Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

2006-kids cropped

Merry, Merry Christmas to all my wonderful HSB friends!! I pray you and your family are enjoying a wonderful, memory-filled Christmas season and taking the time to remember and honor our Lord and Saviour's birth!

We are having a wonderful time, hence the lack of posts recently. I've just been too busy... but not with shopping and all that. No, I've been watching my little angels perform in two different Christmas plays (and all the practices that goes on with that), we've had out-of-town guests, and we're getting ready to do lots of baking starting tomorrow, not to mention that our three younger children have had 103 tempuatures this week and were all diagnosed with strep throat and our oldest spent last night and most of today throwing up! But I think they're all on the mend now. We've only got some caughing and runny noses to deal with now, so I think we can handle that.

With only a few shopping days left, I thought I would share this site that lists 63 gift ideas for under $10! Who couldn't use that kind of list?!

Need help getting and staying organized, especially during the busy holiday season? Check out this site which lays out an 18-week Grand Plan to help you organize for the holidays so you can actually ENJOY them instead of running around like crazy and MISSING out on them like happens to so many this time of year. If 18-weeks is too long for you, you might want to check out this 6-week plan. I know it's too late to use these this year, but bookmark them and maybe they will help you be more prepared for next year!

Some other sites I've bookmarked for Christmas are:

*a Christmas story advent coloring book

*a unit study approach to study the symbols of Christmas

*the names of Jesus unit study

*TONS of Christmas activities and lessons

*Literature unit studies for Advent and Christmas using Tomie de Paola books

*Jesse Tree sites:

Jesse Tree #1

Jesse Tree #2

Jesse Tree #3

Jesse Tree #4

*Letters to/from Santa sites:

Letters #1

Letters #2

Letters #3

Letters #4

Letters #5

And just for some fun and laughs, check out these this site!

If you have found any good sites worth checking into for the Christmas season I would love to know about them!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

What A Precious Story!

NEW YORK — When Eve and Norman Fertig rescued a sick, two-week-old half wolf, half German shepherd puppy from a breeder almost seven years ago, they'd never dreamed that the animal one day would save their lives.

"God is watching; he's watching all the time," Eve Fertig told FOXNews from her home at the Enchanted Forest Wildlife Sanctuary in Alden, N.Y.

He apparently was watching on Oct. 12, when the 81-year-old Fertigs were treating injured animals in the forest sanctuary on their property. One such animal is a near-18-year-old raven, while another is a crow who was shot, blind in one eye with two broken legs.

It was routine for the couple to feed and exercise the dozen or so animals there around 7 p.m. every night.

"While we're in there, the lights go out and I realized something's wrong," Eve Fertig said. "We go outside to see what's happening and down comes one massive tree … the trees came down across us."

The massive storm that hit upstate New York that night felled trees, blocking the Fertig's path to the other sanctuary buildings — such as the school and storage building — and to their home, which was at least 200 feet away.

"We were in big trouble. … I said to my husband, 'I think we could die out here,'" Eve said.

The Fertigs huddled in a narrow alley between the hospital building and the aviary, where they were sheltered from falling trees. They couldn't climb over the trees without injuring themselves. Neither had warm clothes on since it was a clear, crisp fall day just a few hours ago. They hugged each other for warmth, since by 9:30 p.m., temperatures had dropped.

"I wasn't prepared for this … I thought, 'we're trapped, we're absolutely trapped,'" Eve said. "That's when Shana began to dig beneath the fallen trees."

The 160-pound dog that habitually follows her owners around — Eve likens it to "Mary had a little lamb," when the lamb went everywhere Mary went — eventually found the Fertigs and began digging a path in the snow with her teeth and claws underneath the fallen trees, similar to a mineshaft, and barking as if to tell them to follow.

A reluctant Norm said, "I had enough in Okinawa in a foxhole," referring to his service in World War II.

"'Norman, if you do not follow me, I will get a divorce,'" Eve said to her husband of 62 years. "That did it. He said, 'a divorce? That would scandal our family.' I said, 'all of our family is dead, Norman!'"

After Shana tunneled all the way to the house — a process that took until about 11:30 p.m. — she came back, grabbed the sleeve of Eve's jacket, and threw the 86-pound woman over her back and neck, which Eve described as "as wide as our kitchen shelf."

Norman grabbed Eve's legs, and the dog pulled them through the tunnel, under the trees and through an opening in a fence to the house, at which they arrived around 2 a.m.

"It was the most heroic thing I've ever seen in my life," Eve said. "We opened the door and we just fell in and she laid on top of us and just stayed there and kept us alive … that's where we laid until the fireman found us."

There was no electricity and no heat in the house, so Shana acted as a living, breathing generator for the exhausted Fertigs until the local fire department arrived the next morning.

Concerned neighbors — many of whom had children Eve taught — who couldn't get hold of the elderly couple via telephone throughout the night had called the Town Line Fire Department.

But when the fire department urged the Fertigs to go to the firehouse to take shelter along with 100 others, they told them they would have to leave Shana behind.
"We said, 'we don't go anywhere without her.' ... I said, 'we'll stay until the people are gone and we'll take Shana,'" Eve said.

So the couple stayed at home with Shana until Sunday, when the firehouse emptied out. During the three days in a house with no power, heat or hot water, Shana slept with her owners to keep them warm.

"She kept us alive. She really did," Eve said.

Also during that time, firefighters not only helped clear trees from their grounds, but they brought food and water for both human and animal.

"They kept looking at that tunnel and said, 'we've never seen anything like it,'" she said. "I can't thank them enough — they're heroes."

When they went to the firehouse Sunday, Shana followed the Fertigs everywhere, even to the bathroom. And she was 'spoiled rotten' by the fire crews there, Eve said.

She said the fire chiefs said her story of being saved by her pet rejuvenated exhausted fire teams. "The story, they said, just gave them new hope."

Last Thursday, Shana received the Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment's Hero's Award for bravery — an award traditionally given to humans. The plaque, complete with Shana's picture on it, hangs in the Fertigs' living room, along with other pictures of wolves the couple has worked with.

Eve, who teaches courses in Saving Endangered Species and Caring for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife at community colleges and trains animal rehabilitators in New York, said she hopes her story will help further her message of humanity toward animals and educate people about how even a wolf, if treated with care and dignity, can be a "kisser and a hugger" like Shana.

"If you're vicious to a human being, they'll become fighters," Eve said, but even wolves, "once you treat them right and raise them in your house, they're magnificent."

Eve has taught 400 adults to be wildlife rehabilitators. She and her husband are volunteers who pay for their own teaching licenses and caring for the sanctuary animals, out of their Social Security checks every year.

"I've never been on a cruise and I don't shop and I haven't seen a movie in two years," Eve said.

The only time the Fertigs go to the movies is, of course, when they are submitting to a higher calling.

"What I do to get signatures for my petitions, I go to [a] movie that's showing a wolf, horse or whale story," and she and her husband camp out outside the theater and get petitions signed to help save various animals, which they send along to wildlife organizations.

"I have a motto ... joint abilities don't create hostilities," Eve said. "I make it my business to talk to all groups, all conservationists, all hunting clubs, to let them know what they're missing out there."

Editor's Note: The Fertigs rely on food donations to help feed the injured animals they try to rehabilitate at their Enchanted Forest Wildlife Sanctuary in Alden, N.Y. They told that the Oct. 12 storm completely wiped out their supply of food. The Fertigs would welcome any donations. Please contact them at 716-681-5918 if you would like to donate or volunteer.

Story courtesy of

Sunday, November 26, 2006

10 is the New 15 As Kids Grow Up Faster

Zach Plante is close with his parents — he plays baseball with them and, on weekends, helps with work in the small vineyard they keep at their northern California home. Lately, though, his parents have begun to notice subtle changes in their son. Among other things, he's announced that he wants to grow his hair longer — and sometimes greets his father with "Yo, Dad!"

"Little comments will come out of his mouth that have a bit of that teen swagger," says Tom Plante, Zach's dad.

Thing is, Zach isn't a teen. He's 10 years old — one part, a fun-loving fifth-grader who likes to watch the Animal Planet network and play with his dog and pet gecko, the other a soon-to-be middle schooler who wants an iPod.

In some ways, it's simply part of a kid's natural journey toward independence. But child development experts say that physical and behavioral changes that would have been typical of teenagers decades ago are now common among "tweens" — kids ages 8 to 12.

