Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kitchen Tip

Do you make your own pie crusts, biscuits, and anything else that requires you to "cut" butter into your flour/salt/baking powder mixture?

I used to have a nifty little tool that supposedly helped cut the butter into the dry ingredients, but it never worked well for me. Nor did using two criss-crossing knives. I got to where I would cut the cold butter into very small cubes, and I would then use my hands to rub the butter into the flour. This is messy and time-consuming, and the butter gets too soft, which makes the dough not bake up as fluffy.

I learned a new trick this week. It may be old hat to you, but somebody else might like it as much as I did. Simply grate the cold butter into your dry ingredients with a cheese grater. It's that simple. Makes your baked goods turn out perfectly fluffy.

My favorite biscuit recipe:

2 cups flour - I use 100% whole wheat pastry flour, and they don't come out dry at all
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
yogurt, buttermilk, cream, or milk

Mix together dry ingredients. Grate butter into mixture, and stir with wooden spoon until evenly distributed. Add enough yogurt (or other liquid) to make a smooth dough, and knead by hand about 15 times. Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness, cut out biscuits, and bake at 425 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

More public school info

Not to keep the whole hype going, but I just came across a great blog called Bureaucratic Daycare that has lots of information on what I likewise think is wrong with the public education system.

Lest you think I am on some new anti-government school kick, I have been blogging about this issue for a long time, such as in this post. I don't change my opinions about how children should be educated to accommodate other people's differing opinion or changing preferences.

Nor do I have time to address all the arguments brought up against homeschooling in the comments, but the one I would like to refute is that of sheltering and lack of socialization.

For starters, our children have been on repeated overseas trips, including the countries of Mexico, Germany, Austria, and Hungary, in addition to having been on many trips to other states. Our oldest is 8, so I am sure there are many more trips he, as well as his siblings, will enjoy with us before growing up and leaving the house. This means that they have seen more of the world than 99% of their peers, including the children of those people who think my kids are cut off from the rest of the world.

Our children also read 30-50 books from the library every single week, about 75% of which are non-fiction and the rest mostly picture books for the younger ones. I do not force them to read these books, in fact, I have to force them to STOP reading and play outside or help with chores. I try to go to the library without any of them in tow, lest I have to lug home twice as many books because they will beg me to get more and more books. In case you didn't know, libraries do not stock hundreds of conservative Christians children's books, meaning that these books don't give them a "biased" Christian view. This year alone, I have learned more along with my kids than I did in all my years of school, and I got what is considered a great public education and graduated one of the top in my year. I guarantee that our kids know and learn more about the world, its history, and the people who live in it than any public schooled children will learn in school. Granted, these kids may learn more at home from their parents, but their free time to be able to do so will be greatly reduced by having wasted their hours holding down a bench in school.

If your child is a straight A student with little or no effort, it just goes to prove my point that their potential is not being fully used. They "max out" at the A grade, but if there were no educational ceilings so as to not make other students self-conscious, they could have gone much higher instead of being bored while waiting for all the slower students to fulfill their daily quota.

As far as interacting with other human beings goes, our kids are part of a weekly P.E. group. They also take a class each month at the science center with other children. They also interact with other kids at church for several hours each week. We go on weekly field trips with lots of other people that happen to be visiting whatever place it is we see that week. Not a Saturday goes by that I don't take the kids to a workshop, craft activity, or children's day at a local attraction or business in town. Our children also come with me almost every time I leave the house, meaning they meet and talk with lots and lots of other people from all walks of life. Instead of sitting in class with the same peers day after day, our kids interact with adults as well as other kids. The Bible says that "foolishness is bound in the heart of a child", so I fail to see the benefit in socializing my kids only with other fools.

