30 March 2008

Jazzy Jam

This weekend brought a unique opportunity for K, J, and L: to work on their piano improv skills. Their music school hosted jazz clinician Randy Sabien on Saturday, to teach a series of workshops and conduct a "jam session" in the evening. It was fun to hear the students bust out of the classical box and into the blues scales for a time. Here's a clip of J and an improv piano solo.
video

28 March 2008

"Glory"- to shine; to praise, boast, be boastful...

Psalm 64:10- The righteous man will be glad in the Lord, and will take refuge in Him; And all the upright in heart will glory.

from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible:
The righteous shall be glad in the Lord; not glad of the misery and ruin of their fellow creatures, but glad that God is glorified, and his word fulfilled, and the cause of injured innocence pleaded effectually. They rejoice not in men, nor in themselves, nor in any creature, or creature enjoyments, nor in their wisdom, strength, riches, or righteousness; but in Christ, in whom all the seed of Israel are justified and glory, and in what he is to them, and has done for them.

27 March 2008

Survey

Homeschooling friends~
Megan over at Half Pint House is running a survey for research on homeschoolers, Internet resources, and the upcoming election. Click over to help her out, and, BONUS, you might win a $25 Amazon gift certificate, besides!

26 March 2008

Fellowship of Love

from Grow in Grace by Sinclair B. Ferguson:

"Love also means caring for the needy, for love is nothing, if not practical. Love is always simple rather than complicated, caring rather than merely demonstrative."

There's an exhortation...

25 March 2008

PEEP Show

Some people are a lot more creative than me! I'm ok with that.

Check this out for a good smile.

23 March 2008

22 March 2008

March Madness- First Round

You probably wouldn't describe our family as big sports fans. We don't really have favorite teams. There's no color that dominates our wardrobe or interior design. But, I did grow up following college basketball. Throughout my growing up, my family had season tickets to watch the University of New Mexico Lobos, in the Pit, one of the greatest college basketball venues. You've probably seen it- that's where NC State coach Jim Valvano runs around crazy, looking for someone, ANYone to hug, after his Wolfpack won the National Championship in 1983. My kids have known the response to "Everyone's a Lobo..." is "...Woof, Woof, Woof" since they could speak.

Tim and I follow the NCAA tournament every year. (shameless confession- I adore One Shining Moment; I get teary when the underdog just barely loses, like Belmont v. Duke on Thursday...) And, we've started dragging the kids into it, too. Tim fills his bracket out in about one minute- guess he goes with his gut. I spend about 15 minutes, looking at RPI and Power ratings, and if there's a draw, I go with who I like. K choose by colors and mascots. No one can understand J's logic... :-) But, by Thursday night, we all had our brackets filled, and entered in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. We are all hopeful.

And then comes Thursday, and Friday, and the games. J revels that the rest of us choose USC, and KSU wins. Drake! Drake! I had such great hopes for you. I'm talkin' Final Four, Drake! And then came the overtime buzzer shot from Western Kentucky (see the video, at about 1:10 on...). sigh... And Gonzaga! The 'Zags. Lost to Stephen Curry, oops, I mean Davidson. My bracket is a mess. But, still, we're having fun!

Watch out on the trash talk, though, kid! :-)

21 March 2008

No "whatever"

from "Happy Crossmas!" by James Martin, Slate online magazine, Thursday, March 20, 2008-

But Easter demands a response. It's hard for a non-Christian believer to say, "Yes, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, died, was buried, and rose from the dead." That's not something you can believe without some serious ramifications: If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, this has profound implications for your spiritual and religious life—really, for your whole life. If you believe the story, then you believe that Jesus is God, or at least God's son. What he says about the world and the way we live in that world then has a real claim on you.
Easter is an event that demands a "yes" or a "no." There is no "whatever."

Friday Five- Easter!

This week's Friday Five: Easter!
Here's five things that I love about Easter.


1. Malted milk eggs
I only eat them at Easter. I don't even know if anyone else in the house really likes them, but I give them to my entire family, and then when I run out of mine, I can steal theirs. As Lucy from Peanuts says, "All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!"

2. Easter finest
Little kids getting dressed up. Little girls with hats and purses. Little boys with ties. I have a picture to prove the cuteness, but the scanner and I are not on friendly terms with one another today, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

3. Dying Easter Eggs
Family tradition. My kids WILL NOT let me forget it. I like brightly colored eggs. I leave them in the dye for a loooooonnnnnnggggg time.

4. Easter hymns
You only get them once a year. No Alleluia! can be sung with as much gusto as those in Jesus Christ is Risen Today. No bass part ever sounds as good as the harmony of Up From the Grave He Arose (don't you hear the echo, "He arose!"?). One of the best lines in all of hymn-dom- "Where thy victory, O grave? Al - - le- lu- ia!"

5. The Resurrection
Christ victorious. Life everlasting.
"He is not here for He is risen, just as He said." Matthew 28:6
"And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him." Mark 16:6
"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies." John 11:25
"But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." Acts 2:24

What a wonderful celebration Easter should be! Hope your weekend is filled with rejoicing.

