Monday, July 30, 2007

San Diego Pictures...

I took a lot of pictures while in San Diego and here are a few of them...Above is the beginning violin/fiddle class performing on the last night of the strings conference. Notice the varied ages of the students? I love it! It just shows you are never too old to learn something new.

Talking and jamming back at the hotel...
Zach (in the blue shirt) playing the ukulele. The guy in the dark shirt was one of Zach's favorite teachers--Zach was able to take a private lesson with him.

Zach and one of the best fiddlers in the world--Mark O'Connor

Okay. Now this picture was taken at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday. Don't we look happy? Actually, my friend Monica and I were delirious! These little people statues are at the hotel and we decided to have a little fun with them. : )

These next few pictures were taken out and about in San Diego....
















Fiddle Camp ended on Saturday and then we drove out to John and Ashleigh's new house. Rande found a pair Croc shoes he liked and of course he wanted Troy to have a pair too! Troy thought it was the neatest thing to match with his Grandpa!



On Sunday we went to Coastline Baptist Church (Pastor Steve Chappell, brother of Paul Chappell of Lancaster Baptist Church). What a great church! It's such a blessing to visit a church where people make you feel welcome. And it's only 10 minutes from John and Ashleigh's home (compared to the 35 minute drive they used to make to Calvary Baptist). Anyway--after church on Sunday, John mowed his lawn for the first time! And I had to get a picture! We don't have much grass in the desert, so this was an exciting moment! : )

We had a GREAT week! Both Rande and Zach said it was the best camp they'd been to. I was able to relax, spend time with Ashleigh, John and Troy, go to lunch with my friend Monica, hear wonderful music every night and take lots of pictures with my new camera! It was so nice to get away and take a break from the remodeling going on at our house--isn't the Lord so good to give us what we need, exactly when we need it? Even though the days were long (especially for my guys) we all came home feeling refreshed. Thank You, Lord!

We're Home!

We got home last night and what a wonderful week we had in San Diego!

This year's Fiddle Camp was the best according to Zach--and as you can tell by the picture, it just wore him out! ::smile:: This was taken about 1am in the morning. We were back at the hotel where the "jamming" takes place (basically the students work out together what they are learning each day) and Rande and I were enjoying talking with the other parents. We hadn't seen Zach for a while and when Rande went to look for him, this is what he found. Zach was totally passed out asleep! He didn't even flinch when I took the picture. Isn't that too funny?!!

I just wanted to do a short little post to let y'all know we're home safe and sound and that we had a great week! Right now I've got unpacking to do and laundry calling my name. I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone though!

Happy Monday! : )

Monday, July 23, 2007

Greetings...

Hello from beautiful San Diego!

Yesterday after church, we headed two hours south to the lovely Pacific Ocean. For the past three years, Zach has attended a week-long strings conference (aka-Fiddle Camp) held at a college that overlooks the ocean.

It's an intense week: rising early to catch the 7 am shuttle from the hotel to the college--all day instruction from world renowned musicians--followed by a concert each evening given by the instructors. Then everyone goes back to the hotel, gets their fix of caffeine and heads over to the "jamming" area, where instructors and students get the opportunity to play their instruments (violins, cellos, upright bass or guitar) together in a relaxed atmosphere--usually into the wee hours of the morning. By Saturday, Rande (he is taking guitar instruction) and Zach are ready to fall over due to sheer exhaustion. But they love it! : )

Now you are probably wondering *what* exactly I do while my guys are gone all day? Good question, with an easy answer!! I'm R-E-L-A-X-I-N-G! The hotel where we stay is beautiful. It is located on Mission Bay (see the picture above), so it's surrounded by water. There is opportunity to swim, go for walks, shopping or sightseeing. I bring books and catch up on my reading. In the evenings, I meet up with the my guys and go to the concerts with them. This is by far, my favorite part of the entire week--each night we get to hear almost 2 hours of music-- classical, jazz, bluegrass, Texas-style, Celtic--it's amazing! The Friday night concert is actually put on by the students. Last year Zach played Amazing Grace on his fiddle, but he's not sure if he's going to play anything this year. As you can imagine, it's pretty nerve racking to get up there and play in front of the instructors.

I'll be doing a few other things this week while my guys are gone during the day: As most of you know, my baby-girl (Ashleigh) and her little family are moving. ::sniff:: They have been staying with us since last Thursday, until their things arrive at their new house (tomorrow). Since where they are moving to is not far from where we are staying this week, I'll be going over and helping them unpack. Isn't the Lord good to work out the details like this? It was so much easier saying goodbye yesterday knowing we'd see each other in just a few days. After fiddle camp is over on Saturday, we are going to go over to the new house, spend the night and then go to church with them on Sunday. See?! It's all good! : ) Thank You, Lord!

