Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve to Everyone!

I finally wrote our Christmas newsletter a few days ago and I'm finally getting it out. I had to give up on sending it the old fashioned way and instead spreadour good cheer via the internet. I hope this finds all of you having a wonderful holiday season.

Since I wrote theletter, we've added more wonderful memories to our family's history.

OnFriday night, we went looking at Christmas lights with 2 homeschool families fromchurch. Our HUGE 15 passenger van was big enough to hold ALL THREE families! ;) We then came back here and had hot chocolate and cookies with one of the family. Saturday was busy with gift wrapping, cooking food for Christmas Day, and practicing music for today. And at today's church service, we made some musical well as some fun ones. ALL of us participated in the special musical program. Hubby, the youngest 6 kids, and I sang AWAY IN A MANGER accompanied by our oldest daughter on the electric piano. Our 3 year old son led us in singing JESUS LOVES ME (he LOVED his voice overthe sound system!) after we quoted John 3:16. "A" sang a solo, A STRANGE WAY TO SAVE THE WORLD, and then did a closing duet with an 8 year old girl. They sang a version of HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS just before we celebrated communion. I sang a solo, JESUS BORN ON THIS DAY. Having the whole family participate in this way truly blessed my heart. We were sort of a funny yet a sweet mix of The Von Trapps (you know... SOUND OF MUSIC), LITTLE RASCALS, and THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER! ;)

Speaking of THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, the kids are watching that right now(all except for "T" who has been bugging me for a snack the whole time I've been typing this (and WHY can't he go "bless" Daddy with his presence?) while hubby washes the lunch dishes. When I'm finished here, I'll be laying out the Christmas Eve spread....fancy cheeses, nice cold cuts, special breads, and gourmet chips...and then we'll share Christmas stories from our past and open one gift. Tomorrow we'll be heading to H'burg for more Christmas love and fun. I hope your Christmas Day is filled with many reminders of how much you are us and by God!

Grace to you all-----

Elysa and Family


Here's what our CHRISTmas newsletter said this year:

Merry CHRISTmas from The MacLellans!

Its 3 and a 1/2 days til Christmas & I’m just now getting our annual Christmasletter written. Who knows WHEN I’ll actually get them mailed & you’ll read it, but hopefully its better late then never?! Seems like the story of my life lately.

My life is filled to overflowing with good things...including 7 active children & a husband who actually likes to spend time with me! With lots ofgood things comes a lot of busyness! But people are more important than stuff (thestate of my house attests to that!) & spending time with my family, the friendsGod has given me, & keeping in touch with those far away is something I refuseto let slide! I’ve even started a blog to make it easier to keep in touch:

Our year has been a mix of the extremely wonderful & the painfully difficult.Jim gave me a new diamond in my engagement ring (the original one was lost) as we celebrated 15 years of marriage this past February 1.

March 3 found us throwinga big shindig in honor of my 4oth birthday! Hard to believe I’m officially middle-agedwhen I still feel so silly & giddy in many ways, but hopefully with those 40years of living has come a bit of wisdom and least I HOPE so! I knowthat my 40 years of living have definitely brought me a wealth of relationships...andthis year we’ve been reminded anew that friends & family truly are our greatesttreasure & the best gift we could ask for.At my 4oth party we announced that I was once again expecting a baby. I was thrilledwith another precious child being given to not only our family, but the world. But sadly, we lost the baby at 12 weeks & due to life threatening complicationsthat resulted, I’ll not be able to have any more babies.

We spent the next severalmonths hurting, healing, & seeking God. It was a very painful season in ourlives compounded by saying sad goodbyes to our dear church, Calvary Chapel of Jackson.

After a busy spring & summer highlighted by David’s 9th bday, a trip to SanibelIsland on the Florida Coast(and a visit to the Tampa area to see Sherri Jaynes &Busch Gardens), Jim’s 41st birthday, Vacation Bible School at 2 different churches,Anna & Betsie attending Camp Garaywa for the 1st time, Betsie clogging at ClearBranch Baptist Church, Fabulous Fridays for the kids at Calvary Chapel, Betsie’s11th bday, our 1st trip to New Orleans & the zoo there since Katrina, & Merry’s 1st bday, our fall found us ready for new beginnings.

David and Patrick have started scouts. Anna joined a homeschool teen book club thatmeets monthly. Travis turned 3 on Sepember 25 (though he insists he’s really 2!).Laura Grace turned 5 on October 3. I was able to travel to the Boston area to visitwith my “African” friend Denise Bouchard & her family. Anna turned the BIG 13 on November 5. We celebrated her bday with around 30 friends & family membersat a local church’s gym. Thanksgiving was spent at my cousin Melissa’s home withher husband & children along with my mom & step-dad, my brother’s family,my Grandma McElhaney, my cousin Melanie, & my Uncle Johnny & Aunt Nell. We spent the Saturday afterwards in Mobile with my cousin Beth’s family.

Though the middle chunk of the year was a tough season for us, we’re now in a seasonof renewed joy. Patrick turned 8 on December 9 & we’ve enjoyed our Christmasseason immensely.

We’ve had fun times at various Christmas parties including theannual homeschool one, Betsie’s clogging party, the homeschool moms’ party, &the church women’s get-together. We’ve gone to see the lights & Christmas museumson the historic Canton Square. The kids & I have made our traditional foods---2 batches of orange balls and 2 batches of Chex Mix—and we’ll need to make more as those goodies have disappeared like CRAZY! David had a narrator’s part in his& Patrick’s scout program & they both earned their neckerchiefs. We’ll be going to see more lights this weekend & if we hope to take the older kidsto see THE NATIVITY movie before Christmas Day arrives.

On Sunday, some of the kids & I will be singing seasonal songs in the church’s Christmas Eve service.And then we’ll go down to Hattiesburg on Christmas Day to visit with the Mississippiside of Jim’s family. We’ll spend the end of the week in Gautier with my family& are hoping to have a New Year’s Eve party at our house (wanna come?).

We look forward to a year filled with renewed love & passion for the Lord &life. God has placed us in a church here in Florence & it already feels likehome. Restoration Church is a smallish church of around 120 on Sunday mornings but its growing & has many families with lots of kids including about 15 homeschoolfamilies--- many that we were already friends with through our homeschool group.The kids are loving all the activities & Jim and I are involved with a small(cell) group & will begin team teaching the 4-6th graders Sunday School classstarting in January.

Jim still serves the state as dam safety engineer & our community as a volunteerfirefighter.

I’m leading the Florence-Richland Homeschool Group & continue to love my life as wife, mother, homeschool educator, & grateful friend of somany wonderful loved ones around the world.

