June 30, 2010

Low Country Boil

There are so many things that I was ignorant of when I first moved down to Register with Jeramy in August 2007. This meal, typical of the South Carolina-Georgia coast land, was one of them. (Also pictured Grandma Gladys' Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese.) Each time I've enjoyed this meal, it's been with a very large crowd. Here's the recipe printed on the back of the sausage box:

Crab boil - 1.5 tsp per quart

10 medium new potatoes, quartered

5 Roger Wood Sausage links (1.5 pounds)

5 ears of corn

3 pounds of shrimp (they usually get medium sized)

Fill a large pot with enough water to cover all the ingredients and add the crab boil. (You need a gigantic pot!) When the pot begins to boil add the potatoes. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add corn and cook for three minutes. Then add the sausage and cook seven more minutes. Add shrimp, cooking for only 2-3 minutes. Drain and serve hot.

June 29, 2010

Our New Table

Jeramy built an outdoor dining table, 5 feet by 6 feet. It looks really great, doesn't it?! It's the best outdoor dining table I've ever seen made of real wood. I think my favorite part is the support structure underneath. It gives everyone room to swing their legs. He plans on building 4 chairs and 2 benches to go with it. This is the same project that Moriah helped on a few weeks ago.

June 28, 2010

Post-Humous Album Release

The Virginia Historical Society currently has on loan several items of my late Grandfather, John Jackson, and displayed them in a museum in Richmond over the past year or so. This article has appeared in the Washington Post on Friday, June 11th about a new album published by The National Museum of African American History and Culture (Smithsonian Folkways African American Legacy Series) featuring some previously recorded unreleased footage. Read the brief album review HERE.

Multitude Monday

holy experience

"Thank you" in Nepali: DAN ye bal

441. A taste of the ethnic diversity to come in heaven someday as our family worshipped at the Nepali church yesterday.
442. Every reminder of God's grace shown to me in salvation.
443. Unhurried moments of silence.
444. Sleep without pain, spasms or tossing in our wonderful brown recliner.
445. Shade.
446. Air conditioning.
447. Our house did not burn down when we left beans on the stove for four hours.
448. Checking off items to do before the baby comes.
449. Watching the girls play in their new inflatable pool.
450. Books of Biblical application like, Attitudes of a Transformed Heart by Martha Peace.

What are you thankful for today?

June 26, 2010

This Is NOT a Defeat

I've been working on covering our stone fireplace with a comfortable seat cushion/cover. I have never worked on any kind of upholstery or with polyurethane foam and have found this project more than a little daunting. When I created the pattern for this cover, I calculated that the stone was 3-dimensional, but not so much the filling. When permission was given to substitute the foam instead of quilt batting, I didn't figure that the foam was 3-D also. Neither did I consider how difficult it is to bend it. :-(

Needless to say, it was put on the back burner, yet again, for a short time until I could re-think my strategy. The more I looked at the blankets temporarily covering just the top, I considered that I liked the look of that better: to have just the top covered with the sides of the stone bottom exposed. So, that's what I decided would look best and be a lot easier to accomplish. So, here I go again, cutting foam and ripping seams. I'm determined to finish before the baby comes.

Paint Projects

For Mother's Day, I took the girls to The Painted Potter at Discover Mills Mall to create a unique masterpiece for G'Wanda. This was their first attempt at painting and they thoroughly enjoyed it! The paint is lead-free and very safe for children. You don't have to worry when they put the brushes in their mouths. And the paint is water-soluble so that it washes out of clothes without any extra removal process. This plate we made in about one hour. G'Wanda was so happy to receive such a wonderful gift!

When Grandma Jane's birthday came around a month later, I decided that she needed a personalized plate too. (I didn't want her to get envious :-). You can see that I had a little more influence over this one. :-) The purple part in the middle is Moriah's hand and the green leaves are made from Lily's foot. The writing was done by one of the nice girls who work there. We made this plate in about 90 minutes. "Flowers can't compare to the love Jane shares!" Grandma Jane just about wet herself when she opened it! She wouldn't let it go but kept hugging it like a prized treasure! I'm so glad that she liked it.