Our kids also take turns going out door-to-door with my husband or me repeatedly every week. They see and smell how people live in neighborhoods where every street is littered with beer bottles and other items I will not mention here, rather than just seeing the deceptive beer ads on billboards along the freeway or learning about "safer sex" in school. They see what homes look like where there is no husband/Dad and every sibling in one family has a different father, and what condition of body and mind those mothers are in. I don't have to convince my children that living within the bounds of God's Word is a blessing, because they see the difference every week. I don't despise these people, which is why I am there telling them that even after a life of misery, they can still go to Heaven, even if they never change anything about the way they live. But that doesn't mean that I want my kids to have to live a miserable life like that.

Unlike most parents, we never leave our kids home with a babysitter while we go out to eat, have some alone time, or go on a vacation. They come with us wherever we go. They are as socialized as we are, which is more than many other adults.

My oldest is confident enough and capable of walking into the bank by himself and conducting simple transactions such as a deposit, of waiting in line and the post office and mailing a letter or package for me, or of going into a store and buying an item or two on those occasions that the babies are all asleep in the van, or one of them is ill and unable to walk into a business, but the errand must get done nonetheless. If you think that I am being reckless for letting him do these things, remember that other people put their kids on a bus every day and leave them in the care of government employees all day, where they stand a much greater chance of being abused by the staff or other kids. I am hardly the "helicopter parent" I get accused of being.

Likewise, I don't have to convince my children that having babies is a blessing and gift from God, because they love and enjoy each and every one of their younger siblings as much as we as parents do. Kids have to be taught that birth control is the norm, and they will not learn that from me. But I wonder, do all the people who think we should all be using birth control teach their kids about what the Bible says about children being a blessing and our heritage from God so as to not teach their kids only their biased views? Hardly.

If you don't want to homeschool, more power to you. They are your kids, not mine. If they grow up and do shameful things, you will have to live with it, not me. I am not being radical by believing like 99% of conservative Christians, including those who utilize private Christian schools, that public education is a menace to our society and a detriment to children.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fun book for the car

Our family likes to take lots of trips. Driving for extended periods of time with five kids in the back can be challenging sometimes. As a general rule, I usually do not allow the kids to pack any toys, stuffed animals, books, etc. These things would make it into the van, but never back out, and I used to end up spending an hour each week (with their help) emptying out the black hole. Sometimes, on long drives, I make an exception for library books, since these are new and entertaining to the older kids. I also keep a couple of toys in the van for the girls, but these rightfully belong in the van and not the house, and they have a storage pocket of their own. But by and large, the policy is not to take anything.

We also do not have a DVD player in the van, and the kids do not own any handheld video game devices. I don't think these things are bad (although I do think that 99% of DVDs and many video games are), but I think kids should learn to entertain themselves, and to play and interact with one another. Boys also tend to have an addictive character about these things, and while they occasionally do watch a documentary or play a game on the home computer, these are rare exceptions, and by no means the rule. If I allowed this in the car on long drives, they would always be asking for them.

Instead, we talk, sing, I read our current read-aloud to them, or they entertain themselves. I get such a laugh out of the stories they make up and tell each other.

Recently, I found a really neat book at a used store, and have enjoyed having it not just in the car, but anywhere there is waiting involved, such as a restaurant, or in line somewhere.

Fun on the Run requires mostly no props, and is full of ideas that really are fun and entertaining. We went to Tucson yesterday where we toured a mine and later visited a wildlife museum. The drive was about two hours each way, and we had a blast with ideas from this book.

Enjoy your kids while you can, they grow so fast!

Friday, January 22, 2010

37 years of legalized murder - over 49 MILLION children dead at the hands of their mothers

Pro 24:11, 12 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

Numbers 35:33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.

Deu 19:10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

Psa 106:37-40 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance.

Eze 21:32 Thou shalt be for fuel to the fire; thy blood shall be in the midst of the land; thou shalt be no more remembered: for I the LORD have spoken it.

Eze 32:6 I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee.

Eze 33:25 Wherefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Ye eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land?

Eze 36:18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it:

Eze 16:20-25 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them? And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polluted in thy blood. And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;) That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street. Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms.