2006 was not always an easy year for us. But through it all, God was faithful touphold & direct us. His loving presence made all the difference. And the loveHe sent our way through our family & friends was so immensely appreciated. Christmas time reminds me that He loves us passionately & will work ALL thingsfor the good of those who love Him & are called according to His purpose. NOTHINGcan separate us from the love of the Father...and He sent us His precious son Jesusto ensure that we could always be in fellowship with Him...our Creator, our King,our amazingly faithful Father.Praying that you’ll experience His love & passion in a very real way in 2007.

With much love,
Elysa, J, A, B, D, P, T, L, and M

(Please excuse the spots that need to be edited...when I copied and pasted it the spacing got messed up. Its getting close to midnight and I've still got gifts to wrap and food to fix so the fixing will have to wait! )

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A SNEAKY Christmas Story

One of my love languages is "gifts". I love to think about gifts, buy gifts, wrap gifts, give gifts, and of course, receive gifts. ;) As a child, looking forward to Christmas also meant looking forward to the gifts I would get from my mom and dad plus all the other relatives and close friends.

Every year my brother and I would pour over the Sears and J.C.Penney
"wishbooks" as we pondered the top things we'd put on our wishlists. Mine almost always included dolls while my brothers was filled with violent things such as soldiers, toy weapons, and books about war...pretty funny considering he's one of the most gentle people I know....rather prophetic when you consider the fact that he is now a doctor at a veteran's hospital.

We always HOPED we'd figure out what we were getting for Christmas, and I look for clues even now, but deep down I really DON'T want to know as I truly DO enjoy the surprise involved when the wrappers are torn off and the gift is revealed.

One homeschool pal of mine, Sheri, not only dreamed about what she'd receive one Christmas, but she took matters into her own hands (and the hands of her brother) to discover EXACTLY what they'd be getting one year. Here is Sheri's story:

It was an accident...really and truly.

See, I had been at my friend Tammy's house a few days earlier and she introduced me to the art of snooping. It was Christmas break, all of our parents were at work, and armed with a razor blade and a roll of tape we went into her parents room trying to stifle our giggles. She dropped to the floor and army crawled under their bed where she pulled out a huge box, in that box were a multitude of presents. She smiled and handed me a blade and we set to work. Ever so gingerly I would slice the tape under Tammy's watchful eye, we would gently pull back the wrapping paper and exclaim "It's the Rick Springfield Cassette!!" or "It's a Strawberry Shortcake doll." at each exclamation she would promise I could come over the day after Christmas to listen to Rick on her new cassette player (yeah, we found that too) or play with her new dolls. Once we had opened every present we set to work rewrapping them, ever so carefully refolding the wrap around the boxes and measuring the tape to alarming exactness. Eventually all of the presents were rewrapped and placed back where they belonged...and it was time for me to go home. Tammy went to sleep dreaming of Christmas in a mere week...and I went home jealous as all get out over the fact that she knew what she was getting.

So the next day I did the only logical thing. "Hey Ken...wanna do something really cool?" I asked my brother impishly. He knew that grin already. Being around me for 10 years my brothers knew I could come up with some pretty hare brained schemes, but they were usually willing participants. After all, Ken and I dreamed of one day being on American Bandstand and it was MY dance moves that were gonna get us there! He looked up from his Louis L'amour book and eyed me as I danced around the living room. "What?"

"Let's SNOOP!!!"

He looked at me, "Why? So you can tell mom and get me in trouble?"

"Geesh Ken no!!! So we can play with our toys early!!!"

He looked back at his book, "If you want to snoop go ahead, but I will have no part of it," he called over the top of the paperback.

I grinned, not allowing myself to be deterred and headed down the hall anxious to see what I could find. I walked into my parents room and was met with a blast of cold air. I held my breath, there was something about there room was that forbidden. Possibly it was the fact that we weren't allowed to enter it. I slowed my paces and tiptoed past the bed. I stepped quickly to my dads dresser and opened the top drawer. This was their typical hiding place for small things. I shifted his underwear and socks around and was disappointed that there was nothing at the bottom of the walnut drawer. Quietly I closed the drawer and turned to my moms closet.

The doors slid easily as I scanned her top shelves, nothing looked out of place and nothing stood out as if it had been recently moved. I was really upset now, I slammed her closet door and thought. I was not allowed to open my dad's closet, I knew that. So I reopened moms door and stepped through the opening into dad's closet, there on the top shelf was a large Montgomery Ward bag I hadn't seen in the past. I stretched as far as my 10 year old body would allow me to but I couldn't quite reach, forgetting the rules and opening dad's closet door I ran down the hall "Kenny!! Kenny!! Come here quick!! I found 'em!"

Kenny was now in the kitchen pouring himself some orange juice. "I told you I want no part of it."

I thought quickly, "But the one I found is really big and says "to Kenny" on it!"

That did the trick. Ken dropped his cup of juice in the sink and followed me. I ran ahead and circled back "Come on!! Come on!!" I whispered.

He stopped at the doorway to our parents room. "You know we aren't allowed in here!"

I stuck my tongue out at him. "Are you gonna tell because I'm not!"

We stepped into the room and I led him to the closet. "LOOK!!" I pointed at the bag on the top shelf.

"I thought you said my name was on it." he mumbled.

"Kenny! I had to get you in here! Now get it down for me!"

He hesitantly reached up and pulled the heavy bag down. There were a few presents wrapped in the bag. "They're wrapped Sher...put 'em back we'll find out what they are on Christmas."

I smiled and reached into my pocket to pull out a roll of tape and a set of scissors. "Stand back! I know what I'm doing."

I grabbed the first package and gingerly cut it open while Kenny gasped in horror. "Don't worry!!" I shushed him. I pulled the wrapping paper away. "Berzerk? What's that?"

"It's an Atari game!" Ken answered, you could hear the excitement in his voice now.

He handed me another gift "OPEN IT!!" I smiled and sliced the tape. "OH MY GOSH! It's DONKEY KONG!" Ken jumped up, "There's got to be an Atari in here somewhere!" he started digging through the bottom of dad's closet and finally pulled from the depths a very large wrapped box, shoving it at me he practically screeched "OPEN IT SHER!!"
I took the box and fairly shook with excitement. Gingerly I cut the tape and pulled the paper back, we both began to scream. "AN Atari!! OH MY GOSH!"

I looked up at Ken a light in my eye "Let's play it!" I whispered.

Ken thought for a minute, and being the brilliant one he instantly deduced that we couldn't play the factory sealed games, our parents would notice. I sighed and began to rewrap the Atari and then went on to wrap the two games we had unearthed when Ken interrupted me, "Hey Sher...there's one more gift here, want to open it?"

