Monthly Archives: April 2009

More pictures

While we were at the hospital, my sister watched my other boys and my youngest son went to preschool with hers and had a blast!

He had alot of fun!

This says Tony, but it is written with an extra letter, I think and he is holding it upside down!

He really enjoyed himself and kept talking about it!

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My son had his surgery!

My third son has been having little troubles with hearing things most of his life and  the experts have determined it came down  his enlarged tonsils and fluid on his ears. So, on Tuesday he had tonsil surgery and ear tubes put in. Here we are with his teddy bear, Teddy, ready to go to the hospital on Tuesday morning.
Here he is all gowned up and ready to go, sort of. He had a teary moment, but the pastor came and prayed with us and that really helped.
Getting blood pressure taken….. this cuff though was not small enough so they had to get a even smaller one for his little arm!
All done and back, ready to recover! They had a splint like thing on his IV, but they put it in when he was asleep, so that was good! He did really well….
All ready to go home! He was ready to jump out of the bed and go! This guy does not understand the meaning of need to rest!
All the popsicles and ice cream you can eat, which is not alot as  his mouth and throat is pretty sore. He is up and around now and running and playing, but not talking much still and  i hope tomorrow is not rough on him as he played a bunch today and he was really worn out.


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52 things to do this year

52 Things to do this year- Every Monday i am supposed to do one of these things…..

1. Plant Seeds in the house
2. See a homeless person and give him/her some hot food
3. Smile all day at everyone you see
4. Find two out of the ordinary things you can do for two people
5. Read an entire book out loud to your children in one day (more than 3 chapters)
6. Eat something you have never eaten before
7. Invite a friend to lunch
8. Go swimming
9. Ride bike to a friends house
10. Bake cookies to give away
11. Call three people to see how they are doing
12. Write three real letters and mail them
13. Volunteer at the Battered Women’s shelter
14. Decorate a cake
15. Read an old classic book
16. Invite someone over for dinner
17. Make an emergency kit for the house
18. Check all safety devices in house for good batteries etc. Smoke alarms, CO detectors etc.
19. Buy a bag of food for a family in need
20. Send off a box of cheer to someone who needs it
21. Invite a single mom over for tea
22. Spend a day fasting, use the time to do something for someone else
23. Share my testimony of how God worked in my life
24. Make a de-clutter inventory list- 70% of our time can be spent on clutter
25. Plan a day to raise money for missions
26. Plan a mini retreat and go on it
27. Go camping
28. Volunteer on a Habitat for humanity project
29. Sew a blanket, an apron or something and give it away
30.  Take part in a community church outreach event
31. Visit a church you have never been to before
32. Write 3 birthday cards and send them to people
33.  Visit three people who have not had visitors at a nursing home
34. Visit a friend you have not visited in awhile
35. Invite someone over for tea or coffee
36. Take your children swimming
37. Take your children to the park
38. Think of a person who looked discouraged last week, and do something you think will encourage them 
39. Buy flowers and enjoy them
40. Give a plant to a friend
41. Be Brave, call someone and ask if they want to share a meal with you. If they cannot, call someone else until you find someone. Don’t be hurt if they cannot, keep trying.
42. Get my passport
43. Pick up a plastic bag of garbage outside, on the side of the road etc.
44. Start a compost pile
45.  Shovel someone’s sidewalk
46.  Give a jar of jam to a neighbor
47.  Send out three thinking of you cards
48.  Visit someone who is ill
49.  Donate a bag of diapers to the pregnancy center
50.  Check and see if there is a community event you can attend  that the money you spend goes to a good cause
51. Read a book about missions with your family
52. Bring a box of stuff you are getting rid of to the second hand store or Freecycle


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We woke up to a covering of snow on the ground this morning, which seemed funny because I was having to go and discuss spring cleaning. I was sort of feeling like it was hard as I have been so behind and to talk about spring cleaning though made me realize I need to get that organized and ready to get everything cleaned up.  We are finishing up some school books too now and L. is having surgery now tomorrow, so i am preparing for that.
We painted clay pots today too at MOPS, which is fun and I planted some Marigolds…i hope they grow good I think they will cheer up things! I like marigolds as you can get more seeds from them too when they grow. <p> We have to go pick up the van title today, which is good! I have had too many experiences where it was difficult to get the title, so I am rejoicing this is not the case. <p>
I have read some emails, news and all the other stuff that coming in flurries around about the "Swine flu". My sister is going down to TX this week for a wedding so it makes you think about stuff is transferred so easily, but also it made me think about  whether to be afraid or not.  I have read the stories of the pioneers where they were a happy family and everything was going well and next thing, influenza killed all the children. It makes me remember though Who holds our life in His hands. No, it does not mean we will not catch this and we will not die, but we will not die unless it is His plan for us. We can prepare with stocking up food for disasters  that may never come, live in fear  of sickness and never visit the sick like Jesus commanded and miss out of great blessings as well, and then die of starvation or illness  anyway.
<p> Many times I would hear sermons  that were based on fear and realized what a detriment that is to our faith. Faith does not mean our lives will be easy and everything will go right. the men and women in Hebrews 11, who are praised for their faith did not have easy lives at all. Why do we think our lives will be any different? But having faith in something eternal, we have a greater hope then those who suffer without faith in God. We have a reason and a purpose for our pain, where as they simply have pain.

