Monday, January 31, 2011

HOTM Conference ticket giveaway

We have Random winners! Congrats to Danielle Leigh, Jac and Karen! Check your inbox for an email from me. :)

Heart of the Matter Online will be hosting an online Homeschool Conference next month. I don't know about y'all, but February is the perfect time for a little mid-homeschool-year pick me up! And online is the perfect place to listen, learn and fellowship without having to battle the cold weather or pay for a hotel room (you can save your money for a date night!).

I sound like an infomercial when I say this, but if I had to list my favorite speakers this time around, I would have to list all of them! (go ahead and *groan*... you know you wanna).

Take a look for yourself:

Speakers (Amanda Bennet! Carol Barnier! Jimmie! Cindy West!...)
Door Prizes (I *heart* door prizes!)

And if you aren't sure how this whole virtual conference thing works, the FAQ's will answer all your questions.

HOTM is graciously allowing me to give away 3 conference tickets!

Y'all have three ways to enter.

1. Leave a comment saying I need a pick me up!
2. Share this giveaway on Facebook.
3. Tweet this giveaway.

Time for a pick-me-up homeschool conference- you can even wear your pj's! @drewsfamilytx is giving away tickets at

Leave a separate comment for each entry, for a total of three entries. Contest closes Thursday, February 3rd.

Winners will be notified by email- so be sure to include your email addy! You can make it look something like this: youraddress[at]internet[dot]com

See you at ze conference!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Koror, Palau

When David was little, he watched Man with the Golden Gun. James Bond chasing the bad guys in a speedboat, racing through islands of rock. He sat through the credits to see where this spectacular place might be-- Palau!

David fulfilled his childhood dream of visiting these emerald islands and crystal clear water.

And we got to go too! Eeeeeeeeee!!!

{All of these photos were taken with David's Droid phone or with a cheapy underwater camera that we rented (cheap as in quality but not in price. Oi!).}

The water was inky with deep blues and bright turquoise, yet clear to the bottom. I can't even explain how that is possible.

Can you see why they call them the Rock Islands?

So many shades of blue and green...

Our first stop was a cove that the locals call the Milky Way.

We couldn't snorkel here as the water was too cloudy blue to see. David dove down to the bottom and brought up a handful of white limestone mud to smear over our face and body. (Kicking myself for not having a picture of my mud smeared boys!). The mud is supposed to be very good for your skin and is even sold in spas.

It was bluer than the fake blue of a swimming pool!

The Big Drop-off on the southern corner of Palau was our next stop. This vertical reef wall is popular for both snorkeling and diving.

We opted to snorkel. :) I am so proud of my boys! They weren't scared a bit!

The Big Drop-off is as close to diving as you can get with its bright coral and colorful fish. The pictures just don't do it justice! Picture the gray coral down there as vibrant yellow and red.

The water over the top of the wall ranges from 10-20 feet deep. But the side of the wall? The water turns midnight as the depth of the floor drops 1000 feet!

The day just got better and better...

We had lunch and then swam a short distance from shore to snorkel with black tipped SHARKS!

These guys look far away, but they were literally right below us!

The only advice our guide gave us was to not reach our hands out to the sharks. Uhhh... okaaaay, I guess I can resist that urge.

We still can't decide what was the most exciting adventure in Palau.

Was it the brilliant colors of the Big Drop-off?

Swimming with sharks?

OR swimming with these guys?

Oh man, Jellyfish Lake was SO COOL!

I love this shot of Austin holding one in his hand. (Ack, where is Noah? He loved the jellyfish too.)

Don't worry, these guys don't sting!

CLOUDS of them.

They follow the sun through the lake, constantly brushing up against you. The boys showed NO FEAR.

Me? It made me jump as if a big roach had run across my hand! But when the water is that thick with jellyfish, you just can't avoid it.

So I held one in my hand and realized that it wasn't so bad, quite fun actually! They feel like Jello. :)

Even in the rain, Palau was the most beautiful place I have ever been. I kept thinking WOW, when God created the piney woods of East Texas, He also made this place!

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
-Isaiah 40:28

His understanding and ways are so much greater than my ways. And His creativity and imagination render me speechless.

It sounds so cliche but words and pictures could never do justice the breathtaking splendor of Palau. What a gift and blessing to behold it with my own eyes, to etch the landscape into my memory!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

dream within a dream

It is 6:45am Thursday morning here in Guam. I had a dream within my dream last night.

I was in a very large closet holding a pair of slip on tennis shoes, red with black piped trim. I held them up and asked "Do you think these will fit you?"

"I dink so mommy!" pipes up from behind me.

Silhouette coming closer, face clear in view, it is CHRISTIAN!

My heart is almost bursting with joy, the kind that we used to have when I would look at my kids and husband and the laughter filling the room when they would all wrestle together on the bed. Dog pile on daddy!

I smile at Christian's dancing blue eyes, pale skin, light hair and he smiles back.