"It's the same size as the other two, it's another game, one for each of us."

He handed it to me, "at least we can figure out WHICH game it is."

I took the package from his hands and ran the scissors across the tape. "It's Pac Man! How fun!"

Ken picked it up and I watched a grin spread from ear to ear. "And it's NOT factory sealed, LOOK!"

I grabbed the Atari System and untaped it. "Let's go!" I barked out at him.

We ran down the hall giggling and didn't stop until the system was set up. I jumped up and down with glee while Kenny warned me "If you tell we found this we are in BIG trouble Sher, you have to swear right now that you will never tell!" I rolled my eyes, "I can keep a secret!"
I sat on the floor by Ken and smiled at him as he handed me a controller. "You first." I hesitated. "I don't know first." And thus began our Christmas vacation adventure.

Every day we would wake up eagerly, kiss our parents goodbye and sit on the couch giggling over our plans. We would stand at the window and wave goodbye. I am sure our parents thought we were so loving and caring, kissing them goodbye, carrying their items to the car for them...sometimes we would even start it so it would be warm...but in reality we were just waiting for the brakelights to go around the which point it would become a maneuver General Patton would be proud of. Ken would yell "GO TIME!" and run to our parents room, I would slide of the kitchen counter and grab the scissor and tape, rushing to meet him on the floor of their bedroom. Quickly and quietly we continued daily to unwrap the system and play games for 8 hours straight, then half an hour before they were due home we would fold the system back up and rewrap it. They were none the wiser.
We even began having friends over to play. I remember Tammy playing. We were getting away with the ultimate con. We were on a complete drug free high. Ken prayed every night that I would keep up my end of the bargain and not tell. In the end...I didn't.

On Christmas morning we all ran out excited over the prospect of a new Atari that didn't have to be wrapped up each day. We quickly located it and unwrapped it. Our father sat back in awe at how professional we were at hooking it up. I realize now we should have at least looked at the directions. He made a comment about how technical we obviously were. I felt guilt bubbling up in my chest. We weren't technical, we'd been doing it for 14 days straight!

Then we popped in PacMan...We instantly beat several levels. My mom was heard saying "Oh my gosh...they are SO good at this!" and the guilt worked its way up to my jaw.

I wavered back and forth, I had promised Ken I wouldn't tell but I felt so guilty. Our parents were sitting on the couch completely oblivious to our devious ways and were prepared to tell everyone how enormously talented we were...but we really weren't. I stood up, "Mom, dad...I have to tell you something."

And with that Ken's head snapped to the left. "SHERI NOOOOOOOOOOOOO" he screamed out.

I started crying.


Mom looked questioningly at Ken then at me, then at Ken. Charles sat in the corner wondering what in the world his little brother and sister had done this time. When I blurted out "We've been playing the game every day of Christmas break, we unwrap it every morning when you leave for work and re wrap it before you get home."

My mom sat there with her eyes wide open, her chin hanging to her chest in stunned silence while my dad held a pillow over his face to stifle his laughter.

"I'm so sorry," I muttered.

"You BRAT!" Ken yelled.

"You guys are brilliant," Charles high fived Ken.

"Oh...and Charles," I started to say.

Kenny started yelling again, " promised"

"Ken let me play with the stuffed Garfield you got me in exchange for letting him read the book you got him."

You know it's funny...ever since that day my parents kept their gifts at my Aunts house in Cottonwood, a good 20 miles away and Charles never told anyone what he got someone for gifts again. And to this day...Ken won't trust me with a secret.

I can't understand why.

Kinda puts a new meaning to the concept of "home alone", doesn't it? ;)

For more of Sheri's witty writings, you can visit her blog at .

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


But this one is appropriate for the season! :)

CHRISTMAS much do I know?

Your Christmas lights are glowing 98%.

Awesome! Your Christmas tree lights up the whole room! You are a true lover of all things Christmas, and a joy for those around you!

Christmas Trivia
Make Your Own Quiz

Just confirms what my family will tell you...I'm loving this season! Now to just make sure I don't let myself get too frazzled so I STAY a JOY and not a GRINCH!

Monday, December 18, 2006

And now for a break from our regularly scheduled Christmas programming....

Okay, I admit it, I'm a sucker for quizzes. I've been doing those silly things since I was old enough to read and answer the questions in juvenile magazines and then later on, periodicals geared toward teenage girls and their peer woes, crushes of the week, and fashion frenzies. With the onset of the internet, I now have a new venue for indulging this guilty pleasure. It seems that my oldest two daughters have inherited this gene from their mom (they SURE didn't get it from their DAD!) and frequently take quizzes to determine such profound outcomes as which High School Musical character they are the most like, what their fashion personality, or which Lord of the Rings character they should marry!

The latest one concerned READING! Now, anyone who knows me KNOWS that I'm a book-aholic! I've got more books in my "to read" pile than I can count. My darling husband is convinced that he'll return home one day only to find me buried beneath an avalanche of books. Well...if one has to go, I guess that's a winner. I think that death by chocolate might be the only other means of passing that might be more preferable...definitely a SWEETER passing!

Here's how today's silly quiz characterized me and I must say, it was pretty spot on! :)

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

The link highlighted on the quiz doesn't work for some reason, so here's the link if YOU want to take this quiz:

"The crucial significance of the cradle at Bethlehem lies in its place in the sequence of steps down that led the Son of God to the cross of Calvary, and we do not understand it till we see it in this context. The key text in the New Testament for interpreting the incarnation is not therefore, the bare statement 'the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us', but rather the more comprehensive statement 'ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich'. Here is stated, not the fact of the incarnation only, but also its meaning; the taking of manhood by the Son is set before us in a way which shows us how we should set it before ourselves and ever view it...not simply as a marvel of nature, but rather as a wonder of grace." J I Packer, Knowing God

I am blessed to know Barb Cash, a homeschool mom who is also involved in full-time sports ministry with her husband. Barb is beautiful in appearance and in spirit. She serves many thru her life, including the Five in a Row families who she ministers to through moderating The Prayer Place at .

Barb recently posted a thoughtful Christmas message at her blog, . I thought it was very insightful and she said I could post it here for my friends and family.

"An empty manger!

Okay, I am sure the title of this entry may not make any sense to you, but bear with me!

Have you ever wondered why so many people can accept the reality of Jesus being born, but never see their need for Him as their Saviour? I have been pondering this lately and the Lord, I believe, showed me one possible reason why...

Some people have never taken Jesus out of the manger!!!

Think with me for a minute...Even with the attempts of some to remove Jesus from Christmas all together, there is still ample opportunity to see a manger scene in stores, in front of churches and in many of our homes. We, ourselves, have one out front of the house and at least 5 or 6 displayed inside ~ some all year round. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it gives the illusion to some that Jesus was merely a baby who was born amidst much hoopla. End of the story!

