Monday, 27 June 2011

Gone visiting

This morning we visited the local Mennonite church. Don't worry, we got permission from our own leadership first. :-)

Why? We aren't going to leave our church. They believe the Bible, and we love all the folks there (especially the relatives). We've become familiar with some of the Mennonites in town, at the Pantry and the cake/book store. I chatted with a lady at an auction one day. The icing on the cake was the man who is going to put up our building is also Mennonite, and he pressed us to come visit. (I'm sure Dan at the Pantry, who is also the pastor, invited Bob as well, but I wasn't there so can't be sure.)

Why did we want to go? Behind the casual acquaintances is a bit of history. I'm not sure when I first became interested in the Mennonites... My favorite author as a child was (still is) Howard Pyle, who was a Quaker, and I loved (still do) to research... Follow my mind train here - I probably did some reading on these fringe denominations and had some early positive feelings built. Either way, when I was pregnant with Riah (Spring 2003) I began wearing a headcovering. I think this was brought on by personal Bible study; actually I'd read a blog or something about how the Bible did NOT demand women wear a covering, and the arguments just didn't hold water so I did more research. And when we started homeschooling Taryn I checked out zillions of curriculum options and landed on Rod and Staff - published by Mennonites in Kentucky. THEN we went to a homeschool conference where we chatted with a real live Mennonite at the Rod and Staff booth, and he gave us some teaching tapes from Charity Ministries, based in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Sooo, we've benefited a lot from the Mennonites; we appreciate their stance on many issues, and agree with several key doctrines.

Okay... We went to their church, Lighthouse something or other, and enjoyed it very much. There was a good crowd, including at least 4 visiting families. Families worshiped together (not separated by gender, as some do); there was a devotional, a song, and then we broke into small groups for Sunday School, then back together for 2 more songs and a sermon, parting comments, and one last song. It was over before noon. Our impressions: they sing BEAUTIFULLY, the girls liked the cape dresses, Sunday School was nice as all groups studied the same text, we felt welcome if out of uniform. At dismissal, everyone stood up and just started visiting with their neighbors, not even congregating in the aisle as we are used to. Several people came to us and chatted a while, and one young man informed us that it was his turn to host lunch and we were welcome to join (Bob declined).

Conclusion. If we could go there without missing our own church meetings, we would. I feel challenged to make more deliberate choices in my daily life. And I'm hopeful about future friendships within the community.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

checking in

I've written a dozen posts in my head over the last week+, just none have made it to the computer. My computer time is limited to first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Night would be the better time to write, as the children are in bed and I have as much time as I want, but by then I'm too tired to think of anything to say.

So, basically, "hi."


Last Friday we had some people out to build a pad for Bob's building. Yesterday the trusses were delivered. Tuesday they're supposed to pour the concrete and Thursday they build the building. Yeah, they said they put up the whole thing (it's 30' by 40') in one day. This will be storage for now, so we can have our household goods delivered. And once we sort through that it will be half garage, half photo studio.

I've finally figured out what all the chickens are. We have 3 Blue Andalusians, 2 female; 4 Ancona, 1 female; 6 or 7 Black Leghorns, 1 girl(bummer!); 4 Red Leghorns, all girls (I think); 3 Red Pyle Cubalaya, all girls (I'm doubtful about one of them). We made these determinations after 2 girls were killed on night. We still don't know how that happened; one morning I went out and there was a body in the cage and one right outside the cage, violently torn up but not eaten. However, two days later we were looking, and one of the Cubalayas was gone. She stood out from the crowd because she was the only one with true "Red Pyle" coloring, and because she was crippled (we ran over her feet once while moving the cage), so I didn't include her in the numbers above. :-( When we realized she was gone, Bob reinforced the wires a bit.

Tiger is training Sergeant to be a good cat. He sneaks through the bushes and ounces with the best. :-D However, he can't climb trees very well. Those two are great friends, and I'm glad to see it. They eat each other's food, drink each other's water, and play together all day long. (Spell checker tells me "other's" isn't correct. hmm? it belongs to "other," right?) When the man came to deliver the trusses, Bob went down the driveway to meet him, and Sergeant went into his pen and looked at the man through the chain link. :-D We took the day off Tuesday and went to Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove battlefields. Sergeant went with us and walked the mile track on a leash. He does very well, and in fact the leash helps him to not get under foot so much. But by about halfway, he was getting tired, and every time we'd stop he'd lie down. He also had to be cajoled into walking through the sunlight.