Lev 18:21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

(baby burnt to death by saline solution injected into the murderer's womb)

Deu 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,

2Ki 16:3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.

2Ki 17:17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

2Ki 23:10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.

2Ch 33:6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

Jer 32:35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Eze 20:31 For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.

Eze 23:37 That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them.


It is a lie that abortion is legal. Abortion is legal AND financed by tax money taken from us at the barrel of a gun, regardless of whether we want to fund this holocaust or not. A mother's womb has become the most dangerous place on earth for a baby. Every single day in the US alone, over 3000 babies are intentionally executed by their mothers at the hands of a hired hit-man.

And then I get accused of being the hateful one. According to the government, it's okay to kill your child, even in the 9th month of pregnancy, but if you will not allow doctors to perform a C-section on you against your wishes on a wanted pregnancy, they will get a court order against you for child neglect.

According to our laws, you can kill your unborn child (and some states even want to change killing your baby within the first year of its life to being simply a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 180 days in jail), but if the Game and Fish department euthanizes a geriatric jaguar, they face criminal charges for killing an "endangered" animal.

I guess that if we think of humans as animals, we would be on par with a jaguar, which is what evolution teaches. This is the garbage that is spoon-fed to government-educated kids everywhere. All the jaguars in the world will not make up for one human life.

It is okay for people to say they hate God, but those same people will say it is wrong to hate anyone, including abortion doctors, fags, Obama, dogs, or anything else of the sort.

Before you type up an angry, hateful, judgmental, and everything-else-you-accuse-me-of-comment, go back and READ EVERY SINGLE VERSE ABOVE before you try to contradict them.

Act 18:6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

There's nothing like public education


Recently, I drove by a public elementary school in another part of town, and saw this:

You may think that the "s" missing from "classes" just fell off the board, but if you look closely, you can see that there is only one space between "classe" and "resume", proving that there never was an "s".

What's more, when I saw this sign, school had just started up again several days earlier, which means that for at least three weeks nobody noticed the misspelling.

Then I drove on, and saw the back of the sign:

My guess is that whoever put the letters on the board has a Hispanic background, and therefore thought that the Spanish word "clase" translates as "classe" in English. Esperanto might just finally be catching on!

I only have one question. Where can I sign my poor, disadvantaged, homeschooled kids up for such stellar education?



My, my, it is unbelievable how much stir I caused by posting these pictures and pointing out that an elementary school should have noticed such a blatant misspelling sometime within the 3+ weeks they had this up for.

I'd love to respond to some of the comments, but time would fail me. Besides, since those leaving comments have largely been too cowardly to even leave a first name or their initials, it would be very convoluted to respond to "anonymous # x". Maybe my response will turn into a post of its own sometime.

As far as the argument that they ran out of "s" tiles - please, come on. Are you suggesting that they intentionally misspelled a word when hundreds of kids would be looking at it like that every day for weeks? Maybe we should start some new tax for making sure all of our precious schools have all the letter tiles they need. After all, schools in Maricopa county only get over $8000 per year to educate ONE student. Let's see, that's about 2000% of my very generous per capita spending on education, which includes outside science, P.E., music, and language classes.

When I was little, beginning in first grade, the teacher would write announcements to parents on the chalkboard, and we were to painstakingly copy them letter by letter into a little announcement book which was to be given to our parents at home, and they in turn would sign it to show they had read the announcement. There was no such thing as a handout EVER. It helped our penmanship, it kept us busily working, and we saved millions of trees (haha). Liberals should love this approach.

Alternatively, they could have skipped the Spanish announcement on the back of the board and freed up some extra letter tiles. Or they could have written "school resumes" with the available three "s" tiles. Or they could have cut out cardboard tiles in the same size and used a Sharpie to write a big black "S" on it. I think anything would have been better than what they did.

