Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anyone up for a Smorgasbord?

When I was about 10 my family frequented a buffet restaurant for the "smorgasbord".  I loved that word!  It was fun to say it... smorgasbord... and the past couple days have felt like a little of all sorts of things... which is what a smorgasbord is!

We had the end of the first school week.  I had an out of town financial meeting that went very well.  And there were a few breadsticks thrown in for good measure.  The painting job in my bedroom (including the ceiling!) was completed, too!

I am really pleased with the "non white" selection that I made... it's called natural.  It's hard to judge the color by the pictures because of lighting and all... it is a light tan type color.  The white trim looks great with it... I think. 

Then there was a spontaneous trip to get $1.00 ice cream, followed by a random jaunt through the park, where I had a jumping-out-of-the-swing contest with Clayton.  I really thought about soaring out of that swing seat at the highest point... then some good sense came over me and I acted a bit my age... hey, at 40 I really don't want a broken arm or leg.  I am ashamed to say that I left my camera at home... there were so many great photo opportunities there!! 

This morning I surveyed the bounty from my garden and made up a double batch of zucchini.  That's the easy part... everyone will eat that.  Now the hard part will be hiding the yellow squash in some recipes.  Even if I batter and fry it up and make it quite unhealthy the kids make faces...

Today's events included a lunch out with my daughter, Bek, cleaning inside a cabinet under a sink, wiping down some nick-nacks that had been taken down during the paint job... and taking a half hour to rest... then heading out to the library to get some household organization and interior decorating books.  See what finishing a paint job will do to you?  Be warned!!

Tomorrow the smorgasbord will continue... I will attend church, do laundry, sit and ponder the yellow squash dilema and then scour those library books for some ideas for a household color scheme and window treatment options.  And somewhere in there I'll have to get groceries and plan out this weeks school week, because when I am done enjoying this weekend's buffet, Monday will be upon us.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Today I guest blogged at

Ron has recently started a blog and is a hobby photographer on the verge of being professional.  I hope he posts more often because he does some great work!  I added in some of my own favorite shots with my camera.  Enjoy and may you find beauty in your day!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The First Day of School 2010-2011

Yep, that's right.  Where we live, the school district got this fabulous idea (my guess is from working parents who were having to pay for childcare all summer... and I've heard from many working moms who agree with that...) that summer should be about 6 weeks long and the school year should have 3 two week breaks.  I don't like it one bit.  I say, "Give the kids their summer back!"  But, that's just me.  I love summer!!!  It seems like we were just getting the hang of a lazy summer day and it was time to pack up the back packs and check shoes and socks...  And with this school schedule, just as the boys get in the hang of homework and teacher's expectations and start really making some progress, they are derailed with a two week break.  But, there's nothing I can do about it, so...

Off to school they went.  Doesn't he look thrilled?  He actually was very excited.  And I just heard him say, "I can't wait for the second day of school!" 

Memories came flooding back to me today.  The house was so quiet and still.  I homeschooled for 15 years and do not regret that one bit... Year after year, I started school when I was ready and usually the end of August.  I remember...

Shasta picking up Jemima Puddle Duck, reading it to herself and the light went on and she exclaimed, "I can read!"  She had been reading her kindergarten readers and word lists for weeks, but that day she knew for herself that she could read!

Rebekah... she didn't really get taught to read... she just knew how!  That was easy.  But, a year or so after she had been reading, while working on spelling she called out, "Hey, mom! I get it!  Phonics is reading!"  Well, kind of... yeah... that'll do. 

Stephen... we sat day after day repeating the alphabet and sounds... but, my favorite school memory was sitting down with our nature book and I'd point out things on the page and read captions to him.  It went like this:     Mom:  This is the flower's pistol
          Stephen:  "You mean this is the pistol?"
          Mom:  Yep, that's the pistol.  And this is the stamen.
          Stephen:  "You mean this is the stamen?"
          Mom:  Yep, that is the stamen...
And it went that way several days a week for that school year.  And my heart was so full of love for him!

Julie!  Oh, my!  Talk about easy!  She was determined from shortly after birth that Stephen wasn't going to learn anything without her!!!  She watched and listened to everything and just joined in. 

Nathaniel was similar to Julie.  When we started kindergarten, I would start a sentence and he would finish it.  It didn't take too long and I realized that he could just skip ahead to where Julie and Stephen were.

