Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That the weather we are having right now is my kind of weather. Pretty much every day for the next ten days is over 90 degrees. I love it.

What I'm reading: I picked up a book at the library titled Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson. And after reading the first part I am so glad I don't live in the Middle Ages!

What we're learning: This week we are doing some catch up work in Literature and Bible....I have gone through the older ones' workbooks and they need to do some corrections. We also have co-op this week and are looking forward to studying more about Ancient Egypt in history.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend my Sweetie and I watched Humphrey Bogart in Treasure of the Sierra Madre. We need to watch that one with the kids sometime....

What's cooking: Tonight I am making Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls for dinner. Other things I am making? Oven barbequed chicken, grilled Panini's, and Chicken Adobo in the crock pot.

What I'm creating: Well, once again we are missing a couple of library books so we are going through the kids rooms in the next couple of days. I guess I am trying to create organization....

What I'm praying: That as my children grow in age, that I would adjust my parenting and my relationship with them, and that God would give me wisdom and grace to do it.

What we did this last weekend: We had a nice relaxing Saturday...we finished up our planting and got the cucumbers and the rest of the tomatoes into their spots in the garden. Then we all went for a fun swim at the pool and enjoyed chicken Caesar salad for dinner. Yesterday we were at church and Sunday school, then back home for a relaxing afternoon.

What I'm looking forward to: 4H stuff is starting to take over...we are in the process of getting our auction letters out to the buyers, and then we have a goat workshop this Saturday the kids are involved in. We are also selling food to raise money for our avian bowl team to go to nationals so it is going to be a busy day.

A picture to share:

~Our Sunday afternoon meal....Gyoza, miso, California maki, and snow peas.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Working the Goats

What have we been up to lately?

Working with the goats.

This is hard work, and the kids have been doing a great job of training and caring for them.

Wonder what goes into it?

Well, first off is food.

We feed our goats show pellets, with a little bit of corn oil, and a handful of alfalfa.

They eat around 2-3 lbs. a day and are great eaters.

Water is also very important. Even Nutsy helps to fill the water bin.

We also work with the goats.

In the beginning we just went in the pen and sat with them, getting them used to us and making them feel that humans are nice people.

Next we haltered them, tied them to a fence, and got them used to the kids touching them.

We are passed that stage now, and the kids are working with them to walk next to them, with their heads up.

The next step is bracing them.

Mr. Lego placing his feet.....

Then bracing him against his leg.

This shows off his good qualities, and give the judge a good look at the meat.

And how do we build a good meat goat? By building muscle.

First, we have lots of things in their pen that they can climb on and that we put food onto, to encourage them to jump up and use their muscles.

You can see here how much that works their leg muscles.

We also make sure they get plenty of exercise.

A fun way to do that is to halter them, and run them through the neighborhood.

You can see the kids get some great exercise too.

And I am sure the neighbors do a double take when they see us.....either that or they think we have some wacky breed of dog we are walking.

We also help out a bit at the farm where our goats are staying....

Here is Dasher and Nutsy, helping to feed the goats and horses.

This is definitely not considered 'work' to them....

These cute guys are running all over the place too, and are fun to watch.

Bookworm and Mr. Lego are doing a great job....we have about 30 more days before our fair so their work is far from done.

 And in case you were wondering.....we weighed both goats this week and Mr. Legos' Pippin is 68 pounds, and Bookworm's Merry is 62 pounds. We made weight, people!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Product Review: Math Rider

Quick: Do you know what 8 x 6 is? I still struggle with a few elusive multiplication facts, and have to count up by multiples to get the answer. How can I help my kids get those pesky facts memorized? By drilling. And to help with math facts drilling, you need to check out Math Rider, a fun and interactive online math program.

