Bible of people going above and beyond the original incident to make restitution. Noah remembered a perfect example from his own life. About ten years ago, little Noah and his little friend Kyle were digging in our sandbox, and Kyle broke Noah's shovel. It was just a cheap little plastic shovel from a garage sale. His mom (who is perfect), made him apologize.  Noah accepted his apology but was still sad that he had no shovel to use in his sandbox.  After they left, I told him that I would get him a new toy shovel from the dollar store.  But the next day, Kyle and his mom arrived with a brand new metal shovel that was ten times nicer than the one he had broken.  We still use it to this day. 

After Noah recalled this incident, I called Kyle's mom to tell her that we're still using not only the shovel, but also the message of restitution that she taught us a decade ago.  She had absolutely no recollection of it at all, which is another benefit of restitution: once you make it right, you can forget all about it.  It doesn't take up space in your conscience any longer. 

The very next day after talking about all this, we had to leave Sarah home by herself.  She wanted to surprise us by making cookies.  She put them in the oven, set the timer, put her headphones on, and forgot all about them.  Much later, she smelled them burning and discovered smoke coming out of the oven.  The cookies were a black mess, burned onto the cookie sheets, and the whole house reeked of smoke.  We were indeed surprised when we got home, but not in the way she had intended.  She asked for forgiveness, and I quickly gave it. It was late, and we went to bed (I could smell that nasty acrid burned smell all night long). 

The next morning was full of lessons.  I realized we hadn't talked about fire safety in awhile, so we covered that first.  I asked Sarah what she would have done if the oven had caught on fire.  Her answers revealed a disturbing lack of fire safety awareness.  After making sure both kids knew what to do in case of a fire, we moved on to the next lesson: what makes a good surprise.  I told her that if she wanted to surprise us in a good way, it would be best to do something that we don't like to do, such as vacuuming, or cleaning the toilet, instead of doing something she wanted to do anyway (like making cookies), under the guise of giving us a nice surprise. 

And finally, the restitution lesson came.  I told her that even though I forgave her, there was a still a huge mess to clean up the kitchen.  In addition to the usual mess she makes when she cooks (which is substantial), there were burned crumbs on the floor, in the sink, on the counter, even on the windowsill, because she had tried to scrape the burnt cookies off the pan.  It took most of the morning, but she vacuumed, soaked, wiped, and washed until the kitchen was restored.  I told her that Jesus made the ultimate restitution for us, that even though we burned the cookies and made a gigantic mess, he cleaned it all up for us.  I think she gets it. 


We usually give up something for Lent, but this year we're doing something different.  Each day we'll focus on one of the pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting, or service.  We fasted from all screens one day.  We made cards for someone another day.  I printed out a whole calendar of what we'll be doing every day during Lent.  Noah said, "I just want to give up lint for Lent." 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


The kids really wanted me to get Chinese food for lunch.  I said no, because I was planning on making Chinese food for dinner and we couldn't have Chinese food twice in the same day.  Noah said, "Why not?  Chinese people have Chinese food twice in the same day EVERY day!"  As always, he makes a good point.  I got them Chinese food for lunch.  This was Noah's fortune: 
I told him that was definitely accurate in his case.  He said, "How about I skip math today?  Because I want to focus on higher truths."  I guess he figured he was on a roll, but I was past my pushover limit today, so he's doing math. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cannibalizing the cats

Yesterday in History class, we learned about the Ten Tragic Days in Mexico City in 1913.  People were so desperate and hungry that they cooked and ate their pet cats.  All three of ours were in the room, listening.  I said I couldn't imagine being hungry enough to eat our pets.  I would eat bugs and grass and worms and whatever I could dig up before looking at my cats and seeing a meal.  We decided we'd eat the chinchillas first and then we'd start on Marty, because she's the biggest and the oldest.  I told Noah that the cats wouldn't really make much of a meal, and that after we'd eaten them, he'd better watch his back.  He said, "No! Eat Sarah first!"  I said, "You're bigger, and older..." and started chasing him around. 

Today, Marty was giving him the cold shoulder, and he said, "Marty doesn't like me anymore, since I didn't defend her yesterday during the cat cannibalism discussion."

Thinking some thinks

At the beginning of Philosophy class today, I told the kids to draw black water, white sky, a boat, and bloogs blowing by.  Noah said, "What blowing by?" and I said, "Bloogs."  Sarah was already drawing.  Noah said, "What? What's a bloog?"  I said, "Well, I guess we'll know after you draw one."  He stared at me for a second, but then he started drawing.  He said the bloog was the black thing at the back of the boat.  He said it was like a plug that you could insert or remove to raise or lower the boat.  He said, "You'd use it in a sentence like this: 'Put the bloog in!  We're taking on water!'"  Sarah said bloogs are mermaidish creatures who are attracted to chocolate cupcakes with green sprinkles (I used this bit of information later in the day during our Bible lesson about temptation). 