Some of them are going on "dates" and talking on their own cell phones. They listen to sexually charged pop music, play mature-rated video games and spend time gossiping on MySpace. And more girls are wearing makeup and clothing that some consider beyond their years.

Zach is starting to notice it in his friends, too, especially the way they treat their parents.

"A lot of kids can sometimes be annoyed by their parents," he says. "If I'm playing with them at one of their houses, then they kind of ignore their parents. If their parents do them a favor, they might just say, 'OK,' but not notice that much."

The shift that's turning tweens into the new teens is complex — and worrisome to parents and some professionals who deal with children. They wonder if kids are equipped to handle the thorny issues that come with the adolescent world.

"I'm sure this isn't the first time in history people have been talking about it. But I definitely feel like these kids are growing up faster — and I'm not sure it's always a good thing," says Dr. Liz Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. She's been in practice for 16 years and has noticed a gradual but undeniable change in attitude in that time.

She and others who study and treat children say the reasons it's happening are both physical and social.

Several published studies have found, for instance, that some tweens' bodies are developing faster, with more girls starting m*nstr*ation in elementary school — a result doctors often attribute to improved nutrition and, in some cases, obesity.

While boys are still being studied, the findings about girls have caused some endocrinologists to lower the limits of early br**st development to first or second grade.

Along with that, even young children are having to deal with peer pressure and other societal influences.

Beyond the drugs, s*x and rock'n'roll their boomer and Gen-X parents navigated, technology and consumerism have accelerated the pace of life, giving kids easy access to influences that may or may not be parent-approved. S*x, violence and foul language that used to be relegated to late-night viewing and R-rated movies are expected fixtures in everyday TV.

And many tweens model what they see, including common plot lines "where the kids are really running the house, not the dysfunctional parents," says Plante, who in addition to being Zach's dad is a psychology professor at Santa Clara University in California's Silicon Valley.

He sees the results of all these factors in his private practice frequently.
Kids look and dress older. They struggle to process the images of s*x, violence and adult humor, even when their parents try to shield them. And sometimes, he says, parents end up encouraging the behavior by failing to set limits — in essence, handing over power to their kids.

"You get this kind of perfect storm of variables that would suggest that, yes, kids are becoming teens at an earlier age," Plante says.

Natalie Wickstrom, a 10-year-old in suburban Atlanta, says girls her age sometimes wear clothes that are "a little inappropriate." She describes how one friend tied her shirt to show her stomach and "liked to dance, like in rap videos."

Girls in her class also talk about not only liking but "having relationships" with boys.

"There's no rules, no limitations to what they can do," says Natalie, who's also in fifth grade.

Her mom, Billie Wickstrom, says the teen-like behavior of her daughter's peers, influences her daughter — as does parents' willingness to allow it.

"Some parents make it hard on those of us who are trying to hold their kids back a bit," she says.

So far, she and her husband have resisted letting Natalie get her ears pierced, something many of her friends have already done. Now Natalie is lobbying hard for a cell phone and also wants an iPod.

"Sometimes I just think that maybe, if I got one of these things, I could talk about what they talk about," Natalie says of the kids she deems the "popular ones."

It's an age-old issue. Kids want to fit in — and younger kids want to be like older kids.

But as the limits have been pushed, experts say the stakes also have gotten higher—with parents and tweens having to deal with very grown-up issues such as pregnancy and s*xually transmitted diseases. Earlier this year, that point hit home when federal officials recommended a vaccine for HPV— a common STD that can lead to cervical cancer—for girls as young as age 9.

"Physically, they're adults, but cognitively, they're children," says Alderman, the physician in New York. She's found that cultural influences have affected her own children, too.

Earlier this year, her 12-year-old son heard the popular pop song "Promiscuous" and asked her what the word meant.

"I mean, it's OK to have that conversation, but when it's constantly playing, it normalizes it," Alderman says.

She observes that parents sometimes gravitate to one of two ill-advised extremes — they're either horrified by such questions from their kids, or they "revel" in the teen-like behavior. As an example of the latter reaction, she notes how some parents think it's cute when their daughters wear pants or shorts with words such as "hottie" on the back.

"Believe me, I'm a very open-minded person. But it promotes a certain way of thinking about girls and their back sides," Alderman says. "A 12-year-old isn't s*xy."

With grown-up influences coming from so many different angles — from peers to the Internet and TV — some parents say the trend is difficult to combat.

Claire Unterseher, a mother in Chicago, says she only allows her children — including an 8-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter — to watch public television.

And yet, already, they're coming home from school asking to download songs she considers more appropriate for teens.

"I think I bought my first Abba single when I was 13 or 14 — and here my 7-year-old wants me to download Kelly Clarkson all the time," Unterseher says. "Why are they so interested in all this adult stuff?"

Part of it, experts say, is marketing — and tweens are much-sought-after consumers.

Advertisers have found that, increasingly, children and teens are influencing the buying decisions in their households — from cars to computers and family vacations. According to 360 Youth, an umbrella organization for various youth marketing groups, tweens represent $51 billion worth of annual spending power on their own from gifts and allowance, and also have a great deal of say about the additional $170 billion spent directly on them each year.

Toymakers also have picked up on tweens' interest in older themes and developed toy lines to meet the demand — from dolls known as Bratz to video games with more violence.

Diane Levin, a professor of human development and early childhood at Wheelock College in Boston, is among those who've taken aim at toys deemed too violent or s*xual.

"We've crossed a line. We can no longer avoid it — it's just so in our face," says Levin, author of the upcoming book "So S*xy So Soon: The Sexualization of Childhood."

Earlier this year, she and others from a group known as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood successfully pressured toy maker Hasbro to drop plans for a line of children's toys modeled after the singing group P*ssycat Dolls.

Other parents, including Clyde Otis III, are trying their own methods.

An attorney with a background in music publishing, Otis has compiled a line of CDs called "Music Talking" that includes classic oldies he believes are interesting to tweens, but age appropriate. Artists include Aretha Franklin, Rose Royce and Blessid Union of Souls.

"I don't want to be like a prude. But some of the stuff out there, it's just out of control sometimes," says Otis, a father of three from Maplewood, N.J.

"Beyonce singing about bouncing her b*tt all over the place is a little much — at least for an 8-year-old."

In the end, many parents find it tricky to strike a balance between setting limits and allowing their kids to be more independent.

Plante, in California, discovered that a few weeks ago when he and Zach rode bikes to school, as the two of them have done since the first day of kindergarten. "You know, dad, you don't have to bike to school with me anymore," Zach said. Plante was taken aback. "It was a poignant moment," he says. "There was this notion of being embarrassed of having parents be too close." Since then, Zach has been riding by himself — a big step in his dad's mind. "Of course, it is hard to let go, but we all need to do so in various ways over time," Plante says, "as long as we do it thoughtfully and lovingly, I suppose."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Our Latest Adventure

As I've mentioned before, I am over a 'Keepers At Home' group at our church and this past Saturday we took them to Pigeon Forge, TN. to a place called 'Wonder Works'. What a neat place it is! If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it. Oh, and be sure to stay for the 'Hoot and Holler' dinner show too!

Here are a few pictures from our trip.

This was our group of girls. We also had four siblings (brothers), 9 moms, and 2 dads! Notice that the building is UPSIDE DOWN!

Girls @ WonderWorks


Below are some pictures I took of some really cool art displays they had...

WonderWorks Art #2

WonderWorks Art #3

The two pictures above were displays hangning on the wall. Notice how they are in 3-D! Makes me want to jump right in!

WonderWorks Art #1

I just thought this one was really cool.


Notice in the next three pictues how the mess of twisted metal actually forms the shadows on the wall! Way too cool!

WonderWorks Art #4

WonderWorks Art #5

WonderWorks Art #6

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Secret Santa Must Give Up Hobby of Giving Cash to Pay for His Chemotherapy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For 26 years, a man known only as Secret Santa has roamed the streets every December quietly giving people money. He started with $5 and $10 bills. As his fortune grew, so did the gifts. In recent years, Secret Santa has been handing out $100 bills, sometimes two or three at a time, to people in thrift stores, diners and parking lots. So far, he's anonymously given out about $1.3 million. It's been a long-held holiday mystery: Who is Secret Santa?

But now, weak from chemotherapy and armed with a desire to pass on his belief in random kindness, Secret Santa has decided it's time to reveal his identity.

He is Larry Stewart, a 58-year-old businessman from the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit, Mo., who made his millions in cable television and long-distance telephone service.