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What It Is:

The goal of Math Rider is to master the math facts. And not just addition and subtraction, but multiplication and division too. Your child begins with easy addition (0-5) and advance as they master each level, or 'Quest'. Quests have a story line that unlocks as they progress through the course. Doing the 30 math problems helps the hero to do certain things, like finding medicine for the mother, finding a diamond in a castle, or helping them to search for enchanted flowers. Set in a Middle-Age time period, the stories are simple enough to capture attention, yet short enough to not take away from the real task at hand - learning math facts.

On each run, a horse will appear at the bottom of the screen with a series of jumps ahead of him. Each jump is a math fact, and your child needs to type in the answer to each fact before the horse reaches the jump. If answered correctly the horse jumps it, if the answer is incorrect the horse stops and a voice states the entire fact correctly.

Your child can also select a Practice Run instead of a Quest; these are exactly how they sound, practice drills without the answers and speed effecting the overall statistic and level. Your child can conveniently see a map of their progress and how much further they have until they master their quest. And at the top of their profile page they can see what percent of the course they have completed.

What You Get:

Math Rider is available to purchase for life. Isn't that cool? That means that you make a one-time purchase of $47.00, and you get access for up to eight students, forever. Math Rider also give software updates for free.

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Each account is very easy to view at a glance; the statistics page tell you and your child exactly what facts they have mastered, which one they are working on, and which they still have to learn. There is even a chart where you can see for each fact how much they have improved since they began the program. There is a very useful help page, which is accessible from the program, that walks you through some frequently asked questions. You can try Math Rider with a 7-day risk free trial, or purchase the program, which comes with a 30 day risk-free guarantee.

How We Used This:

This program is primarily meant for children in grades 2-6, but can obviously be used by anyone who needs practice with math facts. Bookworm is doing 8th grade/pre-algebra math right now, but I felt that she should use some extra math drills. She started at the beginning with easy addition and the program was smart enough to advance her quickly through to harder multiplication and division. The facts go all the way up to the multiples of 12, which was still challenging for her and a good review. She enjoyed the review of the math facts, and being a lover of horses, enjoyed that it involved a horse going over jumps.

Dasher really struggles with math and started with addition as well. She had a hard time with the time limit; the horse is running towards the jump and she would get all frozen up and panic. But time pressure in math drills, I think, is a good thing. The statistics page was very helpful to her; she enjoyed seeing her percentage go up, and that encouraged her to keep pushing through.

Nutsy is just starting out with beginning math and totally loved this program. I noticed a big change in her math skills and was happy with how quickly she started progressing. I also saw this translate into her current math curriculum, as she started doing her math sheets a bit faster and with less complaining. Since we only have the one computer, they would all take turns and so I had them using it on different days of the week. Nutsy was very excited when she saw on the school schedule that it was her day.

What We Thought:

I loved this math facts program. The stories were at the beginning of the drills, and could be read or listened to. This was great for Nutsy, who isn't a proficient reader yet. And I also loved that I could very quickly see what facts they were struggling with. This made it easy for me, either through math worksheets or other manipulatives, to work on those problem areas. All three of them loved this program too. When I did ask Dasher  what she thought of the program she did express that there was too much pressure from the horse jumping, but the horse definitely adjusts if your child is struggling and runs slower so they can have time to answer. She just doesn't like the time-crunch pressure!

I would recommend this for anyone who wants a fun way for their kids to practice those troublesome yet necessary math facts.

See what my other shipmates thought of Math Rider by clicking below!


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Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it is starting to feel like summer is almost here. Today, in sunny CA, it is a beautiful 87 degrees. I love it.

What I'm reading: I am reading a book that I am borrowing from a friend called Children of the Storm, which is the autobiography of Natasha Vins, who grew up as a Christian in communist Russia. It's an excellent read.

What we're learning: School is just plugging along. The older two do a lot of their work independently....math, writing, literature, history work, grammar....then I check their work once a week. But I still do most of the younger girls' school with them. The weeks keep going....

What's cooking: This week I am making Chalupa, Indian Curry in the crockpot, and Gyoza, using this recipe.

What I'm thankful for: The beautiful state that I live in. We are having incredible weather this week, and even found out that our community pool is now heated. So exercise is going to transition from the bike to the pool.

