Monday, December 28, 2009

Lol, Reminds Me of Young Spencer -- posted by Momma

Name-Calling 101 -- posted by Momma

Over the past year I've really been able to see the profound fruit of years of daily Bible reading to the family. For example, after visiting a new church with a guest speaker, the kids piled into the van and even the little children were quoting verses that refuted the speaker's false testimony.

Here recently I was falsely accused of being in error because I am a name-caller. Like Jesus, the prophets, and various other believers in the Bible, I call sinners, well, sinners. That is a very spiritual practice as opposed to the false Church of the Polite. How unfortunate that so many church-goers are Biblical illiterates and yet they boldly accuse us of wrong-doing for obeying what Christ commands. The only name-calling that is forbidden is calling a fellow believer a fool, but we most surely are to boldly rebuke sinners by calling them what they are.

Fortunately, without prompting, the Word of God bubbled out of the children with examples of holy name-calling by Jesus and the saints such as: “hypocrites,” "fools," "child of hell," "serpents," "whited sepulchres," "generation of vipers," "adulterers," "murderers," "blind guides," "liars," "drunkards," etc.

Part of my testimony in Christ is that after praying "the sinner's prayer" in 5th grade while attending a Baptist school, I went on to try to convince myself that I had received the new birth even though I most certainly wasn't living a "holy and blameless life." I knew I wasn't really experiencing the Lord's promise in John 10 that his sheep hear his voice, and the voice of a stranger they will not follow. Well, maybe I said I heard him based on toasty good feelings I conjured up while so wanting to hear him.

There were many things I stumbled over in the scriptures, but I kept seeking truth. Thank God He brought someone across my path with the Holy Ghost guts to love me enough to offend me by pointing out that I was still on the list of those who SHALL NOT inherit the kingdom of God! Praise God, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and at 35 years old I was finally converted after spending so many years as an imposter!

Anyway, we have recently started having the children read the scriptures aloud in the morning instead of us always reading them to them. What a blessing to see the younger ones reading the Word to the older and vice versa! Even my mother who was never much of a Bible reader is up to two books a day! And Christmas Eve we all filled her bedroom where she is bedridden and we worshipped the Lord together and sang spiritual songs and it was absolutely a beautiful dream come true.

As for some of the lists I kept appearing on:

I Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Galatians 5:19-21
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joy, Joy, For Christ Is Born! -- posted by Sarah Grace

I was having trouble with the computer not picking up the acoustics of the guitar, so it sounds a bit off to my ear. However, I hope you enjoy it anyway. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sick -- posted by Sarah Grace

I have never used AIM before, but my brother had previously downloaded it onto the laptop, so I signed up. I was waiting on a friend (my friend was taking forever to get on), and while I waited I explored a bit to see how the whole site worked. First of all, I was appalled by the grotesque and nasty user images and discussions I saw in the chat rooms. It's as if these people want to think of the most vile and disgusting things to say, even if they don't make any sense whatsoever. It was absolutely revolting.

Then out of nowhere, a user popped up on my private message screen and wanted to chat. I accepted, and we began having a very pleasant conversation joking back and forth, until suddenly he told me that he was into "sex chat," and he wanted to see if I was up for it.

I have never in my life felt as violated as I did that moment. I'm very well aware of the evil in this world, but I had never been sexually approached before.

I wanted to throw up or cry. Too confused and emotional, all I wrote back was "Absolutely not. Goodbye." When my mom came home from shopping, I told her about it. Even though it was over an hour since it happened, she and I agreed that I should write him back and confront him. I knew I would feel better once I had.

This is what I wrote:

You know, you shocked me so with your remark that I stopped too quickly before warning you that you better knock it off and repent of your sinning, and especially have your sin nature eradicated. Otherwise, God is going to kill you and put you in hell! I am still very troubled from when you invited me to sex chat. You're not only sinning, but you're leading others into sin! Shame on you!

I wasn't expecting him to write back, and if he did I expected him to rant expletives. He wrote back, and I had my mom read it first in case it was something awful.

Surprisingly, this is what he said: its tru and u r right...i cant argue the point...and i do ask both ur and His forgiveness...thanks for putting me under conviction

Me: I forgive you. Now ask Jesus to take away that nasty sin nature so you can walk a holy walk, and go and sin no more.

Him: u r right and i definitely will

I couldn't believe it. Now, it's definitely possible that he's just a seasoned "sex chatter" who knows the right things to say whenever he bumps into a Christian. But still, I'm hoping that he meant it.

What's funny though, is that during our pleasant conversation before the fall, I joked around with him about being new to AIM, and that I type slower because I spell out "you" and "are" instead of "u" and "r." So, what the hell made him think I would even know how to sex chat?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Give Thanks! -- posted by Sarah Grace

Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.

He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.

The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.

They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
-- Psalm 111

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! -- posted by Sarah Grace

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
-- Psalm 100

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Just Made Myself Hungry -- posted by Sarah Grace

The other day while the boys were cleaning up the classroom, they stumbled across a menu that I had created for a class at culinary school.  The class was taught by our meat instructor (you know, the widower I had a crush on), and he was teaching us about what actually goes into running a restaurant.  Our project was to choose two meats and write five menu descriptions for each.

I chose chicken and shrimp, and I went home and dove headfirst into creating mouth-watering descriptions.  I worked very hard on this, as I wanted to make Chef proud.  When I received my paper back at the end of our next class, my "Love Chef" had written "Perfect" at the top of the page.  I felt complete.

Anyway, I thought I'd give y'all a taste (ha!) of what you could look forward to at my restaurant.

Chicken Quesadillas
   Two white corn tortillas stuffed with marinated chipotle chicken, smothered in delectable Monterey Jack cheese, and grilled to bubbly deliciousness.

Chicken Parmesan
  Tender, juicy chicken breast covered in a thick crust made with aged Parmesan cheese.  Served with a delicately simple lavender rice pilaf and a savory broccoli almandine.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
  Savory Swiss cheese and succulent ham stuffed in a tender chicken breast makes up this all-time favorite.  But, paired with our creamy white wine sauce, this dish takes on a whole new flavor!

Shrimp and Grits
  Seasoned jumbo shrimp, red and green peppers, onions and Portobello mushrooms, all sauteed to perfection and piled high over a bed of creamy stone-ground grits.  Topped with our signature Dreamy Cheese Sauce.

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
  Is there a more perfect match?  Crispy bacon strips envelope our savory jumbo shrimp to create a pairing of flavors that will keep you coming back for more.  Served with spicy low-country red rice and our freshly made coleslaw.

Grilled Shrimp Salad
  Marinated grilled shrimp, sweet grape tomatoes, juicy pineapple, Mandarin oranges, tossed together with crisp, fresh lettuce and sweet coconut dressing make this salad a tropical treat you won't soon forget.

Now, wouldn't you want to stop by Sally's Place?

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's My Birthday, Woohoo -- posted by John

Today is my birthday and I am 21 years old. Actually, I'm 11 so I can't even buy a beer.

I don't want a bunch for my birthday but I am thinking of asking for either one nice present or a few little presents, or maybe a few big presents, or maybe a lot of big presents. Don't worry; I'm not greedy. I'm kidding. I'm thinking of either dance classes with Sarah Grace or maybe an engineering kit.

I spent the last two nights at Ma's house with Mom and Sarah Grace. We watched football all day Saturday with Will and then Food Network. Ma is on a Food Network kick.

I haven't been online much to write on my journal because I'm not allowed to go online without Mom home. When she gets home, I just want to spend time with her.

Will is living with Ma but Mom goes to see about her a lot and then she lets Will come home to see everybody, especially Richard because Richard misses him so much. I've never seen Richard and Will ever argue. Sometimes Will has to correct Richard and Richard doesn't like it, but they are like peas and carrots. When Will came home to get his hair cut, Richard jumped up and grabbed him around his neck and Will started slinging him around and throwing balls at all of us. It was a fun ruckus.