Something within me realizes that this is not reality. While it is what I wish it to be, it is not how things should be... Breath leaves me, spirit lowers, tears prick my eyes.

With the sound of Christian's voice fading from memory, I wake up again. Face to pillow, eyes still closed, the dream within a dream is replayed in my memory as I try to hold on to that fullness of heart, the distinct sound of his voice, how the word 'think' was emphasized by a slightly higher pitch and volume than the other words, the look of his eyes staring right into mine.

It is a sort of desperation. I don't want to forget!!!

Christian won't ever be forgotten but what of the details? The exact sound of his voice, the feel of his hair, how it was just a little lighter in some spots than others, how he had this little blue vein that would run across the bridge of his nose?

I don't want to forget. It is this fear that gnaws at me, grabs for me, threatens to pull me down. Ten years from now what kind of mother would I be that forgets her own child?!

As I sit here appreciating the gift of this dream, of the remembering, the crazy fears subside.

My friend Susan comes to mind. Yesterday would have been her son Joshua's 17th birthday. It has been over 8 years since her son, daughter and father passed away.

More years without her children than with them... and she still remembers.

She still remembers!!!

God gives grace in time of need.

Every. single. time.

Thank you, God for this grace of Susan's testimony in my time of need.

There is not one moment where God has failed me. He has always heard my cry and offered a way of escape.

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
-I Corinthians 10:13

Death and sorrow, disappointment and heartache, these are common things. Yes, it is new to ME, but to say that it is new to the world or unheard of is foolish. Even more foolish are those that live as if they will never die or that life will be void of suffering and pain.

As Christians, we should expect difficulty in life. Yes, God does bless--He has blessed me far beyond measure and far beyond what I deserve! I have JOY in my life and joy in the details and I am thankful.

Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perseverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over a life?
-Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

But it is not enough to just be thankful, we must also be ready. We are in a BATTLE, fighting for the King of Kings!

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Do not fear. We will win.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

chamorro village market (FOOD!)

When this is what you have stashed in your hotel room for the week...

Being greeted by the sight and smell of this brings much happiness!

Goodbye week of $9 burgers and $15 pasta. Hellooo $1 BBQ pork on a stick!!!

It was seriously the BEST food I have had in forever and worth waiting in the rain to catch the Chamorro Village Wednesday Night Market shuttle.

With the rainy weather and crazy large crowd, I didn't get many pictures and didn't hang around for any music or dancing or whatever else they do there. We ate our pork, washed it down with some fresh coconut (milk? water? juice?), and shopped a few vendor tables.

Sweets for the boys.

And sweets for me!

I had never had Cassava Pudding Cake before... coconut, sugar, milk, tapioca (yucca, cassava, too tired to look it up). Interesting texture, eaten at room temperature (at least I did), and only slightly sweet. I'm saving half to have with my coffee for breakfast. :-)

We also ventured out to visit the dentist for Noah's loose crown today. Hooray for finding a pediatric dentist that accepts our dental insurance(!!!) and for no work needing to be done!!! (Is it terrible to have ended the day with cotton candy like we did?)

While I have had more Korean food here than I ever get to eat in Houston, I miss cooking at home.

If you spent two months on an island, what food would YOU miss the most?

Monday, January 17, 2011

routine and i called it home today

I referred to our hotel room as HOME today. As in, "Hey boys, when we get home we need to call daddy on the computer."

Maybe it was from the high of finding Starbucks ground coffee at Kmart?

A girl can get a little tired of the Nescafe 3-in-1 instant coffee granules after a few days.

And then when we Skyped with David tonight, he said that he couldn't wait to get home and be with us. :) I suppose that home really can be anywhere, so long as it is where we are all together.

(Well, almost all of us anyway... the absence of Christian has really been on my mind a lot today. *sigh*)

We have already established a routine here in Guam. It is as far from complicated as you can get!

6:30 AM - wake up (without an alarm clock!), eat cereal or oatmeal, brush teeth
7:00 AM - walk on the beach and swim
8:30 AM - snack (swimming makes you hungry)
9:00 AM - a little school (or not)
Noon - Go out for lunch (eating out gets old old old fast fast fast)
2:00 PM - beach and pool
3:30 PM - read or play a game in the room (Chess, Monopoly, Uno or Skip-Bo bc that's all we brought)
5:00 PM - supper (eat out again. expensive and blech. or eat Easy Mac or PBJ's in the room- yay!)
6:00 PM - sunset on beach, pool/hot tub
7:00 PM - back to room, computer time
9:00 PM - read in bed and go to sleep

While I don't miss all the busyness of going and doing we had at home (soccer, Scouts, guitar, stuff!), I do miss cooking and sewing and my king size bed! I know that will all be waiting for me when we get back to Texas.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the togetherness, sunsets, Skip-bo tournaments, morning walks, and not having to share my boys with anyone else! :)

Do you like your routine? Has the snow or cold in your neck of the woods allowed you to slow the pace a bit or does it just drive you crazy a la The Shining?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

isaiah 40:28

"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

-Isaiah 40:28-31

Friday, January 14, 2011

a good day 1

We arrived in balmy Guam late the other night, wool coats in hand, after having traveled over 8500 miles.

