Monday, September 29, 2008

Drawing Class Lesson One: The Castle

I am not only teaching that watercolor class, but also a drawing class for 9-15 year olds this year in our Homeschooling Co-op. This has been really fun and challenging for me. Our first project, by popular demand, was drawing a castle with landscape. Below are each of the steps in this drawing, with some notes. I took a poll to find out what we would be drawing for content this year, and everyone wanted landscapes, buildings, castles, trains/planes, and dinosaurs (I just bought a cool rubber Triceratops at Walmart the other day that we'll be drawing....:))

Always scroll down to look at the finished drawing if at any point you are confused about where I'm going with one of these steps. It may help to clear things up for you.

The castle this is based on is a photograph I have of a castle on a river with some scenic mountains in the background. Looking at the photograph, I made a simpler rendering of the scene, and broke it down to these steps:

1. Draw a horizon line, and two other shorter lines as shown

The top two smaller lines will be used for the roof of the main part of the castle, as we will see in later steps. Draw lightly so that you will be able to erase these guidelines later! Do NOT draw too need room for the rest of the castle and scenery.

2. Complete the main part of the building, by drawing the roof with two diagnonal lines, and then create the building as if you are making a box.

3. Next, we're going to add another building towards the back of the castle's main building. This building is drawn the same way. The front part of the roof leans in a little bit, so it is not a straight triangle. The building seems to sit on an angle. It will look better as we add more details.

4. As you can see here, I elongated the sides of the buildings to make them go beyond the horizon line, and I have added the first tower to the castle. I started by making an upside-down curved line and then a second line just below that one, somewhat smaller. Directly above those, about 2 inches up, and in the very center, I made a dot, and I drew diagonal lines connecting the end of the longer curved line and the dot on each side, forming the top cone shaped roof. I connected the two curved lines on the side, and then added the sides to the cylinder shaped tower. The bottom is also curved, below the horizon line.

5.Now we're starting on another tower. This is a great way to also draw a chimney.
Begin by making a point on the roof of the main building about an inch away from the end. On either side, make straight lines, one ending at the roof and the other extending beyond the roof line. Connected the point with the end of the line that went beyond the end of the roofline to start your tower.

6. Now, connect those two vertical lines with a diagonal line, forming the one side of the tower. Draw a third vertical line, just as long as the middle one, to the right of the middle line, and connect that one at the top and the bottom too, forming the front of the tower.

7. The next step is the roof for the tower. This roof is a pyramid shape. We'll start by making a dot above the tower. All of the points of the roof are going to converge on this Apex (look, you're learning geometry terms too! An apex is the point where the sides of a pyramid converge, at the top). We are going to draw the lines from the point to the edges of the tower, hanging over slightly to make it look interesting. Look at real buildings. Roofs rarely are flush with the sides of the buildings.

8.Let's start adding a little bit of detail to the buildings, just under the roofs. This makes it look more interesting, and is in keeping with the style of the building we are drawing.

We're also adding a new building to the side of the tower, starting first with three lines...the top of the roof, the bottom of the roof, and the bottom of the structure, which will be partway onto the roof of the main building, then we connect those lines to form a building as we did the others.

9. We're going to add another building coming off of the front of the main building. We will start, again, with two parallel lines for the roof, and one for the bottom of the structure. The bottom one will go below the bottom of the other building, so as to make it appear to be in front. sketching in the sides of the building, and diagonals to connect the front line to the front of the main building will add depth.

10.Let's put another tower in front of the main building, right next to that new structure we drew. We are going to draw it just like the other tower, starting with two upside-curves, one smaller than the other, then making a point directly above, and connecting that point with the two diagonals to the ends of the larger curve. Draw in the sides of the building, then a curve at the bottom.

11. Next, I've lightly sketched in some guidelines to allow me to better place windows and other details on the sides of the buildings. Notice how the curved towers have curved guidelines, and the lines on each of the other buildings are parallel to the roof lines, not just straight across. Make these light, as we will erase them (mine are only darker so that the scanner could pick them up.