Ma likes Will taking care of her best because she trusts him the most to pick her up. When the nurse comes to bathe her, Ma only wants Will to carry her or put her in the tub. Will knows all about her medicine and he works with the hospice nurses to take care of her. They love him, too. In fact, one of the nurses came over and taught Will how to fry chicken the way Ma likes it. He said they had fun putting together a traditional Southern meal with rice and gravy and Henderson Bush butterbeans. Those ladies love Will probably because he is so tender caring for Ma and he is polite.

I was here for Halloween, which we don't celebrate. We've never had trick-or-treaters come to our house because we live down a long lane, but they come to Ma's house even though we turned the lights out. Ma lives in a big Victorian house that is up on a hill and looks very creepy with all the lights out. One group of teenagers came to the door, and when we didn't answer, a girl with a Brooklyn accent said, "Oh my gawd, no one's home... LET"S GET OUTTA HERE!" Yankees crack me up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mind if I Bum a Ciggy? -- posted by Sarah Grace

The past few nights the family has enjoyed watching old home movies, and the little kids have gotten a kick out of seeing me and Will back when we were little tykes.

Today, John was talking to me about some of the videos and said, "So back when y'all were little, Mom wasn't holy?! I thought she was holy before she even met Dad!" I laughed and told him that, no, Mom became holy since having children.

George, who had been listening in, looked up from his math book and asked, "So, you knew Mom when she used to smoke?" I nodded my head. He then gave me a very concerned look, his eyes wide and serious, and asked:

"Did she ever let you have a puff?"

In the Eye of the Beholder -- posted by Sarah Grace

I was at the computer last night and Richard suddenly came up to me and asked, "Is it okay if I think some girls are prettier than you?  Would you be upset?"  I, of course, told him I wouldn't be upset in the least, and assured him that I think many, many girls are prettier than me.  I then asked which girls he was thinking about and he said, "I don't know, I'd have to see them."

So, I went to's celebrity directory and just started clicking on various actresses to see which ones he would deem as prettier than me.  Turns out, there are quite a few that rank higher than me.  In fact, all but two.

Anyway, I then clicked on Drew Barrymore, and as soon as he saw her he said:

"Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes!  I love girls like her.  Bright girls... that glow.  It's like she has sun cheeks." 

That might be the most wonderful description of beauty I have ever heard.  And he's only seven.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Time Flies -- posted by Sarah Grace

We've been having lovely, crisp fall weather lately, and it's even starting to get cold enough to make fires in the mornings. I think I may have said this before, but fall is my favorite season. I love the coziness it brings, and the romance of the leaves changing color and starting to... well, fall.

Anyway, I was out on my walk today, enjoying the glorious autumn air, and the boys were in the front yard playing football. My route goes along the fence in the front yard, so as I'd pass by we'd chat and joke back and forth. Then, John asked me to play football with them. I declined, one reason being I didn't have the proper "play/work" clothes on, and the other being that I'm really too old to be romping around with my brothers, especially since two of them are twice my height and could easily crush me.

John was disappointed I wouldn't play, and as I continued on my walk I suddenly had one of those "whoa" moments. You know how the Bible says that to God a thousand years is like a day, and a day is a thousand years? Well, I feel like the past twelve years have been a day. It seems like only yesterday I was having dirt-clod fights with my brothers at our fort. Only yesterday playing tackle-loco with them every single Saturday. Only yesterday moaning from the pain of having my braces put on. Only yesterday that I was the little tomboy, wearing my jeans rolled up to my knees and playing outside barefoot because I wanted to be Huck Finn. (It's true... I really did want to be him.)

And now, here I am, 20 years old, perfectly capable of starting a family and running my own home. I talk a lot on here about how I'm excited to get married and have children, but today, seeing them play football and not being able to join them, I sort of wanted time to stop. I became very sentimental about the times my brothers and I used to have: going on adventures together, planning underground tunnels, putting on plays, reenacting battles, learning hieroglyphics in school, goofing around during lunchtime playing the "staring game" and laughing so hard our sides hurt.

When people realize I have seven brothers, usually their reaction is, "Oh my gosh, you poor thing." No, I'm not poor. Having seven brothers is one of the richest and most rewarding experiences I will ever have; I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. And, when the wonderful day comes for me to leave and cleave, I'm going to miss them. I'm going to miss them so. very. much.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Overheard -- posted by Mom


Me, a little frantic: "It's getting later with every minute!"

Bill, with pause, and in perfect deadpan: "That's how it works."


Older brother to next younger brother who refuses to quit quoting Genie from Aladdin after lo these many years:

"You are living proof that living with Robin Williams would really suck."


Allen Boy: "What if somebody asks me what grade I'm in? Do I say I'm in Beta because Dad forgot to order Gamma?"


Allen Boy: "My ankles are killing me!"

Me: "Those are your knees, son."


Friday, October 2, 2009

A Boy Post -- posted by Richard, George, and John

We decided to do a post together today to tell about what we've been doing.

Mom and Sarah Grace finally came home from Ma's house after 2 1/2 weeks. We felt really good having hugs and kisses.

The next day Mom took us to Ma's and we had some ice cream. Ma has a hickory tree and Mom gave us Walmart bags to pick the nuts out of the yard to make hickory nut pie. We came home and cracked some and ate them. Most people don't cook with hickory nuts because they are hard to crack. We worked hard cracking them with a hammer but if you hit them in just the right spot they will open up without smashing them to smithereens.

After we came home we realized that we have hickory nut trees all over our property! We thought about going into the hickory nut business.

George had a birthday and turned 9 and Mom took us to the grocery store and we got cupcakes with whipped icing. Our mouths turned the color of the cupcakes but they were delicious. We haven't had George's party yet, but we will.

One day this week Mom bought some nice Pepperidge Farm Chessmen butter cookies and Danish Wedding cookies and Pecan Sandies. We were going to have tea time on the deck but it was still too warm outside for hot tea so we had ginger ale and milk and grape juice, except for some older kids had coffee. We also had apple slices with caramel dip while Mom read James Herriot. We used water guns to squirt the stray cats that like to butt in to get our food. They left us alone after a few squirts.

Since that day it has gotten colder and some days we've seen our breath when we go to do our farm chores in the morning.

We've been learning grammar about the parts of speech but the funniest thing is when we learned about mixed metaphors so we've been saying things like:

"It doesn't take a rocket surgeon."
"He's not the sharpest marble in the drawer."
"From now on, I’m watching everything you do with a fine-tuned comb."
"People were dying like hotcakes."
"The fan is gonna hit the roof."
"We have to get all our ducks on the same page."

One day we made butter and it was a great arm exercise. At first it didn't seem like anything was happening except making whipped cream, when all of a sudden, it got clumpy and separated from the liquid. Mom let us eat it on English muffins, and then on Hawaiian rolls and then the next day we had it on toast. We loved it! We thought about going into the butter business. And then we thought about using our butter to make hickory nut brittle! We also thought about hickory nut cereal. Please don't steal our ideas.

Richard is saving pencil shavings because he thinks he could make fire starters or something to sell. We are always thinking of things to sell and one day we might be entrepreneurs.

Richard's birthday is October 8 and John's is November 2 and Spencer's was September 22 and George's was September 28 and Ma's is October 11. It is a big birthday season.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beloved Liberty 2000-2009 -- posted by Sarah Grace

I just now received word from home that Liberty has died. I think the Lord knew it was best to take her while I was here at my grandmother's house, as had I been there, I would have had to see her in distress, all the while knowing that I could do nothing. I thank Him for allowing it to happen the way it did, as He knows how much I loved her.

She was my treasure.

This is a tribute I wrote about her on my private journal a couple of days ago:

My Liberty

Today has been very sad for me, and I just didn't feel like doing a video. We're on death watch for one of my goats, Liberty. We've known she's had a wasting disease (basically, cancer for goats) for a few month's now, so this isn't too much of a shock. Even so, that doesn't really ease the pain.

