Sunday, September 30, 2007


Here's the wreath I just finished making. Sarah brought home the cutest little scarecrows for about 3 bucks each, one boy, one girl. I chose the girl and named her Flo. She directs the "flow" of traffic cheerfully in and out of the front door.
The elements were all ones I had leftover from my Zo Z's Cozies projects from last fall except for a few little gourds Sarah brought home with Flo.
Stay tuned. I'll have Mo to show.

4 Faves: Comfort Food for a Fall Day

These are favorites of mine.

Hawaiian French Toast:
Recipe should be printed on the bread bag. If not, you need:
-a loaf of King's Hawaiian bread (It's round and can be found at most grocery stores in the bread aisle)
-some eggs, vanilla extract, milk, and cinnamon. (I figure 1 egg per slice and most people want at least 2 slices!!!)

Mix 1/2 cap (NOT cup, CAP!) of vanilla into a mixture of egg/milk batter the way you normally make it. Add a couple shakes of cinnamon. Quickly deep each piece of bread into batter and then into frying pan. Cook on MED-LOW till golden on one side, flip it over, and "golden up" the other side. Serve with the best maple syrup you can afford. Allan Connell told me on vacation when I made this, "It's the best French toast I've ever had in my life." Coming from a family of gourmets, that was quite the compliment, considering the "secret" is the King's Hawaiian bread.

Mama Zo's Mac 'n Cheese

1 box San Giorgio medium sized seashells
gnerous 1/2 pound of yellow American or NY Sharp cheddar cheese from deli
8 oz sour cream --
up to a half cup of milk (depends what consistency you like)
1 cup seasoned break crumbs (if you decide to bake this)
salt and pepper to taste

(Read thru all directions first. If you decide you want to use the baking step, preheat oven to 350. Then proceed from this point. )

Boil the shells in one pot while melting the cheese with sour cream in a pan. Add milk to nearly-melted cheese mixture and stir constantly till smooth. Remove it from heat. Drain the shells, pour the cheese mixture plus salt and pepper over them, stir it all up, then pour it into a 13x9 baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake for about 20 minutes. You can skip the baking part if you want. I love it both ways, kids like it unbaked, hubby prefers the crisp bread crumb topping. Totally tasty, totally not on any diet. Just good ole southern comfort food. The secret ingredient is sour cream.
PS Kids who are used to the very-orange color of boxed mac 'n cheese may not want to try this if it looks more white or yellow than orange. Give them one spoonful of it when it's cooled a bit, and I bet they'll want it this way every time.

Beef Burgundy in a Crock Pot* (altered from an Alpha recipe)

-a 3-4 pound rump roast, cut into bite size cubes (ask your butcher to do this while you shop; it saves you a lot of time and it's free)
-1/4 cup burgundy wine or cooking sherry
-2 cans Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup
-1 can water (rinse soup can with water and retain)
-1 onion, diced
- 8 or 12 oz sliced fresh mushrooms if you like a lot of mushroom
- baby carrots (optional) I use my hand to measure 6 servings

Sear the meat in a pan with onions and wine. Drain the meat. (It will lose the grease but retain plenty of wine flavor. ) Put it all into a 5 or 6-qt crock pot. Add soups, water and carrots. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours, then LOW for 2-3 more. Serve over mashed potatoes with side salad, applesauce and fresh rolls.

*In place of crock pot, you can put it in a large stew pot and bake on 200 in the oven for 7-8 hrs. You may substitute regular condensed cream of mushroom soup in a pinch. It's not as rich looking, but tastes good.

Angel Food Trifle with Strawberries (or Blueberries) and Yogurt

-1 large storebought angel food cake
-1 pint strawberries, half of them sliced, half left whole to garnish top
-2 cups strawberry yogurt
-1 cup part skim ricotta cheese

Cut up cake into bite size cubes . Blend yogurt and ricotta w/ blender or mixer till smooth. Put half the cake cubes on the bottom of the dish, pour 1/2 the mixture over, then sliced strawbs, rest of cake cubes, rest of mixture, and finally decorate the top with remaining strawberries. You may easily substitue blueberries. This recipe takes not more than 10 minutes to put together, and should be eaten close to being made or else it will get soggy. (I like soggy, but it doens't present very well!) In a clear glass trifle dish or large salad bowl, this is very pretty.

Danielle tagged me for this. You may tag yourself after reading this.
The idea is to post 4 recipes you like in any category. My category is, I guess, "comfort food all day." :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Clothes to Donate to GAiN, Anyone?


This is a friendly reminder to all who are going through the change--of seasons, that is, with clothing.

Lord willing, I will be going up to the Global Aid Network warehouse in PA in two weeks. I will take as many bags of good, used (or new!) clothing as I can fit into my van.

So, if you would like to give in this way, I'd be glad to take your stuff up there. I would really prefer they be in garbage bags so they'll easily squish to accomodate others. Please label them GAiN. If you'd like a receipt, please note that on your bag. I won't remember who told me what.
I will try to get a receipt for you, but can't promise. It'll be blank for your to valuate and record, if I can by law pick up multiple blank receipts.

Also, if you'd like to donate new school supplies, please go to the GAIN website to see what they put in their care packs ( Please put this kind of thing in a bag or box clearly labeled "For care packs".

Here's what I'm hoping to take up:
-any season, any size, both genders of clothing
-shoes for children especially, but will take teen and adult sizes
-baby blankets, cot blankets

Please remember that GAiN volunteers sort all the clothing, assess each piece for stains, holes, tears, etc. They have to throw out anything like that, and WEIGH it. (Yes, there are some dumb rules, in my opinion, that nonprofits have to abide by. One is that the weight of donations brought in equals the weight going on, trashed donations and all. Also, they are good about sending modest clothing, so please don't send things like halter tops, spaghetti strap items, or lingerie. Consider sending bras (new or used) in good shape. I saw girls in the orphanages who clearly should have been wearing one, but probably didn't have one.

What else? "Warm and snuggly items are premium," I keep hearing last year's volunteer director say, with her fists tucked under her chin like she was cold. Footed pajamas, hoodies, sweatshirts, fuzzy socks, slippers.

I also remember asking Lena (one of our Russian interpreters who was wearing long sleeves in June), "What about winters here? Do you just get used to the cold?" He shook her head adamantly.