Just to keep all my faithful haters busily stewing until I have time to post more, please enjoy the following picture of a sign posted by a staff member in the shoe department of an undisclosed store somewhere in the Southern United States (my husband took it during a trip this week). I always marvel how many people freely mix upper- and lowercase letters within the same word. I am just making a wild guess, but something tells me this person was NOT homeschooled.

The person who wrote this is most likely a very nice person, and he/she obviously is trying to do a good job and keep things neat. Unfortunately for him/her, whoever was entrusted with educating them (that's teachers AND parents) failed their job. Consequently, it is very hard to understand what they are trying to communicate, and nobody will take them seriously or entrust them with a job that comes with any serious responsibility attached.

Everyone in favor of socialized education can cry about how loving and helpful they are, but wisdom is justified of her children. They failed this person by wasting his/her potential, as they have no doubt failed millions more. Who cares if the teachers were fuzzy and warm and loving, at the end of the day, they consigned this person to a minimum-wage job and a life of poor education, a product ready to be indoctrinated through mass media.

There, go cry about it, and type up more whining comments.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How is your hate life?

or: The love hate of God

It never ceases to amaze me how many so-called Christians think that God loves everybody. I can only attribute such ignorance to a complete lack of Bible reading. Please do not get all flustered and try to correct perceived wrong doctrines of others if you have never yet read through every single chapter of the Bible at least one time.

Yes, at some point, God has loved every single person that has ever lived, and yes, He does love the vast majority of people alive today. But there is a line that people can cross even before they die where God stops loving them, and starts hating them. Otherwise, the following verses are all incorrect. God sends unsaved people to hell every day, and I hardly think He does so out of love for them.

Our society would love to make hating (an emotion) a crime. It is impossible to love anything without also hating what would destroy that which we love. I love my kids, and I hate people that would like to violate them.

Don't just skip over these verses and pretend they do not exist. God is not Santa Claus.


Psa 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Psa 5:6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

Psa 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Psa 26:5 I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.

Psa 31:6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.

Psa 10:3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.

Psa 53:5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

Lev 20:23 And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.

Lev 26:30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.

Deu 32:19 And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.

Pro 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
Pro 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
Pro 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
Pro 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Pro 22:14 The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.

Psa 139:21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
Psa 139:22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

Zec 11:8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

Hos 9:15 All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.

Mal 1:2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,
Mal 1:3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

Rom 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brotherly love

All of our kids get along with each other very well. Of course, they try to tattle on each other, and get frustrated with one another from time to time, but by and large they are very kind, loving, and close.

There are countless little loving gestures every day, such as when Solomon made John a countdown calendar for Christmas and stuffed it with his own candy and coins, or when Isaac sits down at the computer with John and prints funny clipart pictures for him to go with that day's pretend game. Solomon is also a wonderful and VERY patient teacher to the younger kids. I marvel, and wonder where he learned it because I am not the most patient of teachers - I really could learn from him. They help each other clean their rooms, and always share their treats fairly. The boys are very courteous with the little girls, and let them have and do pretty much whatever they want, while they smile and say how cute the girls are. Just like their Dad in that respect. :)

I snapped these cute pictures during a craft project last week. Notice how not only is Miriam hugging John, but he also has his arm around her. It is such a blessing to watch our happy, smiling children as they go about their day-to-day lives.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Solomon the Dolphin - A book written by my son

The following story was written today by Solomon, who is 8 years old. He told me he wanted to write a book to read to the other kids during story time tonight. Unfortunately, this is only the text, and you are missing a lot by not holding the real thing in your hands. (I'll try to get a picture of it on here tomorrow.) He bound his actual copy like a little booklet and added lots of clipart images to the pages. The summary at the very end appeared on his back cover, with space to write in reviews like books often have. I did not help him with this at all, but I did chalk it up for his English lesson today.

I think the story was inspired by a dolphin-themed lamp he received last Saturday from friends of our family. We were at their house, and Solomon remarked how cool he thought the lamp was. The lady asked him if he wanted to have it, and he thought she was just kidding. But she was serious, and Solomon was thrilled. He has been talking about the lamp ever since. Quote: "I mean, how often does it happen that you go to someone's house and see this cool lamp, and they just give it to you?!?"