Liberty was one of the first two goats that began our small hobby farm many years ago. She was aptly named, as she was quite skittish and wild, and would never let anyone near her. In fact, we even have home movies of the boys trying to lasso her, just so Dad could clip her hooves. However, that all changed the day she gave birth to her first kid.

At the time, we were inexperienced farmers, and we didn't even realize Liberty was pregnant. So obviously, I couldn't believe it when I walked into the goat shed one day and saw her struggling, trying to give birth. I watched her for a few minutes to see if she would need my assistance, and it didn't take me long to realize that she would, as the muzzle of the kid was just barely poking out. It was going to be a big one.

I quickly ran inside, thoroughly washed my arms up to shoulders, grabbed some towels and a bottle of vegetable oil, and then ran back to the shed. By this time, Mom and a few of the boys were there watching Liberty, along with our Nubian goat, Pink, who spent the entire time moaning and stomping her feet out of distress for the sake of Liberty. She was Aunt Pittypat from Gone with the Wind, in goat form.

I knew I had to hurry, as the water bag had already broken, and the kid might suffocate. I proceeded to hike my sleeves up as far as they would go, and completely slather my arms in vegetable oil for lubrication. Then I knelt down, and gingerly reached in. I felt all around inside the womb to make sure there weren't multiples, and if the kid's legs were in the proper position for delivery. I then became aware of exactly how huge this kid was. There was no way she would be able to deliver it on her own.

By now, I'm up to my elbows in Liberty, and she's looking at me with pleading eyes to hurry up and relieve her from the pain. It was crunch time. I grabbed hold of the kid's two front feet, and waited for Liberty to start pushing. It's a very delicate situation, because if I pulled too hard or when she's not pushing, it could cause her to hemorrhage and die. I waited for my cue.

Finally, I could feel her muscles contracting, and she let out a soft moan. I began to pull, but the kid barely moved an inch. I waited for the next contraction, and pulled again. Still, little progress. This birth dance continued: push, pull, rest; push, pull, rest. After what seemed like ages, all we had to show for it were two little hooves and part of the head. I knew it was now or never, so I told Mom to grab the head while I held on to the feet. Then, after one final push and tug, the kid came sliding out of the birth canal, and onto the straw-covered floor. It was alive, and it was humongous. We named him Una Gran Sorpresa (A Big Surprise).

Ever since that day, Liberty has always responded to and trusted me over any other family member. If the boys are trying to load her into the trailer or take her somewhere she is unsure of, she won't budge until I take the halter and lead the way. Even when I'm out on my walks or working in the garden, she'll start bleating for me to come visit her, and won't quit until I do. We've been through a lot together, and, although this may sound strange, she has been my best friend.

I love Liberty more than any other animal I have ever owned. I thank God for blessing me with her, and will always hold close to my heart the time we had together. She will be greatly missed.

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." -- Anatole France

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Update -- posted by Mandy

I wanted to give a quick update since I know a number of dear family friends check this blog for the latest with our family.

First of all, Happy Birthday to Spencer yesterday! I'm sorry I didn't get to lay a big smooch-a-rooni on you, but I'll make up for it once Will steps in for us here. You'll have to peel me and my muchos smoochos off of you! I love you, babe, and I'm so proud of you, and thanks for holding down the fort while we're spread out!

Secondly, for those of you who haven't heard yet, we got the report that Ma does NOT have lung cancer! Oh thank you, Lord! What a relief that she doesn't have to deal with that. Of course, she's still in hospice and she knows her time is near, but she is overjoyed that she doesn't have that dread.

Sarah Grace and I have had a wonderful time here lately listening to stories from Momma's life. (I wish I had as good a memory as she does!) We've managed to document the who, what, and where on stacks of old photographs and she's had a blast reliving those days. By the way, we've heard an earful on the Red Foxes of 1947.

Momma is very limited in her breath to speak so she motions for a lot of her needs and saves her breath for a good story! She has amazing stamina considering her condition. Yesterday I started reading First Peter and I assumed she'd "peter" out by the first couple of chapters, but she nodded me on to the end. Needless to say, she managed to stay awake for all of Dancing with the Stars and I often catch her juking in place when a good dance tune is on, especially during certain commercials with old disco beats.

Our dear friend, Leanne, has delighted Momma with sursies of petits fours, and a headboard lamp, and lovely (expertly wrapped, lol) packages filled with pajamas for every day of the week. Ma especially loves an elegant set of black and white paisley ones. Leanne also searched the countryside for an egg crate mattress pad for Ma's bed to make her more comfortable, and it certainly did the trick! God bless you, Leanne.

Many thanks, precious friends, for all your prayers for our family through this difficult time for Momma and, of course, my family's bout with H1N1. It seemed like the worst of times while we were going through it, but the good Lord has tucked in the best of times as well.



Friday, September 18, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Harpo Marx -- posted by Momma

On August 27, Accountemps released a survey revealing the most overused workplace cliches. I realized then and there that my husband is Cliche Boy (which makes me Mrs. Cliche Boy) so I set out to deliver him (us) from his (our) embarrassment. In case you haven't yet seen it...

From Accountemps:

Executives were asked, “What is the most annoying or overused phrase or buzzword in the workplace today?” Their responses included:

Leverage: As in, “We intend to leverage our investment in IT infrastructure across multiple business units to drive profits.”
Reach out: As in, “Remember to reach out to customers impacted by the change.”
It is what it is: As in, “The server is down today, and clients are irate. It is what it is.”
Viral: As in, “Our video has gone viral.”
Game changer: As in, “Transitioning from products to solutions was a game changer for our company.”
Disconnect: As in, “There is a disconnect between what the consumer wants and what the product provides.”
Value-add: As in, “We have to evaluate the value-add of this activity before we spend more on it.”
Circle back: As in, “I’m heading out of the office now, but I will circle back with you later.”
Socialize: As in, “We need to socialize this concept with our key stakeholders.”
Interface: As in, “My job requires me to interface with all levels of the organization.”
Cutting edge: As in, “Our cutting-edge technology gives us a competitive advantage.”

Accountemps conducted a similar survey in 2004. The following “Hall-of-Fame” buzzwords were cited in both surveys:

At the end of the day
Think outside the box
On the same page

Some phrases cited in the most recent survey suggest executives are suffering from recession fatigue, including:

Do more with less
Gloom and doom
Pay freeze

I dutifully scoured the Internet for more:

Your call may be recorded for training purposes
Going forward
Don’t get me started
Tell me about it
It’s not rocket science
As you do
Have a good one
Working families
Not ruling anything in or out
No magic bullet
Can I just say
The jury is still out on that one
No brainer
Having said that
At this point in time
When it comes to...
Calling to touch base
Push the envelope
Think outside the square
Let’s do lunch
Key learnings
Hit the ground running
Let’s unpack this
Take it offline
Redeployed people
Core Competency
Generation X
going forward
low-hanging fruit
can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs
"you can't make eggs out of an omelete" meaning that some situation was too far gone to start over
Throughout the Enterprise
Using "task" as a verb. E.g. "I am going to task you with this project.
touch base
I don't have the Bandwidth to take this on
feel/have/take "ownership"
out of pocket

That should be enough, as Cliche Boy (and Mrs. Cliche Boy) are too paranoid to write or say anything now.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What a Lovely Day -- posted by Momma

This morning I woke up to a red sunrise. The sand traps on the 18th hole looked like pools of pink champagne, and our "pet" hummimgbirds were busy sipping from the two nectar feeders attached to the window behind the rose rocker from which Miss Sally usually makes her video entries. I noticed because I was surprised to see them up so early. Sarah should aim the camera so y'all can see them. One is a very small ruby-throated hummingbird, rather skittish, and the other is larger, and bold enough to drink from the lower feeder, defying his "you know, a cat could easily eat me at this altitude" instinct. Gutsy isn't as cute as Ruby, but I like his moxie.

