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30 May 2008

Glaciers and Sitka

Cruise Day 4 & 5

The Hubbard Glacier was the primary highlight of cruise day 4. The Hubbard Glacier is the longest tidewater glacier (we prefer the proper English pronunciation. Say: glah-see-air. Thank you Ian and Globetrekker) in Alaska. The calving of Hubbard leaves a slurry of ice to sail through- very cool. We could also see the slopes of Mount Edgecumbe, an active volcano, in the distance.

It was also the day that we lost our only son on-board the MS Oosterdam. All the lessons of childhood, “if you are lost, stay where you are!” were proven to have fallen on deaf ears. Worse yet, his dad actually waved goodbye as the elevator doors shut on J prematurely. Of course, we had momentary audio “glimpses” of him, as he wandered the ship, leaving us messages along the lines of “this is your abandoned son, on deck 10…” and “don’t worry, I’m on the Lido deck…” At least it’s a good place to be lost; you sure won’t be starving on a cruise ship!

We pulled into Sitka, Alaska on day 5. We like Sitka. We wandered around the town. We visited the Russian Orthodox church, the downtown park, and the local bookstore. S & L adopted husky pups, of the stuffed toy variety, saving us approximately $1028 in “Sled Dog Encounter” excursion fees. T & J found the True Value hardware store in town, to procure supplies for the “Whatever Floats Your Boat” shipbuilding contest on board the ship. But, that is a topic worthy of it’s own post!

27 May 2008


UPDATE: Photos of the view from Mendenhall Gardens, the girls and cousin C. at Mendenhall Glacier, and the H Family gold panners...

Cruise Day 3- Juneau

Day 3, Monday, finds us docking in Juneau, the state capital of Alaska. Alaska is beautiful. (did I mention that yet? ) Mountains. Water. We arrive on a bright and sunny day!

We disembark at Juneau, and make two morning stops, the Mendenhall Garden and Glacier Tour. Mendenhall Gardens are privately owned on the edge of the Tongass National Forest. We ride to the top of a hill, 600 ft. elevation, for a great view of the glacier valley.

Next stop, the Mendenhall Glacier. Very neat! We have only a small idea of how huge it is, even from a mile away. We are impressed by the chunks of ice floating in the lake, and by the kids that are swimming in the icy waters! A huge waterfall cascades near the glacier with tremendous force.

Our afternoon is spent panning for gold. Admittedly, we were skeptical. And no, we didn’t find riches. But, we did unearth real gold flakes, and that was enough.


UPDATE! Photos of the girls at sea and Formal Night.

Cruise Day 1 & 2-
We leave Seattle.
This is a big ship!

Once on board, nearly the first thing we do, the entire ship does, is an emergency drill- and our family fails miserably. Thankfully, that’s what drills are for. If it had been an actual emergency, S & L would have been on their own lifeboat, K & I would have been on the wrong lifeboat, and we had no idea where Su was… oops. Official family post-drill debrief worked out those kinks.

That day and the next have been spent at sea. Swimming, resting, and lots of eating taking place. Some ping-pong and shuffleboard. No bingo, yet…

Formal night, and we get into our fancy outfits.
Which is ok, every once in a while. These folks clean up pretty nice. ;-)

Monday, we disembark at Juneau.
Alaska is gorgeous!

I am reminded of reading from Psalm 104 last week:
O Lord, how many are Thy works!
In wisdom Thou hast made them all;
The earth is full of Thy possessions.
There is the sea, great and broad,
In which are swarms without number,
Animals both small and great.
There the ships move along…
(v. 24-26)

24 May 2008


Friday found us journeying into the Seattle to wander and explore. The last time we were in Seattle with the kids, we were pushing a double stroller. Not anymore!

We started at the Pike Place Market, and ooohed over the fresh tulips and iris. We gathered our brown paper bags of fresh mini donuts, and strong coffee for the adults. We sampled smoked salmon and waited for the fish to fly. We picked fresh fruit and chatted with a guy who's only experience in Nebraska was being stranded as a big rig driver during one big winter storm. (so sorry 'bout that!)

