Friday, February 29, 2008

Why We Live in Minnesota, Even in Winter

Pictures from our first big snowstorm of the season, December 6, 2007:

December 7, 2007: Below, Max and Mitchell show off the Christmas goodies they decorated at their Kids in the Kitchen community education class, courtesy of their wonderful teachers, Mrs. Sanders and Mrs. Foley. They made a Christmas tree out of an upside-down ice cream cone, constructed a snowman using giant marshmallows and pretzels, and a brought home a chocolate-dipped Christmas lollipop topped with a tiny candy.

December 8, 2007: Below, we were hoping for a warmer day, but with no pleasant forecasts in sight, we chose our Christmas tree on one of the chilliest days of the season. Since the nearby Schulz Tree Farm closed several years ago, each December we trek twenty-five minutes across town to cut down our own beautiful tree at Choose and Cut Fraiser Firs. However, this year, most of the trees were covered with ice from a recent storm, making it impossible to cut one down and haul it home without damaging the branches. So, we broke our dear tradition and choose a stately, eight-foot tall Frasier fir that was shipped here from somewhere else. We were almost too cold to enjoy the beauty of the afternoon, but Mitchell did enjoy cracking peanuts out of their shells and eating them while they baled our tree.

December 19, 2007: Below, images captured on a balmy morning, when there was hoarfrost everywhere. We marveled at fuzzy icicles, frost-covered spiderwebs, and even tiny pine needles.

December 19, 2007: Below, Max participated in the annual children's Christmas program during the evening midweek Advent service. Mitchell was not ready to join his friends at the front of the church this year, but he recently sang at the altar during a regular church service for the first time. Singing in front of three or four hundred people could be intimidating for many of us!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

One Promise

Recently, I attended the annual Rochester Reads Author Visit with two of my very lovely book club friends. We had read and enjoyed his book Three Cups of Tea several months ago for our monthly book club selection, so naturally the three of us were looking forward to meeting Greg Mortensen and hearing him speak in person.

The auditorium at John Marshall High School was packed. The organizers had also set up television monitors in the hallway in case of a standing-room only crowd. I was surprised to see so many older faces in the audience; I was expecting a younger, stereotypical peace-activist-type crowd, but I should know better than that. I think almost everyone in this world wants peace, especially grandmothers and grandfathers for their grandchildren.

The program opened with a musical presentation by a traveling, performing choir whose primary purpose is to help raise funds for good causes like Mr. Mortensen's organization, the Central Asia Institute. Mr. Mortensen was greeted with heavy applause and a standing ovation as he took the stage.

I was curious and excited to meet this person who had orchestrated so much change with a promise that seemed more like a wish. As he described in his book, he had unsuccessfully attempted to scale the world's second largest mountain peak, K2, in Pakistan, and as he descended the mountain, dejected, cold, and sick, he was befriended by a village of people. They were ashamed to show him their primitive school, and when a little girl asked him to help, he promoised to return one day and build them a school.

I think of my own limited but awe-inspiring travel experiences to other parts of the world, and my time spent in classrooms right here in Minnesota with students in need. What would I have done if a young child had asked me that question? Would you please build us a school? Would I have said, yes, of course?! No. My heart is full of love and compassion, but I would have thought, I don't know anything about building schools. I would have said, I'll pray for you. And then I would have gone home and prayed for those children. I thought about Romario, the little boy we met in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, who opened our cab doors for us at Wal-Mart, at ten o'clock at night, when he should have been home, tucked in bed and ready for school the next day. I thought of the little girl who sold us trinkets at the restaurant in Bucerias when she should have been in school. Their eyes and their smiles are imprinted in my heart, and I still pray for them. I thought of the children in Tijuana, just Mitchell and Max's age, who wanted to sell us chicle. What if someone had made a promise to help them, and kept it?