His holiday giving started in December 1979 when he was nursing his wounds at a drive-in restaurant after getting fired. It was the second year in a row he had been fired the week before Christmas.

"It was cold and this car hop didn't have on a very big jacket, and I thought to myself, `I think I got it bad. She's out there in this cold making nickels and dimes,'" he said.

He gave her $20 and told her to keep the change.

"And suddenly I saw her lips begin to tremble and tears begin to flow down her cheeks. She said, 'Sir, you have no idea what this means to me.'"

Stewart went to the bank that day and took out $200, then drove around looking for people who could use a lift. That was his "Christmas present to himself." He's hit the streets each December since.

While Stewart has also given money to other community causes in Kansas City and his hometown of Bruce, Miss., he offers the simple gifts of cash because it's something people don't have to "beg for, get in line for, or apply for."

That was a feeling he came to know in the early '70s when he was living out of his yellow Datsun 510. Hungry and tired, Stewart mustered the nerve to approach a woman at a church and ask for help.

The woman told him the person who could help was gone for the day, and Stewart would have to come back the next day.

"As I turned around, I knew I would never do that again," Stewart said.

Over the years, Stewart's giving as Secret Santa grew. He started a Web site. He allowed the news media to tag along, mostly because he wanted to hear about the people who received the money. Reporters had to agree to guard his identity and not name his company, which he still does not want revealed.

His entourage grew over the years, and he began traveling with special elves. People like the late Negro Leauges icon Buck O'Neil, who handed out hugs while Stewart doled out $100s. NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus will join Stewart this year in Chicago when Stewart hands out $100s in honor of O'Neil, the first African-American coach in the Major Leagues.

They'll give out $100,000 between Chicago and Kansas City. Four Secret Santas who Stewart "trained" will hand out an additional $65,000.

Doctors told Stewart in April that he had cancer of the esophagus and it had spread to his liver. He has been lucky, he says, to get into a clinical trial at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. But the aggressive chemotherapy has stripped away his appetite and energy. He's lost about 100 pounds, but has held onto his white hair.

The treatment costs more than $16,000 a month, not including the cost of traveling to Houston every two weeks and staying there for five or six days. He now has two months off, but returns to treatment in February.

His insurance company won't cover the cost of the treatment, which has left him concerned about his finances and his family.

Now, his mission is bigger than handing out $100 bills. Stewart wants to speak to community groups about his devotion to kindness and to inspire others to donate their time and money.

"That's what we're here for," Stewart says, "to help other people out."

(story courtesy of

The Best Fireworks Show Ever!

I wanted to blog about this back in April, but I couldn't figure out how to get the video on here until now. I hope this will work. Let me know if you can or can not see this.

This is from this past April, our 11th anniversary to be exact! We took the kids to see 'Thunder Over Louisville', which is part of the kick-off festivities for the Kentucky Derby every year. There were over 800,000 people there... with only port-a-potties for ALL to use! I won't even tell you how unbelievably disgusting THAT was! Let's just say that the next time we go, we'll hopefully be getting a hotel room right on the Ohio River where we can watch the fireworks from our room so we can use our OWN facilities when needed!

But THIS is the most awesome part, the fireworks finale. They were playing every patriotic song you can imagine while all of this was going on. It was so awesome!

Be sure to watch the entire thing (it's only a little over a minute long). It was so loud that we could feel the pounding from the fireworks in our chests! No wonder the song says, 'With bombs bursing in air'!

*You'll need RealPlayer to view the fireworks finale. If you don't have it already, you can download it for free here.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Ok, I Have a Real Problem

Hello, my name is Christy and I am addicted to junk food!

I don't know how to overcome this problem, but it's a big one. Do you know that instead of eating eggs and toast for breakfast, like the rest of my family did this morning, that I would rather eat 2 (or 3 ) Little Debbie snack cakes and a glass of Minute Maid juice (after everyone is out of the kitchen so they can't see me of course)? ACK! Something is definitely wrong here. SOMETHING has got to be done. I am supposed to be LOSING weight, not putting it back ON!!!

I still have another 65 pounds to go. I did only have 55 to go just a few weeks ago! See what turning 31 and having so many babies and a tubal does to your body? 10 pounds in just a few weeks?! I'm most definitely sure eating 17 boxes of Little Debbies a week and avoiding exercising like the plauge had nothing to do with it!

UGH! Can anyone commiserate with me? Can anyone help me? Can anyone come and do my grocery shopping and cooking for me?!

I KNOW what to do and I KNOW how very much better I feel when I'm eating right and exercising and actually fitting into my clothes. Not to mention all the things I've been reading lately about how healthy eating and exercise can help lower your risk of cancer, among all those other dreadful diseases none of us want to end up with.

I need a good swift kick in the rear. Anyone care to volunteer?

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Went and Got Myself Hit, Oh Yes I Did

Don't worry, it wasn't bad at all, but, I'd really prefer to NOT have a trailer hitch hole punched right through my front bumper. Perfect square. Pop! Right through it. How did I manage this you ask? Well, actually, I was sitting perfectly still. There were two cars ahead of me and we were all waiting to turn onto a highway when for whatever knucle-headed reason the first guy decides to start backing up, which made the lady in front of me start backing up. You see where this is going, don't you?

I saw it happening, but just didn't have time to react other than to lay on my horn, which did no good.

Ah well, such is life, right? You know, I've been doing some pondering about my less-than-stellar days lately and I have to confess, in the grand scheme of things I truly THANK my Lord and Savior for every bit of it. Shocked? Well, let me tell you why I'm thankful for an overflowing potty and a truck backing into me...

We have a 32-year-old friend who, without a miracle healing, will soon leave behind her two young children, husband, parents, siblings, and friends all because of a trip to her doctor back in June for an upset stomach that turned out to be Stage IV melanoma cancer.

Another homeschooling mother from the Five In A Row boards recently stopped all treatments for the breast cancer she was diagnosed with back in the spring. She also has two children.

Remember our friends who had the triplett boys? Their paternal grandmother, who is not even out of her 50's yet, was just dianosed with lymphoma and the doctors are unable to operate.

Because there once was a man named Job who was having a really, REALLY bad day. Within the span of one day he lost all his oxen and donkeys to the Sabeans who also, by the way, killed all but one of his servants who were with these animals.

WHILE HE (the one lone servant) WAS STILL SPEAKING, another messenger came to Job and told him that fire fell from the sky and burned up all his sheep and THOSE servants, except for this one messenger!

WHILE HE WAS STILL SPEAKING, another messenger came and told him that the Chaldeans came and carried off all Job's camels and killed all of THOSE servants, except, of course, for this one lucky messenger.

WHILE HE WAS STILL SPEAKING, of all things, here comes another messenger telling Job that all of his sons and daughters were killed when a freak wind came while they were all in the same house and knocked down all the walls on top of them!

All of this... losing all of his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, servants, and his children... all in ONE DAY! And do you know what Job said?

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised". In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Whoa. I love my Lord and my Savior with all my heart and I know that He alone holds our future in His hands. But there have been a couple of times where I have, GASP, felt mad at God and even gave up believing He would actually come to my rescue or help me out with something that only He could fix.

But when I step back and look at the big picture, you know what? I have no reason at all to complain. God has been very, very good to me and I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if Job can survive all that he did that I can make it past a little water. If Jesus can be beaten and hung on a cross just for ME, then a little hole in my bumper is the least of my worries.

What if it were *me* who were diagnosed with inoperable cancer tomorrow? What legacy would I leave my children? What would my husband always remember about me? Now THAT is something worth devoting some of my time and energy to.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Parents Wary of School Library Selections

Parents in Miami are fighting to remove a book that paints Fidel Castro's Cuba in a favorable light — just one example of how public school libraries have become battlefields on which parents must fight to keep their kids from being indoctrinated with liberal values.

Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, said kids' moral lives are what's at stake in the battle.

"Everything is at risk here," he said, "School systems are allowed to teach our children and promote books to very much turn on the values that they were taught at home."

Parents who wish to control their children's reading material are often labeled 'censors.' But Burress said they don't have to take that label lying down.

"Someone is choosing what books will go in the library and what books will not," he told Family News in Focus. "That by definition is a censor. For someone to object to a book that has been chosen to be put into a library is free speech."

Candi Cushman, educational analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said there's plenty a parent can do, including serving on a book-selection committee.

"Parents have a right to lobby to be on those committees," she explained. "Go to your school board and ask for a committee to be set up, if it's not, and then ask to be included in that committee."

