Memorial Day ~ Remembering My Poppy

(A re-posting from 2011 to remember a man who loved his country and me.)
 Spring always reminds me of my grandfather.  His birthday was on the first day of spring, and even though he’s been gone nearly 11 years now, I still write his name on March 20 every January when I sit down to write all of the important birthdays for the year on my new calendar.  Poppy would have been 90 years old this year, but we lost him to cancer in July of 2000. It was a difficult time then, and I wasn’t able to attend his funeral in Texas, being nine months pregnant with Kayla here in MA, but it seems even more difficult as the years go by. I miss him so much. I miss him correcting my grammar.  I miss him being there to rescue me from silly mishaps like running out of gas in the neighborhood when I was 16.  I miss him always encouraging me to order dessert, and then asking for bite after bite until we had shared the dish evenly.  I miss wrapping my arms around his middle and going for rides on his motorcycle.  I miss water skiing on two big wooden skis on Canyon Lake behind his motorboat, and then stopping for Wendy’s hamburgers on the way home. I miss his big band music blaring out of a huge buffet with built in 8-track tape player, turn table, and speakers.  I miss him grilling tenderloin, hamburgers, and sausages out on the grill while we kids swam in the pool. I don’t think I miss rides in his little Cessna airplane, but I sure loved them when I was ten!
I miss his intricately planned vacations and road trips, and I’m positive that is where I get my desire to travel and plan educational vacations for my family.  I don’t know how I ended up with these items from a trip to Washington D.C. he planned for my sister and me back in 1985, but I’m so glad I have them.  I love that he recorded everything, and that even this receipt from the Holiday Inn we stayed at in D.C. for several nights has his notation, “Trip w/ M+M – June 1995.”  (M&M = Melanie and Melissa, my sister) It was an amazing trip that he must have spent an entire year getting ready for, detail by detail.  Not only did we have a V.I.P. tour of the F.B.I. Building (no tours are allowed currently), but we also had a special tour of the White House, and the Capitol Building.  The tour of the Capitol was given to us personally by one of our Texas Congressmen at the time ~ Albert Bustamante.  After boarding our plane back to Texas, Poppy noticed Secret Service Agents out his window.  Once the plane was loaded, he decided to take a walk up to first class to see who might be found there.  It turned out to be Lady Bird Johnson, and he could hardly wait to introduce his two granddaughters to her.
 I miss him being a part of every milestone any of us ever celebrated ~ birthdays, graduations, football games.  I miss the dry-ice packed Baskin Robbins ice cream cakes he and Gigi transported to our birthday parties. I miss the “holly” bow tie that he donned every Christmas without fail.  I miss the Ziggy birthday cards he bought and signed himself (no help from Gigi!) and filled with the same number of dollar bills as your age.  I remember him reading Time magazine cover to cover each week, attending and ushering Mass at his church every single Saturday evening, and playing golf at the break of dawn every Sunday morning.  Not too long after Robert and I were married, he and Gigi drove to Austin to see our first apartment, take us to dinner, and give us one more gift ~ a bread machine.  Always caring, endlessly generous, perfectly loving and continually interested in our lives ~ what a gift and example he was.
 I think he may have loved being a great-grandfather even more than he enjoyed being a grandfather, although that time was very short lived.  He was overjoyed when Kory was born, and found such delight in holding him and watching him develop.  We moved to Oklahoma just six short weeks after Kory was born, and after we had settled in a bit, guess who made another road trip to visit his first great-grandson?
 How I wish Poppy was still here to see what a fine young man that first great-grandson has turned out to be ~ not to mention the five other great-grandchildren he has now.  I know he would be so proud.  I know he would be hopping on airplanes for as long as he was able, to see all of us ~ even 2000 miles northeast of his home.  He would be quizzing me about homeschooling and church ministry.  He would be asking to take the kids out for ice cream or on road trips to historical sites.  He would be asking me how I “stay so trim” after having three babies.  He would be delighting in all of us.  Oh, how I miss him.

{Kory ~ at his 12th birthday gathering ~ 5 years ago.}

When Kory turned 13, he inherited one of Poppy’s flight jackets, and some of his medals from his time in the Air Force.  When I talked to Poppy’s brother, Joe, to get more information before giving Kory the special gifts, I discovered a few things about my grandfather I hadn’t known before.  I knew he didn’t like to talk about World War II, but I didn’t know that he had dropped out of college to enlist as a pilot, having already obtained a pilot’s license as a 17 year old boy.  I learned that he was a member of the 417th Night Fighter Squadron.  These squadrons flew only by instrument, since their missions were always at night.  Though they were all very young, they were highly skilled and very brave ~ eager to serve their country and defend freedom.