What I'm creating: Well, the kids are working at creating goats that weigh at least 60 pounds. We go out to see our goats, a couple times a week, and work with them. One of the goats is skittish and gets plenty of exercise so that one needs help with walking. The other is quiet and docile, so it needs to be exercised.  So funny how their personalities come out...

What I'm planning: I have a review to write about a fun online math game and so I am thinking out how I want to write it in my brain. It seems I do a lot of my writing that way...

What we did this last weekend: We had a good Saturday, doing little things around the house and running errands. My Sweetie took Mr. Lego out driving and he drove on the freeway for the first time. Sunday we went to church and then had a couple of families over for lunch. Then back for evening service.

What I'm looking forward to: I have an 'extra' day this week since we are taking a Spring break from co-op....the kids need to write their auction buyer letters for fair and distribute them to local business and so maybe that might be a good day for it. And we have a quiet weekend ahead of us.

A picture to share:

~Me and my babies, 6 years ago....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Product Review: Progeny Press Literature Guide:Things Fall Apart

A couple of weeks ago I was reading the news and saw that the Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe, had passed away. It just so happened that I was in the middle of his book, Things Fall Apart. Not only was I reading the book, but we were also going through the accompanying Progeny Press literature study guide.

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What It Is:

Things Fall Apart is a book that shows the contrast between two worlds in Africa. The old world, full of superstition, tribal wars, and nomad living; versus the new world, and the influence of the British, Christianity, and education. First published in 1958, the book follows a man, Okonkwo, as he desperately tries to hold onto the old world and reject the new way of life.

I received the study guide for Things Fall Apart from Progeny Press. This guide, meant for high school students, leads them through the book, chapter by chapter. Each section covers between 3 and 4 chapters and has different components including:

  • Vocabulary - these exercises can be fill-in-the-blank type questions, matching or multiple choice
  • Characterization - this section might ask the student to compare and contrast two characters, dig into their background, or character analyzing
  • Questions - these are questions relating to the story, but are deep enough to draw out literary ideas
  • Analysis - these questions tend to introduce literary concepts, such as anthropomorphism, paradox, foreshadowing, and irony
  • Dig Deeper - this part uses scripture to analyze the characters and their actions
  • Optional Activities - these range from discussion ideas, research suggestions, and more in-depth scripture study

Meant to be used for eight to ten weeks, the guide is easy to use and self explanatory. At the end of the guide is an overview, which can also be used as a final test. There is also an extensive list of essay suggestions for you to assign, and additional resources that might be helpful as well.

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What You Get:

Progeny Press has both the book Things Fall Apart and the study guide available. The book is sold for $11.95 and is a hard copy. The literature guide can be bought three different ways: the printed booklet for $21.99, the CD for $18.99, and as a pdf instant download for $18.99. I received the pdf format and was very happy to see that the guide was interactive. My kids were able to fill in the fields on the computer so we didn't have to print the pages out. You can see sample pages of this guide here.

How We Used This And What I Thought:

I had my two older children read the book and begin to go through the guide. The story was very intriguing, so they both ended up reading the whole book, even though we only got about halfway through the guide. They spent two or three days in each section, spending 30-45 minutes a day answering the guide questions.

The book touched on some very interesting topics...spousal abuse, demon possession, marriage customs, and suicide. These can be hard subjects, but necessary to discuss with our older children. In our home I would not dream of breaching these subjects without the Bible open and being referenced to. And this is where this literature guide shines through. There is a heavy emphasis on scripture, and an in-depth examination of humanistic ideas versus Christian beliefs. In the story, missionaries come to the village and begin to slowly show the people their depraved state, with their killings of twins, polygamy, and tribal wars. The student, with scripture, explores how culture affects our religious choices and way of life, and how hard it can be for those blinded to change their ways.