Solomon the Dolphin

By Solomon E. Anderson

Chapter 1: The Dolphin Show

Once upon a time, there was a dolphin named Solomon. He was lost at sea. He was looking for dolphin territory-any dolphin territorry-when he was in a net! He called for help, but nobody was there. ...Whoa! He fell into a enormous tank with 4 other dolphins. He was glad that he was with dolphins, but at the same time, these dolphins were strangers. Little did he know that soon they would be best friends. In a while, he was trained to do tricks.

That night, when he was alone, he thought, “Hmm, tricks.”Next day he was doing amazing tricks and earning thousands of dollars. That was good to him, because he could buy candy with all that money. He was at Marineland for a long time, amazing everyone with his tricks and becoming very famous.He could go out of water, retrieve rings, jump amazingly high, and float on water. He also got plenty of money, because people would throw money to him.

Chapter 2: Off-work

It was cool to do tricks because it kept him fit. He was performing at a show, when right after that show he was told that he was off duty. Solomon did not like this; he now could not stay fit unless he found a way to, which he couldn’t do. He also missed is friends, but he was glad because he had chance-a bigger chance-of finding his family. Then he found his family! He was so happy! Solomon had been looking for them for so long! He played board games, held jumping contests, and he was very, very, very wild with Dad. It was good to be with the family again and have sooooo much fun!

Finally, it was bedtime. Solomon DID NOT want to go to sleep. He had plenty to do. He wanted to get presents for his family(Christmas was coming up) and just stay up all night(which he had never done) and more. So Solomon got up, watched Moody video, and got presents for his brothers. By the time he got back, his parents were waking up. He jumped into bed.

Chapter 3: A Merry Christmas

Solomon woke up. He had so many presents, a stocking could not hold them all. But he did have a stocking that had some of the stuff. He reached in his stocking, not knowing what was in it, and pulled out EXTRA BUBBLEGUM(it was from Isaac)!!!!! He hadn’t had that stuff in 3 years! He opened the pack, gave one to each of his siblings, and ate one himself. Ahhhhh! It was so good! Then he opened the one from his uncle. It was a fitness machine shaped like a D for dolphin! How it worked was where you would strap yourself to the machine. Next, you would turn it on. When on sometimes you would be curved, sometimes straight. That was good for fitness, which he needed. The presents from Mom and Dad was fine artwork. It was very beautiful artwork. Solomon’s siblings got balloons, squeaky toy dolphins, a book teaching tricks, and more. It was a nice Christmas.Very fun.

Chapter 4: All Doing Tricks

One day, Marineland told him that winter break was over and that he was to be back. Now Solomon had the best of both worlds! He would be with his old friends AND be with his family. So they got ready. Dad got trained while Mom stayed with the other kids (they were too young). Then...Lights, Camera,...Dolphins! They filmed Dad being introduced and the tricks. Dad did amazing tricks in his lifetime, but I don’t know anything else. He very definetly was a good dolphin. Bye!

Solomon the Dolphin

In Solomon the Dolphin,

Solomon is a

Marineland star.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Grand Canyon is NOT Disneyland

Arizona is known as the "Grand Canyon State". Chances are, if you live in the United States, you will at some point go to see the Grand Canyon. Chances are, it will be with your family. Chances are, that because you think this is a National Park, and because there are paved roads and traffic signs, friendly park rangers, and thousands of other people, this is a safe, regulated place.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Fact is, people die at the Grand Canyon every single year, from what can almost always be called unnecessary and reckless.

There are a few common denominators. The people who have fatal accidents are usually young, single, and of the male gender. Big shock there. Another common factor is that most deaths are from water - either a lack thereof (dehydration) or too much (flash floods, or drowning in the Colorado River).