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I ended up babysitting again today, which was fine. It went smoothly and it was a nice day out.  With seven children in the house, that is a good thing!  I ended up making Broccoli and chicken stir fry with rice and then beef, broccoli and carrots with whole wheat pasta, which was the favorite. P. made chicken sandwiches for lunch and got out too many chicken breasts and cooked them.  T. then decided to pour orange juice over them, so they got marinated a bit in orange juice. They were fine though, especially in with the broccoli.
<p> I bought some protein powder so  I  can make my husband some protein shakes to drink as he lost all the weight he wanted and is having trouble stopping losing weight. It is hard to get out the weight losing mind set, I guess! <p> A friend and I decided to start and informal book club, we are reading a book a week, or every two weeks and discussing them. This week I am reading Finding the Invisible God by Phillip Yancey. He is speaking about the times in our lives where we have those severe trials, illness, pain, suffering and the history of Christianity is not really promise a wonderful life, yet we in our churches sing songs about it…yet people lose faith in God because  their prayers are not answered like they wanted. It may be healing, it may be something else, but often we see people who lose faith and fall away because of pain. Yet, in stopping and looking back over history he points out how many people suffered. The heroes of faith in the bible, some of them waited years or never saw answers to their prayers and that is why it was called faith. Anyhow, it is so different reading this book and it is so encouraging. <p>
So, now my extra children have gone home, we have gotten some old movies from the library "I remember Mama’ and "I love Lucy" to watch so we are having a nice peaceful evening!  dinner is partially cleaned up, but i thought I would wait a bit as they will probably come and eat the rest soon.

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Weather changes…..and we still go on

We had uncommonly warm weather for this time of year last week and it decided to get colder again and has been snowing again on and off  yesterday and today. It did not really stick around though….
I forgot to wear a sweater a couple times though and that was a bit chilly!
<p> No pictures today, I have been trying to just stay afloat here. My laundry room got really messed up. i don’t know if this ever happens to anyone else, but it seems like when I get something clean and organized, then someone decides to make a tent and pull things out, or play store and all the cans come off the shelf and never seem to make it all back on or  the dirty clothes never make it in the hamper some of the time etc.
Or your hangers in your closet get broken when a 4 year old decided to hang on the clothing and in a matter of minutes almost everything is on the floor and it can take a long time to get things pulled back together.
I just feel  a bit overwhelmed lately and longer days are coming. My third son is supposed to have surgery to remove his tonsils etc. and have tubes put in and I keep wondering if I made the right choice, did I get the right doctor, I feel a little bowled over! <p>
Tonight we went to a homeschool play of Jungle book, which the boys really enjoyed! Even my youngest and  it was well done! They were so thrilled and got to see alot of people they knew in it. Wouldn’t you know the two boys who were the crack ups, were one of my sons friends? They play chess together! It was fun to do it and relax for a bit,  but then you come home and I was so tired I want to just go to sleep. But I had to feed them, get them ready for bed and now I am so tired I forgot where I put my pajamas!!
<p> So, anyhow, to all of you good night! i had better go on a search since now I got a new toothbrush that hopefully does not mysteriously vanish……at least i am pretty sure they are only brushing their own teeth with it, but I would like to keep my own toothbrush, thank you very much!
<p> But tomorrow is another day that I get to spend with my children and even though they make me alot of work and let me see where I am failing, they are alot of fun to be with and I am so glad I have them!

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Book Review- So Long Status Quo and author interview

So Long Status Quo- What I learned from Women who changed the world
By Susy Flory

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

When  I got this book in the mail, I  actually pulled it out to look and started reading it right away.  It was one of the books that i have read in the last couple months that was so inspiring that it really sticks in your head. I read this book and realized  once again that people who have done great things in the past, were not always perfect people, with perfect circumstances, wonderful health.  They were just normal people like you and me.
In this book, Susy talks about women, from all walks in life, that had an impact on our world today. They are not all Christian women, but women who had a big impact. 
I was inspired by reading this book  as it has practical applications that  were inspiring for me as a mom and a woman. I have read books on how to change the world or your life, but the things were overwhelming as my daily life is filled with schoolwork, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sword fights. My thoughts are more concerned about  whether I will get sleep tonight or not, than wondering  how we are going to fight global hunger. This book though, I felt gave practical ways that even us, as busy moms, can impact the world as we are still being moms. The homeless man with the sign, go buy a hot meal at a local fast food place and go give it to him. Make baggies to keep in your car with a comb, brush…etc to give..
There are simple things to do!
Anyhow, check out this book! if you look at the post below you can read the first chapter. But also, I hope you enjoy this interview with the author.  It would be a great book to go through with your children as a homeschool project, or as  a book club with other homeschool moms or just pick it up to read for yourself!
You will not regret it….- Martha


(This was the Word Document sent along with the latest post

Author of So Long Status Quo: What I Learned From Women Who Changed the

April 22, 2009

(Permission granted to reprint/reproduce this interview in part or in

Q. You describe your middle class suburban life as safe, boring, and
predictable—like staying curled up in a comfortable couch. That sounds
pretty good! Why were you so dissatisfied with your life?

A.  I loved my comfy couch, and my safe life, for a long time. But at some
point it became like a trap, like a safe warm cocoon that I couldn’t break
out of. Do you remember when you were a kid and you longed for summer
vacation? During those long hot days of school just before break you dream
about summer and can’t wait for school to be over so you can sleep in, play
with friends, relax, and enjoy yourself. Then summer comes, and it’s
wonderful, and you get to do those things you were dreaming about, but after
a while it goes on too long. You get bored, and there isn’t much of a
routine or purpose to your days, and all of a sudden you can’t wait for
school to start again. Do you remember that feeling? That was my
safe-on-the-couch life. I yearned for something more.