"Oh, no! You never get used to the cold."

I need donations by Oct. 11th. Thank you very, very much on behalf of needy people the world over. It may seem like a small thing to you, but it's a tangible gift of love to those who have very little.

ADDENDUM: Sarah reminded me in her comment, so I'm going back to tack this on. You can donate an entire care pack that you fill yourself and put a letter and picture of yourself and family in it. I can tell you from personal experience at Mosha's house in Russia, that she absolutely BEAMED when she showed me her keepsake letter from a caring couple in America, picture and all! GAIN asks for $5 per care pack to help cover shipping, and you can find out all the specifics at their website. I'll be happy to take them up for you.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Can I Be Honest with Ya?

I don't like to work for other people. I had a spat (to put it mildly) with Paul last night, and some ugly things came out. For all the excitement I get out of thinking of jobs I like (crafting, teaching, sales, relief aid) I was recalling all the jobs I have had (umpteen years ago) and the bosses, the co-workers, and the general public.

The public will always be the public--some nice and polite and others who seem to live life at the corner of Whine and Complain. I can remember very few. I do remember one husband coming into G.Briggs (a clothing store in Timonium, long since out of business) where I was cashiering. He stormed in there straight to the register, with a stack of dresses and pants hanging over one shoulder and three shopping bags over the other. His wife trailed shamefully behind. He was irate with her and proceeded to broadcast that her compulsive shopping was putting them in the poorhouse. Indeed this woman was in the store every other weekend (probably when they got paid, although she always charged it). Every time, her ticket was in the $500-800 range.

Co-workers, for the most part, have been pleasant people in my memory. Waiting tables we servers always sized up customers and said, "You take them!"--the large families who left big messes and small tips. I usually took them because I knew the secret was to bring kids crackers right away, endless drinks with lids, and stuff to doodle with. I was probably tipped better because of it. I didn't want certain customers (whom I won't stereotype but they do live up to it) who ran you back and forth to the kitchen and only left a quarter. Still others I'd want even though I'd knew they be picky, picky, picky but leave generous tips.

But my biggest problems were my bosses. The women were headstrong hypocrites (except for one woman when I was working in a campus publication office. She was a single lady who didn't make it as a nun for I don't know what reason; she wasn't sleazy or mouthy or a big spender, from what I could tell) but she had the personality of a mountain goat. Cautious, aloof, skittish. Little did I know that if the worst you can say about your boss is that she or he is cautious, aloof, and skittish, you've got it good. One woman was a hotheaded Guatemalan. When she got mad, she used all the worst English and Spanish words she could string together in a solid minute. And she hated the smell of gladioli. "They remind me of a funeral parlor when my GRAN-moh-ther died." It didn't matter that these particular flowers had been a special delivery for one of the hostesses from her boyfriend, but Guatemalan Boss had to tell you her opinion of everything. I think of her every time I see (or smell) glads. Another female boss was very large and of a nonwhite race. She had it in for me. Well, me and a half dozen other girls like me. I think she tried to get me fired by making my drawer come up short routinely. No one on the floor believed her and I was the one with the goody-two-shoes reputation, but she convinced accouting. No matter that I was the type who'd get nervous if I accidentally stuck a restaurant pen in my purse. I was transferred to another location because there was no proof against me, just accusations by this large, nasty, racist boss.

If the women were nasty, the men were slimy. I wasn't raised to know anyone like that. My dad never made crude jokes, never hinted at looking at other women, and modeled honesty by returning too much money mistakenly given him, even if it was just a penny. So to work for men who laughed about cheating customers, cussed like sailors, and asked female employees for favors in exchange for raises, well I was shocked, appalled, and naive. So unaccustomed to that lifestyle I was, and so unaccustomed to balking anyone in authority, especially an employer, that I resolved never to work for a man again, nor a woman if I could help it once I was financially secure. I prayed my future husband would want to be the sole breadwinner and would want me to be a homemaker for years and years (forever) until (or if) I decided I was ready to go back to work. And when I was ready to work, it would be for myself, thank you very much.

Ah, well, funny how life doesn't work the way you plan very often. I've been grateful to have had a husband whose income has sufficed and who has supported this easy lifestyle for me. And of course, I've taken this easy road for granted. Now I am facing the music, and last night went into a tirade to my husband. I didn't realize how much of my ugly past I had squashed, and how much of it was related to employment. "So help me, if anyone, ANYone tells ME what to do, I'll tell him what to do with it."

Paul snickered. (The man who has worked at the same company since 1984 and has hated it since the late '90s.)

"I mean, if anyone disses me, boy," i continued without taking a breath--"I am not gonna take it. I am not some naive little college doormat anymore. I am a 42 year old woman who is perfectly capable of shoving it back. I have been multitasking for 20 years, not only can I do six things at once, I can do them with a baby on my hip, a phone to my ear, a dinner on the stove, and a dog in my way. Ain't a mother alive that doesn't have marketable skills, and I tell you what, I don't need a job bad enough to take crap off nobody."

Paul snickered again and got his Bible. "Oh, don't preach," I said, "you know what I mean. I don't mean I won't take directions or do stuff I don't want to do like paperwork and lifting heavy boxes and stuff. I mean, you know what I mean."

He opened and read to me this:

First Peter 2: 18(A) Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

"Okay, I'll be subject till they give me moral reasons not to. Then, baby, I will blow a big, fat whistle and call the cops and the Baltimore Sun, and sic my tall, strong husband and body-building son on him. How would ya like that?"

He snickered again. (I think he secretly likes it when I make an armored warrior out of him in my mind. Not that I've ever seen him throw a punch. As for Ben, I have no doubt at all he could and would knock someone's lights out if he got angry enough. I haven't seen that either--thankfully!-- but the young man's got some serious muscles. I love to think of him also as an armored warrior.)

Emotional baggage? Naaaa. Eager to return to work? Naaaa.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Baby Portrait Sales: Would You Hire Me?

Please read and critique this letter for me. This is for the job I think I'd like at the local hospital selling newborn portrait packages. I found it online through There was no contact name, just MidAtlantic Recruiting, so I ded the best I could with what little info I had.

September 26, 2007

Dear MidAtlantic Recruiting,

I am very excited about the job opening listed by photo company Our365 for a part-time Baby Portrait Sales Representative.

