Category Archives: family

Wasup Wednesdays – 5

News:   Had strep throat over the weekend and a houseguest.  This is not the best combination, as even though the guest was really Mark’s guest, I felt bad I couldn’t be more “hostessy.”  Thankfully, I went to urgent care on Sunday, tested positive for strep, and the appropriate antibiotics were prescribed.  Tonight, I feel no soreness in my throat.  It is just a little dry.  So I think I am officially “over it!”

School:  No. 1 son visited a local Christian high school for 8th grade visitation.  He was thrilled with the place.  Now, we are praying for a miracle that we will be able to send him there next year.  Honestly, we are praying that Mark will continue to get business and that if needed, I would be able to get a real job that pays decently by the time next school year roles around.

No. 2 son kicked into gear today and finished all his school work for the week.  I have wondered how long it would take him to realize that homeschooling would be easy for him.  Now he is free to read all the other books he wants to read until Monday.  BONUS: He thinks he’s just having fun, and he doesn’t even realize he is still learning something.  🙂

Eldest Daughter is still distracted by the things of life outside school work like her DS, riding her bike with  the neighbor kids, “writing songs,” getting her ears pierced, etc.   She has to think about all these things a lot.  Then she has to ask me questions about them.  She will get her work done . . . it will just take a while.

Wee Girl, otherwise known as Sweet Petunia, is improving in reading.  I started using a simpler phonics curriculum (Phonics Pathways), and she likes it.  She also still does lessons in Explode the Code everyday, and I think the writing and practicing of the different words in each exercise is making a difference.  Finally,  I was encouraged by a veteran homeschooling mom from church who told me that her older girls (19 and 16) were not fluid readers until 3rd grade.  They both eventually became fine students/readers.

I also finally dug out some of my old homeschool books, and I found all my “Five in A Row” books.  I plan to start using some lessons from them to incorporate a little “art” and other unit study elements for the girls.

Simon seems to be feeling better.  Yay!

Books:  I finished the second Harry Potter book a few weeks back, and I thought for sure we had the paper back of book 3 laying around.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it.  So I requested book 3 from the library.  I am looking forward to reading it.

I also picked up a McCall Smith book (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) for 70 cents from Goodwill.  I had to return the ones I started to the library before I finished, so I am looking forward to reading this one at my leisure.

Finally, I am re-reading Anne of Green Gables–out loud to the girls some and ahead on my own.  It is just a decadent little pleasure for me to read Anne again.

Thankful that football season is half over.  I can’t wait to have our lives back to normal and to rid my house of the horrid lockerroom smell currently residing here.  Ew . . . Gross . . . Disgusting  No words can describe the awful odor eminating from my basement.  Febreeze and air freshner are not enough, but we’re trying to make use of these tools to get us through to the end of October.  What will I do with my evenings when there’s no football practice?

My Second Grid Iron Guy

Here are shots of Nevin, all ready for football last Saturday.  It was picture day, but we, being frugal folk, will not be purchasing the professional photos.  So we had to take a few of our own.  Nevin’s team won their game this week 21 – 20–it was a nail-biter!  Nevin was most excited because he got to start, and he was one of the captains for the coin toss at the beginning of the game.

Just to give you a little perspective, here’s a shot of the family lineman when he was a little younger:

They sure do grow up fast.

Wasup Wednesdays 3 – Or, Facebook Redux

Big news this week–Charis lost her two front teeth last night.  Here’s a shot of her and another of her with her big sister celebrating. Forgive the poor quality, please.

 And, football games started in earnest over last weekend.  Nevin’s uniform is not completely in hand yet, so photos of him in his gridiron gear will have to wait.  For now, here’s a few shots of Calvin ready for his first game.





Wasup Wednesdays? – 2

First, A Photo

We spent Labor Day weekend at a campground/rv park in the Ozarks.  It was fun for everyone.  We had a little taste of camping with a campfire where we roasted hotdogs and marshmallows.  We went to a swimming hole in a natural spring in the Ozark National Riverways Park, and we visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield, MO.  We checked out of the camp on Monday at lunch time and then spent the afternoon at a local swimming pool.  It was nice to have some family time away from the regular routine, and the kids enjoyed the time outdoors.  We’re hoping to make little trips like this more often.


In other news, we got back into the swing of homeschooling today.  Yesterday was a super light day as I recovered from being out of town.  All the children had reading assignments yesterday, but that was it in terms of academic pursuits. We did have a couple extra-curricular activities later in the day–Evangeline’s choir began rehearsals yesterday for the new season, and, of course, there was football practice for the boys in the evening.   The laundry is still waiting to be done from our travels, but most of the unpacking is complete.  The laundry is always here, so we can’t stress over that! 🙂


I am encouraged that today Evangeline finished reading her first reading assignment of the year, Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson.  I am hopeful that at the end of the year when she sees the list of books she has completed, she will gain more confidence in independent reading of longer books.  Today’s accomplishment is a start toward that end.


