Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saying Goodbye

A few years ago a man swooped into our lives that forever changed us. This was Deiter Jacob. He was an amazing person that we had the great honor of getting close to.

Deiter was born and raised in Nazi Germany and even worked for the KGB. He hated the regime and saw the horrors of it and wanted out. He had an unbelievable story. After trying to escape the country several times, he was finally successful by diving over a train track (I think), over a steep hill, rolling down it into West Germany all while guns were firing at him overhead.

I don't know all the details of the rest of his life, but I do know that it was hard. As an elderly man he came to know and love Christ. It is an amazing testimony to the dramatic change God can do in a hard-hearted, cynical, grouch of a man and turn him into a tender, loving, passionate brother in Christ. He fell in love with Ann after meeting on a hiking trail and were married late in life.

Several years ago we were in a small group Discipleship class with Deiter and Ann. It was a great time of accountability and tons of questions and discussion. Deiter was never one to be without words and he could outlast anyone in a conversation. That's because his German was still broken enough that you had to really concentrate on his words! LOL! He'd always end it with a squeeze on the arm and a big smile and a comment about how much he loved you.

He loved children so much and our children adored him. He taught them all kinds of things about hiking and plants and tools and loved to snuggle and stroke their heads. I had to constantly remind the boys not to wrestle with him since Deiter would never say no to a good wrestle. I don't think he liked to be reminded of his age and limitations!

Unfortunately, the day after he became a citizen, he had a stroke that left him without much ability to communicate or move. It was so hard for such a strong man to be without any control. We truly were blessed the times we were able to go visit him and see his old smile and mischeiviousness flare back up.
He went to be with the Lord, and we miss him dearly. Yet, I am so glad to know we'll be seeing him again someday.

Pine Wood Derby

The highlight of February was the Stockade Pinewood Derby. The boys had been dutifully working on their cars each week in clubs. They decided that they wanted their cars to be a surprise for mom so I was banned from the work area of the basement and was pushed away whenever there was talk of colors or stickers or names. It was so cute!
The big day arrived and I finally got to see their cars that they had done ALL BY THEMSELVES! They did a great job. So many of the other kids had fancier, more perfect looking ones, but it is obvious that the parents did most of the work. That's fine, but I was super proud of their work that they had created without much assistance.

The races started and boy, do these kids and parents really get into this thing! There have even been issues of parents helping their kids cheat just so they can win! WHAT? I just don't get it. It's just TEMPORAL! I mean- it is great to have fun, make a car, race, laugh- but come on, it's not something to succumb to cheating over! Ah... I digress...

Jake had created his car sleek and streamlined and painted it silver-calling it the Silver Bullet. And, he did really well! His car was in the top running for a while. Then during the last set of final races, they allowed the boys to re-graphite the wheels and I think (I'm not fooling anyone. I have no idea. I'm just repeating what the men said.) that it bogged down the wheels because he suddenly started to slow down. It's ok because he still did well and won a trophy! Pretty cool for his first year!

Grant's car didn't do as well on the track but it did place in the finals for design. Even though there were other more ornate cars, the judges were looking for creativity in design. He called his Wrath of God and painted it a bright fiery orange color! Isn't that hysterical! You couldn't miss it either. It was BRIGHT! And he did win a trophy for good looks!

Since Jake came in high enough in the ratings we got the "priviledge" to attend the Regional Derby Car race. Oh Joy! This event is really a test of Brent's and my commitment to parenting. We love our kids and are excited about the things they are excited in, but going to two of these races a month apart was a true test of self denial. (I feel utterly ashamed of myself, now.) Unfortunately, I forgot our camera and I don't have any photos of the Regional. Lets just say it was a LONG day. It was more fun helping serve the food with Wendy- for the kids, too.
Oh, well, I will have recovered by next year and will have renewed vigor and enthusiasm! LOL!