Recently, I did a little research on this group of men and found that a book had been written about this very squadron in 2007.  It is entitled Beaufighters in the Night : 417 Night Fighters USAAF.  I promptly ordered the book longing to know as many details as I could about what my grandfather had been through in the war.  I received it in the mail on March 21st ~ the day after what would have been his 90th birthday.
I grabbed the package out of our mail box on the way to take Kory to baseball practice, and opened it once I returned home and pulled back into our garage.  Sitting there, alone in my van, I quickly turned to the index and located his name ~ Tony Speier, p. 62.  The tears began as I read a paragraph on that page that described my grandfather and a few other men, who were stationed in northern Africa, as being detached to Naples to help another squadron ~ the 416th. That crew had suffered many deaths and casualties, and needed some reinforcements.  The 417th was said to have “scored two victories while on loan.”
Then I flipped to the middle of the book, which contains a full 24 pages of photos.  More tears when I spotted my handsome grandfather and that genuine and familiar smile of his.
I turned to the Introduction and read these words:
They were seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, maybe twenty or twenty-one years old.  They came mostly from America’s farms and small towns, but back then America was mostly farms and small towns.  They played a unique, unheralded role in aerial warfare.  They may have shortened the war.  They did help save the world.  This is their story.
I usually call or write my grandmother on Poppy’s birthday, so when I thought the tears were dry, I picked up the phone.  I asked her if she had been to the cemetery the day before, and she had ~ of course.  That’s when she told me it would have been his 90th birthday, and that they would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary the weekend before.  “He married me when he was 29, and turned 30 one week later,” she explained.  I began to tell her about our trip to Pennsylvania to attend the memorial service of another World War II vet, and that it reminded me to order a book I had learned about recently.  Then I couldn’t speak anymore, because the tears came again.
“What is it, honey?” she asked
“Joe told me that Poppy enlisted to be a pilot during the war, and was assigned to the 417th Night Fighter Squadron.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“The book I ordered is about the 417th.  I got it in the mail today, and found his name in the index.  Then I turned to the photos……and……..and……,” I couldn’t finish.
“And there he was.” she offered.
“Yes. There he was. His picture is there.”
At this point, we were both crying too much to speak, but after a moment or two, she asked more about the book. She took down the title and author, and said she would tell my uncles about it and ask them to order her a copy.  I asked her why Poppy never talked about the war with any of his kids or grandkids.  I remembered “interviewing” all of our family members for Cooper’s baby book, and telling Poppy that I would like to know more about his experience in World War II.  “Awwww. You don’t want to know about that,” was his usual way to avoid the question.

(Poppy was my grandmother’s second husband, so not technically my biological grandfather.  Her first husband was also a pilot in the Air Force, and was killed in a plane crash while performing a drill.  She was pregnant with their second child, my uncle Chuck, at the time.  When she married Poppy, he adopted her first two children, and they went on to have two more.  My grandmother is a pretty amazing lady herself.)

“Your grandfather did not like to talk about the war, because he never understood why he was chosen to survive.  Several times, he was assigned a certain mission, but was then reassigned to another at the last moment.  Many of those times, the entire crew of the original mission was killed.  He always felt that he was living on borrowed time.” she quietly explained.

I praise the Lord for that borrowed time.  It has enriched and blessed my life so abundantly even to this very day, and continues on into the lives of my children ~ and now maybe even yours, dear reader.
Many a man proclaims his own loyalty,
But who can find a trustworthy man?  
A righteous man who walks in his integrity ~
How blessed are his sons after him. 
Proverbs 20:6-8

Gluten Free Friday ~ Cinnamon Bundt Coffee Cake

 Coffee cake is the number one requested birthday breakfast around here (with bacon, of course), and I’ve already posted a recipe for one version here a while back.  That one came from my friend Sara, and has lots of cut butter in the batter, so it is, of course, delicious.  This one is slightly different, and works nicely in a bundt pan, so I’ve tried it out a few times recently, and there have been no complaints.  But…..ICING and a CINNAMON BROWN SUGAR ribbon.  Who can complain when those items are involved?