June 21, 2010

Multitude Monday

holy experience

I'm thankful for:
431. A husband who loves our children.
432. An affectionate father for our children.
433. A playful father for my children.
434. A father who disciplines my children.
435. A father who takes my children to the potty and changes cloth diapers.
436. That God answered my prayers for the father I wanted my children to have that I didn't.
437. A father who educates my children.
438. A father who is unashamed to be affectionate to this mother in front of the children.
439. A father who does not recluse away from my children.
440. My heavenly Father, from whom all blessings flow.

What are you thankful for today?

June 19, 2010

Saturday Strings

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Annie Moses Band

"When Daddy Says I'm Beautiful"

I had the privilege of seeing The Annie Moses Band perform live at the Seminary while I attended there. They are excellent musicians.

June 17, 2010

Update: Pregnant? Get in the Water!

When everyone hears about my due date being in August the first thing I hear is how miserable I'm going to be - enduring the last stages of pregnancy in the worst season of the year, especially in Georgia. I don't really consider it a big deal though and turn the conversation to the positives: summer birthday parties outdoors! Besides, human gestation is 40 weeks, chances are summer will be some time during pregnancy. I was pregnant with the girls during the summer also. What's the big deal?
My in-laws have an in-ground pool in their yard. Yesterday Jeramy, Grandma Jane, cousin Danielle and I took the girls swimming in the pool and it was great! Not only did the girls have such a fun time getting tan and wrinkled in the water, but I didn't expect how physically comforting it would be for me during my third trimester. Immediately upon entering the water the pressure was taken off my lower back, buttocks, legs and my bladder! It was so much easier to move and be in otherwise uncomfortable positions. There was such a huge difference by being in the pool! In the pool, I almost completely forgot I was pregnant. Out of the pool, the exact opposite!
I found an article on Fit Pregnancy online that goes into greater detail about the benefits of swimming during pregnancy. Here's the first paragraph:

Heat, humidity, the summer doldrums - not the best invitation to exercise, especially if you're pregnant. But there's a remedy: Get thee to a pool! Being in the water just plain feels good when you're pregnant, and there are physiological reasons why. Water greatly reduces the usual stress on your musculoskeletal system and supports the weight of the fetus, thus taking a load off your lower back. Water also makes it easier for the heart to pump blood, reduces pregnancy-related swelling (edema) and takes pressure off your bladder. Even as it soothes you, the pool environment allows for a total-body workout. Water provides 12 times the resistance to your muscles as does air, thus offering a strength-training benefit similar to lifting light weights.

Woo hoo! Once I was in the pool, I didn't want to get out. Yeah, it's that good!

June 15, 2010

Back in Time

This week, on Jeramy's days off, we drove down to Register, GA where Jeramy grew up. We're visiting Grandma Jane, Grand Daddy Dennis, Uncle Stephen and other relatives. It's so good to be with my in-laws. I'm very blessed to have married into such a warm, kind, generous family.
There are so many things that we've taken for granted as we've lived just 3.5 hours away in Gwinnett County:
1. There are no gnats! We don't have to swat at them every second for relief!
2. The humidity and temperatures are much lower. Today the temp was 102 with a heat index making it feel like 110!
3. There are no fire ants! You can't stand in the same spot in the grass for more than 5 seconds (no matter what shoes you're wearing) without getting attacked! You may not be standing in an ant bed (hill) but they're there and they'll get you!
4. A trip to town doesn't take 90 minutes. Our in-laws live 30 minutes from Statesboro and there is no quick run to the store.
Gradually, Jeramy is attempting to country-fy me, but I don't know if he'll be successful. I do appreciate the slower pace of life and the stronger bonds in relationships, but there are so many conveniences to living in the suburbs. There are pros and cons no matter where you live.

