Thursday, March 31, 2016

I'm ready to stop this trend...

Our family attended another funeral today. Our Lambs were well behaved. This was a long time friend of Ram's family. His mom asked us to attend if possible to represent our family since it was in our area.

Although it was not a Lutheran funeral, it was a beautiful service. Everyone that spoke reminded us that not only was she a kind woman, but she was able to do what she did in her life because of Jesus. On her deathbed she was naming people she knew that were not Christians and encouraged her family to keep working on them so she can see them in heaven some day. Many shared stories of how wonderful she was, but the overall theme of the funeral was To God Alone Be the Glory. We only sang one hymn, Be Still My Soul fit very well.

During the reception the family and friends that talked to us knew Ram and some also knew me (probably from Christmas card photos) and also they knew Lamb 1's name because he is named after his uncle. Then we had to introduce Lamb 2 and Lamb 3.

I did not want to attend funerals two Thursdays in a row and the Lambs wanted to attend even less. But I knew that it was important for our family to go to both funerals. It was a great reminder with Holy Week in the middle. We don't know when our last days on earth are. We praise God that we know that we will see our loved ones in heaven again.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Blessed Easter!

Now no more can death appall,
Now no more the grave enthrall,
You have opened paradise,
And Your saints in You shall rise.
 LSB 633:6

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Not really what I wished for...

The part of living in Fort Wayne that I miss the most is there are very few "extra" Lutheran services and concerts here. A few weeks ago Concordia Nebraska choir had a concert in our area. It was actually in-between our sicknesses so our whole family was able to attend. The concert opened with singing A Mighty Fortress. It has been several years since I sang a stanza of A Mighty Fortress with that many Lutherans.

The part of living in MN that I miss the most is the flowers in church on Easter. Our churches in MN had several bouquets and lilies every year for Easter Sunday. They tried to make them last as long as they could and put them out several Sundays after Easter. I always tried to take a few family photos with all the flowers at church. Our church here has one bouquet of real flowers on the altar. On the organ and in the entryway there were a few other bouquets that were silk flowers. I took comfort in that one of those bouquets was made out of flowers from my Grandma's funeral bouquet. There just isn't room up by the altar for more flowers. I know real flowers aren't necessary at church on Easter, but it sure is beautiful.

I never imagined that a few weeks after the choir concert I would be sitting in the same church at a funeral for one of our dear church members. The opening hymn for the funeral was A Mighty Fortress. Not everyone was Lutheran nor were some of us able to sing loudly through our tears, but there were more people at that funeral than there were at the concert a few weeks before.

Even though the family requested memorials be donated to our Lutheran camp here, there were several flower donations. Most of those flowers are going to be at our church on Easter Sunday. I helped put the flowers out and they smell wonderful.

So I got to sing A Mighty Fortress again and our church is full of flowers for Easter, but I never would have wanted it to be for this reason. We rejoice that we get to sing Jesus Lives! The Victory's Won! And while I know that this man will no longer help with serving communion, we know that he will be at the communion rail with us tomorrow with the whole company of heaven. I better take tissues to church tomorrow so I'm prepared for all the happy tears.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sickness Round 3

Here is what has happened in March:
March 1: Lamb 2 got sick at the post office, canceled piano lessons
March 2-3: No activities, Lamb 2 not well, missed roller skating with PE class
March 4-5: Ram's parents were here for Lamb 1's birthday. On Saturday we went out to lunch with Ram's cousin that moved to Boise.
March 6: Church, Sunday School, last Downton Abbey
March 7: First track practice
March 8: Ewe prepared breakfast for the area pastors that met for a meeting at our church, our family went out to lunch with the pastors, piano lessons, listen to Concordia Seward choir at an area church in the evening.
March 9: Lent Supper and Church
March 10: Lamb 3 got sick during school in the schoolroom-I spent the rest of the day cleaning up the mess and doing laundry. No activities, missed parkour with PE class
March 11: Ewe and the Lambs no activities, Ram ran lots of errands
March 12: Lamb 1 and 2 did awesome at their first piano contest, did some shopping including new shoes for Lamb 1
March 13: Church and Sunday School, Lamb 1 spent some of his birthday money shopping online, Lamb 3 made his birthday wish list
March 14: Lambs went to track practice, there was hail for about 15 minutes of practice
March 15: Lamb 1 and 2 piano lessons, Lamb 2 and 3 did several math lessons so they could finish their math books
March 16: Lamb 1 woke up not feeling well. He got sick right before his orthodontist appointment. No orthodontist or supper or Lent service for him today. Lamb 2 and 3 begged to go to Lent service because it is the last one this year. Hopefully I don't regret allowing them to go without me.
March 17: Will we go to PE tomorrow?
Next Week: It would be right on schedule for Ram to get this sickness during Holy Week!

I must say I am getting lots of projects done at home while I have to stay home with sick kids! Although by the third round of cleaning my house well, I'm ready for everyone to be healthy.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A couple of book reviews

As part of our library reorganization, I made a pile of books that I probably want to give away. They were not definite give aways, I needed to look at them and decide. Since Lamb 2 was ill last week we didn't go to all our regular activities so I had a little time to work on that pile. I put some more in the give away and I read a few books from that pile. Lamb 3 got sick this morning so I expect to have more time to work on that this week!

Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky
After our library reorganization project I found this book about rescuing books fascinating. In a very small way, Ram and I have done this with old Lutheran books. When we lived in MN, some members or their children gave us old Lutheran books when they downsized and didn't know what to do with them. When we saw good Lutheran books at the thrift shop in MN we always bought them and passed them on to a good home or added them to our library. In this age of technology, books are not often given as special presents for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. It was not that way for my grandparents. When we organized our library, the books I treasure most are the ones that my grandparents wrote when they received them. When it is time for me to downsize, I hope that one of our Lambs is interested in these books that have been part of our family for a couple of generations. If not, I hope to find a good home for them like Mr. Lansky did with Yiddish books.