Speaking of moxie, our mild-mannered Miss Sally can be a regular Pitbull. Yesterday, I went grocery shopping by myself for the first time in a long time. Usually Sarah Grace accompanies me, and she has become my Jiminy Cricket of supermarket savvy! Don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of her as I truly appreciate her knowledge and wisdom. She has managed to get our grocery bill BELOW the USDA allowance for the THRIFTY food plan even though we eat mostly pricey whole foods! Do you understand the magnitude of this accomplishment? Hold on to your hat... we spend $150-$180 per week (depending upon whether we have a treat like seafood or steak that week) for a family of 10! And 8 of those 10 are boys! Of course, she makes most everything from scratch, as she is our Frau Fru-gal.

So, yesterday I went to Publix, which is very close to my mother's house, to pick up a couple of items. Sarah Grace wanted me to buy a little bit of chicken so she could make chicken salad for my mother. (One of Momma's favorite things to eat is Sarah's chicken salad.) I grabbed a package of chicken and noticed that it was $8.47 for a couple of albeit large split chicken breasts. However, I was well aware that Sarah knew a whole large roasting chicken from Food Lion would be $4.00. Do you know I was actually AFRAID to buy the convenient yet over-priced chicken? I was afraid of the disapproval I would get from my Sally. Unfortunately, the Food Lion was close enough that I couldn't justify the purchase in light of gas prices, so I got back in the car, drove to another sizzling hades-just-beneath-my-feet-and-I'm-having-trouble-breathing parking lot to buy twice as much chicken for half as much money, thanks to my daughter's tutelage. If she keeps this up, I've got a dang good chance at becoming an awesome homemaker!

The good news is our Gators beat the Trojans 56-6. The bad news is they took our Tebow out of the game early to give the back-up quarterback a chance to play. The passage on Tebow's eye black strips was Mark 8:36. Go ahead and read all of Mark 8 while you're there.

Don't miss this. I implore you to click every slide. -- posted by Mom

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Sultan of Smooth Soul -- posted by Mom

Yesterday, while the hospice nurse was here, I had to call my husband to find out if my power of attorney for Momma extended to medical power of attorney. Since my mother has her phone set on speaker so she can hear it, I courteously and immediately reminded him of such since the nurse was in the room listening. And what did he do? He proceeded to ooze every word he uttered in a deep-down, low, love-ya-baby-need-ya-baby-gotta-have-yo-fine-lovin'-baby, Barry White voice. At first, I didn't know if the nurse thought I was married to a 400lb. over-sexed black man, so I nervously did the haha-aren't-you-amusing chatter, but he would not relent! When I said goodbye, I think I heard him moan, "Mmmmm." It tickled my mother to bits and certainly took the edge off of why we were all there!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Long Time No Write -- posted by John

Sorry I haven't written in a while, but I had H1 N1 "swine flu." Practically my whole family got it. Everybody got it except my Mom and my brother Will who is at my grandmother's house taking care of her.

My brother George and I had it pretty bad but Dad and Webb had it the worst. Webb was in the hospital for about two weeks and most of that time he was in Pediatric Intensive Care. A kid here died of it while they were in the hospital.

Yesterday, I was in the bathroom and I saw two spiders mating outside the window. I'd heard on the Discovery Channel that the big spider is the female and the little spider is the male. I'd also heard that the male volunteers to be food for the babies. I was watching them mate when out of the blue the female quickly wrapped the male up in her silk and made a bundle out of him. It was shocking because they were peacefully mating when all of a sudden, BAM, she was spinning him up at lightspeed and then she just took him up. And it was over.

Today I saw two Praying Mantis's mating and, again, the male was the smaller one. James told me that after they mate the female bites the male's head off and yet he keeps trying to mate without a head! I sat there for a long time because I didn't want to miss seeing that but I had to leave for something and when I came back with James to show him, the male was GONE!

Mom placed an order for some more Dr. Rufus Fears lectures because we can't get enough of him! He is so smart and he is a great storyteller. I would love to know him in real life.

These are the courses she got because they were on sale:

The Wisdom of History

Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life

The History of Freedom

Laughing the Sun Up -- posted by Mom

Okay, so I've been up since 4 AM when I heard the Webbsite wimpering. He had somehow managed to get out of his bed and across the floor onto this blanket the boys roll out to sit on while playing PlayStation. Evidently he couldn't get back in the bed (his crawling is hindered from being so sick) so he just lay there fussing. It worked, as I woke up and fetched my husband to wrestle him back into his bunk.

Mr. Allen is often awakened to wrestle children back into their bunks. We have some sleepwalkers who roam around and sometimes they even seek unconventional places to urinate. Really. I think they get it from me. One famous Franklin Family story is about how, while a preteen, I was sleeping on the sofa in our den when I suddenly woke up, and very purposefully walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, pulled out the vegetable bin, dropped my bloomers and proceeded to relieve myself on our groceries. I then pulled up my britches, closed the vegetable bin and fridge (as if it were perfectly normal to do such a thing) and walked back to the sofa to resume my nap. I didn't make it as I was awakened by the laughter of my family. I remember being agitated with them for waking me, but I think it was more embarrassment because my sisters had friends visiting. My mother loves to tell that story.

My Mr. Allen has spent many a night stumbling around the house hunting a child to return to his bed or handing me a newborn to nurse so I wouldn't have to get out of bed for that 2 AM feeding. He'd patiently wait for the baby to be fed, and then return him to his crib. But you mustn't feel sorry for the old man as he is the most admired man I know. His colleagues introduce him proudly as the father of eight and they marvel at how he handles providing for this posse without me being a co-provider, and also how he manages being a hands-on father, even greatly contributing to homeschooling. It is a rare thing these days to find a man brave enough to take on that kind of responsibility, but I assure you my George Bailey declares he's the luckiest man in Bedford Falls!

I've spent this morning alone (where's Sarah Grace?) LMAO listening to Mr. Billy video entries. Since the volume is curiously low, Sarah, at my request, gave me a pair of earbuds so I could hear him better. With the earbuds and the house so quiet, I was able to hear all that I missed and I have L-O-L-ed with the rising sun. I think Mr. Billy's UK culture parallels US "yankee" culture (as opposed to our Southern culture) because he blurts out phrases like "get over it" and is sometimes abrupt by our standards. Even so, I've fallen in love with him a hundred times over and have thoroughly enjoyed the rascal.

Miss Sally has finally awakened so I guess it is time to get on with the preparation of breakfast. Yesterday, I was delighted to behold the sincere gratitude of the family when we made a blueberry pancake breakfast. Sarah didn't attempt it while I was gone, with being sick herself and it being a big job. We make whole wheat pancakes from freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour and you wouldn't believe how delicious they are! They aren't like heavy whole wheat pancakes; they're light and fluffy yet they are highly nutritious- loaded with enzymes. It's a slight bother, as I cook a pound of bacon while Sarah Grace grinds the wheat and makes the batter. Then it takes awhile to make all those pancakes on the griddle. It's not difficult, just time consuming. That's why we reserve pancake breakfasts for the weekend. We normally have french toast, or eggs and sausage, or Sarah's famous baked oatmeal. Her baked oatmeal is sooo delicious, and I'm not an oatmeal person. She's just really good at making healthful foods tasty. Mind you, we lived through some failed experiments, but not as many as you might imagine. I'm really proud of her. She even keeps us well stocked in things like homemade peanut butter and chocolate syrup to eliminate preservatives and unwanted ingredients. That's an extremely time-consuming chore to make even condiments from scratch! But she's happy to do it because she understands the science behind it all. I know this homemaker talk can bore the white right outta your eyes, but I think it's important to acknowledge the beauty of the much maligned and under-appreciated service to family.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Home -- posted by Sarah Grace

Mom and Webb came home Thursday afternoon, shortly after I posted my last entry.  It was wonderful seeing them again after so long, and many tears were shed by Mom as she hugged the children tightly together.  We celebrated with Chinese take-out and watched the first college football game of the season. 

