Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Caroling

John, Holly and I went Christmas caroling with our church tonight. We all had a great time, especially because the weather was so nice! It's probably the first time I've gone Christmas caroling in 60 degree weather. We always go to the shut ins and senior citizens of our church. Most of them sing right along with us. Our last stop was at a sweet lady's house. She is neither a senior citizen nor a shut in but someone who is going through some physical trials. Normally, she would have gone with us. She was so blessed that we came to her house that she cried. I am blessed to be part of such a wonderful church.

Gabriel and Hannah will be home in less than 48 hours! I am ecstatic!! We've been able to see them a few times over the last 11 months but they haven't been HOME since January. And they haven't seen our "new" house at all. I'm not sure if I can contain my excitement over the next few hours. Pray for them as they travel home on Saturday. It is a 14 hour drive.

I reached one of my smaller goals with my Crafty Homeschoolers shop - 25 items listed! Next goal is 50. Wonder how long that will take?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Tonight I was sitting in the living room when I heard sirens. It was a fire truck. Well, we lived in an apartment for four years about 1/2 mile away from the fire station so hearing sirens were normal everyday occurrences. I hardly noticed it until John jumped up and ran outside to see what was going on. Then I remembered that we were no longer in our apartment but in a nice quiet neighborhood. So I opened the front door and looked around. Was a neighbor's house on fire? Could I see any smoke? No, but there was the fire truck right in front of our house. It was going slowly with lights and sirens. And then, I saw a person on top that was not wearing a fireman's outfit. It was Santa Clause. What??? Did the Christmas parade get lost? Were the firemen bored? Is this some sort of tradition in this county? I just don't know. I guess I'll have to ask the neighbors. Thankfully none of them needed the firemen!

I mentioned on my last entry that I started an Etsy shop. Holly came up with the name. We both thought of several other ideas but they were all taken. So Crafty Homeschoolers it is! I hope you'll take a look. Perhaps you need some Christmas tags or other scrapbooking items. I've had fun making them. Stop by and take a look! Here are a couple of things I've made. Hoping to add some more this week.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Me and My Busy Life

Hello, dear deprived blog! So sorry that I've neglected you. Life stays busy. Like this weekend for example. We had cantata practice on Saturday. John, Holly and I sang in the choir. None of us had speaking parts this year for a change. Then on Wednesday, the lady playing Anna the prophetess became seriously ill and was hospitalized. So on Friday I volunteered to do her part. Thankfully, I just had to read it and not memorize it! It went great! Afterwards we had a huge dinner - I brought sweet potato casserole. Yum! Now it's time to relax. I'd like to promise to write more often but with Gabriel and Hannah coming home THIS SATURDAY and my new etsy shop - Crafty Homeschoolers - I'm sure I'll be busier than ever! But I'll try. Because I miss you!!

Friday, September 30, 2011


We have always celebrated the kids' birthdays by giving them a day off of school. Traditional schools take off for Washington's, Lincoln's and Martin Luther King's birthdays, so why not celebrate our own instead? That has been our custom since our first kindergarten years in the mid 1990's. Each and every year the kids tried to convince me to take my own birthday off as well. Anything for a free day, right? No. I was adamant. I LIKED teaching! And what better way to spend my birthday than doing something I liked!

I don't remember if it was last year or this year, but Holly figured out that with Gabriel and Hannah being gone she didn't get the same number of "school holidays". So she convinced me to take off for my birthday and John's too. She's always been my little negotiator. Gabriel and Hannah now have to attend classes on their birthdays. Hannah hardly gets to even celebrate hers because it comes right in the middle of mid-terms!

This morning I enjoyed sleeping in late (until 7:30), uninterrupted devotions, and some quiet time to myself. Holly does have a co-op class today, birthday holiday or not. She is taking high school art this year. Later John, Holly and I will go see the new Sherwood Films movie Courageous. It opens today! I don't go to the theater often but this is one film I want to support. After the movie we'll have one of my favorite foods - Pizza!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Contest Winner!

I decided to go with the old fashioned drawing a number out of a hat - or a bowl in this case. Holly was my helper and my mom was my photographer and witness.

