Mack Family Update: First Semester Completed!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
It has been quite a while since I have been able to blog as I have been incredibly busy preparing for and going through my first semester of college.  I thought I would share a little bit about what that has been like for me:

 Wendy talks to friends while waiting for her student ID on the first day of collegeMy first semester in college has been a dream-come-true!  I am a double major in Worship Music Ministries and Liberal Arts and it has been amazing to be able to focus on areas that I really love.  I have just finished taking twenty units which has been intense but incredibly worth it.  This first semester I mostly took general education classes and a few of the basic classes required for my major and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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Blogging from the Pit

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
Wendy poses with her violaNo, not that kind of pit.  Amy and I are very excited to be a part of the Grace Baptist Church Praise Orchestra!  Ever since we were little, I've wanted to be a part of this special ministry.  I remember always rushing up to the musicians after the service to ask and learn about their instruments and I especially remember one Easter when I told Don Valentine, the percussionist, that one day, I was going to join the orchestra.

My opportunity came in my freshman year of high school.  Because we are enrolled in the A Beka Academy program, we were able to take many courses through DVD.  When I learned that there was a DVD course to teach me how to play any stringed instrument, I was really excited and, after discussing it with Lisa Hernacki, the church orchestra director, Amy and I decided to learn the viola.

At last, our DVDs arrived and as we started studying under the Jaffé Strings Program, screeches filled the house as our family and neighbors had to put up with - not one - but two beginning string players.  I am so grateful that they did support me, and that they never made negative remarks.  It didn't take too long, however, for us to begin experimenting with our instruments.  We were so excited when we were able to sound out Pirates of the Caribbean (the original song from the ride) on our instruments as well as several other songs!

Grace Baptist Church Praise OrchestraAs we finished up the second year of our study under the strings program, we began preparing to audition for the Grace Baptist Church Orchestra.  The first violinist in the orchestra, Patti Graham, was such a big help and encouragement, and she helped us go through an intense three month "viola boot camp" to help us get ready for our auditions.  At the end of August, Amy and I auditioned for Mrs. Hernacki and were accepted into the orchestra!

It 's been a wonderful experience to be a part of this incredible group of people.  It has been such a big blessing to me as I start to pursue music more seriously, and, although we still hear the regular viola jokes (what violist doesn't?), all of the musicians are so positive and encouraging!  I am grateful for the privilege to be a part of this special family.

Mom’s Precious Jewels

Sunday, September 5th, 2010
Birthday Cake.jpgEighteen years ago this very day, two precious jewels were added to my life.  The twins were born!  After 14 hours of labor, and finally deciding you were just too tangled up to come out on your own (trying to get out first, Wendy?), a C-section was performed, and two beautiful little ladies came into the world.  

Amy and Wendy, I'll never forget the moment you made me a mom - a role I have and always will cherish.  I don't deserve to have such wonderful daughters like you two, but I'm thrilled that I do!  I've loved every moment of it - pushing you around downtown Burbank in your twin stroller, sitting on the couch at the condo reading to you, and all of the "bonding" moments in Pine Mountain.  You have become incredible godly women, and I am proud of both of you!  Happy Birthday my precious ones!

School has arrived at the Mack House!

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
Kelly in front of her sixth grade curriculumOn August 2, my 6th grade curriculum arrived. I am so excited!  I LOVE learning!  I took inventory, making sure everything we ordered had arrived, and then I sorted my books by subject.  I cannot wait until next Monday, so I can start school.  My favorite subjects are health and history.  I'm very proud to announce that last semester, my sister, Emily, made the honor roll.  My goal for this school year is to get straight A's!

Recession: A Blessing in Disguise?

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
20070216_GTDBreakfastClub (small).jpgFor a scholarship, I wrote an essay about the effects of the current recession on the family.  I really enjoyed writing it and thought I'd share it.

While initially, one would expect the current recession to have an adverse effect on the average family, I have found that my family has grown more creative, closer in our relationships, and wiser in our decisions as a result.