We took the monorail over to Seattle Center and stood under the Space Needle. Then we headed over to the Pacific Science Center, and discovered and read and learned and played with all the things we could. We walked through the butterfly house. We explored space and gravity and genetics and the human body and energy and mirrors and motors.

We ate from international vendors in Seattle Center there for a folklife festival- Indian food and Mexican food and, uh, a hot dog. And then we headed to the funky Experience Music Project building. We had a blast at the EMP. We toured the history of music in Seattle, and the history of guitars in music. But, most fun, we experienced music! We got to mix sound and play guitar and keyboard and drums and bass. I was a backup singer for Heart. I learned the bass line for "Wild Thing." Thanks Lisa! :-)

Seattle is a great city!

And, at dinner back at the hotel, we had a brush with fame, so that I can confirm this story. We had the opportunity to meet Governor Mike Huckabee, the former Presidential candidate. He's here becauase he and his wife are taking an Alaskan cruise to celebrate their 34th anniversary. Isn't that nice?

23 May 2008

Ladies lunch

Photo credit to Julie (bottom right)! Well, it was her camera anyway- obviously she didn't take the picture; our VERY tall waiter did.

These girls are my Seattle-area "internet friends." They are a delight to be with- sweet, and hysterically funny. Our lunch was long and lovely. Four ice teas worth, I think...

Thanks girls!

We're leavin', on a jet plane...

And so begins the Month of Travel for the H. Family.

We were up and out early, early, early Thursday am (huge thank you's to Uncle H.), headed to the Pacific Northwest. First leg took us the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, which is empty and very nice early in the morning. Snoopy even greeted

us. Then, on to Seattle.

I had a fun and leisurely lunch with good friends, and the rest swam and watched tv. How's that for easing into vacation?

Here's also a funny picture of K- at our favorite Puget Sound area Mexican restaurant. Notice the resemblance? :-)

20 May 2008

It makes sense to him...

Trying to prove his sincerity, J. tells his sister, "I know when I'm joking, because I'm me."

And he says he's not a Yankee fan...



Call: meals
nursery switcheroo

Whole Foods-fish pills

Von Maur- return dress

email:chamber group

rental car: Dallas
Seattle 1
Mariner tickets?

Dinner: Monday

ESL flyer/snacks

Bible study prep

Stop: newspaper

return library books

consume dark chocolate


18 May 2008

Simple pleasures

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
-- Simple Gifts, a Shaker song by Elder Joseph Brackett

A few simple gifts that bring me pleasure-

Sunday afternoon naps
laughing with my husband
fresh brewed ice tea with lemon
dark roast coffee in the early in the morning with friends
tomato off the vine
day lillies
my kids giggling
clean sheets on my bed
walking into church when no one else is there
walking into church when everyone I love is there
my favorite sandals


17 May 2008


"The rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does."

- Unknown (but most certainly a coach!)

L & S finished up the spring soccer season today, on such a beautiful spring Saturday. We all got more sun than we realized that we were getting! They both played hard and both played well. They are glad that they don't have to play against each other for a while though. Both coaches would like to see them on their fall teams- I guess 9 years old is too young to be holding out for the best contract... :-)

Enjoy a few photos from today!

16 May 2008

Friday Five- Last Day of School!

The Last Day of School!

Close the books on another academic year! We did it. 36 weeks of schooling complete. We've traveled from Creation to the American Revolution in History. THAT'S quite a journey! We've tackled multiplication facts to Algebra. We've examined all the human body systems, nutrition, and How To Improve Our Survival Skills. All students are writing in cursive, well at least when they feel like it or when it is absolutely required. Everyone is typing (ahem, I guess it's correctly called "keyboarding" now...). We continue in Spanish, and one of us finished Latin 1. ("Sine labore nihil")

But, there's a lot more to schooling than academics.

Today's Friday Five- 5 reasons I am still thankful to school at home!