12. Draw in your choice of windows, using the guidelines to help you. You can make them as fancy or plain as you want. On a curved building the windows will have a similar curve.

13.Let's ink in some details. I am using a Sharpie Ultra Fine marker. I use sharpies because they are waterproof, and I usually watercolor my pen and ink drawings.

When you draw in the bricks and shingles, you don't draw each individual. Less is more. There will be darker lines on the shady side of the building (opposite the sunlight), and less on the part that is facing the sun. Broken lines look more realistic than a solid line. For the shingles, I drew the horizontal lines, and then add dashes across them randomly. Look carefully. It is not perfect.

The most important thing is to make the shingles go in the right direction for how the roof is going. On the cone shaped roof, the shingles go around. For the pyramid shaped roof, they go in different directions depending on the side. This helps to show the viewer the shape of the roof.

14. I've added some landscaping details now.

In the background, as in the original photograph, I added some mountains, and I also drew in the shore, as the castle sits on an uneven shoreline. I drew in some rocks, and I squiggled in some bushes and plant growth. This is easily done by making small squiggles, randomly, over the area.

The shoreline is obviously not perfectly straight. A good rule of thumb is that anything man-made usually has straight lines, exact circles, etc. (such as the sides of a castle), but anything God made is often unique. There are no perfectly straight lines in nature. I used the horizon line we original drew in to gauge where to put my shoreline, and the "back" part of the river rests on it, however it does come forward, and come close to our castle, before running off the page in the front, into the foreground.

15. Finally, I added shading with some Prismacolor Gray-scale Markers. I love these. Again, they are waterproof, enabling me to go back in and add color with water color pencils or regular watercolors. They don't fade, either.

I explain more about using Prismacolor Gray Markers in my cartooning book. Start with a lighter gray (10% to 30% gray), and mark off the shaded areas, and gradulally use darker gray markers, to darken up the other shadows. To shade, think of where light would naturally hit a building, and shade the side without direct sunlight, as well as under the roofs, on the crevices of the rocks, etc.

Joyful Momma Blogging at TEACH Today

Kimberly Eddy is blogging at TEACH today, on the topic of the choices we make. To learn more, click here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Watercoloring with Youngins: Project Two

As I said in post one on this theme, I am teaching a watercolor class to the 6-9 year olds in my homeschooling co-op this year, and we are focusing on some simple techniques to make watercolors more enjoyable and less frustrating. Let's face it: most kids love to paint with watercolors but most also struggle with the results.

For you, as a mom, I recommend getting Bobbi Dubbins' DVD from my bookstore. This DVD is not geared towards children, but it is full of such basic and helpful information, helping your child learn watercolors will be much simpler.

Our materials are the same as for the first project, with us starting off with watercolor paper taped onto a drawing board, table top, or piece of foam board with masking tape. The set up includes some paper towel for cleaning our brushes between colors, two cups of clean water, and a water color palate. We also have some ok-quality brushes (not the cheap ones that come with the water color sets). To save money, I bought a set of water color tubes, and I filled the palates that the long run it saves money, and the color quality is better.

Project Two was designed to show the students that if you pre-wet your paper only in certain areas or in certain shapes, the colors will fill that area, and stay within the boundaries.

To start, I took a clean brush, with clean water, and painted a simple shape on the paper (in this case, a heart).

Because the point of this is to show them how the colors all will run together yet stay in the boundaries, I dabbed on a selection of colors into the heart, painting them gently, but mostly letting the wet paper inside of the heart shape pull the color around to fill the heart up.

If you need to, gently (emphasis on GENTLY) tilt the board to let the water colors run in empty areas within your shape.

If you are too overloaded in an area, you can gently (there's that word again) take a corner of paper toweling and absorb some of it, and again let it blend in that area. Water color paper is super hearty, and allows you to make these corrections, but most other paper will not.

Next, we paint on a border of some sort, first in plain water, and then adding colors, and letting them blend.

