If you've seen the Vision Forum catalog for 2012, you will see that the theme of the new year is "Women and Children First", and is a tribute to the Titanic, and the souls lost there, as well as the Biblical principles of bravery, love, and chivalry. In fact,if you click on this page,   it has a list of their products in remembrance of the great tragedy (as well as a few that seem entirely unrelated-so goes computer searches...) .

Unsinkable, by Elizabeth Rose and Bree, is a fully Titanic-focused blog. These lovely ladies are hosting a giveaway of a lovely necklace this month. Hurry...there are only a few days left to enter! (click here to read all about it).   You can, by following instructions, enter up to 9 times! Here is a picture of the prize:

Isn't it a beauty?

Blessing for the New Year!


Shall We Gather At The River Of... Ice?

Saturday, it looked like this:

Sunday, (while it was still VERY cold) this happened:

We filled 1 1/2 tables just with our guests...

a big thank you to all who were there!!


The Battle of Ball's Bluff- Leesburg, VA October 21, 1861

Saturday, October 22nd, we went to a Civil War re-enactment near Leesburg, Virginia. 
Confederate victory (that's for you, March family).
But it was a spectacular sight.

Just before the battle, mother,
I am thinking most of you,
While upon the field we're watching
With the enemy in view.
Comrades brave are 'round me lying,
Filled with thoughts of home and God
For well they know that on the morrow,
Some will sleep beneath the sod.
-Just before the battle, mother source

We shall meet, but we shall miss him.
There will be one vacant chair.
ile we breathe our ev'ning pr
We shall linger to caress him
While we breathe the ev'ning prayer.
- the Vacant Chair  source

There are the remains of many men buried in this cemetery. Only one of the bodies was recognizable and has a name on the tombstone. It's the large one at the head of the semi-circle.

Ellie wanted to see inside the wall.

As did Sam.

Ellie in her full costume.

The only route of escape for the Union soldiers was to swim the Potomac. In October. At midnight. After fighting almost non-stop since 6 AM. And because the uniforms and arms were so heavy, they had to strip to their skivvies. 

Those who weren't shot in the river by the Rebel troops, died of pneumonia on the other side. Precious few survived.

It was on these bluffs (below) that the Confederate soldiers stood and fired blindly into the black, moonless night toward the river, and the Federals.

Here is my costume:

The rifles stacked.

This Union soldier told us all about the battle, cannons, and arms.

No more shall the war cry sever
Or the winding rivers be red;

They banish our anger forever

    When they laurel the graves of our dead!

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment-day,

Love and tears for the Blue,

Tears and love for the Gray.

- The Blue and The Gray source

Union, Confederate, death favors none;
No matter political sight.
Yet Christ has sufficient compassion
To turn any from wrong to the right.
- The Waters of Shiloh source

Here's the Union tents.

And the camp.

This lady was telling us all about housekeeping in the camps.

Cooking...how about trying to work with these!

Emma's hair looks *spectacular*, if I do say so myself.

Just the right time of year for apples!

This gentleman told us about camp life.
He also told us how accurate Emma's costume was.

Old Glory!

Sam tries on a genuine wool, hand-knitted hat.

The Rebels line up.

A Union scout.

The troops watch for the advancing Confederates.

Girls hanging out.

My little Union man.


These guys look farther away in the picture. In reality, we'd have been able to reach out and touch them.

The ranks on the other side.

One of the small troops of Confederates.
The sides were practically 1 on 1. However, in this particular re-enactment, the numbers were in favor of the Union-  3 to 1.

Just for you, Jo March--- the "Stars & Bars".

The Confederates force the Union troops into a retreat.

All in all, it was an awesome day, a fun day, a sobering day.

I know I joke quite a bit about Union versus Confederate, but the truth is, none of it is glorious. I'm glad the North won. 
Slavery is wrong. 
Separation is fatal. 
Many, many man and boys lost their lives in this War. 

One last story before I sign off.

In the original fight, the one of the Confederate flag-bearers was red-headed, 6 foot something, and his belief in what he was fighting for was so moving, that, years after the war ended, 6 Union men who survived the battle of Ball's Bluff, set up a monument to that boy. He died in another battle at age 21 and was buried in the National Cemetery with honor.

Read all about the battle here.



is the time of year I love most.
    Next to Christmas, that is.
It is a time when we all hurry around to clean, rush around to pack, seemingly getting nowhere! At least, until you see all the suitcases in the trunk, lovies in car seats, and a package of trail mix on Pa's seat.

Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip.  ~Author Unknown

Family trips have become second nature to us. We all know what to expect. Starting at 3AM, Pa will blast the AC as cold as it gets and munch on mixed nuts while singing along to the music he's just turned on (we always bring a sweatshirt).

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking.  ~Earl Wilson

Vacations. What would I do without them? Go mad. Oh, wait, "that was rhetorical." (if you can tell me where that's from, I'll give you 10 brownie points!).

A lot of people have told me how they can't take long car trips with their kids because they'd all kill each other by the time they'd reach their destination. I couldn't imagine what I'd do without our family trips. After Pa turns us into ice cubes ;}, we sing aloud to the CD, or our favorite hymns, or read, or eat lunch, or nap, or eat a snack (we do an awful lot of that around here), or tease Pa about how much he's eaten...  the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. It is very rare you'll hear a complaint, unless Emma's been reading in the car and now is feeling sick. : )

Tonight Early tomorrow morning we go to our favorite beach.

Looking forward to it with nostalgia...

A good vacation is over when you begin to yearn for your work.  ~Morris Fishbein
Until October,


Vote for Mom!

for a kinder, gentler internet!!

