Tuesday, September 30

The Great Raccoon Caper

We have suspected that we have a raccoon (or more) living in our tree for quite some time. Now that we have a fence, it has pretty much confirmed my suspicion. Now that dogs can't get in, something else has to be leaving "gifts" in our backyard. Then last week Abby called me over to show me some tracks she found on our fabric pop-up playhouse that the wind blew onto the grass that previous evening...yep, they were raccoon tracks.

So I asked our back neighbor if we could borrow his live trap. He brought it over, complete with bait (cat food), and showed me how to use it. We set it at the base of the tree. Voila! The next morning there was a raccoon in the trap! Now what?

What a cute little face!

After breakfast we skipped school and had a field trip instead! We put the coon in the back of our van. They truly don't smell very nice, I must say. Then we drove to a favorite local lake. We found a path leading into the brush and trees, and set him free there. As soon as the trap was opened, he took off into the blackberry bushes so fast we could hardly see him. Whew, I was glad that was over with.

So afterwards I took the kids to a nearby park that they love and let them play for several hours. Then we came home, added more bait, and reset the trap. Stay tuned...

Monday, September 29

Baseball Photos

We're still plugging along with Ryan's baseball practices and games. Here are some photos...

Waiting to bat.

Deep in thought?

Warming the bench.

Poised and ready.

Oops, not sure why he swung at that one.

Down and ready!

Hey, how did he get finagled into being umpire?

Batting practice.

Wow, what a pout!

Our cute little slugger.

Sunday, September 28

Neighborly Love

Last week when our back neighbor (as Abby calls him) found out I was sick, he called me to the fence and handed me this beautiful bouquet of dahlias. Then this week as a bonus, he cut me this gorgeous bouquet of hydrangeas. I have been enjoying these so much. I told him how much I thank God for him because he is such a great neighbor. I only hope he comes to know Christ soon. I keep praying for him, but would you mind saying a prayer too?

Saturday, September 27

No More Training Wheels!

Though Daddy and I have been convinced for months and months now that Ryan could ride his bike just fine without his training wheels, Ryan himself was certain he needed them. It's sometimes hard to figure my little boy out; sometimes he needs to be pushed and sometimes he needs to be left alone. After his bike sitting in the garage virutally brand new for 18 months, I decided to push him into riding it. Within a week, he was loving it again. But with the training wheels, I decided just to let him decide when it was time. Then out of the blue last week, he announced he wanted his training wheels off. I removed them posthaste, and off he went!

Friday, September 26

Reading, Part 2

Abigail has been wanting to learn to read for probably a year, but I haven't felt that she was really ready, so I have been putting her off. Finally, at the beginning of summer I caved and decided to try it. We worked on it for about three weeks, but she clearly wasn't ready. So I convinced her to put it away for the rest of the summer and we'd try again at the beginning of the school year (she did NOT want to quit).

Reading Mat, the first book in the Bob Books series.

So we began again this month, and it has been going much better! She is not as frustrated, I'm not as frustrated, and she seems to be getting it. We have a long way to go, but I think she may be a reader by the end of Kindergarten this year. Learning doesn't come easily to her, but she gives it a lot of effort. I'm so proud of how hard she tries!

Thursday, September 25

Reading, Part 1

I have had difficulty keeping Ryan supplied with appropriate books of quality these days. He reads at about a fourth-grade level, but the books for that age are not always appropriate for a six-year-old. So when we were at the library recently, I sat on the floor in the children's chapter book section and dug through to find some books that might interest him. I gathered a few that I am still trying to get him interested in, but I hit the jackpot with the Hank, the Cowdog series.

I first heard about Hank on the First Lady Laura Bush's reading list, and I had read the beginning book in this series aloud to both kids last year. Hubby and I thought it was hilarious; however, either the humor was over their heads or they just didn't find Hank as funny as Mommy and Daddy. But when I found one book in the series entitled The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado, I figured he'd give Hank another try. Sure enough, he devoured that book in less than three hours! So later that week we went back to the library to find a few more Hank books for him to enjoy.

As a side note, we homeschooling moms often feel terribly inadequate and like we're not covering all the bases. We have chosen a very basic curriculum, and I sometimes struggle with feeling like we're not doing enough (whatever enough is). But as I was running a report on the work Ryan did last year, I was stunned to see that he had read 27 chapter books last school year...27! That's almost as many as I read and only includes the books I counted for school and not all the dozens of other picture books and "fluff" books that he also read. At least I can feel better about the reading portion of our school!

Tuesday, September 23

That Might Work

I am actually not a huge ice cream fan. I can take or leave it, but Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch is pretty irresistable, even for me. However, If PETA has their way, it might just work to keep me from even thinking about eating Ben & Jerry's ever again!

VERMONT -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman.

"PETA's request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow's milk in the food he serves," the statement says.

PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health.