Greg Mortensen went home and he probably prayed for them, too. Never, ever underestimate the power of prayer. But then he did more. He sold his belongings: his mountain climbing gear, his car, everything. He sent hundreds of letters, each one painstakingly typed by hand -- because he didn't know how to use a computer -- asking hundreds of celebrities and philanthropists for donations to construct a school in Pakistan. He received one response: one hundred dollars from Tom Brokaw. Still, he perservered. Eventually, some of his most generous donations came in the form of pennies from American schoolchildren.

Today, his organization has empowered people in Pakistan and Afghanistan through education. He has constructed, with the help of generous donations and devoted citizens, over seventy schools.

One little girl was the only female in her school that Greg built. When she was young, the boys threw rocks at her in the hopes of discouraging her from going to school. When she was older, the teachers didn't want to teach her. When she was high-school age, her male classmates stole her notebooks. Yet she was determined to learn, and she graduated first in her class. She received speciailized medical training for $800 and returned to her small village of 4000 people in the year 2000. Since then, not one woman has died in childbirth. Prior to her return, five to twenty woman died there in childbirth each year.

Young men who are asked to join the terrorism groups must ask the permission of their mothers. Women who themselves have been educated are more likely to say "no" to their sons and prevent them from joining extremist factions. Greg shared with us the African proverb, Educate a man and you educate an individual; educate a woman, and you educate a community. The words are not meant to be sexist; rather, they explain the way of life and the traditions of these villages.

I tucked an envelope of cash into the donation jar as we were leaving, and that good feeling still hasn't gone away. I have seen that one person really can make a difference in the lives of many. How would life be different for those thousands of children if Greg had said, I can't do that?

To learn more:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

To Give You Goosebumps and Hope

I received this beautiful email this morning from a friend:

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October, excited about their opportunities.

When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On December 19 a terrible tempest -- a driving rainstorm -- hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory-colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder and hangers to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor,"she asked, "Where did you get that tablecloth?"

The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she made the pastor keep it for the church.

The pastor insisted on driving her home; that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve! The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and, How could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

Supposedly this a true story, submitted by Pastor Rob Reid. The email continues ...

Who says God does not work in mysterious ways?!

I asked the Lord to bless you as I prayed for you today,

to guide you and protect you as you go along your way.

His love is always with you,

His promises are true,

and when we give Him all our cares,

you know He will see us through.

So when the road you're traveling on seems difficult at best,

Just remember I'm here praying

and God will do the rest.

Pass this on to those you want God to bless and don't forget to send it back to the one who asked God to bless you first. When there is nothing left but God, that is when you find out that God is all you need. Take 60 seconds and give this a shot! All you do is simply say the following small prayer for the person who sent you this.

Father, God, bless all my friends and family in whatever it is that You know they may be needing this day! May their life be full of your peace, prosperity, and power as they seek to have a closer relationship with you. Amen.

Then send it on to five other people, including the one who sent it to you. Within hours five people have prayed for you and you caused a multitude of people to pray for other people. Then sit back and watch the power of God work in your life. P. S. Five is good, but more is better.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Field Trip #5: HuHot Mongolian Grill

Yesterday we went on another field trip with our homeschool field trip club. We visited HuHot, a new Mongolian grill restaurant located in the Apache Mall. Check out their website at

Mr. Matt Cory, owner of the newest franchise of this 27-location chain, gave us a tour of the seating area, grill, and kitchen. He began with a map of the United States, with states that have at least one HuHot restaurant highlighted in red. Those states included Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Washington, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, and now, the first location in Rochester, Minnesota, which opened recently in January 2008. The chain's headquarters are located in Missoula, Montana, home of the first HuHot Mongolian Grill. The owner of the chain began his experience in the chain restaurant business as the son of owners of all the Godfather's Pizza restaurants in Montana.

A 70-foot mural adorning a long, curving wall of the restaurant is one of the visual highlights of the seating area. The Rochester HuHot is the only location to feature such an elaborate mural. The same artist travels to each new HuHot location to paint murals on the walls of the restaurant featuring the signature, curving dragon.

Patrons can choose from about thirty fresh ingredients to include in their stir-fry, such as bamboo shoots, baby corn, snow peas, mushrooms, you name it. To make the selection even more appealing, there are 48 sauces and oils from which to choose to flavor your custom-made entree, from sweet all the way to HuHot spicy.