The reality of his birth is not hard for them to grasp, but they stop short of acknowledging that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and favour with God and man. They can't accept the crucifixion and they certainly don't want to mentally entertain the thought of the resurrection. Why you may ask?

Well, as long as Jesus is tucked safely away in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger He is no threat to them and the "safe" little world they have created for themselves. To allow Him to grow up, suffer unimaginably and then raise Himself from the dead requires something from us! It requires us to search our hearts and come to some tough conclusions...either Jesus is Who He says He is or He made the whole thing up!

When our children have a birthday we have a lot of fun remembering their birth stories and laughing about how each one made their grand entrance into our world. We don't stop there, though. We also celebrate who each child has become and what they mean to each of us now! We don't just look at pictures of them as a newborn, sing them a song and then go on with our lives until the next year when we pull out the birth pictures again! To do that would be to deny the reality of who they have become to us and how our lives have been forever changed because of the privilege of sharing this journey with them.

So let me challenge you as you celebrate the birthday of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Enjoy those mangers and, by all means, remember how God came to earth wrapped in flesh, but once the 26th of December rolls around ~ put Baby Jesus away. Let others see an empty animal trough and ask you what happened to Jesus! It may just be the opportunity you've been looking for to share the hope we have in Christ! Share the rest of the story! Not only is that manger empty , but that tomb they placed His tortured body in is, too!

My life has forever been changed because of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! If yours has, too, then join with me in letting others know that our mangers are empty and we serve a resurrected Lord!"

Saturday, December 16, 2006


One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to watch the animated HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Well if you're feeling in a bit of a grinchy mood yourself, or perhaps one of your loved ones is being a bit of a miser today, then go to this website and find out just the name to suit you during this grumpy time:

Who knows, going by the "Grinch Name" might actually cause you to giggle yourself OUT of that persnickety funk!

AKA Frownymonster Rottenhead (but only when I don't get enough sleep or chocolate)

P.s. I'm married to Crabbyfrown Rottenhead (known to his close friends as Grumpcrab). And our lovely children are (starting from oldest to youngest) Bleakwhiner, Moodymonster, Crabbygrinch, Moodygrinch, Crabbypout, Crabbygloom, and Miserlygrinch. Though I can honestly say that I'm thankful that my wee one is definitely more of a merry "Who" like Cindy Lou than a green ole stinker and will rarely need this new moniker!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Do you have "too many children"? Or maybe someone you know is expecting "another one"? Perhaps you'll find this article by Elisabeth Elliot to be of interest.

Off to comfort my wee hobbit baby who is not pleased about her morning nap. :)

Monday, December 11, 2006


We see now what it meant for the Son of God to empty Himself and become poor. It meant a laying aside of glory; a voluntary restraint of power; an acceptance of hardship, isolation, ill treatment, malice, and misunderstanding; finally, a deaththat involved such agony--- spiritual, even more than physical---that His mind nearlybroke under the prospect of it. It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely men,who, through his poverty, might become rich. The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity--- hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory--- because at the Father's will Jesus Christ became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear. J I Packer, Knowing God.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


As posted previously, I LOVE Christmas and seasonal songs are a wonderful part of the holiday mix. And of course CHILDREN are another element that make this season so special. Well, when you put these two together, you can get some beautiful results...but more often than not, some FUNNY results, as well! :D

I remember that my brother Edward used to think as a child that the famous "three kings" were from a place called "Orientar". Of course, he was not the only one in our family who misheard lyrics. I thought for the longest time that the patriotic song we learned in kindegarten went like this: Our country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of the ICEE! Yes, getting one of those frozen treats from a convenience store was a BIG deal to me!

Over on the Five in a Row Family Room forum, there's a thread going on about other misheard lyrics. They made me smile and added even more cheer to my holiday season. Hope it does the same for you!

Suz in Frogpond shares this story about one of her children:

[Here's] darling daughter's current rendition of "Silent Night" - "Silent night, Holy night, All is calm, all is bright, Round young version of mother and child, holy infant so tenderly mild. Sleep in Heavenly peace. Sleep in Heavenly peace." Best of all, she'll argue with you that SHE'S right!

Suz also relates this ancedote:

We had dd's dance concert last night. (She's in a Christian dance company.) The littlest ones were dancing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and while we were backstage before the show, one of the tiny girls was sitting on a bench in the dressing room practicing her "song"........get ready for this one...
O Come O Come Emmanuel,And prance on Captain Israel....

Tricia O heard her 5 year old daughter singing about "a cartridge in a pear tree."

Must end for now and do some stuff around the house, will add more to this later! :)

Monday, December 04, 2006


Aaahhhhhhh....Christmas! I LOVE this holiday. Its my favorite time of the year. I love the parties, card sending and card getting, carols, yummy foods, sentimental videos, red and green, buying gifts AND getting them ;), Christmas trees, lights, decorations, the smell of cinnamon and cloves, ribbons and wrapping paper, newsletters, special church services, packing gift boxes for the Samaritan's Purse Operation Shoebox, the Salvation Army bellringers, holiday-themed books, and most of all, the message of God's love that is interwoven through all the expressions of joyful celebration during this most wonderful time of the year.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Because of His love, I'm filled with joy and freedom...a joy and freedom that overflow this blessed HOLYday season.

My prayer for you this Christmastime, is that you will know and experience in a tangible way the profound love the Father of us all have for you His blessed and beloved child. If I could give each one of you a gift this year, it would be that you would dance every day in the security that you are greatly loved by the author of love Himself.

"On with the dance!
Let joy be unconfined."
---Lord Byron

Monday, November 27, 2006


"The effort to repay God in the ordinary way we pay creditors would nullify graceand turn it into a business transaction. If we see acts of obedience as installmentpayments, we make grace into a mortgage. Let us not say that grace creates debt;let us say that grace pays debts."

John Piper, Future Grace

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Sentiment...

A sweet gal I know through the Five in a Row family sent me a lovely Thanksgiving ecard this week. I loved the sentiment expressed there:

"Let our lives be our thanksgiving."

Long after the holiday has passed, may I remember to embrace this attitude for living.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Thanksgiving is my husband's favorite holiday. He loves the rich history behind it, the great food, the gathering together of family and friends, the fact that it is one of the LEAST commercialized of the holidays, and the unique purpose of giving thanks to God. Its not about buying stuff or "what am I gonna get". Its about simply being grateful and realizing how abundantly rich our lives truly are. Its about embracing those we love as the most precious treasure God has given us.