And the winner is . . . .

Comment number 2 - Camelia Howey! Congratulations!!!!

For those who didn't win or even enter, you can purchase My Memories Suite 2 now at My Memories using this code - STMMMS42260 The code will give you $10 off the price of the program and a $10 coupon to use in their store!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking Program Giveaway!

I have loved scrapbooking for years. It has been something that I have been fairly successful with, unlike tole painting, decoupage, cross-stitch and everything else that I have attempted since macrame. Just recently I have delved into the world of digital scrapbooking. I like it just as much as traditional scrapbooking, maybe more! I am pretty much a novice in the techno - scrapping world but I'm having fun! (And that's saying a lot since my kids say I'm a "techno-peasant."). Here are just a few things that I love about digital scrapbooking:

  • Everything is on my computer or the internet
  • It's easy enough for a techno-peasant like me to figure out
  • There's no mess to put away
  • My dining room table is not cluttered (at least not with scrapbooking supplies!)
  • If I need a new embellishment or background paper, it's an easy download at My Memories. No need to make a special trip to the store.
  • If I only have a few minutes of time, I can work on a page without dragging out a bunch of supplies.
Here are just a few of the projects I have done. You can also look at some other blog entries that I have posted recently here and here.

Now for the good news - My Memories is giving one of my blog readers My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbook program FREE! To enter my contest to win this program, all you have to do is visit My Memories ( and then leave me a comment on this blog entry telling me what your favorite digital scrapbooking kit is. This is the only mandatory entry. For extra entries you may do the following:

  1. Tell others about my contest on facebook/twitter/ your blog (up to three entries)
  2. Follow the My Memories blog
  3. Follow My Memories on Facebook
Leave an additional comment for each extra entry! Contest ends Saturday morning. Winner will be by a random drawing. And if you just can't wait until the end of the week, you can purchase it now at My Memories using this code - STMMMS42260

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9-11 Story

My September 11 story began in June of 2001. We were missionaries to Romania on furlough. We were in New York trying to raise support to return to the field. We had a day off and decided to go to the Statue of Liberty. This was my first time there; the kids too. I remember standing there looking across the skyline of New York City. I had always wanted to go there. I made up my mind right then and there that we would go on our next trip to New York which was coming up in September. Ten year old Gabriel didn't seem as impressed as I was with the skyline. One comment about the world trade center buildings was, "They're not twin towers. One has an antenna on top."

Three months later we found ourselves in New York again. We were busy visiting several churches and spending time with John's family. John asked at one point, "What do you want to do on Tuesday?" I forgot about my determination to go to New York City. I forgot about the Empire State Building and the Twin Towers. It never occurred to me that we would be only an hour away on Wednesday and it would be a very feasible trip on Tuesday. All of that completely slipped my mind. Instead I said something like, "I don't know. I think it would be a good idea to stay at the mission apartment and do some homeschooling with the kids." And that is exactly what I did. John had heard about a preachers' meeting going on that day and so he left early to do that. I was there in that church apartment, prophet chamber as it was called. We pulled out our books and I was so glad to get some much needed school work done.

It was a nice place to stay. There were two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was an old TV on the dresser. The kind where you pull the knob out to turn it on and it takes a while to warm up. We didn't bother turning the TV on. We had school. Did I have a cell phone? I don't remember. I would say probably not because John had not contacted me. Neither did anyone else. We were pretty much in our own little world that day. As far as we knew, it was just your run of the mill average day. How very wrong we were.

It was about 2:30 PM when a lady from the church came over. She was also a homeschool mom and we had made plans to fly kites together that afternoon. She came into the church kitchen with a distraught look on her face, "Have you heard what happened?" she asked me. By her facial expression, I knew it was serious. I had no idea that it was an event that would forever change all of our lives. As she shared the impossible news, I wondered what had happened to our country. How was it that our security was so lax that so many planes could be hijacked?

We went to the room with the old fashioned black and white TV and pulled the knob to turn it on. It wasn't hard to find a channel broadcasting the news. By that point, both buildings were long gone and they showed over and over how they had collapsed. It was then that I saw the antenna on the one tower - and I remembered! I remembered Gabriel's words on how they weren't really twins. I remembered my desire to visit the city. Oh how I had wanted to go! And that was our free day, the day that it would have been possible to go - and I had forgotten.