Q. So what became the "something more"?

A.  First, I studied a group of amazing women who changed the world, like
Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mary Magdalene. I immersed myself in
their lives and tried to get to know them better. Who were they? What were
their lives like? Why prompted them to step out and make a difference in the
world? Then, for each woman, I created a little adventure in order to follow
in her footsteps and live out one of her ideals or values. So for Rosie the
Riveter, I went into a metal shop and learned how to weld. For Eleanor
Roosevelt, I traveled to Cuba on a secret humanitarian mission to work with
children.  For Mother Teresa, I went on a fast. Now that one was hard!

Q.  The book’s title, So Long Status Quo, sounds familiar. Where did it come

A.  It’s from the chorus of a Nichole Nordeman song called "Brave," about
letting go of your fear and stepping out in faith. I love this line: "I
think I’m letting go…" Faith is about letting go of your plan, and trying to
live out God’s plan. And His is better!

Q.  So Long Status Quo highlights nine amazing women who changed the world.
Of those nine, who is your favorite?

A.  My absolute favorite was Harriet Tubman.  She had so many obstacles to
overcome. She was born into slavery. She was illiterate. She suffered a
brain injury when she was young that caused her to go into a coma. She had
slave catchers after her. She had no money. She worked all alone. Yet, she
accomplished unbelievable things. She never quit. Even after she had been a
conductor on the Underground Railroad – she led 300 slaves to safety, to
freedom, without losing one – after that she became an army scout, a spy,
and an army nurse during the civil war. She was unpaid, just a volunteer.
When she was an army nurse she was the first line of care and would care for
the soldiers lying on the battlefield. They were just lying there, suffering
and in pain. She took care of them with her own money, her own supplies, and
no one to really help her. She was doing it on her own. And, at night, when
she would go back to her room, she would bake 50 pies; she would make
homemade gingerbread and homemade root beer from actual roots she got out in
the woods.

Q.  She would cook and bake at night after she’d been working all day?

A.  Not only that, but the next day she’d hire ex-slaves to go out and sell
the food and drink in the camps. Then she would use that money to buy
supplies for the soldiers. So, I was just amazed by how resourceful she was
and how she didn’t give up when she didn’t have the things that she needed
to take care of these guys. Even when she was an old lady, she started a
retirement home for former slaves. So I just like her. I like that she
didn’t quit; I like her resourcefulness. I like that she didn’t make excuses
and I like that she used her own hands to help in whatever way she could,
even when she wasn’t paid, even when she wasn’t welcome. I think she’s
probably just about the most amazing woman I’ve ever read about in my entire

Q.  What are some of the lasting impacts of writing the book and venturing
on your journeys or adventures to change the world? How is your daily life

A.   I think I am measuring my actions, the things I do everyday, in light
of eternity. There are some things I have to do to make ends meet, pay the
bills, that don’t necessarily have eternal value. But, I am measuring my
life, I’m measuring my actions, I ‘m measuring the choices I make in light
of eternity and with a goal of lasting value.

Q.  In the book you talk about the particular project where you sold jewelry
for fresh water. You took an inventory of the things you owned and were
surprised by all that you have. Now, have you found the clutter level
climbing back up? Are you more proactive about reducing your purchases or
consumption of goods?

A.   After I wrote that chapter I went through my closet. And it’s not that
I’m a huge shopper, but when I did count my shirts and my underwear and my
shoes, it really showed me that I had way more than I thought I had, and,
definitely way more than I needed. So I did give away a bunch of stuff. I
think we can accumulate things sometimes for emotional reasons, almost like
overeating. So my closet is on a diet!

Q. Because your book is focused on women, do you think it could be
considered feminist or sexist?

A. To me "sexist" is when you elevate one sex and denigrate or put down the
other, and that is not what So Long Status Quo is about. Amazing men have
been written about extensively all through history, but women have not, and
this book whetted my appetite for women’s history. I’m really trying to
focus on a subject – women’s history – that has not been given the time and
energy and passion and interest I think that it deserves.

I think a good example from So Long Status Quo is Perpetua, a Roman martyr,
an educated and amazing woman who wrote her own story, who showed true
heroism facing death in an arena – and no one knows about her!

Q.  If you had to choose some powerful women currently impacting our world
in a positive way, who might they be?

A.   Catherine Rohr was a very successful stockbroker in NYC. Something
happened; she felt a call on her life. She sold everything she had, and
along with her husband, rented a U-Haul truck and moved to Texas. She
started a business-training program in the Texas prisons called The Prison
Entrepreneurship Program, and it’s been going for about ten years. She went
behind bars and taught business classes to these guys who were the lowest of
the low in society.  She’s had tremendous success and has given these guys a
chance for a new life.

Another one is Wendy Kopp. She came right out of college, an Ivy League
school, and founded a non-profit called "Teach for America". She recruits
the best and the brightest students across the country to go into inner city
schools and teach for a year or two, before they start their careers. A lot
of them end of staying in those inner city schools because they love the
kids, they love the challenge and find it very rewarding. Wendy is
brilliant; she could’ve made a million dollars, but instead she started a
non-profit and built it from the ground up.  Wendy Kopp is a woman changing
the world.

