Monday, October 21, 2013

Arthur in school and remodel work

After nearly two months of paperwork, meetings, testing, emails, evaluations, observation and detailed IEP, Arthur started high school last Thursday. He attends from 8:30 to 10:30 each day. Today, his third day, his teacher walked him out to meet me at the gate and got him to tell me about the origami paper boat he had made. Later, he told his dad about it! The word "origami" wasn't quite understandable till I explained it, but already we've seen an increase in the words he is initiating and using, with an effort to say many of them more clearly.

This past weekend in the lovely weather he helped me carry the sawhorses and a piece of plywood out from the garage to the backyard to set up a work station for sanding the trim boards for his room. We often remembered to get him to say the words of what we are doing or the tools we are using. He got to man the electric sander that is shaped like a baby clothes iron to sand the wide trim boards. Then Dad would sand the edges and tack cloth off the dust before I rubbed the stain on them on top of the covered ping pong table on the porch. Arthur's had a big part in remodeling his room, from pulling staples out of the floor to rolling paint on big areas of his walls and closet, to laying out the wood floor puzzle pieces to sanding the trim! His new blinds are installed so when his trim goes in, his room will be the first all the way finished room of the remodel!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Arthur's Education

Last Monday, the day came for Arthur and me to observe and experience the classroom #418 from 8:30-10:30 am for Special Needs high school students at Kamiakin. Upon entering the classroom, the first person we saw was Eser, Arthur's best friend from Vista Elementary School, 6 years ago! They both remembered each other and shook hands.

After the class preliminaries where 2 teachers and 5 adult aides help 19 students read and mark their calendars with the day's news, Arthur and Eser and three other students walked across the sidewalk with two aides to room #348 for academics with me along, observing. They read a story about Cloudy 2, the new sequel movie to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs just coming out. Arthur sat near Eser, taking his queues from him on how to follow the handout. (On Thursday at the SmartMAp trade show, Dennis won a $30 gift certificate to the theatre, so on Friday we all enjoyed watching Cloudy 2 together the day it came out!)

When the group returned to Rm #418, they were divided into teams for life skills. Eser and Arthur were assigned to sweep the kitchen floor and unload the dishwasher, while the two young women stacked and tied up bundles of newspaper. (The other young man went to choir). In the half glass kitchen room, Eser showed Arthur how to hold the broom properly. Soon Arthur and Eser were outdoing each other in dramatic sashaying across each row as they took turns sweeping the grid marked on the floor. As they (and the aide!) were laughing, Eser snorted, which sent Arthur into spasms of laughter so that he rolled on the floor. After they got it all into the dustpan, they moved onto the dishwasher. Eser handed Arthur each dish, and with a flourish and a wiggle, Arthur put each one in the cabinet across the room. Their good humor helped them get all the work done in quick time!

When the teams switched, Eser threw a huge stack of papers together hastily, so had to start over to make a small, neater stack, just up to the line taped on the wall. Arthur and the aide watched him, then the aide had Arthur tie the first bundle before he stacked up the next one for Eser to tie. Arthur was very deliberate and precise, wiggling at first with each added paper, then just steady work. Soon it was time for lunch (at 10:30!) so time for us to go.

Dennis has given Arthur three music lessons in the past couple weeks. He's getting him to count to four over and over in an even rhythm, and hold down and pluck one bass string in that same, even rhythm. Keeping it even is the hardest thing for Arthur at this point. It's as if he thinks, once I know how to do this, why can't I do it faster and faster! But Dennis is very patience. When I tried to teach Arthur a few years ago, I was not able to get him to repeat 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 over again, he kept trying to go to 5-6-7, so we have real progress. He is also now using the same song sheets we use at church, cognizant of the titles and words, whereas before he wanted to use his own songbook without regard that the words were not what we were singing.

Yesterday, Arthur and I were sitting at the computer ready to Skype with Bethany and her children. I was going to read everyone a story called Love You Forever. (If I have ever read this book to Arthur, it was only once and quite a while ago.) While we waiting for them to call, I asked Arthur if he would like to read the book out loud to me.  He did just that! Before they called, he read the first two pages, following each line, nearly every noun understandable, the other words made with sounds not understandable, ending with the word, "crazy", which was the last word on the page! I was amazed!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

3 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons erythritol
2 packets plain stevia powder

Whisk the eggs, then add and mix the above ingredients together in a medium bowl while melting

2 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup peanut butter

Stir in the c. oil and p. butter, then add and stir in

1 cup almond meal

Bake 12 large or 24 smaller cookies at 350 for 15 minutes (less for small cookies) on buttered cookie sheet.

These puffed up nicely. A good snack low in carbs and sugar, high in protein and enough fat to satisfy for hours!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A year ago . . .

A year ago, Chuck and Mimi were here reconstructing our bathroom along with Dennis. Today, I found a picture of that event to post!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Eating high on the hog!