This Thanksgiving, I wanted to take the time to list some of the things I'm most grateful for. My life has been so tremendously blessed that I'm sure I'll leave out many, many of the gifts I've rec'd, but its a start. And hopefully as I list these blessings, it will help me grow in contentment and peace.

So as the old timey hymn goes, I'll count my blessings and name them one by one:

  • A husband who is loyal, hardworking, honorable, intelligent, Godly, brave, and goodlooking to boot!
  • SEVEN beautiful, talented, precious children
  • Parents who loved me and sought to give me the best in life including teaching me about God's love and helping me find HIS will for my life
  • My brother Edward and all the fun times we had as children
  • Beth, we may be cousins by birth, but we're sisters at heart
  • Roy, Sally, Vers, and Rose...brought to us thru marriage, joined to us with love
  • My extended family...grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, etc.
  • A house with running water, electricity, and modern appliances
  • Beautiful, natural surroundings in which to raise my family
  • Good health
  • A good college education---and the great friends and memories I have as a result
  • Restoration Church and the people there who are becoming our spiritual family
  • Our homeschool support group---what a great group of parents, grandparents, and kids
  • Mrs. Ine Phillips, my first grade teacher who taught me to read and opened a world that I still love escaping to
  • Two years spent in Swaziland, Africa that changed my life
  • God's amazing GRACE
  • The Five in a Row Homeschool Family
  • My husband's job and good bosses over the years
  • The Troubadour sisters...the spark still warms my heart
  • Denise Gregson and my time spent with her family in Mass. this fall
  • My "old" friends who are still dear and close to my heart despite time and distance
  • My "new" friends who brighten my here and now
  • Caring neighbors
  • Dependable babysitters
  • Loving and committed teachers in our church's children's ministry
  • Freedom, opportunity, and prosperity as an American citizen

And now for the "icing" that isn't necessary but sure makes life sweet....I'm thankful for:

  • Scads of pet cats
  • Our faithful and gentle lab
  • My silly duck
  • Silver toenail polish
  • Internet, blogs, email, and my Five in a Row boards
  • BOOKS!
  • M&M's
  • PoPcOrN
  • A great local library
  • Rootbeer
  • A new coat...the first new on in over 16 years!
  • Rootbeer
  • Autumn leaves
  • TexMex food
  • Target ;)
  • Jane Austen
  • Rooibos tea
  • Krogers!
  • Talk Radio
  • Fluffy hair
  • Lipstick
  • Dates with my hubby
  • Toe socks
  • New, black boots
  • My digital camera
  • Scarves
  • Starlit nights
  • Playing in the snow
  • Hotdogs cooked over a bonfire
  • Crisp, fall mornings

Okay, so I could go on and on and ON, but I'll stop for now. The song says "count your blessings name them one by one" but if I really listed every good thing in my life, I just don't think I could count that HIGH!

Praising God for all HIS gifts this Thanksgiving....for every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father.


Monday, November 20, 2006


Funny films, silly friends, corny jokes, and CrAzY cakes make me laugh. And laughter feels SO good! But what feels even BETTER is knowing that its not "all about me" and my ability to do good, but its "all about HIM" and HIS UNFAILING GOODNESS!!! Of course, KNOWING about His free gift of grace makes it possible for me to laugh and fully enjoy life!

This quote is such a great reminder of the freedom we have in Christ...

"The main thing we learn from a serious attempt to practice the Christian virtues is that we fail. If there was any idea that God had set us a sort of exam and that we might get good marks by deserving them, that has to be wiped out. If there was any idea of a sort of bargain, any idea that we could perform our side of the contract and thus put God in our debt so that it was up to Him to perform His side, that has to be wiped out." C S Lewis, MERE CHRISTIANITY

And the cake pictured below is a reminder and evidence that God has given us some pretty unique and laugh-inducing talents! LOL!

Thanks, Angel S., for being the instrument God used to bring a lot of chuckles into the lives of the Restoration Ladies on Friday night. Anyone care for some armadillo cake?!? ;)

Monday, November 13, 2006


I guess I'm just in a mood for laughter....and since I'm a bit of a wierdo, much of what I laugh at is wierd! My homeschool pal and favorite book-dealer sent me the following:


  • If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto. The blockage will be almost instantly removed.

  • Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

  • For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

  • A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

  • If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives. Then you will be afraid to cough.

  • Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.

  • Sometimes, we just need to remember what the rules of life really are: You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape

  • Remember: Most people seem normal until you get to know them.

  • Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.

  • If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You get another chance.

  • And finally, be really nice to your family and friends; you never know when you might need them to empty your bedpan.

Okay, did those make you smile? Chuckle a bit? NO?!? Okay, so what you might need is a funny flick.

Oh...You DID smile and laugh. Okay, so maybe what you WANT is a funny flick.

Regardless of the reason you're in the market for a few more snorts and giggles, here are some of MY favorite funny flicks:

  • CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (I like both versions, but the new one is funnier)
  • ELF
  • Various old B&W LITTLE RASCALS
  • The new PINK PANTHER (with Steve Martin)

Gotta laundry piles are calling me. Hmmm...wonder how I can find humor in THAT?!?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


....and all the stress involved with the election, its time to give the brain a break and have some FIZZY FUN! Enjoy the video I've posted below. :D

Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments II - The Domino Effect

The guys from EepyBird are back, with 251 bottles of Diet Coke and over 1,500 Mentos mints. In Experiment #137, they did a mint-powered version of the Bellagio fountains. This time, it's one giant Coke & Mentos chain reaction that has to be seen to be believed.

Keywords: eepybird eepy bird mentos coke diet coke mentos experiment fountain soda science geyser experiments fountains geysers

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Here are a couple of online resources:

Now get out there and VOTE!

Almighty God,
Your Word tells us, "The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." You see past our appearance, our education, our occupation, our experience, and You see into our hearts. And those whose hearts are completely Yours find uncommon strength from You.

Lord, as we enter into the upcoming congressional elections, we ask that You would give us leaders who are men and women after Your own heart.

Give us leaders who will lead with integrity and truth. May they be men and women of conviction who are more concerned about doing what is right than about securing a high approval rating.

Guide us to candidates who are honest in the midst of what is often a jaded political process. Although no one is perfect, show us which candidates have been tainted the least and who desire what is best for all Americans.

Please lead us to vote for people who not only have deep seated morals but are grounded in a relationship with You. May these people seek direction from Your Word and from godly advisors. May they be men and women of prayer who don't usurp Your authority but understand that they are answerable to You. And may they be courageous enough to walk in obedience to what You have required of them.

Equip our leaders with the skills to craft and pass laws with knowledge and understanding. Give them the wisdom to know how to achieve concesus.