After they were finished explaining their drawings, I read Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! and they got to see his idea of bloogs.  Then we had a big discussion about imagination.  I asked them if humans are the only creatures with the capacity to imagine.  Noah said yes, and I asked him if he thought animals ever imagined anything.  There were three lazy cats in the room at the time, who looked like they were half-dozing, but who knows what's really going on in their minds?  Noah said that animals don't imagine, "except maybe the really smart ones, like monkeys and chimps and things like that."  I asked him what makes them smart, and he said they're most human-like.  
Me: What about dolphins?  Are they smart? And there's evidence that crows are smart.  I've even seen Kozmo figure out some pretty ingenious ways to try to escape...
N: Well, those animals might be able to think, but it's more in a survival way, not a creative way.  They don't have feelings or anything.
M: How do you know?
N: I mean, things like bugs don't have feelings.  If one bug gets killed, the rest of them just keep going.
M: Maybe they keep going because they're in danger of being killed too. But maybe they're silently screaming as they keep going.  [And here I paused the serious discussion and pantomimed an ant in agony over his brother getting squashed]
N: Bugs aren't smart enough to have feelings. 
M: How do you know?
N: Have you ever seen a fly trying to get out of a car when the window is wide open?
M: How about plants?  Do they imagine?
Sarah joins in at this point and yells, "Plants don't even have heads!"
M: Is there anything you can't think about?
N: I can't think about eternity and forever and infinity and how God has always just existed.
S: I can't imagine heaven, because it's too great.
M: Yes, there are some things that we can't wrap our brains around, things that blow our minds, but we still think about them.  
N: There's really nothing that we know about that we can't think about.
M: If we think we can't think about it, we've just thought about it.  

We ended by talking about how the Bible says we're supposed to take our thoughts captive, and how difficult that is. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Yeast miracle

We are having a few people over for dinner tomorrow night, and I thought it would be nice to make homemade buns for the sloppy joes.  As it turned out, the only yeast I had in the pantry expired six (yes, six!) years ago.  I didn't have time to go out and get more, and I was already in the middle of the recipe (which is the exact opposite of how I taught my kids to cook.  I always tell them to get all the ingredients lined up before they start).

So Noah came into the kitchen to find me holding the yeast packet high, praying for it to rise up like Jesus, and blessing it.  It was a surprisingly lengthy and heartfelt prayer, after which Noah said, "That's the best prayer over yeast that I've ever heard."

Guess what?  The buns turned out just fine. 

Guest blogger: Marty

 Excuse me, why is this NOAH's white board? MY paw is on it.

 Please change it to reflect the proper ownership. 

Yeah!  Now that's what I'm talking about!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Future weddings

We are studying Greece in Geography this week, which led me to go off on a tangent about a Greek Orthodox wedding I attended once.  It was nightmarishly long and full of rituals and words I didn't understand. 

Sarah said, "That's what I hate about weddings.  They're too long!  Why can't one person say the vows and the other person just say 'ditto'?  That would save a lot of time."

Noah said, "I think I'll just livestream my wedding on Twitch.  Then people can come and go as they please and not have to sit through the whole thing."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Leaping the chasm

Church was cancelled last Sunday because of the weather, so we had homechurch.  We were talking about Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 26.  The rich man died and went to a place of eternal agony, and Lazarus died and went to a place of eternal comfort.  There is a great chasm between the two places, so the rich man could see Lazarus but not get to him.  Noah said, "If he could see across it, why didn't he try to jump it?  What's the worst that could happen?"
I love his unique perspective that always makes me think.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Future living arrangements

Conversation with Sarah while making toffee bars.

S: I'm going to keep this recipe so my kids and I can make them right here in this kitchen!  There aren't really enough rooms in this house for all my kids, so they'll have to share bedrooms. 
M: What?  Aren't you going to have your own house?
S: No, I like this one.
M: Well, you're always welcome here.  It's your house too.  But do you think your husband will like living with his in-laws?
S: He'll be living here with me and the kids, of course!
M: Where are your dad and I going to be?
S: You'll be here!
M: Which takes me back to my question...what if your husband doesn't want to live with his in-laws?
S: Mom. He won't be living with in-laws.  He'll be living here with us!
M: Yes, but Daddy and I will be his in-laws.
S: Oooooohhhhhhh.  Well he won't mind.
M: How many kids are you having?
S: Three girls and a boy.
M: What are the sleeping arrangements?
S: Two girls will be in my old room.  And we'll have to paint half of Noah's room.  He won't mind.
M:  He's still here too?
S: Oh no.  He moved out long ago.
M: I see. So why are you painting half of his old room?
S: Half will have to be pink, because one of the girls will be in there.
M: Where are you and your in-law-loving husband going to sleep?
S: In your old room, of course!
M: You're sleeping with us?!
S: No, Mom.  You and Daddy are in the basement.
M: What?! You're kicking us out of our own bed and relegating us to the basement?  We can't even make it up and down the stairs at our age!
S: Oh, all right.  I guess my husband and I can move next door when the Tuckers move out. 
M: Yes, that's a good idea. Maybe we could even build a skywalk between the houses so we can get to each other's houses without having to go outside.
S: We could hang a clothesline from our window to yours and send each other notes and goodies!