A couple of people have emailed me recently about coffee cake recipes as well, so it seemed a good time to post one.  I hope you will enjoy!

Cinnamon Bundt Coffee Cake

2 cups GF flour mix
1 cup sugar
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (or milk soured with vinegar)

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ribbon

1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon

Icing

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Directions:
Sift together all dry ingredients for cake.  In a separate bowl whisk together butter, oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk/soured milk.  Pour liquid ingredients into dry and stir until thoroughly combined.  In a third small bowl stir together brown sugar and cinnamon for the “ribbon.”  In a greased bundt pan, pour and/or spread half of the cake batter.  Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture on top of the batter in the pan evenly.  (see first photo) Pour/spread rest of batter on top of brown sugar/cinnamon.  Bake at 325° for 50 minutes.  While cake is baking, make the icing by whisking together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Add more milk or powdered sugar depending on the consistency.  When cake has cooled drizzle icing back and forth around the rounded tops of the bundt cake. (The slices in the photo do not have the icing drizzle on them!)

Mock Murder Trial in Vermont

The formidable attorneys had to be up bright and early last Thursday ~ 5am for a 6am departure ~ to make the trek to Woodstock, Vermont where the trial they’d been preparing for all semester would take place. They would either be prosecuting or defending (a coin toss would decide) a Mrs. Barbara Barrett who was accused of murdering her own husband.  Complicating matters was Mrs. Barrett’s alleged years of suffered verbal and physical abuse by her husband. Complicating matters even further was a letter found in the same room as the deceased and written by him to someone he called “Tootsie.”  (It seemed that Mr. Barrett had been having an affair.) And then there was the arresting officer who failed to read Mrs. Barrett her Miranda Rights, the Barrett’s housemaid who heard the murder take place from the next room and called police, but who also had been previously convicted of petty larceny (can her testimony be thrown out?), and the un-licensed, so-called psychologist (an expert witness???) who had only counseled with Mrs. Barrett after the murder took place, but had diagnosed her with “battered woman’s syndrome” and indicated that Mrs. Barrett’s violence toward her husband was brought on solely due to a temporary lapse in sanity because of said syndrome.

Many angles, I tell you.  It made for an extremely riveting day in court.

The legal team did some final preparations and then entered the courtroom for the coin toss. Defense would be the side they would play, which was actually the side they were hoping for, because they were counting on discounting the testimony of the housemaid, Lee Porter because of her petty larceny record.

We all rose to our feet as the judge entered the courtroom ~ a real Vermont judge in a real Vermont courtroom.  He began the court proceedings, carried them all throughout the trial, and treated the whole situation with much seriousness and authenticity.  I was so impressed by this man ~ he was so great with the students!

Witnesses were called to the stand, sworn in by the bailiff, questioned, and cross-examined. Objections were made and considered, but graciously overruled for the most part. Exhibits were entered and presented.  Autopsy results were explained.  There were opening remarks and closing ones, and even a break for jury deliberation.

Unfortunately, Cooper’s request that the housemaid’s testimony be thrown out on the basis of “moral turpitude” was not agreed to by the judge, but he did ask that the jury make note of the fact that this witness had been convicted of stealing $100 from a previous employer.

Sadly, this defense team was not quite as prepared as the prosecution and so did not get to move on to the next round. We did stay to watch, though, and I’m so glad we did, because the second round was between two highly prepared teams, and this is where the riveting part came in.  What amazed me most was that the prosecution team now had to switch sides and play defense. Wow.  They had super solid, well thought out arguments on both sides of this case and ultimately ended up winning the second round as well.  They pulled out all the stops with their exhibits A, B, C, and D, and even used theatrics.  The beautiful red-head in the photo below played the accused and while holding a tissue, broke down in tears on the witness stand as she was questioned about her marriage and the abuse she suffered. There were literal gasps in the crowd as we listened to the excellent arguments both sides were making.  Really impressive.