1. My kids. I know my kids and my kids know me. (ack! The reality of that!) For better and for
worse. There is no place better than home to work on character issues. There are no people better than parents work on character issues. Having our family at home means that it is natural to teach "when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." (Deut. 6:7)

2. The Word. The Bible is the foundation of our day. It's how we start the school day. We can work on memorizing the Catechism, and take the time to explain and talk out what it means and how it applies to our life. We have the privilege of praying for people around the world, for other countries and cultures and languages.

3. Service. We have opportunity to be available. We can serve meals to the shut-in, in rain and snow and sunshine. We can be a home to kids that need a place to go during the day. We can drive folks to appointments, and we can grocery shop for others, and we can set up for church fellowship hall for dinner at 3:30 on Wednesdays.

4. Activities. We are blessed by community. My kids play volleyball and basketball and baseball. They sing in the choir and ring the bells. We can get our piano lessons done during the day and the practicing too. We have friends to take field trips with and play games with and share i-pod earphones with. And that's not just the kids. Me too! I have friends that pat me on the shoulder when the going is rough and pray with me both when we're rejoicing and when we don't know what else to possibly do.

5. And yes, academics. We are learning. We are walking through history. We are putting our hands into science. We are learning new tongues. We read and read and read. Together. They are beginning to OUT learn me! And isn't that what we dream of, that our kids knowledge will exceed our own? And, they are learning independence- the value of studying and discipline, and hopefully, little by little, order. Learning to go out on their own, one step at a time. As parents, we're still standing on the promise of Proverbs 22:6- "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it."

And so, we joyfully look to summer, and the learning will continue, though in a different setting than sitting around our table. We are thankful for opportunities to travel and to play and to spend the summer season doing summer things! And to be refreshed before traditional "academics" start anew in August!

15 May 2008


I'm currently reading Suffering and the Sovereignty of God edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. In the chapter I finished today, "Waiting for the Morning," author Dustin Shramek reminds us of God's holiness. Shramek asks, "How does regarding God as holy help us in the midst of our suffering? What help is this when we are trapped in the pit and the darkness threatens to suffociate us?"

He then answers the question, "It helps us in two ways. First, in the midst of our pain, God's holiness is a life preserver that we can cling to in order to keep us from falling into the abyss. Second, it is because God is holy that he himself will keep us from falling into the abyss."

Shramek then reminds us of this statement from John Piper:
"God is holy in His absolute uniqueness. Everything else belongs to a class. We are human; Rover is a dog; the oak is a tree; Earth is a planet; the Milky Way is one of a billion galaxies; Gabriel is an angel; Satan is a demon. But only God is God. And therefore He is holy, utterly different, distinct, unique. All else is creation. He alone creates. All else begins. He alone always was. All else depends. He alone is self-sufficient. And therefore the holiness of God is synonymous with His infinite value. His glory is the shining forth of His holiness. His holiness is His intrinsic worth- an utterly unique excellence."

The comfort? Shramek concludes, "This is our hope in the midst of suffering. There is no one more powerful. There is no one more loving. There is no one more merciful. There is no one more compassionate. There is no other God but God. He alone is Savior and he alone is Lord. It is because God is holy that we can have confidence that he will fufill his promises to us, that his power will be used to help us, that his mercy will be poured out on us, and that his wisdom will design our suffering and everything else in our lives to work together for our good."

Amen, and amen.


from The Mitford Bedside Companion by Jan Karon:

"It was unusually cool for late June, and he savored his short walk to the office, noticing that he was feeling better than he had in years. He had dashed off a note to Walter after his morning prayers, quoting the encouraging message of Hebrews 4:16: "Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Boldly! That was the great and powerful key. Preach boldly! Love boldly! Jog boldly! And most crucial of all, do not approach God whining or begging, but boldly- as a child of the King."

14 May 2008


by J & Su

Trunks are big and
trunks are small.
But elephants have the best of all.
The elephant always has his stuck in front,
but never beneath him,
stuck in the muck.

