Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

We traditionally carve pumpkins every year. The boys are old enough to do their own carving (and scooping!). I didn't think we would have time to get it done this year, but things were cancelled Monday night because of wet and cold conditions. This is Virginia afterall. So they had time to carve their pumpkins. The left is a skeleton hand grabbing a spider, the right lower one started out as a skeleton coming out of a flame, but turned into a ghost instead. The face on the top one glows menacingly in the dark. The top left reflects the fact that Fred had football, a research project, AP History homework and mid-terms this week.
Today was career day at the elementary school. The kids were allowed to dress up as what they want to be when they grow up. Peter wants to be like Daddy. I think he makes a good Examiner, don't you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Sacrifice

This is the flame that burns in the remembrance room of the Holocaust Museum. It is the only room where pictures are allowed. It turned out too dark to see the scripture behind it, but it's a quote from Dueteronomy that we remember these things and tell them to our children.
Below is a quote around the top of the rotunda where, beneath, the names of the death camps are written with candles glowing underneath. It caught my eye and is relevent to the upcoming election.
In keeping with the theme of sacrifice in my life right now, I journeyed north with 4 bus-loads of sophomores to the Holocaust Museum. I had never been before, and honestly, I was worried about seeing it for the first time with a bunch of teens. They read Night by Elie Wiesel in English class. This capped that novel in a powerful way. I'm so thankful for a school system willing to teach that this did happen and not too long ago, since even in our day some call it a myth. We only had 2 hours to look through the 3 floors of items, so we didn't get to see much for very long. Two things really struck me on this visit. The first is the parallel between Germany in the 1920's and '30's and the United States today. The second is the rampant antisemitism that has raged since Christ's death.
Germany was hurting from the consequences of WWI, but experienced some measure of prosperity during the '20's until the crash in '29. Then they, like the rest of the world, were plunged into depression. That allowed Hitler to rise to power. The people wanted change. They got it! I'm not comparing Obama to Hitler, but we just need to be so careful to not get caught up in the idea of change for change sake that we lose sight of the character of those seeking office.
I knew antisemitism has always existed, but I didn't realize the extent that it impacted every society on the planet. Martin Luther had some harsh and hateful things to say about Jews, and even until the mid-20th century, the Catholic Church had in it's papers, for lack of a better word, that the Jews killed Christ. I was stunned. Wasn't it Tevya, in Fiddler on the Roof who said that it might have been better to NOT be the chosen people? So this week I got to see a bit more what sacrifice looks like, and it's not pretty.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Our church is in the process of purchasing land. We have been meeting at a high school for 6 years, and it's time to move out. The county won't let us stay any longer because of some regulation. We've been looking for land for about 4 years. Finally, God has brought all of the pieces together and we are going to buy twice the land for half the money. These next 5 weeks we are having a time of intense focus on stewardship of all things, not just money, but then hope to raise the money we need for the land and for building. Chris and I have been part of this process, and it's been good. The devotions we are reading for the next 5 weeks as a church are really good. Friday's was about sacrifice. The gist is that there is nothing in our world today, aside from the military, where sacrifice really enters our lives. So we have no basis to really understand its meaning deeply. I get that. But there is so much to think about. Romans 12:1-2 says that we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. That's hard on so many levels, but especially when sacrifice is so foreign. The author of our devotional says, "Sacrifice is giving away something of value (what's good for me), because you are investing in something of greater value (what's good for someone else)." I guess as a parent I can sometimes relate to that, even if it isn't always done with the right attitude. So I'm pondering sacrifice. What does it mean? For Jesus, it meant becoming, "a servant to his own creatures." And giving himself on the cross. The most challenging part to me is this quote, "We may live in a day when our culture doesn't get it, but how will they get it if we don't show them what sacrifice is by the way we live our lives and the choices we make?" Indeed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The weekend