Why did God spare us, and not others, from possible death and certain calamity? (Just being in the city that day must have been a nightmare.) I am sure I will never know as long as I live on this earth. For His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We are blessed by His mercy and His grace. Our hearts are grieved by the tragedy that touched all of our lives. I hope that as Americans we will never forget what has happened; that we will continue to be a strong nation that will fight for our freedom. And I pray that as Christians, we will love God with all of our heart, soul and strength and share His mercy and grace with all. May God bless America!

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Hurricane Edition

What a week we've had! An earthquake on Tuesday and a hurricane on Saturday. I have had enough natural disasters for a while. At least it has caused us to seriously look at our emergency supplies. The power has been out at our house since Saturday afternoon. Water has been off and on, sometimes looking a bit brown. Yesterday morning I was talking to John and I said, "Why don't you drive us to Knoxville and my mom and dad can come pick us up there." I was only half serious. A wish. Time to spend with my parents. I could still bring homeschool books and Holly and I could continue school in airconditioned comfort. Not to mention showers and warm meals. We both kind of dismissed the idea. John went to bed (he's working midnights) and Holly and I went to church.

That afternoon, Holly and I had tuna salad for lunch - leftovers from the night before. The house was comfortable for a while but as the day went on we became hot and sticky. There wasn't much of a breeze and the neighbors generator was making a lot of noise! Holly and I went to church early for orchestra practice. John arrived just before 6 for the service. He told me then that he had made some calls and we would leave on Monday morning for Tennessee! Packing was easy since there wasn't any way to do laundry. We just threw some things in our suitcase and were on the road!

So from the interstate, here are some of the things I am thankful for this week:

  • Safety in the storm

  • Peace to lie down knowing we are in God's Hand

  • A strong roof over our heads

  • A huge oak tree with strong roots and limbs - only small branches and large acorns fell on our roof - for hours

  • paper plates

  • paper cups

  • disposable cutlery

  • lots of ice in the freezer in preparation for the storm

  • cold milk

  • a gas grill

  • food on the table

  • nice juicy warm hamburgers

  • a full pantry

  • church after a rough week

  • a neighbor with power offering showers

  • and storage for our frozen/refrigerated itmes

  • a cool breeze in the morning

  • the portabiltiy of homeschooling

  • a loving, generous husband

  • loving, generous parents

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Day in the Life of our Homeschooling

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Long time readers of my blog will know that I have struggled with finding a routine for the past four years. I am beginning to realize that routine is probably lost forever. I do not imagine that I can sit down and write out one schedule and tell you that that is the way each day goes. Routine is difficult first of all because my husband works shift work. Monday he was at work during our school day. Tuesday he got off shortly before we finished and today he didn't have to work until 5 p.m. But here is a glimpse of our first few days:

On Monday we began with PE - a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Then we had our back to homeschool breakfast. After that, Holly did some typing practice while I took a shower. Next we dove into the academics; History, Science and Language Arts. We are still waiting on our math program to arrive - one more obstacle in my quest for routine.

Tuesday was basically the same minus the back to school breakfast. (I cook breakfast approximately two or three times a year, give or take.) Holly was working on her independent work when we had to dive under the table and pray for our own safety during the earthquake. More on that here.

Today John was off and he was a sweetheart and made us some French toast. He accompanied us on our walk and then we came home and enjoyed that treat. While we were eating he asked if we wanted to go out to lunch. Who turns down going out to lunch? Besides, he missed our back to homeschool breakfast so I thought a back to homeschool lunch with Dad was a good idea. Maybe it should be a new tradition too! So we did History and Science and then got ready to go out. (Still no math program) We also went shopping for some emergency supplies should Irene decide to pay us a visit. Not to mention I'm still a bit rattled over the quake from yesterday. (Why don't we name earthquakes?) We returned home and skipped Language Arts. Holly did her independent work and that was the end of day three.