Dennis and I have been venturing out into a new paradigm. For years, we've all been told over and over that two reasons we have an obesity epidemic is because people eat too much and do too little, and that most fat, especially saturated fat, is bad for you. Not only will fat make you fat, it will clog your arteries, kill you early, etc. Therefore, plans to lose weight nearly always severely limit fat, except Atkins, which touts high protein and low carb with some fat.

Then we had a neighbor down the street try a new way of eating called low carb high fat (LCHF) who posted on FB about it. Wanting to avoid diabetes that runs in his family, he lost 60 pounds and his wife lost 40. Both of them brought their high triglycerides and blood sugar levels down to low, healthy levels. We had started experimenting with eating less carbs and more fat, and found a great cookbook at Barnes and Noble by a guy in Sweden who lost more than 100 pounds with LCHF and gained a much healthier heart and circulatory system.

Since we still felt like we didn't know enough, we had our neighbors over to see how it all worked for them. Besides sharing how they did it, they told us about the Diet Doctor online who has explanations for why and how to do LCHF that we are just beginning to explore. He also interviews other doctors on videos who explain their research and experience in the realm of how and why LCHF produces better health. They explain how and why the two reasons given above for the obesity epidemic are not true.

Today we came home from church to face a package of thawed hamburger, two zucchini and a bunch of kale. Usually I make a kima with the burger and zucchini, adding onions, garlic and curry seasonings. But then Dennis recalled my sister saying you could make pizza crust with zucchini and eggs and we were off! He discovered we had bacon we could use for bacon bits in the kale salad plus bacon on the pizza. He started on the salad and frying 4 slices of bacon while I worked on the zucchini pizza crust (from an online recipe) and browned the hamburger into an italian spiced tomato sauce with onions and mushrooms. Dennis sauteed the sliced mushrooms first in the bacon fat (very tasty!) before they went into the sauce. Arthur came out and grated two cheeses. Dennis added red onion and sun ripened tomato to the kale and bacon bits,  I added some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and s&p, then he added feta crumbles and a tad of stevia. We built the pizza with the italian meat sauce and the cheeses with pepperoni slices in neat concentric circles by the aproned Arthur. The pizza baked for 15 more minutes and we were ready to eat!

Because I hadn't baked the zucchini crust long enough to make it hold together for handling before adding the toppings, it was more like a layered dish we ate with forks that tasted great, as did the kale salad. Since we just learned that to lose weight with LCFF you need to keep your carbs under 50 grams for the day, we have to learn to track our carbs and the pounds should start coming off. In the meantime, we are eating high on the hog, enjoying a great variety of meals and feeling full, with less need to snack and less achey joints.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


The year of 2013 is shaping up for us as one of continual transition. With Arthur, with Artmil, with Dennis turning 65 next year and being required to go on Medicare, with our health insurance, our status quo is anything but!

Because Arthur turned 18 on March 1st, we had initiated the process of becoming his legal guardians at the close of 2012. After the court appointed us his guardians in May, paper work to be filed with the state about how we plan to spend his money the first year was prepared with the lawyer's help. Since Arthur has no estate, this assumes he will receive some form of state aid funds that we would oversee and report on. Our lawyer and guardian ad litem both encouraged us to apply at the Social Security Administration on his behalf for a monthly stipend to defray his living expenses.

He was denied Social Security Disability because he has not ever worked, but was awarded Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, in less than a month! We opened a guardianship bank account for him before we applied for SSI, and within a week, two months of payments had been electronically deposited into it, pending approval! Another astounding byproduct was the fruit of the government streamlining their notoriously inefficient bureacracy: the SSI application was automatically forwarded to the DSHS system so that Arthur was also awarded medical coupons right away (also pending his approval for SSI.) This swift approval, now in place and activating these government programs, appears to have been based on the faxed blood work report establishing he does have Trisomy 21 (down syndrome) that I had kept in his files since right after his birth.

At Artmil we underwent a major change in April when Kathy left for work at her brother's firm and we hired a full time web guy. (Kathy was my daily prayer partner so adjusting to the loss of sharing and praying about our concerns has made dealing with all the other transition more difficult for me.) Dennis has joined Business Network International to find and help new customers and has increased the amount of time and effort he is giving to Artmil toward reinventing it once again to meet the changes of the times and the challenges of our economy. Therefore we have been doing less remodeling and less bluegrass. We hope to move toward semi-retirement from Artmil but this year isn't shaping up to be that transition time yet.

In a move to decrease our hefty health insurance premium, we have moved to Medi-Share as of next month. This is a Christian organization that qualifies under Obamacare as health coverage though it is not insurance but rather a method of sharing health cost needs different members have. Because Arthur has medical coupons now,  our outgo for catastrophic coverage will be a fraction of what we had been paying. And because Dennis turns 65 next year, with his going on Medicare, our premiums or share may be further reduced.