Well everyone is up now so I guess I'll sign off.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


Not too long ago, Taryn entered the 4-H county "o-rama" vocal competition and won (against 1 other girl). This secured her a place in the regional o-rama, which was today.

Today we all woke up early, dressed (the 3 girls in their freshly-made 4-H club T-shirts), and got in the van. We had been told Taryn had to check in "by" 9:30am, at the Ozark high school, about 90 minutes away. So we tried to hurry. We got breakfast at McDonald's drive through and ate it on the road. Bob and I both almost got sick. After all, the road between Huntsville and Ozark is known as the "Pig Trail" because it corkscrews like a pig's tail.

It all worked out, and even with a 15 minute construction delay we arrived in plenty of time. The only problem was, individuals don't register. The county representative registers for the whole county at once. So we waited about 45 minutes for them to arrive. In the meantime we read the program and discovered that the competitions didn't even start until after lunch, the morning being taken with the "general assembly."

Needless to say, the group finally showed up and Taryn was registered in plenty of time for us all to get good and bored. After the assembly we had lunch (the county actually fed all of us with pizza, cookies, and bottled water) and then found the vocal performance room.

The room was overcrowded and got very hot, but the children did their best. Now here's my beef. Of course I'm prejudiced, but you all know I'm also fairly logical and can detach from my emotions. Taryn NAILED her song. She did 3 verses of Amazing Grace, a capella. She kept timing, and hit every single note. She did hold the song book, and was still wearing the T-shirt with a denim skirt. (I knew that they judged on the appearance being appropriate to the song, and had intended for Taryn to wear a nice dress. But at the regular club meeting the day before, we were told "everyone" would be in their club T-shirts, so we agreed to that. Turns out, they wore their Tees to the general assembly, but changed before the performances.) She held the mic firmly, didn't fidget or show nervousness, but didn't dance around or "act" in any way. So I can see where some of the other acts would get higher marks on the "performance" side. BUT Taryn was the ONLY person in her age group that actually sang very well. A few others did well, but mumbled a bit or missed a note or two.

As you can probably guess by now, she didn't win. DIDN'T EVEN PLACE. She took it well, and we philosophized about it all the way home, but it still gets me that the judges awarded the act rather than the talent.

Anyway, we learned a lot about how the whole thing works, and have hopes for a more enjoyable trip next year. (Don't go early, bring a change of clothes, don't hold a cheat sheet, add a little flair, bring extra water.)

Monday, 6 June 2011

the a/c saga

Before we ever left England, where we had no air conditioning (at home or in the car) and the temps never get above the 80's, we talked about not having A/C when we moved back home. Bob insisted on buying a place with central heat and air, but I worked on him about not using it.

As you know, we ended up buying his Grandma's house. It has central heat and air, manufactured in 1993 (for those of you who are old, or math challenged, that's 18 years ago). We used the heat some this Fall, but we soon realized that it didn't actually get warm. So we turned it off and used the wood stove, which got plenty warm.

Then Summer rolled around. Tomorrow, for example, the forecast is a high of 93*F (34*C) with 53% humidity (and that humidity is pretty low compared to the last week). We suffered through for a while, with windows and ceiling fans and frequent showers. The problem was with our bedroom. The window, which faces West, doesn't stay open and has no screen so we didn't want to prop it open anyway. We bought a new fan for the living room, and it makes a nice breeze. So we went to Lowes and bought another new fan for our bedroom. Got it up last night, and it worked for a while and then started surging. It would go faster, and then slower. And we were still hot.

So today I thought maybe we should try the central A/C, just to see. Before leaving for church we closed all the windows and unblocked the vents and turned the beast on. There was a rattle clink, and it shut off. See, the return duct had been uncovered for a while and someone had thrown something down there. It seemed we were out of luck.