Now that they're home and everyone is well, we've been working on getting back into the swing of daily life, but kind of taking it easy at the same time.  Mom and I will need to relieve Will over at my grandmother's house in a couple of days.  He's been there for three weeks straight, and he misses the family terribly.

Amazingly, throughout this whole time, Mom never contracted swine flu.  But now, she's become a bit paranoid that she will, which would be terrible because of her needing to take care of my grandmother and relieve Will.  Occasionally, I'll hear her in the background saying under her breath, "Please Lord, don't let me get sick.  Please Lord, don't let me get sick.  Please Lord, don't let me get sick...."

Please Lord, don't let her get sick!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Room 7401 Bathed in Computer Light -- posted by Mom

Here I am watching Webber Dimplehocks go in and out of sleep. His Bob the Builder dvd seems to be glitching with the same ebb and flow as his sleep cycle, and the trickling water bottle on his oxygen has given the room a certain sleepy-do rhythm.

I've been sitting here with the Lord thinking about the number of times I've been face to face with the death of one of my children. The past eleven days have been a hard trial with me wondering how much more he would allow me to endure, but what difference does that make? There's no turning back, and where would I go anyway? No, when I went all the way with the Lord, I went all the way with him.

Before Webb pulled out of this one, I found myself climbing into Jesus again and it just makes me long to be off this planet and in his arms and lap and cubby hole all the time. Even my heart's great desire, to see my children well married, is losing its sparkle. That seems par for the course considering what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21-25

21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

I remember when my best friend Mary used to talk about wanting to go already to be with the Lord and, at the time, I found it kind of morbid and maybe even clinically depressed sounding. It was hard to understand, especially considering she has children who haven't been converted yet. Not that sticking around to harp on them would make a difference. They've all heard the gospel, so what's left? When Jesus told the rich fella in Mark 10 to go sell all he had, give it to the poor, pick up his cross and come follow him, the rich guy walked away grieved because he had great possessions. You don't see Jesus chasing after him, even though it says Jesus beheld him and loved him. People will respond to the gospel or they won't. If there's one thing I've learned, we've all been given a free will and I am neither the convicter nor the convincer and God is not going to save someone just because I love them. Most won't be saved. Luke 15:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

This is the passage I've been pondering today. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Good Eats -- posted by Sarah Grace

There is a link from Drudge to a rather disturbing article about the poor nutrition in UK hospitals, and how prisoners are served better meals than the sick and elderly. Mom can certainly attest to the poor quality food that's being served in the hospital where Webb's been staying. I mean, the poor woman has had to eat it for over a week!

Once Webb got off the BiPAP and could eat, my mom was determined to find nutrient-dense foods to serve him. The only real food she has been able to find in the hospital is whole milk and bananas. That's it. Search over. Unfortunately, the hospital is only skilled in the preparation of non-foods.

For example, available for breakfast are: canned applesauce, canned fruit cocktail, liquid scrambled eggs, instant grits, and cereal. If you would like butter for your grits, you are given a small packet of canary yellow, vegetable spread. Snacks include pudding cups, chips, and soft drinks, and the only fruits and vegetables available are nutritionally-void canned goods. Okay, there are a few "fresh" vegetables available, but Mom says they are so cooked to death, that you don't even need teeth to eat them.

The good news is that the tide is beginning to change. More healthful choices are becoming available, but only if requested by the patients. Now that people are becoming more aware of the deleterious effects of non-foods (created by the likes of Con-Agra), healthier choices are being demanded, and a ripple effect has begun.

If the UK and Canadian health care delivery systems are to be instructive, it is crucial that our hospital systems not be taken over and operated by the government. Look at what the government has already accomplished through the VA system which it operates. Does anyone want to be treated there? Such centralization would not only eliminate incentives to provide better nutrition, but every aspect of health care would be the victim of the deadening hand of centralized bureaucratic control.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tucked into the Cuckoo's Nest -- posted by Mom from 8/31/09

It's 2:06 am and I'm wide freaking awake because our nurse decided to give Webb a bath at 1am. I don't think she's mentally ill; she's just been subject to hospital time too long. Hospitals run on a completely differerent time plane well outside of the World Clock time zones we humans are accustomed to. After an extended stay it is nearly impossible to even know what day it is without outside assistance. Supper is served at 4pm and nobody finds it odd. There are planned activities every hour and your 3:40am temperature taking playdate CAN NOT wait until sunrise. I suspect I'm becoming one of them as it seems perfectly normal to take my shower immediately following the predawn temperature taking.

In the time it took to write that, a sleepy lull has descended on the floor. I'm gonna try to catch this wave.

Update --posted by Mom from 8/30/09

Cutie Bobsquinch is off the oxygen mask and on a nasal cannula now, to the delight of the bloody crater that has been carved into the bridge of his nose by the BiPAP. Honestly, I feel like I'm getting a bedsore on my arse from sitting on the horribly uncomfortable seating in this fishbowl in which I now dwell. Seriously, there is a huge glass box that juts into the room where two nurses sit and watch our every move. I like the nurses and they like me, but sometimes I just give them a blinkless Damien stare just to mess with them.

Hospital living is complicated for those of us who were well-educated by that Good Morning America segment dedicated to the super bugs which lurk these halls. If anything touches the floor it is immediately scrubbed down with those disinfectant wipes that are so powerful they'll give you cancer if you don't use heavy duty gloves. If the item is porous, it is promptly incinerated. As for body parts, they are scrubbed with said carcinogenic wipes, prayed over, and anointed with oil by the nearest church elder. But maybe that's just me.

On the other hand, there is a certain section of our population that allows their children to play on the waiting room floors. They spread out the cheeseburger paper from the Happy Meal ON THE FLOOR to make a placemat on which they squirt out the ketchup for the fries and burger that inevitably wander off the paper. Funny thing, my kid is in Intensive Care. Go figure.

Anyway, there's your update.

I'm too jaded to whip up a witty title -- posted by Mom from 8/30/09

Sometimes I just get sick to death of witticisms and puns and quips and clever little doo-dahs. Having said that- I went to school to become a wit, only got halfway through. Har.

So here I am staring at my sleeping Chubsy Wubbsy- he of the most kissable Ricky Nelson lips. They took him off the BiPAP but his chest x-ray this morning is a little worse. He slept through the night and at one point knocked off his oxygen mask altogether but didn't sound any alarms. I think they have his saturation alarm set at around 88 or so. So that's good.

Day 9 and I'm really missing my husband and children. I considered crying but I've just HAD IT with secretions.

I shouldn't complain now that we are past all the ventilator talk. It could be a whole lot worse. We've turned the corner on this thing and, Lord, don't think I'm not grateful, but I want to go home now. I want to hold my family in my arms.

Since that last sentence Webb woke up and I fed him pancakes with his mask off the entire time. He dipped into the low 90s but he didn't go below 88! Yippie yi aye!

I spent last evening listening to music from the 70s and 80s. I've had that Dire Straits song on my mind all morning. Love that song but I really DO NOT like the story of Romeo and Juliet. I love romance and all but that's just stupid what with all the dying and coming back and suicide and stuff... there's nothing romantic about daggers in the heart and licking poison off someone's lips. But that's just me.

Question #1: Who said, "How romantical!"? I know it was a little rascal, but which one?

Question #2: Exactly how would one punctuate Question #1? In American grammar the punctuation mark goes inside the quotation marks, but I'm asking who said, "How romantical! not, who said, "How romantical?"

Anyway, after all that don't forget to tell me who said it.

Bill just now showed up with a Starbucks again! How romantical!

Do I have too much time on my hands? Yes I do! -- posted by Mom from 8/29/09

Webb's x-ray hasn't caught up with him as it only shows him as stable yet unchanged. Pish Posh-- this boy is gazing at EVERY nurse with those dreamy baby blues and, oh my God, what a charmer! First, he hypnotizes them with his super hero magnetism and then after keeping them suspended in anticipation for the perfect amount of time, he then melts them with that smile! There are puddles of women throughout PICU.