Having been out of the workforce for the past 20 years to raise and homeschool four children, I do not have a bona fide resume. But this I can assure you: I know how to sell whatever I have a personal passion for. I have successfully sold my own custom-made wreaths, as well as textbooks, clothing, and artwork as an eBay seller. When Hurricane Katrina struck, I started a short-term, non-profit organization using my sewing and persuasive skills to recruit seamstresses from 12 different countries to make and send unique disaster relief bags that I called Katrina Kits. These bags were filled with toiletries for all ages and toys for children. I raised the money for the items by going door-to-door, sending letters, and promoting the effort online. I even convinced our local FedEx shipping station to offer me the charitable rate from October through February. All in all, we sent 259 full Katrina Kits to a distributing church in Texas.

As an avid amateur photographer and scrapbooker, I have a passion for recording special family moments. Certainly there's nothing more life-changing than becoming a parent nor as gratifying as becoming a grandparent. Pictures of newborns at the hospital are priceless because babies are never again just a few minutes, hours, or days old.

I am positive I can convince new parents and grandparents of the importance of investing in baby portraits. Having giving birth to four children in various hospitals, I remember that some photo sales experiences were better than others. I've also cared for children with special needs in Russian orphanages, and know how to remain calm and reassuring in highly active (and sometimes stressful) hospital settings.

What I excel in is giving care to young mothers and their babies. To be your best employee, I would use my knowledge, care, and personal experience to provide new parents with a fond newborn-portrait experience. Trust and sensitivity are crucial when working with people, especially in a medical environment; I believe people respond instinctively to my care. As a mom, photographer, relief aid worker, family historian, orphanage helper, home educator, and eBay seller, I am absolutely certain that this job as a newborn-portrait sales rep is the one for me.

If you would like to talk about it, please call soon. I am actively seeking employment to fund the current phase of motherhood: college!

The best times are between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Please call me at your earliest convenience. I am actively pursuing employment and would love to work for Our365.


Zoanna Z........

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Had a Dream

That's right. Past tense. I'm not MLK, Jr.

I was only taking a nap, but here is what I dreamt:

I got a postcard in the mail. It was from an anonymous blogger. (We all love those, don't we?) The postcard said, "Zo, I love the idea of the fall photo posting, but I think you're trying to have too much control."

It woke me up. Yes, it did. It woke me up. (Or maybe Joel's slamming the silverware drawer did it. Either way, I woke up, convicted.)

All that to say this: I'll take it to mean that maybe, just maybe, someone out there wants to play along without rules. Just snap whatever and whenever of this fall season floats your kayak. (I hate cliches, which is why I said kayak instead of boat.)

Post pictures at your leisure--if you have leisure. (I'm thinking of a few of you who are saying, "Leisure? What's that? I don't even know a synonym for leisure or if I should put an apostrophe before the "s" in that word.

(No, for the record, there's no apostrophe. If you even think about putting one in there, I will never, ever, ever, never, ever, never, ever, ever have coffee with you.)

Game without rules. Does that lift any burdens that my subconscious had been entertaining?
It goes against my competitive (and dare I say controlling?) grain, but my postcard dream woke me up, so I'll take heed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sm'ite th'e Mis'plac'ed, Mis'u'sed, Ov'er'worke'd Apos'tro'phe's's, Please

The grammarian in me screams inwardly every time I see the apostrophe overworked and underappreciated.

Contrary to popular opinion, the apostrophe does not need to add its workload. Its two main jobs are:

1) to form contractions and
2) to show possession.

Let me give an example from the typical labor and delivery scene.

1) To form contractions:

Mary's in a lot of pain having her baby.
That is, Mary is in a lot of pain.

(If she were in transition, of course, we would
fire the apostrophe and use periods, which Mary
hasn't had for nine months.
Mary. Is. In. Pain. And. It's. All. Bob's. Fault!)

2) To show possession.

Bob's fault. Bob takes ownership of his fault, whether or not he would use that same term for Mary's pain. The apostrophe is properly placed, even if Mary's anger isn't.

The apostrophe's job does not include adding itself to an "s" to make a singular word plural.

Bob and Mary are sleep-deprived, so let's (let us) leave them alone. She had twins, by the way, not twin's.

Follow me, please, to the grocery store. We'll (we will) call it Klein's because Mr. Klein owns this store, and I used to work for Mr. Klein. He owns the Forest Hill Lanes as well. Lanes, not Lane's, where a restaurant adjoins the bowling alley. I once waited tables at that restaurant, which was then called The Tankard. My mom hated the name, but that's (that is) beside the point.

Klein's sells flowers. A few feet inside the store there's (there is) the flower fridge. I love the bouquets, but cringe at the sign:

Rose's $9.99 a doz

The price is good, but the punctuation's (punctuation is) horrible. There was no one there named Rose. Rose didn't own $9.99 a doz. And to think "Rose is $9.99 a doz" just doesn't (does not) make sense. But if they are selling 12 roses for almost ten bucks, then say so: Roses--$9.99 a doz.

Here's a little quiz to see what you've learned.

1. Which is correct?
a. There are 26 letters in the English alphabet.
b. There are 26 letter's in the English alphabet.

2. Which is correct?
a. Zoanna get's pretty uptight about misused apostrophe's.
b. Zoanna gets pretty uptight about misused apostrophes.

3. Which is correct?
a. One's behavior follows one's thinking; therefore, to write correctly, one must think correctly.
b. Ones behavior follow's ones thinking; therefore....

If you answered A,B,A (in that order), give yourself 100%. If you missed one, please review the lesson. If you missed two, please see me after class. We'll grab some coffee and a grammar book and discuss this really, deep, eternally-valuable stuff.

If you missed all three, I still love you. Do you still love me? I can be such a pest.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fall Photo Gallery Among Ourselves?

Anyone can get in on this. Let's start with fall decorations at your place. The idea is to inspire your readers. Your decoration could be something in the yard, on the door, at the table, on your fireplace, in your hair, whatever. Just leave a note right here when you've posted your picture. We'll run the decoration posts through Sept 30 and then do fall food pictures, so get your cameras shootin' and your computers bootin' for a rootin' tootin' low-fallutin' picture pres.

