Favorite "Meditation of My Heart"

Call unto me,

and I will answer thee,

and shew thee great and mighty things,

which thou knowest not. --Jeremiah 33:3 KJV

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shoe Boxes & Candid Camera

There are days that some of the conversations and happenings at our house are so surreal that I expect the Candid Camera crew to reveal themselves....Its like one, two, three...where are those camera guys?  They MUST be here....somewhere?  Today was one of those days.

While Mr. Workman & I were at a meeting this morning, David calls and leaves this almost completely unintelligible message...we could make out the words dead, food, & I got it.  We called back and couldn't understand much better so we asked for Angela (our house helper) and she explained that David fed the chickens but one seemed to choke on a crumble and died.  We told her to tell David that we would be home soon.

We get home & had JUST pulled in the driveway when David came running to tell us again what Angela had told us.  As I was going up the ramp to go inside, David hands me the box that Matt has been carrying his new shoes in.  As I am taking it inside, David pulls the box lid back showing the dead hen, which he has placed there for burial.  I ask him to close the lid and hand the box back to him.  I directed David to leave it closed in the garage until Daddy can help with burial.

About 2 hours later, David and Daddy are ready to give our chicken a proper send off, only for Matt to start throwing a huge fit.  As I try to find out the problem, the meltdown continues!  Finally, through tears and sobs and shudders, Matt explained that he wanted HIS shoebox back!  David had taken it without asking so I offered him 2 identical shoe box for 2 sizes smaller of the twins' shoes, BUT NO!  Matt wanted the box back, which had held a dead chicken in 95-103 degree heat since 9:30am  and it was around 3:00pm!  For the next 45 minutes, Matt threw a fit while I dug out and offered him many shoe boxes of ALL sizes...this whole time I'm thinking "Candid Camera must be nearby."  Finally Matt went to sob silently with the occasional shudder as he watched TV.  We have had several break through tears all evening....and Candid Camera is still not here....BUT the shoebox and chicken are now buried in a location non-disclosed to Matt and I!

I tried to think of a verse to "council" my young Matt, but all I could think of is,
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."~Matthew 6:21 
I have several for my David!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Camp Kivu

Grace got home from Camp Kivu on Saturday afternoon.  She has had lots to talk about this year as usual!  I am so appreciative that she has had this experience for 3 Summer's now.  In fact, if you are ever looking for an amazing experience for your teen, I would strongly recommend the camps and trips offered by Camp Kivu.

If you send your teen to Camp Kivu, you can expect the following:
  • Your teen will not be bored.
  • Your teen will have a teen's dreamland of activities for teens and sports to try out.
  • Your teen will be challenged about what they believe and why.  They will know what makes Christian's world view different.
  • Your teen will come home with lots of stories, new FB friends, new ideas and new understanding of their parents/others.
  • You can also expect the UNEXPECTED!  This years' camp was very diverse with even some campers from Muslim countries...AT a CHRISTIAN camp...HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!
Here is a http://vimeo.com/46126797.  She is in it twice at least (once fishing & once dancing) so watch close!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Well we're movin on up....To a deluxe apartment

No we're not moving!

Corrine's chickens are moving to their new fancy house that her and Grand-dad have been building.  No more playhouse Country Cottage for our chickens!  They have much better accommodations now.

Grand-dad and Uncle Fred helped set the deluxe coop in our backyard and helped Corrine get the roof on it today.  Then Corrine moved her seven hens and one rooster.  (Yes, our little pullet who grew into a rooster!....So much for needing 8 nesting boxes.)

Last week Corrine bought them their second 50 pound bag of feed and some cracked corn and NOW  our chickens are living in style, SO I must insist that even in this hot weather, I should be getting some eggs!  When we finally get eggs, these will be some expensive eggs!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jon is 8 today!

Getting ready for help blowing out
the candles.
Jon loves birthday cake.  It is probably his favorite food.  I dare say that he especially likes birthday cake when it is HIS cake!  Tonight we celebrated age 8 with cake and presents and a whole lot of Jon being the center of attention.  

I had hoped that Jon would break the 40 pound mark for his birthday, but he weighed in at 39 pounds.  Oh well, maybe he'll get to 50 pounds by age 9!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Schools Need to be Good Stewards of Parent's $

To send a child to school without the requested supplies stigmatizes the child with peers and sends a message to the teachers that school is not a priority for a family.  Yet each year the school list seems to get longer, more brand-specific, and more of a test of our family budget.  For example, this year our district has added ear buds to the list of needed supplies and kindergarten needs, not just glue sticks and scissors, BUT 12 sticks of Elmer's purple glue and Fiskar scissors.  When I mentioned this concerning trend to our superintendent a couple years ago, it was suggested that I should talk to the teachers about what I "can" supply.  A friend suggested I go get help from a church that was having a back to school giveaway.  However, what the superintendent and the friend failed to consider is the message that these actions send to my kids.  First it suggests that supporting their schooling is not a top financial responsibility in our family.  Second it teaches my children entitlement and that others should sacrifice and be responsible to meet their need for supplies. 

