Because I Am in Serious Denial

… And not your regular, every day, run of the mill denial. Serious Denial. The kind that causes your sister in law to write, concerned for your homeschooled children. “When are you starting school?” she casually asks, perhaps wondering if you have forgotten September is, oh, I don’t know, right around the corner; the time that most people begin their academic studies.

daniel kayaks

School? It’s time for water adventures, not school.

Ha! Perhaps ths is why organized, motivated folk accomplish things with their lives.

No, I’m in denial.

  • Denial that school starts next week.
  • Denial that my life of blogging until the wee hours of the night is coming to my husband’s negative attention.
  • Denial that my 15 year college reunion is rapidly approaching and I still have 25 pounds to lose (the same pounds I’ve been working to lose for the last year and a half). Can you drop 25 pounds in 2 months? Is there a Biggest Loser trainer in these parts, available for hire?
  • Denial that our homeschooling co-op begins in a few weeks, and I’m teaching two classes.
  • Denial that I have become a summer sloth and haven’t touched a treadmill or elliptical machine for months (except to use as a storage rack).
  • Denial over the state of Daniel and David’s room which has yet to be decorated (while their toys are currently strewn across my bedroom floor).

sarah is comfy

Ah, Mommy, don’t worry about all of that. Come and play with us!

There are probably a few more areas I should address, but I don’t want to think about them. This being a classic case of denial and all.

Fully embracing this new life motto, I abandoned today’s work and finagled an invitation to a friend’s house. Her lake house. Yes, it was another gorgeous day here in Washington. One of those days that tease you with the promise of eternal summer. Summer, not fall. Not school time, with its busyness and activities galore.

nancy and kirsten

Are Nancy and Kirsten 1) praising the Lord; 2) attempting beach yoga; or 3) trying to tell time?

Some of these faces might look familiar. Same beach babes, different beach front.

rachel smiles

Rachel stepped on a nasty stick and later crashed into Allison on the edge of the dock. She was one tired girl by the end of our lake visit.

How is a person supposed to plan school, or go to the club for a work-out, or organize toys when the sunshine and water beckon so loudly? They call, not with a whisper or faint suggestion, but a fierce and demanding cry:

“Get out in the sunshine! Grab towels, snacks and head to the beach!”

too bright to see

David can’t even open his eyes, the sunshine is so piercing.

Fishing, jumping, floating, snorkeling, kayaking, diving. These are words with much more charm than sorting, folding, writing, organizing.

Jake dives

Jake does a little snorkeling before heading off on the kayak.

Surely there’s time for work another day. What do the scriptures say?

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. — Proverbs 6:10-11

Whew! That’s why we send Tim off to work and don’t fold our hands a bit while we’re at the lake. :)

Perhaps a little fun and fellowship, before the rigors of school descend upon us, can serve as delight and refreshment to the soul. I know I find myself drinking in the sun and warmth like a thirsty child.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven … — Ecclesiastes 3:1

This was definitely a season for kayaking.

emma and julia

Emma and Julia enjoy a little snack. Yum. Seaweed.

david tries his hand at fishing

Mom, what’s a bass? Eli and Jake keep talking about a bass? Is it a fish?

David’s buddy, Eli, is not a strong swimmer but he adores the water. He was our resolute fisherman yesterday and he was eager for a kayak ride today. Jake (age 9 and an able seaman) proved to be an excellent kayak guide.

heading out to sea

paddling hard

ah, what beauty

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. Psalm 29:3-4

I am so thankful for sweet friends, the beauty of God’s creation, and another day full of life and laughter spent with my family.

Project 365 – Day 242

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A Ferry Ride to Nowhere

Well, that’s not technically true. Okay, it’s not true at all, but I’m tired and slightly punchy so we’ll stick to pictures and leave the dialogue for another day.

which way to the boat?

Let’s just walk on the ferry. There are enough children to carry all the gear, who needs a car.

The ferry ride was, as always, a great treat. Who can resist the cool breezes mingled with the smell of car exhaust. Mmmmm.

Allison, Rachel and Emma

The girls find a table and hunker down.