Above are all three teams together representing Classical Conversations Challenge B classes from Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  (Notice who couldn’t stay in their dress clothes for one second beyond what was required?) The mock trial is a culminating project that brings together the logic, science, short story, and research components of their curriculum for the year. I’ve said it here many times, but I’ll say it again: I am so thankful for the wonderful homeschool program that Classical Conversations is.  What a great experience to spend a semester preparing for a trial with your peers, and a whole morning in an authentic simulation of court proceedings and discussions of the law and its technicalities.  What a smart way to tie together the chosen course of study for the year.  What an encouragement to have a real judge compliment their composure, decorum, and respect ~ and even offer them all future jobs! ☺ So thankful Cooper had this opportunity.  Kayla’s up in two years!
Have I ever told you that I learned about Classical Conversations from my friend, Tamyra, who lives in Oklahoma?  And guess what other Pioneering Oklahoman‘s kids participate in Classical Conversations and the mock trial?

And what a beautiful day to be in quaint Woodstock, Vermont.  When the stress and anxiety of the courtroom was behind us, we ate a picnic lunch on the green with everyone, enjoyed a stroll across one of Vermont’s famed covered bridges…

… took walk downtown and ate a dish of homemade ice cream made with milk from a nearby dairy farm.

Beautiful day, beautiful state, beautiful opportunities for my kiddos.  So thankful.

The Gift of All Things New

 At the Daddy’s Girl retreat last weekend, we learned that fatherhood wasn’t necessarily something created, but that God just WAS the perfect Father, that He IS the perfect Father.  We matched up multiple verses with multiple categories discovering that He is the perfect Provider, Protector, Defender, Caregiver, Teacher, Leader.  Then we transferred them to the wall, bold reminders of what fatherhood (motherhood, parenthood, too) is supposed to look like.

 The next morning we looked at the story of Tamar ~ raped by one brother, told to keep it a secret by another, and left completely undefended and devastated by the anger, yet total passivity of her own father ~ David. Nope, fathers (brothers, uncles, pastors…) don’t always look like the Heavenly Father now that sin has entered the world.  They sometimes don’t defend, protect, advocate, lead, provide, or properly teach and discipline like they should.  So, we wrote down our hard, dark, difficult, painful experiences with our dads, moms, anyone who was supposed to care for us.  We wrote them on black poster board and marred up the beauty of created fatherhood that had been reassuring us from the wall since the night before.  And I say “we” because being the teacher/speaker for the weekend certainly doesn’t exempt me from the effects of the fall.  In fact, the girls may have been a bit taken aback by the stories of fallen-ness from my childhood home and family.

All of Saturday the black sin of neglect, selfishness, passivity, abuse, and betrayal  marring the created intention left us a little hopeless, but with a realistic perspective. These things are inevitable in a fallen world, unavoidable, a given. I wish I had understood this sooner. What I did realize, by grace, pretty early on in my life was that Jesus is my only hope ~ for forgiveness, for eternal life, for joy, and for choosing (by grace again) a different course.
So, Saturday evening we read the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.  You know, the one where Jesus says, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” one.  The “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more” one. The one where Jesus perfectly stands up to the woman’s accusers, defends her, protects her, provides for her, and leads and disciplines her all at the same time.  It is a return to created, intended fatherhood.  Jesus even says to Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
So we covered all the sin with bright, fluorescent, pink crosses, and we soaked in this reassurance:
“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
He ~ and He alone ~ can be counted on to always protect, provide, care, nurture, teach, discipline fairly and justly, lead, and defend.  And not only that, but He also provides for a making of all things new.  He promises that though we suffered at the hands of our own fathers and mothers, our children need not.  At least not to the extent that we may have.  (It is a fallen world, remember.) 
In our breakout sessions in the afternoon, I loved sharing the story of Ruth with the girls as well as this strange proclamation of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel:
“As I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy, and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. “In those days they will not say again, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.”
Jeremiah 31: 28-30
We talked about this beautiful promise of God ~ that we can rise above the dysfunction of our families of origin, and not have to repeat it in our future families. Our teeth don’t have to experience the tartness of the “sour grapes” that our fathers have chosen to eat. Now each person will reap the consequences of their own choices ~ good or bad. We talked about how we as children may have to choose a different path from our parents, may need to for the sake of our own children, for the glory of God.  Ruth did it.  She left “her people and her gods” and said to Naomi, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”  She chose to leave the Moabites (hardly a noble heritage) and surround herself with the people of the one true God ~ the Israelites. We may need to do the same.  I needed to do the same.

Sadly, my guide for parenting has often been ~ “Just do the opposite of what you saw done in your own family.” So….marry a loving believer, don’t get divorced, don’t criticize your children, teach them about the Lord and His Word, discipline fairly, no sexual inappropriateness, no yelling and screaming, take care of your health, tell the truth, apologize and ask for forgiveness when you hurt another, eat healthy meals, provide protective boundaries for kids, encourage their gifts, take them to the doctor and dentist regularly, talk to them about what they’re learning, what they are feeling…..and on and on.

