on crooked lines

A man is out in local neighborhoods breaking into cars and homes. Early Friday morning he’d been across the street. Monday morning we discovered he’d been in our car overnight. He’s been caught on film by several security cameras, but the police so far have been unable to catch him.

Discomfort has definitely increased around here.  Last Thursday, some guy, a different guy, on a bike asked one of my boys for permission to go look around at the cabins. I was inside at first, then came out on my way to take the kids and some friends down to camp for a picnic. Then he asked ME if it was okay.

Yes. No? Actually no, it’s NOT okay if you take your shirtless self with your bike, disappear for twenty minutes, and snoop around on private property.  Are you here to check out possible cabins for future use and stay?  Then call first and stop by. My gut reaction is to say in a firm, irritated voice that hides my growl, “Excuse me, sir, but YOU need to check into the office.”  How to translate that into language and tone that doesn’t easily offend or brand me as a bitch for life? That remains beyond me.

Maybe because it’s asking me to be someone different than who I am?

It’s all at least leading to conversations and prayers. Action has been taken where possible and appropriate. After asking, the little boys slept in our room last night.  Another one measured then sawed two dowel rods for the window that doesn’t have a lock. We lock our car doors now. The main camp buildings have also been locked. To the best of my knowledge, the police are doing the best they can with what they have.

The greatest comfort, no matter the issues, always comes from God alone. On my own, inside me, there will always be fear. Discouragement, resentment, mistrust, and suspicion. Sorrow, grief, isolation, and wounds. It’s a load no human was ever meant to carry, and if it weren’t for us, even God himself would never had to have carried it.

There will be those times that challenge faith and ruffle feathers, but every day from God is good. We’re praying for this man that he wouldn’t get shot, that the police would find him, and that he wouldn’t do this to us or to our neighbors anymore.



kings and paupers

I’ve started wearing jeans to church, and I feel like that’s helped. I’m that person who wouldn’t mind showing up to a church with a coffee shop and and people in jeans.  In other words, there isn’t the angst of putting on your Sunday best. My wardrobe isn’t that ample or varied, and to have different clothes for different days, particularly a day when you’re supposed to look cleaned up and nice, has always been a bit of a stretch for me.

I didn’t make it to the grocery store yesterday, so I went this afternoon. September 1st was the start of me seeing if I could keep our weekly grocery budget at $100 or less.  Last week I ended up with $10 and some change. Today at Aldi I spent just over $110. This does not include the $100 I spent on my husband’s birthday, which is the normal amount I tend to spend on birthdays, including gifts, dessert, and a meal. It also doesn’t include my recent purchase of laundry supplies. I figured I’d try for a month and see how it goes.

Last week my special splurge item was a lamb roast. Because Jesus is the Lamb of God,  eating lamb always feels special to me. They didn’t have any lamb at Aldi this week, so I went with BBQ pork ribs, which I’ll probably make in the crock-pot.  I also bought the 2lb family pack of salmon and a fresh chicken which I look forward to roasting then making broth with. We’ve also been enjoying an abundance of vegetables, including potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes, which have all been gifts from the gardens of others.

I recently read that men love meat and women love carbs. In my family I can say this is true. If my husband or boys are going to get majorly excited over a meal, it’s going to be over the meat dish. On the other hand, my daughter loves to bake, and I universally love the carbs. If I eat an avocado with eggs and salsa, it doesn’t feel like I’ve really eaten, but if I have toast with it, mentally and physiologically I feel steadier and calmer. A modest bowl of oatmeal can last me over half of the day, during that time I would not be hungry.

Food ties people together. We hear the term “comfort food” and typically associate it with some high-carb, discouraged substance.  Bread and butter. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Macaroni and cheese. Fresh Dutch apple pie. I have memories of loved ones and even, (can it be possible?), emotional connections with certain foods like french toast (Grandma) and pancakes (Mom).  How fitting that Christ the Lamb comes to us in bread and wine, a universal meal for men and women. Jesus said do this in remembrance of Him.

Food remains an area of mental struggle for me. All the food gurus tell you to drink more water and eat unprocessed whole foods, particularly foods with lots of fiber. True. But certain foods are going to be a part of me forever. Dad drank coffee and Mom made pancakes served with canned peaches.  Regardless of the current trends, I believe it is healthy to give thanks and partake, in remembrance of the dear ones who sustained you in this life, when you had nothing but two weak and swaddled legs to one day stand on.





finding true north

The steel cut oatmeal was fixed by 6:30.  I’ve still been making breakfast every morning for my high-schooler, usually while he packs his lunch. He doesn’t eat oatmeal, so today I fried an egg, the only one left, and served it with a piece of buttered toast. It’s a way to be present in the start of his day, and I’m thankful for the brief but filling moments.