We had one lone fisherman with us on the day’s journey. He was determined to catch some fish. Alas we spent most of our time at the beach with barely a fish in sight. His mama, however, caught a good piece of grass. She’s very talented.

where's the fish

Eli was poised and ready to bring home dinner but the biggest fish we saw was from the edge of the ferry. Sadly, those persnickety ferry workers wouldn’t let him cast off.

Once we were on the island, the brave and stalwart walked to the lake (a mile or so) while the caffeine deprived and 6 and under set drove, picking up mochas and lattes along the way. They may not have a grocery store on the island, but by golly there’s a coffee stand.

water slide

This playground was one of the big hits of the day. A slide in the middle of the lake – what a great idea.

There was time for reading.

rachel enjoys some garfield reading

And of course, plenty of sand play.

daniel's bucketdavid's bucket

Julia’s little brother, Daniel, treated her to a fancy mud wrap, worthy of any high class spa. It took several dunks in the lake to fully exfoliate and rinse off. I’m sure she will find evidence of this wonderful mud therapy in her hair for days to come.


The older boys spent most of their time throwing each other off a floating dock at the far end of the swimming cove. Timothy managed to snag the boat for a little alone time, no doubt plotting revenge and a sneaky return to the dock.


emma, daniel and allison

Emma, Daniel and Allison chat about life while devouring a bag of pistachios.

And of course, the blog wouldn’t be complete without a picture of the wonderful mothers who made this awesome day happen.

beach babes

Michelle, Nancy, Kirsten and Kathy – looking sun kissed after a day at the lake.

A lovely day of warm sunshine, cold water, plenty of food, laughter, and good conversation. Let’s do it again!!

Project 365 – Day 241

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WFMW — Blogging Niche

WFMW Our Works for Me Wednesday post takes a Technical Spin this week.

How many real life people do you know who blog? Of course, that begs the question, are people who blog, real people? Best not to answer questions like that, I’ve found.

Although no one really seems to know an exact number, experts generally agree that there are at least 70 million blogs (see Kathy’s earlier post, Blogs and Connecting). Even if they only average one post a month, you’d have to read 2 and one-third million blogs every day, just to keep up. Assuming it took you 5 minutes to read each one, and assuming you read non-stop without sleep or meals, you’d still only have time to read one blog in 8000.

Look at it another way: suppose your intended audience is limited to United States readers, and suppose that, as has been estimated, only 30% of North Americans read blogs. Assuming most readers keep track of, on average, 5 blogs, your share of the available readership is likely to be about 7 people.

Climbing to the top
You can always take advantage of your photogenic children to help you claw your way to prominence …

Clearly, what is needed here, is a way to stand out from the crowd. Enter services like BlogFlux and their recently-acquired partner, TopSites.

Kathy and I first started blogging for our family, some of whom are scattered around the earth, and as a hobby — a way to be reflective in the midst of a busy life. In June of this year we shared the History of Our Blog. As a direct result of writing that history, we began to think about finding a particular niche for our blog, if only to focus our writing and encourage us to be more disciplined about writing on a regular basis.

We looked at the categories within BlogFlux and we tentatively settled on ‘Parenting’ as our niche. “After all,” as I said to Kathy, “we are parents (of some sort), and it sure beats writing about celebrity gossip!”. This turned out to be a good choice, since we don’t actually know any celebrities.

The nice people at BlogFlux have a fairly simple algorithm — you insert some tracking HTML on your blog, and they count the number of unique visitors that hit your blog (some of them, of course, are more unique than others). Those with more readers move “up” in ranking, within their category. One cool thing grabbed us: each week, the counters are reset to zero. This means that, within a given week, everyone has an equal* chance at a high ranking, depending on the quality of their posts that week. As newcomers to the blog ranking game, this egalitarian approach appealed to us.

Weekly statistics
Once you can look at your stats, it is tempting to obsess about it a little.

It isn’t hard to do. Simply create a free account on BlogFlux and register your blog. You’ll choose a name by which your blog will be listed in their directory, and give the Universal Resource Locator (URL) for your blog (so they can link to it). You can choose up to 10 categories (tags) which will appear in your blog listing, and you may optionally list some information about your location, and what kind of blog software you use. Finally, you’ll be given the opportunity to generate some HTML code that you will paste into your blog template, which will link to BlogFlux and help them to track your traffic.