All right, this is my third post of the day. I'm just having a blitz of material right now.
I got onto the Ritz Camera site (they email me deals which I sadly but resolutely resist) and was just reading about photographing fall at its best.

I was wondering...would you all like to have a post-a-rama of fall pictures? Maybe we could think of categories to post, like "child playing in leaves," "best produce," "fall food" "morning in autumn" and have a semi-sort of contest. Not prizes or anything, but a glorified "ooh and aah" session among ourselves. Whatcha think? Who's game?

Oh, Goodness, this Excites Me!

I just got home from a date with Paul at Panera. (Yes, we are back to going on only cheap dates now that our kids' tuitions are sucking our cash out the window like a Kansas tornado.) He wasn't very talkative at first, but when I drew him out, he was churning about finances and asked me what I've done to look for a job. "Not much" was my honest, humble reply. He practically begged me to take a job, at least to get us through the spring semester.

So I came home and jumped onto and searched by keyword. At first I tried "tutoring," but it's all contract work. Then, up came this job that looks so exciting to me. It's under the keywords Art/Photography/Journalism/Retail/Sales/Marketing. That's a bit of everything I like, except retail during Christmas.

Anyway, this job is for a part-time baby portrait salesperson with a company called Our365. It's part-time and the work would be at Upper Chesapeake Med Center, five minutes from my house!

"Must enjoy holding newborns 24-48 hours old." That's me to a tee. And ability to sell portrait packages to new moms? How hard could that be? I just see love written all over this job. They want someone 3 mornings a week. I could ask if that's flexible since I have to flex with my kids' college class schedules. The pay is not listed, but good grief, I would LOVE to hold babies, sell photo packages, and encourage new mommies in the hospital.

Oh, please pray this is a good match for me! And if it's not, that I can find something I'm equally excited about.

Pizza Bagels or Pizza Toms: Fast Food for Tired Moms

Depending on your choice of bread--bagels or Thomas's English Muffins--these little disks inspire kids of all ages. I thought maybe you moms with young kids might want to try this if you haven't lately. The beauty is you can set out all the ingredients and let your kids make their own pizzas. It'll keep them busy, they'll be thrilled with their own individual creations, and you get to sit down and take a break. Or nurse the baby. Or read your Bible. Or check blogs. Ask them to pretty please make a couple pizzas for you, too!

You'll need:
bagels or English muffins
pizza sauce (we prefer Don Pepino's in a can)
shredded mozzarella
bag of pepperoni (optional)

No knives, no measuring--and no supervision needed, really, after age 4, if you ask me. Just tell them to make their pizza with sauce first, then cheese, and if they want, pepperoni. For an educational touch, tell them to write the first letter of their name with cheese. Got an artist? Maybe they can form a duck or a gun or whatever. I mean, the longer they play with their food, the longer your break. Works for me!

Toast in toaster oven till cheese is melted. Kids love to stand there and watch it melt. No need to time it, really. It's usually done enough for kids when the cheese is gooey!

Friday, September 21, 2007

What Legacy Will You Leave?

I read this yesterday and was challenged again not to waste my life. It's kind of funny, kind of sad, kind of quizzical why it's even in the Bible.

Thanks for writing it, Tori.

And don't stop blogging just because I'm usually your sole commenter. Lots of people read blogs without ever commenting, which I know is discouraging as a writer, especially when you faithfully comment on theirs. I don't understand the big deal about signing in and leaving a note once in a while. A little encouragement goes a long way.

Please also know that you're making a big difference in the lives of the unlovelies you serve in your job and in Trevor's family. I would have given just about anything to have someone like you come hang out with us when my kids were little and I was so exhausted. Keep setting the example of how to leave a legacy of love as a single woman.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Elevator Emotions in Elementary School

I forgot to mention (in post below) that in my first grade class, one little girl drew a gorgeous parrot head but couldn't get the wings to look the way she wanted. After lots of erasing and redrawing, she put her pencil down and sank he chin into her hands.

"What's wong, Mia?" I asked, kneeling down next to her at the table. "You look unhappy."

"I don't like my picture." she said, glumly.

"You don't? Just look at that beautiful parrot's head. Did you know that heads can be the hardest part of drawing any animal or person? And look! You've done it."

She didn't respond.

"What part of your bird makes you happy?" I asked.

"The head."

"Good. What part makes you sad?"

"The rest."

A little boy exclaimed after coloring his parrot in brilliant tropical colors, "This is my favorite class in co-op!"

It doesn't get much better than that.

Another boy was told three times not to play with the Spiderman action figure he brought.
Finally the teacher's helper took it away.

The little boy scowled, "You've ruined my life!" and spent the next minute pouting, face down on crossed elbows at the table.

It doesn't get much worse than that.

I gave it back to him at home.

You, Too, Can Draw a Parrot

I'm absolutely thrilled to be teaching art in co-op. I had the first and second graders do something that half of them thought they couldn't : draw a parrot. Using a great book, Drawing with Children, a dry-erase board, and black marker, I showed them step by step how to make a parrot.

You try! I'd love to see pictures! (I meant to take my camera to class today. We were all impressed with their creations.)

First, draw a dot for the eye. Draw a small circle around it. Draw two little squiggly lines under the eyes, one below the other. To the right of the eye, about a half inch away, draw a vertical line about as long as the distance from top of eye to bottom squiggly line.

With me so far? Good.

Decide how long you want the beak. I made mine about an inch long. Put tip of pencil an inch away from the straight line and draw a curved line up to meet the straigh vertical line. Draw a second curved line just like that, starting at the same place, just a smidge above it. This forms the top part of beak. To form the bottom part of beak, draw a curved line from midpoint of top part of beak to the straight line.

Head: Starting at top of straight line, draw a curved line up and around toward the left, and swing inward a bit, then out a smidge. To form throat, start at bottom of straight line , curve inward, then swing outward. You should have a good facsimile of a parrot head at this point. (Jimmy Buffett would be proud.)

Next, from the left of neck to the right, draw some scalloped line to make feathers.

Back: draw a curved line around, stopping at about the "eight o'clock" mark if your bird was a clock. Do same to the other side, stopping at about "five o'clock."