FOR MORE INFORMATION You can find a list of titles to be aware of on the Parents Against Bad Books In Schools Web site.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The NEA: Who Is This Setting The Agenda For Our Public Schools?

Since we are talking about the future of millions of our children directly affected by the NEA, we hope you will study the material available in this email carefully and forward it to others. Every person, especially every parent of children in public schools, needs this information.

When we learned about the NEA plans to approve homos*xual marriage, we alerted our supporters. Following our making the resolution public, the NEA promptly removed it from their web-site. Our efforts upset NEA president Reg Weaver so much that he attacked AFA in a speech to the 9,000 delegates at the convention.

Background On The NEA:

To understand why the NEA is more interested in pushing a liberal social agenda than making sure our children can read, write and do math—and why public education is in the mess it is in-please read some background by clicking here.

Here are a few of the actions which the NEA approved at their meeting in Orlando.

NEA overwhelmingly passed a resolution (B 10) endorsing g*y marriages and adoptions in states where they're legal. Click here and read the first three paragraphs.

NEA recommended that g*y, l*sbian, bis*xual, and transg*nder issues be required content for teacher credentialing. (Teachers would be forced to undergo sensitivity training concerning homos*xuality before they could be certified to teach.) Here is the wording of the resolution: "That NEA advocate for the inclusion of G*y, L*sbian, Bis*xual, and Transg*nder issues in the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) teacher education program review process." NEA has already contacted NCATE about this.

NEA voted to replace the word "tolerance" toward homos*xuality with "acceptance and respect" in union policies. The author of New Business Item 52 used this rationale: "We should teach acceptance and respect, not tolerance, of those who are different from us wherever appropriate." (The NEA is saying that "tolerance" of the homos*xual lifestyle isn't enough, that homos*xuality must be accepted and respected.) Click Here for more information.

NEA refused to pass an amendment (I 24) designed to protect students against s*xual misconduct by teachers. The amendment read "To protect the rights of all students, the Association believes s*xual contact between education professionals and minor students is unacceptable." The NEA refused to pass the amendment and referred it back to the Resolutions Committee. Many feel that the NEA refused to pass the amendment in order to protect teachers who have s*x with students.

The NEA has been less than honest in dealing with this situation. Andy Linebaugh, a spokesman for the NEA, told Cybercast News Service that "leadership of the NEA has no interest in advancing a position on same-s*x marriage."

NEA president Reg Weaver, in a release posted on the website of its Kansas affiliate, said the AFA had engaged in a "malicious e-mail campaign distorting the facts related to proposed amendment changes." Like Linebaugh, he added that "the NEA has no position on same-s*x marriages, and leadership is not seeking to establish such a position."

On the NEA homepage on July 19, there was a message pertaining to the NEA's support of homos*xual marriage.

"A smear campaign launched by the American Family Association asserted that the National Education Association was set to 'endorse homos*xual marriage' at the 2006 Representative Assembly. Either the group is intentionally misleading the public, or didn't bother to check their information, but NEA has no plans to endorse same s*x marriage and never did."

However, just weeks before the statements by Linebaugh and Weaver denying that NEA had taken a position, the NEA was a signatory on a letter to U.S. Senators strongly opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment. So when Linebaugh and Weaver said that the NEA has taken no position, they are being less than honest. The NEA opposed the constitutional amendment making marriage legal only between one man and one woman. That is their position as indicated by signing the letter.

The California Teachers Association, NEA's largest state affiliate, endorsed homos*xual marriage in 2004.

NEA Running Stealth Campaign Again Public School Reform:

Here is another example of how the NEA works. Shortly after the convention in Orlando, USA Today in an article (July 11, page 9D) reported: "The nation's largest teachers union has spent more than $8 million in a stealth campaign against President Bush's education reform law, paying for research and political opposition in an effort to derail it, according to a Washington think tank that supports the law...the National Education Association (NEA) has given at least $8.1 million to education, civil rights and policy groups that have opposed or criticized No Child Left Behind, Bush's far-reaching and controversial effort to reform public schools."

Many members of the NEA are not aware how the NEA is using their dues to promote leftwing politics. They can drop their membership in the NEA and secure many of the same benefits by joining other professional organizations which offer the same benefits. The Association of American Educators is one. You can visit them on the web at Also, Christian Educators offers many of the same benefits. Their website is

Take Action:
1. Send your email to the NEA. Express your disappointment that they are putting a political agenda ahead of the education of our children.

2. Please forward this to other parents and educators so they will have this information.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

National Education Association Set to Endorse Homose*ual Marriage

The National Education Association is set to endorse homose*ual marriage at their convention coming up in Orlando June 29 through July 6.

The new NEA proposal essentially says schools should support and actively promote homose*ual marriage and other forms of marriage (two men and one woman, three women, two women and three men, etc.) in their local schools.

The new proposal, expected to pass overwhelmingly, is found under the B-8 Diversity paragraph:

The Association... believes in the importance of observances, programs and curricula that accurately portray and recognize the roles, contributions, cultures, and history of these diverse groups and individuals.

The Association believes that legal rights and responsibilities with regard to medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, legal immigration, domestic partnerships, and civil unions and/or marriage belong to all these diverse groups and individuals.

Translated, that means the NEA will promote homose*ual marriage in every avenue they have available, including textbooks, to all children at all age levels and without the permission or knowledge of parents. Their plans will include every public school in America.

Take Action

First, please forward this to all parents with children in public schools. They need to be aware of the plans the NEA has to indoctrinate their children with their pro-homose*ual, homose*ual marriage agenda.

Please forward this to public school teachers you know so they can be aware of the NEA's plans. In fact, their membership dues will be used to help implement the new NEA plan.

AFA encourages teachers who do not approve of their dues going to the NEA to find an alternative teacher's group to help them retain their benefits. Teachers might want to give the CEAI home page a look or find another alternative in their state.

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Awesome God" Censored by Elementary School

The case of an 8-year-old New Jersey girl who was told she couldn't sing Rich Mullins' "Awesome God" for an after-school talent show has created a platform for attorneys to highlight the rights of students to express a religious viewpoint, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

The second-grader at Frenchtown Elementary wanted to sing the contested song for a talent show. While school officials did not object to the general idea of a religious song, they opposed one specific section:

"There's thunder in His footsteps and lightning in His fists. (Our God is an awesome God.) And the Lord wasn't joking when He kicked 'em out of Eden. It wasn't for no reason that He shed His blood. His return is very close and so you better be believing that our God is an awesome God."

Joyce Brennan, superintendent for the Frenchtown School District, determined those lyrics to be too graphic and violent.

"The problem came with the words in the song that were not espousing what the child believed," she said, "but rather indicating what other people should be believing."

Maryann Turton, the girl's mother, said schools are erring on the side of being overly cautious to the point of being ridiculous.

"This is tolerance and political correctness gone awry," she said. "This is a much bigger picture than just our daughter in our little town. It is going on everywhere."

Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), agreed.

"It is utterly absurd that we live in an era where parents need to go to federal court," he said, "in order to make sure their daughter can sing 'Awesome God' at her local school talent show."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Get Up Off That Thang!

You know, I've been whining and complaining for SO long about how much extra weight I have to lose and how miserable I am and how I don't have any clothes that fit and how depressed it makes me to just look in the mirror. Sheesh! I'm tired of hearing myself. I can't imagine how my family must feel.

But I had a huge slap-in-the-face when we bought pedometers for each of us in order to do our virtual walk across America with a bunch of other Five In A Row families. I read that to maintain health you need to be getting in at least 10,000 steps a day and if you are trying to lose weight that you need to aim for at least 15,000 per day.

WELL! Let's just say that I sure ain't gonna be losing any pounds with the numbers my pedometer was registering. Darn thing. Surely mine was broken. But, much to my dismay, it was working just fine because on the days that I actually got up and done some work out in the yard with my hubby, I got a whole lotta steps in. Soooo... I got a good look at just how lazy I am. Some days I didn't even reach 5,000 steps! ACK! Now granted, our house isn't very big and I do stay inside most of the time, but come on!

So, I've decided to get up off my fanny and get to movin'. I put it on first thing when I get up in the morning and wear it all day long. Today the kids and I did a Leslie Sansone walking video as well as 20 minutes of Winsor Pilates (well, I did Pilates while my 10 year old daughter complained the whole time... guess what she'll be doing each day with me now?) and even before 10 a.m. I had 5000 steps in! Yay me! Later this afternoon we plan on going outside in the beautiful sunshine and playing and riding bikes!