We proceeded to the grill, which is visible from many areas of the restaurant, where patrons' food is grilled while they watch and wait. To the children's delight -- and even the grown-ups' amazement -- the two chefs at the grill created an enormous flame while they watched. Mitchell stepped back a few feet into Troy's waiting arms. Surprisingly, no tears or angry, frightened cries this time. Little Mitch is growing up. The grill was shipped here from California in three pieces. It weighs 2700 pounds, as much as a small car, and required the strength of seven or eight men to lift the pieces and install them. Most foods are quickly cooked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but the grill can reach temperatures as high as 550 degrees, and the cooks boast smooth because the hair has been singed from their arms.

We entered the kitchen, with swinging doors labeled "in" and "out" and observed the appetizer and beverage area, as well as the deluxe dishwasher. Nic asked, "How do you do dishes?" and Mr. Cory noted the importance of the employees who run the dishwasher and keep up with the workload during the restaurants' busiest times. The water temperature inside the dishwasher reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Near the back of the kitchen was the prep table, with different colored cutting boards for vegetables and various cuts of meat, to help avoid cross-contamination. The cutting boards are bleached at the end of each day, restoring their discolored appearance to sparkling-new conditino. That area of the kitchen is also where the restaurant receives their shipments of fresh produce and other ingredients used in meal preparation. In anticipation of the busy weekend, they receive 177 boxes of goods.

The contents of the walk-in-cooler, chilled to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, are also visible through glass doors to the eating area of the restaurant. Dozens of ingredients are kept fresh, prepped and ready to go for the eating rush hour. The temperature of the walk-in cooler rose to about 40 degrees from our body heat while we were inside.

The kids also went inside the smaller, approximately 4 feet by 6 feet freezer, kept at a constant 4 degrees below zero. Someone was inside -- in short sleeves -- taking inventory!

On the way out of the kitchen, Mr. Cory showed the kids how soda is reconstituted from 3 gallon boxes of syrup, labeled "post mix fountain syrup" and carbon dioxide, into the fountain beverages many of them enjoy drinking. Most HuHot restaurants sell Coca-Cola products, but Mr. Cory was approached by Pepsi-Co when he was opening the restaurant, and he liked their competitive prices, and he personally prefers their products, so they received the contract for this location. I noticed that each beverage has its own "recipe" for mixing, like one part syrup to three parts water, or one part syrup to five parts water.

Just as we were about to exit the kitchen, Nic noticed a big metal drum standing on a stand on the floor. Mr. Cory explained to Nic, Max, Mitch, Troy, and me how the pasta cooker works. It is essentially an enormous double boiler, with a crank to turn to pour out the hot water and pasta as needed. Next to the pasta cooker is a rice cooker that is almost as big, and next to that, a giant-deep fryer. With his love for fried food, I know Troy was wondering if he could ever fit one of those into a future gourmet kitchen of his own!

When we thought our field trip was over, the best part had just begun. Mr. Cory surprised us with a plate of appetizers and a dessert plate with caramel, raspberry, and chocolate sauces for dipping.

At the end of our field trip, while the kids were enjoying their treats, (after Troy had already said hello to a pastor he recognized from a local church) Troy continued talking with the owner of the restaurant, and as part of this small world in which we live, and Troy knowing someone wherever we go, they realized they had attended the same junior high school in California, just a few years apart.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Money Story

"Mom, you need to help me figure out how much tax!" Max exclaimed. He was working on more ornaments to add to his little metal Batman lunchbox. He was getting ready to make his first sales call, to neighbor and friend Jackie. I told him he could not sell any more ornaments to memebers of his household until he found some other customers. He had developed a habit of asking us to buy ornaments at key times, such as right before allowance payday, when his room wasn't clean and he didn't feel like cleaning it, or right before a trip to Target, the home of overpriced, rarely-played-with trading cards.

"You don't need to charge tax on your bead ornaments," I told him. "Don't worry about it." I didn't think his sales will be high enough to warrant reporting or sales tax.