Wish I could say I have sailed through all these changes but I haven't. I have prayed and praised the Lord at times and I have complained bitterly at times and gone "on strike" in my heart. What I am learning is that fear is something to be faced and gone through, that it is part of the fallen world we live in and needs to be reckoned with to keep from being paralyzed by it. Courage is not the absence of fear (my old belief). Courage is facing the fearful circumstances with trust in God to fight the battle in faith. Refusing to complain, choosing to be thankful, to keep on praying and trusting and living one day at a time trusting in Him-- those are the lessons. To keep working when everything is hard and scary and uncomfortable and seems useless. To keep encouraging myself in the truth, to stay in the Word daily. Facing my laziness engendered by fear allowed to go unchecked hasn't been pleasant, but God is faithful. He never gives up and leaves me to myself.

We still have our little church which so far hasn't changed, so everything isn't in transition. But in another way, circumstances and people are changing all the time, they don't really stay the same-- that is just an illusion that makes us feel secure. In truth, everything is winding down in this sinful fallen world, including our bodies and minds. Only those souls who have been filled with God's Holy Spirit are delivered from this decay.  They are being renewed daily in their new, inner man by Him and they cannot be shaken when everything that can be shaken is shaken, for they are anchored on the Rock. "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our third bathtub and other Craigslist furniture

At work this week, Andy taught Dennis how to put a search on Craigslist. In next to no time, great old cast iron bathtubs were showing up online, ones that had just been posted. In Spokane, one family had removed their tub from their attic bathroom in their home built in 1913 near Manito Park. So Monday afternoon we drove up and bought it from them. They gave us the pedestal sink as well; Dennis would have liked to take the old toilet also but stopped himself! Four of us lifted the heavy tub onto the pick-up bed, then added the sink and pedestal, all padded and tied with ropes for the drive home.

Wednesday eve, Dennis and I moved the second tub (fiberglass, clawfoot, too short, not yet installed) out of the bathroom into the garage and got everything prepared for the move in of the new-old tub today. Arthur and I drove over to Artmil at 9 am to hold down the fort at work. Soon, Dennis, Andy, Chris and Derek drove over to our house with the furniture dolly to move the tub out of the truck into the bathroom. In less than an hour, they were back to work with teasing reports of how many dents they'd made in the walls, how three of the claw feet had gotten broken off, etc. but actually it had all gone very well. The new tub, made in 1912, resembles the one we had upstairs in our house on Stanford Street in Springfield. I am looking forward to stretching out in this one! (Our first tub acquired for the bathroom remodel was a huge fiberglass jetted tub that Lowe's gave us since it was scratched. We decided not to use it but it hasn't made it to the dump yet! The second tub will go into our smaller bathroom when it gets remodeled.)

Andy and Dennis had found a couple bookcases and a dresser via Craigslist at different times earlier. The first bookcase was solid wood, four shelves, maybe '50's, bought for a song at an estate sale reeking of cigarette odor. We used it for toys and books while Kaley and children were here. Last weekend I had time to clean it thoroughly with 3 dousings of vinegar water, finished with Howard's Dark Oak Restore-a-Finish-- came out very nice. The second was a three shelf lawyer bookcase from the Franklin County Courthouse, dark oak, about 100 years old in very good condition. Now all the books and music in the family room have homes and the last of our four plain, tall oak bookcases is removed to Artmil. The dresser is for me, since the one I had been using is now in the guest room. The antique oak dresser has a mirror, a curved front and lots more drawer space. We found it at Foelber's home in Richland, a family who remembered Zach from Bethel from years ago.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Family Time

Kaley and Keziah, Zion and Kacia stayed here with us for two weeks. They just flew home yesterday. I thought it would be good to try to remember what we did while they were here.

On the way here from the airport in Spokane on Thursday, May 30, Keziah and Zion climbed trees at a rest stop while Grandpa took photos of them that he posted on Instagram. Kaley needed that time to nurse Kacia, who turned 7 months old while she was here. Keziah is nearly 6 and Zion is 3 1/2.

They explored our newly remodeled rooms when they arrived, then we had supper and played outside on the swing set and the trampoline. The weather was sunny and warm and still nearly the whole time they were here! At bedtime, I read them stories on the couch in the family room from new old books I'd picked up at a garage sale.

Arthur gave up his bedroom so Keziah and Zion could sleep there near their mother, who was in the guest room with Kacia. Arthur slept out in the shed with his dad for company that first night.

On Friday morning, they explored the toys and books I had gathered in the family room. Kacia tasted the blocks in the Noah's Ark model. Arthur joined Dennis at work so I could take Kaley and children to Target, where we found clothes for each child. I went to work after lunch, thinking that Paul wasn't due in until suppertime. He called at 2:30, already at the Pasco Airport, so Dennis went to get him and we all enjoyed him at supper with us! We played croquet somewhat hilariously out in the back yard, then we played music together in the family room before bed.  Paul held the phone with Facetime so Daddy Zach deployed in Qatar could read a story to his children! Zach called most mornings and evenings to share lives for a time, him being on the opposite schedule of us. Sometimes he would pray for our meal or recite scripture to us he'd been memorizing.