So, this is to encourage you to make a small investment in a pedometer (ours were only $3.88 at Wal-Mart) but a huge investment in your health and the health of your family. When my kids have their pedometers on they are so much more active, even running in place, just to get the most steps in each day that they can. And getting up off our fanny's and getting active is a good thing for all of us.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Blueberry Bran Breakfast Treats

Blueberry Bran Breakfast Treats
Dig into mini muffins with maxi fruit taste!

Yes, you can still have a muffin for breakfast--a sweet, delicious, real muffin, not an over-sugared cake in disguise. These mini treats pack in the flavor of fresh blueberries and are loaded with fiber, which adds up to satisfying start to the day.


1 1/2 cups unprocessed wheat bran or oat bran

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup 1-percent milk or unflavored soymilk

1/3 cup honey

1 ripe medium banana, mashed with a fork

1 large egg

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blueberries or other berries

Prep Tip: Color, not size, tells you which blueberries are the ripest. Look for berries that are deep purple to blue-black.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat 24 nonstick miniature muffin cups with cooking oil spray.

In a medium bowl, combine bran, flour, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In another medium bowl or in a blender, combine the milk, honey, banana, egg, olive oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in one-third of the liquid mixture. Stir until smooth. Add remaining liquid mixture and stir just until combined. Add blueberries and stir again, but do not over mix.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into each muffin cup. Bake about 8 minutes, or until the tops spring back when pressed gently. Do not overbake. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the cups.

Yield: 24 miniature muffins

Serving Tip: Spread the warm halves of each muffin with a little mashed, ripe banana instead of butter.

Nutritional Values: Fat: 2 g, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Protein: 2 g, Calories: 63 kcal

Recipe courtesy of The Biggest Loser Club

Planning A More Healthy Menu

As I told you before, I am on a quest to find a more healthy way to feed my family. But what exactly IS 'healthy'?

I've been watching a new show on TLC called 'Honey We're Killing The Kids' and it has been a real wake up call for me. Since I was already on this path to finding a more healthy way of eating, seeing this show really gave me the kick I needed to move forward. On this show, they take the family's children and do an age progression of them based on continuing to eat the way the are eating right now. Talk about a scary sight! Then, after 3 weeks of intense changes, they do another age progression based on if they continue living this new healthy lifestyle. The difference is AMAZING! Their skin and hair are so pretty. Their weight is normal. Their teeth are such a beautiful pearly white!

But the route they make these families take is an extreme one. They have to throw out ALL canned or boxed processed food and EVERYTHING with sugar in it. That wouldn't go around here, I can just tell you that. I want my man to be healthy, but I also want him to come home every night! LOL! And besides, what are the chances that these families are really going to stick with this drastic change over the long-run?

So again, I'm back to my original question. What exactly IS 'healthy'? Well, there are some things I know it is NOT, despite what we we're told. Low-fat and fat-free foods scare me now. What exactly do they DO to these foods to make them low-or-no fat but still taste good? Hmmm... makes you wonder, huh? Added artificial colors and flavoring? I don't think so. Just WHERE do those 'added' things come from?

So, in looking over all the different thoughts on the subject and considering the particular needs and temperments of my family, I have decided to just simply do the very best I can and leave the rest up to the Lord. What a concept, huh?

I have been very intrigued by the Feingold program for several years and have obtained one of their 2003 food guides to look over. The quick, basic explanation of foods that are 'Feingold approved' is that they are free of added 'junk'. For example, instead of buying Wal-Mart orange juice we will be drinking Tropicana Pure Premium O.J. and for snacks we will be munching on Cracker Jacks, Stauffer's animal crackers, or Del Monte fruit cups, along with a whole list of other 'healthier' snacks that are free of added flavors and colors. Obviously there's a lot more to Feingold than just this, and I HIGHLY recommend you at least look over the website no matter if you are attempting to feed your family healthier or not. It's important information for EVERYONE. But I am simply going to use the Feingold program as a guide for how I shop and cook from now on.

I will be buying organic as much as I possibly can, and for those things that aren't available organically, I will go by the Feingold foodlist to choose those items that are free of added colors and flavoring. This will allow me to still provide a much healthier menu for my family while not being too overwhelming of a change.

For you see, as a homeschooling mother of 4 children, I don't have the time to spend hours upon hours in the kitchen preparing every single thing we eat from scratch. Sometimes we have to head out quickly and I need to grab some snacks to take for the kids. I don't have time to stop and toast pumpkin seeds or bake homemade oatmeal raisin cookies or any number of other totally-made-from-scratch healthy snacks.

So, as for me and my house, we will eat organic/Feingold style.

Here is a helpful website to help you plan some healthier meals...

*Discovery Health/Food

And from this site you can download this free unit study (Know Your Gene- they offer a new free one each week, I think) and you will be given a $5.00 credit. With my $5.00 I purchased this All Natural Cook Book, which has a lot of helpful tips and advice, along with lots of recipes!

So, here's to a whole new path on the journey of life! May it be a healthy and happy one!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Some Yummy Recipes

I just wanted to share with you what we had for our Memorial Day cook-out, because it was all just so scrumptious!

First of all, my sweet hubby loves baked beans made this way:

*brown 1 lb. of hamburger along with diced onions and green peppers (this was the first time I used frozen pre-diced onions and gr. peppers and it made the prep time SO much quicker and easier, and it tasted delicious). Drain.

*Add this (in a casserole dish) to 2-3 cans of baked beans, approx. 5 TBSP sugar, and approx. 1-1 1/2 c. of ketchup. Mix well.

*Top with strips of uncooked bacon. Generously sprinkle bacon with pepper.

*Cook at 425 degrees for approx. 1 hour.

With the baked beans we also had potatoes and onions:

*Peel and slice potatoes (long-ways) and place in casserole dish.

*Slice onion into several 'rings' and add to potatoes.

*Use 1-2 sticks of butter, slicing into 'pats' and laying all around potatoes.

*Sprinkle top with pepper.

*Cook at 400 degrees for approx. 1 hour.

Our grilled meat for this holiday was pork chops:

*Mix 1-2 cans of crushed pineapple w/ juice, 3/4 c. BBQ sauce, and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon.

*Brush glaze over pork chops continuously as you flip them on the grill. This made the pork chops SO yummy!

I just wanted to share with you what we had for our Memorial Day cook-out, because it was all just so scrumptious!

First of all, my sweet hubby loves baked beans made this way:

*brown 1 lb. of hamburger along with diced onions and green peppers (this was the first time I used frozen pre-diced onions and gr. peppers and it made the prep time SO much quicker and easier, and it tasted delicious). Drain.

*Add this (in a casserole dish) to 2-3 cans of baked beans, approx. 5 TBSP sugar, and approx. 1-1 1/2 c. of ketchup. Mix well.

*Top with strips of uncooked bacon. Generously sprinkle bacon with pepper.

*Cook at 425 degrees for approx. 1 hour.

With the baked beans we also had potatoes and onions:

*Peel and slice potatoes (long-ways) and place in casserole dish.

*Slice onion into several 'rings' and add to potatoes.

*Use 1-2 sticks of butter, slicing into 'pats' and laying all around potatoes.

*Sprinkle top with pepper.

*Cook at 400 degrees for approx. 1 hour.

Our grilled meat for this holiday was pork chops:

*Mix 1-2 cans of crushed pineapple w/ juice, 3/4 c. BBQ sauce, and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon.

*Brush glaze over pork chops continuously as you flip them on the grill. This made the pork chops SO yummy!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ziploc Omlet Recipe

Here's a really cool recipe that even kids can do! Or, if you have guests for breakfast, why not get them involved in a fun breakfast treat? While I wish I could take the credit for coming up with such a neat idea, I got this from Robin on the Five In A Row message boards. Thanks Robin!


If more than one person is making an omlet have everyone write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker.

Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to
combine them.

Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper,
tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc.

Each person adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake. Make
sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can
usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of
boiling water.

Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed! Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake.

Friday, May 19, 2006

What Exactly Does 'Being Healthy' Mean?

There's so much talk about becoming more healthy. But what exactly does 'being healthy' mean?

For the past several years, being healthy to me meant losing the extra weight I've been carrying around. But the older I get and the more I think about things I find myself researching and changing my thinking on so many different things I never even gave thought to before.

Yes, I do need to get rid of this extra weight. But before now I've been willing to take different things in order to help me get thin faster. Now, I'm not too keen on that idea. Who really knows what that stuff does to a person's body. If you are putting something in your body to change how it works (when there really isn't a sickness present) simply because you're impatient and not willing to put in the effort to change your eating habits and get in some daily exercise, then in the end you are no healthier than when you started.