"Why-eye?" he whined. Oh, boy. I should have known better than to expect a simple, 'Okay, Mom.'

"Why-eye?" He asked again. The whining grew louder and unpleasantly high-pitched. I decided to try ignoring him. Who would have thought that timeless advice my mom used to give me about my brothers would also be a tactic I would have to use with my own boys?

"He's rich enough," Max stated firmly.


"The goverment."

We had shared countless discussions about the government in recent years. He knew about the Republican party, the Democratic party, and several of their key issues. He has a basic understanding of party platforms. We have talked about sales tax, income tax, and property tax. He knows about representatives, governors, and presidential elections. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My gifted, political, civic-minded eight year-old thinks the taxes go to one person? Where did that notion come from? Our discussion about Uncle Sam? Does Max think that the Uncle Sam we know was actually born instead of created to boost Army recruitment and foster American pride?

"The government is not one person," I reminded Max.

"But he has enough money already," Max said again, as if he hadn't even heard me.

My little entreprenuer had a new plan, another source of income. Can you guess? He wanted to collect sales tax on his ornaments, a whopping seven percent, and pocket the money. What next? Does this mean we I have to present a homeschool lesson on income tax evasion, money laundering, embezzling, and mail fraud? Or will he just take my word for it, that eight year-olds cannot collect sales tax and keep it to buy trading cards?

"He has enough money to pay all those state bills."

Okay, so some of our discussions have been filed away in his beautiful long-term memory. But I guess we do need to talk about budget deficits and the national debt after all.

"Max, that would be against the law, to collect sales tax and keep it for yourself."

We discussed this point for a few minutes, which consisted mostly of me repeating that same sentence over and over again, and him saying over and over again, "Why-eye?" I also reminded him that Daddy pays the sales tax he collects on copiers to the government. It didn't help.

Max decided to change his approach. The 'against the law' conversation wasn't working in his favor. Max's career choices currently include bead business owner, chemist, and writer. Perhaps I add trial lawyer to the list of "things Max would be good at," since he loves debating, is effective at steering arguments in his desired direction, and he is darn determined to win.

"Why does Bill Gates still have a job?" Here was approach number two. I tried to follow his line of thinking. Okay, not fair that we can't keep sales tax for ourselves. So why would people that have enough money already want to bother with working? That's a reasonable argument, however flawed, that I'm sure all have us have had on a Monday morning or two in our lives.
Max continued, "He's so rich, he could live off his interest for the rest of his life."

I tried my own courtroom-at-the-table approach: distraction. "What would you do if you had that much money?"

"I would buy all the Lego sets I want. Actually," he continued, his eyes lighting up with delight, "I would close down all the Targets so I could buy all their merchandise." Make no mistake, Max does not want to shut down Target Corporation (even though he does want to collect taxes and pocket them). He actually loves Target immensely, because of the copious amounts of toys available for perusal on many of our grocery shopping trips, as well as our family ties to that corporation. Even more importantly, he and Mitchell share a secret fantasy to deplete the entire company of the boys' favorite toys, like Legos and games for their electronic gaming systems. They often scheme about ways to earn that much money when they are sharing a snack or hiding out in their latest fort. "We would be famous!" they often exlaim in hushed whispers.

Meanwhile, throughout this long, somewhat twisted, very lively, and highly entertaining conversation, Mitchell is sitting with us at the table, quietly working on his own bead ornament. His approach is much more direct and simple. He has already placed a dozen colorful pony beads on his pipe cleaner, and he probably has forty more to go before I twist it into a wreath-shaped circle. "I'm making this ornament," he said. "I'm going to sell it for thirty dollars."

"That's kind of a lot of money for one ornament," I told him gently. "It's very pretty," I added. "You would probably sell more ornaments if you lowered your price."