Wings. These overlap. When you overlap, draw what's in front first. (For live demo, cross one of your hands in front of the other, facing fingers toward floor. This will give you a visual of how the wings overlap.) Starting at bottom of the bird's back, draw a straight line up about 1/8", turn right, then extend line down and to right about 4 inches. Do another wing like that above it. Then another.

For second set of wings (the partly hidden ones) draw a rectangle above existing wings at the midback, touching the wings. Imagine this line continuing down, but hop over the lines and then draw the lines of wings below. Make them like you did other wings, only going the opposite direction.

Tail. In the open space between the crossed wings, put a scalloped line. This is your first set of tail feathers. Draw a second row. Don't make all feathers identical, mix it up a bit in width and length. Draw a third row and fourth, or as many as you'd like.

You're almost finished. Now draw little dashed lines for feathers on your bird, following the curved and straight lines of the bird.

At the end, draw him on a branch with palm leaves, or put him in a cage. Remember, if in a cage, those bars have to come over him in front. I like my birds in the wild, so they're in branches. Color brightly and you're done!

I would love to see you and your housemates try this and post your art. Go on, I made believers out of Bonnie and Gary today, self-proclaimed "non-artists. " I do believe they were going home to put theirs on the fridge!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Our new 41-family co-op started last Thursday, and I got not just one, but two special treats that day. They both were complete surprises, as if God was saying " I remember. How about you?"

The first treat came in the form of a little seven year-old boy named Wayne. Wayne had blond hair and clear blue eyes. His twin brother had slightly darker hair and eyes. I was told they were twins adopted from Russia. Immediately I tuned out the teacher (sorry, Marie) and the students (sorry, kids) and let my mind wander back to Vladimir. It was as if I was back in an orphanage and all was right with my world. Right until I was told the boys would only be in my class that one day because public schools had off for Rosh Hashana and they were just visiting.

Wayne plopped down right in front of me. He was fidgety, restless, chatty, playing with markers. A couple of times I leaned forward and whispered to him to try to sit still and listen to Miss Marie. The next time I patted his leg and he patted my hand and continued. The third time, he tapped markers and I drew circles on his back with my hand. He calmed down. I removed my hand and he leaned back on the slippery two back legs of his little chair. I tipped him forward, took his hand and whispered, "I'm afraid you'll fall back, honey. Please put your chair down on all fours." Well, he obeyed right away, but hung on to my hand. He studied it, turned it over, drew on it his with his thumb, and smiled up at me.

I smiled back. I just held his hand until Miss Marie passed out papers. Then let go. Wayne took a piece of paper, passed the rest on, and then turned around and motioned to me to hold hands again. It was the most special feeling in the world. He must still be craving a mother's touch, I thought. I wondered how long he had lived without one until he was adopted. It was if God was saying, "Remember?"

For this moment in time, I was not an art teacher's helper; I was a Russian boy's momma for an hour. I didn't want the class to end.

The second treat also came that day. It was a note I had written to myself before leaving Russia. "I would like each of you to write a note to yourself," our GAiN missionary team leader had said the last night we were in Russia. "Remind yourself what you learned here. You think you'll remember always, but you won't. In a couple months, I'll mail these to you. You will have forgotten about this note and some of the things you learned here already."

I doubted his words because I was so full. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally full. But he was right. I'll write the contents of that note tomorrow. The things God reminded me of are worth a post of their own.

Monday, September 17, 2007

If Homeschooling Isn't What You Thought It'd Be...

You're not alone. Today started out with "I hate school!" (He said it, not me.)

I said, "Joel, I will not let you say that."

"Okay, then. I really, really, really, really, REALLY do not like school. I can't stand it."

I almost laughed, but hid my smile behind an open fridge door. He keeps me from taking myself too seriously, or thinking too highly of myself as a homeschool mom, that's for sure. He says other funny stuff every single day. I'm trying my best to record them on my Kidbits blog.

I'd love to read what your homeschooled kids are saying. (I think.) All I know is I should've bought stock in Kleenex 15 years ago.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"B"-ing Busy at Home

I like it clean, but I don't like to clean. No, that's not right, either. I like to clean, but I don't like the constant picking up, decluttering ,straightening, that's part of life in this fallen world.

However, I am one who likes to come up with mnemonic devices (memory tools) and new systems ( in hope that one will actually work). So, I thought maybe I could start a new cleaning/tidying/decorating routine now that school's in session, to help me do what needs to be done regularly with the incentive of putting decorating into the mix. Maybe if I'm successful, my family room will get a facelift this fall.

Here's what I came up with.

Blessing (Monday) 70 minutes of quick tidy/mild clean everywhere (see
Bettering (Tuesday) a little more to keep it from slipping!
Busting (Wednesday)....deep cleaning
Bugging (Thursday)...clean/organize"where it bugs me" (e.g., under a sink, a file drawer, etc)
Beautifying (Friday)...put decorative touches on (or start a home dec project)
Buying (Saturday)...go out for household essentials
Basking (Sunday)...enjoy fruit of our labors by resting

Did I miss anything? Is this the dorkiest thing you've read all day?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request for 4 Year Old

My sister Jill and her hubby Jay have friends, Tom and Christie, who are the parents of a
4 year old little girl named Emily.

Tom was riding an ATV around with Emily on their property this morning. Tom got off the ATV to pick up something. Emily put the ATV in gear at full throttle and slammed into a tree.

They flew her to U of M Shock Trauma.

I don't know the extent of her injuries, but it sounds very bad. I told Jill I'd be glad to go the hospital with her if she wants. She thinks Jay will go with her.

Please pray for this little girl and her family.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I Need 7 Priests with 7 Horns: Any Volunteers?

This morning I was reading from Joshua 6. It was clearly a Sermon to Self. It's the familiar account of the fall of Jericho. Since I can easily skip over familiarity, I use a pen and journal to analyze and meditate better. Here is what God showed me this morning.

"I have given you this opportunity. Now take it."

Even that is not new to me. It's familiar, but I miss it time and time again. Specifically, right now, I have opportunities to be part of changing those things I long to see changed. I made a list of 10 and was just getting started.

On that list, near the top, was "Invite Susan to Alpha." If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that my neighbor across the street has been on my heart for a long time, but have I actually said these words, "Would you come to Alpha with me?" No. I haven't.