But aside from me needing to lose weight, my husband is a very high candidate for heart disease. Both sides of his family have had significant heart issues and, like me, he also has some extra weight to get rid of. But besides getting in better shape, what else can we be doing to help ensure his heart stays healthy?

What is going to help our bodies function the way God intended them? What's going to help keep our minds sharp and our immune systems working strong? What's going to help ward off many of the diseases and health problems that are so common today?

I know that our lives are in God's hands and that ultimately only He knows when our time to die will come. But I also believe He gave us a brain and common sense to take care of ourselves and those we love. I feel it is my duty and responsibility to do what I can to find what is best for the health of my family.

So as I research and learn new things, I will post them here under the catagory 'Becoming A Healthy Mommy' so you can also learn how to best take care of yourself and your family. I don't claim that everything I find will be the gospel truth, but things that I think are worth looking into, I will share.

And if you're wondering where this thinking has come from all of a sudden, we have a friend who is a very young mother of a 7-year-old and 10-month-old who was just diagnosed out of the blue with stage IV melanoma cancer and given only 4-9 months to live. I had been looking into some things before, but now I am even more determined than ever to learn about what's best and healthiest for our bodies.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wisconsin Parents Mad About School S*x Survey

NOTE: I have replaced some letters in the following story with *'s so my blog will not come up if someone searches for websites containing those particular words.

A questionnaire given to about 400 Port Washington, Wis., High School students about s*xual preference has prompted some parents to demand corrective measures from school officials, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The survey, approved by two teachers but never reviewed by the principal, asked questions such as, "If you have never slept with someone of your same gender, then how do you know you wouldn't prefer it?"

The assignment was intended to accompany the h*m*s*xual-activist sponsored "Day of Silence," when g*y and l*sb**n students bring attention to their s*xual orientation under the guise of eliminating discrimination.

Principal Duane Woelfel called the survey inappropriate and said it violated school policy, which requires parental notification for such topics.

"We were extremely concerned when we found out about it," he said. "We're going to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

The incident is still under investigation, though, and officials have yet to decide if the two teachers will be disciplined.

Lisa Krier, a parent of a Port Washington High student, called the survey a form of s*xual harassment and said she expects the teachers who are responsible to be punished.

"If somebody doesn't call them on it," she said, "it will continue."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What's In Season?

Two weeks ago I started attending Weight Watchers again. Back in 1997 I lost all of my extra weight (36 pounds) and was back to the weight I was all through high school and when I got married. However, soon after that I became pregnant with baby #2. Then baby #3. Then baby #4. Are you seeing a pattern here? If you want to get pregnant, go to Weight Watchers!

Anyway, our 'baby' is now almost 4 1/2 and I'm finding that I just simply can not use the excuse, 'I just had a baby' anymore. After reaching my highest weight ever, I knew that I had to go back to the only thing that has ever worked for me. I've tried it all... low-carb, different diet pills, etc. But until I make up my mind that I'm going to change how I live my life, none of it's going to work.

That's what is so wonderful about Weight Watchers. It's not a diet. It's a way of life. They teach and stress portion control and daily exercise. What a concept! If you don't change the way you're living your daily life, no matter what you do to lose weight, you're not going to be successful.

Some people can follow the WW plan at home without ever having to go to a meeting. Some use the WW e-tools and find great success with that. I, however, have never been able to be successful for any amount of time without going to the weekly meetings. I guess the support and encouragement, along with recipe ideas and other ideas, is what really motivates me to keep going on this journey. The group I am now a part of even has their own email loop going so we can support and encourage each other all through the week too! That has been a tremendous help.

Anyway, I know there are so many of us that need to 'remove' extra weight. I say 'remove' because if you 'lose' something you usually re-find it at some point. I do NOT want to re-find this weight again! I want it GONE FOR GOOD, so, I am 'removing' it.

Each week I will blog about some things I am learning through WW and about recipes or good finds that will assist us on this journey. I hope this will help many of us who are working at being healthy, strong momma's. Remember, our children will do what they see us do, and they will fight some of the same battles we fight if we don't get victory over them. This is one battle I hope my children never have to fight.

So, real quick, what's in season right now? What does the changing season bring us? Fresh fruits and veggies? Grilling? Ice cream? Swimsuits and less bulky clothes? Sometimes summer means we are less likely to take the time to plan our days and our meals. There are a lot of gatherings with family and friends, vacations, and summer-time treats that can sabotage our weight-loss efforts. But if we are not careful, we will enter the fall season in even worse shape than we are right now.

Summer is the perfect time to boost our weight loss efforts. There are all kinds of oppotunities to get outside and walk, work in gardens, play with our children, ride bikes, hike, swim, and so many, many other things. Exercise doesn't have to be a chore. Make it fun! Do something you really enjoy doing.

Also, there are so many delicious fruits and vegetables we can choose from during the summer. Grilling doesn't have to hinder us. Instead of grilling greasy burgers, how about chicken or corn on the cob or even potatoes. There are so many options.

So, we can either look at summer and think, 'Oh no', or we can think of all the advantages summer brings us and really make the most of it!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Problem With Expectations

With Mother's Day so recently behind us I thought it would be a good time to talk about expectations. It seems so often we are hurt because someone didn't do what we thought they should or hoped that they would.

The saying about those we love are the ones who hurt us the worst is true. But have you ever stopped to think about WHY this is true? Could it possibly be because when someone we love doesn't do what we think they should, it hurts. When they talk about us behind our backs, it hurts. But when someone we don't really know or care about does it, we either get mad or just really don't even care. When someone we love doesn't agree with something we're doing, it hurts. Again, when it's someone we only know as an aquaintance, who cares what they think, right? I have found this to be very true when it comes to our decision to homeschool. Knowing our own family members don't agree with us hurts because we feel like they're not taking the time or they don't care enough to listen and understand us and it hurts. But when the cashier at Wal-Mart spews her little snide remard about how unsocialized our children will be, I really could care less. It's none of her business anyway.

So when certain holidays come around, we automatically set ourselves up for disappointment and hurt. Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas. These are days when people we love, or that love us, are SUPPOSED to do things for us and buy us nice gifts, right? Says who?! Let me ask you a question. Just who is it that made the rule that says we're supposed to go out and spend money on these particular days of the year, sometimes money we don't even have to spend, on other people just to prove that we love them? And if we don't, we're eat up with guilt, either self-inflicted or poured on us by others.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional well-thought gift and special treatment. But I don't expect it. That only sets myself up for hurt and disappointment. What means more to me than having one day out of the year where I'm shown love is the million other little things throughout the year that my family does to show me how much they care for me. The hand-drawn pictures and cards from my children. The bushes my sweet hubby cut down for me because he knew how much I hated them. The bagel my precious 7 year old son made for me. The candle my mother in law gave me out of her Home Interior order because she knows how much I love them. The books my mom finds at yard sales she thinks I'll enjoy.

Those are the true expressions of love. Sometimes I get so frustrated with the world's view of what we 'should' do and the guilt that comes if we don't do what everyone else does or expects us to do. How ridiculous.

Listen, as long as we're in this world, people are going to hurt us. That's just part of being human. And you know what? They usually really don't mean to hurt us. But they're only human too, and those things are going to happen. Have you ever stopped to think about the times that maybe we unintentionally hurt or disappointed others? See, that's the thing most people aren't willing to do. It's much harder to look in the mirror than it is to point our finger. But that's exactly what we need to do.

As long as we're in this world the ONLY one that will never hurt us or do us any harm is our precious Lord and Saviour, Jesus. And until we begin to let go of our expectations of others and begin to trust only in Him, we will continue to be hurt and disappointed over and over. And in my opinion, it's just not worth it. What a waste of time to get hurt at others when they're only human.

Are some people selfish and thoughtless? Yes, they certainly are. Should we take the time and effort to show those we love how we feel about them? Absolutely! But we're not going to change anyone by getting hurt and pouting. That only hurts US. That robs us of our joy and peace. How sad for those who are so self-centered that they don't even see how they hurt others. How much more pleasing would we be to our Lord if we instead prayed for those who hurt us instead of allowing the hurt to take root in our hearts?

Just something to think about.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Teacher Apologizes For Asking Students to Write Essay About Murder

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — A high school teacher has apologized for asking students to write about who they would kill and how they would do it, and officials said he will likely keep his job.