The other little thing I'll be doing this week is reading up and trying out my new camera! My family decided to give me birthday presents a week early, knowing I'd have plenty of time on my hands this week . I was shocked when I opened up the box and there was a Nikon digital SLR D40x camera--SHOCKED!!! But there's a little story (of course!) behind this gift...

I have always had an interest in photography, but never had the proper equipment to pursue it as a hobby. On Mother's Day four years ago, my husband surprised me with a Nikon 35mm camera. I loved that camera! I used it all the time--so much that for my birthday a few months later, Rande gave me a new lens. I was thrilled! In December, during a family gathering, a little person wandered into the kitchen and pulled the camera strap that was hanging down from the counter--and my camera fell to the ground--broken. We took it to a camera repair shop and were told it would cost just as much to fix it, if not more, than a new camera. Well, we could not purchase a new camera right then, so I tried to hold it together with a rubber band. It was usable, but definitely not the same camera. I was very sad. : (

This is why I was so happy and surprised to receive my new camera! Ashleigh said it was just as fun to watch her dad's face as it was mine, when I opened my gift. My dear husband also gave me a zoom lens and a beautiful camera bag to put all my equipment in. My kids got into the fun by giving me Paint Shop Pro--a photo editing program for the computer. I was blessed, indeed!

It's going to be a good week, don't you think? I'm going to take a break from blogging while in San Diego, but I look forward to catching up with you all when we get back. Have a great week, my friends! : )

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blogger Reflection Award...

Kristi (known to most of us as Happymama) at Thimble Thoughts has awarded me a Blogger Reflection Award. Thank you Kristi! You are just too sweet! I feel humbled and very undeserving for her bestowing upon me such an award. She has been a bloggy friend for a while now and I remember when I first found her blog, I was struck by her sweet and fun personality--plus her bold love for the Lord--and the fact that she loves bluegrass music. : ) Kristi is someone I would love to meet in person--I know we would have a great time and laugh a lot.

As part of the Blogger Reflection Award, I now have to name 5 blogs that have encouraged me. (You can read more about the award and the young lady who started it here.) This is going to be really hard, because honestly, all the blogs I read encourage me in some way--whether it's in my relationship with the Lord, being a wife and mother, friend or as a homeschooling mom. I am thankful for all of you!! : )

But since I have to narrow it down to five--here they are:

Julie at Living by Grace--Julie is a real life friend and we met when her family moved to our little desert town back in the 1990's. Julie has always inspired me--she is such a good wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend. She has been an inspiration to me from the moment I met her at a homeschool meeting when our children were much younger. I love her dearly and will always be grateful for her encouragement during one of the most difficult times of my life (my mother-in-law's illness and Homegoing). When you read her blog (as well as her other blogs located on her sidebar) you will come away feeling very glad that you paid Julie a visit!

Alyssa at Resolved to Worship--This is a blog that you don't want to miss. You will notice right away Alyssa is a very gifted photographer, that she loves Jesus with all her heart and her husband and children are the loves of her life. Her writings are so real...so transparent. I first met Alyssa through her dad--Norm Wakefield. The Lord has used her dad's ministry in a very profound way in my husband's life and when Ashleigh was 14, she spent some time with Alyssa and her sister Abby learning what it was like to be a mommy with young children. Alyssa's blog encourages me because it's written from her heart and shows a real maturity for such a young woman.

Haus Frau at Lula's Hardt--This is a new bloggy friend and I can tell you I am enjoying so much getting to know her. We have some things in common, one of them being she's a California girl! Reading Haus Frau's blog makes me want to curl up in a comfy chair with a cup of tea--there is just something comforting about her blog--it is filled with beauty. Sometimes she will post the happenings of her life and other times she will post a lovely picture with just the perfect scripture to go along with it. Whichever it is...I always leave encouraged.

Patty at Beside Still Waters--Patty is another California bloggy friend. Patty first left me a comment a few months ago telling me she had been praying for me through all the "stuff" that was going on (illnesses, death in the family). I remember the night I read her comment--it was so sweet and the timing was perfect. Patty is a mother and grandmother (like me!) and she is truly a Titus 2 woman. Her blog is beautiful and filled with words of encouragement and nuggets from God's Word. I feel like I've found a kindred spirit in Patty.