Paul slept out with Arthur the week he was here with us. Arthur kept his clothes and rags, shows and the laptop out there and would escape whenever we let him but we got him to join us and play often. He was great about sharing all his toys with the visiting children. Sometimes he would hold his ears when the baby cried but mostly he was very patient with everything.

Saturday morning, Dennis, Arthur and I left home about 8:00 to head to the Pasco Farmers Market to help get set up for the play date we had with other musicians to publicize the upcoming Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival. Arthur set up his computer with dvd's behind the stage. Our music started at 9:00. Paul brought Kaley and children about 10:30 so they got to hear and see the band play. After the bend finished at 11:00, we stopped at Starbucks, then drove onto to Ethan's graduation party at Craig and Martha's where Paul and Kaley got to visit some of the Millers who were not yet on vacation. Zion napped, Keziah was shy and Kacia charmed everyone! That evening when we did music together at home, Keziah and Zion "played" instruments and sang with us just like they had seen our group play and sing together earlier that day!

Sunday, we drove over to Artmil to have a kid-friendly church service there with Loretta Maki who joined us. Dennis led action songs while I played guitar and Paul played uke bass after his lessons from Dennis on Friday and Saturday. With fruit leather & water, paper & markers, we watched and listened to Grandpa read the creation story, A is for Adam, that also presents the Gospel.

After lunch and a short nap, we took off for Palouse Falls in two vehicles since neither could hold all eight of us! I took care of "the babycake" (my name for Kacia) while the others walked down closer to the falls. Kacia and I explored the picnic area near the metal safety fence on the rock ledge. We discovered eight creatures that looked like a cross between a beaver, a porcupine and a prairie dog! After exploring further, I found a sign that identified them as marmots. Kaley said they were the fattest marmots she'd ever seen, obviously fed by humans. Dennis got some good pictures of Zion down with his nose too close to the mouth of a marmot!

On Monday Paul bought Arthur a mini iPad and taught him to take photos and make videos with it. Arthur made a video with scads of short clips, and played back the whole thing every time he added another clip to it. He filmed us playing bluegrass music, then put other music to his video! Since he went to bed before Paul, while he was alone he videoed himself talking seriously a long time about wanting a girl and other heart rending stuff.

On Tuesday, Jen Miller came to visit with her two little girls, Elli and Ava, who played together with Keziah and Zion and Kacia, all outside enjoying the glorious weather.

Paul worked several hours, then took Zion to find a bike. They put it together and then we gathered all the helmets we could find around the place but all were extra large! So Kaley wrapped a dish towel around Zion's head like a turban under one helmet and we went out in the street in front of the house. Paul had gotten his red 16" Diamondback fixed so he rode it with Keziah on the back tire bars while Zion rode and then learned how to mount his new bike, taller than he was used to. Kacia sat in the grass or I held her while Kaley and Arthur took pictures. Dennis worked to get the trailer ready to take it out to the campsite at Sacajawea, filling it with water and stuff from the garage.

Wednesday morning Dennis hitched the trailer to the truck, first time without any assistance! Zion was up so we took him out to the campground and unhitched the trailer there, meeting our fine neighbors on each side. When we got back home, we realized we'd forgotten to take the programs so Keziah and I drove out with those, giving her a chance to see it too. Noon held the promise of Keziah's luncheon date with Paul. They both got dressed up and went to Shari's for lunch. Later, after supper, we all drove out in our two vehicles to enjoy the evening at Sacajawea, playing a few songs at the campsite.

Thursday morning at 10:00, Kaley drove her children off to a play date with Jen, Meridith and Mallory and all their children in West Pasco. If she had made it, 8 of the 12 great-grandchildren of Floyd and Joan would have been together, but, alas, she never found the home where they were meeting-- I should have driven them. She did make it back home at 12:30 after a long 'adventure'!

When Zion woke from his nap, Paul took him to a dirt racing track near the Richland Airport. After riding a while up and down those hills Zion seemed tired, but then he got a second wind, singing "This little light of mine", pedaling on and on with new strength!

Jen had invited us to a jewelry (made in 3rd world countries) party at her parent's home on Thursday evening so Kaley and her children and I drove there while Dennis, Paul and Arthur drove out to spend the night at the campsite after jamming with some of the other campers. They returned Friday morning so both Paul and Dennis could get a little work done before we all packed up to go out after lunch to campout until Sunday.

The 10th Annual Sacajawea Blue Grass Festival and Dutch Oven Rendevous was a big success, both for the organization who puts in on and for us as a family. The weather was great, the children enjoyed the concerts and jamming, both at our campsite and with neighbors. Zion got to ride his bide around and got lost the first time! But the president of MCTAMA, Nancy Burgess found and kept him till Paul found him. After that he rode with company! Kacia loved playing outside on the mat with her toys and would rock in rhythm to the beat of the music as she had done at home. She was pulling together and practicing all the skills to crawl during the two weeks here. She screamed for an hour near midnight the first night, then Keziah woke with growing pains, but other than that our sleep was pretty peaceful. Zion, Paul, Dennis and Arthur slept out in our big two room tent while all the ladies slept in the Jayco.