The Canyon is very different from what people imagine it to be. You would think that you are up against giant walls of rocks and boulders, something like Yosemite (but in red rather than gray), but really, you are on flat, plain land with little vegetation until all of a sudden you come to this gigantic, deep chasm in the earth. The Canyon is hundreds of miles long, and several miles wide at the widest point, much bigger than most would suspect.

Canyon hiking is unique in that the way down starts out so easy, and you may find yourself far into the canyon before you realize that you did not bring enough water (if I remember right, they recommend 4 gallons of water per person per day) or reserve enough energy for the strenuous hike back up. You may be lured into thinking that water is just around the corner, i.e. the bottom where the Colorado River flows, but the walls are steep drops and while the river may only be hundreds of feet away (as the crow flies), it may take you 10 miles to get there. Temperatures inside the canyon can be 30+ degrees hotter than the temperature at the rim, as hot as 140 degrees at the height of summer.

This is actually much steeper than it looks in the picture

Personally, I would not recommend hiking into the canyon with children at all. We have gone to the Grand Canyon with our family several times, and enjoyed ourselves without setting foot inside the canyon. The trails down are very narrow, just a few feet across in the widest places, not somewhere I would like to go with rambunctious little boys. There are almost no hand rails anywhere, so you could slip one time and fall to your death hundreds of feet below.

Instead, we take the shuttle loop along the rim, which takes about an hour and has many wonderful vistas. There are also hiking trails along the top rim that are beautiful. You will see many people who leave these trails and step up to the edge of the canyon, or let their feet dangle into it as they sit on a precipice. Considering that the canyon is made out of porous limestone that can easily break away, this is not a smart idea at all. People really do die from accidentally tripping and going over the edge, or from posing for the camera while walking backwards and taking one step too many. It is sad and sobering.

See the paved path on the bottom left? See the limestone canyon rim beyond it? See the crazy people walking up all the way to the edge?

In fact, a couple of park rangers who have participated in the search and recovery of too many of these fatalities, have written an entire book on the subject. Before I read it, I shared the same carefree recklessness that most casual tourists show, but the book really opened my eyes.

In 2009 alone, a total of 12 tourists died at the Grand Canyon. 10 of these were accidents, one a suicide, and one a heart attack (which may have been due to heat or exertion). One of these was a well experienced, athletic young man, who died of tragic circumstances. The Arizona Republic reported on this last week, but do not read the story if you think it may depress and haunt you, it is very sad indeed.

By all means, do go and see this natural wonder, but please stay safe. You are no match for the Grand Canyon.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Styling little girls' hair

One of the endless benefits of having a little daughter is that you get to style her hair. This is an area that I have been remiss in with Miriam, and she (like me) prefers to wear her hair down and just brushed, no clips or anything.

Becky, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. She loves shoes, shiny baubles, and any other accessories. After I fixed her hair once, she was hooked. She brings clippies to me if she finds them laying around and demands for me to put them in her hair. This, in turn, has made Miriam have somewhat of an interest in doing more with hers. Whatever their preference, it is fine with me, I am not going to force the issue. I am just glad I get to brush their soft, beautiful hair and smell their sweet baby doll heads.

I just thought I'd share some cute websites I have found that show creative ways to style your little girl's hair.

Adopt a 'Do - Cute Girls Hairstyles - don't miss her links to a sleuth of more great websites in the sidebar on the right!

She does hair - This lady hasn't posted in a while, but there are tons of great ideas in her old posts to keep you going. I especially love all her ideas for Valentine's Day.

Hairstyles for Girls-The Story Of A Princess And Her Hair - all I can say is WOW! How does this little girl sit so still while getting her hair fixed, and smile for the camera?

Enough, I feel overwhelmed already. Is it too late to tag "Fix the girls' hair every day" onto my new year's resolutions? Does running a brush through count as "fixing hair"?

Last but not least, I have found a couple of books from Klutz publishers on this subject.