But that isn’t really a fair or proper way to go about mothering or fathering, and honestly it’s not even possible.  Jesus is the way.  He is the “source and the model” ~ as Robert likes to say ~ for this long parenting journey and for all journeys, really. 

I was able to share quite a bit with the retreat girls (just love them!) about my relationship with my dad, for which I am very thankful. It wasn’t always very enjoyable when I was a girl, but because of Jesus, it has only grown and deepened and improved as the years have gone by. I am continually blessed by his provision for me, his desire to spend time with me and my family, his two-way conversation, his appreciation of me and of Robert, his wisdom regarding work and finances, his regular phone calls, and maybe more than anything, his defending me when I chose to (at least for the time being) not be in relationship with my mom ~ something he wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. I didn’t expect it, but he stood by me and even comforted me in the choosing.

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me, but I’m thankful for the promise of newness, and of hope in my own mothering through Christ.  I fail often, and I repeat the patterns that were so hurtful to me as a girl, but Jesus doesn’t condemn me, and He enables me to forsake sinful patterns and even be like Him toward my family ~ nurturing, loving, teaching, forgiving.  It’s a miracle, really. He accomplishes it in me.  It is not of my doing.

Robert and the kids gave me a very beautiful “booklet” of prayers and photos for Mother’s Day.  I went back and forth from tears to laughter as I read the things they thanked the Lord for in me, but I was especially struck by something Cooper wrote in his prayer:

Thank you for giving me a mom…..who is a very real and not a perfect mom.

Exactly.  Real ~ as in admittedly sinful and fallen. And definitely not perfect, but miraculously being made so by the only One who is able to accomplish such things.

“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.”
Revelation 21:5

Yes ~ Created, Fallen, and now Redeemed in the midst of fallen-ness.
All things new! What grace!

Gluten Free Friday ~ Chia Seed Pudding {for breakfast!}

Two nights ago, I pulled out the recipe I picked up at Whole Foods the day I first sampled chia seeds in a chia pudding.  It was one of the free samples that day, and they are always so good about supplying you with the recipe of anything they serve.  {In fact, this week, I picked up a recipe for a mango, black bean, and avocado salad that I can’t wait to try.}  I followed the directions for the pudding the other night, and this is what my breakfast has looked like the last two days in a row. {Couldn’t be any easier!} It’s a little bit like the overnight oatmeal jars that I posted a few weeks back, but this one contains only chia seeds, no oats.  I really enjoy this pudding, but remember, it has the texture of tapioca pudding, so not everyone will agree with me on its yummy-ness.
Today, though, my friend Karla reminded me that she makes a chocolate chia pudding that her family really enjoys by blending the pudding ~ and adding sweetener, of course!  So, I’ll give you a link to a recipe like that as well, which is not too much more difficult ~ you just have to BLEND!
These little seeds are really packed with nutrition and often touted as “runner’s food”, since they aid in hydration, contain lots of protein, six times more calcium than milk {!!}, and more omega 3’s than salmon. Some runner’s just soak a handful in water for a few minutes and drink the mixture before a long run, and I keep reading testimonials about the energy and endurance they provide even for intense levels of exercise.  I ate my chia pudding with fruit after my 6 mile run this morning, but maybe I should’ve eat a bit before!
Chia Seed Pudding
2/3 cup chia seeds
2 cups milk (I used non-dairy vanilla coconut milk which is sweetened a bit.  Almond, soy, and rice milk would work, too.)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Place chia seeds, milk, and vanilla in a 1 quart glass jar or bowl.  Shake or stir until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, spoon into bowls and top with desired fruit, coconut, etc.  Add honey or maple syrup if you desire a sweeter pudding. {I relied on the sweetened coconut milk for mine.}
And here’s a link to a chocolate peanut butter version which is blended.  I’m pretty sure you could fool your “texture issues” family or friends with this one!  And of course you could always blend my recipe as well and get a sort of vanilla pudding.  Enjoy! ☺

It’s My Blog, and I’ll Brag if I Want To…

 It’s been a few weeks now, but I still want to brag about Kayla’s amazing accomplishment in her Classical Conversations homeschool program.  She received tulips from her Daddy on the day of her achievement, and recently received the coveted Memory Master t-shirt, which is why I waited to post about it.  Gotta show off the t-shirt!