Bess W. Truman by Margaret Truman
I had a brand new teacher for my high school American history class so we didn't get much beyond 1900. In college I took a class on America in the 1920s and another class on America and Vietnam. I never really studied the time in-between or WWII.
I identified with Bess as she was older when she got married and then she had several miscarriages before she had one daughter. She really did not want to be first lady, but ended up doing a great job. But both Trumans were glad to not run for another term and go home. They were surprised that they couldn't just return to normal life after presidency. Today we don't even consider that as Secret Service is with our former presidents for the rest of their life. This book helped me fill in a few gaps of my history knowledge of this time and makes me want to read more about this time in history.

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
This is a children's book that I received as a Christmas present. I had never heard of it before. When I read the introduction I was surprised this was J.K. Rowling's favorite book when she was growing up.
The introduction says that Goudge was unmarried and childless, but she wrote beautifully about childhood. "You have to be fairly old before you can recognize the blessings of a single life, for up to that point the deprivation of childlessness is hard to bear,' wrote Elizabeth Goudge. 'Yet for the childless woman there is no lack of children in the world to love...and nothing to prevent a single woman experiencing the richness of falling in love now and again all her life."
I highly encourage you to read this book so I won't give any spoilers. I will say it is a book that has many layers-a child could read it just as a fairy tale and an adult will see a more deeper level. It is beautifully written. I find it especially fascinating that this book was written right after WWII and yet the theme of this book still interests us 70 years later.
This book is one that will not go in the give away pile and I plan to read to the Lambs in a few years.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Happy 12th!

Ram's parents are visiting us, so I'll just pop in to say Happy Birthday, Lamb 1!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sick Lamb

In my decluttering, I found some books and other items to mail to friends and family. I spent a little while organizing everything to mail and packaging it up. I got everything ready so I only needed to make one trip to the post office.

The Lambs have piano lessons over by a post office, so we left early for piano lessons and went to mail 8 packages. The Lambs were being so helpful at the post office, handing one package at a time to the post lady. When we were about halfway done with the packages, Lamb 2 got sick. There was no warning other than he wasn't very hungry at lunch. He didn't eat with us, but he ate lunch before we left for piano lessons.

I sent Lamb 2 outside to the trash can and sent Lamb 1 to be with him in case he needed help. The post lady sent a custodian that just picked up the rug Lamb 2 got sick on and took it to the back room to clean it. We finished with my packages quickly and I went to check on Lamb 2. We drove over to the library so Lamb 2 could attempt to clean himself up. Then we stopped at the piano teacher's house and said we wouldn't be coming to lessons. The teacher was concerned because they missed their second to the last lesson before music contest. I'm not concerned because they have one more lesson before contest.

I don't know if the post lady felt bad because of what happened, but she said the Lambs were so helpful and well behaved that she wanted to give them lollypops for when Lamb 2 felt better.

We came home and Lamb 2 changed his clothes. He ate gentle foods for his stomach the rest of the day. He checked his temperature a few times and reported the results to me. He fell asleep downstairs so Ram took him to his bed and he went to sleep early. He woke up feeling better, but I'm still watching what he eats.

What is amazing to me is how different this round of being sick is from even a few years ago. Lamb 2 did almost everything to take care of himself. I only had one extra set of clothes to wash. Lamb 1 is concerned about getting sick as his birthday is on Saturday, but he was still helpful to Lamb 2. This part of having pre-teen boys is great.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Grocery Tax

Even after 4 years I am still not used to tax on food here in ID. I have never lived in a state that taxes food. When we lived in MN we didn't have sales tax on clothes or shoes either, but that is another issue. It is particularly frustrating when I have coupons, I have to pay tax on the regular price. We even have to pay tax on food bought at the farmer's market. The "bonus" is that at tax time, ID refunds $100 per person for state residents.

I have kept track of how much taxes we pay on groceries the past few years. It does take a little while to separate food from non-food on my receipts. I have been very curious if the $100 per person is reasonable or not. Also I'm curious how much we really spend to feed our family, I don't want to count TP and laundry soap etc. in that total. So I am willing to spend a few minutes figuring out my receipts after shopping. Usually it comes out just about even, what we pay for food tax and getting $500 back for our 5 family members. Usually we get about $50 back more than we spend on food tax.

This morning we received our completed taxes and for the first time we owed some ID taxes. Last year we spent $444 on food tax. Because we owed some ID taxes this year, we only got $405 ID refund.  So this year we lost some money on the deal. Since I just received the taxes, I'm going to have to study them to see why we owed more than previous years.

We are a non-traditional family. We rarely eat out. Our boys are homeschooled so they are not eating one meal at school. Ram comes home for lunch every day except a once a month meeting. We don't buy a lot of processed foods. So the food we buy and is taxed on is for all the meals for our family, but it is mostly basics of fruit, vegetables, meat, a few grains, and a little dairy or non-dairy milk. So $100 per person would be reasonable if we were not home for one meal a day. But because we are here for all meals, it's not quite enough. I also don't think it would be enough if we bought more processed foods like the typical family.

As a small state, Idaho doesn't have some of the benefits that we had in the Midwest either. So living here means paying a lot of taxes and not getting as many benefits. Thank God if you live in a state that doesn't tax food.

This also means that I am going to try harder to reduce our food budget this year. There is not a lot that we can cut in this area since we mostly buy basics. I also know that using coupons in ID does not always mean less of a sales tax charge. But there is always a way to tweak your spending a little and a little each grocery trip adds up. If we spend less on groceries it will also mean less on grocery sales tax.