12 May 2008


We had the unique opportunity of participating in a real-life, real-time civics lesson today. We were witness to our dear AussieB take the oath of US citizenship. She passed the test earlier today- could you? When we found out that she would be taking the oath of citizenship in less than an hour, we zipped right down to the Department of Homeland Security to cheer her on.

26 new Americans took the oath this afternoon, coming from 9 different countries: Australia, Bosnia, Canada, China, Iraq, Mexico, Philippines, Sudan, and Vietnam. The ceremony included a very sweet video, The Faces of America, a welcome message from President Bush, and a video showing America to Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American. And indeed, we all are! We suggested apple pie and ice cream to celebrate, but compromised with delicious pastries and tasty coffee at a French cafe. And isn't that the spirit of America? :-)

Theodore Roosevelt said, "The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able to pull his own weight." No worries, then, about adding this new citizen. She's been doing it for years!

Congratulations B! We wave our flags towards you!

On Mothering

A day late, but I was thinking yesterday, what a hard day Mother's Day must be for many women. I thought of a friend who is mourning a miscarriage, of another waiting on adoption. I thought of those who have difficult relationships with their own mothers, or their own children. Yes, it is good to recognize moms, but I confess, making such significance of one day seems a little silly to me. I thought of this passage, on women, every woman, being "life-givers"...

"Mothers give life, not just birth. Every woman is called to be a life-giver in every relationship and ministry God entrusts to our care. All redeemed women are mothers in Israel. Words of encouragement give life to the discouraged. Ministries of compassion infuse life into the weary and worn. Ministries of availability and hospitality beyond kith and kin model the covenant way of life. Ministries to unsaved neighbors give glimpses of life. When we live the life of hesed, we impart life in myriad mothering roles.

But we were gentle among you,
like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
So being affectionately desirous of you,
we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God
but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8"

(from The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood, by Susan Hunt and Barbara Thompson)

11 May 2008

Water Fun!

We took an afternoon to celebrate both the end of the school year and very good rates for home school families at CoCo Key water park last week. CoCo Key is relatively new- opened in the fall- and we found it to be a lot of fun. Especially when you can share it with friends!

08 May 2008


It is impossible to read of Myanmar, of the devastation and suffering, of a death toll in the tens of thousands, and not be moved.

From an AP story (Thursday, May 8):
"Entire villages in the delta were still submerged from the storm, and bloated corpses could be seen stuck in the mangroves. Some survivors stripped clothes off the dead. People wailed as they described the horror of the torrent swept ashore by the cyclone."

But what can we do from here? John Piper suggests 6 Ways to React to the Cyclone. Pray for the people of Myanmar.

(photo credit to Khin Maung Win, AFP/Getty images)

07 May 2008

Thirty One-derful

A moment of silence this morning for the co-founder of "the world's best ice cream empire," Irvine Robbins. In 1946, Robbins and his brother in law, Burton Baskin, opened an ice cream store in Glendale, California. They had 31 flavors, one for each day of the month.

I am admitedly partial to Baskin-Robbins because it was the site of my first "real" (according to the Internal Revenue Service, anyway) job. I worked at the 31 Flavors across the street from my high school. When I started in 1983, the minimum wage in New Mexico was $3.35. But, I'm pretty sure that I started at $2.65 an hour, with the potential of a 15 cent bonus per hour if we didn't waste too much ice cream. One of the major benefits of working at Baskin-Robbins was that we were allowed two scoops for each 4 hour shift we worked. That went in step with Robbins philosophy to encourage "his employees to eat as much ice cream as they wanted. That way, he figured they wouldn't have to steal it."

I have often been asked if I ever got tired of ice cream. Nope. Never. Not once. Yes, there were sticky summer evening shifts when we would hardly look up from scooping for hours. We'd be covered with ice cream from head to toe. Our brown corduroy pants (bought at the Gap when that's where you went to find a wall full of corduroy pants...) would have hot fudge and marshmellow cream and caramel down the legs. But, we were working with good friends, and not very many folks are grumpy when they are buying an ice cream cone.