The weekend is here at last. How we live for Fridays some weeks! But then Saturday is always busy, so I don't know why it's so exciting. I guess it's the fact that there isn't any school to worry about. My parents are here. They came up Thursday for a nice weekend visit. Sam has a play-off football game this morning. Ben and Peter both have last games of the regular season today, and it is supposed to rain all day. My friend is praying the rain will hold off so that we can get the games in today. The season has to end by next Saturday for insurance purposes, so if they don't play today, there may be no play-offs. So far it's not raining. There is a car show at Bruster's tonight, so Dad is hoping that the rain will come and go before them. I guess I am too, so that I can enjoy one more pumpkin cheesecake ice cream cone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My tree

I lost part of my favorite tree yesterday. I guess the weight of it became too heavy for the trunk. It had a beautiful canopy that reminded me of a fort or a secret hide out. It provided shade to part of the pasture in the summer. The boys would sit on the fence, grab a branch and swing like Tarzan. Under it's branches was the peek-through that allowed us to safely pull out of our driveway. It has to go.
I made a mistake today that affected one of my boys. I'm sad and I hope he's not hurting because of it. It's small and silly, but it makes me melancholy. I should be cleaning instead of blogging......

Monday, October 20, 2008

Soccer weekend

Soccer pictures, as requested!
You can tell what a beautiful day Sunday was by the striking blue behind Ben's head!
We had another busy week and weekend. I think that defines our lives right now. We froze at a soccer game on Saturday morning, but by the football and baseball games it had warmed up a bit so that I could take off hat and gloves and come out of my blanket. It's a good thing we live in warm Virginia!
Saturday evening we lead a prayer gathering at the property our church is buying. We have been meeting in a high school for 6 years, and God has moved in amazing ways to make this property available to us. So about 30 of us from the committee gathered to seek God and thank Him for His amazing provision on Saturday evening.
Then Sunday after church Ben had a make-up game. It was such a beautiful fall day--one of those days I wish I could bottle up in order to open in the heat of summer or the depths of winter. Sunday night started our 5 week church-wide small group study. I ended up leading the 7th graders. That was new and challenging. I need to do some re-tooling this week so that they engage a little more next week. It was good to see that Ben is just like the rest of the 7th graders. Sometimes I lose that perspective.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Fine Day's Work

Dad and Uncle John, I know that you both will appreciate the pictures!

We live in a house that was built in 1900. It doesn't have a basement or a crawlspace. It has corner stones. There is no way to get under it except to dig. This has created some challenges over the years, but we have managed thus far. Last year we started getting a horrible smell in the laundry room. The laundry room used to be the back porch, but it was enclosed and the floor done with concrete when they added indoor plumbing and heat. All of the pipes go out to the laundry room and down into the concrete. The kitchen sink drains slowly, but started getting much worse. We had a plumber here. We had our septic pumped. We had an excavator here. No one knew what to do about the smell. It got worse over the spring when the rains came. You could smell the swampy aroma coming from under the house at certain times of day. It made me crazy! It didn't seem to bother the rest of my family until spring. We considered all of the possibilities, and I think Chris dreaded facing this. Realistically, we could be facing digging up the concrete and under the house to get to whatever the problem is. We had our excavator come out again and run a camera down the main pipe. Thankfully, that was fine. So we knew it had to be the pipe coming out of the sink and dishwasher. We had no idea where this pipe went after it went into the concrete, but we knew for sure that it didn't connect with the main pipe. Oh the joy of old houses!
Chris moved the water softeners this weekend in order to make one last attempt at getting the snake down the drain because at this point the sink would not drain at all. This is what we found.
There is a pipe coming up out of wherever this lead that goes to nothing. The concrete has been replaced at this point with "I love Larry" permenantly embedded in it. And there is the drain pipe, with the seal totally gone, leading into the ground. My industrious husband took off the bottom pipe and snaked that drain. He got it out past the house and pulled up some nasty black stuff. We know he got the blockage and now the sink drains beautifully and I can use the dishwasher again! Yeah Chris! And best of all, the smell has disippated! Life can now continue....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall Fun

This picture was taken on our previous outing to Belvedere Plantation for their Pumpkin Patch and corn maze. It was the year 2000. Fred was just 7 years old and Peter was 6 months. We tried to do the maze, which at the time was much more difficult. The day was rather challenging.
Forward 8 years. This year's trip was much more fun. Fred was not thrilled with having his picture taken in a sunflower.
We were successful at all 3 mazes (well, Chris and I sat out the last one).
We had to try our hand at jousting. Dad still won, but Fred got him down once.