I appreciated the depth of this study. The ideas and concepts that are taught make this not just a literature guide, but a Bible study on sociology and culture. The literature aspects were well taught also; similes, metaphors, rich vocabulary words, and comprehensive essay assignments are all very appropriate for the high school student. I would highly recommend this study guide and others from Progeny Press.

Other members of The Crew reviewed other Progeny Press guides, including Hall of Doors: The Dragon's Hoard Book, The Golden Goblet, Treasure Island, and The Hobbit. Click below to see what they have to say too.


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Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That today was one of my crazy days. We did school in the morning, headed out to run some errands, took my son to a job interview (he got the job!), then out again for more running around. But hey, I got my Monday Musings written while it was still Monday...

What we're learning: This week we are starting a new Spanish curriculum that I am reviewing, Dasher is moving along in her writing program and starting to learn "dress-ups", which are fun ways to make writing more interesting, and the older two are studying rabbit handbooks for our fair.

What I'm watching: My garden grow! This last Saturday I got my beans, watermelon, chives, more lettuce, and zucchini in. I transplanted my tomato plants into larger pots; they are now about 4 inches tall and I plan on getting them into the ground in a couple of weeks.

What's cooking: I finally made my own wheat bread! The kids love it and have asked me to not buy the stuff from the store anymore. And with my bread machine that does the kneading, it is super easy. For dinner this week I am making a vegetable stir fry, chicken tacos in the crock pot, and Monte Cristo sandwiches.

What I'm buying: I did some of my monthly shopping today and forgot batteries. So back I'll go again, sometime later this week...

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for a friends who help me out at the last minute today. And you know who you are...

What I'm praying: I am praying for those who are injured or who lost loved ones in Boston today. That God would be merciful and give grace to the hurting.

What I'm planning: To write a couple of reviews this week. I've got a literature guide to write about plus a fun math fact computer program as well. I also need to watch more of the Teacher DVD for our writing class and do some assignments.

What we did this last weekend: We spent Saturday outside, and then over to a friend's house for dinner. Yesterday we heard a convicting sermon on anxiousness, then over to a friend's house for a surprise birthday party.

What I'm looking forward to: We have rabbit rank sheet tests this week....these are written tests that the kids do as a part of our county rabbit project. And we have our normal co-op meeting on Wednesday, and a quiet weekend ahead.

A picture to share:

~Saturday gardening.....

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Product Review - Supercharged Science

Teaching science is usually reading a textbook, which very easily, can become boring and lifeless. And that is where Supercharged Science comes to the rescue. And how does it do that? By offering an incredible array of experiments and videos for you and your children.

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What It Is:

Supercharged Science is an online science learning program. The teacher Aurora, who is not only the one who does the experiments but the creator of the program, does a great job of making science meaningful. This curriculum can be used as a self-guided stand alone science program, or it can be used to supplement your current science textbook.

What is covered on the website? Too many things to list. There are 20+ units to choose from; these range from Chemistry, Life Science, Electricity, Sound, and Matter. And the list is continuing to grow; right now there are three units that will be available very soon: Earth Science, Advanced Astronomy, and Science e-Camp.

Each unit starts out with a section that describes the unit, and gives goals and highlights. The focus of the material is on experiments and videos. And this does grab your child's attention...think about it, seeing and doing an experiment whets the appetite and makes it that much easier to teach why something worked a certain way. To round out the experiments there is reading material for each of the units, written in an engaging style that captures the student's attention. And so you know that your child has learned the material, there is also a list of questions to ask your child, with the answers conveniently given at the bottom.

What You Get:

This is a very well rounded science program. You will get access to videos which are of the teacher, Aurora, explaining the concept and experiments in detail. There is text reading to support the unit material and the quiz-type questions to test your child with. The site is in blog format, so underneath each chapter, you can ask questions about the subject or get teaching advice in a comments section. Aurora answers these questions herself and in a timely manner, which can be a big help for us non-science people! And every few weeks, Aurora holds a live science class that you can take online.

To access the units you need to purchase a subscription. There are two different levels of subscription. For $37 a month you will have access to the content that is appropriate for grades K-8th. You also have the choice to buy the premium level for $57 a month; this includes not only the K-8th grade material, but also the advanced units as well.