I've heard of studies that claim that television and video games “reduce” creativity and I believe that there may be some truth to that.  Several years ago, in order to better manage what we consumed, my parents made the decision to get rid of our cable television.  We still had videos to watch, but the television was on far less frequently than when we had cable.  Suddenly, my sisters and I found ourselves with abundant time on our hands.  Kelly is wearing the cardigan I knit for her as well as my hat and scarfWe all read more and began to discover interests or talents that we otherwise might not have known we possessed.  Although I did not enjoy the home economics course I took in high school, I realized that once I had the freedom to experiment, I loved cooking and baking.  I also learned how to knit and have enjoyed making sweaters and scarves for family and friends.  We encouraged friends to get rid of their cable subscription and they, too, have found themselves being more creative.
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Fashion, Clay, Books, and more...

Thursday, July 29th, 2010
These last few weeks have been rather busy for us.  Amy and I are hoping to audition for our church's orchestra and have spent many hours practicing.  We are also starting a bell choir at the Pine Mountain Club church, and have been going through materials in preparation for that.  Amy also designed another fantastic clay box which I will be sharing soon.

Both Emily and Kelly received some fashion kits and dress models for their birthdays and they have been going to town creating new fashion designs.  Emily had so much fun wrapping the fabric around the small doll and twisting it to make new fashions that she decided to pull out a sheet and wrap the fabric around Kelly to create life sized fashions.

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A Clay World

Friday, July 16th, 2010
The first clay box I ever created - A scene from the Muppet Christmas CarolAbout a year and a half ago, I had really wanted to take up whittling as a hobby.  I had always loved looking at beautiful woodwork and wood carvings and I wanted to learn to make my own creations.  My parents, however, were opposed to this new hobby because they were afraid that it was too dangerous using the knives and that accidents might happen.  Peter, Wendy, Michael, and John flying over Big Ben in LondonMuch to my disappointment, they would not allow me to try whittling.

My mother knew that I wanted to try something new and decided to try to get me into the world of Scupley clay.  I was not impressed, but she insisted I give it a try.
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Amy and Wendy Display their Awana Citation AwardsMonday, May 24, marked the completion of 12 years of hard work and service for Amy and Wendy.  That day they were each presented with the Awana Citation Award.  For young people involved in Awana, earning the Citation Award is the ultimate achievement. The Citation is their reward for thousands of hours attending group meetings, working with children, getting involved in their communities, completing 10 years of biblically grounded curriculum and learning more than 700 Bible verses.

The awards ceremony was held at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita.  Wendy was the first of three students to speak.  She shared what the various stages of Awana meant to her spiritual growth and development.  Amy delighted all by playing the piano before and during the ceremony, including two of her own compositions.  

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Emily Displays Her First Year Awana Trek AwardNot to be outdone by her little sister, Kelly, on May 17, our Emily completed her Awana year.  Emily finished her book, and a plaque for her accomplishments.  She, too, went above and beyond and did the extra credit and earned a certificate and pin for her efforts.

Emily had a blast this year making a DVD of the year's accomplishments (including her participation on the Bible quizzing team, and the game team).  The video was presented at the awards ceremony, and the audience enjoyed it tremendously.  She's already thinking ahead to making a video for next year.

Way to go Em!

Kelly Receives Awana Award!

Monday, June 21st, 2010
20100510 - Awana Kelly T&T Graduation Third Book AwardThumb.jpgOn May 10, 2010, Kelly completed her 5th grade Awana year.  She not only earned her third book award, but she went above and beyond the call of duty and did all of the extra credit projects - including reciting 4 questions, 32 answers, and 32 verses in one sitting - by memory!!

Job well done, Kelly!  We are proud of you!

November highlights

Sunday, November 30th, 2003
Our LEGO robotics team has been chosen to participate in the Legoland competition in December, so we are having lots of meetings getting prepared for that event.  After a brief break this summer, Eric returned to school to continue studies towards his degree.  Kelly and Emily sang in church this month and did a beautiful job.  

It has been a challenging month, at least as far as transportation goes.  We had to sell both vans, due to expensive repairs needed, and we are down to one car. We are hoping to squeeze a few more years out of our faithful 11 year old Ford Explorer it before we have to replace it.  We are seeking God's plan for all of this, and pray that He has something wonderful in store for us.  

Eric spent a great deal of time this month updating our various websites.  His friend, Tanny, gave a great deal of his time to help Eric get started.