John begins midnights this week so he will be in bed during our school hours. I'm assuming that Thursday and Friday will go much like the other three days. Next Monday we will add homeschool band to our schedule and in mid September Holly will take art and a literature and composition class at a local co-op. I suppose if I could sum up a day in our life in one sentence (and probably a run-on) it would be, "Trying to homeschool on most weekdays yet adding some flexibility to our schedule to mesh with John's along with some surprises that life throws in."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Earthquake Version

John worked a 13 1/2 hour shift. He came home shortly after 1 PM. Tired. Hungry. I warmed up a plate of leftover spaghetti for him and he relaxed a bit in front of the TV. Seemed to be a typical scenario in our home. His job as State Trooper is stressful. Police work always is because you never know who it is you are stopping for a simple speeding ticket. On top of that, he works long hours; taking every overtime assignment available to help pay for college.

It was close to 1:45 when he went to lie down. "Sweetheart, would you come rub my back a bit before I sleep?" He talked briefly about his day as I rubbed his shoulders. Then we heard a noise. A rumbling. It sounded like a huge truck coming down the street. "What is that?" I asked. It became louder. The floor was shaking. Earthquake! I ran down the hallway, through the living room. Our small house never seemed so long. I entered the den where Holly had been doing her school work. She was under the table. I joined her. Together we felt the house sway back and forth like a swing - or a strange ride at King's Dominion might be a more accurate description. No seat belts. No safety bars. Only a simple prayer for God to keep us safe. I don't know how long it lasted. John wasn't far behind but the danger was over before he got to us. He checked things outside. Everything seemed fine. Life was back to normal, even if my insides were still shaking.

Each and every day I can find something to be thankful for. Some days these blessings, these gifts are more obvious. Today I am thankful for:

  • water coming out of my faucet
  • electricity coming through the wires of my home
  • phone coming from . . . somewhere
  • food in my pantry
  • and refrigerator
  • safety in an earthquake
  • my little girl who remembered what to do when I wasn't in the room when danger loomed
  • technology
  • facebook to connect with family and say we are fine
  • friends who care
  • the promise of Christ's soon return
  • a successful first day of school
  • my sweet girl working diligently
  • new school books
  • a cooler summer day
  • wisdom
  • a multitude of counselors "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." Proverbs 11:14
  • God Who knows me by name
  • and loves me
  • every moment that God is watching over me and I don't even think about it
What are you thankful for? You can share your blessings at Ann's

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lazy Summer Mornings

Holly and I have been enjoying some lazy summer days these past two weeks. June was chaotic with moving and a trip to Alabama. July we were swamped with different activities like unpacking and settling in, Vacation Bible School, the Tomato Festival and camp. We are still settling in, bit by bit. And I'm working on school plans. "Working" probably isn't the right word because it's an activity I really enjoy. But our mornings have been rather relaxed; sleeping in late, internet surfing. It's been nice but I wouldn't want that to be our schedule forever. And it won't be because on Monday we begin our homeschool year!

As usual, I think I am more excited about the new school year than Holly. She is looking forward to some of her classes: band, art and even math. We are trying Teaching Textbooks this year. She saw it and fell in love with it. We shall see how long her enthusiasm lasts! The thing Holly dislikes the most is getting up "early". I'm thinking that will be (for her) around 7 a.m. this year.

It's our last year of middle school. Sigh. Speaking of planning, I'd better get busy! What time do your kids get up for school?

A Bit about Gabriel and Hannah

Gabriel and Hannah are finishing up their last few weeks of work. Gabriel works in the Abeka Book distribution center. If you use Abeka, he might be the one who pulled your books off the shelves! He has also been a substitute worker in the sports center. They have a day camp for elementary kids and Gabriel's job when he's there is to supervise them while they are bowling, skating, rock climbing and all the other activities that are there. Hannah works for Abeka Academy. That's their video school. She's on the phone all day making and receiving calls about enrollment.

I thank God daily for their jobs, for without them, I don't know how we could send them back this fall. But I miss them more than my heart can say. I love that they have made good friends and are really having a great time. Gabriel is getting a lot of reading in. Something that he probably wouldn't do here at home. It's been good for them, but cutting the apron strings (or heart strings would be more like it) is painful. August may be too early to start the Christmas break count down but I did it anyway. 120 days.

