This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Friday, June 22, 2007

Scripture and Song

James 2: 17-26

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Christian, Rise and Act Thy Creed

Christian, rise and act thy creed;
Let thy prayer be in thy deed;
Seek the right, perform the true,
Raise thy works and life anew.

Hearts around thee sink with care;
Thou canst help their load to bear;
Thou canst bring inspiring light,
Arm their faltering wills to fight.

Let thine aims be hope and joy,
And thy worship God’s employ;
Give Him thanks in humble zeal,
Learning all His will to feel.

Come, then law divine, and reign;
Freest faith assailed in vain,
Perfect love bereft of fear,
Born in heaven and radiant here.

Words: F. A. Rollo Russell
Music: William H. Monk

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Favorite Ingredients Fridays--Grilled Salmon Skewers

This week I found Grilled Salmon Skewers at Prevention. Not only does it look wonderful, but it looks healthy!! Who knew??

1 pound salmon filet without skin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
12 fresh lemon wedges
12 skewers

Slice salmon lengthwise into 12 long strips, and thread each onto a soaked wooden skewer. Place in a shallow dish.

In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and pepper. Pour over skewers, turning to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. When finished marinating, transfer marinade to a small saucepan, and simmer for several minutes.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat.

Lightly oil grill grate. Thread 1 lemon wedge onto the end of each skewer.
Cook skewers on the preheated grill for 4 minutes per side, brushing often with marinade, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Visit Overwhelmed With Joy's Favorite Ingredients Friday to find many more recipes.

Catching Up with Memes, Part 2

Barbara H. tagged me with the Personal Policies Meme. Sorry it's taken so long Barbara!!

The meme asks about “not moral rules, like ”Do Not Kill,’ but the silly policies we impose on ourselves, like ‘Never eat anything you can’t identify,’ or ‘Don’t step on sidewalk cracks.’”

My Personal Policies:

Caffeine is required for me to be human. Without caffeine I am, at best, an ogre. Cowboy coffee—it can float a horseshoe.

My crayons must be organized by color—this has been discussed before. I wasn’t kidding.

I don’t like to microwave soup. I actually try to avoid the microwave as much as possible. I don’t do as well as I would like, but I try. We bought a toaster oven so I would have an alternative that didn’t heat up the kitchen. I obviously don't put soup in the toaster oven--I use the top of the stove for that. I use the toaster oven for things like left-over pizza. Which has nothing to do with soup--and now it stays out of the microwave!

My husband washes the big items in the sink, the cutting boards, the frying pan, the large pot or the colander. I don’t’ like to do it and he is very helpful.

It is important for me to have a tablecloth and cloth napkins on the table at least for the weekend. I try for during the week, but it’s hit and miss.

I keep fresh flowers on the table if at all possible. Small tiger lilies or carnations can usually be found inexpensively and last for a long time. It really helps my attitude.

I am extremely obsessive about sorting the laundry. I am slow in getting it done, but I am so strange my husband just doesn’t offer to help anymore—and that’s okay, he helps with the large dishes.

I hate being late. I will give myself forty-five minutes of wiggle room if I at all possibly can. Traffic has a way of messing up my schedule and I just plan for it most days.

As to who I am going to tag? Well why don't YOU play if you haven't already and let me know more about YOU.

Catching Up with Memes, Part 1

Susie J tagged me with a meme a while back and I am just now posting my answers. Thanks Susie for the tag!

“INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.”

Inside Mo’s Mind
J’s Thoughts and Musings
TeaTime Ramblings
Joyful Days

Next select five people to tag: (if you haven’t done it already)” I am just going to say, "If it looks like fun and you haven't done it, why don't you play? I would love to learn more about all my bloggy friends."

Now for the hard part — the questions: “What were you doing 10 years ago?” Ten years ago I was pregnant with my first son. I worked for an ophthalmologist and was really having a hard time standing through surgeries. I leaned heavily on the counter taking patient histories in office.

We had just moved into a house in the middle of nowhere and I was not unpacked. I never managed to get unpacked in that house. I ate cereal for breakfast, managed some lunch in the hospital cafeteria and ate cereal when I came home then went to bed immediately after.

My husband was attempting to start his own business.

“What were you doing 1 year ago?” Pretty much the same thing as I am doing today. I am hauling my boys to summer intensives (last year it was only one participating and I was trying to entertain the younger one). I was psyching myself up for a week-long trip to my parents’ and the county fair.