Q.  What would you say to someone who is reluctant to climb out of their
comfortable couch to try to make a difference in the world? Sometimes people
feel like they already serve at their church, or give donations. Isn’t that

A.   That’s exactly where I was, before I started this journey. I don’t want
to be judgmental, at all, but since I was part of that mindset, I think it’s
quite widespread in the American church. We have this inner feeling that if
we can give money, then that should be enough. But, there’s something very
special, something you cannot reproduce by watching about in movies or
reading about in book, about going and interacting with people, and serving
them however you can. It’s life changing. It just doesn’t happen when you
write a check or put something in the offering plate. It’s happens when you
go get your hands dirty and you love people – and they love you back.

Q.  So you experience their humanity, or their struggle?

A.   Absolutely. You go to serve others, and to bless them, and, of course,
you’re the one who is blessed a thousand times more than you ever gave. It’s
from the connection with others and the joy that comes from the opportunity
to make a difference in someone’s life. There’s just no substitute for it.

Q.  To really be there…

A.   Yeah, and that’s what I see with Jesus’ life. He was in the market
place, he was down at the well, in the fields with people … He was down in
the dust and grime of everyday life talking to people, helping people,
healing people. And I think Jesus is our example. We should do the same.

Q.  In your book, each chapter ends with suggestions for readers to try a
little adventure on their own. Where should a beginning volunteer start?

A.   I think a lot of times when you’re doing volunteer work or you’re
trying to make a difference you look at what other people have done. But, I
think that’s the wrong place to start. I think that you have to start in
your own community, with the needs that are in front of you. Use whatever
resources or gifts or talents you personally have. So if you love to knit,
knit for others. If you love to create scrapbooks, if you love to cook, if
you love to spend time with people, if you love to take care of children,
serve others. Start with yourself and what you like to do, and then find
someone who needs what you like to do.

Q.  Would So Long Status Quo work for book clubs or women’s groups?

We just created a Reader’s Guide for small groups or book clubs—any kind of
group that wants to work through the book together. It’s free and you can
download it at I’ve also started a blog that highlights
women changing the world, both past and present.

Q. How can we become women who change the world?

A.  By starting in our own backyards. And if God wants it to turn into
something larger, that’s up to Him. I think if we do what we can, with the
tools God has given us and the resources that we have, then who knows what
can happen? Mother Teresa put it this way: "We ourselves feel that what we
are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because
of that missing drop." Don’t be the missing drop.

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First Wild Card tours- So long Status Quo