October highlights

Friday, October 31st, 2003
Our homeschool drama group got into full swing this month. This year, all of the children will be angels in Heaven preparing for the birth of Jesus.
Kathy is running the sound board again.  Our church opened it's new worship center this month. Amy and Wendy were onstage singing with their choir a couple of weeks after its opening. Their choir kicked off the "Operation Christmas Child" ministry, which our family has been excited about supporting. Eric's grandparents, Skip and Nelly Stelter, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful evening with them sharing memories and hugs.  The girls presented them with gifts of song - they performed songs that were popular the year they were married. After literally saving our pennies, we were able to purchase our Disneyland annual passes. What a grand time we had going to the Park. It is truly one of our favorite places to be.  Our daughters amazed and delighted us with their Awana awards this month.  Both Kelly and Emily earned the top awards for their age group.  Wendy and Amy, indeed, met their challenge and earned the Timothy Award a year early.  They memorized over 360 Bible verses to accomplish this. We were on fire watch this month.  With our travels to and from the city, we saw many of the Los Angeles area fires from a distance. The smoke and ash was everywhere. God protected our area, and soon the rains and snow came. Eric and Kathy celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary. The girls made us a wonderful family breakfast to celebrate.

September highlights

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003
Wendy and Amy started off the month by turning 11.  They had some friends over, and Kathy took them to the theater to see "Spy Kids 3-D", and then brought them home for a slumber party.  The girls also finished their Awana books, as well as a difficult extra credit section, where they had to recite all of the verses in their book in one sitting.  They became highly motivated and decided to try and finish another book by the end of October to earn the Awana Timothy Award. Emily, Amy and Wendy began piano lessons, and love playing.  We hope finances allow these lessons to continue.  Back in February, Amy and Wendy built their version of the Legoland Amusement Park out of legos.  They decided they wanted to enter their display in the Kern County Fair.  Well, they did, and won a blue ribbon for their efforts!  Our church choirs and JAM Bible clubs resumed this month.  Kathy is assisting in the 1st grade choir and teaching the 4 year old JAM class.  In August, Kathy was given the go-ahead to design the curriculum for the four year old class.  She loves writing curriculum, and this was a dream come true for her, as she has always wanted to do more with writing church activities for children.  Our Lego Robotic Team once again started meeting.

August highlights

Sunday, August 31st, 2003
The month of August started off with the girls attending Vacation Bible School at the local church.  Eric and Kathy volunteered to coordinate the Friday night potluck and show.   We had the entire event set up and ready to go in about 20 minutes in the town's outdoor gazebo area.  Well...about an hour before the event, the rains came down and the floods came up.  We rushed to the church/gazebo and moved as many chairs indoors as possible, drying them off as we went along.  Although we wore rain ponchos, our clothes were soaked up to our knees!  The folks turned out, and everybody worked together to make the evening a success.  Kathy, and her sister, Cindy, went on their first "Sisters' Trip".  Would you believe they went to see the Osmonds get their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?  Of course you would.  They also attended a three day fan club event called "OsFest".  For lots of stories about wacky Osmond fans, just ask them to tell you about some of the people they met there.  Amy and Wendy's braces came off this month, now they just wear a retainer for the next year.  Eric and two of his friends decided to work together and take turns helping each other with big projects.   They have now spent many Saturdays putting siding up on one man's barn, and working on the irrigation and planter boxes in our front yard.  By spring Kathy should have flowers!  Eric runs an on-line forum called Our Piazza. One of the members, whom Eric really admires, was going to be visiting Southern California from Pennsylvania.  We made a trip to Newport Beach to meet her, and then took the girls to the amusement park at Balboa Island.

July highlights

Thursday, July 31st, 2003
We spent the morning of the 4th of July fishing at the local catch and release pond in Pine Mountain.  Kelly turned four this year, and Emily turned six.  We celebrated their birthdays with family in Modesto.  After the party, Grandma, Aunt Cindy and Uncle Bob watched our girls while Eric and Kathy attended the CHEA homeschooling conference.  Grandma then came home with us and we joined Eric on his week-long business trip to Ojai.  Kathy, Doris, and the girls visited Ojai, Santa Barbara and Solvang.  the girls got in lots of swimming time at the hotel.  Eric turned 40 this month!  Since we were in Ojai, the family surprised him with a party in the hotel room.  The entire family was able to attend another special class at church called "Walk Through the Bible."