Joshua 6 showed me three things to do:

1. March. Be active in your quests. Concentrate on the will of God for six days straight and expect results on the seventh. This may be literally six days, or six months, or six years, but the point is, "March!" Don't sit and be distracted.

2. Pray. The Lord told Joshua to get 7 priests to bear 7 horns, march around the city walls 7 times, and on the 7th day to blow the horns 7 times. Clear pattern here, huh? Of course since he number 7 symbolizes completion/perfection/maturity, God was saying, "Do the whole job. Stick with it. Persevere." But God made sure Joshua would rally a team of noise-making priests, shall we say, as major players in the conquest.

3. Advance, armed! With the whole armor of God, go for it. You've been given the opportunity, you've prayed and called for others to pray intently with you. Now go. Obey. Proceed. Advance. Advance the gospel. Destroy the walls that Satan has put up around people, and expect God to do glorious things. He has already given it to you!

So, dear readers, if you would commit to praying with me and for me, and for my neighbor, Susan, for seven straight days, being most persistent on Day 7, would you please leave your name here? I am looking for seven people who will write this request down, put in on their fridge or bedside or mirror or dog dish or washing machine --or all of the above places!--whatever it takes to remind you to pray for this "not yetter" . I ask expectantly, in faith, to see this woman say "yes" to Alpha first, and then to Jesus as a result.

Day 1 is today. Alpha starts Tuesday (day 6). Perhaps I should've posted this sooner, but I'm sure God is sovereign over my feet-dragging way. Now I will pick up those feet and march. March. Pray. Advance.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sarah's Car Accident

This morning Sarah called me in tears at about 8:55. She had just spun out of control on Wheel Road on her way to her college English class. She was crying, very upset, not knowing exactly where she was, but pretty sure she wasn't hurt. "All I know is I hit a dirt wall."

I had peace and the wherewithal to call 911 on the home phone to report it, plus Bonnie Powell on the cell phone to come drive me. She lives one street behind me. I don't like to drive nervous, and there's no safe place--no shoulder--on Wheel Road to pull off to assess Sarah. It's just a narrow, winding road with either guardrails, embankment, phone poles, mailboxes, trees-and lots of students going back and forth to HCC.

Bonnie came immediately for Joel and me. Seconds before we showed up, an off-duty city cop was there to help Sarah. The car (the 95 Lexus we bought a few weeks ago) was 90 degrees turned into a dirt embankment, just ten feet from a telephone pole!
The officer was very reasurring to her and was holding back traffic, as the place she was at was between two bends in the road. It had just been raining and that road has numerous oil slicks on it. My own sister flipped a car there a few years ago.

Sarah appears to be phyically fine. She is so conscientious she even put in a call to her English teacher right after the crash, and emailed him a follow up when she got home to explain her absence. Can you believe that?

I got hold of Paul, at long last! That was the first thing she asked when I hugged her. "Did you call Dad yet?" A little girl always wants her daddy, no matter her age, right?

The off-duty officer offered to drive it home for me (five minutes away) and for me to drive his Camry. I thought it would make it home, but the underneath metal thingy panel is dragging and Eric (the cop) didn't want to drive it further, so it's parked on a side street. I thanked him and Bonnie drove us home.Sarah is afraid of disappointing her dad. "He just bought that car a few weeks ago!" she said, sobbbing.

"Honey, we're just relieved you're okay. Really! ANd it's one reason we bought a big, old car," I reminded her. "We wanted it to take the impact if there was an accident. (She said. in fact, she was amazed how it absorbed the hit.) "It felt like little more than a sudden stop when the seat belt grabs you."

I don't foresee repairs costing much, but if they do, so what? Our daughter is safe, no other cars were involved, and God sent the right people at the right time.

We'd appreciate your prayers. She is still shaken, understandably.

Friday, September 07, 2007

7 Questions

Please answer anonymously and honestly. (Don't worry, I'm not geeky enough to know how to find out who "anonymous" is or where they live. I'm simply trying to get a pulse on where people are inside these days. I'd rather spend more time encouraging you if I can.)

1. Are you content where you are?
2. When's the last time you gave encouragement? Received it?
3. When was the last time you got away by yourself to pray and hear from God?
4. What was the last sermon that stuck with you?
5. What changes would you most like to see in yourself?
6. " " your church (if you go).
7. " " your home life?

An Old Homeschool Mom's Resume'

So I've pretty well nixed the notion that I'll make enough money doing in-home eldercare to offset college tuition costs. Been online looking for tutoring jobs after five people in a row suggested that route.

Sylvan pays $15-20 per hour. That's more like it. It's proportional to the rate at which my van guzzles gas, so I'm pursuing it.

This morning I filled out an online application and when I got to the "resume" portion of it, I gulped. My knee-jerk reaction? I haven't worked for pay for nearly 20 years. I don't have a resume.

Then I felt the Spirit anoint me with the confidence to articulate what Ihave been doing with the time and precious gifts of children He's given me. Even if I don't land the job, writing this "resume" has been worth the effort. I see God so clearly and can only say, "Thank you, Lord! I wouldn't trade those years for any amount of money."

My "resume" to Sylvan:

Nothing rewards me more than seeing students get excited about life because
they can read and write well. When they succeed, I count my job well done. When they struggle, I am excited by the challenge to present material in a different way until they finally understand.

I have 15 years' experience as a homeschooling mother. I have also taught high school English in a co-op setting for homeschoolers. Two of my children have graduated from high school, one is in high school, and one is in kindergarten. For the past 15 years, it has been my honor and duty to research and select appropriate curricula to suit each child's learning style, to create an environment conducive to studying, and to manage all of the responsibilities of a homemaker while also educating my children.

For the past 15 years I have absolutely loved watching that success take place in my home. I have had the best job in the world without pay, that of observing children and teens closely for ways I can help them to become eager, independent thinkers, learners, and writers. Now that the first two are in college, I need to start getting paid for what I love to do in order to help fund their higher education.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Okay, so after a Tongue-Lashing...