And to make it not too overwhelming, in the first month you will receive the first seven units, with two units being 'unlocked' each month after that. But if you do see a unit that you want to get to sooner, you can email the company and they will give you access immediately. There is a very helpful Members FAQ that you can check out here.

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How We Used This:

I love learning about science with my kids but the experiments? Not my forte at all. Right now we are going through Apologia's Anatomy and so we took a break from that while we used Supercharged Science. And since we are studying anatomy this year, I chose to do Biology 2, which covers:

  • Skin, Bones and Muscle
  • Digestive System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Respiratory and Excretory Systems
  • Controlling your Body
  • Diseases and Defenses

We would start by going over the reading portion for each section. These took about 20 minutes to read and were a great overview of the topic. The fun part was what came next; the videos and experiments. When you look at this site you think that all the videos will be on experiments, but I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of educational videos to watch that help to teach the topic. Our favorite was in the Digestive System and showed what happened to a bite of pizza, from that first bite to all the way through.

We also enjoyed doing this experiment, which showed how our bodies use oxygen and also explained air pressure.

I chose to have the kids watch the video of the experiment first and then do it themselves.  I was scared the kids would watch it and then not want to do the experiment, once they knew what would happen, but the opposite happened and watching the experiment made them excited to go do it themselves.

We also had fun checking our reflexes and learning about how quick our eye reflex is in this experiment.

Each of them measured how long it took their visual reflexes to respond, then kept track on a log and averaged the amounts.

We also watched videos about the part of the ear, photo-reading, and how we see with our eyes.

Each section has at least 5-10 videos and experiments to do; plenty of fun things to make science come alive. Some of the experiments only need things you might find around the house; other larger experiments need further planning.( Like the hovercraft, rocket car, or robot projects.) To make that part easy, there is a shopping list for each unit so you can see at a glance what materials you might need.

What I Thought:

I really liked this product. First off, I liked the flexibility. You can choose from so many science topics and move around as you see fit. and the flexibility also extend to how you use could either be used as a full science curriculum, or you can supplement your current science program with extra reading, fun videos, and meaningful experiments. I liked how simply Aurora described the experiments. I also appreciated that there was a list of needed supplies I could see before we watched the experiment, so we would know what we were getting in to.

Aurora is very accessible; if you have any questions about the topics, or have teaching inquiries, she is quick to answer and give advice. She also sends encouraging emails to you, with easy experiment ideas and hints. And for the price per month, with access for the entire family, this really is a great science resource for homeschoolers.

Check out what other members if The Crew thought about Supercharged Science by clicking below.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That it is blustery, windy day here today. Things are blowing around and on our bike ride this morning, we saw lots of debris on the trails. I was going to put my tomatoes out in the sun for a couple of hours to let them harden, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

What I'm reading: The last thing I read was our county fair handbook. I am trying to decipher it so I know what we are registering for...

What we're learning: This week the older two are doing a literature unit on the book we are finishing up, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. Dasher is learning about astronauts and comets in her unit study, and Nutsy is loving a new math facts computer game I am reviewing.

What's cooking: Last November I bought a smaller turkey when they were all on sale so this week I am making a turkey dinner. We'll eat  that for a couple of nights, plus I'm planning to make turkey soup with the leftovers. Other things I am planning to make? Honey Garlic Chicken in the crockpot, and enchiladas with green rice.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for the house I live in. It is small, but the plus to that is that it is easy to clean.

What I'm praying: I am praying for a couple people in our church that are struggling with health problems, and for the friends I know who are expecting little ones.

What I'm planning: I have got a couple of reviews coming is a great online science resource and the other is a literature study unit on the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

What we did this last weekend: We did some things around the house and worked outside, trimming the bushes and spraying the roses. Sunday we went to church, had our fellowship meal, and then over to the assisted living center for the service. Then back to our house with friends.