"The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn't make sense," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Everyone knows that 'the breast is best,' so Ben & Jerry's could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk."

In a statement Ben and Jerry's said, "We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child."

All I can say is...eeewwww!

Saturday, September 20

If Only...

My kids were outside playing this morning. They had chosen some very loud and obnoxious game to play, and I asked hubby if we should ask them to play something else or just let them yell and be loud since, afterall, they were outside and it was almost 11:00. "Yeah, just let them," he says.

A few minutes later my son comes tearing into the house, through the living room, and into the bathroom all the while screeching out his Annoying Noise of the Day at an ear-splitting decibel level. I inform him he needs to keep his obnoxious noises outside to which he replies, "I can't. I'm afraid they might get lost." Oh, if only that were possible, my smart aleck boy.

Thursday, September 18

Blog Aboard a Mercy Ship

I have been reading this blog for a couple months now, and I thought it was time I shared it with you. This is one of only a handful of blogs I have ever read from beginning to end, and it is one of my favorites. When my feed reader is all lit up from new posts waiting to be read, my heart always does a leap when I see her blog among them and it's the first one I click on.

Check out ali's african adventures and read what God's been doing aboard a Mercy Ship docked in Monrovia, Liberia. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Also, if you want to see some of the incredible work that Mercy Ships does in the name of Christ, watch this video and prepare to be moved. These hospital ships offer free medical care to developing nations. They have state-of-the art equipment and do surgeries to repair things such as cleft lips and VVF (which I had never even heard of before since I live in such a blessed nation) to more severe injuries and disfigurements that you have to see to truly believe.

Tuesday, September 16

Persecuted India

While I have been distracted by the financial crisis and raging politicss here in the States, our Indian brothers and sisters in Christ are in desperate need of our prayers. Gospel for Asia has asked for our prayers in a recent article.

In light of the recent attacks in Orissa, Gospel for Asia leaders in Karnataka are asking for prayer. They send these specific requests:

  • Ask God to specially assign His angels to watch over and protect His people, evangelists, pastors and church leaders who are scattered across the state of Karnataka.

  • Pray that police and government officials will bring the violence under control immediately.

  • Pray that God will strengthen the church with courage, boldness, strong conviction and faith in the Lord to stand firm for His name during these days.

  • Pray that the enemies of the Gospel will be visited by the love of the living and true God and that a great number of them will turn to Him.

  • Pray for the suffering Christians to receive justice and favor in this hour of crisis.

If you haven't yet read Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan (founder and president of Gospel for Asia), I highly recommend it. You can get a FREE copy here. So now you have no excuse not to read it, but be forewarned, it might just alter your worldview!

Friday, September 12


I don't know how I managed it, but through some sleight of hand or an act of God, I have avoided passing my mortal fear of spiders on to my kids. I have forced myself to stand still, remain calm, and squash my instinct that says RUN, RUN FAST! I am so grateful that they are not afraid because now I have three people on whom I can call to come get the spider for me. Whoo-hoo!

The downside of this is that I now have to actually watch my kids pick them up! Doesn't that just give you the shivers thinking about it? Abigail has recently decided she wants to be an entomologist when she grows up. She can be found daily examining bugs in her little bug box (at least those that survive the capturing process). She will spend hours at this activity. Thankfully, we don't have many spiders around here (I LOVE Oregon!), so she usually just finds the odd ladybug or Box Elder beetle to observe (and inadvertently torture).

On this particular day she actually came and asked me if I would help her catch a certain spider so she could watch it in her box! Taking a very deep breath..."Sure, sweetheart." (I thought kids could sense fear. Does she not have a radar?) So outside we go as I watch from a safe distance and talk her through it. She was clever enough to grab the web it was spinning and then lower it into the box. Whew, another crisis behind me and she's still none the wiser about my arachnophobia!

(Yes, for those who are worried, I have reminded her repeatedly that she's not to touch any black spiders...ever!)

Thursday, September 11

Practice, Practice, Practice

Since we learned that Ryan doesn't understand the strike zone, Daddy has been working with him to help understand when to swing at the ball and when not to. He's actually quite a good batter, but he is still learning what's considered a ball and what's considered a strike.

Tuesday, September 9

FASD Awareness Day

Today is the 10th annual Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day. That's a mouthful that simply means today has been chosen to raise awareness about FASD (any disorder caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol).

When we adopted Abigail, we knew she had been exposed to alcohol, and she has since been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), one of the disorders encompassed in FASD. Sometimes people are surprised that we openly talk about Abby's disorder, but we want to raise awareness about it. I also want her caretakers (Sunday school teachers, babysitters, etc.) to know that my precious daughter cannot always control her behavior, not because she's defiant (though that happens too), but certain behaviors are hers because of brain damage. She needs compassion, she needs patience, she needs lots and lots and lots of repetition and then she will need still more repetition.