June highlights

Monday, June 30th, 2003
Although finances have been rough, we set a side a bank to collect loose change, birthday money, etc., so that we could eventually buy annual passes to Disneyland.  In an attempt to make some money for this bank, Kathy and the girls did a thorough house/attic/garage cleaning, and came up with a great many items to get rid of.  We set up a booth at the annual Pine Mountain garage sale.  Amy and Wendy were a big hit with their lemonade stand on the hot (very hot) day.  When the folks learned that the girls were trying to earn money to go to Disneyland, they were very generous with their lemonade purchases.  Eric and the girls gave Kathy a home organ for her birthday.  Emily has especially become quite good at playing the "Veggie Tales" theme.  We combined a business trip with a trip to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.  What a fascinating experience.  Even Emily and Kelly were excited about being there.  Business temporarily picked up for Eric this month.  Living so far from our church makes attending special events difficult.  Eric and Kathy were delighted to be able to go to a class called "Contagious Christians."  Eric attended a HERO robot meeting, and made some progress getting his robot's arm repaired.  We took a hike to the local waterfall with our friends the Gilardone and Steele families.

May highlights

Saturday, May 31st, 2003
Eric's Aunt Royce retired after almost three decades of teaching.  We went to a lovely tribute party for her, and were able to meet many of her friends and co-workers.   Our JAM (Jesus and Me) Bible club ended this month, giving Kathy and the girls an extra evening at home through the summer months.  Kathy taught the 4 year old class this year.  Emily blew all of us us away this month by finishing her Awana book long before the October deadline.  She went on to finish two extra credit books.

April highlights

Wednesday, April 30th, 2003
A good portion of April was filled with church choir rehearsals; with all four girls singing in choirs, that is a lot of rehearsals!  This year Kathy is helping with Kelly and Emily's choir.  At the end of the month was our big choir concert.  Amy and Wendy did a fabulous job, and several members of Eric's family came to support them.  We attended the Family Film Festival in Valencia, where family friend Jeanie Mullen's film "Jumping for Joy" was being presented.  It was a fabulous movie for all ages, and if you get a chance to see it - do!

March highlights

Monday, March 31st, 2003
Amy, Wendy and Emily were able to attend a fabulous fairy tale story time at the Valencia Library this month.  Kathy was very impressed with the crafts the girls brought home.  The Awana club began at the local church, and Kathy is once again leading the Cubbie class (ages 3-4).  Kathy was able to attend a scrapbooking class and make a little more progress on her never-ending quest to get the family pictures organized.  All four girls participated in a homeschool science fair.  Kelly presented the growth of butterflies, Emily talked about what absorbs water, Wendy learned what conducts electricity, and Amy took apart a computer and described each piece.  As finances got rough, we determined that Eric needed to drop out of school for awhile.  Our prayers are that he can continue on his educational path and get his degree soon.

January 2003 highlights

Friday, January 31st, 2003
The year 2003 began so peacefully for us.  We had just experienced one of the best Christmases we have ever had.  We didn't rush anywhere, and had a quiet celebration at home.  While the Christmas music played and we enjoyed spending the day together, God even gave us a white Christmas!  For the first time since we have been married, I had the year's accounting done by December 31.  You cannot even imagine what a relief that was.  January was a very busy business month for Eric.  He was able to take a week long astronomy class at The Master's College.  The instructor was so very kind to allow Amy and Wendy to join the class during lab time.  Their first college course!  Of course, they don't get college credit, but they did pass the final exam!

October 2002 highlights

Thursday, October 31st, 2002
This month we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.  Eric's aunt and uncle took care of the girls for us and we headed off to Disneyland - ALONE - for the weekend!  It was fun to take in both parks at a leisurely pace. (OK, so the photo is not current. That's us, the day after our engagement)

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Eric passed Kathy's Disneyland test...

The girls performed at church with their respective choirs this month.  Each week, I assist Emily's kindergarten choir, and Kelly tags along.  She has been so well behaved, that she was invited to perform with the choir!  We were so proud of her, as she did just as well as children two years older than her!

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Daddy's l'il pumpkins

LEGO League continued and we are still enjoying the friendships that resulted from this activity.

September 2002 highlights

Monday, September 30th, 2002
This month,  Amy and Wendy made public their decisions to live their lives for the Lord.  

A few days later, Wendy and Amy turned 10.  We were pretty celebrated out by this time, between "Bibleman" and the baptism, so we had a quiet day at home.