The superintendent and my friend failed to get the point of my observation.  When I send 7 children back to school this August, some of what they will be taking includes 11 boxes of crayons, 55 glue sticks, 11 boxes of wipes, 16 dry erase markers, 15 boxes of tissue, and 192 sharpened #2 pencils.  Yet I am sure that my cildren will not need or use each of these items during the first week like they might the 23 folders.

Teachers need to consider the following when creating classroom supply lists:
1.  Trust the family to buy good quality items.  There are good scissors, glue, pencils, etc that are not Fiskar, Elmers, Ticonderoga or Crayola. 
2.  Set a year long schedule of when you need which supplies so families don't have to buy a year's worth of supplies at one time.  Plus it will reduce what you have to store in the classroom.
3.  When something new is added to the list, please consider what can be removed.
4.  Please return our child's non-consumable supplies at the end of the year.  Scissors, rulers, and pencil pouches are all easy to clean up and re-use.
5.  Do the math and see how much the supplies on your list costs realistically.  Don't use the 10 cent sale prices that were the week before our family got paid.  Use real prices and if the list costs more than $15 (which is more than 5% of a minimum wage earners weekly pay), then please revisit the list. 
6.  Remember, many of us are needing to use these lowest sale prices to buy our kids much needed backpacks, underwear, shoes, and a few new and/or new-to-us thrift clothing items to make our kids feel personally prepared for a fresh start too.  We also have band rental fees, lunch/snack money, elective course supply fees, and soon school pictures and the first school fundraiser of the year.   The classroom supply list is just the tip of the iceberg of expenses.
7.  Don't forget that our child getting ready for your class, may not be our only child.

Oh, and my husband is a teacher so I know about the out of pocket that teachers pay to get supplies that they need.  However, I STILL believe that more families would provide the requested supplies, if the total costs of the list was within their grasp and aligned with the purchasing values of their family.  Currently, I feel bullied by a list that is out of control and out of touch with what my kids really needs to start the year.  Yet like last year, I feel I must pass this first "test" by my kids' teachers and spend the money to get my first mommy "A" with Avery binders and Expo dry erase markers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stay-cation Day Trip #3: St. Louis City Museum

When we plan an outing for our Stay-cation or any other fun day, I usually contact each place that interest us and look into group ticket prices.  I also in my 4-5 sentence introduction email, I explain the age and ability range that we are bringing to their location.  Occasionally, I get an enlightened venue employee who understands that an aquarium is not going to entertain a blind/deaf child like Hannah OR that a host of inaccessible thrill rides are not for Vanessa or Jon OR...well, most of my readers understand.  We do family things as a family, BUT some of our family is NOT impressed by the activity due to physical or mental ability differences.  It is easy to say that the admission cost for those who won't enjoy the activity is "just part of being a family" until the admission fees get high enough that the outing is just wasteful. 

So about a month ago, I contacted St. Louis City Museum and was surprised when they offered for us to come as their guests!  They explained that there is a wide variety of activities and they encouraged us to explore and see what interested us.  We had never been to the City Museum and were not prepared for how huge and diverse its activities were!  It was like 4 Wal-Mart Stores full of fun collections stacked on top of each other with an amusement park on the roof!  Obviously a lot more energy and maturity than our group had would be required to get completely through, but it was well worth the experience to see such a neat reuse of an old industrial shoe factory and found art/treasures!

We were going to St. Louis because Jon and Vanessa had doctor appointments so this gave us the opportunity to divide the kids for a couple hours so Amber and Angela had only the kids who could climb, crawl and jump.  They spent this time doing the activities that might be too hard for Jon, Vanessa and Nate or that might not interest Hannah.  When we were there together, we checked out a hall of mirrors, toddler town, art corner, and several other areas.  Hannah was overwhelmed by the crowds and noises, but she loved an old beat up grand piano on the 2nd floor.  Even though there were keys that did not work and missing pedals, she made it turn out some pretty good tunes!  She had never played a grand piano before and probably could have stayed at that piano a lot longer.  If we had discovered it sooner, I also think she would have LOVED the slide from the 3rd floor to the 1st, but sadly it was closing time when we noticed it.

Grandma and I packed breakfast, lunch and snacks, but we stopped at White Castle for dinner because no trip to St. Louis would be complete without those little burgers!  It was even more fun that Amber and Angela had never ate at a White Castle so we HAD a duty to introduce them. 

It was a crazy, long, tiring day and we didn't make it home until after midnight.  We had planned another day trip to St. Louis around another set of doctor appointments in August, but we may rethink that and see if a two day trip could fit in the budget.