Each spring I would get this bug... I would have to pore over homeschooling magazines and catalogs and plan out the next year and what we would be using.  And summers were filled with bikes and toddler pools and sprinklers... gardening... and little unit studies.  Because my children behave best when they have a schedule. 

I remember teaching Joseph and him sitting with Bob Books, trying his best.  He was such a sweet little student.  Today he started middle school... 6th grade.  Reading was very hard for him to learn and something he still needs a boost of confidence in, but I am so excited to share that based on his past test scores and teacher recommendations, he was one of about 20 students that were selected to take part in a before school math class, which will accelerate him and have him take full on algebra in 7th grade.  This momma's proud!!!

And Victor.  I remember him in Learning Circle.  He loved going to Learning Circle!  They would do arts and crafts and listen to stories and play games.  Where did that little guy go?  Today he started 5th grade and is the top of the elementary school.  His eyes just danced today.  He might look sober in pictures, but in life, the boy has been all smiles and stories.

Clayton is top of the middle school... 8th grade and he and Joseph love their independent bike riding to and from school.  I see the common "social life is very important" theme going on with him.  He had a terrific summer with lots of personal growth, as he tore off his grandparent's roof this "summer" and spent many days working for others.  That was very good for him... teen boys need physical activity and this boy needed the boost of work with success and praise.

Cody started at the middle school today, too.  He has such a desire to get back in the swing of school and friends and I could see him set his mind to giving his best today. 

So, I spent those many years homeschooling... staying at home, raising my kiddos.  And I remember scratching my forehead at those parents who were so excited to send their children back to school.  And before I had put mine into public school, I remember this great commercial on tv.  There he was.  The dad with the very happy look on his face... strolling down the aisle with a shopping cart to the music, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."  And I laughed and laughed.  Because even though I love having my kids around me, I also understand the humor of that... and I really like some quiet time, too!  That commercial comes to mind now every first day of school.  I missed the children a little... for a couple minutes... then I got busy working on a painting project, then a phone call, then some time online, then worked in the garden... and I absolutely loved picking up a couple of them from school and hearing all about their day.  I wont mention all the papers I had to fill out or sign...

The rest of you, please go enjoy the rest of summer... you probably don't have school starting right now!  I'd better get to dinner and run to buy more groceries and get these boys cleaned up for another day of learning and growing...

(This is a joke... Victor wanted to take a picture in his school clothes in a clean spot of his bedroom, which has been recently invaded by an older sister, so I said, "Go stand in the corner there... it's clean."  So, he stood int he corner!  Such a literal character, he is!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On Being Me and Looking forward to New Years!

Yes, it's the end of July and I am thinking about New Year's Eve... Why?  Well, I've been doing a bit of self reflection.  Recently I fell prey to the comparison game.  I've been more than a bit hard on myself. 

As a young teen my dad took me to the New Year's Eve services at church.  We would gather and think about the previous year.  What did we do well?  What would we change?  What would we like to do differently in the coming year?  And for a girl like me, who loves lists, that started a yearly exercise I have continued most of my life.

In 2009 I reviewed my 2008 list of goals for the new year and simply crossed out 2008 and wrote 2009 above it... Well, many of the items in my categorized lists were fairly general...
        *Get more involved with the children's schools
        *Learn a few new recipes for dinners
        *Read my Bible more consistently

But, other items that I wanted to work on were a bit more personal...
        *Wear make-up more often
        *Find new hair styles
        *Dress up more
I remember feeling that I had failed because the things I "needed" to work on in the coming year were the same things I had wanted to work on the previous year.  I don't think I made a written list for 2010, but I did mentally go through the same self evaluation process.

Now, I don't think it's all that bad to reflect and set goals.  In fact, I love to do this!  But, when you combine that with the comparison game, it's not very helpful to how you may end up feeling about yourself.

For example, it's great to set a goal of budgeting wisely each month of the year... but to add to that the pressure to get "nice" things like "so and so" has... or to live a life that you don't have... I stopped appreciating what I had and felt disappointed.

To set a goal to take care of yourself is terrific!  But to add to that pressure to spend a lot of time with make-up and hair products daily when you just don't enjoy that... I started groaning inside... that's just not me.

To want to serve tasty, good food is wonderful!  But, to pressure yourself to be more like Rachel when your main goal in the kitchen is to get in and out quickly...

