Saturday, December 19, 2009

Practice for tomorrow's Lessons and Carols

Christmas Decorations

Decorating the tree always mean a trip down Memory Lane.

This one's from a missionary family who visited our church in 1995. It shows St Isaac's in St Petersburg.

This is a tiny hand-painted picture of the log cabin that was the first St Louis sem.

This is from a family at Gary's vicarage congregation. The words painted on the cross are "He gave His only Son," and every year it hangs in a prominent spot near the star on top of the tree.

This is from the organist at Gary's vicarage congregation. My mom loved the pottery cherub face from the first time she saw it, and commented on it nearly every year she visited at Christmastime.

These clowns are also from the organist in Jackson. The poor fellows have rendezvoused with Elmer's Glue more than once, but 24 years later we still have 'em.

Today's Laugh

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Decorations

Hanging above the kitchen sink, with the Revereware --
the Mistletoad.

If I remember correctly, this fellow was a gift from a community Christmas party put on for families of disabled kids. I think we received the mistletoads the same year that Katie and Rachel got their gray stuffed bears.

A Few Short Items

Do you really need to enunciate on the descant? It's high. It should be okay if you hit the note and just approximate the consonants, right? After all, the congregation is supplying the words and sufficient enunciation.

Andrew and I butchered our first animal on Wednesday. I didn't throw up. Good for me. Lesson #1 -- the knife needs to be sharp. Lesson #2 -- intestines are funny. Lesson #3 -- some lessons are learned easier from a teacher than from a book.

It's snowing on a global-warming conference. Psalm 2: God sits in His heaven and laughs.

The nice thing about having two identical DVD players is that losing the DVD remote doesn't mean you can't use the machine. You just hijack the other machine's remote. (What happens when the second remote goes missing??)

An incident with Glenda's grocery receipt makes for a funny joke for Lutherans and other liturgical types.

Today's Laugh

"It's so cold outside," the elf said, "that I just watched a polar bear jump from one iceberg, trying to reach the next iceberg, but he froze in mid air!"

"That's impossible," Father Christmas said. "The law of gravity won't allow that!"

"Oh, I know," the elf replied, "but the law of gravity's frozen too!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009


The Mankato newspaper had an article last week on a half-hour movie produced by a couple of guys connected with Bethany. Paul said the bit part he played actually made it past the editing cuts, so that he was in 1-2 seconds of the finished film. And one of those scenes turned out to be the poster for the movie. Just thought Mom might like to see the poster.

For those who don't know my kids, Paul is the tallest guy in the picture, the one on the left in the front, next to the main character.

Blessed Virgin Mary

The angel comes to Mary and greets her with "Blessed are you among women!"

Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She greets Elizabeth with "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.... All generations will call me blessed" and tells why they will do so.

At the sound of Mary's song about God's keeping His promise of mercy, baby John leaps in Elizabeth's womb for joy, and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and responds to Mary's greeting, "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"

Elizabeth was the first of "all generations" to call Mary "blessed." And why did she choose those words? Because it was the word of God spoken by the angel, and told her by the one who heard the angel.

And why do we call Mary blessed among women? Because we too heard what Elizabeth said that Mary said that Gabriel said that God said.

Trickle-down theology. Yup.

Today's Laugh

I didn't know if my granddaughter, Rachel, had learned her colours yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what colour it was. Rachel would tell me and always was correct. But it was fun for me to revel in how bright she was, so I continued.

At last she headed for the door, saying sagely, "Grandma, I really think you should try to figure out some of these yourself!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Economic and Social Stability

The property tax bill came recently. We were discussing whether to pay it in December or January, and how that would affect what we pay in federal income taxes. If we pay in January, this year's taxes will be a hundred or so dollars more, but the 2010 taxes would be several hundred dollars less (if the tax law remain the fairly stable).