We went straight to bed, woke up before sunrise and started the day off like any good tourist-- with breakfast at McD's! I split a Big Breakfast with Austin, but quickly regretted not ordering one of these platters instead.

SPAM! Eggs! Rice! I'm sure many of y'all are gagging about now, but I really do like it. Just add some soy sauce to the eggs and a little butter to the rice. The SPAM is good if you just pan fry it in a skillet for a bit. YUM.

I am pleased to report that we spent the rest of the day enjoying the sun, sand and water. The camera just doesn't do the clear blue water and fine white sand justice.

I think Noah had the most fun.

(How does this boy have such dreamy eyes?)

He spent much of the time exploring and finding treasure!

Poor David, however, spent much of the time in our room with fever and general miserableness, so I don't really have pictures of him having any fun (yet).

He started a 5 day trip today and will be back in... ummm, 5 days. His trip includes a 2 day layover in Fiji. Yup, FIJI.

IS THAT NOT WEIRD?! We are on the other side of the world! And it is (very very) warm and sunny! In January! Eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

We brought our school books with us. We procrastinated the book learning all day today, thinking we would just work after supper. But when you swim, walk, swim, play, hunt for treasure, and swim all day, you are in no mood for school when the sun goes down. The boys were zonked out by 7pm! Talk about crazy. I guess we'll get up before sunrise again tomorrow.

Is it bad that I keep having to look up the date online?

Oh, I did have one picture of me from the day, just to prove that I was indeed here.

Can you see me?

Now y'all know what I'm up to. What are YOU up to?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

john 14:2

Mansions and eternity... and that isn't even the best part!

The best part is this:

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

"...that where I am, there ye may be also."

There is no better place to be than with my blessed Saviour!

I wonder if Christian is sitting in His lap right now? Or maybe just running around in circles! :)

You can read all of John 14 HERE.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

de-seriousing my head

I have written 3 or 4 blog posts since last Tuesday but haven't had the peace to publish them. Posts about grief, Christian, fears... heavy stuff like that.

When my mind gets all serious, overwhelmed and pondering (ponderous?), I tend to do one or two of three things:

1. have an inspirational moment where the words flow.
2. maintain blog silence.
3. play too many dumb games on Facebook.

I am choosing to break the silence and change direction with some mindless random banter to clear my head. I thank thee for listening.

In addition to the wastebook games, I also like to play Angry Birds on my phone. While lying in bed, tired but not wanting to GO to sleep. I just want to BE asleep and it be tomorrow already. I have completed all the levels and now it's time for a new game.

Do y'all have any mindless game recommendations to play on my Droid phone?

I would prefer something that is not like Tetris or Sudoku... I have this issue with getting addicted and looking at objects/buildings/skylines and seeing how I can flip them to make them fit correctly. And when I first learned to play Sudoku, I had issues as well. Every time I would see numbers, I would visually scan them and move them around from 0-9. This after playing for only an hour!

We are heading to Guam on the 10th-ish. You already thought we were there, didn't you? David flew a trip there and is now heading back to Houston. I'm glad he was able to scout out the place and give me the scoop.

Good News:

1. Korean restaurant across the street from the hotel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2. Small refrigerator in the room.
3. Coin operated laundry ON SITE. I had visions of having to lug our laundry on the bus to find a laundromat. It's $2 to wash and $2 to dry, but I'm told they are commercial size. I hope it's true! Either way, I'm incredibly happy to hear that it's only a few steps away from our room.

Bad News:

1. I thought there would be a full sized refrigerator and microwave in the "crew room" at the hotel. Nada on the fridge and the microwave is teeny tiny and ancient.

Pretty cool to only have one thing listed on the Bad News list! :)

Other News:

- Kindle arrives tomorrow. Very very very excited. Plan on buying books with my Swagbucks! 450 points gives you a $5 amazon gift card and most Kindle books are under $10.

- I received approximately 63 pieces of Ferrero Rocher for Christmas.

No proof of such a gift remains.

(Surely) I shared one or two.

- I searched my blog for a picture and information from when we visited Guam in 2004. It took me a while to realize that I didn't start blogging until 2005.

What?! I went somewhere major and had an adventure that I didn't publish online- not on my blog and not on Facebook? Mind boggling. Really.

- My niece Lucy turns ONE next week! Do y'all have any good gift ideas? She doesn't really need toys since we just had Christmas. Consideration must be made for the fact that my sister lives in an apartment in New York. Very super limited space.

Now it's your turn!
1. Mindless game recommendation to play on my Droid?
2. Do you have a Kindle? Like it, waste of money or can't imagine not having real paper books?
3. Ferrero Rocher. Did you get some for Christmas?
4. Where were you in the electronic data scope of things in 2004?
5. Gift ideas?

I love all of y'all. You know that right?