I also traced around my heart with water, leaving a very slight empty area, which keeps the colors from blending together. When you are painting and you don't want two objects to smear together into one, don't connect them. Leave a very thin area of plain paper between the two, until they are both dry (you can go back in later and fix them...we'll learn about that another time).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Watercoloring with Youngin's: Project One

This year for our homeschooling co-op I am teaching a drawing class and a watercolor class. The water color class is for ages 6-9. For a great beginning video (designed with adults in mind but nevertheless useful for older children), check out Bobbi Dubbins' Watercolor DVD in my bookstore.

Watercolor is a medium that most children enjoy working with but which is sadly frustrating to work with unless you learn some basic techniques. In my class I am trying to teach those useful techniques in a way that is both interesting and do-able for the 6-9 crowd.

The first week, we did this project to learn about the colors of the rainbow, and how watercolors blend together.

First, the set up

You will need:

  • Make sure you have WATERCOLOR paper (it doesn't have to be "the best" but it can't be regular photo copy paper or sketch paper...learning watercolors requires watercolor paper to be far less frustrating.

  • Paper Towel

  • Boards to tape the water color paper down onto. I have masonite drawing boards, but since I have so many students this year, I have taped them down to foam board cut to size too. This keeps the paper from buckling, and it also makes it easier to move the painting around without damaging the wet paper, and it makes a cool board.

  • Masking tape

  • Water colors (we used the variety in a tube...a little dab will do ya...with cheap palates).

  • Brushes (I used some less expensive but still better-than-what-comes-in-children's -paint-kits plastic brushes). These ones have wooden handles and were in a set at Hobby Lobby.

  • Two cups of clean water

  • Old Tshirts to wear over clothes

First, the technique for not ruining your colors. I stressed this with the kids...don't mix your colors together in the palate itself, but when you want to go from one color to another, wipe your brush off on the paper towel, then dip in the water, then wipe again, then dip in the water and THEN touch the new color. We still had some messes but it wasn't as bad. If you are watercoloring with children, you will want to stress this one over and over again.

With this project, we started by wetting the taped down paper with water using a large brush.

Next, in the order of the rainbow, we painted each color, letting it run into the other color on the wet paper. If the paper is wet ahead of time, everything should run together. If it's hot and dry you may need more water, but experience shows me that 6-9 year olds always seem to have a problem in the other direction ;) Not to worry. Watercolor paper is very hearty.

The order of the rainbow is this: Red, Orange,Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet and back to Red (an easy way to remember it is: ROY-G-BIV). As I taught, I explained that red and yellow make orange, and that is why orange is in the middle, as well as yellow and blue make green, blue and violet make indigo, and indigo and red make violet. So, we also learned super simple color theory.

We covered the whole paper with the rainbow colors, and then left them to dry. Once they were mostly dry, my assistant and I carefully took the tape off (it did stick more to the foam board than to the masonite drawing boards), leaving a neat border around the edges. In 2 hours, it was nearly completely dry (the teacher's painting was dry in 30 minutes, but as I said, 6-9 year olds love water).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Everyman's guide to the current financial crisis

I came across this blog that had a great post about our current financial crisis...both humorous and honest. Check it out here!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Great Idea

Someone just sent me this via email and I think it is a pretty good idea....can you imagine? Note: His math is off...see my note in the text.

I’m against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.. So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00. [joyful momma's note...he has too many zeros in actually would be $4,250.00 each person...though that would still be nice)

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a

We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.

So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.

That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.

A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?

Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.

Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads

Put away money for college – it’ll be there

Save in a bank – create money to loan to entrepreneurs.

Buy a new car – create jobs

Invest in the market – capital drives growth

Pay for your parent’s medical insurance – health care improves

Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( “vote buy” ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG – liquidate it.

Sell off its parts.

Let American General go back to being American General.

Sell off the real estate.

Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t.

Sure it’s a crazy idea that can “never work.”

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion

We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC .

And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

Given the fact that the CEOs of these FAILURE COMPANIES are not going to cut back on their lifestyles to help with this crisis, I think we the people would do a better job with it

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Warning Labels

Warning labels have always amused me, mostly because the warnings are usually either painfully obvious or bizarre.