$200 of diesel
$    0 admission
$    4.20 post card (to Grace at camp) & souvenir
$  33.00 White Castle
$237.20 TOTAL or $18.25 each

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not your typical househelpers

Since 2000, our family has had many talented housekeepers, babysitters, and househelpers...Many of our great helpers stayed with us for only a year or two and others stayed four or more, but they have all put Alice on the Brady Bunch to shame, making her look unskilled and lazy. 

Each of our kids have been little and considered a different helper to be their special friend.  For Grace it was Sherry Riddle.  Grace worried to death that Sherry wouldn't be at her Kindergarten Birthday Party, but we worked it out where Sherry could come and help me with the party, even though it wasn't her usual time to work.  Grace was thrilled.  Then there was Jane whom we still miss her good cooking, followed by Nina who believed in killing germs by ironing.  We still laugh about our ironed towels, socks, underware and sheets, but we were never sick while she worked for us!  Ms. Pat Pennington was Corrine's pre-school babysitter and our housekeeper.  Corrine took many field trips and little adventures with Ms. Pat that she still remembers all these years later. Plus Ms. Pat would rearrange the furniture in different ways all the time and is probably a huge part of why Hannah is so good with getting around in new environments.  Catherine Valentine was here when David and Vanessa arrived home and when Nate arrived home and when Matt, Mark, Luke & Jon came home.  She was only with us a couple years, but our family sure grew under her care.  We teased her that it was all somehow because of her that we kept adding new blessings.  Catherine is a talented writer and left us to finish her degree at Berea.  After Catherine, Leigha kept things going for a year while she attended the local community college.

Now for the last year, Angela Covington has been using her talents at our home and learning new skills like African hair care and cute styles for Vanessa.  However, Angela is very creative and has lots of awesome photography projects that she does on the side.  Now she and a friend have completed an awesone photo book of the alphabet with a picture for each letter sound and a short poem.  The book is really top notch!  If you would be interested in a visually appealing alphabet book with great poems using lots of literary fun that kids love like consonancy, rhyme, and onomatopoeia, then the link to order and for more information is below.  It is only $10 per book plus shipping/handling.    FOLLOW THIS LINK TO ORDER.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stay-cation Day Trip #2

Matt, Mark & Luke ready to
lead our group.
Matt has been waiting for today for over three weeks.  We have showed him on the calendar a million times.  Today was the day that we go to Grandma and Poppy's house to show them our bus and then we get to go to the zoo and then to the dentist!  (Okay so he wasn't really excited about the dentist, but he does like to go to the dentist.)

I think Matt was a bit disappointed that Grandma and Poppy didn't want to ride in our bus with us nor did Poppy want to go buy his own bus.  (In Matt's mind, buses are the coolest and everyone should want one.)  However, after donut for breakfast at Grandma's, Matt was ready for the zoo.  Plus our matching shirts had arrived from Creator Designs so the kids were excited to wear them.  (Grace is at camp for 2 weeks so she will have to wait to get her shirt, but at age 16, she thinks my matching Summer T-shirts are out of fashion.)

Jon need Amber to
protect him from the geese.
At the zoo, the boys were running from one cage to the next.  The big spots of interest being feeding the fish, geese and swans AND feeding the goats and cow in the petting zoo AND feeding the giraffes.  Notice the common activity of FEEDING that was the hit.  They also enjoyed riding the train and using the zoo key to get silly songs and facts about each animal.
Hannah LOVED feeding the giraffe.
After the zoo, we went back to grandma's for a late lunch.  Then 7 kiddos headed to the dentist and had excellent check-ups! 
Angela and Amber went along on our outing.  Amber took excellent care of keeping Jon involved in each activity and she kept care of him at grandma's while the other kids were at the dentist because Jon and Hannah go to a specialist dentist

Angela on the train with Vanessa and Nate.

Angela helped Ed and I keep track of the rest off the crew at the zoo.  Without Grace, I kept panicking when I counted 9 instead of 10 kids so Angela's extra help with the busy boys was appreciated, especially with the twins potty training and wanting to checkout EVERY restroom.

Before we left Grandma's, she sent us with snacks so the kids snacked and snoozed all the way home.

Matt on the way home.  I think I'm going to need
to make some "bus pillows".
$96 zoo membership for 1 yr, train, feeding animals & postcard to send to Grace
$70 Diesel
$  0 Eats thanks to Grandma
$166 or $12.77 per person


Friday, July 6, 2012

Stay-cation Day Trip #1

Today was the first of our Stay-cation Day Trips.  We were to go to Big Brutus and Fort Scott, but due to the heat, we only took in Big Brutus.  We got a bit of a later start than we had expected because Nate had, had some trouble breathing last night.  He was finally resting well this morning so we hated to wake him until he had made up for some of the sleep he had missed. Plus Jon's physical therapist had come unexpectedly so we used the extra time to get everyone extra clothes, snacks, and other things that might make the trip more enjoyable.