You see?

So, enough of it!  I began a new self evaluation process.  I decided to find out and accept who I am.  What makes me special and unique?  I don't need to be a career woman.  I don't need to focus on hair and make-up days on end.  I don't need to spend a lot of energy specializing on recipes...

Who am I?

I am an appreciator of peace... I am a daughter who accepts and loves her parents... I am my kid's mom and I am crazy about each of them... I am Betty.  I only like putting on make-up for special days and that is just fine... my husband thinks I am adorable!  I hate cooking, but I can turn out some delicious food anyway, thank you, it just cannot take up a lot of my time!  I love summer dresses and pretty shoes, but don't get me started about getting cold!  I enjoy waterslides and roller coasters.  I've never been a career woman, but I've taught my children to read and read many books out loud to them (oftentimes with an English accent when necessary... totally necessary when reading Chronicles of Narnia!).   I may not have a large, beautifully furnished home, but the sun sets just as lovely for me and the great white owl and her babies flew over my back yard just last night!  Music?  Oh, yeah, I like it lots... along with photography and writing.

So, you can be you.  I'm going to be me.  And I'm going to take hold of each day with a passion... searching for the beauty in it... and striving for Emerson's version of success:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

And this next New Years Eve?  I am going to celebrate being me and being given another new year to live life!

So, leave me a comment.  Tell me a few words or phrases that let me know who YOU are.  What makes you unique?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Good-bye for now, Kay

This afternoon I was shocked... stunned and very heartbroken.  One of my besties from choir passed away last week.  There was no warning.  I want so badly to get an email that says there was some mix up and that she is still with us.  I want more time.  I am not ready to say good-bye and I have no choice.

The night she came into choir practice and sat next to me, we just clicked.  I loved her wit, which is something I run low on most of the time.  I loved the laughter in her eyes.  Instantly.  We hardly knew each other and the choir director, Karla, asked which prayer group she should be in.  Quickly reaching over and smacking her thigh, I whispered, "Say you want to be in mine!"  She didn't even know my name yet and called out, "I want to be in hers!"  Karla then asked me, "Which one are you in?"  Now, I was new and didn't know many people's names, so I pointed across the room and said, "I'm in hers!"  And, fortunately, our group leader was paying attention and said, "Mine!"  And so, each week at choir, we would pray together.  She prayed for my children and met most of them and spoke to them so sincerely.  We sang Good Friday night with the choir and then we sat near each other during prayer time.  When it was over and we stood up, she stuck out her hand, shook Scott's hand and said something like, "You've got excellent taste... I just love your wife." 

Kay set a lovely example for me.  She was a servant in heart.  I imagine that for some time now, I hope a very long time, I will look for ways to serve and think of her.  I hate thinking of walking into choir and her not being there... it breaks my heart.

Thank you for praying for the family of Kay.

Love your friends and family with all your heart,


Sunday, July 18, 2010

From Old Boats to Funny Cars - Our Day at Infineon Raceway

We surprised my dad with a trip to the raceway to watch the dragstrip racing.  I had never been before, but this is something my dad watches as often as he can on tv.  He remembers back in about 1958 when the cars broke 150 mph.



When we arrived and began looking around, my dad enjoyed checking out this car...


But, the bigger attraction was the pit.  One of the top racers that my dad watches is John Force.  He has a daughter, Ashley Force, who races, too.  I'd heard all about them the previous day, so it wasn't a surprise when dad wanted to hang out at their pits.


Here's dad admiring Ashley Force's pit.

It was cloudy and cold in the morning.  Trust me.
Here's John Force's pit.


Today dad says that his favorite part of the day was getting to see, hear and smell John Force's car get fired up in the pit.  Let me tell you, the experience did involve all of the senses!!!  It was my first introduction to "nitro", which is some such substance that is used instead of gasoline.  The first video is him getting into the car, the second is him starting it up.  It's not high time entertainment, but it was quite a time!

(John Force signing autographs)

Before we sat down to watch the races, we visited other pits.  Here he is in a funny car that Toyota had out.
There we sat with glasses on for a virtual road race experience.
Here is Antron Brown's dragster.
And here he is, chasing down Antron himself, for an autograph.

