I Could Eat an Entire Watermelon

Watermelon Martini

The watermelon this summer has been delicious–red and sweet and cheap.  Apparently all that extra rain in the early part of summer has yielded a bumper crop.  So today we had our third watermelon of the season.  I love it.  I could eat an entire watermelon “if I had a mind to.”

To celebrate the luscious red fruit, I encourage you to check out this recipe.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to before the summer crop is all gone.

News & Notes

News & Notes is the name of a radio program on NPR, but it seemed like a good blog title to me.  So for anyone who googles News & Notes hoping to find the NPR show, I apologize from the beginning.  I will actually post my notes first, but I am not going to change the blog title.


My week of single-parenting is about to end.  I am thankful.  This is the longest Mark has been away from home in about 2 years.  With the kids being older, it is not as hard as it used to be.  But when you throw in the added factor of my working outside the home now, that raises the stakes a bit.

I had some help with childcare in the afternoons from a teenager at church and another family friend.   So the kids thought that was great fun.  I took off Tuesday and Thursday, and we had a couple family outings.  On Tuesday, before Nevin returned from Webelos mini-camp, the three remaining children and I went to the zoo.  On Thursday morning, the older children took placement tests for the new school they will be attending this fall.  After that “fun” was over, we headed to the library and McDonalds. 

By Friday night, I was pretty tired, but of course Nevin had been invited to a birthday party at the cool new pizza place with games, etc.  All of the kids have been chomping at the bit to go to this place, so I agreed to take the other 3 there to eat and play games while Nevin was at the party.  America’s Incredible Pizza is a pretty great place.  It has a pizza buffet with a decent salad bar, ice cream machine, and several “themed” rooms to choose from where you can eat what you’ve selected from the many choices.  After you eat, you can go use electronically scanned cards to play games.  It really is a great place.  But I was tired.  I had a 4-year-old to manage in a place that didn’t have a great selection of small kid activities while the older kids went their own direction.  It was noisy.  Did I mention, I was tired.  All in all, the factors that came together were not a good mix for a night of family fun.  I turned into “the evil mother in every kid’s nightmares.”  I was crabby and overall upset.  The kids still managed to have fun, but it wasn’t how I had envisioned the evening. 

We managed to get home, relax a while, and get a decent night’s rest.  Things look better in the morning after some good sleep.

I woke up to find the pigeon’s nest that has been on our porch light on the ground in our front yard.  I have actually been wanting to move it myself, but I have felt bad for the pigeon and had been hesitating to be a homewrecker.  However, I believe the nest was knocked down by neighborhood kids who feel free to run through our yard and do whatever they want.  I learned from the neighbor kid who practically lives at our house that while we were gone last night, the above-referenced “neigborhood kids” had been running through all the yards last night having a water baloon fight.  So perhaps that is how our pigeon’s home met its demise.

One more note, Calvin finished Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows on Thursday after getting it last Saturday evening.  It is 700+ pages.  I think that’s pretty good for an 11-year-old.  He loved the book and is anxious for someone else in the house to read it so he can talk about it.


If you have read this far, you probably caught the reference to the new school we plan to send our children to this year.  We have selected a christian day school about 5 minutes from our home.  We’re looking forward to getting to know people there, and we’re happy to have come to a decision since the summer is slipping away quickly.  The good news is that they do not start school there until August 27, nearly 2 weeks later than several schools in the area.  This made our choice very popular among our three older kids.  We still have to figure out what Miss Charis will be doing this fall, but at least one major decision is made. 

What’s Really Important

Our family has been experiencing trials over the past several years.  Our trials have been of the sort that you can’t really share with a lot of people.  Yet, we have probably shared more than we should.

In recent days, the trials have felt overwhelming to me at times.  Yet, I know people with far worse trials than we have.  I know about a baby who has cancer.  I know an 11-year-old with cancer whose family home burned down on July 4.  My sister has bone cancer.  My sister-in-law has throat cancer.  And, there are many, many others.

Despite knowing about these trials, because my trials are mine, I often give them permission to overwhelm me.  I wallow in them.  Then I read something like this by Tony Snow.  I think what he wrote in Christianity Today puts life into perspective.   I really appreciated this sentiment: “We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us—that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God’s love for others.”

So no, I don’t think we should say, “Well, we’ve got troubles, but at least we don’t have cancer.”  But I do think when we face trials–whether they be physical, emotional, financial, etc., God puts us in community with other people who have different kinds of trials to remind us that “it’s not all about us.”  We need to focus outward and quit dwelling on our own problems.  When we reach out to others, even in the midst of our own stress and pain, God reminds us that He did (and is doing) the same thing for us.

The Missionary Next Door

Our church supports a PCA missionary who attended Covenant Seminary with my husband. The missionary’s name is Marcus Toole. Marcus ministers to the Cree people in Canada. That’s right, Canada. We have lots of church planters in the US and other modern countries, but the work Marcus does is really incredible. He sends regular e-mail updates about the forces of spiritual darkness these people are under. I hesitate to say too much because I don’t want to get the facts wrong. So I’ll point you to this in Covenant Theological Seminary’s summer edition (.pdf) of their quarterly magazine.