Daddy was a brave little toaster to bring me Starbucks from Gervais Street since the Starbucks here is closed on Saturday and Sunday. [Today's motherly advice: Marry a man who surprises you by driving an hour round trip with hellacious swine flu just to serve you your morning cuppa joe. Then spend the rest of your life serving him in every way. Of course it's fair.]

I gotta go suction Mr. McFreckles 'cause he's hacking away. He has started clamping down on the yankauer (which sounds way too Scandinavian for me and that's why I call it "the sucky thing") so he must be feeling better than his previous quasi-comatose state.

Day 10 Palmetto Health Children's Hospital PICU -- posted by Mom

I guess that's a shocking title for those of you who haven't heard that our family got a visit from the H1 N1 "swine flu" virus. You're hearing about it now that the worst is over but, for our Webb, it has been quite an ordeal.

A couple of weeks ago James and Spencer had strange symptoms like fatigue and a slight cough. We didn't think much of it since they never had a fever.

Unfortunately, when Webb picked it up it compromised his breathing and we were transported from the doctor's office to Intensive Care. He contracted pneumonia and we've been working on him for the past ten days. Fortunately, we got the word today that we'll be going to the floor.

The other kids didn't suffer too much. Bill and Webb had the worst symptoms. Will avoided it altogether since he was at Ma's for his rotation of caregiving when the outbreak occurred. God bless him in the first place for volunteering to help with Ma. Now that he's been quarantined, he's been away from his family for about 3 weeks. May the Lord reward him pressed down, shaken together, and spilling over for his selfless sacrifice in caring for my mother.

Sarah reminded me that I should update y'all since it must have looked like we fell off the face of the earth. And I guess entries pulled from personal diaries wouldn't make sense without this information.

Everybody seems to be on the mend, but I do beg prayers for Webb to regain his baseline lickety-split.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Richard's Post -- posted by Richard (as dictated to Sarah Grace)

Yesterday, I made a recipe. It tastes good, but it sounds bad.

I think my big brothers Spencer and James are jealous, because they are always trying to steal it. But, they might not be jealous, I don't know.

I write the recipe on a piece of paper, so I hide it from them into a piano.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mighty Morphin Power... Me -- posted by Sarah Grace

Recently I noticed when looking in the mirror that my arms and legs have been looking slightly larger than usual. I haven't been eating much, and every morning I diligently do a 30 minute full-body workout. And yet, my pants were feeling tighter, and my upper arms were growing at such an alarming rate, that even my mom mentioned it to me! The horror. The horror.

It turns out that I... am an endomorph. Go, Go, Power Rangers!

Actually, an endomorph is a term that's used for a certain body type. A commonly held view is that there are three primary body types. I'm an hourglass endomorph, which means I have a slow metabolism (as if I didn't know that already) and I build muscle mass quite easily. It also means I have a higher fat-cell count than the other two types, so that while I may be strong, my overall appearance is soft and undefined.

Now it makes sense why I'm almost able beat my brother at arm wrestling, but I still don't have any muscle definition. (I'm a kind sister, so the almost-beat brother shall remain unnamed.)

My problem is, I've been doing the wrong kind of workout for my body type. I was doing quite a bit of heavy resistance training, which added bulk to my frame, instead of slimming me down. I discovered that for my type, I need to do more low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking and jogging, and only do light resistance training. By following that program, I should get back to my fit and curvy self, and lose the "thick" look.

Soooo, I've decided to take up interval jogging again. I began interval jogging (1:2 jog/walk) last winter, but a foot injury caused me to stop for three months, and I hadn't gotten back into it. I just now returned from my first run, and I feel great. I had forgotten what a wonderful stress reliever it is!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Allen Academics -- posted by John

Dad is into reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy so he recorded the movie with Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn for us. We watched most of it last night, and we wanted to keep watching it, but our heavy eyelids got in the way. Dad is reading the book with a cheat sheet by his side with all of the families listed. Evidently it isn't easy to read because of the Russian names, at least not for Dad.

Mom is hitting us hard on grammar and punctuation these days. She said our posts and emails have gotten so casual that they are embarrassing. She is including herself in that, too!

She gave us some quizzes for the fun of it and I was the only one in the room who knew that the word for bigness is enormousness, not enormity. Enormity means evil. (We also worked on vocabulary.)

Here are some fun quizzes:

quiz 1

quiz 2

Here is a funny website; click on the blog:

So, lay is the past tense of lie and pronouns are possessive without an apostrophe and I could go on and on with all I've learned in the last two days.

Changing the subject, we thought all our bush beans had burned up but today when I went out to do my farm chores, I discovered a huge harvest!

Last night Mom and Sarah Grace made some delicious Beef Stroganoff and that reminds me that Sarah Grace is going to make authentic international cuisine for our geography study this year. We are using a book Mom found called Van Loon's Geography for our geography study this year. It is a wonderful read aloud book! We are doing our study by a continent each month, so Dad said he couldn't wait to try Sarah's cuisine from Antarctica! I guess it will be a month of penguin, fish, and snow cones!

Sarah Grace wants us to hurry up and get fluent enough in Spanish so that she can facilitate our French. Mom doesn't think we should try to tackle two languages at once especially since we also take Koine Greek. Spanish is the most practical speaking language for us to learn first. The older kids learned some Spanish before we went to Mexico, but I was too young. Sarah Grace has her heart set on us becoming fluent in French before we go to Europe. Dad's family is German but there has been no mention of us learning it.

I'm looking forward to school starting up full blast again!


Dad just came home from work and informed us that he wants us to do a study on Russia while he is reading War and Peace. Dad said that Catherine the Great decreed that French was the official language of the Russian court which explains why the main character's name is Pierre and why there was affection and admiration for France within the Russian aristocracy. This is also why some of the characters at the beginning of War and Peace were conflicted about Napolean's conquests which they knew needed to be stopped. Also, in the novel, Tolstoy has characters speaking in both French and Russian which is lost in the English translation. When characters use French, it is when they are being insincere, and Russian when they are being the most honest. When Pierre tells Princess Hellene he loves her, it is in French. (Ah ha.) By the end of the novel, when the characters have developed a greater degree of self-knowledge and emotional honesty, they speak only in Russian. Dad said this is but another gap in his education that he is currently filling while also homeschooling. Glad we could help!

Dad also said we could have a few sips of his White Russian cocktail, too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Politics, Schmolitics -- posted by Sarah Grace

I said in an earlier post that I'd write about where my family stands politically, so here goes... we don't know where we stand. Well actually, we do know where we stand on issues. We just don’t know who is standing with us.

My mother's family was extremely politically well-connected, and her father was a huge supporter of conservative politics. In fact, here at my grandmother's house, there are framed pictures and letters from Ronald Reagan and others adorning the walls. My grandfather proudly supported Reagan's ascent up the political ladder even from the early days.

My father got his degree in Political Science from Brown University (I understand your Emma Watson will be going there, Mr. Billy and Mrs. Sarah). After directing statewide door to door canvassing efforts for Reagan’s 1984 campaign in RI, and being invited to the inauguration for his work, Dad was enlisted by the Republican Party to run for the RI State Senate. He had just started running for office when my parents met. In a heavily Democratic district, he was the Republican Party's sacrificial lamb. Amazingly, he got a third of the vote, even though he was a political newcomer, which was the most ever garnered by a Republican in that district. Trust me, this was stunning.

Suffice it to say, Mom and Dad were established, and extremely active in the conservative movement.

When my parents first got married, they enjoyed fundraisers and campaigns for the Republican Party. It was a way of life. Mind you, my parents were "churchy" people, and considered themselves Christians. They would've been considered the "Religious Right," if that term means anything to you.

Then, twelve years ago, my mother went all the way with the Lord, and thus began an open-minded and genuine search for truth.

You don't have to be in the Lord for long to realize that he's neither impressed with Democrats nor Republicans. When God opened Mom's eyes to the corruption, she copped an attitude of "pox on both their houses." The more we read the Bible the more we see the fulfillment of the end-time prophecies, and how there will be unsolvable problems. We already see this in Iraq and Afghanistan. These people have had bitter feuds between tribes for thousands and thousands of years. The "stans" can't have peace!