After church we went to Lowes again and bought a window unit A/C for our room. Took it home and started putting it together but didn't get finished before PM church. On a whim, Bob turned on the central unit again, and it came on fine. So we gave it a trial this evening. When we got home, it was nice and cool inside. The time of suffering is over for now; we will run the A/C at least until we get the next electric bill. ;-) The window unit will be useful in our new bedroom, which was an add-on and isn't ducted with the rest of the house.

Sunday, 5 June 2011


We've been thinking about dogs ever since we got back to the States.

We talked (several times) about reclaiming Karlee, our Keeshond that we left with my parents when we went to England. That has been decided finally to leave her there, as she's happy and they are happy with her. She's about 9 years old, and after 3 years in one place it'd be a shame to move her.

We wanted to take things slow, getting the chickens established before we got a dog (and the cat established before we got the chicks). That has been done.

The "itch" was growing. Bob started visiting all the local animal shelters, every time we went to town. We took quizzes about what kind of dog would suit us. We talked about rules and training methods. Then it all started to come together.

One recommended breed was a Collie. Both of our grandparents had a Collie at some point. We were used to hair from Karlee. And then we found a pair of 3 month old Collies at the Fayetteville shelter. We asked to see them, but while we were waiting the other worker there informed us that someone had already applied for both of them. We started to feel frustrated, but she said people change their minds a lot and we should put in a back-up application. We did, but they didn't. No Collie.

But. While we waited to find out about the Collie, we visited the Springdale shelter. There we saw the sweetest 10 week old "Shepherd mix." We went out and bought a collar, bowls, food, and treats. When we found out about the Collie, we went back to Springdale and picked up the Shepherd. We named him Sergeant. He is a good little boy who needs to acclimate to life outside his A/Ced metal cage. He didn't mind riding in the car, and no one else minded when we took him shopping with us. If you're cute, rules don't apply.

Oh, a funny. While we were driving, we brainstormed for a name. All the children called out various suggestions : Captain! Midnight! Brownie! Duke! and Elijah wanted to join in. So he started calling out "Da! Da!" But we all ignored him as we thought of better names. Finally he let out a very loud and long "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!" I answered him, "Thank you, Elijah; we'll keep that in mind." And he was quiet after that, just as if he knew exactly what was going on.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

On aging and human dignity

This has been in the back of my mind for about a year now, but recently came to the forefront as I have heard several people express disbelief at their advanced age.

So bear with me.

It has occurred to me that the soul of man is ageless. I used to wonder (when I was about 4) how old I'd be in heaven. If I died as a child, would I always be a child, or would I miraculously skip to a grown up? Are people really at their "prime" at age 25?

But since I've been getting older (ripe old 33!) I've begun to realize that I'm the same person that I was when I was 4. That sounds rather simplistic, I guess; of course I'm still me. My way of doing things has changed; I've learned a lot, had new experiences, and come to different conclusions than I used to. However, my way of feeling and thinking about things is still the same. The part of me that is essentially ME remains.

There are two personal applications to this revelation.

#1 is that my children will always be the same person as they are now. The things I say to them and do with them will affect them for eternity. This is a serious matter to consider. It is humbling and cautious-making.

#2 is that old people were once young. Another "duh," I know, but think about it. Think about how you see the elderly treated. How those under 70 talk to those over 80. Old people have the same ME-ness to them that I do now, and did when I was a toddler. Their bodies betray them at every turn, and sometimes even talking is difficult, but they still think and feel inside like a human being, not an elder.

I think this is what "Right to Life" is all about, if you'll follow me. Even, to a large extent, the pacifist position. Humans are made in the image of God, and have an innate worth. It doesn't matter if a person is not yet born, an illogical two-year-old, 30, or 96; they have a soul that deserves respect. The body changes and dies, but the soul remains.

So take the time to listen to those in a different stage of life from yourself. Children are just as earnest as grownups, and shouldn't be blown off because they are short. A stroke victim knows what she's thinking and is just as frustrated as you are at her inability to express it.

You get the idea, and I'm soapboxing now (hey, I invented a word!), so I'll quit. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

oddly enough

I keep forgetting to share this...

You know the overused and somewhat offensive phrase "kick his butt"?

Guess what. It came from the Bible!

Psa 78:65 Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
Psa 78:66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.