Our group watching the movie.
The kids were so excited to be taking a trip in the bus.  On the way to Big Brutus most everyone stayed awake and enjoyed the views out the big windows.  At Big Brutus, the little kids had minimal interest in the museum, but the older kids enjoyed it.  We all watched the movie about Big Brutus.  It is an impressively large and amazing piece of engineering.  We all got a bit of a laugh when the video referenced people getting married on Big Brutus since our helper for Jon is newly engaged and planning a wedding.  I don't think we will convince her that Big Brutus is the perfect place, but we had fun imagining it!

In the operators seat.
After the museum the kids went out to inspect this big machine for themselves.  Mark asked the very smart question, "What is coal for?" I was so proud of his big boy question and for talking so plainly.  He has had a lot of Speech Therapy and it was great to see him using words! 

After a complete inspection, we went back inside to say our good-byes and the clerk remembered Grace from our visit 6 YEARS AGO!  (This was Grace's pick for our Stay-cation because she enjoyed talking to the volunteering retired miners when we went last time....6 years ago!  Grace STILL loves Big Brutus and I think she would consider getting married on it.)

Lower left edge is Vanessa then Daddy to the
right in black and in front of Daddy is Matt
(the really small blue dot).
Big Brutus facts:
  • largest electric shovel in the world
  • 16 stories tall (160 feet)
  • weight is 11 million pounds
  • boom is 150 feet long
  • shovel capacity 90 cu. yards (up to 150 tons)
  • maximum speed .22 MPH
  • cost $6.5 million (in 1962)
  • required as much electricity to run it as a town of 18,000!
Not so sure about that....
After Big Brutus, we headed to the well air-conditioned Pittsburg, Kansas mall to enjoy a great meal at the original Cafe Del Rio restaurant.  We had not been there in years!  Okay, we hadn't been there in a decade!  Still great Mexican food and still great service!  Since we hadn't planned to need recovery time, we had not called ahead, but Kassandra was our server and handled our group of 14 very efficiently and effectively!  I doubt very many of the servers wanted a sudden table our size with 10 kids!  We appreciated her great attitude and professional skills.  Having a waitress who can anticipate, even the needs of kids, is rare!

Corrine ready to enjoy her meal.
We then headed towards home as the temperature continued to climb.  At one point the rear A/C in the bus started to smell, and we realized that we had frozen up the unit so we opened the window vents for the rest of the trip home and let the A/C unit rest.  Surprisingly the air flow kept the bus very tolerable.  It was not as nice as air conditioned coolness, but it was far from miserable too.

I think we made some good family memories today.  It was so nice to travel together rather than in several cars.  It was even nicer to have every one's wheelchairs.  The bus continues to be a great blessing!

All pictures above, except Big Brutus were taken by Angela Covington.

$100 Diesel
$100 Good eats in great air conditioning
$  60 admission (group prices)
$  13.80 in souvenirs
$273.80 or $19.56 per person

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

At Home during planned vacation week

Today would have been the last day in San Antonio if we had gone on vacation as planned, but it turned out to be a good idea to stay close to home. 

On Wednesday last week we got the van back and took it to get washed up.  It looks great!  We were all impressed with how much a good wash improved its appearance.  Then on Thursday we had to take it back in with a coolant leak which turned out to be a hose needing replaced. 

Daddy driving the littlest Workman's around the block.
Finally on Friday night we took the bus on its first outing with all the Workman's aboard.  We all went to Amber and Angela's house to celebrate their surprise birthday party.  The bus rode a lot smoother than I expected and on the return trip we had 6 kids asleep by the time we got home.  The bus has amazingly cool air conditioning and the lift loaded the wheelchairs with no problems.  This bus is truly a huge blessing!  It was worth the two years of waiting and praying.

We didn't go far over the weekend or do too much outside because the heat has been almost unbearable!  On Sunday evening, we went along while Amber & Angela took the balloon ride that we gave them for their birthday.  I was really neat watching the process from start to finish!  The kids were really impressed, except Mark who was worried that they weren't coming back. 

On Monday, I took Hannah to the local nursing home to play piano.  As usual, she did great and she will play for them again next Monday.  Vanessa turned 10 on Monday too so I took the older kids to see the movie "Brave".  Then we came home and enjoyed cake and watching Vanessa open presents. 

Birthday girl Vanessa with her crown.
Today was busy with errands to the post office, Matt's speech therapy, pay bills, send packages, and such.  Angela and I sorted coupons, and I almost have a full box to send my friend from high school  (Amy) in Turkey.  Her husband is in the air force and they can use coupons that are upto 6 months expired.  If you have any that you want to toss in my box to top it off, please let me know.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a bit cooler as we still have lots to finish outside this Summer.