I've got young moms on the heart, but I guess not the brain. Sorry if my tag on Summer Sammich stressed any of you young moms out.
Let's go with non-moms this time: Libby, Sacha, Sarah, and Leanne. Two S's and two L's. I didn't plan it this way. 2

Feeling Blue, not in the Pink: Help for Depressed Mommies

For all the moms reading this blog who've been hit by postpartum depression, I'd like to encourage you in the trenches from one who's been there. Maybe you're doing just fine since the wee one (or two) made their entry into the real world, but from talking candidly with so many mothers of infants, I know that having a baby, despite its many blessings and reasons to give thanks, comes with its fair share of crying (not just the baby's!), anger, fatigue, sense of purposelessness, guilt (which is the most recurrent), and a nagging question,"Will I ever feel good /whole/better again?"

These feelings apply to anyone in depression, but for the purpose of being specifically helpful to moms with babies, may I offer you some Hope from the Been-There- Felt-like-That friend here in Maryland? Here goes:

Postpartum was very depressing two out of my four times. After my
second child, a girl, came 13 months after my first, a boy, people told me I had "the perfect family--one of each." I never understood how that equates with "perfect" but I was glad to have both. But Sarah was colicky, Ben was jealous, Paul was impatient (he, too,
was overly tired, but unlike me, had to get up and go to work). I was jealous
that he got to go to work--got to go somewhere and get adult conversation and a break from crying, diapers, and nursing (as if men know what it's like to give your boobs to someone else from the day you say "I do" till the day you croak. Heck, even now at age 42, my boobs are still not just "mine"; the doctor ordered me a mammogram. This is my theme song, "Thanks for the Mammaries." ).

Or, maybe you're not nursing; I shouldn't assume. Maybe that's a sore spot (no pun intended). Nursing that's going well takes a lot of calories and time. Nursing that's not going well, or just doing the bottle thing takes energy and time. Everything takes time, time, time,doesn't it! And you think, "But how? How can such a tiny person be so demanding of my time
and energy??? How?"

If you are a real go-getter, type A person (which I wasn't, I am still only a B+ or C+ depending on hormones) who was used to checking things off your to-do list, and sometimes that is the hardest reality, that though you've been busy all day, you feel like there's nothing to show for it and baby is still demanding at the end of the day, and then there's guilt, oh my
goodness, that's an invention from hell, ain't it??--from the day a gal finds
out she's gonna be a mommy, her head becomes a travel agent for guilt trips.

Those run-on sentences on purpose because that is how life is
for a mom. Run on. Run over . Run down. Running on empty.

But let me tell you the good news, and I truly, truly hope you take this in the spirit in which I give it--not with pat answers or Christianese or sounding like one more spiritual platitude, but with everything in me I know this is helpful no matter what.

I would encourage to take a pen or sit at your computer (or toilet or rocker) or somewhere you can think, and list 21 things, not just 10, that you are thankful for. Ten is just getting started; 21 will lift you even higher, I am sure. It's easier to complain: "Ack! I just had a haircut and it needs it again!" or "My shirt always smells like breastmilk," or "Can't wait till hubby gets home. I need to see two more arms and legs," or "Laundry, laundry, laundry!"I remember having to list things like, "I'm thankful my hair is thicker," "I'm thankful I fill out a bra better," "I'm thankful Paul comes home every night to me," "I'm thankful for a washing machine."

But I am not here to give you fast formulas or shortcuts to feeling good. Just accept that motherhood is entry into patience. There is no way to learn to slow down and be in the
moment than to slow down and be in the moment. Babies force us to do that.
Force us! But we are supposed to be in control, aren't we? Heehehehehehe,
not so fast. I think God gives babies the steering wheel for a few months
and momma and daddy just hang on for the ride. Most days it feels like
you're just getting on and off the same exit ramp, reading the same road
signs, while everyone else has a destination and don't even stop for gas.
Meanwhile your baby is full of gas and going nowhere...Okay, I'lll stop with
the corny analogy.

However, hormones do have quite the power; don't underestimate them. I
want you to promise to talk to me about this. Write me , call me, talk to your doctor (don't worry about the guilt; I was afraid to tell my primary because he knew I was a Christian. He prescribed something in the Valium family that was supposed to take twice a month when I was feeling most angry and depressed, but I refused. I was afraid I'd get hooked on feeling good the druggie way. It wasn't till a couple years ago that I got a non-addicting kind when the depression was life-dominating. If you doctor has kids, they've lived through their own postpartum crud. Do whatever it takes to pour your heart out to someone who's been there.
Yes, pour it out to God, but pour it out to a sister in Christ. Husbands listen, and they may comfort, but they usually just want to fix us. I wanted to say, "No, honey, I'm not a leaky pipe, I'm not a squeaky brake, I'm not a crack in the wall. You can't fix me. Just listen and hold me. Tell me I'm pretty. Tell me you still find me attractive and don't hesitate a second or I won't believe you!" We women need something different than our hubbies can give us in times liek this. (Bless their hearts.)

So talk to me. I am very available most of the time. I'm a night owl and I get up by 7 these days. Of course I won't be there 24/7 because I'm mortal (I won't say need to
sleep, because the "s" word could make you jealous) but all that to say the Lord is always
there. You know that, but you will find Him in the sweet (???) hours of the
morning--you know, the ones you may not have been awake for since the night that got you into this mess--I mean blessing--to beging with!!!
The Lord will be to you what He's never been before. I can't tell you what that is, but HE will.

Let me leave you with the most comforting words I was given at your stage of
motherhood (when I just had one baby):

You are not a perfect mother. He is not a perfect baby.

But you are
the perfect mother for him,

and he is the perfect baby for you.

Kiss and hug your baby a lot. Throw out all the baby advice that's causing you to
live at the corner of Bondage and Guilt. Throw it out! Lean on God. If you
think what He's telling you to do at your wit's end doesn't make sense, just
go for it. I mean, when one of my babies' hineys wouldn't respond to prescription cream, my sister said, "Try a banana peel up against the diaper rash" Sounded
assinine, but it worked. I was like, "God, You think of everything. Nothing's wasted. The banana's good at both ends!"

Hang in there, sisters in sweatpants. Make your 21 list of thankfuls. Be kissy to baby. Sit outside today for a little while (your body need Vitamin D from the sun and your lungs need new air.) Say yes to any and every offer for help. If you think you're being a better mom by saying 'No thanks," people might not offer again. Ask for help. Humble yourself, pick up the phone and call a girlfriend. You'll be glad you did, and she'll sense God's purpose for her today also.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Can We Be Real?