For example, on my phone's MP3 player, when I turn it on, I get a warning that says this "You are about to listen to music at a higher-than-recommended volume. Doing so may result to hearing damage. Please turn your volume down for your own safety.By pressing continue you acknowledge the danger and wish to proceed anyway"

It should actually read:

"having listened to too much loud music in my younger years, and having gone to too many wild rock concerts in my b.c. days, by pressing "continue" I acknowledge that I now need to listen to my mp3 player at a higher than recommended volume in order to even hear that it is on".

Review: Joyful Momma's Guide to Cartooning

Joyful Momma's Guide to Cartooning is available from the Joyful Momma Bookstore.

Review by Penny Raine:

When I heard that Kimberly had a new book available I was so excited. But at the same time I wanted to run the other way. However when she sent me one, I thought, "there is no avoiding it now." Why was I hesitant? Because Kimberly's books are always so great they get your creative mind so involved you can think of nothing else. When my husband read her "Quiet Times In Loud Households", he wouldn't even put it down for mealtime! So when I heard about Cartoon Creations I knew it would be way too much fun and I just did not have time for something new and fun. As usual Jesus had another idea. As I began to read her book I began to think of ways to incorporate it into our homeschooling. Learning is only absorbed when you see a reason for it, so I like to give my children several ways of using what they learn. With Cartoon Creations I can now add cartooning to our list of exciting ways of showing what they have learned. It fits right in with illustrated stories and lapbooking and is lots more fun than writing a boring report. Cartoons even add to their letter writing abilities. I have always tried to combine drawing with writing and this fits great.
In true Kimberly fashion, she doesn't miss a beat, and includes every detail I could possibly think of. She even includes "10 Principals for Christian Cartoonists". Her techniques are very simple and yet show details. She even gives you ideas on how to share or publish your cartoons. I just have one thing to say, "Thanks Kimberly, you have done it again!"
blessings, Penny Raine

Monday, September 22, 2008

Secure in God's Love Part Two

This is a continuation of a post from Sunday on Eternal Security. Read Part one first here.

There's alot of verses that talk seem to say you can lose your salvation, such as Paul warning the Galatians not to fall from grace [the verse is found in Gal. 5:4--kim's note] or verses like Rev. 21:7-8 talking about who will be in the lake of fire.

The thing is, it goes back to, are we saved by grace but kept saved by works? Paul addressed this in his letter to the Galatians...about them starting off in faith but trying to finish the race by works...Paul called this "foolish" (Gal. 3:1).

Even the passage in Galatians which you reference, in context, is about Paul telling the Galatians that they had fallen from grace by trying to mix salvation by grace and by works. Essentially, if it is a free gift you don't have to do anything to earn it and you don't need to do anything to keep it. When I give someone a gift for Christmas or their birthday, I don't take it away the second they don't live up to my wouldn't be a free gift but a debt they continually owe me.

As for the verse in Revelation 21 (and many passages like it), we have to go back to who we are in Christ. I may occasionally screw up and commit the sin of being fearful (one of the sins listed on the list as deserving the Lake of Fire), but that doesn't mean I am one of the fearful...I am a Child of God. When God looks at me, He doesn't see my sin; He sees Christ's Righteousness. My own righteousness is as filthy rags...Christ's is perfect in every way and covers up my failures.

Jesus teaches us that no one can take His sheep out of His hand (John 10:28-29). We can't even pluck ourselves out of His hand if we wanted to, because we are not stronger than God.

...If we can't lose our salvation, what keeps someone living for God? it's absurd to think that someone who is claiming to be a Christian yet living a sinful, worldly life is going to go to heaven.

With your children, do they obey better, cheerfully, and with sweet spirits when they are scared to death of losing your love and approval (and thus trying to appease your anger) or is life generally more pleasant, the children more obedient, when they are secure in your love, knowing you will always love them, and respecting you so much that they don't want to disappoint you? I don't know about in your house, but in my house, when everyone is tip-toeing around me because I am in a foul mood, they may be doing the right things but they are not doing them with the right heart...and a few of the kids just give up trying to even d the right things if I am being excessively critical. However, if they know the house rules so to speak and are feeling secure in my love, and we have cultivated a pleasant atmosphere in our home...then they are obeying with cheerful hearts to please me, not obeying out of fear.