Now, we've read The Book, and we know how it ends, so politics is vain. From a common sense point of view, small government is better. We certainly don't want the same entity that runs the Department of Motor Vehicles running our health care, or banking, or anything else we want to keep from being screwed. Government bureaucracy defines "inept."

To make a long story short, my parents voted for G.W. Bush in the general election because he claimed to be smaller government and lower taxes, but he wasn't really. In the last election, we voted for Ron Paul in the primary, but we were stuck with voting for John McCain... which was really just a vote against Obama. As expected, Obama is quite good at spending other people's money for no good reason. We know the world is uber impressed with he and Michelle (of course, the rest of the world doesn't have to foot the bill), but we don't even think they belong on the best dressed list (was that sufficiently catty?), much less in the White House! So, there.

Like the Bible states, we pray for our leaders and ask the Lord to redeem the time, while at the same time knowing that the world's efforts will fail miserably. And ultimately, the true church will have a united heart-cry of "Oh come, Lord Jesus."

Soooo, I've now managed to commit the faux pas of discussing both religion and politics on my journal... it should be smooth sailing from here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wuv, Twue Wuv -- posted by Sarah Grace

It's been a long time since I've listened to country music.  Some country music gives me a bad feeling, especially at night while in the car- it makes me think of dirty trailer parks and alcoholic fathers.  But once in a while, they come out with some real keepers.

Mr. Bradley from Diaryland turned me on to this song.  It was new to me, but now I love it!

This one, by Brad Paisley, is a favorite of mine.  He had me at 3:00- that line makes me want to fall in love right there.  If a man doesn't think I'm all that AND a bag of chips, then he's just not "The One."  I gotta be pursued... like my dad practically stalked my mother. 

My dad was living in Rhode Island and running for the RI senate, and my mother was living in South Carolina.  They met for the first time August 30th, at the Charlotte Coliseum in NC, during a chance encounter at a concession stand.  After two subsequent chance encounters that same day, they exchanged phone numbers.  Daddy went back to RI, and he proceeded to date Mom over the phone.  He sent letters, cards, and even Western Union telegrams!  One read: "The best part of today is that I'm one day closer to being with you.  Love, Him."  The day after he lost the election (thanks to my mother's prayers), he flew to SC for an extended weekend the first weekend in November.  When he came back later that month, he brought a diamond.  Twenty-one years and 8 kids later, they're still together.

P.S.  Mrs. Sarah and Mr. Billy, please don't make fun of these songs like you did Andy Williams's grammar and dentures!  *makes puppy dog face*

Thursday, August 6, 2009

About A Boy -- posted by Sarah Grace

I said Will was the "problem child" in an earlier post, but let me clarify what I meant.  He wasn't promiscuous, and he didn't do drugs or any of the things typical parents would worry about.  Rather, he was self-centered, competitive with his siblings, and neglectful of his responsibilities and his family relationships.  He spent more time trying to pass the next level in his latest Sega game than he did being an obedient son and a loving older brother.  It became a real point of contention between he and my mom.  He saw Mom as the enemy when she demanded that he focus on his family rather than on himself and his video games.  Will can attest to the innumerable threats of being shipped off to Camden Military Academy. 

His early teen behavior is unfortunately the behavior most male youth exhibit in our culture.  Gone are the days of mature, responsible men who put away childish pursuits and focus on becoming adults.  Today's generation is made of Peter Pans.  My mom spends the greater part of her parenting harping on my brothers to avoid the Neverland epidemic, as it's obviously an important subject in a family with seven boys.  Her concern led her to post a provocative article on our family website mainly for my brothers to read.  She vowed to rear her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and believe me, there is such great opposition to this common sense that even secular sociologists have identified it.

I don't know how it is where you live, but where I come from there is a serious lack of noblemen.  That's why Christian girls, like the ones I mentioned in a former post, are bemoaning their unmarried status.  It's because decent, responsible gentlemen aren't to be found anymore.  That's also why I'm not attracted to my male peers... they're not mature adults!  God calls women to be submissive to their husbands, and even Sarah called Abraham "Master."  I'm waiting for someone whose heart agrees with this concept, instead of becoming impatient and settling for the slim pickin's around me.  I certainly don't want to end up calling a PlayStation addict "Master."

My parents recognize the lack of noblemen in our society, which is why they teach my brothers that women are to be treated like delicate flowers with respect, honor, and chivalry.  My brothers learned early that their duty is to stand when a lady enters the room, open doors, pull out chairs, carry bags, do the heavy work and dirty work, etc.  But beyond basic manners, my parents have taught them that God calls husbands to be the providers, the protectors, and the leaders.  They are to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her. 

Will has come a long way from the "child-man" of his youth, to becoming the kind of man in whom a wife can safely trust.  Lucky her.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder -- posted by John

If you missed my remake of Billie Jean, then you should click "previous" if you are on Diaryland or scroll down if you are on milkandhoneyacres. My parents had me redo it because I had pelvic thrusts in the first one and they said that wasn't appropriate. I even added some moves in the second one, so don't miss it.

Dad brought me some books from the library and I've been learning about all of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. I'm like a walking encyclopedia on the space program.

Both of my parents saw launches and my dad's Uncle Fritz designed the audio system for the lunar module.

We made NASA with all the computers in our bedroom and we made a space capsule out of the box Sarah's harp came in.

I also broke the sound barrier in a go-cart with a broken pointy sword duct-taped to the nose, a makeshift Air Force jacket, and a scarf for the drama. (Dad picked up a book on Chuck Yeager, too.)

I saw the X-1 at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. I saw a lot of stuff there that means much more to me now.

We've been studying accents and a British lady was all ticked off on a message board because some Americans would always imitate her accent. Hey Lady, you should get over yourself because you could be a Southerner and everybody would imitate your accent like you are an uneducated hick... like the Beverly Hillbillies!

At least Jethro Bodine always got the girl!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Iron Will -- posted by Sarah Grace

Since my grandmother's health has deteriorated, my brother Will decided to stay with her and help over the summer.  Even though Mom and I relieve him periodically, he needs to be there for the most part to lift her if need be.  I love seeing how well he takes care of her and tends to her every need, and how gentle he is when doing so.  Every morning, not only will he pick what top and pants for her to wear, but also which socks and underclothes!  And no one can fix her hair as well as he can.

Lately, I've been thinking Will should become a nurse.  Growing up I never thought I'd say that, as Will was the "problem child" and an occupation that requires selflessness seemed like the furthest thing from his personality.  However, when he was about ten years old, he took on the responsibility of caring for our developmentally delayed brother, Webb, without even being asked.  He began feeding him, giving him baths, and changing his diapers once he noticed Webb was getting too heavy for Mom to carry during her pregnancy with John.  She tried to take back the responsibility after John's birth, but Will wouldn't hear of it.  He knows Webb better than anyone in the family, and he immediately understands what he needs while the rest of us stand around scratching our heads.  Now that Will has been with our grandmother, Spencer and James have taken over caring for Webb.

Will has transformed into a wonderfully thoughtful and caring person when it comes to the elderly, the sick, and even injured animals.  It has truly been a blessing to behold.

Will and George

Monday, August 3, 2009

Is It Wrong To Quote Cher? -- posted by Sarah Grace

I was reading a favorite blog of mine this morning, written by a young woman who lives on a farm with her family. She's twenty-one, and her latest entry was about how she's learning to accept God's timing of when she'll get married. This seems to be a recurring topic among most stay-at-home-daughter blogs.

Like this girl, I'd always thought I would be married by the time I was eighteen. Not that I thought I was some great beauty that men would be chomping at the bit for my hand as soon as I came of age, but I knew I wanted to spend my best years raising children and caring for my husband instead of wasting that precious time in selfish pursuits. I knew being a wife and mother would be my greatest calling, and the most fulfilling occupation I could ever have.