I just got a letter from a friend who is fighting depression. Life is not going the way she was hoping it would at this juncture. She feels alone and lonely. Stuck. And as a Christian, afraid to admit it to most people. Where's the joy?Is she a bad mom? she wonders. Everyone else seems so happy and fulfilled.

Another friend wrote a few weeks ago. She is in the sunset of her life. Back in the early 90s, one of her identical twin daughters died a slow and painful death that included renal failure due to spousal abuse. This woman still fights bitterness over her ex-son-in-law's heinous crime. She is a Christian and says, "I know I shouldn't feel this way and people tell me I should be over it by now, it's been 16 years. But how do you "get over" the loss of your own child? You don't. You never do. They say time heals all wounds, but they're wrong. Every year she's gone just reminds me of how many years I've been in agony without her. And her son--my grandson-- lost his mommy before he really knew her."

A third friend is wondering if she married the wrong man. She won't admit it in those terms, but she is full of regret. He led her to believe he was a Christian when he was "converted" during their dating, and they went to church together for a solid year after that. But he is pretty much living like a single guy with a wife. She doesn't know what to do except pray.

A single friend confessed that she feels out of touch with the singles in her church. They used to serve together on outreaches,worship at singles' gatherings regularly, and hang out at each other's homes . She says it's bad enough when they stop hanging out with you because they got married, "but I'm talking about girls that aren't. They just don't seem to care enough and the church isn't doing outreaches that put us together to serve. It's just sad. "

So, what are your deeper needs today? I feel burdened to pray for people right now who aren't necessarily in need of physical healing, but emotional and relational. Sometimes , I've heard it said, "we turn our prayer meetings into organ rehearsals--my uncle's bad heart, my grandma's liver, my cousin's kidneys." But most of us, especially women, are more in touch with our needs than we'll admit, and want someone to really listen, care, and pray.

If you want to leave a comment in the box, that's fine. Or sign anonymously, or email me. I'd love to intercede for you. And while I'm being real, please pray for me. I'm still not feeling "yee-haw" about starting school with Joel. He's got his backpack ready for co-op which doesn't start till the 13th!

Hope it helps to unload to someone today.

Day Before School and She's Lost Her Lesson Plans

Yup, kinnygarten starts tomorrow for my last (?) child. And guess what? I can't find my teacher's manual. It's new curriculum (My Father's World). So I can't just wing it. Well, I can. After 15 years in the kitchen classroom, you can wing anything. But I would LIKE to have my plans in hand. You know, feeling organized and directional and half competent isn't all bad.

Please pray I find my book. It's a spiral-bound paperback jobbie about 1/2 inch thick so it can hide easily in a homeschool library. I have all Joel's other necessites--including his Spider-Man backpack (his essential) --but this one thing I lack. Whle you're at, please pray for Sarah. She started college today with a pseudo migraine.

-----2pm UPDATE: FOUND IT! Praise the Lord. It was in Paul's guitar closet in the office/music/hobby room on an open shelf. Now I get to find books for week 1 and have the library hold them at the drive-thru. I don't know why, but I don't really enjoy going into the libary. Once I'm in, I like it, but nothing about it draws me magnetically. Thankfully Sarah and Paul make regular runs there for the fun of it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Psalm Sammich at Summer's End (Tag)

I am making this Q&A as an interview to myself. My temptation (which I've yielded to far too often) has been to complain about what didn't go the way I wanted this summer, as opposed to recounting God's blessings. This morning's "Psalm Sammich" (Psalm 136..."for His steadfast love endures forever) gave me the kick in the spiritual seat of the pants I needed. Okay, conviction, but I like to try out new phraseology.

Whom shall I tag? I choose...let's see... my friends with rhyming first initials: B (Briana, Beth Y, Beth K, and Betty), D (Danielle), T (Tori) and I've probably forgotten someone. Sorry in advance. Here goes. Feel free to cut and paste for your blog and let us know when you've done this. :)

!. What did you most look forward to this summer? Going to Russia as a missionary.

2 What was the greatest highlight of your summer? There were two. Went to Russia. Got healed.

3. Did you make any new friends? Yes. Our GAiN team itself, plus Andrew and Sergei and a bunch of interpreters in Vladimir . Then back here, A & V from B, Russia. (They are being followed by the kay gee bee and so I am using their initials and being sketchy with details.) He received Christ in prison . No one had shared the gospel with him, but Jesus made a personal visit to him in his cell. He is now a home missionary in B.

4. What people did you have into your home this summer that you've never had? Besides the aforementioned couple, also my dad's cousin Janet and her daughter, Anastasia from Hawaii.

5. What fear did you face that God helped you overcome? Fear of a root canal.

6. What celebration did you most enjoy? a homecoming party for someone special 

7. What was the most emotionally difficult thing you witnessed, and how did God redeem the pain? Sitting with my mom at the ER as she suffered with a kidney stone, and all her many hospitalizations this summer when at the same time she had international guests. To watch my parents together at age 72 and 60-something-- living for the Lord and madly in love with each other-- is one of my greatest blessings as an adult.

8. What special gift or surprise did you receive? Everything handmade by orphans. Also, my friend Bonnie left a bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table next to a pack of Good 'n Plenty (my fave), and a container of eclairs in the fridge while I was on vacation. A birthday gift. (She had a key to the house. Wow. What a delight to walk into the house and find these treats after a long road trip af the end of an already-blessed week!)

9. What was the funniest thing you heard all summer? Probably Joel's suppository joke. (If you missed it and care to catch up:), it's at

10. Who blessed you the most this summer? My husband. He is so generous. Besides giving Sarah and me the blessing to go to Russia for 10 days, he also allotted spending money for us there in an amount greater than I'd imagined. Additionally, he used his bonus to pay contractors to put on new siding, windows, and roof, so our house has a whole new look from the curb. He also gave us a terrific weeklong beach vacation in an oceanfront condo and let the kids invite friends. (Only two ended up being able to join us.) Paul's daily hard work in a thankless, stressful job provides many luxuries that I am very grateful for. I remember skimpy years when vacation meant visiting family in Ohio because rent was free and food was cheap. It's nice to be able to make family memories with just our crew.

So there's my summer sammich with a Psalm 136 base, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."