On Saturday, Rochelle Hopp drove out from town to visit us and soon Kyle and Erin Shannon arrived by bike. We visited with them at our blue checked covered picnic table until it was time for Rochelle to drive Paul to the airport to fly to LA for a work engagement there. (But not before he got to show off on the uke bass!) We all hugged him goodbye, glad for all the fun and special things we each got to do with him. After lunch Arthur, Kaley, Kacia and I visited the Interpretive Center while Zion and Dennis napped. We learned about the houses the Indians made of river reeds sewn togethe, amazing facts about Sacajewea, etc. Dennis was jamming with Foghorn Stringband and his friends Ken and Lowell at Ken's campsite.

Later, while Kaley and Kacia napped, I took Zion and Keziah down near the point of land in the park at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. This is where Lewis and Clark camped back in the 1800's. Two large, old model full sail pirate-type ships were fake fighting each other with booms as they skidded across the water down the Columbia. After we watched them out of sight, we collected tiny shells and rocks at the water's edge. Then we scurried home to be in time for their favorite concert, Top String, 5 young people ages 12 to 18 from two homeschooling families. All five had helped teach the young people's class earlier that Keziah took part in for a bit. After their set, Foghorn Stringband came on. Soon Kaley, Keziah and Zion all went to the sidelines to dance-- it was real old time toe-tappin' music! Later Arthur joined them-- that boy is always ready to dance!

The neighbors on our left were impressed that our whole family made music together. Dennis talked with them and found out he had been the owner of Color Press in Walla Walla back a ways, a firm Artmil had used for print when he was owner and we were named White Stone!

Sunday after the Gospel sing and Top String again, we started tearing down the camp, but left before all was done since Arthur and Dennis would be coming later in the truck and would finish up when they were ready to leave. I drove Kaley and children to Jack Miller's 3rd b-day party, held in a big gym behind the mall with all kinds of gear for little kids. Keziah and Zion did the zip line and other stuff while I entertained Kacia on baby toys. Kaley got to chat with Meridith, Jen and Jessica Miller as well as Craig & Martha.

Monday morning Jen brought her girls again to our house to visit. I got Arthur to play outside with everyone part of the time and got the bills paid inside! So much of our time was spent outdoors. Kacia particularly liked it outside in the baby swing; it was often a tonic for fussiness. One day I showed Keziah and Zion the sand box that Dennis and Arthur built two years ago up on the ledge, covered with the old red, metal saucer. They dug "down to the sewer" in the shade of the cedar tree, surrounded by ivy vines that well camouflaged the site. Another day we stuck small stuffed animals up in the arborvitaes and had Batman and Spiderman rescue them!

Arthur and I went to work several of the afternoons. Kaley took Keziah to the craft store one day while we were at work. They got me some fabric for making children stuff as well as Keziah got some fun craft supplies. Another time, Paul encouraged her in her watercolor painting when it became frustrating. The wading pool they used for a bathtub within the shower was also used outside for water fun for all three children. They played with medicine syringes I'd saved for years and realized I would never use again! Shasta stayed pretty scarce but George accepted all the new residents of our home and often joined them outside like he does with us. Our meals were delicious and varied, thanks to good ideas from Kaley and a box of asparagus we bought early in their visit. Keziah and I made one supper together.

After supper, Dennis worked with Zion and Arthur to make little wooden racing cars from kits he'd bought at Lowe's. This experience helped them become better friends, less competitive. Kaley, Keziah, Kacia and I walked to Vista Park to enjoy the swings, slide and teeter totter there. 

Tuesday we climbed Flat Top, a short but steep sandy hill in West Richland. Since Arthur wouldn't fit in my car he stayed with Dennis at work, and it was a good thing as climbing in that deep sand was not a snap! Of course, after pictures at the top, Zion ran all the way down in a flash. Keziah had to go slower with us as she hadn't tennies to wear. Kacia didn't fuss the whole trip with Kaley carrying her, wishing she had her baby back pack! We met Grandpa and Uncle Arthur for lunch at the Thai place behind the mall for a scrumptious buffet!

After supper, Kaley treated us to organic yoghurt and toppings at Finnegan Frost, partly owned by Michael Miller, Jack's dad! Then we sang some songs, read some stories, prayed our prayers and topped off the night and their visit with a wrestling session, requested by Zion!

Wednesday we got ready to for the drive to Spokane as Dennis took Arthur to work with him. Before we left, Kaley got a text from a friend in Colorado Springs that fires had already burned 100 homes not too many miles from where they live. Thankfully, Kacia made it through the flight in peace and they arrived home to a voluntary evacuation, so stayed unpacked, ready to leave if necessary. Thankfully, they did not have to leave their home, and good thing because Kaley's family was coming to celebrate Keziah's b-day!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Home School Never Stops

I was raised in the 50s and 60s. I was not well related to my older sister (we ignored each other or fought), and my parents, who both worked full-time outside the home, were busy, tired and unhappy with life, and my younger sister was 8 years younger, like a play toy to me. My preferred world, my real life, was public school.