Michael Maxwell, who teaches industrial technology at Central High School, said his request that students in his beginning drafting class describe how they would carry out a murder was merely a writing prompt. It was not clear why he asked the drafting class to write fiction.

"I made a horrible mistake that I regret," Maxwell said. "I want to apologize to my students, my colleagues and to the community."

The April 21 writing request, which Maxwell said was not a formal assignment, came to the attention of administrators when a parent of one of the students filed a complaint with Principal Barton Albright.

Albright expressed regret and apologized for Maxwell's "lapse of judgment."

"He's an exemplary person ... this is very out of character," the principal said.

St. Joseph School District spokesman Steve Huff declined to discuss possible disciplinary measures because the matter is considered a personnel issue. But he said the incident probably isn't serious enough to cost Maxwell his job.

About 25 to 30 students from ninth through 12th grades were in the class, Albright said.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Attention All Californians (or those who know someone in CA)

I received this today from Focus On The Family. Please visit their site to send your email.

The California Senate passed legislation today, by a 22-15 vote, that would force public schools to normalize h*m*s*xuality in curriculum.

SB 1437 would require new textbooks to reflect the l*sb**n, g*y, b*s*xual and tr*nsg*nder community in only a positive light and highlight historical figures who may have been g*y.

Barbara McPherson, program manager of legislative affairs for the California Family Council, said debate about the proposal was headed by openly g*y Sen. Sheila Kuehl.

"They compared s*xual orientation to a civil right and to the suffrage movement," McPherson said. "Senator (Richard) Alarcon equated it to illegal immigrants. 'We are all God's children,' he said, 'and this isn't just a choice and God doesn't make a mistake. There is a place for the g*y community where they are such a large part of the population.'"

McPherson said she was amazed at the lack of factual information.

"A large part of the population? I heard it was just 3 percent," she said. "They really are just deluded. I can't say another word."

McPherson said the bill's advocates implied that g*y-friendly curriculum would have a "marked, positive effect on the suicide and drug-use rates among g*y students."

"Where is the proof?" she asked. "They said, 'There have been studies.' Well, we have studies, too."

These studies, she said, prove thousands of people have successfully changed their s*xual orientation from h*m*s*xual to heteros*xual. In fact, Sen. Bill Morrow attempted to point out that the s*xual orientation of historical figures is irrelevant, and that textbooks should reflect known truth.

"And since we are based on accuracy, there is not one scintilla — that was (Morrow's) word — of biological proof that you're born with this, and it just doesn't belong in the curriculum," she said. "He also talked about the imposition of the mandate which makes it illegal to even have a discussion on s*xual orientation in regard to these matters."

Mona Passignano, state issues analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said even local news outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee ran editorials condemning SB 1437.

"Even in California, this bill is not normal," she said. "And if your senator is one of the 22 that voted in favor of SB 1437, they need to feel your disappointment. You need to let them know they are not representing you at all."

The matter now moves to the Assembly for a vote, and McPherson emphasized the need for members to not only to be educated about the issue, but to hear from California residents who don't want a law that forces schools to teach about h*m*s*xuality from just one perspective.

We encourage California residents to contact their Assembly member and demand that he or she vote against SB 1437. You can send e-mail through our new CitizenLink Action Center.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Many Young Americans Unable to Find Louisiana on Map

Despite the wall-to-wall coverage of the damage from Hurricane Katrina, nearly one-third of young Americans recently polled couldn't locate Louisiana on a map and nearly half were unable to identify Mississippi.

Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 fared even worse with foreign locations: six in 10 couldn't find Iraq, according to a Roper poll conducted for National Geographic.

"Geographic illiteracy impacts our economic well-being, our relationships with other nations and the environment, and isolates us from the world," National Geographic president John Fahey said in announcing a program to help remedy the problem. It's hoping to enlist businesses, nonprofit groups and educators in a bid to improve geographic literacy.

Planned is a five-year, multimedia campaign called My Wonderful World that will target children 8 to 17. The goal is to motivate parents and educators to expand geographic offerings in school, at home and in their communities.

They will have their task cut out for them, judging by the results of the survey of 510 people interviewed in December and January.

Among the findings:

• One-third of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map and 48 percent were unable to locate Mississippi.

• Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.

• Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.

• Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.

• While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47 percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.

• While Israeli-Palestinian strife has been in the news for the entire lives of the respondents, 75 percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.

• Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.

• Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world. Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.

Joining in the effort to improve geographic knowledge will be the 4-H, American Federation of Teachers, Asia Society, Association of American Geographers, National Basketball Association, National Council of La Raza, National PTA, Smithsonian Institution and others.

"Geography exposes children and adults to diverse cultures, different ideas and the exchange of knowledge from around the world," said Anna Marie Weselak, president of the National PTA. "This campaign will help make sure our children get their geography — so they can become familiar with other cultures during their school years and move comfortably and confidently in a global economy as adults."

Monday, May 1, 2006

G*y-Themed Storybooks Challenged in Court

Two families have filed suit in federal court just weeks after learning that a second-grade teacher read a story that celebrated a marriage between two men.

Joseph and Robin Wirthlin, along with David and Tonia Parker, argue the school district undermined parental rights by teaching their children about a lifestyle they consider immoral, The Associated Press reported.

A teacher at Estabrook Elementary in Lexington, Mass., read aloud the book, King and King, in which a prince passes up several princesses before falling in love with another prince. Included is a candid illustration of their wedding kiss.

Robin Wirthlin, whose son is in second grade this year, wanted to be the one to teach her child about h*m*s*xuality.

"I think there are people who have a real agenda that they're trying to promote and teach the children," she said.

Just last year, Parker was arrested at Estabrook after he refused to leave the school until officials allowed him to opt his child out of lessons about h*m*s*xuality done under the guise of diversity.

Paul Ash, superintendent of the school district, said since g*y marriage is legal in the state, teachers are just teaching about the world kids live in.

Jeffrey Denner, attorney for the two families, said the school district violated his clients' right to privacy and freedom of religion when they discussed the topic of g*y marriage without permission.

"Parents need to be the ones to determine when it is introduced," he said, "and how it is introduced."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some Interesting Homeschool Statistics

Academic Statistics:

-The average homeschool 8th grade student performs four grade levels above the national average (Rudner study).

-One in four homeschool students (24.5%) are enrolled one or more grades above age level.

-Students who have been home schooled their entire lives have the highest scholastic achievement.

-In every subject and at every grade level of the ITBS and TAP batteries,
homeschool students scored significantly higher than their counterparts in
public and private schools.

-Homeschool profile: Median amount spent on home schooling per child in the US - $450

-Household incomes: 18% of home school families earn less than $25,000, 44% of households between $25,000 and $49,000.

-Religion: Over 75% attend religious services

-Television: 65.3% of 4th grade homeschoolers spend one hour or less per day watching television


-States with High government regulation of home schools - homeschool battery score - 86

-States with Moderate government regulation of home schools - homeschool
battery score - 85

-States with Low government regulation of home schools - homeschool battery score - 86


-Performance of 4th grade home schoolers where at least one parent was
certified - Composite Percentage Score 82

-Performance of 4th grade home schoolers where neither parent was certified - Composite Percentage Score 82

For data above, reference Brian D. Ray, PhD, Home Schooling on the Threshold
(NHERI Publications, PO Box 13939, Salem, OR 97309), and HSLDA, Home Education Across the USA (HSLDA, 17333 Pickwick Dr., Purcellville, VA 20132), and HSLDA, Home Schooling Works, Pass it on! Rudner Report, (HSLDA, 17333 Pickwick Dr., Purcellville, VA 20132)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Six Middle Schoolers Arrested After Planning Massacre

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Police said a group of seventh-graders hatched an elaborate plan to cut off power and telephone service to their middle school, slay classmates and faculty with guns and knives, then escape from their small Alaska town.

The arrest Saturday of six students in North Pole, a town of 1,600 people about 14 miles southeast of Fairbanks, marks the nation's second breakup of an alleged Columbine-style school attack this week. Five Kansas teenagers suspected of planning a shooting rampage at their high school were arrested Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the massacre in suburban Colorado.

The Alaskan seventh-graders had been picked on by other students and wanted to seek revenge, Police Chief Paul Lindhag said. They also disliked staff and students, he said.

The students had planned to disable North Pole Middle School's power and telephone systems, allotting time to kill their victims and flee from town, Lindhag said.

A parent alerted police of rumors of an attack, Lindhag said. He would not elaborate on the case, or what kind of documented evidence led to the arrests.