Lord God, You are the one who sets up leaders and deposes them. You are the one who gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. This November, open the eyes of the American voters so we will see past the appearances and into the heart. Through our leaders, may You turn our hearts toward you.

Adapted From: We Will Pray for Election Day by Tom Freiling and Mike Klassen. Allegiance Press.

This prayer was found at . If you've not voted today, please do so! Even "small", local elections make a difference. Many times the "small" elected positions are stepping stones to offices that have greater influence and power such as representatives, senators, governors, and supreme court justices.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Tonight our family held its first Reformation Day Party. We had such a good time remembering this important event and the impact it had on the world. When Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis on the town's' church door on October 31, 1517, he was calling all people to remember the truth of God's grace and mercy. He was calling all people to remember that it is by God's love and goodness, through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and not through any thing we can do that mankind , each one of us, can be made right with God. Tomorrow I'll post about our family's happenings, but for now, let me end the day wtih the lyrics from one of Luther's most famous writings, the hymn A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD.

"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing: For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing: Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him."

That Word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,His kingdom is forever."

Amen and praise God! His love never fails.

Monday, October 30, 2006


If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me if I'm from this area, I'd have enough to buy quite an assortment of cute, new, fall accessories. ;) Yes, I was born in this state and raised within an hour and half radius of my birthplace. When folks that aren't from around here visit, they definitely think I sound like a Southern Belle. Pilots stationed at the airforce base by my college town loved asking me and my girlfriends to repeat certain words and phrases.

But I guess the 2 summers I lived in California and Illinois as a child, a summer in Israel during college, and 2 years in Africa as a single missionary meant that my vocabulary and the way I say things received some "outside" influences. You add to that the factors that my mama was an English schoolteacher, my daddy spoke "Mississippi Gulf Coast", I lived on the Gulf Coast for years surrounded by military transplants, I'm married to an adopted son-of-the-south who grew up in CA & Canada, and I love learning new words and Brit lit/videos and you get a dixie darling who speaks more gen'l English than Southernese.

But though I may sometimes tell my kids to empty out their rubbish bins and I ask hubby to pick up some sodas from the store, I think that the fact that I still call all my Mama's friends "Miss So-N-So", I'm often "fixin'" to do something, and "y'all" is definitely one of the most used words in my vocabulary means that this gal will always have more than a touch of Southernese in her verbal potpourri.

Taking an online quiz rated me this way:

Your Linguistic Profile:
40% General American English
35% Dixie
15% Yankee
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern
What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Saturday, October 28, 2006


"When I go to college I'm going to play on the playground." ---My VERY cute 3 year old

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This past weekend, hubby and I loaded (and I do mean LOADED) up our 7 kids and all our camping stuff and headed to Camp Dixon for the annual retreat that our state-wide homeschool association holds every fall. There were some folks in sleek RVs complete with all the ammenities, some were staying in simple bunk rooms and hotel-type accomodations, but we chose to rough it in our tent. After all, its an adventure to go tentcamping with 7 a whole lot CHEAPER! ;)

The weekend was filled to the brim with getting-to-know-you conversations, cooking on the camp stove, running races, marshmallow fights, midnight trips to the bathhouse, friendly cats, rolling down the big grassy hills, lots of singing, helping the baby up & down the slide countless times, playing pirate on the wooden playship, testimony sharing, and memory making. It also had its share of yellow jackets (loved my cooking!), hurt toes, and RAIN, but all that just gave us opportunities to grow and learn.

As a parent, I certainly enjoyed getting to know other homeschooling parents and just the sheer fun of the event. But what I enjoyed MOST was seeing how much my KIDS enjoyed themselves. Since the whole campground was filled with like-minded, child-friendly people, there was such a feeling of family. Even though we didn't know many folks going into the weekend, it didn't matter. Strangers didn't feel like strangers. It made me think about what it must have been like 60 or more years ago in small towns. Parents didn't have to worry about their kids wandering around the neighborhood or even several blocks away to play. I read in stories about kids of 6 or 7 walking to the store all by themselves to pick up some groceries for Mama. I watch the old Little Rascals and see elementary age kids going camping in the woods all by themselves. This is a life that my kids don't know...or at least not normally. But then what we had at Camp Dixon wasn't "normal". It was a unique time when we could tell the kids to go play and we didn't have to know where they were going or who they were going to run into. They just knew to be back in time to eat!

After experiencing our first Camp Dixon retreat, we now understand why the past attendees keep on coming back year after year. We know of folks who had traveled from other states because they didn't want to miss out on the Camp Dixon experience. We talked with young adults who have graduated from homeschool but still come back because its been such a wonderful part of their growing up years. And we know of at least one couple whose kids are all grown up but still come back every year because they love what goes on at the camp and they are there to bless and encourage the younger homeschooling families.

And now we, too, will look forward to OUR children having Camp Dixon as an annual part of their growing up years.

(BTW, the photo is of all the children who ran in the 3K or 5K fun run and won a medal or ribbon. All of our kids participated...even the baby in a backpack that Daddy wore. The 2 oldest girls won medals in their age division.)

Monday, October 23, 2006


I want to share with you a recipe that I've used more than any other recipe for popcorn. Now this may seem a little whacko...after all, who needs a recipe for PoPcOrN?!? But with the advent of microwave popcorn, its amazing how so many folks no longer do it the old fashioned way on the stove and many just don't know how to do it anymore...or at least in a way that tastes better than microwave.

My love affair with popcorn began over 3 decades ago. I can't remember my first handful of popcorn, but I do remember where and when I learned to pop the delightful food. We were living in Crystal Springs in our big, white farmhouse. We lived there from the time I was 8 til I was 11 and a half. During those years, my mom taught me to pop it in an old, battered, metal pot. I still remember that old I wish I had it. It wasn't big enough to hold as much as my family now eats, but I'd love to have it just for the sake of having it. Somehow I could figure out a way to honor that old pot and the popcorn loving journey it set me upon. I know, I're wondering how I can get so nostalgic about an old pot. But that old pot symbolizes not only all the downright delectable popcorn I've popped over the years (plus more than a few burnt kernels in the early years) but all the friends and family I've shared big bowls of the fluffy stuff with over the years.

In high school, I tried to watch my calories and so for a few years I tried to make due with the air-popper stuff experimenting with all sorts of topping to make it more palatable.

During the college years, my girlfriends and I would pop it up in one of those orange Hamilton Beach poppers complete with the built-in butter melting compartment. Microwave popcorn and airpoppers were also the rage and if my memory is not playing tricks on me, I think that the popping of popcorn was the cause of more than one dorm fire alarm going off!!!