The most expensive seats were the stadium seats... but they were farthest from the actual starting line and race!
To get to our seats, we had to go under the track itself, through a tunnel.
Our seats were right up from the starting line!
There are a few classes of vehicles that race... the sportsman cars, the dragsters and the funny cars. 
To begin, when the track is prepared, the cars come out, two at a time and burn out... it has something to do with warming up the tires... makes a bit of noise and smoke...

So, after they burn out and back up they inch forward to the invisible starting line.  For dragsters, this is a time where their back tires are feverously brushed off.  For the funny cars, this is where the top is raised and something taken out of the engine area that is put in to stop it from going fast during the burn out...

Here's a look at the stadium from our seats.
Here is a sportsman stock car.
Here is a dragster.

Here is a video of two dragsters racing... one is by a man who has been number one for many years.  He is Mr. Schumacher in the US Army dragster.

Now, here's a tip.  You should not eat peanut butter cups during races.  No, no, no.  Trust me.  The taste of nitro-burnt rubber-chocolate and peanut butter do NOT mix!  Blech!

Whenever there was an oil spill or anything flew off a tire or an engine, the races came to a halt and clean up crews were on the scene.  I learned that there is this thing called a gasket.  It is between the head and the engine.  There's a spark plug in the head and there are pistons.  I am pretty sure the pistons are mobile!  So, sometimes a piston might make a hole in the gasket and oil and "stuff" go out all over the place.  Stick with me, here, because it gets exciting!  Gaskets help the engine not blow up when the spark ignites the fuel!  And I hear that sometimes gaskets blow up  for other reasons.  And so something like this must have happened because some "things" blew off a dragster and out went the clean up crew.  A talented motocycle stunt rider came out and entertained the crowd while we waited for the clean up to finish.  I found the following announcement to be more humorous than the stunt rider:  "If parts (ones that blow off the race-car) land facing the same direction that they were in to begin with (at the start of the race) then you are not disqualified."  Wow, I don't know who came up with that rule, but I bet the driver was relieved....

I would now like to say:  SILLY BOYS....RACING'S FOR GIRLS!
Here's a video of a lady racecar driver simply smoking out the opponent!  She is sponsored by In-N-Out.

And here's a video of Ashley Force (she's a girl, too!) smoking her opponent!
Here are some miscellaneous photos... This is one of John Farce's older cars.
These cars were in the "nostalgic" tent.
Here is the jelly belly car!!!  It comes with a display container full of bagged jelly belly samples!

These were dragsters in the nostalgic tent.

And here is John Force's car getting towed out to the starting line-up area.
Here is Ashley Force's car with the hood up!  Her car is the farther of the two...

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about my day at the raceway!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Our day trip to Sacramento

After showing my dad photos of Joseph and Victor's trips to Sutter's Fort, he said that he'd like to go there.  The times that I went, I was a worker, teaching basket weaving for the school's field trip.  Since I posted about that previously, I wont write too much more about it, except that it was really nice to take my time looking in each of the rooms.  There were new things to learn.  For example, the wagons used by the parties that traveled out in the early 1800's... the ones that were the first to come across... were narrow and had no seats.  I always thought they were like the wagons of Little House on the Prairie and that people rode.  Nope.  The wagon parties that first came out walked the entire way.  The wagons were narrow and held all the supplies for their trades and for food and clothing, hunting and defense.  A docent who volunteers at this state park shared the name and story of one lady who had a toddler on her hip and was pregnant and took the trip, walking the entire time. 

My dad told each worker that was there that this was much better than visiting the Alamo! 

This is the only original structure that has lasted since early 1800.  The wood flooring in it is original and nearly all artifacts are original.  The walls and rooms that border the fort were restored and rebuilt where needed according to original plans. 


Just had to take a picture of this cradle.  My dad made a small one of these that Joseph slept in.


Each of the four corners had a tower with three canons for each direction.  This corner tower had the jail in the bottom of it.


Here we sat for a musket demonstration.




John Sutter's room.

Next we went down the road a couple miles and visited the Train Museum.  There was SO much history.  I enjoyed learning about the first train route from Sacramento area heading East through the Sierra Nevadas and connecting with the Union Pacific. 





This picture reminded me of Disneyland... all the displays here were simply beautiful.


This part of town had old time wooden planks for walkways that were delightful!  The shops were fun.  We ran out of time and talked about coming back so that we could enjoy the stores, too.