Braids and Bows: A Book of Instruction - This book is more geared at younger girls and teenagers fixing their own hair or that of their friend. It also has instructions on how to make their own barrettes and bows.

Hair: A Book of Braiding and Styles
- Has easy as well as complex styles that are more appropriate for grown ladies and formal occasions. If you like the classic Victorian look, this book is for you. I have tried several of their ideas, and always get rave reviews from my very biased male jury.

(August 2008)
Miriam goes for her first haircut. She picked out two new purses the second she walked in the door.

She is starting to stew and wonder if this was such a great idea after all.

Full-fledged breakdown. Bad combination of no nap and just having had her hair trimmed in the cutest kid salon in town. Just so you know, I don't allow temper tantrums, and our kids never have one, public or private. But this time, I just shrugged and took pictures to embarrass her with later. Her and I laugh about it now.

See, it's not so bad. At the end, you get a lolly and get to ride in their toy cars. Notice how this whole time, she has not let go of the purses.

(August 2008)
Maybe this is more the look she was going for?

Have fun with your princess! She will grow up much too fast!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A glimpse of my day

Nothing much has been going on around here. I have not had time to blog as often as I would like to just because life with five kids keeps me busy. Most of my evenings after the kids are in bed are spent straightening the house, and reading lots of different interesting books.

For lack of having the ambition to write about anything more interesting, I thought I would share about my everyday life, the way it is on most days. Some days are really easy and smooth, some days are back-to-back emergencies and unexpected events throwing me off schedule, but most days are a healthy balance of "good" and "bad". Of course, at the end of the day, as long as everyone is safe and cozy, it was a good day no matter what happened.

When I say "schedule", I don't mean a minute-by-minute plan of how I am going to spend my day. It is more of a routine, and I may get to certain points of that routine at different times each day, depending on how many unavoidable distractions come up. Each day of the week also has it's own character. Mondays and Thursdays usually end up being more dominated by laundry, because of church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Tuesday mornings the kids go to P.E., which means getting up and out of the house by 8:30 and then having less time to do what else we usually do in the mornings. Fridays is our off day - no school, just field trips, music lessons, experiments, cooking projects, library, etc. Saturday is cleaning day, and when the house is all done, the kids get their weekly allowances and we usually go somewhere fun. Sunday is obviously all about church and the related activities.

Most weekdays, I get up around 6 or 6:30, although I really should be getting up about a half hour earlier than that. In the winter, it's just too cold and dark for me. :) In the winter, the kids wake up on their own sometime between 7 and 8 - unless we have to go somewhere, I do not wake them (about an hour earlier in the summer). This gives me a chance to read my Bible and work without distractions for as much as an hour. If I am really behind on something like ironing, I will get up at 5 am and get caught up, but that only happens every once in a while.

We eat breakfast, which is mostly either eggs of some sort with toast, oatmeal, or cold cereal. Becky will play happily in her high chair while I clean up the kitchen counter where we ate and do the dishes while the other kids go about their morning chores such as getting dressed, making their beds, picking up their bedrooms, switching laundry loads, making my bed, etc. They really are big helpers, and very good at it by now. Some days I read the Bible to them while they are eating, other days I eat with them and read to them after the chores are done and we all sit down on the sofa.

Around 10-ish, the boys start their school work. My goal each day is to be done with math and the language arts (spelling, reading, penmanship, etc.) by lunchtime. Solomon and Isaac work on their own and come to me to give them their next assignments while I work with John and keep the two little girls busy, while also dealing with chores, phone calls that need to be made, and maybe getting started on dinner. Once they are done with their work, the kids do their outside chores (pick up after the dog, tidy the yard, rake leaves) and then play in the yard until I call them for lunch.

Lunch is usually leftovers from the previous night's dinner, which frees me from having to cook during the busy morning hours. We typically eat right around noon, so that Becky can eat before she inevitably dozes off for her nap around that time. This is my clue to lay Miriam down for her nap. I am not one to fuss over naptime. My rule is that anyone who is not old enough to be in school (usually the under-5 crowd) needs a nap every day. My kids all learned this and to them napping was as natural as rain.