<a href=""><a href=""><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="">Susy Flory</a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="">So Long, Status Quo: What I Learned From Women Who Changed the World</a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (February 15, 2009) <br /></p><br /><div align="left"><strong><span style="font-size:130%;color:#333399;"><span style="color:#cc0000;">ABOUT THE AUTHOR:</span> </span></strong></div><br /><br /><a href=""><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 141px; height: 200px;" src="; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5326906274638836290" /></a>SUSY FLORY grew up on the back of a quarter horse in an outdoorsy family in Northern California and she’s not afraid to dive into the trenches to experience firsthand whatever she’s writing about. If that means smuggling medical supplies into Cuba on a humanitarian trip or sitting down to coffee to talk about faith with a practicing witch, she’s there with a listening ear and notebook in hand. <br /><br />Susy’s creative nonfiction features a first person journalistic style with a backbone of strong research and a dash of dry wit. She attended Biola University and UCLA, where she received degrees in English and psychology. She has a background in journalism, education, and communications. Her first book, Fear Not Da Vinci, released in 2006. <br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="">website</a&gt;.<br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $13.99<br />Paperback: 160 pages <br />Publisher: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (February 15, 2009) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 0834124386 <br />ISBN-13: 978-0834124387 <br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href=",_Status_Quo_SPS-RGB.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 158px; height: 200px;" src=",_Status_Quo_SPS-RGB.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5326906650897554178" /></a><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">Introduction<br />Addicted to comfort<br /> <br /><br />“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside<br /><br />and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive … <br /><br />One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”<br /><br />– Eleanor Roosevelt, on her 77th birthday<br /><br /> <br /><br />      I love my couch. It’s covered in a squishy soft velvety material the color of oatmeal laced with honey and the cushions are fat. Three big loose pillows rest against the back, the material woven into an exotic, vaguely Eastern pattern of impressionistic flowers and trees in tawny gold and lapis blue. My favorite spot in the entire house is the far end of this couch, with two smaller pillows behind my back and my legs stretched out long ways. I do this every day. <br /><br />      For a while we had an uptight couch. Bright Colonial red with little blue and yellow flowers, it reminded me of the calico dresses Melissa Gilbert used to wear on Little House on the Prairie. The fabric was quilted in the shape of puzzle pieces and the back rose straight up, pierced by a row of buttons. A boxy pleated strip of fabric ran along the bottom. It was really uncomfortable and almost impossible to take a nap in. That couch didn’t want you sitting there very long; it was a little Puritanical, wanting you up and around, taking care of business. We sold it at a garage sale for $20. Good riddance.<br /><br />      But the comfy oatmeal couch—it loves you. It calls you to sink down into comfort, and to stay awhile. A long while.<br /><br />      From the couch I can see the kitchen where my kids are grating cheese for quesadillas or searching the fridge for leftover pizza. I can look out the back window, at the drooping branches of the monstrous eucalyptus tree overhanging the back yard. Or, I can stare at the ceiling fan, slowly circling overhead. But, really, I hardly ever look at anything but words. Books, newspapers, catalogs, magazines, letters from friends—those are the things I look at when I’m stretched out on the couch.<br /><br />      Sundays are my absolutely favorite. After church, we eat lunch at the taqueria, then head home. The newspapers await; I don’t want to waste time changing my clothes so I head straight for the couch. News comes first, then business, travel, entertainment, and the Sunday magazine. Last are the sale papers: Target, Best Buy, Macy’s. <br /><br />      By this time I’m sleepy, melting a bit around the edges. My head grows heavy and I turn, curl up, and snuggle into the cushions. I fall asleep, papers crinkly around me.<br /><br />      A while ago my teenage son, just to aggravate me, staked a claim on the oatmeal couch. He’d race home after church in his little pick-up truck and head in the door, kicking off his shoes and diving into my favorite comfy spot in one gangly flop. He made it his goal to be asleep, limbs a sprawl, before I even made it inside the house. A few times I tried to extricate him but it was useless, like trying to wrestle a wire hanger out of a tangled pile.<br /><br />      I decided to wait him out and so after he slept on the couch a few Sundays, he gave it up. He had better things to do, usually involving his computer.<br /><br />      Things returned to normal, the oatmeal couch remembered the shape of my behind, and I took to snuggling into the tawny-lapis pillows once again.<br /><br />      It was safe, my velvety couch cave.<br /><br />      Just like my life. <br /><br />      In one of my favorite books, A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel writes about her mother, always on the couch with a cardboard box of books by her side. There she was, forever reading a book and waving at her children as they went back and forth, in and out of the house, busily doing whatever kids in a small Indiana town did. She stayed there, curled up on the couch, peacefully reading her books as her husband ran around who-knows-where, maybe coon hunting, gambling away his paycheck, or sleeping with the divorced woman across town. She was comfortable there. Zippy unexpectedly became a bestseller and Kimmel traveled around giving talks and signing books. The one question everyone asked her was, “Did your mother ever get up off the couch?”<br /><br />      I don’t live in Indiana; I live in a suburb of San Francisco. My kids don’t run in and out of the house; they pretty much stay put. My husband is a hard working, non-gambling, faithful guy who pays the bills. And my life is pretty good. But I have lived most of it lodged safely in the corner of my couch. <br /><br />      My secure couch cocoon was really a picture of what I had let my life become. Lethargic, sleepy, with a love for security and for comfort, I lived for self. I avoided suffering at all costs. I didn’t want to ever do anything uncomfortable. I think I was addicted to comfort.<br /><br />      My journey out of my couch-life started years ago when I was a college student on vacation, idly looking around a gift shop. Flicking through a box full of enameled metal signs, I came across one that read “We Can Do It!” Underneath was a portrait of a woman, looking sort of like Lucille Ball in her cleaning garb, hair up in a red bandanna. Glossy lips, a little pouty, with arched eyebrows and thick eyelashes. She wore a blue collared shirt, sleeve rolled up over a flexed bicep, toned and powerful. Her eyes were wide open, focused, determined. Who was she? I hadn’t a clue, but I bought the sign and installed it in a place of honor by my desk. <br /><br />      Later, when I was married, the mother of two small children and too busy changing diapers to sit much on the couch yet, I learned she was called Rosie the Riveter. She, and six million other women who toiled in factories while their men were off fighting in World War II, changed the world. Even now, as I look at the old enamel sign next to my desk, I’m haunted by the determination in the line of her jaw and the resolve in the curl of her fist. I wanted to be like her.<br /><br />      But the couch called. I forgot the sign; it migrated to the back of my bookcase and I took a part time job teaching English at a private high school. My kids were in school, my husband was fighting up the corporate ladder, and with the days sometimes a blur of homework, basketball practice, and ballet class, I hoarded my couch time.<br /><br />      Funny, though. It wasn’t satisfying. I just couldn’t ever seem to get enough. <br /><br />      And then, one day, stretched out reading the Sunday paper, I saw Rosie again. It was a full-page department store ad. Across the top ran a banner: “Help end hunger.” Something had changed. Rosie looked a little more glamorous than I remembered. The “can” in the “We CAN Do It!” was underlined and capitalized to emphasize the can of food in her fist. I unfolded the page and examined it; it was an advertisement for National Hunger Awareness day. If you made a $5 donation to the department store, they would in return give you a 15% coupon for regular, sale and clearance-priced merchandise. It’s our thanks to you for helping to relieve hunger in our communities.<br /><br />      I pondered the page; something didn’t quite make sense. Somehow, by partnering with Rosie to spend money at the department store, you would help to relieve hunger. Rosie and her factory worker sisters had changed the world by serving for low pay and little recognition on factory lines during a war. They had sacrificed personal comfort and convenience for a cause greater than themselves, a cause they believed in and sweated and grew calluses for. Now the department store was asking me to be like Rosie, tie up my hair, bare my biceps and leave my couch, so I could … shop? You’ve got to be kidding.<br /><br />      But my irritation that day over the hijacking of the Rosie the Riveter image piqued my curiosity. Who was Rosie? Was she a real person? Was she still alive? What would she think about the ways her image, once meant to encourage and inspire the Nazi-fighting women of World War II, had been used for merchandising? I was intrigued by her determination and I decided to roll up my sleeves and get to the bottom of her story. So I did. And after Rosie I found eight other women, amazing women, who changed the world. I found women who, with grit and guts, made their lives add up to something much more than just a satisfying Sunday nap. And somehow, in the finding, the oatmeal couch lost its allure. <br /><br />      I wanted to feel alive, to experience something more deep and dangerous than my middle class life. I wanted more than a Ford Expedition SUV with leather seats or a 401K groaning with employer contributions. I craved something beyond Ralph Lauren Suede paint or a giant glossy red Kitchen Aid mixer. I was ready to wake up from a very long nap and do something meaningful.<br /><br />      So this is the story of how, slowly, I began to get up off the couch of my boring, safe, sheltered, vanilla existence to something more real, sharper, in focus. Rosie led the way. Along came Eleanor, and Jane. Then Harriet, Elizabeth, and more. These women became mentors calling me to a different kind of life. Passionate for change, each woman sacrificed money, love, comfort, time, and, ultimately, self, to make a difference to thousands, maybe millions of people. <br /><br />      Living like the women who changed the world is not easy, but it’s good. It feels right. It is satisfying.<br /><br />      This is how I got up off the couch and tried, with much fear and trembling, to make a difference in my world. And I’ll never go back. </div><br />