There’s an article about Marcus’ work on page 14. I’ll also ask you to pray for the adult children of Arnold, a man Marcus led to the Lord who just died this week. Arnold’s Christian funeral caused quite a stir in the Cree community, and there are more funeral activities today. So please pray for Arnold’s family, Marcus, and the Cree community today.

P.S. I am having trouble with linking the article and I have to go to work. So I’ll fix it later.

Back to School and Summer Fun

Girls at my nephew's weddingCalvin played a hip wise man in a local Lutheran VBSNevin was King Herod in a local Lutheran VBS play

Today when I had the 3 younger children out running errands, we saw a store front with a sign that said, “Back to school sale.”  Evangeline said, “Back to school?  Summer is just starting!”  I explained that school would be starting in a month or so, and stores like to give people plenty of time to plan.  This conversation made me think about all the things we and/or the children have done this summer.

The 3 photos I’ve posted here show a bit of our summer activities.  The shot of the girls was taken at my nephew’s wedding in Ohio in mid-June.  The individual shots of the boys in costume are from a VBS/music camp production held at a local Lutheran church.  All three of the older children had parts, and they really enjoyed being a part of this activity.  They were there for full days for a week, and Charis was able to go for the mornings every day.

In addition to the wedding and the musical VBS, the 3 older children went to Bible camp, and Calvin just returned from Boy Scout camp.  Nevin is set to head off for a 3-day Webelos camp in another 10 days.  We’ve also had sleepovers, and pool time, bowling, and went to a movie.  Nevin and Evangeline have both been working hard at the Library’s summer reading program.  I think Nevin will be an expert on the Hardy Boys soon!  It is fun to see him taking a book with him everywhere he goes!  Calvin has been reading, too, but he hasn’t seemed too interested in the library’s program this year.  Charis just enjoys having everyone at home with her instead of at school.  However, she does keep track of upcoming activites that she is supposed to take part in.  Of all our children, she seems to understand when the days of the week come better than the others did by age 4.  Of course, she asks for a run down of the days of the week every day.

She continues to be young enough to say those really cute things.  We were on our way home from family night at Calvin’s camp the other night, and she said, “Mommy, where is the camp?”  I said, “Missouri.”  She said, “Missouri is our world!”  I think she thought the camp could not be in the same “world” as where we live.  Too funny.

In other news, the painting of the girls’ room as well as the room swap is complete.  I am so glad to be able to check off one planned project for the summer.  It gives me inspiration to move on to others.  The girls are pleased to no longer be bunking and to have their beds solidly planted on the floor.

We’re gearing up for VBS at our church next week.  Mark is teaching Nevin’s class.  I have been teaching his class for summer Sunday school, and Mark has been my “bouncer.”  So he knows most of the kids who will be in his class.  I will be working most of the week, but I hope to get over to the church a couple of times for all the activity.

That’s all for now . . .

Mmmm Mmmm Good

Ann Barlow posted Biscuit for Strawberry Shortcakethis recipe on her site. I decided it was time to try it.

Over the weekend, there was some discussion among our children that I don’t make as many “homemade” things to eat any more.  So since we were down to only 2 children tonight, (one girl is at a sleepover; one boy is at boyscout camp),  I had them help me make the biscuits for the strawberry shortcake.  They enjoyed the process, but they were a bit surprised that something called “cake” is really a sweet biscuit.

Biscuit on the plateFor anyone who might want to know, the recipe yielded 12 biscuits, and after calculating the fat and calories from all the ingredients, I figured the fat at 8.75 g. per biscuit and the calories at 182.  If you make it with a no-cal sugar substitute, the fat remains the same but the calories are reduced to 150.  I thought about using something lower in fat for the butter and half & half, but baked goods are just plain better with the “real thing” in the fat department.  It’s not something I could eat everyday with those numbers, but it is certainly something that can be enjoyed in moderation.

OneYummy last thing, the idea of photographing the shortcake came to me because it just looks so pretty.  I have a small oven from the dark ages, and I blame many of my baking failures on it.  But the egg-white wash that is brushed on the dough before you bake these biscuits is like magic–producing the lovely gold color you see in the picture.  I also felt like since I took the picture of the naked biscuit, I needed to follow through with a photo of the fully dressed strawberry shortcake.

Everyone who passes through Anne’s blog knows she posts some great recipes.  I just thought I would show you that this one is so great even just an average cook can make it and have it look pretty.  So, run on over there and get the recipe.  Then make some for company!



Hi, this is Mark. Jennifer’s getting tired of the spam and I haven’t had time to change the template (like I wouldn’t make it worse). So she’s moving to wordpress.com until Jay has time to port a wordpress blog over here.

It would be great if you didn’t change your bookmarks, since we’re hoping this is temporary….

So please go leave a comment on her generic entry. (By the way, Jennifer hasn’t even seen the new template I chose, so she’s not reponsible.)

Blog Post from Heaven

Dad, Mark, Jay

I have been thinking of posting today because I want to post more regularly than I have been in the habit of doing. But, nothing right was coming to mind. Then, this photo arrived via e-mail from Mark’s dad. The timing was providential. This is Mark, his dad, and his younger brother circa 1978. What a great picture!

I also have to say that I almost broke into song when I saw Mark’s shirt. If you were a kid in an evangelical church in the 70s, you probably know the tune.