“Five snacks you enjoy:”
Cabernet Sauvignon
coffee with lots of cream and sugar

“Five songs to which you know all the lyrics”
The ending song to the Barney Show…”I love you, You love me...”
I’m a Little Pile of Tin
The Hippo Song
Astronaut sung by FFH
Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins

My favorite: “Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:” You know…this depends on if I am a millionaire, as in I have a million dollars or a millionaire, as in I have fifty million—very different things. Assuming the first (because I am not at all greedy):

tithe/donate to some worthy cause
pay off every bill
pay for a modest house
have two decent paid for vehicles
set aside $$ for sons’ college

Wow…I am so boring. But financially I would love to be boring.

“Five bad habits:”
Staying up too late
trying to read too many books at one time
allowing myself to be old
being a know-it-all

Five things you like doing:
snuggling my children in the morning when they get up
listening to my husband play guitar & sing
hanging out with my husband

Five things you would never wear again:
a bikini
Bay City Roller pants
a Joan Jett haircut
white pants
really high heels

Five favorite toys:
my heat gun
my computer

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Finishing the Spring Reading Thing

Spring Reading Thing Final Post & Recap

Well, we are at the grand finale of Katrina of Callapidder Days Spring Reading Thing. Time for a look back and a look forward.

I had nine fiction and eight non-fiction books on the list—seventeen books!!! I think that was ambitious. Of those I read six of the fiction and two of the non-fiction and I have two of the non-fiction books started. So eight done, two in progress. Doesn’t sound too impressive unless you know that I kind of got distracted…and read nine other books not on the list—six fiction and three non-fiction.

So I read seventeen books!! And am working on two more. So that counts…sort of…maybe???

Fiction on the list: The Princeling and The Oak Apple by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton , The Crossing Places by Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Ill-Earth War by Stephen R. Donaldson, The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert, Eragon by Christopher Paolini, The Forest House by Marion Bradley-Zimmer,

Non-Fiction on the list: Healing ADD by Daniel G. Amen, M.D., The Unprocessed Child by Valerie Fitzenreiter, In His Steps by Charles Sheldon, Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, Spiritual Direction by Henri Nouwen, Scattered by Gabor Mate, Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Eastern Orthodox Theology by Daniel B. Clendenin,

Books read not on the list: Searching for Mary Poppins by Susan Davis and Gina Hyams, editors, The Open Door—Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer by Frederica Mathewes-Green, The Hurried Child—Growing Up to Fast Too Soon by David Elkind, Ph.D., The Black Pearl, The Long Shadow, The Chevalier and The Maiden by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory, Physik by Angie Sage.

So Katrina is asking for some insight in our wrap up post. She says, “Basically, I'd like your recap post to be just that -- a post letting us all know how the Spring Reading Thing went for you. But because I'm sure everyone would like to know a bit more than "It went great," here are some questions for you to consider answering as part of your post:”

What was the best book you read this spring? I’d be hard pressed to decide that. I loved Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and have her second in the series Fly in Amber waiting to be read. But the Morland Dynasty series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles has totally won my heart. The Princeling and The Oak Apple were on my list and since reading those I have finished four more in the series. Did I mention that there are 29 books in the series??!!!!

For non-fiction, Spiritual Direction by Henri Nouwen I am in the middle of it. I have checked it out from the library and have come to the conclusion this is an interactive book and I want to buy it before I go on. Some books you just need to be able to mark in.
Healing ADD by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. was a good book and gave me lots of food for thought.

What book could you have done without? Well…apparently Practicing the Presence of God. I never finished it. I have struggled with it. And I think it is time to cry, “Uncle.”

Did you try out a new author this spring? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again? Diana Gabaldon was new to me and yes I will read more of her work. Edith Wharton was an author I had not read any of her books and I will be putting some of her others on my list.

If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it? I didn’t even open Eragon, The Jesus Incident or Forest House. I’ve read The Jesus Incident before and loved it, so there was time to do that later. I’ve read Marion Bradley-Zimmer before and she is a favorite of mine, I know I will get to Forest House at a later date. Eragon—I want to read and we own it, I may be dragging my feet a bit because when I hit a series I often like to read it all the way through. The final book, Empire is in the works so I may wait until then.

I got started in Scattered by Gabor Mate and, well, (furious blushing) got distracted. If the first few chapters are any indication of the rest of the book this will be a good read.

Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones? Ummm…I got a little greedy as evidenced here and here.

What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? Maybe you learned something about yourself or your reading style, maybe you learned not to pick so many nonfiction books for a challenge, maybe you learned something from a book you read. Whatever it is, share! I learned I am terrible at setting limits for myself. I was really amazed when it got put in black and white, just how distractible that I am. I think the challenge forced me to follow through and that was a good thing. I enjoyed reading other’s reviews. It was fun to visit so many sites.

I read one ADD book and started another. So I feel like I learned about that. The ADD/ADHD topic comes up at my house on a regular basis, not just regarding children but also adults. Healing ADD and the beginning of Scattered have made me take a serious look at myself as well as my family. I hate to get in a self-diagnosing situation, but to not be self-aware, to be in denial about things is not a good thing. We won’t be running to any doctor soon for a formal diagnosis, but information can be liberating and if handled properly can help in decision making.

What was the best part of the Spring Reading Thing? Goal setting was definitely a great thing. Knowing that I was joining bloggers from around the world to read—one of my favorite pastimes was very cool.

Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall? I’m there!! Katrina writes here about the need for taking some time off and I totally understand that. Actually Spring and Fall work really well for me. During the summer I will read, but definitely want to have free time to hang out in the pool and play with the boys and do some other things. Winter is a bit stressful around here, so adding a “challenge” might not be in my best interest.

Any other thoughts, impressions, or comments. It is amazing and inspiring to see how popular reading still is. I hear how television is consuming everyone’s free time and this kind of restores my faith that maybe I am not alone with my preference for reading.

Visit the other participants of Katrina's Spring Reading Thing .

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday--Card Keeper

I am a cardmaker, not a scrapbooker. I love scrapbooks and admire the talent and creativity that goes into doing that--I am just not very patient. I want immediate results. So I make cards and while it isn't completely immediate, it is faster.

I also participate in card swaps sometimes. And I like to save my goodies (Edited to add I like to save the cards my swap friends send me. Most of my cards are given away.) instead of using them. But storage was an issue. Since most of the ladies make cards that are 4 x 51/2 (approximately) I decided to take an old photo album that had found its way to my home with no use in sight, and put inspirations in there.
Now I can keep it handy to admire or to try a new technique, but it sure takes up less room and the cards stay neat and clean. And it works for me!

To find lots of neat Works for Me Wednesday ideas that might work for you--go visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer. The ideas never end.

Wordless Wednesday--Tyty

For more Wordless Wednesday participants visit HQ.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday--Cooking

Traveling with Annie again on Tuesday and with all the other Time Travel Tuesday participants.

Today we revisit our first cooking or a memorable cooking experience. Yes…well…Cooking has been somewhat creative around me.

Let’s take you back to the summer before sixth grade. My dear little sis was in first grade. Mom was working. I was in charge. Bwaahahahahaha…And being taller I controlled what we ate.

And we ate mostly cheese soup and bologna sandwiches (with Miracle Whip—‘coz I hadn’t discovered mayo yet). If we didn’t have bologna we had tuna fish sandwiches and cheese soup. I really liked cheese soup. And Miracle Whip. Just so you know it was the old style Campbell’s cheese soup. They don’t make it anymore. Oh, yes, they have cans that say “cheese soup.” But it is different. And yucky.

There was the time in seventh grade I set off the smoke alarm making pancakes. Sadly I repeated that fiasco often. It has only been within the last five years that I have been able to make pancakes. I am still capable of setting the smoke alarm off if I attempt fried chicken. My husband does fried chicken.

It was somewhere around here that my mother and sister concluded I was not a chef and relieved me from all cooking duties. So somehow I missed out on receiving Grandma’s meatball recipe and several old stand-bys. Mom and Sis deny this and finally I have gotten those recipes.

After I graduated from college and rented an apartment with a appliances I began cooking for myself. Being lousy at following directions (could that be why they didn’t bother to give me recipes?) I kind of made things up as I went along. Too this day I will cook things by taste. Adding here and there as my palette feels the need.

Last memory to share—my first impromptu party with my soon-to-be-husband and sister. A group of my friends, a friend of my husband, a friend of my (ex) brother-in-law ended up at our house one evening, no one had eaten and I instigated “stuffed quesadillas.” Again no recipe—just hauled out everything I could think of out of the fridge and made quesadillas for everyone. Then we all had a fun time dancing in the two car garage/make-shift dance floor. One friend who was there still brings this up, occasionally, more that fifteen years later. It was a good cooking memory.