Poor Peter didn't really have the power to move Ben. But it was fun trying. He'll get him soon.

Sam and I battled it out. He got me down once, but I prevailed. That won't last long!
These were peddle tractors. You had to peddle up a hill and then you coasted down the track. It went suprisingly fast.
Alas, Peter wasn't tall enough to peddle the big tractors. He had to stick with the flat course. He could have made that hill, right Pete?
There were many different colored pumpkins at the front. We didn't make the journey on the haywagon to the patch, though. We'll get ours from our neighborhood farmer.
This was a Jacob sheep. The sign said that they can grow 2, 4, or 6 horns. This one was in a pen with his wife, who only had 2 smaller horns.
The cloud bank looked so interesting. It almost looks like the bottom of a ship through the sea of clouds.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Pre-poison ivy, above, and after climbing the tree, below

This week has been, well, normal. Busy. I feel less stressed, though, because I was able to be home more this week. It's a good thing, too, since our sink won't drain. We have had this problem for about a year, off and on. Usually the enzyme products will help it to drain. This time, however, nothing has worked. Thankfully, only our dishwasher and kitchen sink are affected. I have been doing dishes in pans and bowls and dumping the water we use outside. It makes me realize how privileged I am to have running water and modern conveniences. Chris, my wonderful Mr. Fix-it, plans on looking at it this weekend.

Sam decided to climb a tree at Peter's game this week. He came home from school yesterday with a rash on his face, arms, trunk and neck. I called the school nurse to see what she thought, but she had already left for the day. Instead, I talked with the secretary, whose son is in Sam's class. She said that her son had a rash similar in description last Friday, and it turned out to be Strep. I quickly called our doctor, who could see him if I could get there in 10 minutes. I did. So instead of dinner and a soccer game, we spent the afternoon at the doctor's. It's poison ivy. Thankfully it's not Strep, but oh poor Sam! He woke up this morning looking swollen. I don't like to sing the praises of medicine usually, but boy did that Prednisone work. When he got home from school today his eye wasn't at all swollen and much of the redness was gone. Soon we'll have our adorable Sam back. I'm hoping the affects of the steroids are minimal. This child doesn't require a lot of sleep to begin with. I promised him that I would include a regular picture of him along with his red, swollen one.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Exciting Times

This is how we spent last Saturday, and how we will spend this Saturday--first football, then baseball. Soccer was cancelled because they couldn't get any refs!

Look at that form! Sam is #74.

Thursday was an exciting day at our house. Fred got hit in the head two weeks ago at football and had a slight concussion. He was supposed to wait one week after the symptoms disappeared in order to play again. So last weekend he started playing catch with a friend, and football and dodge ball at youth group (bet you didn't know they were spiritual activities). But he was getting dizzy after playing. The trainer put him through a physical test to determine if he could play on Monday, but he got dizzy going from push-ups to sit-ups, so the trainer wouldn't let him practice. When I picked him up his head started to hurt, and then later in the evening he had sharp pain in his head. I called the next day and he was scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday and the neurologist on Thursday. The neurologist gave him the all clear to play again and said that his MRI showed nothing (except what was supposed to be there). He told him he'd have to work through the dizziness and that it should dissipate as he starts being active again. That was a good thing!
I picked Fred up after school to go to the DMV! He was ready to take his permit test. I didn't think he would pass because he hadn't really studied, but he is in Driver's Ed. Apparently that was enough because he passed. I watched him take the test, and he would grin when he got the answer right. He was grinning from ear to ear when he finished. So two good things in one day! Chris took him driving today for the first time. And so it begins......