Thursday, May 31, 2007

Going camping

After a cold and rainy Memorial Day it is turning into a lovely weekend, so we plan to take the trailer out to the state park for a couple of nights. We'll go tonight, and my husband will come back into town for work tomorrow. There is no cell phone service or internet out there, but I plan to take my laptop to try to get caught up on a couple of projects while the kids explore tomorrow. Even though the state park is only about 15 miles from here, there is just something so relaxing about getting away to the [semi]wilderness. Chatting by the campfire under the stars in the evening... enjoying coffee and devotions, fresh air and bird songs early in the morning... sending the kids off with the walkie-talkies to wear themselves out "exploring"... these are a few of my favorite things!

Speaking of outdoor activities, Bzz Agent sent me a couple of new products from Off! to try out. One is the "Power Pad Lamp". It's actually an insect-repellent candle with a treated pad that the candle warms. We tried it out the other night when we were grilling out on the patio. I was really impressed with how well it worked. It generated a little smoke but was totally unscented... so no unpleasant smell or burning eyes... and we had no problems with mosquitoes that night. They also sent me a can of "Smooth and Dry" spray-on insect-repellent that sprays on dry! I'll be taking that along to try out while we're camping. If it's not sticky and stinky I bet the kids will be much more willing to have me spray them! You can check these new products out at

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ramblin' Update

My husband peeked in on my blog over the weekend and said, "Just book reviews?!? How boring!!" I have to admit that seven book reviews in one week is a little much... but, hey, they all look like good ones, don't they? Still... I guess it's time to move on.

We got a couple of large orders in recently for the "I See Sam" readers we print. That has kept us busy every evening for the past couple of weeks. It's just a little side-business I started, so we have to do it during off-hours at the print shop. We were happy to finish with the large orders on Friday so we've had the long weekend to catch up on other "little jobs" (as my Grandmother liked to put it).

Oh... and by the way, if you ever need to ship something to Canada and you check shipping rates online... FedEx Ground is not an option! It appears to be the most economical shipping option, but ummm... no. That is, unless you have a broker in Canada who will process your packages through customs for you. A better choice is USPS Global Priority even though it appears to be more expensive. I know this now... but only after lugging my heavy boxes in and out of 4 different places over the course of 3 days. Very frustrating experience!

On Saturday my husband impressed me with his creativity... and since he complained that my blog was boring, I'll just blog about him! Last summer he got to buy a pickup, and he's had so much fun with it. This is the first time in his life he's had a truck. One of the first things he did was build a rack for it. He did a good job with it, but one of the cross pieces blocks the brake light. Last week he had an idea of what to do about that. He made a stencil and then cut out the word "Dodge" using a jigsaw. I think it looks really cool... but I think he could have come up with something more personalized than the brand name of his truck! I suggested "Dad's Toy" or even our last name... but nah, he just wanted "Dodge". Who did you say was boring?!?

In other news... we finally have a Sonic in north Idaho!!! We moved here from Kansas in 1998 and that is probably the one thing I have missed the most. Every time we went to see my parents in Arkansas these past 9 years I would have to have my "Sonic fix"... cherry limeade, lemon-berry slush, cherry-lime Coke... Mmmm-mmm! About 5 or 6 years ago they got one in Boise, but that was still 8 hours away. Then last summer they opened a drive-in in Spokane... just 30 minutes away! We were so excited! A month or so after that one opened we found out that they had plans to open several more in our area soon, with the next one to be in Post Falls in the spring of 2007! We have watched the building site (only about 7 miles from our house) with great anticipation the past couple of months. My husband predicted it would be open by Memorial Day. As we watched them finish it up last week we just weren't sure if they would make it, but we noticed on our way home from church yesterday that they appeared to be OPEN! We try to observe the Sabbath by not going out to eat or shopping on Sunday, so we didn't stop. But my dear husband headed back down there today! He told me he was "going to get gas" but he was gone longer than it seemed like he should be. After a bit the phone rang. He was calling to find out what I wanted for half price from Sonic! Apparently they were only open a few hours yesterday and a few today as training for the car hops, so everything was half price. He said he thinks they will be open regular hours starting tomorrow. Wonder if they will have afternoon "happy hours" with half price drinks?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Knock at the Door

My friend wrote this in honor of her son who was killed in Iraq 2 weeks ago. I asked her if I could share it here and she gave me permission. Brad will be buried at Arlington next week.