Friday, May 8, 2009


Grant turned 10 and Quinn turned 5 this January! We don't do parties every year, but since this was a special one for both, we decided to have a combined celebration. Since we couldn't do it until February, we let each boy pick a restaurant on their actual birthday. Grant chose Outback so he could get some STEAK! Can you tell he's growing up? (These kids are starting to cost a fortune when we go out to eat! No more kids meals! Grrr...)
Quinn, on the other hand, wanted no parts in a restaurant this year! All he wanted was to be home and have tomato soup and grilled cheese and decorate cupcakes! LOL! I kept trying to talk him into going to a restaurant (one less meal for me to cook, right?!), but he was insistent! This child is no pushover!

Then later in February we had their party. Grant was thrilled to get a multipurpose tool which he's been drooling over for a while. I'd been telling him that there was no way I was letting him carry around something containing a knife, so he didn't think he'd actually get one! I think he was pretty surprised!
I was having a hard time finding a gift for Quinn since we'd given him his heart's desire at Christmas- a cowboy costume. There was really nothing that he wanted, so I got him a mini trampoline- something I wanted! Oh, not for me! For my hightly bouncy children who constantly use my sofa as a "bounce-a-line" (as they call it!) I had hoped that it would curb the desire to use the furniture but alas, it has only caused them to want to jump off the sofa and onto the trampoline!

It was a little hard choosing a theme for the party since Grant wanted a Knight theme and Quinn wanted a cowboy theme. So, we combined. The cousins came dressed as either a knight or a cowboy and all was well. I don't go overboard with party decor and games and all, (Caitlin's 5th Princess Party did me in forever!) but they did request a castle cake. It turned out cute and they were happy!
Happy Birthday Grant and Quinn!!!

Tuesday Tea

This year we've been using Tapestry of Grace for many of our subjects. Part of the program includes a time of discussion over what they've retained from their reading. It holds them accountable for their comprehension and then gives me the opportunity to help (the older ones, at least) start to make some mental connections. We discuss the ramifications to certain belief systems, talk about the correct Biblical response to certain things in history and many other next level of logic thinking. Thankfully, I have a wonderful teacher's manual that walks me through the Socratic method of "teaching by asking questions".
This discussion time has the potential to really be a drag because it makes them really mentally work for the information. No multiple choice or true/false here! They have to synthesize, analyze and then present (in complete sentences) orally their case for what they've learned. It can take a lot of brain power! So, I instituted Tuesday (or sometimes Thursday if we had a heavy reading week) Tea. I break out all my wedding china, make some fancy luncheon sandwiches (really just PB&J cut into 4 triangles!), put out some hot water for their tea and we have our discussion over tea. It has really caused the discussion time to become a highpoint in our week. They look forward to having something to say that makes them sound knowledgeable.
I love that we are creating memories and learning at the same time. And, it really is giving me a window into their minds. I love that I can see them make big, mental connections to heavy weighty topics. It is spurring them on in their convictions and causes them to wrestle with their worldview. We've covered some pretty meaty stuff like: how to witness to a Buddhist, the understanding of covenants, persecution in history and how it could be our future, the danger of humanism, the effect of the desire for power, and my favorite- their personal faith testimony. It was interesting to see them be honest and transparent as they questioned their own faith to see if it was true.
I wouldn't trade these moments for anything!

A Perfect Homeschooling Moment

Early in January we had one of those dreamy, idyllic homeschool moments. The kids had been playing "colonial days" complete with dress ups, the sofa arm horse, and Jake pretending he was Ben Franklin inventing some new contraption. Dad Trautman had given him all the components to make a bell ring from electricity, but hadn't yet taught him how to set it up. Since the boys had received electricity kits for Christmas they'd been getting some instruction on circuitry (is that the right word?) Just so you don't get ANY wrong ideas, I did absolutely NO instruction in this. It was all Uncle Dave on New Years and DadDad while Mom was in the hospital!)
Anyway, as they were playing, Jake figured out how to make this bell ring! I was quite impressed! They all crowded around and took turns connecting the wires to different places to experiment on the sound. I think he's going to be our engineer!