The HTML will look something like this:

<script src= “″ language=”JavaScript” type=”text/javascript” ></script>

… and the button will look like this:

When clicked, this button will take you to a cool statistics page showing your hits each day and week. Notice the id=104896 part — that is the unique number that describes our blog within BlogFlux. Yours, of course, will be different. :)

The MapStats button will also give you information about the location of the people who click on your site, since IP addresses (at least some of them) tend to be loosely locale-specific. We can always tell when our friend Tina checks the blog, since she lives in Thailand. For some reason, reading our blog hasn’t become the Thai national pastime.

You can click on the little flags and find out (roughly) where your readers are, or at least, where their ISPs are.

Once you’ve got the basic traffic stats working, you can move to step two, which is to add a button to your site that will show your ranking within a particular category.

Remember when you chose the categories at the time you registered your blog? Well, for the purposes of TopSites, you can also choose a single category in which you can compete for ranking. Within BlogFlux, go to your Control Panel and look over to the right at the “Top Sites” column. Choose a category and click on the “Get HTML Code” link. You should see some HTML that looks like this:

<a href=””><img style= “border:none;” src= “” alt= “Parenting Blogs – Blog Top Sites” /></a>

It will produce a button that looks something like this: Parenting Blogs - Blog Top Sites

Adding a web log
Don’t be discouraged if you are at first on the very bottom of the list — a new week starts every Saturday night!

That’s really all there is to it. It took me a couple of tries to get it right, and you should be careful where in your blog template you put the HTML. You’ll want it to be invoked on every individual post, so they all get counted — I put mine in the footer (scroll all the way to the bottom and you’ll see it). I never did get the uptime counter to work, and it seems that the folks at BlogFlux are so back-logged that they still haven’t officially ‘approved’ our blog, but the tools seem to work fine, all the same.

We started as 481 out of 481 on the Parenting Blog list, but soon worked our way up into, er, ‘prominence’ on the third page. Now we have a whole new set of entertaining problems: “We slipped to the fourth page, post something!” wails Kathy. Maybe next week we’ll post a link to reputable Blog Traffic Angst (BTA) counselors.

BTA in action
… you can see we’ll be seeing a counselor soon.

Kathy tells me this is a bit more technical than she hoped. If you try it and run into trouble, or have any further questions, drop me a comment, and I’ll be glad to help you out (as best I can).

*Blogs are ranked according to the cumulative number of ‘unique’ visits for the week. Based on our observation, it seems that in case of a tie, the blog that previously held a higher position is favored over a new blog. A unique visit is defined for a specific IP address during a particular time period — it wouldn’t surprise me if that time period was 24 hours, but BlogFlux doesn’t say.

Project 365 – Day 240

Head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for further Works for Me Wednesday links.

Some other Duckabush WFMW Posts
Laundry Organizer
Giant Whiteboard
Travel Outfits

Join us for our Tuesday Tips for Parenting
Calling Your Child
Creative Use for the Timer
First Time Obedience
Sermon Note

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Rachel’s Winners!

Through careful, scientific procedure, Rachel has determined two winners for her Beanie Baby Giveaway.


Fetch has grown quite accustomed to the life of luxury.

Congratulations to …

Hayley and Ema!!!

Thank you so much for participating in Rachel’s Giveaway. We have worked hard to take excellent care of Fetch and Ears during the past week – plenty of good food and regular exercise. They are easy going little animals with pleasant personalities. They are excited to go on an adventure.


Ears is a bit shy.

Ema, your name was drawn first so you have first choice of Beanie Babies.

Tune in for other exciting giveaways.


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Tuesday Tips for Parenting – Notes for Pennies

My, how quickly Tuesdays arrive. In an attempt to cover up the fact that I hadn’t come up with anything include the children in the writing of this week’s parenting blog, I asked Joshua for help this morning. Our conversation went something like this:

Mom: Joshua, what parenting tip should I cover this week?
Joshua: [Blank, slightly hostile stare]


Mom: You know, for our Tuesday Parenting blog.
Joshua: [Blank stare followed by dramatic shrug] Again, Mom?

I beg of you ...