The Knock at the Door
In honor of our precious son Sgt. Major Bradly Dean Conner
March 5, 1966 - May 8, 2007

Our son worked hard, he studied hard,
He faced what was in store.
He didn't hesitate to respond,
When opportunity knocked at his door.

Heeding the statement, "No pain, no gain,"
His mind and body were put to the test
Make no mistake, that's what it takes
When determined to do your best.

His heart for his family and country,
His life was a two-edged sword.
Unafraid to challenge evil,
Unashamed to serve the Lord.

Two somber, yet compassionate faces
The identifying uniforms they wore,
Struck anguish deep within our hearts
As the chaplains knocked at our door.

He honored the call of GOD on his life,
How can a soldier do more?
When duty called, he said, "I'll go,"
When the Saviour knocked at his door,
...And called him home.

--Kay Conner, a blessed mom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mothers Day

"100 years from now it will not matter what my bank account was,
the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...
but the world may be a better place
because I was important in the life of a child."

I've been sorting through some old family pictures and when I came across this one last night, I immediately thought of this quote. This is a 4-generation picture taken in 1922. The little girl is my grandmother who went to Heaven in 1998. Behind her is her mother, my great-grandmother... and then, of course, my great-great-grandmother... and seated is my great-great-great-grandmother! (It was her 75th birthday.) In the family they are affectionately known as: Grandmother, Mother Shumaker, Mama 'Berry, and Grandma Bock. I'm too young to have known Mama 'Berry and Grandma Bock, but I was blessed to know Mother Shumaker (my great-grandmother) who died when I was 16. Based on the kind of women Mother Shumaker and Grandmother were, and with my own beautiful mother continuing the tradition... I have to think that my world is a better place because each one of these women were important in the lives of their children.

Lord, help me be that kind of mother!

Monday, May 14, 2007


We had a surprise passenger on our trip to Yakima on Friday. We stopped at a rest area about an hour down the road, and I went back to the travel-trailer to get something. When I opened the door Tabitha Cat jumped out! Now, our dog loves to travel and is often invited along on trips, as she was this time. But the cat? Not so much. Oh, she was upset! The trailer is a comfy-cozy place to snooze whenever she can sneak in and curl up on one of the kids' bunks... but, for goodness' sakes, it's not supposed to move! Our oldest daughter scooped up the poor, traumatized kitty and cuddled her in her arms in the truck. Tabitha still just cried and cried. (And we laughed at her!) The truck moved, too... and well, that was just not a good thing. Finally, a good half hour or more later, she curled up beside the dog and went to sleep.

We got to the RV park where we would be staying, and set up camp. We shut the cat up inside the trailer and went to WalMart to buy a litter box, a small bag of kitty litter, and some cat food. Tabitha is an indoor/outdoor cat and is used to "taking care of business" outside, so at first she would go and sit by the trailer door begging to go out. She finally figured out that wasn't going to happen, and obligingly used her litter box. And she seemed quite content to live in the trailer. As long as it wasn't moving. We could just stay at that RV park. Forever.

Needless to say, Tabitha was quite put-out with us when it was time to leave to come home. To have to ride in the truck again. That truck that moved. What an indignity! Didn't we understand? We were supposed to just live at the RV park now. She fussed at us most of the way home. When we finally pulled into the driveway she stood up on her hind legs and pawed at the window until the kids opened the door and let her out. Off she scampered! Home at last! No more moving!

Maybe she's learned her lesson. Maybe she won't sneak into the trailer for a nap any more. Somehow, I kinda doubt it. Silly cat!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Yakima convention

We're headed to Yakima, Washington this weekend for the Christian Association of Parent Educators 2007 Family Convention, where I'll be speaking about literature-based learning. It is relatively short convention on Saturday, so we are looking forward to a more laid-back weekend away than some have been recently.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Knitting Project

I finished knitting this blanket recently. I used cotton yarn (Peaches and Cream) and I just love it! It is so soft... and heavy, but not smothering. I may never go back to acrylic worsted weight yarn again, at least not for afghans. I found the cotton yarn at a good price winter-before-last (on 1-pound cones) and I've really been enjoying working with it. I have 2 other blankets going... one in strawberry-pink-and-white and the other in mint green, peach, and cream.

This particular pattern was fun to work up. The "plaid" squares were a result of using varigated yarn, not anything special I did. I can't figure out why the pattern is wider on some squares than others, though.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Trying to get back into making menu plans ahead of time... for one meal a day, anyway.