Maxine at Scraps of Glory--Maxine is also a newer bloggy friend. She is a lovely Christian woman--a wife, mother and grandmother. She inspires me each time I visit her blog and oftentimes the scripture or hymn she has posted, along with her thoughts--will be just what I needed. It's obvious Maxine loves her Savior, her family and beauty. I always look forward to visiting Maxine's blog and I know you will too!

I wish this award wasn't limited to just five blogs--as I said before, I am encouraged by all the blogs I read. You are all a blessing to me! : )

CHEA...

I know I'm a little late, considering a new weekend is almost upon us. But with all the hoopla going on with mine and Ash's blogs this week, I sort of forgot to mention how the homeschool convention went.

First I wanted to say: I appreciated everyone's comments on my Homeschool Convention post. Some of you mentioned the issue of cost being why you don't attend conventions--I can *totally* relate! In fact, to cut the cost we worked as volunteers a few times (before our children were able to attend) and we've had the blessing of helping out our friend Norm Wakefield when he's been a speaker at the convention, which means we were considered exhibitors and worked the convention (which is actually our favorite thing to do!). For us, the trip to convention was always part of our summer vacation plans--something the entire family looked forward to.

And while this year was different, we still had a good time and came home encouraged. Zach attended the Generation Joshua teen workshops, which give the kids a taste of civics and the political process. Both Rande and I attended workshops (yes, I went to "I'm a Grandma--Now What?" Loved it!) and took time to visit with friends. I even remembered to order Zach's curriculum! ::smile:: (To find out what happened last year, you can go here.) We use the BJU dvd's for some of Zach's subjects (math, grammar/literature, history and french) and to order at the convention saves big bucks on shipping because it's free! (All those books are really heavy!)

We did end up purchasing some other books too. Our family has always believed it's important to have good, Christ-honoring books in our home--so through the years we have invested in many of the Lamplighter books. When Ashleigh was still living at home and attending CHEA with us, it was her job to choose which books we'd purchase that year. Then she got married and even though the Lamplighter books belonged to our family, they are among some of her most favorite and it was difficult for her to part with them. So Rande and I decided to help Ashleigh and John build their library of good books by purchasing some each year for their home. Lord willing, we'll do the same for Zach.

The convention was held in a new location this year (Long Beach), right near the Long Beach marina on the coast of southern California. It was so nice for us desert dwellers to be near the water again! After the convention ended, we ate dinner at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co.--a restaurant themed after the movie Forrest Gump. The food was so good and the service outstanding! Then the three of us walked around the marina, stopping to listen to a live jazz band that was playing and watching the sunset over the lighthouse. It was a great way to end the day!

But you know what was the best part about the day? Just being together as a family. My hubby has been working so much and we have missed him! He was looking so forward to having a day off, attending CHEA and spending time with Zach and I--and I was so happy for him to be able to do just that! : )



Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thanks!

Thank you all for your sweet comments of encouragement regarding the whole "awfulness" situation I posted about yesterday. You ladies are the best! It seems shutting down Ash's blog was a good idea because not only were the evil people ripping apart the one entry I mentioned, but they were crawling around her entire blog like spiders and taking things she had said in other posts out of context and making them have immoral meanings and innuendos. Bad stuff, indeed. But once she gets moved into her new home (on Monday) and settled a bit, you can be sure she'll be up and blogging again. She'll have a new site and I'll keep you posted. These evil people will not win! : )

Some of you had asked about site meters and how to get one for your blog: the one Ash and I use is free and can be obtained here. Ashleigh installed the one on my blog and she said it was quite easy to do. (If you have trouble figuring it out, just email me.) I used to have the Sitemeter icon on my sidebar, but for whatever reason it's not there now. Honestly, I don't check mine nearly as much as I did when I first got it, but if you ever have a question as to who's reading your blog--this is the way to find out.

I also wanted to say that it's probably a good idea to do a search of your name every once in a while to see what's out there. Through all this we found personal information on me that had been filled out, never knowing it was a public registry. As I said yesterday, I don't think we need to live in fear, but we do need to be cautious.

Well, we are off to church! Blessing to you all!! : )

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Awfulness

Some of you may remember I did a post a few weeks ago for Ashleigh and John's anniversary--and she did a post on her blog telling their "story" (I am purposely *not* using the co_rt_hip word to prevent a search leading to my blog). Well, it seems some people who run an evil website have taken that beautiful story and used it for their own perverted purposes. They have taken quotes out of context and have used foul language to describe Ashleigh, John, her dad and I. When I say it's awful--I mean it's really bad.