We came to one conclusion: there is no way to know what to do. We don't know what the government is going to do to the economy, to know how much more trouble we're going to face with regard to Gary's income. We don't know what the government is going to do with regard to tax laws. We don't know what the government is going to do with regard to socialist policies in other areas. IF there were stability, we could make plans that we could reasonably expect to pan out. But there isn't enough stability for us know.

Then we visited the orthodontist today. We don't know what's going to happen with health care. We don't know what's going to happen with prices. How do we make decisions that will worsen Andrew's situation (which is a necessary step to achieve real healing), knowing that it's possible he'll get caught in the middle and not be able to finish the treatment? How do we know if we're going to start something which, with policy changes, may leave us with crippling bills before it's over?

As the bigwigs are playing politics and looking for power, I wonder if they have any idea that nearly every family and every small business in the country is facing decisions like these (be it about college, moving, health care, debt, job changes, etc) because we don't know what to expect from their tinkering two or three years down the road?


The dentist recommended two orthodontists for Andrew. He told us that he wasn't sure whether Andrew would need palate surgery too, or if the braces would be enough. Today we got our first opinion. Second opinion is in 3 weeks.

Wow. Andrew's bite is misaligned in one direction on the left side, and misaligned in the other direction on the other side. Around the canines, the upper teeth fit inside the bottom teeth. The front teeth cannot touch each other. The roof of his mouth is not wide enough. Oh, and by the way, the wisdom teeth need to be removed too. These are not matters of appearance; this is about the likelihood of teeth becoming worn out at far too young an age, as well as the near-certainty that the problem will cause pain in his jaw, back, neck, and headaches a couple decades down the line.

If the dentist where we used to live had pointed these things out, they could have changed his palate through orthodontia instead of waiting until his bones were harder and the joint fused so that it needs surgery.

They need x-rays to see how to remedy this. The orthodontist said that her first look at his mouth indicates that we'd probably need to have him in braces which will actually worsen his situation. It will take a year or so to get the teeth in the right position for where they'll be after they do the surgery to rearrange his palate. After a couple of months to heal from surgery, they will continue with the braces to get all the teeth in the right place as best as they can. I asked about what would happen if, for some reason, we started on this program and it was interrupted. Wouldn't we be leaving Andrew in worse shape than where he is now? The orthodontist said that there isn't much worse than what he's got now.


We talked briefly about the benefits and risks of a proper fix, as well as the benefits that might be achieved through a "compromise fix." These are going to be some hard decisions.

History Tidbit

The things you learn as you're teaching your kids...

American soldiers in the first century of the country were excellent marksmen and sharpshooters because the young men had been shooting their suppers. Kids would sometimes take rifles to school so they could shoot something on the way home. Or kids would be told to go out into the woods until they'd shot enough squirrels, crows, rabbits, quail, whatever, to feed the family that night. Their aim was well-practiced before they ever ended up in the military.

Today's Laugh

How do you know Santa is a man?

Because no woman is going to wear the same outfit year after year after year ....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Highly Favored Lady

It's an amazing and humbling thing to look at your kids sometimes and see their faith and their good works, and realize that you would never have done the good thing that you just witnessed your kid do. When you see holiness in your children that does not manifest itself in your own life, you may have awe, but no pride (since you know you didn't have anything to do with engendering that goodness in them).

Think how often Mary must have seen that. When other kids picked on Jesus, He did the right thing. If Mary was impatient one day, Jesus responded perfectly. He did what He was supposed to, even when she didn't. I don't know about you, but whenever that happens in my house, I need more Jesus, more forgiveness, than ever. For Mary and Joseph to live with a perfect Son, there would've been plenty of opportunities to notice their own shortcomings, and thus be deeply in need of God's favor/grace.


I get to play chimes with Pam and Kara for Lessons & Carols on Sunday. Oh boy! And I get to play the drum for one of the songs. Oh boy! I like being in choir. Yes, I do!