June 13, 2010

Prayer Update: Mom's Recovery

Mom is recovering well at home. The surgery concluded successfully and she has had minimal pain. There has been some swelling and nausea related to the medication. But she is able now to keep the pain at bay with only Tylenol and avoiding lifting 25 pound toddlers. :-) She has no complaints and she's adjusted well to one-handed living. Thanks for praying.

June 12, 2010

Saturday Strings

This is an awe-inspiring commercial. The reason I like it is because of this principle it presents: anyone can learn music. You don't have to be talented to appreciate music and learn an instrument or other basic skills. Enjoy.

June 10, 2010

Feminism: A New Liberated Identity?

I'm almost finished reading Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and this chapter by Dorothy Patterson was very good. Read the entire essay here or the whole book for free online here.

Bearing a new liberated identity, many women have devoted themselves to ambitious busyness everywhere but in the home. They are enmeshed in overwhelming voluntarism to achieve accolades and recognition in the community, or they are surrogate wives and mothers dedicated to hatching professional pursuits that promise power and pocketbook. Instead of encouraging adolescents to cut the apron strings of mother and venture out into society, we are begging mothers not to cut the apron strings on their babies and catapult them prematurely into a menacing world! Mom and hot apple pie have been replaced by institutional day care centers and cold apple turnovers at McDonald’s!

Women have been liberated right out of the genuine freedom they enjoyed for centuries to oversee the home, rear the children, and pursue personal creativity; they have been brainwashed to believe that the absence of a titled, payroll occupation enslaves a woman to failure, boredom, and imprisonment within the confines of home. Though feminism speaks of liberation, self-fulfillment, personal rights, and breaking down barriers, these phrases inevitably mean the opposite.2 In fact, the opposite is true because a salaried job and titled position can inhibit a woman’s natural nesting instinct and maternity by inverting her priorities so that failures almost inevitably come in the rearing of her own children and the building of an earthly shelter for those whom she loves most. The mundane accompanies every task, however high paying or prestigious the job, so that escape from boredom is not inevitable just because your workplace is not at home. And where is the time for personal creativity when you are in essence working two jobs—one at home and one away?

In our quest to be all we are meant to be, let us not forget what we are meant to be! The question has never been whether a woman wants the best for her husband and children and even for herself. Rather the real question is this: Is being someone’s wife and another’s mother really worth the investment of a life? Does it take preparation of skills, concentration of energies, and the commitment of both to keep a home? The secular presuppositions of the present age, as well as one’s own assumptions and priorities, must continually be tested against the sure written Word of God, which warns us, “. . . but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Prayer Request: Surgery

Tomorrow my Mom, Wanda, is scheduled for a trigger thumb release surgery. It is minimally invasive and she will be conscious during the procedure. It is very similar to the carpal tunnel surgery I had in February except on the thumb. She will wear her dressing for 10 to 12 days and be unable to use her right hand during that time. She is widowed and lives alone. We would appreciate your prayers for a successful procedure and somewhat ease of recovery. Thanks.

June 9, 2010

Abortion after IVF?!

A new study has come out of Britain that every year 80 women who conceive by IVF decide to terminate their pregnancies! This is absolutely ludicrous! You would think that a woman so intent on having children to go through such measures would not murder this precious child for any reason, right?! Al Mohler's diagnosis: idolatry of self. Below is a snippet of his blog post.

What does this new scandal say about the human condition? In the first place, it tells us that we are turning ourselves into unabashed idolaters of the self. We are witnessing the elevation of personal autonomy, personal happiness, and personal fulfillment to levels that can only be described as idolatry. These women are seeking abortions just because they have decided they really do not want to be pregnant after all. Their concern is the solitary self above all.

Read the entire post here.

Multitude Monday

holy experience

I know it's a little late for Monday, but it's never too late to be thankful.

426. I'm so thankful for our ranch home with a basement. Everything important is on one level. I definitely appreciate it more as my pregnancy progresses. Our previous dwelling was a three-level townhouse. I am so thankful that I don't have to go up and down the stairs several times a day for laundry, naps, cleaning bathrooms and bedrooms, etc. It means less opportunities for pain and fatigue.