My favorite flavors? Chocolate Mousse Royale. World Class Chocolate. Lime sherbet. And, Irvine Robbins' favorite, Jamoca Almond Fudge. But other flavors stand out, too. I hated scooping Chocolate Peanut Butter and Rocky Road- too easy to break the cone. When we were growing up, we'd walk to a 31 Flavors near my aunt and uncle's house, and my cousin Sherry would always order Daiquiri Ice or Grape Ice. My sister's favorite was Mint Chocolate Chip. Sometimes we would all get Pink Bubblegum, and we would each spit the gum into our own cup to save to chomp on later. The only flavor I haven't enjoyed? Peanut Butter and Jelly. I don't really like PB&J sandwiches either.

Thanks, Mr. Robbins, for good ice cream and good memories!
(picture and quote credits to The Seattle P-I, May 6, 2008)

05 May 2008


Herr Kuhn: "We have reason to believe this prisoner is the mastermind behind numerous criminal escape attempts."
from The Great Escape, 1963

Dory: [Reading a door] "Hey, look. 'Es-ca-pay.' Hey, it's spelled just like escape!"
from Finding Nemo, 2003

The battle of man v. beast continues. He has chewed through the fence. (Note the arch in one of the planks...) He has pulled down the wire, and then chewed through. And now, he is tunneling under.

We certainly don't give him the title "Mastermind," because, ahem, his brain is about the size of a peach pit; but you've got to credit him for tenacity. And, for making us giggle at the contortions he is willing to put his dog body through!
No doubt, the battle will continue!

04 May 2008

Considering Worship (Psalm 89)

From Matthew Henry's commentary on Psalm 89:

The more God's works are known, the more they are admired. And to praise the Lord, is to acknowledge him to be such a one that there is none like him. Surely then we should feel and express reverence when we worship God. But how little of this appears in our congregations, and how much cause have we to humble ourselves on this account! That almighty power which smote Egypt, will scatter the enemies of the church, while all who trust in God's mercy will rejoice in his name; for mercy and truth direct all he does. His counsels from eternity, and their consequences to eternity, are all justice and judgment.

02 May 2008

Friday Five- Self Portrait Fun

Today's Friday Five:

What happens when two dressed in pink shirts take a self-portrait? One more girl in pink wants in the picture. And then another girl in pink shows up and hops in the frame.

Five self-portraits.

Soul Consideration

One of my favorite school catalogs is Timberdoodle. Timberdoodle is a family owned operation, located back in the woods near Shelton, Washington. When we lived in Washington state, the children and I would take a little trip to go pick up our order. It didn't save a bit of money, between gas and an inevitable stop for a treat along the way, but it sure was pleasant. We have never been disappointed with either the service or the products from Timberdoodle.

But, in addition, much of what I enjoy about Timberdoodle is the catalog itself. There always is a bit of pondering and wisdom that the family shares with their customers, and the May email catalog is no exception.

From the Timberdoodle May newsletter:

"J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), a profound and faithful pastor, wrote a timeless book, The Duties of Parents. In it he sets forth this admonition:
"Train with this thought continually before your eyes-that the soul of your child is the first thing to be considered. Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you love them, think often of their souls. No interest should weigh with you so much as their eternal interests. No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die.

...This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?"

It may seem an odd thing to attend a curriculum fair, or browse a curriculum catalog with your child's soul and not the state's scope and sequence as your guide. What are your children's besetting sins and are your choices for curriculum enhancing or extinguishing them?

Further on in his booklet J.C. Ryle says, "...He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth,-for God, rather than for man, -- he is the parent that will be called wise at last."

"Trained for heaven, rather than for earth..."
Soul considerations...

01 May 2008

May Day

Early morning coffee, conversation and prayer.
Meals delivered.
Schoolwork complete.
Lawn mowed.
Kids playing outside.
Top down to the grocery store.
Flower baskets hung.
Grilled steak and chicken.
Corn on the cob.
Green salad.
Thunderstorms rolling in.

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And your faithfulness by night...
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands."
Psalm 92:1-2, 4