Needless to say, now that two years have past since the "marriage mark," it's been a little frustrating. I keep reminding myself that the Lord knows what he's doing, that his timing is best, and that I should use the time I still have at home wisely and productively instead of sulking about my lack of husband.

One thing I've taken the habit of doing is praying for my future husband, whoever he is. It may seem silly to some that I pray for someone I've never met, but it gives me the feeling that in a small way I'm already being a "helpmeet" to my future husband, by asking God to guide and bless him in all he does, and to make him perfectly ready for a wife when we meet. As for myself, whether I get married next year or a number of years from now, I know that it will be God's perfect timing, and that I stand ready to fulfill my sacred calling as a caring mother and a faithful, diligent wife.

I just wish girls would understand that the years as a single adult living at home is a true blessing, and an enriching time for family relationships. It opens up a completely different dynamic between siblings and parents, and once one gets married, that precious time is over. These girls may not have the maturity necessary for the trials that come with marriage. They get so caught up in Jane Austen-esque romanticism that they spend more time yearning for a husband than they do appreciating the time of preparation for marriage, and simply resting in the Lord.

There's a lot to learn while being a stay-at-home daughter, and I will always cherish this chapter in my life.

"The trouble with some women, they get all excited about nothing - and then they marry him." -- Cher

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guaranteed Holiness -- posted by Sarah Grace

Living in the “Bible Belt,” one might assume that as Christians, we’re surrounded by like-minded people. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The Bible Belt is an area of the country that is full of church divisions, with each denomination saying something different from the next. This should not be, as Paul clearly states in 1 Corinthians 1:10:

“Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment.”

These churches are divided because each denomination has it’s own “interpretation” of the Bible, instead of believing God’s word as a whole. Unfortunately, most of these denominations do agree on one falsehood— that Christians can’t stop sinning. However, 1 John clearly states:

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:9

They frequently use the following passages as a way to excuse sinning:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

In the first verse, John was referring to the Gnostics who believed that all people are born good. He’s explaining that all people are born sinful, and that those who say otherwise don’t have the truth. My family recently heard a pastor use this verse to explain that Christians can’t quit sinning, and Will was impressed with the fact that even some of the little boys knew the scriptures well enough to be able to counter that argument. Notice the second verse uses the words "have sinned" (past tense), not "continue to sin."

What was the point of Christ dying on the cross if not to free us from the bondage of sin? Under the old covenant, we already had forgiveness of sin by way of sacrificing animals, but we were not able to quit sinning. So did God give his only son to be beaten and crucified just to spare us the hassle of animal sacrifices? Of course not. Christ died not only to forgive us of sins that are past, but also that we may be made a new creation that doesn’t sin in the future. For the Bible says:

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” 1 John 3:4-6

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galations 2:19-21

That’s what it means to be a true believer. Not just believing that Christ is the son of God (for even the demons know that), but believing that he died to take away our sins. Only by faith in that promise are we truly saved.

“And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.” Matthew 13:14-16

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Warm and Smooth as Butter -- posted by John

My family has been putting videos up on and maybe you would like to see them. If they aren't on the first page still, click "videos" on the sidebar. But first I should tell you that I'm sorry I frustrated Sarah Grace and she got angry with me. I'm kinda nosy and curious and I distracted them. I'm so sorry everybody and especially Sarah Grace.

All of a sudden Sarah Grace has started writing online and she made a friend in the UK. He tried to do a Southern accent in a video entry and we all laughed so hard. Even Dad thought it was very funny.

Mom and Sarah are studying dialects now and it is quite interesting. There are many different Southern accents even in our own state. Our accent is much different than a Charleston or "Low Country" accent. Their accent has an African sound from the Gullah or Geechee languages of very black people who live on the islands around South Carolina and Georgia. I saw two of these ladies sitting on the steps by the columns of a building in Charleston making sea grass baskets. They are extremely black. Many of those ladies were mammies to white children so the white children got that sound. It is a beautiful accent, warm and smooth as butter.

Mrs. Sarah, my British friend, looked up Publix to see the cakes I was talking about. We had the Chocolate Ganache Supreme and the Strawberry and Peach Sensation. She said she's lucky they don't have those for such a good price at her home because she would eat them all the time!

We had cantaloupe from our garden this morning. We were late planting them so they are just now ripening. They were quite tasty. Everything seems better when you grow it yourself, I think.

Dad's been taking us to the pool a lot and we met two men and they played volleyball with us and we wished Sarah had come and met them too. We want Sarah Grace's husband to like all of us a lot, and these men did. These men were a good bit older than Sarah but that's okay because what matters is that her husband loves her for his whole lifetime. I can't imagine how I would feel if someone hurt her. I bet I would want to beat him with an iron rod, and I'm not ashamed to tell you that.

I read an article in The Economist about the trouble dairy farmers are having. One poor guy is trying so hard to keep his farm going. His father and grandfather were dairy farmers. I would love for us to be dairy farmers and the article made me sad to know how hard it is for these people.

I also read another article in the same magazine about farmers in Britain. They are into the "agritainment" business to make money. We actually thought about something like that. I got interested in the Britain section because of Mrs. Sarah and Mr. Billy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Way Back Into Love (sorta) -- posted by Sarah Grace

If I seem a bit impatient with John, you should know it's because he kept popping in repeatedly during our practice session. We even saw him perched on top of the outside rail, peering in the sliding glass door... just don't judge me for my seemingly hostile outburst.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Absalom, Absalom! -- posted by Sarah Grace

We're planning on celebrating Will's birthday soon and I'm giving him a bottle of cologne.  I've wanted to get him cologne for a while now, so I can't wait until my mom and I go to the mall to sample the different ones out there.  I'm not very familiar with what's "in" with men's cologne,  but I feel confident that I'll pick the best one for Will's personality.

I've finally decided on the model harp I want, and we're ordering it today!  I am so excited, you have no idea.  The harp is a 36 string Siberian figured elm Sonata.  It has the most gorgeous tone of all the harps I heard on the website, and a very interesting wood grain design.  They said it should ship within 2-3 weeks.  Yay me!

I had a dream where I was helping Absalom brush his hair in our kitchen... and then we fell in love.  What could that mean?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Makeup and Screen Test -- posted by Sarah Grace

Here I am being a good sport doing a screen test for my brothers, the movie makers. I used the style of makeup that was worn in silent era films. The darker shade of eyeshadow is swept across the eyelid just below the crease and up into the inner corner right under the start of the eyebrow. This creates an innocent look as opposed to the sexier style that is used today, with the dark shadow in the crease toward the outside of the eye- like a cat.

Please forgive the messy classroom, we were cleaning off the shelves... my mother made me say that.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Sad Week -- posted by John

I haven't written in awhile because my grandfather died. I don't have much to say about him because I didn't know him very well, but I wanted to. The good news is that I got to meet two of my aunts, an uncle, and some cousins. I've wanted to meet them my whole life.

I really hit it off with my 26 year old cousin. He thinks I'm a good writer and he is a playwright. He came to my journal before. He said something to me that I didn't understand so I just laughed. Everything went through my mind like light speed but all I did was laugh. I was on the spot. When we said goodbye, we shook hands and hugged at the same time. My uncle was just as nice to me, he said little friendly spurts of nice things.

After the funeral we went to Ma's house and I was hoping they would come too, but they couldn't. We saw lots of Ma's friends and our little boys did a good job of being magnanimous. We aren't allowed to be shy or aloof because that is bad manners. We are to shake everybody's hand and hug anyone who will let us.

The whole weekend was spent meeting and greeting people and there was lots of food with beautiful desserts. We had one chocolate cake that looked like a fancy bakery baked it but it was from Publix, of all places.

On the 4th of July, Sarah Grace and Dad took us to the Peach Festival that night to eat peach ice cream and watch the firework show. Mom stayed at home because she was tired from grieving and she was glad to be alone. She usually always wants to be with us, and I felt bad that she wasn't, but we all understood.