Scrapbook page made using my new digital scrapbooking program. I'm giving one away next week!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Not Back to School - Student Photos

It's the "Not Back to School Blog Hop: Student Photo Week. So let me introduce you to my student:

This is Holly. She is 13, an age that she has long awaited. Being a teen was on the top of her goals list for many years. I suppose having teenaged siblings for so many years has something to do with that. She is entering her last year of middle school. I cannot believe that in five years we will be sending her off to college. Now that she has reached her goal of "teenager", she is working on some others. Her interests include journalism, art and photography.

I also had to include Gabriel and Hannah. Would you call them my former students? I suppose as Mom, I will always be their teacher. They will begin their sophomore year next month at Pensacola Christian College. Gabriel is studying pre-law. His ultimate goal is president. Yes, of the United States. Hannah is majoring in graphic design.

These pages are some of my first attempts using digital scrapbooking software. I'm planning a give-away next week so be sure to stop by again!

Monday, August 15, 2011

One Thousand Gifts Week 4

There are so many blessings bestowed on me each day. Each Monday I am listing a few here. This week I am thankful for:
  • God Who directs our steps when we do not know the way
  • the peace that passes all understanding
  • praying together as a family
  • casting my cares upon Him because He cares for me
  • God's thoughts towards me that cannot be numbered
  • and towards my children
  • God's protection
  • rain
  • my mom and dad
  • and their 52 years of marriage (August 15th)
  • being raised in a Christian home
  • my husband who loves me
  • hugs everyday
  • a child still at home
  • housework - because it means I have a home
  • a cool-ish summer day
  • God's grace
  • Salvation freely given
  • Eternal life through Jesus Christ
  • A relationship with Almighty God, Abba Father
What are you thankful for?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome to the Woodward Family Homeschool

We recently moved from a tiny apartment to a small house. The new school year is just around the corner so getting our school area ready is high priority. We do not have a room just for "school" Most of our work will be done here in the dining room. Definitely need some sort of window treatment on the window. Someday.

Here's our school/dining room table with some of the artwork Holly has been working on this summer.Lighthouse paint by number and ballet slippers done freehand.

Bulletin boards that used to be in Gabriel and Hannah's rooms. If we would have stayed in the apartment they probably would have remained in their rooms. But since we had to take them down . . . Now they are waiting for for something shcoolish to go on them. Above the bulletin boards are Gabriel and Hannah's high school diplomas.

Room decor is a bit of Americana combined with my children's art work. Above are George and Abe - pastel drawings by Gabriel when he was 16.

Pictures by Gabriel, Hannah and Holly circa first and second grade.

This room is equipped with an ugly air conditioner unit. It's also useless and unnecessary since the house has central air. If we owned the house we would simply remove it. But we don't. Well, I was wanting a place to hang my maps. But we don't have a lot of wall space. So my ingenious husband came up with the idea of hanging them over the AC.

I can easily change from the world map to the US map.

And what's a homeschool room without an over abundance of books?! Dolls on the top are awaiting room on a shelf in Holly's room. Maybe we'll get that painted this weekend.

Well, that's our "school room". But of course our learning isn't limited to this one room. I could also add pictures of the kitchen where cooking and science experiments are likely to take place, the comfy couch where we'll read lots of books, the piano, the back yard . . . You get the idea!

It's week 2 at the Not Back to School Blog Hop - School room week. Join in here!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Long Story Short Version

My longtime blogging friend PlainJane asked me recently if I am still working outside the home. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years, beginning shortly before our first child was born. It has always been my personal conviction that mothers should be home with their children unless their income was needed to put food on the table. I understand that most Americans do not share my feelings on that point but I am not here to change anyone's mind, I'm simply stating what is right for our family.

I did have a couple of part time jobs when John was in college. He also worked full time, making a little above minimum wage. I did Mother's Day Out 2 days a week and brought Gabriel and Hannah along with me. After that I cleaned our church occasionally. I was a substitute janitor! I got the kids up early, took them to my mom's and was at the church by 5:30 A.M. Money was always tight. We didn't have fancy cars and have never taken a luxury vacation. But watching God work miracles in our lives has been more fascinating than any exotic excursion could ever be.