My elementary school still had big windows that let fresh air and light into our classrooms, George Washington framed on the wall by the Stars and Stripes, and young, pretty, happy teachers who often would retire as soon as they started their own families. There was time to do all kinds of art. We got great stories read aloud to us everyday after lunch recess with our heads on our desks to rest. A music teacher came in once a week to lead us in the glories of choral music. Thanks to a great phonics teacher, reading, writing and spelling were a snap for me so I got affirmation there. Everyone seemed to value me at school.

In the mid 70s, I had a part-time job as a hall monitor in the new junior high in the town where I grew up. School was very different now, thus my job had been born to help keep order. The kids were disrespectful of authority, smoked pot out back with the principal's knowledge, trashed the lunch room everyday and some bullies intimidated others from being able to use the restrooms. I decided right then my children, should I have any, would not go to public school.

It wasn't until the mid 80s I discovered the concept of home education from a Focus on the Family program with Dr. Raymond Moore. Married now with two young children, I was thrilled to find a way to teach them that did not require the expense of private Christian school. I plunged in and read everything I could find, implemented everything I could, bought into the belief that education begins at birth.

But as my children grew in number and age, it became increasingly difficult for me to do what I wanted and needed to do in their home education. I missed the affirmation of the teachers who had liked me and my fellow students who had valued me. That was all I knew experientially about school; all my homeschool knowledge was theoretical. I lacked maturity and discipline to do what was required of me as my children's teacher without any outside affirmation. My empty, valueless feeling was strong. Also, my working-outside-the-home mother had not been an at home model for me. I didn't even know how to be a stay at home mom, much less one who educated her children at home!

The discontent I experienced, the lack of value I sensed, the absence of feeling accomplished and successful at what I was doing did not make me dig in and work harder. I needed to learn how to motivate my children rather than to control them. I needed to work hard at overcoming my lacks in hands-on home education so they could learn to work hard. Instead, I figured I needed to be developing myself, my writing, speaking, singing, sewing, etc. I thought I just had a thankless job and needed to find value somewhere else, in some loftier aspirations where others would affirm me.

Of course, that just made everything more difficult and caused me to do even a poorer job at mothering, home making and home educating. I eventually drifted into doing those things much as my mother had lived, as busy, tired and unhappy, even though I was not working outside the home as she had! Perhaps the worst fruit of all was I taught my children by my example to be discontent with whatever they were presently doing, to always long for time to do what is really important and valuable but out of reach, because what you are doing now isn't all that.

In God's mercy, He gave me a son with Down Syndrome, who will never be done learning and will not move away. I am slowly learning to do hard things, to be content, to be affirming instead of critical and controlling, and Arthur is slowly blooming. I have moments, hours, even days when there is nothing else I'd rather be doing!!! Home school never stops.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Arthur Goes to Court

Last December we initiated the process of becoming Arthur's legal guardians. After a person turns 18 in this country, they are legally free from their parents' oversight. Therefore, in order to retain the right for us to care for Arthur and make decisions for him, we had to become his guardians.

First we met with a young lawyer who started filing the forms, instructed us where to get the online training required by law to become a guardian and assigned us to a Guardian Ad Litem, who would determine whether Arthur met the requirements to receive guardianship and whether we were suitable guardians.

We met with this man, who is older than the lawyer but younger than us, in our family room in March after Arthur turned 18 and after we completed the online training and had a court hearing date assigned. The GAL saw that Arthur was an "incapacitated person" and appeared to think we would be good guardians for him. But he still required a doctor's appraisal of Arthur to confirm that Arthur needed guardianship.

Getting Arthur's doctor to fill out the form took longer than anyone figured it would, but the GAL had it in his hands a week ago, so he could finish his report and recommendation and we could keep the court date of May 3 at 8:30. On the phone to Dennis he was very positive in saying he felt we were the best guardians Arthur could have in that we were parents who loved him. That was encouraging!

Our lawyer, the GAL and the three of us Millers were allowed into the courtroom a few minutes before 9 o'clock. After one other brief case, Arthur Miller's case was called and we all walked forward and sat in the chairs they offered with the lawyer and GAL standing. After our lawyer made some date changes with the clerk regarding when the records we will keep have to be filed, the judge asked us if we had anything we wanted to say. Now we had told Arthur that the judge wanted to meet him. So when she said this, he went forward to get into the witness seat! (Too many movies!) They let him go ahead, and then he launched upon a several minute long testimony that only had a few words we could make out, those words being Paul and Annie. Dennis finally stood up to signal to Arthur his need to be done talking, so Arthur got out of the seat and returned to us. Then it was over and we were all dismissed.

Outside the courtroom, we waited for some paperwork from the lawyer, who had to stay for some other legal work there that day. We walked out with the GAL, who mentioned he could help us with the new forms the lawyer would be sending should we have questions.