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Menu for this week

Wednesday: Homemade macaroni and cheese with cauliflower added to the cheese sauce, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage salad, and green beans
Thursday: Picnic – Big sandwiches on wheat hoagie buns vegetables and dip and a friend is bringing dessert and something else. If the weather is bad, we may end up inside
Enchilada casserole, salad
Beef and broccoli stir fry, rice
Bierocks, popcorn, cookies
Oven fried drumsticks, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Potato soup, salad, bread

Last week we did really good sticking to it……

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First Wild Card Tours: Unquiet bones

<a href=""><a href=""><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="">Mel Starr</a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="">The Unquiet Bones</a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">Monarch Books (November 4, 2008) <br /></p><br /><div align="left"><strong><span style="font-size:130%;color:#333399;"><span style="color:#cc0000;">ABOUT THE AUTHOR:</span> </span></strong></div><br /><br /><a href=""><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 132px; height: 200px;" src="; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5324642160462948802" /></a>Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964.  He received a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970.  He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.<br /><br />Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Kennesaw, GA, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI.  Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.<br /><br />***No author photo available.  The church pictured is The Church of St. Beornwald (part of the setting for The Unquiet Bones). Today it is basically unchanged from its medieval appearance. Except for the name: in the 16th century it was renamed and since then has been called The Church of St. Mary the Virgin.***<br /><br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="">website</a&gt;.<br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $14.99<br />Paperback: 256 pages <br />Publisher: Monarch Books (November 4, 2008) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 0825462908 <br />ISBN-13: 978-0825462900 <br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href=""><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 200px;" src="; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5324640787185407778" /></a><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">     Uctred thought he had discovered pig bones.  He did not know or care why they were in the<br /><br />cesspit at the base of Bampton Castle wall.<br /><br />     Then he found the skull.  Uctred is a villein, bound to the land of Lord Gilbert, third Baron Talbot, lord of Bampton Castle, and had slaughtered many pigs.  He knew the difference between human and pig skulls.<br /><br />     Lord Gilbert called for me to inspect the bones.  All knew whose bones they must be.  Only two men had recently gone missing in Bampton.  These must be the bones of one of them.<br /><br />     Sir Robert Mallory had been the intended suitor of Lord Gilbert’s beautious sister, Lady Joan.   Shortly after Easter he and his squire called at the castle, having, it was said, business with Lord Gilbert.  What business this was I know not, but suspect a dowry was part of the conversation.  Two days later he and his squire rode out the castle gate to the road north toward Burford.  The porter saw him go.  No one saw him or his squire after.  He never arrived at his father’s manor at Northleech.  How he arrived, dead, unseen, back within–or nearly within–the walls of Bampton Castle no one could say.  Foul play seemed likely.<br /><br />     I was called to the castle because of my profession; surgeon.  Had I known when I chose such work that cleaning filth from bones might be part of my duties I might have continued the original calling chosen for me:  clerk.<br /><br />     I am Hugh of Singleton, fourth and last son of a minor knight from the county of Lancashire.  The manor of Little Singleton is aptly named; it is small.  My father held the manor in fief from Robert de Sandford.  It was a pleasant place to grow up.  Flat as a table, with a wandering,                                                     <br /><br />sluggish tidal stream, the Wyre, pushing through it on its journey from the hills, just visible ten miles to the east, to the sea, an equal distance to the northwest. <br /><br />     As youngest son, the holding would play no part in my future.  My oldest brother, Roger, would receive the manor, such as it was.  I remember when I was but a tiny lad overhearing him discuss with my father a choice of brides who might bring with them a dowry which would enlarge his lands.  In this they were moderately successful.  Maud’s dowry doubled my brother’s holdings.  After three children Roger doubled the size of his bed, as well.  Maud was never a frail girl.  Each heir she produced added to her bulk.  This seemed not to trouble Roger.  Heirs are important.<br /><br />     Our village priest, Father Aymer, taught the manor school.  When I was nine years old, the year the great death first appeared, he spoke to my father and my future was decided.<br /><br />     I showed a scholar’s aptitude, so it would be the university for me.  At age fourteen I was sent off to Oxford to become a clerk, and, who knows, perhaps eventually a lawyer or a priest.  This was poor timing, for in my second year at the university a fellow student became enraged at the watered beer he was served in a High Street tavern and with some cohorts destroyed the place.  The proprietor sought assistance, and the melee became a wild brawl known ever after as the St. Scholastica Day Riot.  Near a hundred scholars and townsmen died before the sheriff restored the peace.  When I dared emerge from my lodgings I fled to Lancashire and did not return until Michealmas term.<br /><br />     I might instead have inherited Little Singleton had the Black Death been any worse.                                                                    <br /><br />Roger and one of his sons perished in 1349, but two days apart, in the week before St. Peter’s Day.  Then, at the Feast of St. Mary my third brother died within a day of falling ill.  Father Aymer said an imbalance of the four humors; air, earth, fire, and water, caused the sickness.  Most priests, and indeed the laymen as well, thought this imbalance due to God’s wrath.  Certainly men gave Him reason enough to be angry.<br /><br />     Most physicians ascribed the imbalance to the air.  Father Aymer recommended burning wet wood to make smoky fires, ringing the church bell at regular intervals, and the wearing of a bag of spices around the neck to perfume the air.  I was but a child, however it seemed to me even then that these precautions were not successful.  Father Aymer, who did not shirk his duties as did some scoundrel priests, died a week after administering extreme unction to my brother Henry.  I watched from the door, a respectful distance from my brother’s bed.   I can see in my memory Father Aymer bending over my wheezing, dying brother, his spice bag swinging out from his body as he chanted the phrases of the sacrament.<br /><br />     So my nephew and his mother inherited little Singleton and I made my way to Oxford.  I found the course of study mildly interesting.  Father Aymer had taught me Latin and some Greek, so it was no struggle to advance my skills in these languages.<br /><br />     I completed the trivium and quadrivium in the allotted six years, but chose not to take holy orders after the award of my bachelor’s degree.  I had no desire to remain a bachelor, although I had no particular lady in mind with whom I might terminate my solitary condition.<br /><br />     I desired to continue my studies.  Perhaps, I thought, I shall study law, move to                                                                    <br /><br />London, and advise kings.  The number of kingly advisors who ended their lives in prison or at the block should have dissuaded me of this conceit.  But the young are seldom deterred from following foolish ideas.<br /><br />     You see how little I esteemed life as a vicar in some lonely village, or even the life of a rector with livings to support me.  This is not because I did not wish to serve God.  My desire in that regard, I think, was greater than many who took a vocation; serving the church while they served themselves.<br /><br />     In 1361, while I completed a Master of Arts degree, plague struck again.  Oxford, as before, was hard hit.  The colleges were much reduced.  I lost many friends, but once again God chose to spare me.  I have prayed many times since that I might live so as to make Him pleased that He did so.<br /><br />     I lived in a room on St. Michael’s Street, with three other students.  One fled the town at the first hint the disease had returned.  Two others perished.  I could do nothing to help them, but tried to make them comfortable.  No; when a man is covered from neck to groin in bursting pustules he cannot be made comfortable.  I brought water to them, and put cool cloths on their fevered foreheads, and waited with them for death.<br /><br />     William of Garstang had been a friend since he enrolled in Balliol College five years earlier.  We came from villages but ten miles apart — although his was much larger; it held a weekly market — but we did not meet until we became students together.  An hour before he died William beckoned me to approach his bed.  I dared not remain close, but heard his rasping whisper as he willed to me his possessions.  Among his meager goods were three books.                                                           <br /><br />    God works in mysterious ways.  Between terms, in August of 1361, He chose to do three things which would forever alter my life.  First, I read one of William’s books:  SURGERY, by Henry de Mondeville, and learned of the amazing intricacies of the human body.  I read all day, and late into the night, until my supply of candles was gone.  When I finished, I read the book again, and bought more candles. <br /><br />     Secondly, I fell in love.  I did not know her name, or her home.  But one glance told me she was a lady of rank and beyond my station.  The heart, however, does not deal in social convention.<br /><br />     I had laid down de Mondeville’s book long enough to seek a meal.  I saw her as I left the inn.  She rode a gray palfrey with easy grace.  A man I assumed to be her husband escorted her.  Another woman, also quite handsome, rode with them, but I noticed little about her.  A half-dozen grooms rode behind this trio: their tunics of blue and black might have identified the lady’s family, but I paid little attention to them, either.<br /><br />     Had I rank enough to someday receive a bishopric I might choose a mistress and disregard vows of chastity.  Many who choose a vocation do.  Secular priests in lower orders must be more circumspect, but even many of these keep women.  This is not usually held against them, so long as they are loyal to the woman who lives with them and bears their children.  But I found the thought of violating a vow as repugnant as a solitary life, wedded only to the church.  And the Church is already the bride of Christ and needs no other spouse.<br /><br />     She wore a deep red cotehardie — the vision on the gray mare.  Because it was warm she needed no cloak or mantle.  She wore a simple white hood, turned back, so that                                                                  <br /><br />chestnut-colored hair visibly framed a flawless face.  Beautiful women had smitten me before.  It was a regular occurrence.  But not like this.  Of course, that’s what I said the last time, also. <br /><br />     I followed the trio and their grooms at a discreet distance, hoping they might halt before some house.  I was disappointed.  The party rode on to Oxpens Road, crossed the Castle Mill Stream, and disappeared to the west as I stood watching, quite lost, from the bridge.  Why should I have been lovelorn over a lady who seemed to be another man’s wife?  Who can know?  I cannot.  It seems foolish when I look back to the day.  It did not seem so at the time.<br /><br />     I put the lady out of my mind.  No; I lie.  