 Kayla accomplished something called Memory Master in the wonderful classical education program and community we have been a part of for three years now.  (Cooper also won this title 2 years ago!)  In order to become a “Memory Master”, Kayla was responsible for memorizing nearly one thousand pieces of information learned over the course of the 24 week program. And the standard was “word perfect”, which meant not ONE mistake could be made.

 Here is a breakdown of the facts and information she was responsible for:

History: 24 sentences that encapsulate a period or event such as:

“In 1898, Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders defeated the Spanish at the battle of San Juan Hill while trying to help the Cubans win their independence.” 

or this:

“In 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war on the Central Powers two years after German U-Boats sank the Lusitania, killing American citizens.”

and the Bill of Rights

and the Preamble to the Constitution

Timeline Flashcards and Presidents: 160 flashcards depicting events beginning with the Garden of Eden, and ending with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

and

ALL 44 presidents (well, 43 men ~ Cleveland served twice, non-consecutively.)

 Latin: 37 vocabulary words, 3 Latin rules, 13 sections of John 1:1-7 in Latin, and 13 sections of John 1:1-7 in English, such as…

vita = life
lux = light
homo/hominum = man
nomen = name

and

“Latin nouns and pronouns have different endings called declensions.”

and

“In the beginning was the Word…”

and

“In principio erat Verbum…”

Science: 114 facts including 52 list items as in the response to this question:

“What are the four types of tissue?”

Answers:
connective
epithelial
muscle
nerve

and 6 sentences like this:

“The atomic number is the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom, which is also the number of electrons in a neutral atom.”

and 48 facts associated with the first 12 elements of the periodic table like this:

1 Hydrogen (H) 1 (number, element, abbreviation, and rounded mass)
2 Helium (He) 4
3 Lithium (Li) 7
4 Beryllium (Be) 9

Geography: all 50 states, and all 50 capitols (on a blank map with the director pointing to a state or asking the student to find a state!), and 62 geographical features of the United States like:

Chesapeake Bay
Mammoth Cave
Black Hills
Painted Desert
Mohave Desert
Great Lakes
All major rivers
all major trails (Oregon, Mormon, Santa Fe…)
Ozark highlands
Okefenokee Swamp… and many more.

English: 9 sentence definitions for things like “phrase” like this:

“A phrase is a group of words that does not contain both a subject and a verb, and may be used as a single part of speech.” (also predicate, subject, subordinate clause, and independent clause)

and the “principal parts” of 14 irregular verbs such as:

to lie (infinitive)
lay(s) (present)
laid (past)
laying (present participle)
laid (past participle)

and 2 lists: the 4 types of sentence structures and the 7 sentence patterns (S-V-DO-OCN)

and last but DEFINITELY not least…

Math: 236 facts including:

212 multiplication facts from 1×1 through 15×15, the perfect squares through 15^2, and cubes through 15^3

(no skip counting or fingers allowed ~ just spit out the answer immediately when shown the flash card!)

and

24 math laws, formulas, and conversion such as:

“The Distributive Law states: a(b+c) = ab + ac.”  or “The area of a circle is Pi(3.14) times the radius squared.”

In my opinion this is an amazing accomplishment, so I’m bragging on my girl! (There were a total of 8 students who earned the title!)  She did most of this work all by herself, since I wasn’t able to be quite as involved during our time in Texas and all of our travels.  (The kids participated in CC while in Texas, too.  We just transferred campuses for three months!) She studied in cars, coffee shops, and relatives’ houses! And this is not to mention ALL of the art and music history she studied, the tin whistle tunes she learned, the science experiments she completed each week, the weekly public speaking component, and ALL of the English grammar she learned and composition practice she got in the afternoon “Essentials” program.

I couldn’t be more proud of her. I couldn’t be more pleased with the curriculum that Classical Conversations provides for my kiddos.  And I couldn’t be more blessed by this incredibly loving and supportive community of homeschoolers.

Recipe For My Weekend: Daddy’s Girl Retreat!

Abby and Yarisa enjoying the summer sun!
Been looking forward to this for  a while now ~ hanging out with all of these lovely ladies and the young girls for whom they pour out their lives on a weekly basis.
Ita leading worship.