Yesterday there came in the mail Ethan Miller's graduation from high school announcement. Ethan is four months younger than his cousin Arthur. Should we have taken a photo of Arthur on the witness stand, I suppose we could send that out as he commences upon being under our guardianship!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reading the Bible everyday

There are many good reasons to read the Bible everyday and many desirable fruits that come from reading God's Word everyday. Since I'm reading through the Bible this year for the first time in many years, I have new appreciation for these good reasons and desirable fruits.

One pastor's wife I know refuses to counsel anyone who isn't reading her Bible everyday. Her experience taught her that a great majority of the problems that other women want to talk over with her either disappear or are effectively handled when the Bible is read everyday. I have found this principle true in my own life. My days of being a "basket case" have been nearly eliminated this year even in the face of plenty of stress and difficulties!

We don't need any help or instruction to sin. We know how to get angry, envy, become bitter, exact vengeance, worry, be selfish, complain, fall into sloth, let fear paralyze us, eat too much, etc. without how-to lessons! We are natural sinners by nature, our fallen sinful nature. When God's gift of new life in Christ opens our eyes to the supernatural ways of God, we have a whole new set of ways of living to learn. We are not by nature patient, kind, forgiving, content or faithful. Those are His Ways that we have to learn and practice.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He IS the Word of God! He came to reveal the ways of His Father to us, and all of this Way of Truth has been written in the Bible for us to read, know and live by.

But as I was reminded this week, we forget 90% of what we read! This fact is a huge reason to stay in God's Word daily. Not only are we naturally inclined toward sinful ways instead of righteous ones, we also forget almost everything we read about His righteous, Kingdom of God ways!

Because of this forgetfulness, we have an inclination to continually reinvent God in our minds, casting Him in the image of what we think He is or what we think we need. The only way to correct this deceptive tendency is to keep putting His truth in everyday. Our minds need to be washed daily.

For the most part, putting on our spiritual armor so we can withstand the subtle attacks of the devil  consists of continually being bathed in the Truth. If we fail to read His Truth in His Word everyday, we become sitting ducks for our enemy. The devil feeds our minds lies all the time. We start to believe them and quickly fall into unbelief in God if we fail to stay washed with His Word of Truth.

His word is our necessary food. The Word of God is our spiritual nourishment. It doesn't just protect, cleanse and train us, it grows us up into the fulness of Christ. We are conformed to His image by His Word of Truth administered by His Spirit to our souls. How can we afford to miss a day of this nourishment?

He guides, comforts, strengthens, encourages and speaks to us personally through His Word. Where would I be without the Psalms? David teaches me to speak to my soul, to "Bless the Lord, O my soul," instead of listening to all my fears and worrisome thoughts. If I miss filling myself with His Word, I risk being vulnerable when I could have been fortified. My emotions have a greater chance of getting the upper hand when I miss reading His Word to me.

One of the most welcome fruits of my staying faithful in God's Word each day is a saner, kinder me. When I have taken time to feed upon His words, I have the good sense to restrain my tongue from uttering words that would not edify those who hear them. I can overcome by His Word-- what a blessing! I don't let the devil's lies beat me up. I rest in His Truth. Trials and temptations don't derail me nearly as often as when I face my day without being washed in His Truth.

My reading program has me reading in four different places in the Bible each day and I'm continually amazed by how something I notice in one place will be echoed in another. The whole Bible is His Word to me!

My goal is heaven. This world is not my home. His Word prepares me to live with Him forever in a realm very foreign to this world system even as it equips me to live in this world as His ambassador of love. I can't afford to not stay in very close communication with Him! How blessed we are to have His word fill us each day!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The guest room is shaping up!

When we discovered our banjo picking buddy, Lowell, from the weekly bluegrass jams has his family in Minnesota, we invited him over on a Saturday to help out in exchange for a good meal and a good jam! Lowell's extra hands made it possible to go ahead with changing out the window in the guest room right after we'd gotten everything out and before painting and flooring it. It was nice to able to make and clean up that dusty mess before the rest was finished!

Now, the walls & ceiling are painted pale yellow, the hickory flooring is all laid and the first coat of stain has been applied to the wooden double-hung window pair. We have alder enough for the window trim but the floor trim for this room and the rest of the house will have to wait for another trip to Seattle. The furnishings are arranged in a whole new way since the extra clothing rod is gone so the room has a lighter, spacier feel than previously. My sewing machine, cutting table and fabric cabinet are still in there, but not my desk, books or filing cabinet.

It's been a nice change to stop with major construction for a while, changing gears into finishing up some places and decorating the rooms that have new wood floors. Dennis found a great new sofa at an estate sale store price to go in our living room-- looks great with one of the new rugs. We had originally planned to get Arthur's room refloored now too, but since it is just 3 weeks till we go to NYC, we decided to do his room and ours later in the summer. That way we'll be able to get the windows done in each room first, like we did with the guest room.

We've been going through a major transition at Artmil with two staff members leaving and one new one coming on at the start of April. I've picked up a few more responsibilities and different hours, while Dennis and ChrisB and Andy are dividing most of the tasks Kathy used to do. Christian handed off the web work to Derek, who is also able to do regular graphic design work.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wood Floors!