So for now, Ashleigh has closed down her blog and I have removed the anniversary post because she had linked to my site from her post. I am going to now moderate my comments and I am considering (and praying) whether to take off some of the pictures on my blog. I don't want to live in fear, but I definitely need to use wisdom and caution, considering the blogosphere is such a public forum. If you don't have a site meter on your blog, I would encourage you do get one. They allow you to see who has visited your blog and had we not had these on our blogs, we would never have known how to trace back to where these people were and exactly what they were doing.

Isn't this sad? But it's good to know that God is bigger than the ugliness of what these people are doing--He sees exactly what they are doing and we need to pray for them, because they are lost in the perverseness of their world.

Thank you for your understanding as I make the necessary changes here on my blog. : )

Friday, July 13, 2007

Remodeling Update and a Question...

I just finished cleaning a third-of-the-way-remodeled bathroom and I realized I hadn't given an update lately on how things are going with our house.

For those of you who are newer bloggy friends, I'll give you the much condensed version of how we got to this point: Two and half years ago we hired a licensed contractor (a Christian) to do a major overhaul on our home. We paid him all the start up costs for each phase of the job and within three weeks of starting work on our house, he told us all the money was gone (including a large chunk for the new doors and windows he was supposed to order, but didn't). We were left with a gutted house, a huge mess and not a lot of money.

After a year of living like this and the contractor never following through with promises to either pay us back or finish the job--we finally went to the state contractors board to file a complaint. Through that process, which took another year, we were able to get back half of the money the contractor owed us. We were very thankful to get even that much. Then this past December we hired a new contractor and work has been going on since then. : )

At this point, things are going very slowly because, well, that's just how things go! Thankfully, we are in the home stretch. The bathrooms are still being worked on. We special ordered the bathroom cabinets and vanities from Home Depot (before my surgery) and they were supposed to be here two weeks ago. When they finally came in last week, they were damaged, so now it's going to be another few weeks. We aren't complaining though, because Home Depot has graciously held on to our flooring for the last 2 1/2 years! (This is just one of the amazing things the Lord has done through this whole ordeal.)

After the bathrooms are completed, then the flooring throughout the house can finally be put down. We are going to do all the baseboards and trim work ourselves. We also need to do some work on the patio slab the contractor laid. When they poured the concrete, they didn't prepare the dirt underneath properly and now we have major cracks. It also slopes toward the house in one area and when it rains, the water runs toward the house. Obviously, living in the desert means it doesn't rain much--but when it does, it pours.

The hardest part of this whole thing (besides losing all that money!) has definitely been living in our house while the work has been going on. It's been very stressful at times. This is why I don't post pictures of our home right now--it's not a pretty sight! But you can be sure I will when it's all finished! : )


Now for my question: those of you with tiled showers/tubs--which cleaning product do you use? And how do you keep the grout clean? I have to be careful of the type of products because I don't want to ruin the finish on the fiberglass tub. To the right is a picture of the tile (Troy was the first one to take a bath in the new tub). Thanks for any help you can give! : )

Homeschool Conventions


Do those of you who homeschool attend homeschool conventions?

We have been attending our state homeschool convention (CHEA) for the past 14 years. It's always been a highlight of our year--where we meet up with friends we haven't seen since the year before, listen to great speakers and come home feeling refreshed and motivated for the next school year.

But this year is different. We usually spend the entire three days at the convention. This year we are only attending Saturday (the last day). There were a few reasons for this decision: the pre-registration was due before I had my surgery and we didn't know if I'd be feeling up to an entire three-day event. And there was the fact our church's VBS is this week and Zach being a helper, didn't want to miss any days.

It feels different too, because many of our friends that we meet up with, are not going to the convention this year. Our children are getting older--we are getting down to the final years of our homeschooling journey. Gone are the days when we'd have our mega-list of curriculum needs (or should I say, "wants") and books we just had to have. When you get to this stage of the game, there really isn't time to try the latest curriculum fad. Now most of us stick with what's tried-n-true. And for many years our family didn't have t.v., so what we saved on not having cable, we spent on purchasing books at the convention. Now we have so many books (which I am very thankful for) that when we go to the convention, there isn't much we don't already own.

As for the workshops and speakers, I am so thankful for the years of going to sessions like, "How to Teach Elementary Science" and "Organizing Your Homeschool Records". The Lord has used great speakers like Elisabeth Elliot, Norm Wakefield, Sally Clarkson and Mark Hamby--to cause my hubby and I to realize that there is much more to homeschooling than teaching and textbooks. Much more.