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Amy & Wendy make a call on the "Batphone"

Eric had business to do in Rancho Palos Verdes, so Kathy and the girls dropped him off at his client and went on a field trip to the Long Beach Aquarium.  The timing was perfect, as we were studying the ocean in science.  We picked Eric up after his work day was finished, and surprised the girls with another "hop" to Disneyland that evening.

This month, Kathy, Wendy and Amy began building their models of two California missions.  Wendy chose San Luis Rey, and Amy chose Mission Santa Barbara.  They turned out beautifully.

Our LEGO Jr. Robotics team began this month.  We have had two other families involved, each with two girls.  All six girls are home educated.  The fathers and one mother have been mentoring the girls.  They are given the challenge of building robots using LEGO's and motors.  Using computers, they program the robots to complete certain challenges.  In addition, Eric has been teaching the girls about science and technology, and helping them to prepare for the presentations to be delivered before a panel of judges.  It has been a big time commitment, but the children are learning a lot and developing good friendships, while gaining practical experience in the areas of math, science, computer skills, and presentation skills.

At the end of the month we took a homeschool field trip to the Kern County Fair to see the exhibits. While we were there, we cheered our friends, the Steele Family, as they showed their sheep.  We learned a great deal, and were able to explore a different aspect of the fair than we had ever seen before.  We were pretty tired, so we headed home right after that event, went to bed, and counted sheep.

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Emily had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb.

Eric and Jenny, his Manager of Client Services, were interviewed by the Los Angeles Times for an article on Virtual Assistants (tele-commuting.)

August 2002 highlights

Saturday, August 31st, 2002
Kathy, Emily and Kelly drove to Modesto to spend a few days and to bring Amy and Wendy home.  While there, Grandma treated all of us to a day at Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy.  It is a beautiful amusement park set among more flowers and trees than you can imagine.

When we returned home from Modesto, Wendy and Amy participated in a week-long tennis day camp here in Pine Mountain.  Lots of fun for Mom to sit and watch 10 children who have never played tennis before!

Amy and Wendy's ensemble performed in a concert at church this month.  They sure enjoy singing!

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Amy & Wendy sing again at church

Eric's been busy this month. He made a trip to Ojai to work with some of his favorite clients.  Kathy and the girls were able to join Eric for a few days and stay at the hotel. In between traveling back and forth to church for ensemble practice, Kathy and the girls enjoyed the hotel's swimming pool, and visited four missions for our California history unit study.  While Eric served his clients, the girls and Kathy took day trips to  Lompoc, Solvang, Santa Barbara, and Ventura to see the various missions.  We were amazed at the diversity at each site.

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Studying California history
at the Santa Barbara Mission

July 2002 highlights

Wednesday, July 31st, 2002
Kelly turned 3 this month; we had a small "Bob the Builder" themed party.  A week later, Emily turned 5 and we celebrated with a "Clifford" themed party.  In between those two events, we added another member to our extended family; Eric's sister, Roxanne, had a baby boy named "Jake."  The first boy of that generation! Amy & Wendy were able to attend the bris of  their cousin.

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Amy & Wendy carry cousin Jake at his Bris

Eric continued his studies at The Master's College, and is keeping up his 4.0 GPA!

Amy and Wendy were thrilled to have the opportunity to attend horsemanship day camp here in Pine Mountain.  They learned how to groom and saddle the horse, as well as some basic riding techniques.

All four of the girls attended Vacation Bible School in Pine Mountain.  This was the first time Kathy wasn't involved with the children, and had mornings to herself!  She spent the time swimming laps at the clubhouse.

Eric and Kathy joined Wendy and Amy in a baptism class at our church in Santa Clarita.  Amy and Wendy had previously made a profession of faith and we felt that the girls were now ready to take this next step, of outward demonstration of an inward conversion.

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Grandma & Company on a field trip

Amy and Wendy rode the train with Grandma (Kathy's mom) back to Modesto to be spoiled for a week.  Aunt Cindy and Uncle Bob got in on the spoiling, and they had at least one major trip or activity planned for every day.

June 2002 highlights

Sunday, June 30th, 2002
June was busy with ensemble practices, homeschool and life in general.  I was able to participate in a mommy-and-me swim class with Kelly and Emily. Eric was  busy with work and with his studies.