Mark is in the swing of another writing project.  We’re grateful for the work, but the schedule is somewhat tight, so he needs a lot of diligence to get through to the deadline.  He has finally finished up loose ends on what was affectionately known as the “July book,” and he is also in the middle of a shorter research project.  We’re looking for ways to add more projects to the schedule for after the ones on deck are done, but for now, we praise God for His provision.


Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

Well, not really,  but the weather sure is great.  After a whirlwind trip to my sister’s funeral last weekend and attending a performance of my sweet Evangeline in the children’s chorus of the Sound of Music, this week has been busy but good.

Here’s Evangeline during dress rehearsal week with all her “stage make-up” on.

Mark’s parents are here visiting, and it has been nice to have them around.  We have done none of the St Louis tourist things, but they are ok with that.  The 3 younger kids are in VBS, Mark has a big writing project, and I have work projects to complete.  So they have graciously hung around our house as we go about our normal schedules, and they have helped with meals, laundry, grocery shopping, and kids when needed.  And, we have caught little snatches of conversations between shuttling kids to VBS, boys to football practice, and fitting playmates into the mix in the afternoons.   Mom made my birthday cake and a nice meal for us on Tuesday, and Wednesday night she went to the thrift store with Evangeline and me for the entire 2 hours the boys were at football.  We found all sorts of fun stuff.

Thursday was a playdate day.  Both girls had friends over.  Here’s a shot of Evangeline and her friend playing dress up:

We’ve also been enjoying some fresh veggies and fruit.  A very few have come from my pathetic garden from the cucumber plant that took over the world (or at least my little garden patch).

This is a shot of the first cucumber from the garden.

So it has been a nice week of activity, but the frenzy level has been low.  Perhaps I should have “frenzied” a bit more, but I have enjoyed just doing what has to be done with little pressure to do more.

Singing in this World and the Next (aka Memories of my sister 3)

Katherine Eileen Burkett Fagen (March 3, 1947 – July 11, 2009) went to be with the Lord yesterday morning.  She breathed her last with, Randy, her husband of 28 years by her side in their home.  Randy was singing the Doxology when Katherine’s life ended.

In an e-mail Randy sent late yesterday, he mentioned Katherine’s lovely singing voice–he said she sang like a canary.  This brought back memories of singing with all my sisters in the kitchen of the old house I grew up in while we did the dishes.  Katherine was grown and away from home, but she came home several times a year, and when she did, on many of those visits we all did the dishes together.  I am the youngest of all the children, and the sisters between me and Katherine are 6 and 12 years older than me.  So I really learned to sing from them.

We sang what are now known as “gospel songs.”  My older, more “sophisticated” sensibilities might keep me from singing these same songs now, but I remember the words to most of them because they were drilled into my head–not only in the kitchen, but also while driving in the car and cleaning the house.  While these songs may not be “theologically astute,” they did put me on a solid footing for receiving biblical truths for the rest of  my life. Here are just a few of the songs I remember singing with Katherine and my other 2 sisters:

“There’s Within My Heart a Melody,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “WhenWe All Get to Heaven,” “His Name is Wonderful,” “Blessed Redeemer.”

This morning, as I was worshiping at our church, I thought about what Randy said.  I envisioned all the Saints in this world and the next singing together, and now Katherine is on the other side.  Our service ended with the hymn, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.”  Verse 3 goes like this:

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.

Katherine is in Canaan now, offering her songs of praises to the King.  Praise God for her faithful life.  May her example encourage others (and me) to keep on living and singing faithfully until we are on the verge of the Jordan.

Memories about My Sister 2

I am hitting myself because I didn’t borrow a photo that I saw in an old photo album my mom had.  It was a group shot of 7 or 8 of the 9 siblings in my family.  I was about 10 in the photo, and my kids all thought Evangeline looks just like I did in that photo.  It was taken outside my grandmother’s house in Talmadge, Ohio (suburb of Akron–you didn’t even know Akron had suburbs, did ya?)  When I was young, we never really took vacations, but almost every summer we traveled 2 hours west to the greater Akron area to visit my dad’s parents.  We visited them because the Burkett family reunion was often held near there, and we would all sleep in the dorm-style attic and the basement of their small home.  When I was 10, my sister was 28, and I am pretty sure she met us there having traveled from Elgin, IL, the Chicago suburb where she lived.

I remember thinking it was so cool that she was grown up.  I always wondered what it would be like to live on my own in someplace more exciting that DuBois, PA.  So it really didn’t matter to me what Kak was doing; I just knew it had to be better than being me.  I really looked up to her, and I wanted to grow up to go off and live on my own just like her.