"These are the ones who had major roles in this," Lindhag said. "All our information came through our interviews."

The students, who were being held at the Fairbanks Youth Facility, could face charges of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, authorities said.

The North Pole boys, whose names were not released, were among 15 students at the school who were suspended after a parent tipped police Monday evening. A child told the parent that rumors were circulating about the alleged plot, which had been postponed from Monday until Tuesday, Lindhag said.

"We feel very thankful that a student felt they could talk to an adult, and very thankful that the adult had the wisdom to contact the North Pole Police Department," said Wayne Gerke, an assistant superintendent with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

The suspended students were identified by officers working with a school safety official. Parents were advised to keep their children away from 500-student campus Tuesday. Lindhag said authorities don't believe all the suspended students were involved, but officials erred on the side of caution.

"There were a lot of rumors flying around," Lindhag said.

Locals are "shocked, saddened and heartbroken about whole situation," but area schools have policies to deal with such a crisis, Gerke said.

The other students remain suspended while the investigation continues, and police will have a presence at the school for the rest of the year, officials said.

In Riverton, Kan., school officials learned that a threatening message had been posted on the Internet, authorities said. The boys, ages 16 to 18, will stay in custody through the weekend while prosecutors decide whether to file charges, a judge ruled Saturday.

Kansas School Shooting Foiled After MySpace Messages Intercepted

RIVERTON, Kan. — Five teenage boys accused of plotting a shooting rampage at their high school on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre were arrested Thursday after a message authorities said warned of a gun attack appeared on the Web site

Sheriff's deputies found guns, ammunition, knives and coded messages in the bedroom of one suspect, Sheriff Steve Norman said. Authorities also found documents about firearms and references to Armageddon in two suspects' school lockers.

"What the resounding theme is: They were actually going to do this," Norman said.

Norman said he would ask prosecutors to bring charges of conspiracy to commit murder against the teens, ages 16 to 18. Attorney General Phill Kline said in a news release that his office was taking over the prosecution at the request of the Cherokee County attorney.

Deputies' interviews with the suspects indicated they planned to wear black trench coats and disable the school's camera system before starting the attack between noon and 1 p.m. Thursday, Norman said. The suspects apparently had been plotting since the beginning of the school year.

Officials at Riverton High School began investigating on Tuesday after learning that a threatening message had been posted on, he said.

The message discussed the significance of April 20, which is Adolf Hitler's birthday and the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School attack in Colorado, in which two students wearing trench coats killed 13 people and committed suicide, the sheriff said.

"The message, it was brief, but it stated that there was going to be a shooting at the Riverton school and that people should wear bulletproof vests and flak jackets," Norman said.

School officials identified the student who posted the message and talked to several of his friends, Norman said.

But Riverton school district Superintendent David Walters said the significance of the threat didn't become clear until Wednesday night, after a woman in North Carolina who had chatted with one of the suspects on received more specific information that there would be about a dozen potential victims, at least one of whom was a staff member. She notified authorities in her state, who contacted the sheriff's department, Norman said.

Norman said that the potential victims were popular students and that the suspects may have been bullied.

"I think there was probably some bullying, name calling, chastising," he said. He also said investigators had learned the suspects were computer buffs who liked violent video games.

About 900 students in all grades go to school on the campus.

Riverton is an unincorporated area of about 600 people along what once was the famed Route 66 in southeast Kansas, near the Oklahoma and Missouri borders.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Boys Accused of School Massacre Plot Charged

CAMDEN, N.J. — Four teenagers accused of plotting to kill about 25 people in a lunch-period massacre at a high school were charged Thursday under a terrorism law created after the September 11 attacks.

The boys, ages 14 to 16, were arrested Wednesday after police heard about the alleged plot from administrators at the school, where three of the teens are students. Their names were not released because of their ages.

Authorities said the teens planned to attack students, teachers and others at Winslow Township High.

The four boys appeared in family court, and a judge ordered them held for psychiatric evaluations.

The father of one of the boys said the charges were a mistake: "I think it's just kids hanging out together and having a little wild time, that's all."

Authorities said the boys did not have any weapons to carry out the alleged plot. But one law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they tried to buy a handgun.

The charges are serious enough that prosecutors could ask a judge to move the case to adult criminal court. Prosecutors have 30 days to consider.

No one in New Jersey has been convicted under the terrorism law, which carries a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison without parole.

Rhode Island Kids Won't Hear Abstinence Message

The Rhode Island Department of Education said 'No' to an abstinence-only s*x education program because it was "not consistent with Rhode Island health education standards," The Advocate reported.

Heritage of Rhode Island (HRI) developed a program called, "Right Time, Right Place," designed to teach kids the benefit of abstinence until marriage. A three-year federal grant provided the funding for the program, which, according to Feminist Daily News, reached more than 600 students in two school districts last year.

The Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against HRI claiming the program contained religious material and did not meet the state's s*x education standards.

The Rhode Island Department of Education reviewed the complaint and the material, ultimately concluding the curriculum did not meet standards which require instruction on c*nd*m use and the prevention of s*xually transmitted disease.

Chris Plante, executive director of HRI, was disappointed with the decision. Plante said the abstinence-only instruction was not meant to replace current s*x-education programs in the state, only to compliment them.

Bill Would Force Schools to Support Homos*xuality

Gender-neutral bathrooms in public schools? Girls running for prom king? Those are just a few of the possibilities which could result if the California Legislature passes SB1437 which would force schools to adopt an exclusively pro-h*m*s*xual message.

Ron Prentice, who heads the California Family Council, a pro-family group based in Riverside, said California lawmakers are being pressured to adopt the bill, which would transform public schools into politically correct bastions.

"What this specifically does is reflect negatively upon historic faith perspectives in public education," he said.

Prentice said SB 1437 would prevent textbooks, instructional materials or teaching content that would "adversely affect persons because of their gender -- either real or perceived -- or s*xual orientation."

Bob Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, said the main threat this bill poses is that it deals with gender "in such a way as to deny that there are really naturally born boys and girls."

"What it does is adopt a definition of 'gender' that says it can't be 'stereotypically associated with a person's assigned s*x at birth,' " he said. "That means that if you think you're a girl, even if you're a boy, you're to be encouraged in that fantasy."

If adopted and implemented in California classrooms, he said the legislation would wreak havoc on children's understanding of themselves and others.

"It opens the door for the entire h*m*s*xual/trangendered agenda -- which is to confuse people into believing that you can be anything you want to be, that s*x itself is arbitrary and that marriage shouldn't be limited to a man and a woman," Knight added. And the legislation would ban any opinions to the contrary.

"When the bill forces teachers to talk only positively about h*m*s*xuality, what it's saying is you have to lie about it," he said. "You can't bring in the negative health data, all the emotional consequences, and the effects on families. They're basically setting educators up to mislead kids directly on this topic. I don't know of any other topics in schools that are treated like this. You have to teach something a certain way, even though it violates millions of people's deeply held beliefs."

Prentice added: "This is all the incremental activity of the h*m*s*xual agenda, and it certainly appears that the next step in the public-school education code in California would be hate-speech codes for anything that might adversely affect gender, whether real or perceived."

Knight said the bill is touted as being part of education reform -- but it's really about "corrupting education and making it a fully owned subsidiary of the h*m*s*xual activist movement."

The bill is being pushed through the Legislature by Sen. Sheila Keuhl, a self- identified l*sb**n who has beenpromoting the entire gay educational agenda.

In her earlier life, Keuhl, who worked under the name Sheila James, was an actress best known for portraying the character Zelda Gilroy on the popular '60s TV sitcom, "Dobie Gillis." Her appealing personality coupled with her law-professor's knowledge of the law, has gone far to advance the g*y agenda in California, Knight said.

"'Zelda' is definitely doing some incredibly negative things in this state," Prentice said.

Pro-family activists hope this bill never gets near Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but there is real possibility it might. It has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"The governor is one of our last stops," Prentice said. "We're certainly hoping that, if this gets to his desk, it would be vetoed. We would encourage people to call the governor's office to make that statement."

Prentice said he also encourages conservative Christians in the state to speak out about this bill with co-workers, church members and friends.

TAKE ACTION: If you are a California resident, please contact Gov. Schwarzenegger and ask him to veto SB 1437, should it be passed by the Legislature. In addition, please contact your state senators and Assembly member and ask them to oppose the bill.

For help in contacting your state lawmakers, please see the CitizenLink Action Center.