A truly saved person is not going to want to dive back into the miry clay. God saved them. They are thankful to have their feet set upon a rock (Psalm 40:1-3). When someone is a new Christian (especially a new Christian saved as an adult with sinful habits ingrained), God starts to work in their lives, changing them from the inside out. He promises to complete this work in us (Phil. 1:6, Gal. 5:22-23). Now, initially, some of those works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5 are going to be a bigger issue in their lives than in a more seasoned saint...but as a new Christian grows, the fruit of the Spirit will also develop more and more. The fruit of the Spirit is something God does in us as we seek after Him, not a to-do list to keep us saved.

In my own life, when I was working to keep my salvation, I was not living a joyful Christian life but a fearful one...always wondering about my salvation at any given moment. It's much more freeing to serve God knowing I can't add one jot or tittle to my's settled. Now I am just serving Him out of gratitude for what He did for me, rather than to pay some unpayable debt.

I seriously believe this fear of losing our salvation can paralyze many Christians to the point of inefectiveness in their Christian walk, and rob them of the joy that ought to be theirs. And how prideful to think we could do anything at all to keep ourselves saved or to earn God's continued favor!

Stay tuned for more...Lord willing...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pass the Honey--Kimberly Eddy Blogs at TEACH Today

It's Monday, and that means I'm blogging at TEACH Magazine today! The topic du Jour is the words we speak....are we driving in daggers or passing the honey? Read on.

Secure in God's Love, part one

This email was sent to me a few weeks ago, and after receiving a similar question, I decided to post it, and my condensed reply. I was hesitant to do so because I want to focus my blog on things to encourage moms, but as my darling husband pointed out, this is something that may be a huge encouragement. As this was an ongoing email discussion, and because I have way too much to say on the topic, this is going to cover several days worth of posts...starting with this, the first one. So, here goes:

Hi! I recently discovered your web pages. I have enjoyed your articles and resources, but I had a question. From reading your statement of faith, I am going to guess that you don't believe a Christian can lose their salvation. I was wondering why you believe this. Thanks.

Hey, there! Thanks for the question. I have only come to this conviction about 8 years ago now. Prior to this, from nearly the moment I got saved 18 years ago, I had sadly believed that a Christian could actually lose their salvation. I have since come to believe that this belief in "eternal insecurity" is at the root of most false doctrines and has caused much harm.

Essentially, when you believe that a believer can lose their salvation, you are believing that while we may be saved by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-10), we are kept saved by our own good works. That is not consistent with the teaching of the whole counsel of Scripture.

This starts you on a vicious cycle, where you promise God to do better, then you work really really hard in your own power (or maybe even in God's power), but when you eventually fail again (as those of us with sin natures are prone to do), you walk away feeling ashamed, unworthy, unloved of God, those verses about people who do "such things" having their part in the lake of fire, and it takes you some time to even come back to the point of speaking with God again. As you walk through your Christian life, you live in fear of a God who walks tall and carries a big stick, ready to whack you over the head for every failure. Yours is an abusive father who disowns you then readopts you for ever infraction (or maybe just the "big infractions"). Paul himself discussed this issue, at length, in Romans 7. Actually, to get the "big picture" start reading in Romans 6 and continue on to Romans Paul leads us through being dead to sin, dealing with sin in our lives, and then walking in the Spirit.