What I'm looking forward to: We have our 'fun' 4H meeting tomorrow and our club is going to a big jump place for an hour. Then we have co-op on Wednesday, and at least one more trip out to visit our goats this week. Next Saturday I plan to get out and plant most of my garden...

A picture to share:

~Our Sunday....

Dasher's Sunday School presentation during our fellowship meal...

Some of the kids, at the service at the assisted living center....

Greeting the residents.....

Afternoon flag football game....

Friday, April 5, 2013

Remembering My Mom

Right around this time every year, I think of my mom. It was on March 31st, 1998, that the Lord called her to heaven.

This year I thought I would share a bit about her life and some memories that I have of her.

My mom was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, in 1947.

She had a brother who was 7 years older than her. He was (and still is) crazy about trains and my grandmother would love to tell us the stories about how my mom would come into his room as a toddler and mess up his track.

My grandpa (her dad) worked for United Airlines and transferred to California when she was 16. They moved to San Carlos and she attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City, where she graduated in 1966.

I remember looking through my mom's high school yearbooks and thinking the hairstyles were hilarious. (She is on the far right below.)

After high school she went to Grand Rapid's School of the Bible and Music. She had a beautiful voice and sang solos and also in the school choir. Then she came home for Christmas break in 1967...and met someone special.

My mom's family attended Grace Bible Church in Redwood City, and the college group had a Christmas outing to look at the lights in San Francisco and to go out to dinner. It was on that night that she met my dad, who had just recently moved to California from Colorado.

They kept in touch after she went back to college, and then began dating that summer. They were engaged sometime in August with a wedding planned for June of 1969.

On June 28, 1969, my grandpa (the same one that years later would married my Sweetie and I) married my dad and mom.

They lived in Redwood City for a couple of years and then moved to the house I know and still love. My mom did have some health problems....when she was nine years old, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes (type 1). Even though she was insulin dependent her blood sugar levels would wildly fluctuate, so she had been told that her eyesight was diminishing and she probably couldn't have children.

 She did have some retinal problems and 6 months after they were married, she lost complete vision in one eye and most of her sight in the other. She had slight peripheral vision in the one eye and could see light and dark, but she was considered blind.

I am sure they were both surprised then when I came along...

One of my early memories is of her rocking me in her rocking chair (which sits in my bedroom today), with my head on her chest, listening to her heart beat.

From the time I was born my mom sang to me; she actually had a professional recording done before I was born.

Here I am, I think at Great America, with my mom next to me and her ever-present white cane.

...which became very useful when we wanted to cross the street. All we had to do was put my mom in front of everyone with her cane and traffic would immediately come to a stop.

My sister came along almost 4 years later...
(Check out my dad's pants....)

I went off to a small Christian school and my mom quickly became involved...she would come into all the classrooms once a week with her ventriloquist monkey-doll, Samantha, to teach Bible stories. Of course she couldn't drive so she had to depend on my dad and others to take her places.

She was a brave woman: yes, in that picture below we are standing on a glacier in Alaska.

Even though she was blind, there were times when I could swear she could see me. Especially when I would be sneaking around the house or not cleaning my room. It was actually her hearing that was incredible; years later she told me that she could tell by how I was walking if I was guilty or not.

One of my favorite memories is going to Pioneer Girl camp with her. She was always a counselor and had a cabin full of giggly girls.

Of course she taught my sister and I to sing, and we would sing in three part harmony quite often.

One of my favorite family memories was playing hide and seek. We did this in the dark to make it more even, but my mom would always win, because she would sail through the house at top speed, while the rest of us bumped our way around the room, making all sorts of noise.

In 1985 the small school I was at closed, so my parents decide we would be homeschooled. This was when homeschooling was a new thing and not common at all, but my mother charged ahead and ordered our curriculum. Of course all there was to choose from was A Beka, Bob Jones, and Saxon. And to make our learning really fun, my parents started a homeschooling co-op and organized outdoor education camps for homeschoolers in the Bay Area.