I never played chimes or handbells before. Kara and I have to share one of the chimes, and pass it off between us. Kathy, the choir director, told me it helps to practice with spoons. So yesterday I had my teaspoon, tablespoon, serving spoon, and mixing spoon lined up on the dining room table, "ringing" them according the music. Andrew laughed at me. But boy, it helped a lot! Reading music isn't enough for chimes or handbells. There has to be some coordination too. Yikes -- for that I need practice! But practice with the real chimes (and the real live children's voices) went much better today. Yippee!

Now the question is whether I can sing and play the drum at the same time.

Today's Laugh

It's not hard to meet expenses;

... they're everywhere.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where Did Pooh Go?

We came home from choir this afternoon to find a Pooh ornament off the tree, across the living room, under the edge of the back of the couch.

Andrew claimed it was Athena's fault. Being a middle-aged female (like Athena) I disagreed. It was the young 'un.


Mentor or Teacher?

If I teach someone how to make kombucha or knead bread, I'm handing over a skill or a certain amount of knowledge. That's teaching, but it's not being a mentor.

When my kids learned to drive, Mr Fischer was the teacher for most of the kids in the class, but for my kids he was, for a brief time, a mentor. He was someone to look up to, someone who taught them much more than driving, someone to remember for the rest of their lives. That's why I bothered to make the 2-hour roundtrip to take Andrew to Trident Driving School after we'd moved.

Most homeschool moms are mentors more than they are teachers. A teacher passes on a skill or a certain bit of knowledge. But a mentor teaches so much more: values and outlook and habits and mannerisms and skills and worldview and social habits and maybe even academic knowledge too. Mentors shape people.

It's a scary to be a mentor. You know your own failings. How can you teach other people? What if they grow up to be like you? Yikes! It would be so much easier to just teach what's in the book, avoid the risk. But then ... which book? Who decides which bits of academic knowledge are the important ones to teach? Who decides which worldview should be passed on? A school board? A government panel? Nah. I don't want them being mentors for my kids either.

It's scary enough to be mentor for your own children, the ones God placed into your care, the ones whom you've loved since birth, the ones who've trusted you all along. But then, to ponder (even briefly) the thought of teaching other kids, the scariness multiplies! You know you can't love those other kids as much your own. You suspect other parents ought not trust you with their child's mind and heart and life. After all, who are you? When it's your own kids, you know you have a call from God to raise them up. But other kids? That would be a daunting responsibility to take on oneself.

Maybe if I could convince myself that teaching was something simple like passing on spelling skills, or fixing a washer, or declining Greek nouns, then teaching wouldn't seem like such a big deal. But when you've spent most of your adult life as a parent, a homeschooler, a mentor, it seems like such a trivial thing to merely "teach," in contrast to investing all your life and energy into the people committed to your care.

Today's Laugh

The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you're in the bathroom.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Lights

Everybody around here leaves their outdoor Christmas lights on all night. When you drive past houses in the daytime, you can usually see the tree in the front window lit up. The power company warns us every November that next month's bill will be high due to colder weather, more days on the billing cycle, and extra energy use for holiday celebrations and lighting.

When I was little, I remember waiting for dusk and asking Mom and Dad when we could turn on the tree lights or the outdoor lights on the porch. The 25th was the ultra-special day when the Christmas-tree lights could be ON during the daylight hours.

My big problem with turning the lights off (to extend the bulb life and to save on electricity) is forgetting to turn them back on again the next evening!

Library Browsing

Some homeschoolers choose which books they want to use for the year, buy them, and proceed to work their way through their chosen curriculum. Other homeschoolers plunder the library on a regular basis, making use of what's available, being flexible with the curriculum so as to make full use of what our tax dollars have purchased.

If you love using the library, now is the time to browse.

December is when people don't borrow as many things from the library. Especially the non-fiction. The shelves are overloaded! A couple of hours in the library in December will give you a great idea of what science and history resources, what educational DVDs, what computer programs, etc, are available to be used the rest of the year.

Today's Laugh

Middle age is when it takes longer to rest than it takes to get tired.