Visit Annie and all the other Time Travelers.

The Unprocessed Child –Living without School by Valerie Fitzenreiter

This book’s very nature invites me to discuss point by point the things I agree and disagree with. (I promise I won’t do that—but it will involve a lot of editing and self-restraint.) One moment I was nodding in complete agreement with the author —saying “I did that!!” “Exactly what I have been telling everyone else.” and the next I wanted to fling the book as far and as hard as I could because the sweeping stereotypes and assumptions were so obvious.

The author is heavily influenced by A.S. Neill who founded Summerhill School and wrote the subsequent book with that title, and by John Holt, pioneer and champion of unschooling. Neill, I was not terribly impressed with, John Holt I think was a visionary.

This was a book of contrasts for me to read. Ms. Fitzenreiter is the parent of a single daughter. I think she is not very open to the fact that children are individuals and while this obviously was hugely successful for her daughter, I don’t think that this is a manual that needs to be followed to a T. I would recommend that homeschoolers read this book to understand the perspective, but I would not recommend that this be the only book a homeschooler, especially a new homeschooler or potential homeschooler reads.

This is a secular, liberal book. This is the antithesis to the Pearls and the Maxwell/MOTH people. A quote by the author on p. 55 “In a home where a child is free to grow and learn at her own pace, discipline is an unwelcome intrusion into the lives of the members of the household and totally unnecessary.” Ms. Fitzenreiter argues that no bounds other than keeping a child from harming themselves or others should be placed on a child. As a mostly grace-based parent and eclectic schooler, I am often in closer agreement with her than most of the world, but sometimes do see benefits to a few rules and restrictions.

This is the second time I’ve read this book. I was so conflicted the first time I read it, I waited a long time and read it again, just to see there was some predisposition of mine that kept me from whole-heartedly embracing Ms. Fitzenreiter’s theories. As I read it the second time it was apparent that this is a Utopian book. There is no doubt in my mind Ms. Fitzenreiter and her daughter Laurie were very successful with this method of living and learning. But there are some issues that leave me wondering if the total lack of discipline and complete unschooling may work better 1) with girls, 2) with only children & better yet with, 3) only children who are girls. There are just some things that would not work at our house.

Again, this was an interesting read. There are many valuable suggestions and ideas to ponder and possible put into practice. It is as much a parenting book as a homeschooling book. I think any parent would benefit from reading it, but I would definitely recommend that it not be the sole authority on homeschool or parenting for anyone.

This is the last book I will be reviewing for the Spring Reading Thing that was hosted by Katrina of Callapidder Days. I will be posting a wrap up post soon.

At the Crossing Places by Kevin Crossley-Holland

A Review

At the Crossing Places, Kevin Crossley-Holland’s second book of The Arthur Trilogy is just as good as his first book, The Seeing Stone, although I don’t believe it is a completely stand alone story. One would be hard pressed to stuff all the necessary background from the first book into the already action packed pages of the second. That said it was an enjoyable read for this fan of all things Arthurian.

The story takes place in two ages, in the year 1200 and also in the misty past of Camelot and the legendary King Arthur. The young hero, also Arthur possesses a “seeing stone” given to him by his “guide,” Merlin. The seeing stone gives him glimpses back to the Round Table and to the quests of the knights who sat around it.

The book, published by Scholastic is definitely an older juvenile book, but also an extremely enjoyable read for an adult. The chapters are very busy but small so that the material can be absorbed. The main characters are well fleshed and engaging. Crossley-Holland’s historical research is obviously well done and his writing is just accessible and vivid.

Light but fun and fast moving reading for an adult, wonderful and well done adventure series for an older juvenile audience, and most possibly an appropriate and exciting read-aloud for a younger juvenile audience who crave action, At the Crossing Places and the whole Arthur Trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland is a recommended read.

This was one of my books for the Spring Reading Thing hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. Spring is coming to a fast end and so is the reading thing. I will be joining the other participants in recapping this week.

...And the winner is...

Amanda is the winner of the random drawing for the book The Divine Appointment by Jerome Teel.

Congratulations Amanda!! E-mail me and I will get your book sent out to you, it just arrived today, what a timely thing!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Children’s Book Review Monday— I’m going to go to Australia…

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,
Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, and
Alexander, Who Is Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move

"I’m going to go to Australia…"

That has become a family joke around our house when things get rough that maybe we need to go to Australia. We read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day when Roo was very little and loved it. Roo and I have joked about it ever since.