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Kelly Marie

All of our cars broke down at least once this year, prompting several AAA tows and trips to our mechanic in Burbank. We are very fortunate to have a good friend in Ron Cook at the Lube Center, and he always gets us back on the road safely.

April 2002 highlights

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002
April brought several events at church and Kathy spent much of her time on the road driving back and forth to rehearsals. (She has learned how to sleep and drive at the same time)  Emily sang with her choir one weekend, while Amy and Wendy's choir put on their big spring musical. Amy and Wendy were asked to open the show with a little dialogue.  The girl's choir was a family event as Eric helped the director with the boys section. The girls have really enjoyed singing at church.

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Amy, Wendy, and Emily sing at church

Eric and the Frazier Mountain High School Robotics Team attended their competition at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.  It was an exciting event, and the team learned a great deal their first time out.
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This month, Eric began to pursue a goal he has had on his list for many years, and that was to return to college.  He has felt God leading him in this direction, and with the reduction in business this year, he felt that he should use the time to pursue this opportunity even though it would mean big sacrifices at home. As we began to explore and pray about this goal, several doors were opened to allow Eric to begin his studies at The Master's College, which is about 70 miles away, in Santa Clarita.   He is currently working towards a degree in Organizational Management. While this will not significantly change his present consulting practice; however, the degree will position him for some teaching opportunities that he has wanted to explore.  We ask for your prayers that he can continue to pursue this endeavor.

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March 2002 highlights

Sunday, March 31st, 2002
Eric took a fall down our stairs and broke a bone in his ankle.  It took a couple of weeks for us, or the doctor to figure out it was broken, but once it was diagnosed, and treated properly, it healed rather quickly.

Amy & Wendy have again been part of their church choir this year, and were honored to be chosen for a small ensemble that would perform in addition to their choir.  They have been blessed with a loving and talented choir director.
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The Mack sisters get ready to go to AWANA

The AWANA Bible Club began at the local church in Pine Mountain Club.  Kathy and Eric volunteered this year to be leaders of the "Cubbies" (children ages 3-4).  Kelly and Emily were in our class, and we averaged about 15 little ones each week.

Grandma came down from Modesto to celebrate Easter with us. She made the girls beautiful Easter dresses which the girls love to wear.

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Grandma a few of her grandchildren

Girls Club, Taxes done, Bible Study

Thursday, February 28th, 2002
This month, I began a group known as "The Girls' Club" which included our four girls as well as others from our homeschool group.  We did some cooking projects and crafts, and we averaged about 14 girls every other week.

Eric had been longing for an opportunity to get plugged into a strong men's group, and this month a local men's Bible study began.  He has been quite blessed by the fellowship.

For the first time since we have been married, we got our income taxes done early!  The weight of the world came off my shoulders! A big Thank-you to Paul and Diane for their help.

January 2002 highlights

Monday, January 28th, 2002
Our new year  began with a visit from Eric's Aunt Royce and Uncle Bill.  We had fun visiting and building a miniature hot air balloon, which we tried launching from our back deck, using hair dryers for heat.  It rose a couple of feet, but we ended up laughing more than making any scientific progress.

A few days later, the freezing weather burst several pipes in our home; fortunately a neighbor came to our rescue and the damage was greatly reduced. At the same time, we found out that our septic system had been improperly designed and that our main underground pipe had collapsed. The repairs required that a 7' deep trench be dug (by hand) to replace the pipe. Several thousand dollars later, the repairs were completed. Eric now knows more about plumbing than he ever wanted to.

Eric continued his outreach to kids to inspire them to explore science and technology.  This year, he volunteered to be one of the mentors for the Frazier Mountain High School Robotics Team.  He was one of the mentors that helped teach the students to build and program a robot to compete against other schools' robots.  This was fun for Amy and Wendy as they were often able to attend the meetings with their father. This wasn't the type of competition you see on television, where the intent is to damage the other robots.  Each team is challenged to score as many points as they are able, while doing several activities.   You can see some more of Eric's robotics activities at ICA Robotics.

November 2001 Highlights

Friday, November 30th, 2001
November was the big month for getting caught up on accounting and the house organization. It was a busy one with lots of work and little sleep, but well worth the efforts. Emily and her choir sang at church, and Amy and Wendy not only sang in their choir, but were asked to do some speaking parts that went along with the song. Amy was “Jesus” and Wendy was “Peter.” We put beards and robes on them, and they did a beautiful job. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with several members of Eric’s family.