Here is my graduation ceremony from 8th grade.

Morning Bible times were very important to my mom. From as long as I can remember, I would wake up to the sound of her, in her room, praying, reading from her Braille Bible, or singing aloud.

She was a talker, and would engage me quite often. Our conversations were about situations, doctrine, food, relationships. And now that I have some teenage kids I see what she was doing. She was keeping the communication lines open, giving me an ear to talk to, and advice when I needed it.

In 1990 I got my driver's license. This was a huge thing for us, because now my mom didn't need to depend on others to drive us around during the day. That first year we drove up to San Francisco a few times, just to have clam chowder for lunch. That was also the year that she lost her peripheral vision, and went completely blind.

My high school graduation in 1991.

A year later someone very special came into my life.

We dated for three years, and during that time my parents got to know My Sweetie pretty well. He was over pretty often for dinner, and loved hanging out with my family.

In 1994 my mom suffered a stroke. She was in the hospital for six weeks, learning how to function again without the use of her left side. She could still walk, but could no longer play the piano or knit. She really started struggling with life; there were very hard days when she didn't understand why all this was happening, but she never abandoned her faith, and was continually relying on Christ for His grace and mercy.

And then in 1996 my Sweetie and I were married.

One of my mom's best friends was with her the entire day, being her eyes and telling her everything that was happening, so she didn't miss a thing.

Then a year later, her first grandson.

My mom loved being a grandma. I remember when Mr. Lego started to crawl, she held her hand on his back so she could feel him creep along.

When he was three months old we had a 50th birthday party for my mom. We got her a shirt with his picture on it that said World's Greatest Grandma. She was thrilled, and wore it everywhere.

We took lots of photos during December, 1997; my grandpa was having surgery and we didn't know if it was the last time we would all be together.

We didn't know it was actually my mom's last Christmas.

In late March of 1998, she got pneumonia. She was susceptible to congestive heart failure and they were monitoring her in the hospital.

The morning of her death she called me and woke me up, as she did most mornings when I was growing up, by singing her Good Morning song. (Seriously annoying when you want to sleep longer!) We talked for a while, she sounded great and said they were releasing her the next day. We did have an argument, something about the baby and a decision I had made that she didn't agree with. I don't even remember what it was, but it was a silly argument. The conversation ended okay and I said we would be over to see her the next day.

That night my dad called My Sweetie to tell him to come right away to the hospital. It's funny, my mind knew something was wrong, but I didn't try to guess what it could be. By the time we got there they had been doing CPR for 20 minutes and had decided it was enough.

I can still relive every moment, from that second when we stepped from the elevator and my dad saw us and told me that mom's heart had stopped and she had just died.

I remember sobbing, all of us hugging together, then after a while going over to my parent's house and friends coming to comfort us. Then the sad business of planning the funeral, memorial service, finding a grave.

About a week later we had a memorial service at our church. To this day, I am so grateful for the helping hands, people who listened and shared, and the songs that we all sung through our tears.

I am so thankful that God gave me her. I am blessed to have known her for 23 years and I am so thankful that she got to know my son, even if just for a year. I am so grateful for her influence, her raw feelings that showed how human she was, and how she clung to Jesus and His saving grace.

I think of her often. I have so many questions I would love to ask her, things I want to share with her, and I sometimes wish she could be here today, to enjoy all of her grandchildren. But I also know that God's plan is perfect and sovereign. He planned for her life to end at that exact moment. And through that knowledge, I have peace. No regrets, because even though I am a sinner and was not the perfect daughter, my sins have been washed and forgiven.

Yes there are times when I grieve, but I am joyful now, more than I am sad. Joyful in the hope of salvation that I have, and the assurance that she is in perfect peace, with a perfect body, with her Heavenly Savior.

And so I remember, and tell stories to my children about her; show them the pictures and mementos that I have, and with joy and thankfulness live each day.

If you knew my mom in some way, feel free to leave memories of her in the comments section. I would love to hear your thoughts.