The older Noah gets, the more big and scary his baseball teams look to me.  He'll be in Pony League this summer, and some of those guys are bigger than full grown men.  They throw the ball close to 100 miles per hour, and they hit it hard.  After Noah got hit in the head by a wild pitch a few years ago, I bought him a helmet with a face mask.  Today I told him I wanted to buy him one of these:

He said, " padded is it?  I don't want to be too bulky."  I told him it was made for baseball players and that it's not nearly as padded as football players.  Then I said, " padding.  I'd like to get that for you!  Actually, I'd feel better if you played in full chainmail armor!"  He rolled his eyes and said, "Even if I was somehow able to hit the ball wearing all that, I'd never be able to drag all that armor down to first base!"  I decided I would trust him to God, as I always have.  But I think I'll still get that padded shirt. 

The parable of Mike Janes and Andrew Carnegie

We were talking about stocks, stockholders, corporations, etc. in history class while learning about Andrew Carnegie.  We talked how some people were upset about how he was able to give away millions of dollars to charities because he paid his factory workers too little.  Sarah was folding laundry during this discussion, and she started muttering about how small her allowance is and how her daddy is like Andrew Carnegie.  Noah chimed in about how much money Dad gives to the church while paying his child laborers a tiny penance.

I had just read Matthew 20 recently, so I told them this story:  Let's say there are a bunch of people looking for work.  A boss comes along and says he'll pay them $20 to work for him for the next 12 hours.  They agree, happy to have the work.  A few hours later, more people have gathered, looking for work. The boss makes the same deal with them, except now there are only 8 hours left in the workday.  They agree and start working.  At the eleventh hour, the boss sees more people who want to work, so he tells them he'll give them $20 to work for him for the rest of the day. They do. At the end of the day, the boss pays the last workers first and goes down the line, giving every worker $20.  The ones who worked for 12 hours were upset because they got paid the same as the ones who only worked an hour.  But didn't they agree to work all day for $20, and didn't the boss remain true to his end of the deal?  So why should it matter to them what anyone else gets?

Noah sputtered, "But that's not fair!  Where'd you get that stupid story?"

I said, "From the Holy Bible" and he said sheepishly, "Oh."

I told him Andrew Carnegie's story reminded me of the boss in the biblical story.  It was his money to give as he pleased, and the factory workers knew their wage when they were hired.  Same with Daddy and allowance.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The hornets' nest

 Last summer, Shiloh noticed some busy hornets outside the window.

I traced them back to this nest, high in our basswood tree. I spent hours watching them build up the nest all summer.  It was fascinating how they built it, and it was a thing of beauty.  I wanted to see the inside of it, but didn't feel like getting stung by hundreds of angry hornets, so I waited impatiently  for the first good freeze of winter so I could knock it down.  

 Finally, the day arrived, and I went outside to get the nest.  First, I brought Sarah a big icicle.

 It was very difficult to knock the nest down, because it was so high up in the tree, but I finally got it.  It's an amazing work of architecture, inside and out.

For some reason, the cats were extremely interested in it too.

Crazy Hair Night

 On Crazy Hair Night at AWANA, Sarah dreamed up a candy theme for hers.  She tied off her braids with licorice ropes.

She even made candy barrettes by gluing Skittles onto bobby pins.

Tuna melt

This is one of my favorite things lately.
 Aldi's version of Laughing Cow

 Onion, green pepper, the Laughing Cow wedge, tuna, fennel feathers (I don't usually put those in, but since I had them leftover from something else, I did this time), and pepper.  Smash it all up with a fork. 

 No matter how secretive I try to be when I open the tuna, Shiloh comes running and starts climbing up the drawers, begging for a bite.  Even if she's sound sleep all the way across the house.

 Spread the tuna mixture on two halves on a sandwich thin and top with tomato slices.  This time I also added roasted garlic cloves, because I just roasted some garlic yesterday.  

 Top with a thin slice of swiss, and broil for a couple minutes.  Yum.

 As long as the broiler is on, might as well make s'mores.

Snow day

 This is how Marty spent her snow day.

 Church was cancelled, so we had homechurch. 

 Sarah building a wall

 Noah enjoyed throwing snowballs.

 Sarah making a snow angel

 Her finished angel

 We made a snowman.

Catching snowflakes on her tongue

Mike's birthday

 The birthday boy slept late in the morning and was napping with his buddy Shadow before noon.

 Sarah and I made roasted chicken and vegetables for his birthday meal.

 Noah lit the candles on Mike's birthday "cake" (toffee bar) with his mini blowtorch.

He had a good birthday.

Sarah's red belt

 Testing group 1/29/15

 Sarah and her partner, Wrigley Hardt

 Sarah with the board she broke

New belt around her waist, old belt on her head