Fast forward to 2007 - We had just returned from Romania and made the decision to move to Virginia. We came here in faith that John would be hired by the Virginia State Police. Until then, John found a job working security. Two week's pay only paid for two-thirds of our rent. We decided I would be a substitute teacher. It was a good plan. I worked from 7:00-3:00. The kids did their school work and I would go over it with them in the afternoon. John worked from 4:00-Midnight.

Money was still tight. We still didn't have fancy cars. Vacations consisted of going to see family. Schedules were also tight. Trying to squeeze in homeschooling between my work and the kids' jobs was tough. Reading aloud went out the window and I really missed it. But John was eventually hired by VSP and I didn't need to work as much.

I worked some during our third year in Virginia. Gabriel and Hannah were seniors in high school and college expenses were on the horizon. I'm not sure if I worked ten days last year. With Gabriel and Hannah gone and John working days, there were few occasions when he could be home with Holly so I could go to work. Last week, I received my substitute letter. I discussed it with John, "Do you want me to sub again?" We would have the same dilemma - what do we do with Holly? So the answer is a decisive "No."

To sum up the story, I will once again be a stay-at-home mom. I will look for other ways to earn some extra income - selling things on ebay and clipping coupons. But mostly, I will be watching how God will provide in His miraculous ways. And stand in awe.

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Thousand Gifts Week 3

Thanking the Lord for (One Thousand Gifts # 41-60):
  • flowers outside my window
  • weeds to pull because it means I have a flower garden
  • a handy-man husband who can fix almost anything
  • a little girl who loves to write
  • two college sophomores working hard far away from home to pay for their education
  • a driveway to wash cars in
  • and a water hose
  • and plenty of water
  • a call from my son to ask a simple question
  • a nice neighborhood to take a walk in
  • freedom

  • trees to give us shade
  • my car
  • my husband's car for work
  • books
  • bookshelves overflowing with books
  • the roof over my head
  • a comfortable bed to sleep in
  • and a pillow
  • being held in God's almighty hand
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
Psalm 37: 23-24

Friday, August 5, 2011

Outside My Window

We were in an apartment for four years after Romania. The view was mainly other apartments. It's been a blessing to have a house and a yard complete with wildlife and flowers. It's been so unreasonably hot that I don't venture outside much. I wilt like these Black-eyed Susans which are planted by our deck.

I can see them while sitting here at my computer. There is a rose bush by the deck as well. It's a bit tall and spindly but today I noticed the very first rose bud since we've been here. And it is my favorite rose - pink!

We've seen some interesting critters too. One little guy is cute and furry even if he is considered a nuisance. And there's one I hope never slithers this way again . . .

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not Back to School Plans - 2011

I have said now that I have two graduated from homeschool, I know how to do it now! And it is true that I have learned a lot over the years. Gabriel and Hannah will be sophomores at Pensacola Christian College this fall. Gabriel is studying pre-law and Hannah, graphic design. They love it there and we are blessed that they made the dean's list both semesters of their freshman year. That leaves me with just one at home.

Holly is going into 8th grade this year. Homeschooling one is entirely different than two or three or more! When I had all three at home and we were done with "school" for the day, they would spend time with each other. Even if they were in the same
room, doing different things, there was a togetherness.

(Picture taken in the Transylvanian Alps circa 2003)

This year, I found myself analyzing what did and did not work with Gabriel and Hannah and what would be the best options for Holly. She is like them in many ways but in other ways, she is very much her own person. She is very social and needs interaction with others. So, here is what I have decided to do for this year:

Middle School English Composition and Literature - To be taken at a local co-op. I am also hoping this will encourage her to read. She reads well but never chooses to. This will be my first experience with this group of homeschoolers!

Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra
- This will be a first for us. I have heard many good things about it.

Abeka History of the World
- I like Abeka. It is very thorough!

Abeka Science Order and Design (Life Science)

Band - Continuing to learn the clarinet in a homeschool band group - if we can afford the gas. It is about 45 minutes away.