427. I'm grateful for the good fruits of our garden labor. Given most of the hard work was done by Jeramy, still I bought the seed packets and provided encouragement and weather updates. It's so great to be able to eat REAL tomatoes and green beans!

428. Along with that, I'm thankful that all the rain we had last week isn't forecasted for this week. Our green beans were beginning to drown.

429. The will to physically get up out of the bed every morning.

430. I'm thankful there is NO tingling numbness in my fingers - i.e. the carpal tunnel release surgery was a complete success.

Thank God! Call out His Name!
Tell the whole world who He is and what He's done!
1 Chronicles 16:8 (The Message)

What things are you thankful for?

June 5, 2010

Saturday Strings: Investing in Stringed Instruments

The following is a pasted copy of an article I found regarding the appreciation of bowed stringed instruments by Florian Leonhard Fine Violins. Some instruments and bows lose their value and others may retain their value but not appreciate. It depends upon many factors, listed below. See the original (2007 pdf) published version Here, scroll down to the fourth page.

Is it rewarding to invest in music instruments as an asset class?

In a contemporary setting, antique stringed instruments have proved to be an excellent alternative investment. The fact that we cannot source fine wood that was used by the old craftsmen - makes these fine instruments irreplaceable items. The potential returns offered are virtually uncorrelated with any other asset class, hold steady over time and are lucrative. In comparison, the risks are low and inexpensive to hedge.

What is the size of the market currently, the rate of growth and the

prospects of investing in this asset class?

The market for fine instruments is presently valued at approximately USD 22 billion. It continues to grow as instruments crafted by newer makers have gained in importance. Depending on which era of violin making one chooses to invest in, growth should follow the trends of the past 50 years, wherein it returned 8-15% annually. I actually think this is sustainable over the next decade.

Who and how much should be invested in music instruments to make it a viable investment?

The market is certainly open to anyone with an interest in diversifying their portfolio. I would suggest a minimum of USD 30,000. As a relatively low risk investment this is likely to offer the returns already mentioned. An allocation of anything lower than that, often, ceases to be a collectable and thus loses its appeal.

Drawing on your expertise, what would you say is the best approach to investing in music instruments?

Seek out the best professional opinion in order to identify and invest in undervalued instruments. Insure the most obvious risks associated with the instruments. It is also vital to understand the correlation that exists amongst the various makers, age and condition of the instruments. As with all investments, it pays to be interested in the asset itself.

As opposed to stringed instruments, what are the prospects like for investing in other music instruments?

Fine stringed instruments including violins, cellos and violas, have a broader acceptance and are highly sought after. Aside from the individual artisan nature of violin making, it is age that bestows value to a stringed instrument. Most musical instruments “play themselves out” - whereas a fine old bowed string instrument, like the violin, continues to develop complexity and character. Not surprisingly, the market for them is significantly larger than those of other musical instruments.

How do you source rare musical instruments?

As items that possess sentimental as well as monetary value; these tend to surface where people of western origin have relocated to. These instruments may be held by private individuals, families, or institutions. Another major source is the presence of these instruments in musician’s hands: After a career that has spanned many decades - playing the same instrument - many choose to eek out their retirement thanks to the value their instrument has gained in the interim years. As one of the few qualified and recognised players in this industry, a reasonable quantity of our stock has also been brought in to us.

What criteria do you apply in choosing stringed instruments?

Characteristics, condition, wood, model, size, and varnish.

How important is authentication?

“Authentication” entails the examination and understanding of instruments; skills that I have refined over 25 years of having being exposed to reference examples of genuine articles. Value is added when a name or firm, such as ours, held in high esteem by the market and peers provides certification toward an instruments authenticity.

Do you think investing in music instruments is exclusive to the rich?

Not at all, as anybody can invest via a syndicate or participate in an investment trust. Often, the acquisition of a rare instrument, by a musician or collector lacks the required capital. That is where specialists like myself structure syndicates as investment vehicles to support and fund the acquisition of music instruments.