After college, I left for Africa. There were no fancy poppers and the only microwave popcorn to cross my tastebuds arrived occasionally via a package from back home. That is where I really started dev'ping the ART of corn popping. Using a copper pot with vents in the lid, I started fine tuning my popping skills. Life moved more slowly over there. I lived alone. I had plenty of time in the evenings to read good books in front of the fireplace and popcorn was the ideal culinary companion. Since I did live alone, I also got lonely...a lot. Good food, running water, and electricity were good bait for reeling in overnight houseguests. Denise B. was one of my frequent sleepover pals and she not only liked my popcorn freshly made, she liked eating it leftover and stale the next morning!

When I left Africa behind, I unfortunately left my pot behind. Though I must say, the poppers with the built-in stirring contraption pop up some pretty fine popcorn. I've presently got one in candy-apple red that my sweetheart husband gave me for Christmas last year. Unfortunately, I don't think it was designed for industrial strength use and the plastic window on top broke after a few months use. The lid is now "attractively" patched with aluminum foil. But I continue to use it and every Sunday night, the kids and I devour mountains of the crunchy stuff while watching our weekly family movie.

Over the last couple of years, our family has been making some major dietary changes. We've been trying to get wiser with our food choices and that's meant I've had to rethink how I've made even my adored popcorn. This is reflected in the recipe.

At this point, I must give some credit to my friend Kelly L (who, by the way, was my first "Queen of the Week"). She was the one who really raved on and on about my popcorn and how it was significantly better than the average Joe Popcorn. She'd come over to help me clean for a party or get ready for a new baby coming, and we'd inevitabley end up at the dining room table talking and laughing (often HOWLING when Kelly was doing the storytelling) while we ate copious amounts of the white fluffy treat. After she moved to Colorado, we both frequented the Five in a Row homeschool board and one way or the other, my popcorn came up as a topic of discussion. Before I knew it, people were asking for the recipe. I'd been making popcorn for so long, I really didn't have a recipe. I just did it. But having people ask me HOW I did it got the old gray matter humming and I finally came up with something that other people could reproduce. And now, "Elysa Mac's World Famous PoPcOrN" is a topic that is frequently mentioned on the boards and a recipe that is almost as frequently requested.

I love sharing things that I love with others, so I'd love to share my recipe with you!



  • Basic Recipe: Cover bottom of pan with oil. Then add enough popcorn to cover pan bottom. Cook over high heat til popping stops or there are a few seconds between each pop. Don't keep it in there too long and let it burn. If you're someone who needs specific amounts, you can start out with 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/3 cup of kernels.

  • I keep my bag of unpopped popcorn in the freezer
  • Use a pot with a good lid but preferably one with vents so the steam can escape---trapped steam can make your popcorn TOUGH
  • I have personally found that generic popcorn pops just as well as the fancy stuff
  • Heat your oil FIRST---put it on high and after a minute or so, add your popcorn.
    Some bags say to add a few kernels and when those pop add the rest, I just "know" how long to wait cause I've done it for so long.
  • After you put in your popcorn, sprinkle it with the orange buttery popcorn salt that is used in the popcorn machines at football games, etc. The only place I can find it is Sam's Club. One brand is SAVORAL (or something like that). Right now I've got a different brand, I think ACT II. THIS is the REAL secret!
  • Pop your corn on HIGH shaking it (side to side ON the burner, not up and down taking it OFF of the burner) and dumping some of it when it gets to the top but continue cooking it over heat til almost all of them are popped.
  • Since I'm trying to be healthier and use "good fats" now, I use Expeller Pressed SAFFLOWER oil to pop the corn. You can use a vegetable, peanut, or canola oil, just be aware that unless its an expeller pressed type of oil, its not as healthy for you. But if you don't eat it very often, then it might not be a big deal for you. I eat a LOT of popcorn so I really try to use the good stuff.
  • Now, also, if you're not worrying about only using "good fats", I spray my popcorn with butter flavored spray. The one I like the very best and in my opinion tastes the MOST like butter is the Kroger brand. I like it much better than Pam. But SALT FIRST! If you spray then salt you get too much salt on those sprayed pieces. I know, it sounds like a little thing, but it all works to make it taste DELISH!
  • Use regular salt (well, I use sea salt) not the orange salt afterwards. I add a bit of salt after adding each layer of popcorn.
  • Sometimes I melt some butter and pour over the popcorn after popping. Real BUTTER is a "good fat" where as the stuff in the spray cans is not. But even if its a "good fat", I don't need to be eating it by the tablespoonfuls!
  • As a special treat, sprinkle with grated cheese or add some M&M's or BOTH!
  • When I lived in Africa, I couldn't get the special popcorn salt or the spray but it still tasted good and it was there that I figured out the secret of the pot with the vents. If you don't have a vented lid, just every now and again let some of the steam escape but without lifting the lid so much you shoot popcorn all over the place! The secret to really crisp popcorn is NO STEAM BUILD-UP!

Happy PoPpIng and thanks for putting up with my ramblings...I do get a bit maniacal where this subject is concerned. ;)

Good Eats to Share

If you know me at all, you know I love food and I love talking about food and I love reading about food and I love fixing food. Earlier, I shared my Peachy Pork Picante recipe. I thought I'd share 2 others that folks often request recipes for.

The first is a carrot recipe...SO EASY but my kids actually ALL like it...the only veggie they ALL really like except corn. But the carrot one wins hands down even against corn.


The carrots really are easy. Start out with either already peeled baby carrots or regular carrots that you've peeled and sliced into "coins". Then I just cook them in enough lightly salted water to cover them. I get them to a boil and then lower them down to medium. Cook them til they are very tender and most of the water is gone. If they aren't tender and most of the water is already gone, add a little bit accordingly. Then, add some butter and either honey or brown sugar. Add til it tastes sweet enough for your liking. That's it!

The second one is for my biscuit recipe. My mother-in-law, Sally MacLellan, taught me how to make biscuits when I was a young bride because my husband loved her's so much. I've changed a couple of things in the way I make them, but if they're good, its thanks to Sally and her willingness to teach a new bride how to make food that would come to stand for LTC where the husband is concerned.

Show-him-that=you-love-him Biscuits

2 cups Martha White Self-Rising Four

1/4 cup butter-flavored shortening

3/4 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, cut shortening into flour until mixture resembles courrse crubms. With a fork or spoon, stir in milk to form a soft dough.

Turn dough onto lightly floured board and pat out until about 3/4 inch thick or even a little thicker. Cut with floured cutter.

Place biscuits lightly touching...

(To be continued. Pain maeds I'm on making my brain scrabmled!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

A BEAUTIFUL TRUTH that inspires me to live more fully this week...

"Every mother has the breathtaking privilege of sharing with God in the creation of new life. She helps bring into existence a soul that will endure for all eternity." James Keller

Thursday, October 12, 2006

This fall poem makes me smile...

