Sunday, March 28, 2010


When my oldest kids were quite young I realized that it was necessary to assign them weekly chores. Our first Chore Chart was born. It has gone through many changes as it has grown along with our family. For one, the font has gotten much smaller. I like to say that my kids will be able to read any bus schedule after growing up with this chore chart. It gets kind of complicated and several of my kids have taken it upon themselves to try and make it more fair. The kids like knowing what is expected of them, it cuts down on the squabbling and I know who to go to when a chore isn't done properly. Even though they do a bit of grumbling they don't question the fact that they are expected to get their chores done after each meal. It's just a fact of life. I am confident that any of my girls could run our home quite efficiently if I had to be away.
All of the kids when they were Sarah's age loved to run to the refrigerator after each meal to see what their chore is. They are so cute, unfortunately their enthusiasm is inversely proportional to their ability to do a good job on any given chore. Sarah isn't on the chore chart yet because I can still get away with pointing to approximately the right place on the chart and telling her what to do. I'll have to get her on there soon though, the kids learn which color is theirs very early and the first words they learn to read are sweep, empty trash, kitchen, etc.
Quentin & Sarah washing dishes.
Quentin takes after Tom Sawyer in that he is able to get the little boys excited about helping him out with his chores. He's an effective leader. He rules the boys room and many mornings I hear crying coming from the boys room because he won't let them come down to breakfast until their room is clean.
Below Quentin has the little boys helping him wash the dishes and of course Sarah had to be in there too.

Benjamin and Sarah emptying the trash.

David vacuuming. The youngest kids are always eager to run the vacuum.
Each of the older kids has a day to cook. Joshua, when he was 8 years old, began cooking with my help this last year. That leaves me with only two days to cook, yeah!
Below Quentin and Sarah are scrambling eggs.

The younger kids are always eager to cook. Sometimes, especially if Paul is not going to be eating, I let them go for it. I think in the picture below they are either cooking Ramen noodle soup (with vegetables added) or macaroni and cheese.

Sarah and Caleb grating carrots for a salad.
In the video below Quentin is getting then 15 month old Sarah to help him clear the table.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Homeschool Basketball

As soon as the schools in the area finished up with volleyball, we started playing basketball. Although I enjoy volleyball, basketball is my favorite. I played Division I basketball in college and coaching my kids and at times playing against them has been a real joy and great exercise. All of the kids love practice, Sarah is so cute doing her stretching exercises.
As was the case with volleyball, the public school here in Nondalton didn't have any high school age kids interested in playing basketball. Last year the district let homeschoolers play with the team in their village including traveling if it didn't incur any extra expense. This year the district changed its policy and decided not to let homeschoolers play even home games. Several Jr. High kids joined us as we played and at the semester break a high school student who had been away at boarding school decided to stay home for the second semester. He wanted to play basketball so the principal asked me if I'd coach him. So, he joined our homeschool team for practice and traveled to the district event by himself.
Sarah is a big hit with all the kids.
Newhalen, the next village downriver, has a very successful basketball program (they made it to the state semi-finals this year) and they play as many games as they can throughout the year. Once the lake froze over so they could drive across it, their Jr. High girls team came and played us. We borrowed the school's uniforms and had a great time!
We had a good turn out from the village for the game and afterwards we had several more Jr. High kids join the team.
Newhalen hosted a Jr. High tournament and invited us down. Paul and one of the other parents drove the kids across the lake. They spent the night and came home the next evening. They got to return the next day for the championship game so I piled the little kids in the pickup truck and Lavonne, Regina and I followed them across the lake down to Newhalen. The road was very icy...
Quentin & Josh A.



Anna, Quentin and Deborah


Anna was a favorite at the tournament. She is only a fifth-grader but she's tough. She would set a screen and get plowed over then jump back up. Everybody cheered her on.


We came in second in the Jr. High B team division.

Abigail and Deborah made the All Tournament team.