 This year the retreat they’ve planned is called “Daddy’s Girl”, and we will be talking about fatherhood in its created, fallen, and redeemed states.  Some have lost fathers, some have never met their father, some come from broken homes, and ALL of us need to have a godly perspective on fatherhood, especially since what God intended for us as daughter’s under a father’s care hardly ever plays out according to plan in this fallen world.

Pretty sure Katlynne is peppering Robert with questions about the Doctrine of Salvation… ☺

First, we’ll see God demonstrate perfect fatherhood to Adam and Eve and to all of His children and look at the qualities of Created Fatherhood: Leader, Protector, Nurturer, Provider, Defender/Advocate, Teacher/Disciplinarian
Next, we’ll look at what happened to fathers and families after sin entered the world.  We’ll read the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel, and observe how she was failed by all of the men in her life when she needed them most. Fallen Fatherhood at its worst.
And lastly, we’ll look at Jesus’ interaction with woman caught in adultery.  It’s a beautiful return to the kind of nurturing, protecting, and defending that our heavenly Father intended for earthly fatherhood, but it’s only possible through the redemption and restoration of Jesus Himself.
The whole crew ~ they are a testimony and blessing to me!

 And yes, we’ll talk about mother’s too, but our main focus will be on God’s love and desire to be a perfect father to us through the Cross.  (Father’s are especially important in the lives of girls ~ you can check the statistics for yourself!) Jesus, the son, was the only one to ever experience the rejection of the Father, so that we would never have to. His payment for sin and victory over death make forgiveness and restoration possible.

Please pray that these teen-aged girls will come to know and experience the only Father who will ever be able to love and provide for them perfectly through the sacrifice of His son!  Please pray for Him to speak these truths well and that I would rely on the Spirit for words of comfort and truth.  Please pray that the Lord will be glorified and that hearts will be turned to Him!

Baller, Nike Poster Boy, Clotheshorse (a.k.a. Cooper)

 Well, it’s a week later, but I had to wait for all of his birthday presents to arrive in order to post properly about Coop’s 15th birthday.  The FedEx man is making a daily stop at our house this week to drop off box after box from Nike.com.

 He requested the same gift as lat year….cash.  All he wanted was shopping money and a trip to the mall. (Who can blame him?) So, after a breakfast of coffee cake and BACON (his one food request), we sent him on a scavenger hunt.  He found green stuff at every location.  Money was anticipated to arrive in the mailbox later that day, thanks to the faithful tradition of Grammy and Paw-Paw, and arrive it did ~ right after lunch at Cooper’s favorite Chinese food restaurant and just in time for our trek to the “big” mall.

 He also received money from Aunts and Uncles and was rolling in it by evening time!  We picked up Coop’s good friend, Dustin, and headed to the mall.

 I’ve received quite an education in all-things-basketball over the last year, namely the strict rule about not being able to wear the same shoes on the outdoor court as you do on the indoor court.  I’m not really sure how this justifies THREE pair of shoes, but at least now Coop won’t ever go to jail for breaking this cardinal law. Fortunately, my running shoes perform well anywhere, because I certainly can’t afford THREE pair.

He’s still expecting one more package tomorrow, and then the spree will officially be over. (And I’m pretty sure he will not have one penny to his name!)  Dustin contributed the “Sick” shirt to Coop’s extensive wardrobe, and I have to tell you that it’s pretty accurate!  Coop is quite talented on the court.  Just see for yourself…

Hardly a day passes that Coop does not find some way to play.  There are two outdoor courts within walking/biking distance, and even if Dustin can’t join him, he plays by himself or with whoever happens to be at the court.  Yesterday, he played three rounds of HORSE with a college student and beat him all three times! (If it rains or snows, he’s inside doing drills from a training book.  The kid is DEDICATED.)
His greatest challenge, though, remains to be an elite 73 year old named ….Grandad!

 Grandad would not let us leave Texas until he had played his championship game with Cooper….

…and I don’t think Coop gave the man any slack.

Can’t believe he’s 15!  And he’s an amazing kid, whom I’ve loved watching grow up.  He’s come so far in ALL of his abilities ~ not just his mad ball skillz, but also in taking responsibility, working hard at school, chores, and pursuing spiritual growth and the answers to his questions there.  Really looking forward to all that the Lord has in store for this one!

Happy 15th Birthday, Cooper!  We love you and are so glad you’re ours!