As soon as the little ones are down, I start cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes again. Then I pick up the house, sweep the floors for the second time, and do whatever else needs to be done. This whole time, the three oldest boys are having "silent time". It's just what the name implies. They sit in the living room and can pick any of the library books that we got for that week's studies, and may read them silently. Repeat offenders of the "silent" rule go back to having naptime instead. Some days, the kids instead ask to take a nap, too, which they can always do. The chores take me somewhere from a half hour to an hour. Then I sit down on the sofa with them, and we cover subjects like science, history, geography, literature, etc. for the current week's unit study. I have learned more from homeschooling the kids than in did in all my years in school and college.

When we are all tired of that, the kids go to play outside again and blow off some steam. Whenever the girls wake up, we have an afternoon snack and then do any errands that need to be done, cook dinner, or do a special craft or science activity. Some days, we go to the park and ride our bikes, or to the library.

Dinner is usually around 6 pm. When it's over around 7, the kids wash up and get ready for bed while I again clean the kitchen and do the dishes. When everybody is ready we all sit down for story time, which is usually some more Bible and then books or stories I read to them. For several months now, we have been reading through the "Little House" series, and enjoy them tremendously. We are currently almost trough the fourth book in the series.

The four oldest kids go to bed by 8:30 pm. Becky stays up and enjoys her "reign of terror" while I straighten the house up one last time, and then sit down to nurse her until she falls asleep. By about 9 pm, all kids are tucked in and fast asleep, and my day is over. Most nights, I use this opportunity to work without anyone underfoot to do laundry, clean a bathroom, or mop a dirty floor, but by about 10 pm I am done, no matter how much else needs my attention. My main hobbies are crafts, sewing, and reading one or two books a week about issues such as natural health, pregnancy/midwifery, and history.

Being a mother of many small children means working double shift every day, year round, including weekends, holidays, and even sick days and vacations. There is little encouragement, praise, or appreciation for being a full-time mom, yet I would say that no job I ever had was more demanding or held greater responsibilities. Moms have to be cooks, nutritionists, maids, chauffeurs, purchasing agents, financial analysts, counselors, teachers, motivators, laundry maids, gardeners, nurses, nannies, and a thousand other things every single day, without taking home a paycheck or any other tangible recognition of their work. But no doubt, this is the most blessed and fulfilling occupation. There is nothing I would rather do than nurturing a young life, keeping a little soul safe and content in a world of darkness and evil.

I am so grateful for the blessing of children, and for the opportunity to spend every day with them. They grow so fast, and I want to enjoy all the time I can with them.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Natural Foods Co-op

About six months ago, our family switched to buying 100% organic foods. I buy our produce through a local co-op, our range-fed meat from a rancher in a small town nearby, and our milk from a small organic dairy on the outskirts of the city. I make most of our dairy products myself from this pasture-fed, raw milk. I also make all of our bread products and baked goods myself from organic whole grains that I mill freshly.

For all other things, I used to shop at stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, which can be pricey. Several months ago, I discovered Azure Standard, a natural foods co-op based in Oregon. They deliver to almost half of the states.

Their prices on many items, especially if purchased in bulk, are much less than what I would pay at health food stores in town, and many times even cheaper than conventional foods at a regular grocery store. You can either tag your order onto an already existing drop point, or set up your own drop point along one of their routes as long as the combined total from all people who order from your drop point is at least $550.

At first, my orders were delivered to a drop point nearby, but I have since started my own with about 8 other members so far. This makes it even easier for me because it is a lot less work than going grocery shopping all the time with five kids in tow. There are no financial benefits or commissions for being a drop point manager, but the added convenience is more than enough.

If you have been thinking about switching to organic foods and you live in the delivery area, you may wish to check out their website. (You will need to get a customer number in order to view their prices.)