There is no cure. The damage is permanent. However, we are slowly discovering things that can help. We're still learning about how Abby processes information and what things will trigger certain behaviors in her, and it is extremely challenging to navigate this parenting journey. There are days when I feel it's hopeless and I throw myself on God's mercy and grace (which I should be doing every day anyway) and beg Him for wisdom. For me and my husband, it's been a lonely road. We don't know many parents who have done this. On the rare occasion we do get to talk with a parent who has been there, it is one of the greatest gifts, just because they "get it."

Thankfully, we have found a few things that have proven very beneficial, and the latest one is...(drumroll please)...swimming! I don't exactly know why, but Abigail is much better able to focus and control herself when she is regularly swimming. We bought an annual membership to our local pool a few months ago, and I take the kids swimming three days a week. When we don't go, we really notice the difference.

Don't get me wrong, Abby is the sunshine in our family! Despite my utter inadequacy to parent this child, God knew what He was doing when He brought her into our lives. She brings a balance to our other melancholy personalities, she loves life so much that it is impossible to not have that vivaciousness wear off on us, and she has the most compassionate heart you've ever seen!

Monday, September 8

New School Year

Garner Academy students hard at work.

We began our new school year today! I now have two "official" students, which will make this my most challenging year so far. Abigail is so excited about learning to read, and Ryan is just itching to get to the mulitplication tables (he's so done with addition and subtraction facts!).

We have new crayons, paints, pencils, and paper, so the kids are jazzed about that. Also, we are adding a teensy bit of geography this year (aside from the geography games and puzzles we have) by using the Joshua Project's Unreached People Group every morning. (You can find today's people group in my sidebar.) We look up their continent & country on the globe, see where it is in relation to where we live, and then pray for them.

Sunday, September 7

First Games

Warming up before the game.

Ryan's first ball game was a night game, so most of the pictures didn't turn out. It was pretty fun, and we have no idea if they won, lost, or tied. I guess they don't keep score in this league (whatever). We're still figuring out the rules since no one has a copy of them nor do they seem to be consistent from game to game.

Playing left field.

His second game was on Saturday, and I am amazed at how much better he is doing with just two practices and two games (and us working with him in the evenings)! He got on base his first time up to bat and even managed to make it all the way home before the inning was over.

However, his second time up to bat he struck out and was devasted because he didn't swing at the last pitch and had no idea why he was out. He caused quite a laugh in the audience at his confusion and wails of "Why?! Why?! I didn't do anything!" Daddy scooped him up and took him to the dugout to explain about strikes and balls since they had never gone over it with him.

Playing third base.

We didn't need to keep score to know we got completely trounced on. However, it allowed me to figure out another rule of this league: After one team scores four runs, their time up to bat is over. Ryan was clueless that they lost. All he knows is he had fun, and that's as it should be...for now anyway.

"Down and ready."

Thursday, September 4

Try to Remember

Posted at our ball field:

Wednesday, September 3

Feeling Good

I am sitting here watching some of the Republican National Convention. We watched some of the Democratic National Convention also, though I'm not sure I've ever watched either before.

I just have to say, I haven't felt this good in a while. Yes, it has to do with Sarah Palin, but not because she was chosen as McCain's VP. Have you seen that bun she wears? Little did I know my hairstyle was so fashionable. I am also feeling so young and youthful. I keep hearing about how young she is and all about her youth, and I'm younger than she is! Whoo-hoo!

I never would have guessed politics could make me feel so good.

Tuesday, September 2

Fall Ball

Well, it begins...our family's journey into organized sports. About four months ago some latent male desire reared itself in my little boy. He had never shown any real interest in baseball, but one day, he began asking us to play with him. So off and on throughout the summer we played catch and showed him how to hit in our backyard.

I checked into our local sports program to see how old you have to be to play Little League, and found out he is eligible for fall ball. We asked him if he wanted to play, and he said YES! Then we pulled out the heavy guns, did he want to play badly enough to pay for it himself? He said, YES! So from now till the end of October you won't find us at home. We will be at the ballfield...

See the littlest one in the line (second from the end)? That's Ryan.

Abby quickly made a friend and spent the whole time either
playing in the sandbox or swinging on the trees with him.

Working on his swing.

Fearless pitcher.

Oops, look again...fear and trembling.

He makes the cutest little catcher!

Positively swimming in the gear.

Monday, September 1

Labor Day Labor

We have been trying to stain our fence ever since we put it in back in May, but either weather or busy schedules have kept us from getting it done. Well, weather and schedules aligned for a brief time this Labor Day weekend, and we stained the fence.

Actually, it started raining Saturday afternoon and then it poured on Sunday so that the fence was too wet Monday to finish the job, but at least it's more than halfway done. Lord willing, we will be able to finish it this weekend, and I can post the finished pictures!


designer : anniebluesky : blogu