High School Art
- this is also at the co-op. I am a bit apprehensive about her taking a high school class but the teacher said it is for all skill levels and the middle school class is for 5th-7th graders.

Her interests at this time are either journalism or graphic design. In her spare time, should she have any, she will work on keyboarding and blogging. Time will tell what her actual college major will be. At this point in their lives, Gabriel was going to be an author and Hannah had no plans to go to college.

For more Not Back to School plans check out Heart of the Matter {online}

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Monday, August 1, 2011

One Thousand Gifts Week 2

Life can be difficult with its many trials and sorrows. But God gives us so many blessings each and every day. Sometimes they are obvious. Other times we have to think about it and remember the thousands of ways we have to say thanks. So I pause on this Monday morning to list a few of them:

21. God's Word to comfort and guide me
22. a little girl safely home from camp
23. the encouragement she found there through friends and God's Word
24. her renewed dedication to God and serving Him
25. texting - so I can easily communicate with my children so far away
26. and digital pictures they can send via the internet

27. time to myself
28. my computer
29. my computer desk
30. our church
31. the preaching of God's Word
32. our youth group with teens dedicated to living for God
33. a grill on my backyard deck
34. the American flag waving proudly by my front door
35. trees that give us shade
36. ice water
37. a phone call from my sweetheart
38. grocery stores
39. coupons
40. God's provision

Friday, July 29, 2011

Files of Memories Part 2

(Read Part 1 here)

I was numb as they carried Holly to the operating room. The trauma of the night before and precious little sleep were taking their toll. Worried about what would happen to Sweet Holly, I took a seat. Was it on the window sill or the radiator? I don't remember. There was no waiting room. No comfortable chairs. I was there with our friend Laura and our not friend Missionary Wife. Missionary Wife tried to comfort me with her own stories. "Well if you think this is bad . . . " Her chatter did not help. My mind was in a fog and I wasn't really listening anyway.

I don't know how long we waited. An hour? Four hours? It seemed like an eternity. Finally out came the nurses carrying Holly. They had smiles on their faces. They went on about how well Holly did. She didn't like the shot but afterwards was completely happy during the whole ordeal, smiling and cooing. She was always a happy baby. I often thought I should have named her Joy. I spoke with the doctor. I was told she was the best in Romania. I'm not really sure what that means in the realm of national healthcare. She performed micro plastic surgery on Holly's pinky. It was necessary to shave 1 mm of the bone but she was able to save the root of the nail.

We went home and waited for John. How could I tell him that his baby was injured? That her hand would never be whole again? When he arrived, I ran out to meet him at the gate. I didn't want him to walk in and see Holly's hand bandaged up without knowing what had happened. Once again, I don't remember what I said. Some things about the entire event are so clear and ever etched in my mind. Others are just a vague dream.

John was sad for me and for Holly. If his emotions were more than that, he held them in for my sake. He was the strong one. He was gentle and gracious and loving.

We went back to the hospital the next day to have it checked. Please keep in mind that we were in Romania. Do not envision your local hospital. And this hospital or at least the ward we were on specialized in hands and feet. Doctors and nurses were required to wear white jackets. Because it was cold a bathrobe would suffice. Patients were walking around with their hands and feet bandaged. It looked like something out of "Night of the Living Dead." Someone in a bathrobe came up to me and started to reach for Holly. At first I was shocked thinking we were in the looney ward. Then I saw her ID badge and realized she was a nurse.

We donned the required white jackets (no street clothes allowed) and took Holly into an examining room. Snip, snip, snip with the scissors and off came Holly's bandage. Then the nurse turned around to a man sitting in the same room. His hand was also bandaged and oozing . . . not a pleasant sight. She used the same scissors on that man. I wonder where they were before Holly?

We all survived these traumatic events. Amazingly her finger healed without any infections. It is scarred and the nail grows over the tip of her pinky. One day we hope to have more plastic surgery, here in the United States, to correct it. Hearts have healed as well, also with some scar tissue. But that is a story for another day.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Files of Memories

Today I was going through some of the boxes in the den - our collection site for all the things we don't know what to do with or haven't gotten to yet. Some of the boxes are ones that we brought back from my mom's. She so graciously stored them for us for a long time; some nearly a decade. I found a file of pictures drawn by Gabriel and Hannah circa first grade.