September 2001 highlights

Sunday, September 30th, 2001
Wendy and Amy turned nine in September. Our family celebrated the event at Chuck E. Cheese. Emily, Amy and Wendy all joined our homeschool group’s drama class, and Wendy and Amy joined the group’s public speaking class.

Ventura County Fair & Hot summer

Friday, August 31st, 2001
We had a blast in this month at the Ventura County Fair at Seaside park. The summer in Pine Mountain  was so hot, it was a delight to head to the coast where it was about 30 degrees cooler. We stayed much later than we had planned and took turns riding lots of carnival rides. The giant Ferris wheel that overlooked the ocean was our favorite. Amy and Wendy took swimming lessons in PMC in the middle of August.

July 2001 highlights

Monday, July 30th, 2001
Just when we thought the schedule could not get any busier, July hit. Kathy’s mom and sister watched Kelly and Emily while Kathy took Amy and Wendy to church camp. We fell in love with the sport of archery, and Wendy and Amy learned the thrill of riding a “zip” line. We celebrated Kelly’s second birthday, and Emily’s fourth birthday in Modesto. We returned to PMC so that Emily, Amy and Wendy could attend VBS at our local church. Wendy and Amy participated in the AWANA (Bible club) pinewood derby race. Amy received a 2nd place trophy for speed, while Wendy received a 1st place trophy for design, and a 3rd place trophy for speed.

June 2001 highlights

Saturday, June 30th, 2001
The pace really picked up in June. Our friends, Steve & Janet Hedke, participated in the History Channel’s Great Race this year, which coincided with our church’s Vacation Bible School program. As many of you know, we live 70 miles from our church, so it is often difficult to attend events. The Hedke’s generously lent us their house for the week, which allowed all four of the girls and Kathy to participate in the VBS program. Wendy got reading glasses – which excited her to no end to once again look like Amy! Kathy turned 40, and her mom and sister, Cindy, surprised her with a birthday party at a restaurant in Modesto. They even hired a barbershop quartet to serenade our group. The greatest moment was when our four girls sang “Amazing Grace” with the quartet. After leaving Modesto, we drove through Yosemite (Kathy’s first time) to Bishop to visit Eric’s great aunt and uncle, Bud & Ruth Schwartzkopf.

April 2001 highlights

Monday, April 30th, 2001
April was an incredibly busy month for us. It started out with Amy getting glasses. Emily, Wendy and Amy began swimming lessons this month. The biggest event for our family was the church musical. Emily sang with her choir. Eric acted in the skit as a fisherman, and even had a small solo. Amy and Wendy sang with their choir and sang some solos on one of the songs. We felt their accomplishments were pretty amazing, especially since they performed before about 800 people. Kathy somehow got through the event while trying to recover from strep throat. It was an odd month for our cars. Eric experienced a blow-out, lost his brakes, and had a trailer fall off our car. Fortunately, God was with him through all of these events, and no one was hurt.

March highlights - CHEA and Space Camp

Saturday, March 31st, 2001
Eric and I enjoyed a weekend alone in March and attended a homeschool conference in Santa Clara. We also took a side trip a few miles up the road to the new west coast Space Camp. What an incredible facility. We look forward to taking Amy and Wendy sometime in the next couple of years for the parent/child weekends they offer. Also in March, Emily was given the honor of joining the 4/5 year old choir at our church, even though she was only 3. We were so proud of her accomplishment.

February 2001 highlights

Wednesday, February 28th, 2001
The latest addition to the inventions around the house is a band organ that Eric is building. We often hear melodious strains coming up the stairs from Eric's workshop. (And through the floors, and shaking the house!) We have been able to share it at church and homeschool events.

Snow and Spanish

Monday, January 1st, 2001
This past January brought more snow than we had ever seen in Pine Mountain. It seemed as if it would never end. Amy, Wendy and Emily began taking Spanish classes through our homeschool group. Even little Kelly is picking up a pretty good Spanish vocabulary as she hears us practice.

November 2000 highlights

Thursday, November 30th, 2000
In November, Eric's health problems again peaked as he was taken to the hospital by ambulance with severe heart palpitations. Fortunately, he did not have a heart attack, but a reaction to the various medications the doctors were giving him.  We now believe we have found the right doctors to help him, and hope for continued progress and good health. Your prayers in this area are greatly appreciated.