"That's okay," he said. Mitchell's goal was not to sell a lot of ornaments, like his brother aspired to do. Mitchell just wanted thirty bucks to buy a Star Wars Lego game for his Nintendo DS. He doesn't want to bother with whining or going door-to-door selling his creations or waiting several weeks or months. He knows that selling one special ornament for thirty dollars would theoretically be much less work than all of that. He just needs to find a willing buyer to finance his purchase. And Max needs to find another way to add some bang to his buck, although I'm sure he will still do it "the hard way," with the door-knocking and the tiny suitcase full of sparkling bead creations ... and don't forget the whining.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Small-Venture Capital: My Investment Dollars at Work

Today was a daycare day at our house. Since November, we have been caring for friends' children a few times each month while their parents are at work. Nine month-old Maverick and just-turned-three Elleana are absolutely delightful (no exaggeration) and my boys have grown to love their visits to our house. Most of their visits are thirteen hours at a time, although we have had some shorter days.

Mitchell and Elleana play very well together; they have fun combining their interests in some sort of preschool-style compromise. Mitchell likes to play cards; Elleana likes to look at the cards, so they "play cards," each of them doing their own thing. Elleana likes to play with dolls, lovingly changing their clothes and tucking them in for a nap and swaddling them in pretty blankets; on a good day, Mitchell might play with his favorite stuffed animals for a little while. They have found a compromise for that activity, too. Each of them take their loveys of the day into the doll buggies and race them around the kitchen and the living room. Mitchell's question of the day is always, "Elleana, do you want to have buggy races?" Elleana might run with Mitchell for a few laps, but then she slows to a more ladylike pace, while Mitchell continues to go for the gold. They also sit side-by-side for marathon storybook sessions, and today they played three succesful rounds of the Fisher-Price version of Go Fish.

This morning Max was a big help with little Maverick, who is smiling constantly and eager to explore. Max helped make him a bottle, played with Maverick, and watched him carefully while I made lunch. Max also read several books to the kids, on his own initiative, without a word of complaint. I told him, "You are almost ready to be a babysitter. I bet you could be a mother's helper soon."

So the busy wheels in Max's intelligent mind began turning in a new direction, and when the littlest ones went home today with their dad, Max asked me for some compensation for all of his hard work. "I was thinking fifteen or twenty," he said seriously. That's in dollars, if you are wondering. I told him that's just a little less than what we pay our babysitter for a whole evening of solo effort. So he tried again, but more boldly this time. "Nothing less than ten," he offered, as if we were negotiating, an offer which was promptly rejected. "But that's not fair," he whined, turning "fair" into a two-syllable word. Why do kids do that?

Then the tears began, trick number three or four in Max's well-stocked bargaining toolbox. "Max," I told him firmly, "I wish I could pay you a hundred dollars today, you worked so hard." That didn't stop the birthing noises coming from his body, but after a few minutes, the whining stopped. I know we will have this conversation at least once more before bedtime.

I'm sure he is postulating his next approach. My little entreprenuer doesn't give up that easily, especially when there is a creative way to earn money. He has his backup sources of income: his weekly allowance, which hasn't been happening as weekly as either of us would like because his room hasn't been clean on his payday; his bead business, which means making a few pretty ornaments and selling them to a gullible Daddy when he gets home from work; and his newly-launched art gallery, which involves making colorful pictures and trying to sell them to his little brother. But the best dollar in his mind, like most of us, is usually the fastest dollar.

"Wanna buy one, Mom?" Max just asked me.

"Have you been making new bead ornaments?" I asked him. "Yes, he said. "I've already made two, which is a lot, since I don't have much free time to work on them."

"What keeps you so busy?" I asked with a half-hidden grin.

"You know," he said pointedly, not even trying to disguise the irritation in his voice. With a deep, frustrated breath, he answered, "School."
Someday I will tell the newspaper reporters and magazine editors this story, of Mr. Max's humble beginnings, bargaining for dollars at home, one small venture at a time.
"The ornament's done, Mom!" Max exclaimed. After I complimented him on the new pattern he made with the pink and crystal beads I chose, he said, "Do some stores save something for you until you can pay for all of it?" I remembered the heyday of layaway when I was little as I explained the concept to him.