Some of this may be upbringing, and offers a serious reason for self-examination for me as a momma--showing my children unconditional love while still chastening for wrong behavior. Loving on them unconditionally. Not rejecting them as a person or rejecting them from being my child when they do something stupid, wrong, sinful, etc. I heard in the store a few months ago some mom tell her daughter that if her daughter was going to do that then she didn't love her anymore. I wanted to slap the mom (I didn't. LOL). Some kids are more sensitive to this than others...sometimes you may not mean for it to be taken that way, but it is. I grew up thinking I wasn't loved even when I was told "I love you"...the thing was I didn't feel accepted...and for a long time in my Christian walk, I was trying out different things to make me feel more accepted by God (leading to legalism, false doctrines, participation in "christianized" cults, etc.) So, for some, depending on how you were raised, it may be hard to feel and experience the unconditional love of God, and we work to earn our heavenly father's approval, yet always feeling rejected when we don't meet some perceived criteria.

We, better than anyone else, know the sinfulness and wickedness in our hearts, and how very unworthy we at times may feel of this thing that Christ has done for us--taking our sin (past present and future) upon Him at the Cross. And so the part of us that wants equity, and wants justice screams out about how UNFAIR this arrangement is...we feel like we need to do something more...saved by grace through faith is just too easy.

Maybe, too, this is more true if, saved as an adult or in your later teen years, you now bear in your body and soul the bitter fruits of your life before Christ. I know I do. :( I have health issues that can be traced back to the excesses of the life of a pre-Christian on a secular college campus. As these health issues (and related emotional/spiritual issues) occasionally rear their ugly heads in my life 18 years later, I am reminded again, afresh, of what manner of life Christ saved me from. There have been times when I would feel so unworthy of His love, and feel the need to compensate for that feeling by working harder, or beating myself up even more for what could be considered a small mistake (compared to past sins, anyway)...but when you come to really understand Christ's love, and His grace, you realize that His love is unconditional, and when we are motivated by His unconditional love for us, vs. our guilty feelings of unworthiness, we tend to be better Christians, and we are even able to make peace with ourselves.

When I walk in God's love, I tell others about Jesus because I want them to know His love too. There have been times when I was telling others about Jesus because I read in the Bible that if we don't bear much fruit we are none of His, and I wanted to be His, so I went out and tried to "appease the angry god" so to speak by telling others...then feeling like a failure when this effort proved ineffective. I could use a similar analogy for every area of the Christian life.

When I have talked to others about Christ through personal evangelism, there is a huge (HUGE!!!) segment of the population who "tried Christianity" but it didn't "work for them" or they "couldn't live that life" or whatever other one of a thousand variations they may use. Press further, dig deeper, they couldn't take the cycle of guilt, repentance, work hard till you drop and screw up again, then guilt again...and on and on it goes. That's not salvation by grace. That's getting in the door by Christ's blood but some how thinking we keep ourselves in the kingdom in our own abilities to adhere to Christian principles or stick with a Christian lifestyle.

How many prodigals are that way because they came to the realization that they "couldn't live this life" but instead of falling on God's grace, they instead turned from the One who could help them, thinking He rejects them when they fail?

But, what about those verses that talk about people going to hell as a result of this sin or that one, you may ask? More on that in the next post. :-)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paying the Stupid Tax

The Washington Times had an interesting article about the government bailouts now occurring. Part of me wants to do a smug, "Told you so!" and part of me is grieved, and all of me wants to throw up reading about how we the people are going to pay out into the billions to save people who are reaping what they have sown...and the problem here is two fold: I loathe paying taxes to idiots for stupid things, a la an enabling parent bailing out an adult child from the consequences of their unwise behavior...and I loathe the fact that we could be in for another great depression if we simply do nothing because the problem wasn't corrected sooner.

I don't pretend to be an economic analysist. LOL Hardly. Just a mommy with common sense who has been living in the trenches.

As I see it: in the mid to late 1990s, every Tom, Dick, and Sally that wanted a mortgage got one. When we were buying our house, and we found out I had a black mark on my credit report because my dad used my credit without me knowing about it, the lender agent who was still in college said, "Don't sweat it kids, everyone gets a mortgage!" (SCARY!~). I remember thinking that was not really a good thing, you know? I'm sure that some people didn't get a mortgage...but the point was that you had to have really screwed up in order to not get one, and if you didn't qualify for a "good" mortgage you could qualify for a sub prime loan shark style mortgage.