They had a big bonfire after the tournament with hot chocolate and marshmellows. It was quite dark by the time I followed Paul as we drove back on the icy road. Yikes!!
We invited the ladies in Nondalton to play us in a game. It was a blast having Mom's playing against their kids. We played two platoons. The older kids and then the younger kids. The older kids would go ahead and then the ladies would catch up. The ladies complained when the taller kids were playing and asked us to put the short kids back in. The kids won.
So, the next time we played, I played with the ladies so the tall Brendemuhl kids would have someone to stop them. The ladies won in a close game. I was really surprised at how well Abigail played against me. Her arms are so long and the referee (Paul) didn't keep her from wrapping them around me. When we got home we got out the tape measure and discovered that Abigail at 5' 9.5" is only one inch shorter than me. After the next game we got out the tape measure again and found out that her arms are actually longer than mine! I knew it! I suppose in a couple of years when Deborah and Quentin get taller, I won't have a chance.
We played one more game and Paul did a masterful job of mixing the younger kids and the older kids (not easy when they range from 5th grade to 10th grade). He kept the game close the whole way and it ended in a very exciting tie. The kids won in overtime. I think it was because of their superior conditioning and the fact that they had 12 kids to our 5 ladies.
We played one more game. Port Alsworth, the closest village up the lake, brought three players and they played three on three against our top four players. We won the first game and the older kids rested while the younger kids played against each other. Then the older kids played again and Port Alsworth won in overtime.

The little boys loved the fact that we brought the uniforms home to wash them.


Sunday, March 14, 2010


Two years age Paul & Abigail took a two week course to become ETT (Emergency Trauma Technician) (first responder) certified. Paul's motivation was to become knowledgeable since he usually gets to help out if there is an emergency in the village. This year Abigail renewed her ETT certificate, Deborah earned her ETT certificate and Paul went to class for close to 3 weeks and earned his EMT (emergency medical technician) certificate.
Paul and the girls had lots of fun with the emergency scenarios.
Below Abigail, Betty and Jesse are securing Paul to a backboard.

Below Deborah and Rollie are working to strap down a young man with a simulated head/spinal injury.
I gave Abigail and Deborah credit for Health Sciences in their home schooling. It was a fun way to do school, especially when they got to practice driving the ambulance.
Paul finished his test Monday and before the results were even back, he was asked to be on call when both health aids had to leave the village because of personal emergencies. The health aid left Friday assuring Paul nothing would happen, he just had to answer the clinic phone (the only mobile phone in the village) and tell people that the health aids would be back Wednesday. Of course not two hours after he stepped on the plane the clinic phone rang with a request for a medivac for a six year old boy. After an hour of apprehension, Paul determined that while it wasn't an immediate life or death emergency, the boy did need to get to Anchorage to get his medicine changed and it had to happen before the health aids were scheduled to return. So, Paul spent the next four hours learning a great deal about the Alaska Native/medicaid health program. He finally got all the paperwork straightened out and had the boy and his father on a plane to Anchorage.
Please pray with us that the clinic phone doesn't ring with another emergency until the health aids return.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lavonne's Birthday

Lavonne celebrated another birthday. We had a couple of parties for her over two days and she got several nice cakes. Below is a picture of the delicious cake her Mom got her.Lavonne's son Josh was very creative and made colored cupcakes. We had fun sticking candles in all the cupcakes and lighting them.

Sarah is helping Lavonne blow out her candles.

Sarah really enjoyed the cake, especially the frosting.
Being the ever practical gift giver, I bought Lavonne a cast iron skillet. She can use it for the rest of her life and it will always remind her of me!

Knowing that she loves beautiful things, I also gave her a necklace that was special to me because some friends from South Africa gave it to me.
Sarah is admiring her necklace in the picture below.
It has been a real joy watching Lavonne grow and mature over the last few years. She loves the Lord and finds real joy in reading scripture and applying it to her life. Often, she will call me on the phone and tell me about a passage she has just read. She always has wonderful insight. She and her son Josh are great neighbors and cherished friends.