Mom: [Slightly exasperated now] Help me out here, Josh, can’t you think of any interesting parenting tips or hints I could share?

Joshua: [Looking over his shoulder, calculating the distance needed for escape] Hmmm. Um. Let’s see, um. [Long pause]

Mom: Never mind. I’ll figure something out.
Joshua: [Relief etched in his features, exhausted by the effort] Great, good luck.

you gotta do it yourself mom

Mom: [Sarcastically] Yeah, thanks Joshua, you’re a big help.
Joshua: [Big smile, racing off to do something easy, like math] Any time, Mom.

So obviously Joshua is not going to be a big source of help with this blogging series. Tim had a long, tiring day hanging out with the President. Oh, nope, that’s not quite right. He was in TRAFFIC while the President’s motorcade went by. He was “near” President Bush for a good part of the afternoon. He’s too tired to think up brilliant, witty, or wise parenting tips. I’m on my own. This may be a short one. :)

Notes for Pennies – Sitting in Church

Our church has two morning services. Tim leads an adult Sunday School class during the first hour. The children are all in classes of their own during this time. We do our best to span almost the entire youth department — from kindergarten all the way to middle school. Don’t even ask, we will NOT be adding a baby to the nursery.

During the second hour we sit together in church, with the exception of Sarah who stays for a another hour of preschool. She will join us when she transitions to her new class in the Fall. It’s both a joy and a challenge having the children in church with us.

They wiggle and squirm and fight over who gets to sit next to Mommy. They drop their books, bother each other, sit when you’re supposed to be standing, clap when the clapping ends and just generally distract everyone within a three pew radius.

That covers the first 10 minutes.

They have even been known to, and this is the worst offense of all, knock over the precious cup of contraband (a.k.a. hot coffee) smuggled into the sanctuary. Repeatedly.

My friend Christy stepped in to help the situation with this awesome Christmas present.

gotta love me some starbucks

Now my coffee remains in a spill-proof, safe, travel mug (staying hot for hours).

I want my children to learn how to worship God with a body of believers and develop the discipline of sitting quietly and hearing from the Word. I would like them to experience church intergenerationally, not always segregated by age, separated into their own classes. I found a wonderful article online written specifically about including children in a worship service. One portion of the essay featured a check list for the church staff or worship team.

  1. Our pastor includes at least one example, illustration, or story in each sermon that relates to children’s experiences.
  2. Our church education program teaches children about the basic actions of worship and worship-related words that are difficult to understand (such as “alleluia,” “amen,” or “sacrament”).
  3. There are children regularly involved in the worship leadership team of our congregation.
  4. Our pastor has met with every church education class to answer the questions the children have about worship.

What a richness and depth it would add to family worship if some of these ideas were embraced by our churches today.

One thing we have started to do with Daniel and Rachel, who are old enough to sit still and listen but a bit too young to be completely engaged in the sermon, is Note Taking for Pennies.

I look over the sermon notes and make a list of four words that follow the theme of the sermon. For example, we have been studying Hebrews 11 this month, examining the heroes of faith. In this case, I might write down:


rachel's bible

Rachel is poised and ready to take some power notes!

I leave two spaces empty so they can add words themselves that they notice emerging as key themes. I encourage them to listen carefully to the sermon and make a tally mark each time the pastor repeats a word on their list.

Here is the key factor — I pay them one penny for each recorded word!

This may not seem like much but it rapidly adds up. I’ve been known to come out $3 or $4 poorer in a single church service. It’s worse if the children have friends visiting. The kids hand me their papers with glee. I’m just glad they didn’t stand up in the middle of the sermon, shouting: “Bingo!”

I try to look surprised and overwhelmed by the big bucks the note taking costs, all the while hiding my joy. My loss has become their gain as they walk out of the worship service with a deeper understanding of the scriptures, an awareness of the themes repeated in the passage, and a mind that has been engaged during the sermon rather than distracted and bored.

I will gladly pay that price. BINGO indeed!

Project 365 – Day 239

Edited to say – this series of pictures of Joshua were from a different day when we were being silly. He is a very helpful young man and is more than willing to assist on our blogging projects whenever possible. I didn’t mean to misrepresent him for the sake of some blog humor.

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