'October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.'

--George Cooper, "October's Party"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

AAAA-H-H-H...The Richness of Fall Colors

My 5 year old had been playing around outside today when she took a break to come show me a quite extraordinary jewel of nature. This leaf was so beautifully tinted, I just had to take a photo. To be honest, my photographic skills do not do justice to the brilliant bright oranges that the artist painted on the leaf when He created it. But despite my inability to capture its sheer radiance, I wanted to share it with you as I enjoy the magnificence of this artistic display we call Autumn.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Last night my 3 year old son was being a bit of a grump. Hubby was off with the big girls at the fair, my 2 oldest sons and the 5 year old princess were playing on the pc, the hobbit baby was in her playpen, and my 3 year old was just at grouchy, loose ends.

I grabbed up a pile of books and offered him a snuggle in Daddy's chair as I read to him. At first he wasn't too keen on my book selections. HE wanted a book about volcanoes. But the very first one on the top of the pile brought out the sweetest, most joyful sounding laughs that I'd heard from him all fact, the first true, happy laughs I'd heard in a few days....its been a rough past few weeks for our little mister.

The book, WIGGLE, is written by Doreen Cronin. She's the same author who has brought us the famous and silly farm books such as CLICK, CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE and DUCK FOR PRESIDENT.

We've enjoyed Cronin's other books, but this is the first one that caused my boy to say right away "read it again" and I did, at least THREE times! And for whatever reason, T. is really into crocodiles right now so we had to look at the page featuring the wiggly dog on top of the crocodile's snout over and over and OVER again! Who knows what lurks in the mind of a male preschooler! LOL!

Monday, October 09, 2006


Hubby has taken the two oldest girls to meet up with some of their friends at the State Fair. All the wee ones are in bed. As is my habit, when the cat is away, this mouse does play...and in my case, its on the pc! I've spent the last hour trying to catch up on email and delete a bunch of junk mail, and I just had to take a break. I ran across some completely silly quizzes. This one, that supposedly determined how "normal" I am, was the least silly of the silly ones so here goes:

You are 80% normal

You are shockingly normal... and since normal doesn't really exist, that is kinda scary. In fact, you are scarier than the most abnormal person. Go you!

I think some of the folks who know me IRL would beg to differ with this quiz result! LOL!

Okay, this very scary normal person is now getting off the pc and getting in bed with a good, cozy book about very normal people with normal lives in a normal, Post-WWII, English village.



I found this article from THE WASHINGTON TIMES of great interest:

ASSOCIATED PRESSPublished October 9, 2006

NEW YORK -- Laura Bennett isn't bound by convention. Professionally, at 42, she's pursuing a midcareer switch into big-time fashion design. At home, she's a mother of five -- with No. 6 due next month. "It was nothing that we planned ahead of time," Mrs. Bennett says. "It's more that we were enjoying all the kids. We have a happy home. Why not have as many children as we can?"

It's barely a blip on the nation's demographic radar -- 11 percent of U.S. births in 2004 were to women who already had three children, up from 10 percent in 1995. But there seems to be a growing openness to having more than two children, in some case more than four.

The reasons are diverse -- from religious to, as Mrs. Bennett reasons, "Why not?" These families cut across economic lines, though a sizable part of the increase is attributed to a baby boom in affluent suburbs, with more upper-middle-class couples deciding that a three- or four-child household can be both affordable and fun.

The Bennetts still stand out. Among other well-off families in Manhattan, three children is generally the maximum -- one or two is much more common as parents contemplate private-school tuition of $25,000 a year even for kindergarten, and a real estate market that is far from family-friendly.

Mrs. Bennett's husband, Peter Shelton, is a successful architect, and the family can afford child-care help while Mrs. Bennett -- also an architect by training -- pursues her fashion-design aspirations as a finalist on the TV reality show "Project Runway." But their motives sound similar to those of other, less wealthy parents nationwide who have opted for five or more children.

Dr. Jeff Brown, a pediatrician affiliated with Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut's wealthy southwestern suburbs, has noticed a clear trend in recent years. "I don't hear people say, 'We'll have two and then we're done,' where I used to hear that before," he said. "People are much more open to three-children families than they were 10 years ago."

However, really big families remain rare, Dr. Brown said, in part because many women are giving birth at older ages -- they may not have their third child until their 40s, when the prospect of a fourth might seem too daunting.

The Census Department says it has no national data specifying which demographic sectors are having more kids these days. But a leading authority on family size, Duke University sociologist Philip Morgan, says it makes sense that some well-off couples are opting for more children as concern about global overcrowding eases because of lowering birth rates overall.

"The population explosion -- fears about that are over," he said. "People used to think that having more than two kids was not only expensive but immoral. Now, people say if you can afford three kids, four kids, that's great."

Yet Mr. Morgan, who has three children of his own, doubts there will be a boom in extra-large families. "No matter how much money the parents have, most think each of their kids should have their own place and time," he said. "More than four -- that's when people start thinking you're crazy, that you're shortchanging the ones you already have."

Bonny Clark, a mother of five from the Minneapolis suburb of Circle Pines, has encountered such skepticism. When pregnant with twins four year ago -- with three other children already -- even some of her friends were dismayed. "There were a lot of unwelcome comments, like, 'If I had three kids and was having twins, I'd kill myself,'" Mrs. Clark said.

Mrs. Clark, 38, is aware of the buzz that large families -- in the suburbs, at least -- are a new status symbol. "I thought it was kind of funny," she said "Most people who have a lot of kids don't have the time or energy to care what others think."

From far-flung communities, many parents of large families enjoy comparing notes. Several Web sites have surfaced to accommodate such exchanges, including, founded this year by Meagan Francis of Williamston, Mich. Mrs. Francis, 29, has four children -- fewer than many of her site's regular bloggers but enough to raise eyebrows in her suburb outside Lansing. "People thought I was insane," she said.

Mrs. Bennett says the main reaction she gets from mothers with fewer children is, "How do you do it?" "My answer is I don't think about it too much," she said. "You do what you need to do, and you have to just let go of a few things. Don't expect things to be perfect every day."

Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

I can definitely relate to that last paragraph. Of course in MY case, I don't expect ANY day to be perfect!!!! If my husband has clean underwear in his drawer, we've not lost our three year old, I know what I'm cooking before 5:00 in the evening, none of the kids have had accidents that require more than 1 band-aid, I've not lost my cool and raised my voice at all the whole day long, we've not broken any dishes, we've read some good books, laughed a LOT, taken good naps (me, too!)and quarreling has been kept to a minimum, then I feel like we've had a winning day! :)