I let the others sleep a little longer this morning, and didn’t call them all to breakfast at once. One by one at a time, they appeared.  I sat at the table with my pencil and planner, inviting each one to dish up a bowl.  Yes to the blueberries, peaches, yogurt, and honey.

I love the fun that Friday brings. There’s this sense that something ought to be different, because it is. It’s the last day of the school week, a week of joyous learning, and Fridays are a day to relax into the morning, work on our math books, and follow the winds.

I’m not completely thrilled with the Astronomy book I bought for this year. It’s The Book of Astronomy by Memoria Press.  I support Memoria Press and don’t mean to speak poorly of any of their resources. I usually love all of their books. We just happen to be struggling with this one. There are lots of pictures of isolated constellations, but without much context or illustration to see how these constellations relate to one another. We’ve found Polaris, Casseopia, and the gorgeous big dipper, but will any of us actually be able to find The Summer Triangle? I have no idea, but at the very least, we’re going to try.

bits and pieces


The boys ran to Degoba early this morning. Degoba, pronounced DAY-go-bah, is the name they gave to the tree that stands near the northwest border. Over the past several years we’ve noticed a slow decay in the local ash tree population. That’s not why they ran there. I sent them out before school to burn off some energy, to breathe fresh air, and while they did that, I walked. We’re coming to the season of near-perfect weather, when the air is not humid, heavy, or hot. I absolutely love to get outside on these days.


Today in school we worked on fractions. Math is the subject I find hardest to teach. It’s not the math itself that is hard, but all the various places where people are at, and the ping-ponging my brain must do to accommodate. Math is one of those things that I do to conform. I get that it has practical value, and that mysteries of the universe reveal themselves in math, but the main reason we do it is because I feel like we need it in order to be normal. Between childhood and adulthood there are hurdles and hoops. Most of those require a form of more advanced math. Honestly, conforming isn’t always a bad thing.  It’s good to be held accountable and to learn to work within guidelines.


By far the best thing about homeschooling is the freedom, adventure, and increased quality family time. I sometimes forget that the main reason I’m doing this is so we can do other things in life besides school. There are museums to visit, great historical sites to walk through, capitol buildings to tour, the night stars to map and stare at, nine animals to care for, more books than we could ever read, and the entire world to love and know.

curriculum and journals

We returned to school after a three-day weekend which ended up being rougher than most. A local Lutheran youth took his own life on Saturday. These are the tragedies you know are out there and coming, and yet, can never fully prepare for. The heart, instantly, sinks for his family, and your soul keeps a darkened, constant vigil of prayer.

We logged in another good school day today. We began at 9, took an hour break for lunch, then wrapped up the day at around 2:30. Our routine remains the same every morning, except this year instead of them going to their individual desks, we begin our school day gathered at the table.  I ring the chime bell and everyone sits down.

We open with a Psalm which corresponds to the day of school we’re on. Today for day 6, we read Psalm 6. We pray the prayer of St. Francis, then transition into changing the calendar. I have the kids get out their composition books which serve as journals. I either give them a prompt from the Psalm, or I read a short lesson from our “Manners” book.

This year I’m having them write the date on each entry. The little boys are able to copy from the calendar, and the older kids are mostly used to writing dates.  The younger ones draw pictures, the 5th grader working very hard on his writing can draw but is required to write at least two sentences. The 7th grader writes a paragraph and draws a picture.


Every so often I feel sad that I have not been able to replicate the Bible memorization times I received in my childhood. I told the kids today, that at the very least, I want them to know where to go to God for help. They can go to the Psalms and find him there.

It’s true what they say about God having a sense of humor. When I started homeschooling I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about comparing my kids to other people’s kids. I’m focusing on my children, keeping a slow and steady pace. The other homeschool family in our church consistently showing up to our 3-family co-op with 3-year old readers and 4-year old algebra doers is just God’s funny way of holding me to it.

I don’t know if God works that way or not, but it’s funny, even humbling, to think that he might. Last year I used the early phonics books from Memoria Press, which we all liked, more to get their feet wet and give them something to do. I wanted to wait to really dive in until my youngest was older, though I admit that was just as much, if not incredibly more my need than his. The two younger boys are now going through Christian Light’s “Learning to Read” at the same time. It’s serving as review and shoring up a good foundation for the 8-year old, and brand new material for the 6-year old. They’re both enjoying it and doing well. I love it too. I’ve read many good things about Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but every time I opened that book I felt overwhelmed.

I guess that’s all I’ve got for now.