Monday: mac'n'cheese, Little Smokies, broccoli
Tuesday: pizza, breadsticks, salad
Wednesday: chicken enchilada casserole, spanish rice
Thursday: ham/broccoli/cheese soup
Friday: hamburgers with fixings, fries
Saturday: tacos, tortilla chips and salsa
Sunday: cold cut sandwiches, raw veggies

A bird in the house

Somebody tell me... How common is it to have a bird fly into your house? It happened to us yesterday for the second time in about a year. The weird thing is, we live in a different house than we did the other time. I have no idea how the thing got in... either time. Yesterday, I was downstairs and heard some violent flapping but just thought it was a bird flying into a nest up under the eaves or something. Then I heard some pitter-patting scrambling noises (as a cat would make running and pouncing) in the room above my head, and the dog (who was downstairs with me) took off up the stairs. I still had no idea what was going on, but I couldn't let the dog be braver than me... so I followed her upstairs. I was on the phone with my mother at the time and no doubt that lent me extra courage. She lives in Arkansas, 1800 miles away, so I'm not sure what she could have done for me, but it seemed safer somehow!

By the time I got to the top of the stairs, both the cat and the dog were in hot pursuit of a little barn swallow that was flying frantically about the room. I knew I wouldn't be able to catch it, so my thought was to open the window and hope it would eventually fly out. Before I could figure out how to remove the screen, however, our pets had it down for the count. It was still alive but its eyes were closed and it was panting. I carefully picked it up and carried it outside. I didn't know if it would get better and fly away, or just go on and expire, but I had no idea what else to do with or for it. Later the girls and I checked on it and it had perked up a bit. Was sitting up and had its eyes open. So we were hopeful that it would make a full recovery.

Alas! The sad news we discovered this morning was that the poor birdie didn't make it through the night. The girls are feeling a little put-out with their pets. I tried to explain that it was their nature to hunt. Besides, I honestly don't know how I would have got the thing out of the house otherwise!

Friday, May 4, 2007


I've been having so much fun blogging and visiting blogs lately. I started a blog on Xanga back in 2002 and have kinda blogged in spurts since then. I didn't know very many other people who blogged, and didn't really find very many blogs I wanted to read regularly. But this past winter I took it up again and began to explore the blogging world a little more, and found all kinds of fun things! I ended up moving my blog to my own domain because none of the freebie servers out there offered what I wanted in the way of lay-out flexibility. There are for-pay blogger sites, of course, but since I already pay for my own domain I thought I could just use that. Well, I'm discovering there are limitations here, as well. Mostly limitations in my techno-knowledge of how to get things set up! I'm sure my oh-so-technical husband could figure it out for me, but I hate to bother him with it. So I stumble along the best I can.

I need to add in a way for folks to be able to comment on my posts. Right now I have the c-box in the right side-bar, but I think people miss that. I also need a way to add RSS so I can be added to reader lists. I'm looking into "fixes" for those two issues... if I can find a simple enough tutorial or template to help me get it all set up.

I did discover that Blogspot allows you to publish to your own domain for free. I think I'll investigate the flexibility of their layout templates and see what I come up with. Put on your hard-hats! This site is under construction!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Unwelcome change

Variety is the spice of life, they say... and typically I enjoy change. But there are certain kinds of changes that are never very welcome. Our pastor has recently announced that he will be leaving the middle of July, and I have to say it's breaking my heart. He has pastored our church for about 40 years, and is well past the age of retirement, so I can wish him nothing but the very best... but it's oh-so-hard to let him go. My family has been under his ministry for just over 5 years, and it has been so very rich. I have recently been re-reading Francine Rivers' And the Shofar Blew and the first few chapters are an uncanny parallel to where our church is right now. I shudder to think what might happen... but my husband says I worry too much and I need to have a more positive attitude. In the first chapter of the book one of the church elders was interviewing a prospective pastor. The young man asked what the church was looking for and the elder replied, "Someone like Jesus." Obviously, no pastor is going to live up to that kind of standard, but our pastor and his wife come awfully close! It will be a very hard situation for the next pastor to come into, I know. Any decisions about the whole thing are totally out of my hands. And that's probably for the best. I can do nothing but pray... and try not to worry! There is definitely lots to pray about, and God is so good to bring peace of mind if I will just let Him!