A beautiful woman is as impossible to put out of mind as a corn on one’s toe.  And just as disquieting.  I did try, however.<br /><br />     I returned to de Mondeville’s book and completed a third journey through its pages.  I was confused, but t’was not de Mondeville’s writing which caused my perplexity.  The profession I thought lay before me no longer appealed.  Providing advice to princes seemed unattractive.  Healing men’s broken and damaged bodies now occupied near all my waking thoughts.<br /><br />     I feared a leap into the unknown.  Oxford was full to bursting with scholars and lawyers and clerks.  No surprises awaited one who chose to join them.  And the town was home also to many physicians, who thought themselves far above the barbers who usually performed the stitching of wounds and phlebotomies when such services were needed.  Even a physician’s work, with salves and potions, was familiar.  But the pages of de Mondeville’s book told me how little I knew of surgery, and how much I must learn should I chose such a vocation.  I needed advice.<br /><br />     There is, I think, no wiser man in Oxford than Master John Wyclif.  There are men who hold different opinions, of course.  Often these are scholars Master John has bested in disputation.  Tact is not one among his many virtues, but care for his students is.  I sought him out for advice and found him in his chamber at Balliol College, bent over a book.  I was loath to disturb him, but he received me warmly when he saw t’was me who rapped upon his door.<br /><br />     “Hugh . . . come in.  You look well.  Come and sit.”<br /><br />     He motioned to a bench, and resumed his own seat as I perched on the offered bench.  The scholar peered silently at me, awaiting announcement of the reason for my visit.<br /><br />     “I seek advice,” I began.  “I had it in mind to study law, as many here do, but a new career entices me.”<br /><br />     “Law is safe . . . for most,” Wyclif remarked.  “What is this new path which interests you?”<br /><br />     “Surgery.  I have a book which tells of old and new knowledge in the treatment of injuries and disease.”<br /><br />     “And from this book alone you would venture on a new vocation?”<br /><br />     “You think it unwise?”<br /><br />     “Not at all.  So long as men do injury to themselves or others, surgeons will be needed.”<br /><br />     “Then I should always be employed.”<br /><br />     “Aye,” Wyclif grimaced.  “But why seek my counsel?  I know little of such matters.”<br /><br />     “I do not seek you for your surgical knowledge, but for aid in thinking through my decision.”<br /><br />     “Have you sought the advice of any other?”<br /><br />     “Nay.”<br /><br />     “Then there is your first mistake.”<br /><br />     “Who else must I seek?  Do you know of a man who can advise about a life as a surgeon?”<br /><br />     “Indeed.  He can advise on any career.  I consulted Him when I decided to seek a degree in theology.”<br /><br />     I fell silent, for I knew of no man so capable as Master John asserted, able to advise in both theology and surgery.  Perhaps the fellow did not live in Oxford.  Wyclif saw my consternation.<br /><br />     “Do you seek God’s will and direction?”<br /><br />     “Ah . . . I understand.  Have I prayed about this matter, you ask?  Aye, I have, but God is silent.”<br /><br />     “So you seek me as second best.”<br /><br />     “But . . . t’was you just said our Lord could advise on any career.”<br /><br />     “I jest.  Of course I, like any man, am second to our Lord Christ . . . or perhaps third, or fourth.”<br /><br />     “So you will not guide my decision?”<br /><br />     “Did I say that?  Why do you wish to become a surgeon?  Do you enjoy blood and wounds and hurts?”<br /><br />     “No.  I worry that I may not have the stomach for it.”<br /><br />     “Then why?”<br /><br />     “I find the study of man and his hurts and their cures fascinating.  And I . . . I wish to help others.”<br /><br />     “You could do so as a priest.”<br /><br />     “Aye.  But I lack the boldness to deal with another man’s eternal soul.”<br /><br />     “You would risk a man’s body, but not his soul?”<br /><br />     “The body cannot last long, regardless of what a surgeon or physician may do, but  a man’s soul may rise to heaven or be doomed to hell . . . forever.”<br /><br />     “And a priest may influence the direction, for good or ill,” Wyclif completed my thought.<br /><br />     “Just so.  The responsibility is too great for me.”<br /><br />    “Would that all priests thought as you,” Wyclif muttered.  “But lopping off an arm destroyed in battle would not trouble you?”<br /><br />     “T’is but flesh, not an everlasting soul.”<br /><br />     “You speak true, Hugh.  And there is much merit in helping ease men’s lives.  Our Lord Christ worked many miracles, did he not, to grant men relief from their afflictions.  Should you do the same you would be following in his path.”<br /><br />     “I had not considered that,” I admitted.<br /><br />     “Then consider it now.  And should you become a surgeon keep our Lord as your model and your work will prosper.”<br /><br />     And so God’s third wonder; a profession.  I would go to Paris to study.  My income from the manor at Little Singleton was L6, 15 shillings each year, to be awarded so long as I was a student, and to terminate after eight years.  <br /><br />     My purse would permit one year in Paris.  I know what you are thinking.  But I did not spend my resources on riotous living.  Paris is an expensive city.  I learned much there.  I watched, and then participated in dissections.  I learned phlebotomy, suturing, cautery, the removal of arrows, the setting of broken bones, and the treatment of scrofulous sores. I learned how to extract a tooth and remove a tumor.  I learned trepanning to relieve a headache, and how to lance a fistula.  I learned which herbs might staunch bleeding, or dull pain, or cleanse a wound.  I spent both time and money as wisely as I knew how, learning the skills which I hoped would one day earn me a living.<br /> </div><br />

I have not had a chance to read this book yet, but it is on my stack of books to be read! It looks like it will be an enjoyable read!

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