As March comes to a close, our hall and living room are sheathed with hickory wood flooring. It has been so quick, easy and painless compared to tiling the dining, kitchen and laundry room! The hickory floor, the alder front door, the new pine windows with alder trim and the pale chocolate paint color on the walls all look good together and create a whole new feel of old! The only vestige of the former mid-century style that sticks out is the closet door next to the front door, so we may refinish that until we replace it. Dennis found a great 8 x 10 wool hooked-style rug for a great price that pulls everything together even more!

But before that room gets furnished and decorated, we'll be moving stuff from the bedrooms out there so those rooms can receive their new sheaths of wood as well! We have enough hickory for two of them, and have found some oak very close in color for the third. I plan to paint those rooms as soon as we get enough stuff moved out to make that do-able.

Since it is only 6 weeks till we fly to New York for Annie's graduation ceremony, we don't think we'll attempt replacing the bedroom windows or the other 4 remaining just yet. Two weeks after we get back from New York, Kaley, Keziah, Zion and Kacia will be here for two weeks and the bluegrass festival season will be upon us! So we'll fit in the window change outs and trim work where we can.

Between Zach coming out in January, getting to see Annie, Paul, Keith, Bethany and children in New York and having Kaley and children coming here in June, we'll thankfully have seen the whole scattered family in the first half of the year!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Blueberry Scones

Wheat free since last fall, I've developed a sweetened flour mix for pancakes, cookies, cake, muffins or scones. Since it has many ingredients, I mix up two batches at the same time to save opening all the containers! Substituting your favorite flours may work as well if you add a little xanthan gum, which the Chia Omega Flour below does. Keep mix refrigerated with your flours.

A. Sweetened flour mix (2 cups)

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour (starch)
1/4 cup oats ground fine in blender
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup Chia Omega Flour (blend of chia, rose tapioca, millet and chestnut flours. Includes xanthan gum which helps thicken the batter nicely without an inordinate amount of flour.)
1/2 cup almond flour (meal)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2  tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp stevia powder
1 tablespoon erythritol (or substitute any sweetener you desire for both the stevia and the erythritol to equal 1/3 cup sugar sweetness)

Blueberry Scones (Gluten free, refined sugar free, can be dairy free) Yield: 12.

B. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet with coconut oil. In medium bowl, whisk:

3 eggs
1 cup Hungarian Cultured Buttermik (for dairy free, add 1 tsp apple cider vinegar to 1 cup almond or rice milk)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (I add a little butter for additional flavor)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla

C. With large spoon, stir in:

2 cups flour mix
1 generous cup blueberries (defrost them on a plate for a few minutes if frozen)

D. Spoon 12 scones onto greased cookie sheet, bake 20-25 minutes. Cool on paper towel; prepare to see them disappear quickly!

PS: Please let me know if you know of a way to make GF cinnamon rolls-- thanks!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February, 2013

February is coming to a close. Dennis got the kitchen window trimmed in alder after we painted the kitchen walls and ceiling a light chocolate color, with the ceiling lighter than the walls. But first, he reconfigured two soffits because we took out and moved cabinets to move the refrigerator. That meant demolition, rebuilding with sheet rock, mud, sanding-- lots of evenings worth of work.

Lately, he reconstructed the wall in the hall where the bathroom door was moved over 8 inches so that is ready to paint. He also installed the new Craftsman style door that goes from the hall into the living room. And has filled and mudded the triple-window unit in the living room and around the front door. So we are very close to being able to paint the living room and hall! We already have the paint. Then the alder the trim can go up-- it is all ready. And then the wood floor will go down!

I sent some photos of the kitchen to several people by email and thought I could put them up here, but alas, I cannot figure it out!

In other news, today I painted the sunny area near the back door at work for a studio for me to design and sew quilts when time permits. I plan to have one wall covered with flannel or something similar to be able to 'stick' fabric pieces to when designing. The other two adjoining walls of my alcove I plan to adorn with a 15 foot timeline and other items of interest or beauty to me.

Blue grass jams continue to be a pleasure to take part in. It is so welcome to have a group of people to make music with, to share old songs together and learn new ones and harmonize, encourage, enjoy! Such a super format!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New kitchen floor and a visit from Zach

Zach came to help out with the remodel for several days last week. It was a blessing to have him here to lend his hands and muscle, as well as to celebrate Dennis' birthday.

Among many other tasks done, he helped us finish cleaning out the thinset between the tiles so we could get it grouted. Four weeks after beginning camp cooking in the living room, the stove island was reinstated in the kitchen, with his help! The table is back in the dining room! And the washer and dryer are back at work in the laundry room! All three rooms now have 18 inch porcelain tile (offwhite with taupe lowlights) set on the diagonal in malt colored grout. The floor looks great but since the room hasn't been repainted yet, the full effect awaits that task. I am still in shock from the amount of work and time it took to get the floor done, and from the change. I did not work my fingers to the bone but my fingernails were certainly worn down and nerves got a bit frayed!