Problem number two started around ten years ago when through various policies and whatnot that I, again, don't pretend to be well educated about these policies. I only know that it suddenly became easier and cheaper to outsource skilled labor jobs overseas. The problem is, many of these sub prime and even normal mortgages were being given to your typical household with dad or mom or both working as skilled labor, especially here in Michigan. We're talking about people who went from making $30 or more per hour down to making what they made when they were starting within a matter of a year. Happened to us; happened to many that we know. (I discuss this more in my book, Thriving on One Income...available here) You won't see any "Hurray for NAFTA" bumperstickers on my car.

The government's response to this was new job training, but the problem there was how do you support a family while getting new job training? Give me a break, guys. Thankfully for me I am married to one very industrious guy who, when the bottom fell out of our income, got creative and was able to do some side consulting to supplement his normal dwindling paycheck. I also serve a very big God who is able to provide in unconventional ways, and we have seen His power in this area, in a mighty way. It makes me want to shout GLORY!

Still, when I think about it, I think of people who (1) don't have God (2) don't have any common sense or creativity to go out there and pound the pavement (3) don't have any frugality skills in them whatsoever.

Suddenly, the Bush administration realized that the sub prime mortgage situation was probably going to end badly, and so they tried to reform how people are given mortgages. According to a pundit I heard on the radio this AM, this proposal was blocked in congress and senate because it was "discriminatory". Remember, we need to be fair about these things. If a worker who works hard and earns $90K gets a mortgage, you are being mean if someone earning $20K can't get their mortgage too.

To be honest, as I see it, I think that these practices are MORE discriminatory. They take advantage of the poor. Someone who is making more usually also has a better handle on money, how money works, economics in general, and so on. They maybe are better educated, they can look over that fine print and recognize problems. They are not going to be shouting glory over a $100,000 mortgage at 14%, thrilled that at least they got a mortgage, kwim? Aaron, the guy who did our mortgage, told us that he had just that morning got someone a 14% ARM Mortgage. Can you imagine? I wouldn't sleep at night if that were me.

So when the person making $20K gets their 14% ARM Mortgage, and their adjustable rate adjusts it self on up to 18% or something like that...and their income is either stagnate or goes down...come on, you don't need me to complete that thought do you? DUH. It defaults, and they likely can't even get into an apartment (some apartments have higher standards than lenders do).

No big deal, right? I mean, I'm not the one losing my house, right? I'm not the one in debt to my eyeballs and taking out foolish loans, right?

Ah, but the even more foolish banks, lending money to the $20K household at 14% adjustable are now suddenly not getting paid as the noose tightens. A few of the big boys have filed bankruptcy (I'm pretty sure that word, in this case, doesn't mean what it used to. I for one would love to see the CEO of some of these institutions on the front page of the wall street journal in a barrel like one used to see in the cartoons....but I am pretty sure they are bemoaning their plight on one of their yachts sipping momomsa). This is sadly a similar scenario that we had in 1929, when the Great Depression occurred...and this is what we are trying to prevent now that the banks are starting to topple.

So, we the people are going to dutifully pay out more money to help those who elected to not use any common sense when lending or borrowing. Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Little Things ~ a midweek marriage moment

In Song of Solomon, we read "It's the Little Foxes that spoil the vines"...little things can make or break, can't they?

In our marriage, we never really went out on dates after the babies started coming, mostly because of babysitting issues. The whole problem of finding someone reliable and trustworthy to watch our kids, and the stress of a few bad experiences with babysitters (even and especially family member babysitters) was enough to make us not try it too often. Once we had to take our toddler daughter to the ER after one grandparent let her eat diaper creame (after all, she was happy playing with the tube....why take it from her?) or with the knowledge that one of my relatives took the kids to the bar (they called it a restaurant, despite the word "tavern" being in the title), and another time when another grandparent thought it ok to squeeze all five of my kids into her small car without seat belts (and got pulled over while doing so). I could go on and on, but I won't. I'm not even going to mention my kids being taught how to play poker using M & M's as chips ("they're learning their colors, honey!") or our nice Christian babysitter being caught on the couch with her boyfriend.