20 March 2008

Spring!

Pippa's Song by Robert Browning

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn,
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;

The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His Heaven-
All's right with the world!


A cheer for the first day of spring- that season that we've been waiting for through the bitter cold days of winter. Not a bud to be seen around these parts (the photo comes from the cherry blossoms of Suzhou), but we're optimistic nonetheless. I realized I was hearing birds chirp during my early mornings last week. Without even jackets, we delivered meals this morning, and nearly every client commented on what a nice day it is. "God's in His Heaven; All's right with the world!"

17 March 2008

Trust and Obey

A word for today, especially for those traveling new roads, from Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot:

"Moses said to Israel, 'I offer you the choice of life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life and then you and your descendants will live; love the Lord your God, obey him, and hold fast to him: that is life for you.'

When you take the risk of obedience, you find solid rock beneath you- and markers, evidence that someone has traveled this route before. 'The Lord your God will cross over at your head... he will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not be discouraged or afraid.' (Deuteronomy 30:19,20; 31:3, 8) It's what the old gospel song puts so simply:
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.
(John H. Sammis)

15 March 2008

As in 12 disciples, for example...

from Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder-
"Margaret Mead once said, 'Never underestimate the ability of a small group of committed individuals to change the world.' He paused, 'Indeed, they are the only ones who ever have."


(note: photo credit to the PIH website. The lady shown is carrying rocks to contribute to the building of a health clinic in Lebakeng, Lesotho, Africa)

13 March 2008

Friday Five- the 'hood

This week's Friday Five is in honor of a fellow Bensonite (Bensontonian? Bensonere?) who is soon leaving the 'hood for warmer (well, warmer in the winter months, anyways. We'll even out when it gets to humidity in the summer...), more beachy and Southern views. S. lives exactly one song away from me, .8 miles according to mapquest, which would be .8 miles closer to downtown Benson (ok, "downtown" might be a stretch...). Technically, she lives "out west" by my standards. So, for those times when you miss the bustle of the burrough, here's some pics to remember us by, west to east...

First on the list HAS to be the Lizard King. No other neighborhood business establishment has amused us more in recent times. Sadly, last week the Lizard King cleared out- gone is the plywood, gone are the exclamations for revenge, gone are the warnings. Alas. The Lizard King will live on in memory only.

We love driving by the Bridal Gallery and seeing the latest dresses on display. (in case you can't see in the photo- this week, one black and white, the other violet) One week, it was chartreuse- even though you don't know that color, exactly, you knew that dress was chartreuse! My younger girls never tire of looking at those dresses.




The Benson Public Library! A gem! If you can't find what you are looking for, you can request it on the computer and it's delivered ASAP. We miss Mrs. Wagner, the children's librarian, who was always eager to greet us as we walked in. But, we're still regulars at the Benson Branch.











Louis Market. (for those not "local," SAY: Lou-ees, as in Huey, Dewey, and Louie, you know, Donald Duck's nephews) What more can you say about Louis? (well, I'm sure that my friend can say a few things, but I'll leave that for HER blog... :-) )












Lisa's Radial Cafe. Truthfully, Lisa's is not in Benson; it's almost in the shadow of our church. (however, there are a couple of good breakfast spots in Benson) But, being 6:00 regulars at Lisa's (the Early Bird #2, two pancakes, one egg over easy, bacon, coffee, multiple refills, table for two in the corner), I couldn't leave it off the Five list. Won't be the same without you, friend.
I'm hard pressed to think that your new digs will have the, uh, shall we say "character"?, of the 'hood we love so much! Send photos! :-)

Veggie tales Chinese Menu

This little clip might start to sum up the food we enjoyed in China! No forutne cookies though, not a one! Must be an American thing...
Enjoy! :-)

Signs (& wonders?) :-)
















The funniest thing for us about China was the signs. Talk about "lost in translation"! Some made us giggle, some caused us to scratch our head and ask, "what does that MEAN?" So, it became a great amusement to find good signs to take pictures of...





China sites and sights- Shanghai





We spent two days and nights in Shanghai, a city even bigger in population that Beijing, though smaller in area. Shanghai is in the midst of change, new buildings, skyscrapers!, are changing the horizon. The first photo shows the Shanghai skyline as seen from the Bund, across the water. We were in awe of those massive buildings, up to 88 stories tall.

In contrast, on the other side is "Old Shanghai," the area formerely known as the British Concession area, with old style brick buildings. See K & J under a Shanghai street sign.

We toured a silk carpet factory, tedious work for the craftswomen. The picture is of a bin of silk thread that will be used to weave the rugs. The rugs are beautiful works of art. Their color seems to change depending on the angle and light- as the tour guide told us, "So magic!"

In the "Chinatown" area of Shanghai (I am not making that up- they really call this area of the city Chinatown- all the others since are "knock off's" said our guide...), we found a Starbucks. Yes to a latte! See also a photo of the Chinatown area at dusk- too bad it took me all week to find that "night" setting on the camera! :-)

On our last night in Shanghai we went to a Cirque d'Solei style show- ERA. The feats were amazing and left us gasping. Chinese acrobatics, a man who could spin a huge ceramic pot on his head, eight (8!) motorcycle riders in a caged ball at a time!