What justifies fantastical prices commanded by some musical instruments - even though to serve a purpose – a well made copy/new instrument is capable of delivering the “same” quality of music?

True. A new instrument played by a maestro could deceive a layman’s ears; but the additional effort required on the part of the musician is drenching. In order to be competitive, a musician needs an instrument that is versatile and subtle, and projects an even balance between depth and brilliance.

What role does speculation play?

The “antique value” of a rare collectable is very desirable. The rest is about supply and demand. Even if demand drops slightly, there are never enough old Italian high end instruments around. Speculation, currently, surrounds less known maker from the 1930s to 1960s as one might “buy and hold” until they start to appreciate - as has been experienced by instruments dating back to the 1920s.

What are the peculiarities exhibited by investments made in musical instruments as an asset class?

Manoeuvrability lends itself well to an instruments price appreciation… hence it offers a very global market.

What are the risks associated with this investment class, can they be hedged and at what cost?

The primary risk would be damage or loss of the instrument itself. Insuring against this risk costs approximately 0.1%-0.3% pa of the total value for a high end instrument. For example, a G B Guadagnini violin, made in Turin in 1773, presently valued at USD 1,000,000 dollars and used in concert settings around the world, would cost roughly USD 2,000 pa to insure. If the same instrument was kept and left unused in a collection, the premium would likely move down to around USD 1,000 pa. Historically there is very little risk as evident from the exceptionally low premiums.

June 4, 2010

Wrestling With Daddy

Pregnancy Update

It is now the 29th week of pregnancy with Baby girl #3. Things are still going well. I can definitely feel and see that my belly is getting bigger. There is a lot of movement and my renewed past time is watching my belly jump around. :-) This baby is very responsive. If she kicks and I rub in the same area, she'll kick or move again! That's fun! She tends to move around more when I'm hungry. Because of how active she is in utero, I feel that she will be just as active later, like Moriah.

About 2 or 3 weeks ago Braxton-Hicks contractions started. They tend to happen when I'm more physically active throughout the day. I continue to go to the gym 4 to 5 times a week. I alternate treadmill walking with the elliptical machine. I also alternate strength training the major muscle groups: legs & lower back on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Then on Tuesdays I'll concentrate on arms and shoulders; Thursdays I'll work my back (mid & upper) and chest. The only reason I'll skip a day at the gym is for inadequate sleep. :-) Although now it is getting harder to push myself out of the bed. :-) So far I've gained 20 pounds.

Fatigue has returned. The afternoon naps are now becoming a necessity whereas during the second trimester I could easily remain awake during that time, now I can't fight it anymore. :-) But that's perfectly okay. Pretty soon, I won't be getting much sleep at all. :-) Physically the hardest thing for me to do is bend down all the way to the floor. It's easier when clothes give proper leverage, but when they don't . . .

At the last OB check-up, the doctor was pleased with my blood pressure, weight and belly measurements. I've not had any swelling that I can tell. My glucose levels are normal. But the slight antibody reaction has returned. The last time they measured for the antibody, it came back negative, but this time it returned back so slight it's immeasurable. The doctor is not alarmed and neither am I. I know the drill now: sign in, get weighed, pee, blood pressure, see doctor, take blood, schedule next appt. They'll probably take my blood every time now just to keep a close eye on this weird antibody reaction.

Daddy's Little Helper

They are working on the table top for the picnic table to go on our back deck. Jeramy pre-drilled all the holes and Moriah helped with the screws and screw driver. They make a good team. :-)

June 2, 2010

New Site and Giveaway

There is a new website called Raising Homemakers with several different contributors that serves to encourage mothers, daughters, grandmothers, etc. into training the next generation for this ministry of family. This is their first week launching this site. And to kick it off, they're having a giveaway that includes a fabulous DVD set of how to do various skills which would make our homes more self-sufficient. Here's a short preview of the material. Click on the link above and check it out.