As it turned out, about 14 years later I ended up graduated from college and not really knowing what I was going to do with myself.  Kak and her husband Randy lived in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, at the time, and they invited me to come stay with them to look for work there.  I said yes, and I was off on my own grown-up adventure.  They were new to that part of Florida, and they didn’t yet have a church home.  So my first Sunday there, Randy said, “We would like to go visit Dr. Kennedy’s church.  We watch him on tv, and we like his preaching.”  I agreed to go along, and I appreciated the service.  I also attended the young adult Sunday school class where I heard the best Bible teaching I had ever been exposed to in Sunday school.  When we were eating lunch after church, I told Kak and Randy this was the church for me.  Ultimately, I joined the church and ended up working for the television ministry, and 2 years later I met my husband there.  So I will always remember Kathy — Kak as having a hand in my meeting Mark.

I spoke to my mom tonight.  It seems that Kak’s time is drawing even closer to the end.  She is medicated  so much that she is sleeping nearly round the clock.  Randy has decided to have her buried in Pennsylvania in our family’s cemetery.  It seems we are just waiting to say goodbye to Kak.

Memories about My Sister 1

My sister Kathy seems to be ready to be with the Lord.  My mom spoke to her on the phone and told her she would like to come visit her, but Kathy said, “That’s ok.  You don’t need to do that.  We all know where we’re going.  We’ll be together there.”

I received an e-mail from my brother-in-law Randy tonight saying that the dosage of Kathy’s pain meds has been increased, causing her to sleep more and talk less.  I get the feeling her time is short, though it hasn’t been said.

So thinking about the possibility of Kathy’s life ending has made me think of memories of her from my childhood.  I never knew Kathy as a child.  She was 18 years old when I was born–the second eldest of the 9 siblings in our family.  She never lived at home with me, but she often came to visit when I was young.  One memory that sticks in my mind is from when I was about 8 years old.  Several of my other brothers and sisters were sitting around the kitchen table with me, and we were playing Scrabble.  Kathy was washing the dishes while we played.  Someone put a word on the board, and I said, “What the h— kind of word is that?”  Before I had time to think, some force was pulling my head back by the hair, and green liquid Palmolive dish detergent was pouring into my mouth.  I gagged and looked around the kitchen.  Kathy was the source of the mouth washing.  Let’s just say I was never much for vulgar speech after that incident!

Another thing to know about Kathy is that I never really called her Kathy.  She was always Katherine or “Kak.”  Kak came from my oldest brother being unable to pronounce her name properly when they were both little.  His “Kathy” came out “Kakky.”  So she forever became Kak or Kakki around home.  Only after she was married did I refer to Kak as Kathy because that is what her husband calls her.  But I still have to think to call her this.

Visiting Mom in PA

I’ve been home from visiting my mom in PA for nearly a week, and I wanted to post something before I forget some of what went through my mind as a part of this visit. I didn’t take any photos on this visit, and that is my only regret.  I took my camera, but I forgot about it until it was too late on every occasion.  I will do better the next time.  However, I am including a few photos Mom passed on to me from her collection.

Mom with my sister, Kathy and her husband Randy in 1991 at my apartment in Florida.

Me, Mom, and Kathy in 1991 at my apartment in Florida.  Can’t miss the big hair, eh?

Mark and I decided that I needed to make this trip because my mom is getting older and we don’t want our kids to grow up without really knowing their maternal grandma. It had been over 18 months since our last trip, and I don’t want time to continue passing without spending more time with Mom before the Lord takes her home.  The timing for the trip ended up happening at the same time my eldest sister was in surgery as a part of treatment for bone cancer.  My two other sisters were able to make the trip to Florida, where Kathy lives, to be with her and her husband Randy during the surgery.  It ended up being good for my mom to have us there at a time she might have otherwise spent worrying about my sister.

Kathy’s surgery was successful as far as it went.  The doctors replaced two bones in her legs with steel rods. When they were operating, they discovered that a large cancerous mass on her hip was bigger than they had anticipated from x-rays.  She will be receiving radiation treatment for the cancer and physical therapy to help her possibly walk again.  I heard from my brother-in-law today.  An MRI revealed the cancer has spread to her liver.   She was released from the hospital today, and a local hospice will be helping to care for her.  Your continued prayers are appreciated.

Back to the trip–this was the first time I made the 12+hour drive to PA with only the kids.  It really went well. I think they are finally old enough to make this doable in the future.  I hope to make this trip more often now that I know it is doable.  My mom was so happy to have us visit.  She had a broken wrist, so I was able to do a few little things around the house, but mostly, we just visited, looked at old photos, and enjoyed each other.