It probably then comes as no surprise that we pretty much left the idea of dating until a future date...the date at which children were able to watch themselves, and older siblings could babysit the younger ones. We've been enjoying this renewal in our relationship ever since, where we are able to get away for an hour or two alone.

One of the questions I have been emailed often is this: We're on a tight budget. How can we have a date night?

Well, I don't think you have to have some sort of formal date night...though you should make your relationship a priority. The emphasis should be on the relationship not on spending money.

Take last night for instance.

A friend of ours owns a window washing company, and my husband had to go up to Saginaw to do a few jobs on the side for him, and I needed a few things that I was putting off getting because of gas prices and I went with him. I got dressed nicely (even though he was wearing work clothes), and I did my shopping while he worked, then spent the last little bit of time just sitting with him, watching him work, and finally we went out and split a sub while sitting in a park. Nothing too fancy, but I know he liked me first of all going with him, secondly dressing up a little bit instead of going out looking grungy (even though he was :-)), and then just sitting there watching him work while listening to my mp3 player in my phone, and taking silly pictures of us with our cell phones. He took the picture of me that I am now using as my profile picture :-) and I took this one of us:

Other times, we have taken a chess board, and played chess on the front porch (or in a park or cafe), and things like that. You don't need to go to a fancy restaurant every week...or even every year for that matter unless you are able.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

October Stew (a month early)

pumpkins, as I have stated before, are not just for Jack-o-Lanterns...we love them in a variety of dishes, not as decor. Our favorite dish, besides of course Pumpkin Pie flavored icecream (coming soon on this blog) is October Stew.

Start by carving up the pumpkin...remove the lid, clean out the seeds, and carefully cut away most of the flesh. Be super careful if you plan to use the hollowed out pumpkin for a serving pot later at dinner time, otherwise you can cut away however which way you want.

Cut the pumpkin into cubes.

Brown about a pound or more of stewing beef with 1 t. of caraway seeds, 1 large onion, and a few small hot peppers (optional) in a small amount of olive or other oil.

Add some cubed pumpkin, and brown that with the meat.

Add about 2 pounds of potatoes, also cubed. You can also add whatever other vegetables you want.

Pour in a quart or so of diced tomatoes, or some fresh, peeled tomatoes from your garden.

Add a quart or two of beef stock.

Let this whole mixture simmer gently for about a half an hour or until the vegetables are soft but not falling apart.

To use the Pumpkin as a serving bowl, heat it in a 2ooF oven for about 15-20 minutes

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blessed Interruptions....blogging at TEACH today

I blogged today at TEACH Magazine's Publisher's Blog on the topic of blessed interruptions in our on.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Joyful Momma at TEACH Magazine Today

Today is Monday and that means I'm blogging over at Lorrie Flem's Publisher's blog at, this time on the topic of permanent weight loss.

Haven't posted much lately because I've been shoulder-deep in canning tomatoes, salsa, apples, and so much more...but pictures and posts are coming soon.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Yippee I'm done!

Completing a job always feels good, doesn't it? Woo hoo.

This weekend, I finally finished editing my newest ebook, Joyful Momma's Guide to Cartoon Creations (Glory to God!) This book actually started out as hand drawn, photocopied pages I was sharing with my cartooning class at our homeschooling co-op last fall. I cleaned them up quite a bit, scanned them into the computer (or rather, paid a child a small pittance to scan them into the computer for mommy...) and added some additional, supplemental material to them.

This book covers both how to DRAW cartoons and cartoon characters, and also how to WRITE cartoons. You see, my two big talents growing up (and today) are writing and drawing, and these work well for cartooning, as both skills are necessary to be a good cartoonist. I also address publishing cartoons as well.

This book can be used from elementary age on up to learn the basics of drawing pretty much anything as a cartoon and writing for cartoons.

This premier week, the ebook is on sale for just $7.95, regularly $15.97
, until 9/10/08.