They brought a smile to my face. Sweet memories of my now grown children.

I find myself wondering what Hannah was wearing that day that made her draw her shirt or dress like that.

There was another file. It contained only two items. An x-ray and a slip of paper from a Romanian doctor. I don't know what the paper says. I've always had a difficult time reading Romanian handwriting - and this was written by a doctor! But the x-ray was self-explanatory. A tiny baby only nine months old had suffered an injury. She was so tiny that the bones in her hands had not yet fused together. There was another hand in the x-ray - a nurse holding the baby's hand down. Or perhaps it was me. I don't really remember.

It was January 1999. We were in Brasov, Romania. John had taken a trip to the United States. Gabriel, Hannah, Holly and I had been alone for nearly 10 days. We were fine. We had several good Romanian friends. I knew the language well enough. We would be fine for those 10 days that John needed to be gone. It was on that last night that we found it necessary to visit the Romanian emergency room. I was supposed to go to language class that evening. I was tired and decided not to go so I called the teacher and told her. Gabriel, Hannah and I were having fun building with K'nex. We decided to build a tower taller than Daddy before he came home. Holly was crawling around and making a mess out of the process. So I got the exersaucer and put it just outside their bedroom door which was right next to the kitchen. We made our tower, took some pictures and with a sigh I realized we just had one more night to get through. John would be home the next day.

I went to the bathroom to start Hannah's bath water. She asked if she could play with some Tupperware in the tub. Sure. She knew where it was. She opened the cabinet, took what she wanted and closed the door again. She didn't realize that her baby sister had put her hands on the door. She couldn't know that the door would become a knife to a tiny finger.

The scream that reached my ears was one that could stop a mother's heart. It was more than pain. The blood that I saw terrified me. The tip of her pinky looked frightening. Was that her nail . . . or bone? I searched the cabinet for any sign of flesh but found nothing. I grabbed a clean towel and the phone. No one I knew was home. And there was no 9-1-1.

"Oh, God!" I prayed aloud, "help me!" Hannah sat in the living room and sobbed. I told Gabriel to pack the diaper bag. We were going to the hospital. He didn't really know what to do. Hannah was my helper in that department. I kept making phone calls. Finally, in desperation, I called a missionary wife that didn't like me and made that fact obvious. Her son answered the phone. I remembering him telling me to calm down. I didn't realize I sounded frantic but I must have been. She came right away. She was the right person to get ahold of. She knew where to go, what the procedures were.

We went to the children's hospital for the x-ray and then on to another hospital. At both places, they put some medicine on the finger and wrapped it up. "Come back in the morning for surgery." Really?! There's no surgeon now? Can't you call someone? "Who are you to wake the surgeon up?" I was told.

So we went home. By then, our good friend Marius and Laura were home. Marius went to get Ildi who lived many miles away in a Hungarian village.
Ildi helped me with the kids and the house while I was at language class. She adored Holly. Before she arrived, I looked at that cabinet door again. There it was on the edge, the tip of her pinky from the fingernail up. I don't know how I missed it earlier except that God must have blinded me to it. I'm not sure I could have seen that at that point without having a nervous breakdown. Ildi came and cleaned up the blood and washed Holly's outfit. We took turns holding her all night. Meanwhile, John knew nothing. At the time of the accident, he was on his way home. Even if I could get in touch with him, what could he do?

I took her to surgery the next morning. Our doctor in the States advised me to not let them give her a general anesthesia. A local was all she needed. The night before I had trouble remembering English but that morning, I was arguing with the surgeon in Romanian. "Who told you this? A pediatrician? He is not a surgeon!" So I gave my sweet baby back to God. "She's your baby Lord. Do what's best for her." Then the surgeon came back out and asked how much did she weigh. Eight kilograms. They said they would only do a local. "Thank you, Lord!" And with that, they took sweet Holly down the hall and behind closed doors.

To be continued. . . (Read Part 2)