She and my brothers doted on my girls, and the boys were thrilled to explore Uncle Dave’s extensive DS game collection. Evangeline celebrated her 10th birthday there with Grandma, Uncle Dave, Uncle Bob, Aunty Patty, Uncle Larry, and several cousins.  She also ended up getting birthday money from her uncles, and she sure loved that!

We visited the local mall–one story and small–according to my suburban children.  It was too cold to swim, but we were able to spend a couple hours at a local state park that we all decided would be a great place for a family vacation in the future.  Now we hope to come up with a way to make that happen while Grandma is still living less than 15 miles from there.  Grandma bought everyone ice cream cones at the beach concession at Parker Dam, and I enjoyed a cone with teaberry flavored ice cream, which is something I have only ever had in Pennsylvania.

I took mom on an errand to pick up some planting flowers from a local family-run greenhouse one afternoon.  The man who owns the place was so respectful of Mom. He asked about her family, and he listened with great interest to her answers about all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren as they walked around his greenhouse choosing what she would buy.  When it came time to pay, she pulled out $30, and he only let her pay $10.  He said, “I’ve had a good year, and I’ve learned that giving a little comes back 10,000 times.”  So we left with $30 worth of flowers for $10 and a feeling of God’s blessing.  The greenhouse man also kept telling Mom how glad he was she would plant and enjoy the flowers.  It turns out this same man had once come to visit mom last year when she was sick and the furnace was broken.  He spent several hours there working on the furnace, and wouldn’t let her pay him.  So it made me glad to see that God had placed such a generous person in Mom’s path who understands what it means to love your neighbor or to care for the widows among you.

My brother David, whose single and has a neurological disorder, lives with my mom.  He is on a disability pension from the army, so he doesn’t work and is home with Mom all the time.  He has also had some health problem lately,and I had the opportunity to take him to the a medical appointment while we were there.  David can’t drive, and Mom often cannot drive, so my sister-in-law Patty often takes them to their appointments.  Being there to help this one time made me very thankful for Patty taking on the repsonsibility of getting Mom and David where they need to be.  David, by the way, will have hernia repair and his gall bladder removed on June 29.  Again, prayers for a safe and successful surgery are appreciated.

While I was at Mom’s, I realized how thankful I am for all that she has taught me.  She gave of herself over and over again for her 9 children, and by the time I, number 9 came along, life was relatively easy.  I reaped the benefits of all the experience she had from raising my 8 siblings.  My dad was always an interesting character, and she loved him and stood by him until his death at the young age of 66. They had been married 43 years when he died.

Mom and Dad on their wedding day, October 7, 1943

Dad, sometime in fall 1943 after returning from WWII serving with the Merchant Marines

I am so grateful I was able to make this trip.  My stream of consciousness blog post shows just a glimmer of how blessed I felt to make this visit and to be reminded of how God has blessed me through my family.

Pretty Little May

“March went out like a lion, a whippin’ up the water in the bay.  Then April cried, and stepped aside, and along came pretty little May.  May was full of promises, but she couldn’t keep ’em quick enough for some.  Then a bunch of doubting Thomases, kept predicting that the summer’d never come.  But it’s comin’ by gum.  I can feel it come.  Look around.  Look around.  Look around!  June is bustin’ out all over, all over the meadow and the hill.  Buds are bustin’ outta bushes and the rompin’ river pushes every little wheel that wheels behind a mill.  Because it’s June.  Because it’s June.  Because it’s June, June, June.  Just because it’s June, June, June!”  — From the musical, Carousel

This is a song I have sung to my kids since they were little.  Evangeline, whose birthday is in June, has claimed it as her song.  I am thinking of it this morning because of the phrase, “Pretty Little May.”  I was looking at my last post, and I saw it was from 3 weeks ago and I realized May is nearly over.  It is truly almost June and almost summer.

May was full of promises  . . . The first promise was the one of walking/running.  I was not as faithful as I wanted to be.  I did pretty well for the first 3 weeks, but a combination of sickness, getting a new part-time at-home job, lots of rain, and all the end of school activities got in my way.  But this week I am back on track.  I am not giving up.  That is one of the great things about the little book I mentioned when I started the walking plan.  It reminds you that not meeting your goals, is no reason to give up.

My new part-time work is for an advertising professional whom I worked for last year briefly.  He is an older man who has been an ad exec for his entire life.  I am helping him with some phone and internet research.  So far, he is pleased with what I am delivering, and I am hopeful it will continue for a while.

School activities were many in May.  The highlights were Victory Day, a K field trip, and K Graduation for Charis.

Victory Day — School Carnival

 K Field Trip to Grant’s Farm

  Charis at K Graduation

School vacation is here, and there will be plenty of kids around for photo ops, so I expect to be posting more pictures in the coming weeks.  Hopefully, I’ll be a little more attentive to my blog.  If not, check back at the end of summer for another summary post.