"Target doesn't do that," I informed him, thinking of the hundred dollar Star Wars Lego set he is saving up his money to buy.

"Why not?" he asked.

After I answered that question, he stated seriously, "A buck seventy-five. You can easily afford that."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Man in the Moon

My star calendar was wrong ... the lunar eclipse is tonight, peaking around 9:00 p.m. Central Standard Time. Enjoy!

Christian Ways to Reduce Stress

Need some help with your New Year's Resolutions? Here are some tips I received in my inbox a few weeks ago.

I hope to work harder in my life on #1, #11, #13, #22, #33, and #36.

I'm not ready to commit to #2 or #7. Yet.


An Angel says, "Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice."
1. Pray
2. Go to bed on time.
3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.

5. Delegate tasks to capable others.
6. Simplify and unclutter your life.
7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)
8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.
10. Take one day at a time.
11. Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.
12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.
13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.
16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.
17. Get enough rest.
18. Eat right.
19. Get organized so everything has its place.
20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.
21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.
22. Every day, find time to be alone.
23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.
24. Make friends with Godly people.
25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.
26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good "Thank you Jesus."
27. Laugh.
28. Laugh some more!
29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.
30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
32. Sit on your ego.
33. Talk less; listen more.
34. Slow down.
35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
36. Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAY OF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU.

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

Homeschool: Christian Book and Gift

I went middle-of-the-year school shopping yesterday at Christian Book and Gift, a Rochester store with a whole room devoted to homeschoolers. I had ordered some titles and of course, we had to browse for five minutes. At the checkout, the friendly and knowledgable (and lovely) Lisa told us that if we spent $100 in homeschooling supplies in one shopping trip, we would receive a fifteen percent discount on that purchase. Our subtotal before tax was $82, so it was a no-brainer, like getting a free book. We went back and chose two more titles. I wanted to share this incentive with other area homeschoolers who would enjoy the discount, which only applies to homeschool materials. Happy shopping!

Here is what we bought, if you are interested in knowing what we are learning or adding good titles to your own homeschool bookshelves:

Scratch your Brain (Clever Math Ticklers)
Grades 2 - 3/Level A1
The Critical Thinking Company

Mind Benders (Deductive Thinking Skills)
Grades 3 - 6/Level A1
The Critical Thinking Company

The Usborne Book of World Religions by Susan Meredith

What Ever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard J. Maybury
A fast, clear, and fun explanation of the economics you need for success in your career, business, and investments.

Building Thinking Skills
Grades 2 - 3/Level 1
The Critical Thinking Company

Explode the Code 4 1/2

Get Set for The Code
A Primer for the Explode the Code Series
Book B

Albert Einstein, Young Thinker by Marie Hammontree

Monday, February 18, 2008

Raising Boys

Have you seen this email before? I thought I would share a laugh with you today. God Bless My Beautiful Boys ... and children everywhere for the joy and excitement they add to our lives.

a. For those with no children - this is totally hysterical!

b. For those who already have children past this age, this is hilarious.

c. For those who have children this age, this is not funny.

d. For those who have children nearing this age, this is a warning.

e. For those who have not yet had children, this is birth control. The following came from an anonymous mother in Austin, Texas…

Things I’ve learned from my Boys (honest and not kidding):

1. A king-size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.

2. If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

3. A 3-year-old Boy’s voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

4. If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42-pound Boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 x 20 ft. room.

5. You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

6. The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn’t stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

7. When you hear the toilet flush and the words “uh-oh”, it’s already too late.

8. Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

9. A six-year-old Boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year-old man says they can only do it in the movies.

10. Certain LEGOs will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year-old boy.

11. PlayDoh and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.

12. Super Glue is forever.

13. No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can’t walk on water.

14. Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

15. VCR’s do not eject PB&J sandwiches…even though TV commercials show they do.

16. Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

17. Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

18. You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.

19. Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like ovens.v
20. The fire department in Austin, TX has a 5-minute response time.

21. The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.

22. It will, however, make cats dizzy.

23. Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

24. 80% of Men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.

25. Women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kids.