Sites and sights of Shanghai.

12 March 2008

China sites and sights- Suzhou and Hangzhou





After leaving Beijing, we traveled by air, south, landing in Shanghai, and then by bus to Suzhou and Hangzhou, "small towns" by Chinese standards, "only" 6-7 million people in each.

The temple at Tiger Hill is famous for being the "leaning tower of China," though you can hardly discern that in the photo. It lilts 7 inches on one side, stopped now by shoring the foundation. The guide told us about building on sandy ground. That made us smile. The kids and I learned that lesson long ago... (Matthew 7:25-27)

The Lingering Gardens in Suzhou is among the top 4 gardens in China. Planned to the smallest detail, it wanders and intrigues. K admired the carefully manicured bonsai trees.

Canals run through Suzhou, and such, it is known as "Venice of the East." As we traveled by boat through the canal, we saw a woman dying her hair, laundry being dryed, residents walking along the way.

In Hangzhou we visited a tea plantation, and sampled the finest of green tea. Tea grows, terraced along the side of the mountain. It was a rainy day, and the mist lay heavy over the landscape.

We also visited a Buddhist temple in Hangzhou, where the smoke of incense offerings hung in the air.

A few more sights and sites of China.

China sites and sights- Beijing

So much to see.

We were out of the hotel before 8am most days, and did not return until after dinner, well into the evening. Full days! And even so, that does not even scratch the surface of all to see in China. But here's a try...


The Temple of Heaven in Beijing- constructed in the 1400's, during the Ming dynasty, without nails! Beautiful in intricacy, detailed and ornate.








A drive-by of the "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium, still under construction, and next to it, the "Water Cube," the National Aquatics Stadium. Very cool modern architecture. It will be fun to see them on tv this summer!









The Great Wall! Whoa! Just a small section of the 6000 miles, but still- wow! J and Papa climbed up to that highest house you can see in the photo. Steep!
















The Forbidden City. HUGE! 9999 rooms. We saw about 1%.


















Tian'anmen Square. It was crowded, even at dusk, because the Chinese Parliament (hmmm... Parliament? I'm not sure that's correct, but anyway, some sort of national government meeting...) was taking place that day. While we were standing there, the lights went on, all around.

(grrr... photos and text placement aren't exactly working the way I would like, but alas, time to move on to other things, like getting dressed, and school, and....)

11 March 2008

Real China














We traveled to China as part of a business delegation from the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, so our day was tightly orchestrated by the Chinese travel group. But, we were allowed opportunity to meet and mix with "real" Chinese folks. These are some pictures from those experiences.

J was definitely our group ambassador and go-to-guy. If we needed a volunteer, he was the guy. He made friends everywhere we went. The picture at the top was the first morning in Beijing, at a park where many retired Chinese would gather for morning exercises. He picked J out of the crowd to play the ring game with- and managed to ask us, without a word of English, to send him a picture of them together once we got home.

One stop was at Buddhist temple in Hangzhou. I missed the shot of a monk talking on his cell phone. Really, why shouldn't a monk talk on his cell phone, and yet it seemed like a strange juxtapostion...

Joe was our tour guide in south China. Great guy! He has seen so much change in China in his lifetime. He tells us that in 5 more years, China will be yet even more different than what we experienced now.

We saw many examples of Chinese culture, arts and crafts. Imagine sitting at a silk carpet loom all day, tying knots. They tell us that a room sized rug can take up to a year to weave. A year! We often heard that women do the detail work in art work, because "they are more patient." Technically, that cross-stitch that I started when I was pregnant in 1993 has taken me 15 years to complete, but not because I am patient...

Nearly every public place we went was exceedingly clean. And rarely a trash can in sight. We theorize that is because there are so many public workers, sweeping up after the masses.

The man "writing" on the sidewalk was doing calligraphy with water. Of course, we had no idea WHAT he was writing. But, we know it didn't last long.

Chinese toddlers! So very cute. Nearly always with their very proud grandparents, always very eager to allow us to dote.

Food! The fruit picture was taken at a street market, where booth after booth offered delicacies, most unrecognizable to our American eyes.
We saw the silk making process from worm to finished comforter. To start to unravel silk thread, they soak the silk cocoon in warm water to find the end of the thread. What an undesirable job that would be, with your hands in warm pupa water all day...

Want fresh chicken? Pick your bird, and the guy will take it to the back, kill it and pluck it for you. Tired of chicken tonight? The outdoor market in Suzhou also offered fresh turtles, frogs, snails, and snakes. And, almost any thing else you can think of- a regular open air WalMart, well, of sorts.

And this doesn't include the sights that break a piece of your heart, moms begging for money with their babies or toddlers in tow. Or the MANY street merchants, referred to as "mosquitos" by the tour guides, because of how they swarm tourists. Or those that stared at us- especially the blond ladies in the group. Real China.