So this convention is going to be different for sure. It's a different season of life for us. I know we'll leave with our arms a little lighter because we won't be buying the latest and greatest curriculum or a ton of books on child training. But you can be sure I'm going to catch the workshop entitled, "I'm a Grandma--Now What?" : )

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happenings and Random Stuff...

I just put in the first load of laundry in my new washing machine. Our old washing machine gave up the ghost Friday night and our 20+ year old dryer was on it's last leg. So--after doing some research online (and praying), we are now the proud owners of a Whirlpool front loading washer and dryer. We got an excellent deal too!

And I'll tell you what--I never knew doing laundry could be so entertaining! After I put the towels in and started er' up, I just stood there in awe as the washer started tumbling and sprays of water came from somewhere and soaked those towels into a dark blur. Round and round the towels went--and I just stood there--watching, fascinated by what was taking place before my eyes. Amazing!

Fun times, peoples--yes indeed-y! : )

*****

Yesterday I had a doctor's appointment with my primary physician. I hadn't seen her since January and I guess only one of the many doctors I have seen since April had sent her a report. She had no idea all that has taken place in the past few months regarding my health. I guess I should have called her, huh?

I love my doctor. She's been my doctor for the past 12 years and she is one of those rare physicians that keeps her practice small so she can devote time to each of her patients. In this day and age, I really appreciate that. I was in her office for an hour! Most of that time was spent talking--she wanted to know the details of everything--every doctor I've seen, every test I've had, ect...

After relating the whole long, drawn out ordeal to her, she asked about my mom (who lives in Alabama and has health issues) and how she was feeling, which in turn brought up other questions and issues. Like how can I help to care for my aging mother when she lives across the country and take care of my family here? I am an only child, so it's something that concerns me and there aren't any easy answers at this point (but I am praying!).

Then the doctor asked about Ashleigh and I told her she was expecting their second child and that their little family was getting ready to move. At this point I was trying to keep it together. I said all the things I have been saying to everyone else lately, including myself: This is good for them. It's only 2 hours away--at least it's not the east coast. It will be fine. And I could feel the tears start to come...

Next thing I knew I was sitting there crying and my doctor, bless her heart, said, "Are you okay? Do you need to talk to someone?". She handed me a tissue and I assured her I was fine. Really, I was! : )

We ended up talking about my borderline high blood pressure and the fact that if I lose just 10lbs. (although I need to lose more), it will go down. I have three months and if my blood pressure isn't down by then, my doctor threatened to put my on medication. She gave me some good advice about goals and having a plan for when it's difficult to cook healthy meals (she knows we are remodeling our house right now). She also recommended the book, You On A Diet by Michael Roizen, M.D. I guess she's heard him lecture and said he's very balanced about weight loss and weight management. So after my appointment, I went over to Borders and bought the book. It looks pretty good. I'll keep you posted!

*****
This week our church is hosting Vacation Bible School. The theme is rescue workers and Zach is dressing up as a firefighter (imagine that!) each day. When he came out of his bedroom yesterday morning--all decked out in his dad's gear--Zach looked so much like a younger version of Rande. It definitely made me smile.
*****
ETA: I had posted a prayer request here earlier--I have removed it for privacy reasons. For those of you who prayed for the situation--thank you! It went really, really well.

Well, I guess I'll go and check on my laundry. I am just sure there is some exciting stuff goin' on out there! : )

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tonight...

I am sitting here eating a bowl of watermelon and the sweetest pineapple I've tasted in a long time--and trying to catch up with all of my bloggy friends.

Can I just say that you ladies have been such prolific writers this week?! Whew! I am having a hard time catching up with y'all!

The past few days have been the busiest I've had since my surgery a month ago. And while I am thankful to say I am feeling great--by the time evening rolls around (if I've been home)--I am ready to fall into bed!

So tonight while my hubby is at work and Zach has a friend over--I am hoping to get in some good computer time. We'll see how long I can keep my eyes open! : )

Wednesday, July 4, 2007



Happy 4th of July!

**Image courtesy of allposters.com


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

It's Hot Out There!

Zach and I spent the day yesterday in what we call the "lower desert". He had an orthodontist appointment and then we had some errands to do.

The temperature outside was--117 degrees! Yep, 117 degrees. Can you believe it?

And to think my hubby works in that heat. With all of his firefighting gear! I don't know how he (or the other firefighters) do it.

So today we are heading to cooler temps. We are making the 2 hour drive to Oceanside to see John and Ashleigh's new house. The beach is supposed to be a much cooler 80 degrees. Woohoo! : )

I hope you all have a great day! And stay cool!