Recently we checked out that and the other two titles for Boo. Roo insisted that he listen in. The laughter and nods of empathy were fun to watch. Boo has never been one to let me read to him or to want to read. It has just been the last six months that he has decided reading is good and he will do it. And it is, and he has, and life is better for it.

So he had never met five year-old Alexander or his brothers Nick and Anthony. We read one and I was fully prepared to be “done” (possibly one of Boo’s first words). But Boo wanted to know if the author had written more and low and behold she had, and Mom had been "on it" and had the other books ready and waiting. So we read all three in one sitting.

It is easy for a child to identify with Alexander—it is easy for an adult to identify with Alexander!! Alexander (and Nick and Anthony) are based on Viorst’s children. But it is not so difficult for anyone of any age to step into the picture.

These books are timeless and in my opinion a must read for everyone.
Children's Book Monday is hosted by Elise at A Path Made Straight.

Menu Plan Monday

This year is flying by!! Fruits and vegetables are starting to show up at the store looking so lovely. I like to have some "wiggle room" in the menus just in case we find a really good deal at a produce stand or even in the store. We haven't gone to the big farmers' market it the city yet. We were just too tired again this weekend to do much. But the pool is up & that means I want easy suppers so I spend less time in the kitchen and more time outside. I think this week will be alright.

Monday— beef roast in the crockpot, potatoes & gravy, carrots and salads
Tuesday—grilled turkey burgers, summer vegetables and salad
Wednesday—make your own pizza (frozen bread dough crusts)
Thursday—Philly style sandwiches, raw vegetables and dip,
Friday—time to grill again!!

I'm heading on over to Laura's I'm an Organizing Junkie blog to see what other Menus are out on this Monday. Why don't you come visit too?

Grains of Gratitude

Grains of Gratitude—Well I’m back. Somewhere around Wednesday I had a bit of a melt down. And I knew I needed a bit of a break from as much as possible. Blogging, while generally an uplifting project did not fall into the “necessity” category and so that was something that got set aside for just a bit. But I’m back. And grateful to be so.

The boys and I are thankful for two men who make such a difference in our lives. The first is my dad, who I talked about here. He is a good grandfather too. Always ready to tell the boys of naughty things I did and side with them when I am being a “mean mom.” He especially likes to see how many snacks they can eat and how late they can stay up and watch television with him. He is always good about having his grandchildren come alongside and help him with his projects. We are blessed.

We are also blessed with my husband. When he and I were planning our wedding and talking about our life together, for some reason, we never saw ourselves as parents. But I remember thinking, “Even though we won’t have children, I know he would be a great dad.” Good thing, too. Both our boys were extremely planned after a change of heart about our future and let me tell you—I got them a good dad.

Happy Fathers Day to both the men who have blessed my life.

This week I am grateful for my new IRL friend R. She listened thoughtfully as I explained how much I wish I could dance again—as in take a dance class (jazz or ballet), but am too embarrassed about my age and weight. She told me that I am beautiful and a wonderful person, and the way she said it—I believe she meant it. But she also had the courage to tell me that I just needed to get over myself, put my big girl panties on and do it. That it was there and available, but I had to do it.

I’m still thinking.

I met this neat lady through our children’s activity. She brought her daughters to town to participate, so she is visiting for a month. She is vivacious, sweet and open. I am grateful to have met her.

This week my husband put a black-out on electronic entertainment for the boys. It meant more coming from him and it made a difference. I am not anti-electronics. We have plenty. But attitudes were getting sour and a week where the precious little free time was played with physical toys and board games and art supplies were dragged out and books were read has made a difference. Grateful for good attitudes.

For my geriatric cats and mid-life pooch I am grateful. Old Man is in his mid-twenties, the Ferocious One is sixteen and the Poochie is six. They have blessed us with snuggles and play and companionship. They have been healthy for the most part and only slightly neurotic (which my husband said is my fault) and I am grateful. I am trying to not look too far forward because inevitably they will not last forever. But God was kind when He created animals. They really are blessings.

The pool has holes. It is one of these pools. I am grateful we can get a new one. Because it is hot. And while I don’t like hot, I like to play in the pool with the boys.

Praying that you have a good week. What are you grateful for today?

Grains of Gratitude was started by Christine at Brady’s Bunch.