AWANA Pinewood Derby - the Great Race

Tuesday, October 31st, 2000
The girls' AWANA club ended this month. They all were able to participate in the club's pinewood derby race. Emily designed a "Scooby Doo" car, Wendy designed a "lightning" sports car, and Amy made a replica of "Scrappy" - a car owned by friends Steve and Janet Hedke.
Image:AWANA Pinewood Derby - the Great RaceImage:AWANA Pinewood Derby - the Great Race
The Hedke's car finished first in their division of the Great Race sponsored by the History Channel.  We enjoyed cheering them on via the internet.  Eric was in charge of manning their web page each day to update their many friends and supporters. The Hedke's also provided a postcard from every city they stopped in from Boston to Sacramento - Wendy loved getting those cards for her collection! We joined a local homeschool group         this year and again, Eric and Hero made a presentation. Eric's love and interest for robotics is growing.

September 2000 highlights

Saturday, September 30th, 2000
Would you believe that Wendy and Amy turned 8 in September?  We celebrated their birthday at their swim school in Santa Clarita.  We followed that up with another trip to Disneyland.  The weather was far too hot for us, but the two highlights of the trip were when Eric, Amy and Wendy were chosen to march in the 45th anniversary parade (Eric looked quite adorable in his tutu), and when the girls got to perform with the Dapper Dans on Main Street USA.  

We went to three county fairs over the summer (Stanislaus, Ventura, and Kern).  Wendy and Amy were fascinated at each fair by the exhibit that showed various things that people collect.  Amy decided to collect stamps, and Wendy decided to collect post cards.  Both girls raid our mail every day to see if they can add some interesting new treasure to their collections.

Emily officially began preschool in September and is already doing some kindergarten work.  She loves sitting at the table with her sisters and doing her school work.  She really excels at phonics, and like her big sisters, loves going to the library when we go to the city.

Fun in Modesto

Thursday, August 31st, 2000
In August, Kathy and the girls took a much needed trip to Modesto.  Kathy's mom always takes such good care of everyone, that it is an incredibly relaxing time.  The highlight of the trip was taking Amy and Wendy out late at night to go play miniature golf and ride bumper boats.  We came home dripping wet, and thoroughly exhilarated.
Emily celebrated her third birthday in July with a Blue's Clues themed party.  She is spending the rest of the year telling all of us why she deserves three of everything because she is three years old (candy, cookies, etc.).  Again, our hearts rejoiced as Wendy dedicated her life to God at the local VBS she attended.  Kelly celebrated her first birthday this month, and perfected her walking skills.  Hero, the robot, also made an appearance at the local VBS with "mad scientist" Eric.
June began as a rough month as our company completed a sales tax audit.  This is a routine audit done every 3 years, or so, but the pressure to have everything ready was incredible.  The audit went flawlessly, and for the first time in 10 years, we felt the accounting was truly up to date.  Our greatest praise this month was when Amy  dedicated her life to the Lord at our church's Vacation Bible School program.  Eric thrilled his oldest daughters by bringing our robot, Hero, to the girls' VBS class for a demonstration.

AWANA and choir begin

Sunday, April 30th, 2000
Wendy, Amy and Emily all began the AWANA program at the local PMC church in April.  They began diligently memorizing Bible verses to earn many awards.  In the latter part of the month, Amy and Wendy's children's choir participated in the Spring musical.  Each girl also had speaking parts.

The girls love Disneyland

Friday, March 31st, 2000
Kelly really began to grow up in March.  She began using a toy walker to get around the house, began waving, and said, "DaDa."  Do we sound like proud parents??  In March we also took a family trip to Disneyland, where Emily promptly fell in love with "It's a Small World."  All we heard for the next many months was how she wanted to go back on that ride.

Kelly’s crawling everywhere!

Tuesday, February 29th, 2000
February marked a major milestone in Kelly's life as she began crawling and pulling herself up to furniture

Eric’s radio debut

Monday, January 31st, 2000
In January, Eric was a guest on the radio show "Working from Home."  As the title of the show suggests, Eric was able to share with the hosts, Paul and Sarah Edwards, and listeners the value he has found working out of our house.