Just kidding.
But you can vote for my mom!
Mom's blog was nominated to be the best blog written by Moms of Big Families, along with 25 others.
You can vote for her once, on any device that has an internet connection, every 24 hours! That means, if you have a smartphone and a laptop, and you vote for her once from each every day until the contest ends, she'll have gotten 42 votes from YOU ALONE!!!!!!!
(how cool is that?)

So please, Please, PLEASE....

Here's how it works.

  1. go to this link: (click here to VOTE!!!!)
  2. find Art's Chili Pepper in the list (look for a black & white picture of our family)
  3. click on the button next to where it says VOTE
  4. voila! you can check back any time to see how she's doing!
Thanks to all of you!
'Til next time,


We Will Never Forget...

This post will be full of remembering, tears, peace, joy, and sorrow
Today marks 10 years.

10 years of...
horror, loss, tears, pain, recovery, insecurity, heartache, death and terror.

10 years ago today, Al Qaeda flew and wrecked 4 American airplanes.

1 hit the North World Trade Center Tower, in New York City
1 hit the South World Trade Center Tower also in NYC.
1 hit a wing of the Pentagon in Washington D.C. 
1 hit a empty, open field in Pennsylvania.

2,977 people died.
Lives lost.
Souls in eternity.

For some, this was the door into heaven.
But for others it was only the beginning of pain.
Of torture.
Of burning.
A taste of eternity.
A taste of Hell.

Yet in it all God gave hope and mercy.

You can read about the cross here.

This statement is under attack. A group called the American Atheists is suing to remove this monument to those that died there. 

Until Next Time,


Sweet Shop

Cupcakes are so cute, but terrible bad for you. Thus, we don't make them often. But when we do, we go whole hog.
these are the milkshakes and lollipops

ice cream sundaes- I think not

Everyone liked these and though they took some time, they were easy.

the recipe is here
Have fun, and enjoy!!


Christina Katerina and The Box

Boy, it has been a long time since I've written!! (yes, Jo, that was just for you!)

In our church, whenever someone has a baby, three families each bring one meal to the parents of  the new little one. So, one family brought us a delicious Dinner Salad. It's a salad that has everything on it-from chicken to cantaloupe. But that's beside the point. The point in this is, the family brought the salad, and all it toppings, in a cardboard box. A box big enough to catch a certain little girl's eye:

where's  Ellie?

 The hiding place soon became a boat:

Which gave way to a house:

Ellie un-tapes the bottom of the box.
Ellie in her "house"

This house is pretty plain...I know...crayons!!

This little girl reminds me so much of Christina Katerina and the Box by Patricia Lee Gauch. This was a book that belonged to my mother as a girl, and one she frequently read to us. So, I read it to Ellie.

Who would think a piece of cardboard could be such a treasure?

Until Next Time,


The Giving Tree

Dear Lord,

Tonight the boys handed me a book to read, that they had plucked off the nursery shelf. Placing it in my hands, Sam said, "Read this one." I read the title aloud: The Giving Tree. I sighed.

It had been so long since I read this one. As I opened the front cover and read the inscription on the title page, memories poured in of sitting on the couch next to Mom as she read it to me, and then as I read it to her. I remembered watching the tears form as she came near the end of the story.

These thoughts swirling through my head, I heard my Mom's voice, instead of my own: "There once was a tree. And she loved a boy."

God, you work in mysterious ways. Words can be pounded into our heads, screamed into our ears, and even trip us up, and we won't hear them until they are spoken to our heart in your still, small voice.

Tonight, I was not reading of the little boy and a tree, but of a little girl and her mother.

The woman loved her little girl. When the girl wanted anything, the mother made sure she would have it. If the girl needed anything, the mother made sure it was provided. She gave everything she had...everything.
"And the tree was happy."

No matter what the girl received she wanted more, and knew where to get it. She had someone to come back to. She knew her Mother loved her, and she, well... took that for granted.

Then, the girl saw herself in the future, having everything she wanted, not a mite happy, and with nothing but a trunk to come home to.

Lord, thank you for helping me to realize what I have, before it's too late.

Help me to be more like the Giving Tree, and not like the boy...

In Jesus' name,


Operation: Survival Day 7

Our last day was a hit!

Today's Theme: Jonathan Park & the Creation Response Team.

If none of you have listened to the Jonathan Park radio series, it is a fantastic way to teach kids all about the world in which we live, and defending their faith by using God's Creation as evidence. It can be purchased at Vision Forum's website.

"Summer" finishes her scrambled eggs.

"Jonathan" dusts the baseboards.

"Jim" dusts bureau tops, table tops, and the knick-knacks thereon.

"Kendell" dusts large furniture.

"Katie" sorts things to be put away.
(this is an awful picture of me)

Before picture...

yes, that's a sweater drying on a towel on the piano...

playroom doesn't look too bad before...

"Put this away, and this away, and you know where this goes..."

quite a rag bundle, huh?

Now, Nana Eddie, had fun editing our group picture. Here is the original:

Once she cut us  out, she popped in a lot of different backgrounds:

Jonathan Park and the CRT go to the Sahara...

 And the Grand Canyon...

And the Rainforest...

And to the Moon...

And my personal favorite: The bottom of the Sea...and there really is a hole there!

back row left to right:  Eddie (I don't remember his last name), Jessie Brennan, Katie Park
middle row: Jim Brennan, Jonathan Park, Kendall Park
front: Summer Melody Brennan

Summary: this week has been an awesome adventure, but all of us were glad to see Pa and Mama and Winnie home, safe and sound, at 8:00 last night.

Welcome Home, Guys!!