Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Party pictures in random order

Centerpiece for the table

The party was a blast. My little boy had a great day and his friends seemed to enjoy themselves as well. I am going to go fall in the bed now. :)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pirate party preparations

#1 will be 7 tomorrow. I blew the budget for his party. I had to pull $40 extra from grocery and miscellaneous money to cover the party! I have a weakness for birthdays. I love a reason to celebrate and my kids' birthdays are at the top of the list. So here's how the money panned out. I included our ideas in case you have a pirate party, as well. Pray for sunny weather tomorrow!

Some stuff I found around the house to use for decorations.
The $1 mask. It is much cheaper than buying bandanas and eye patches!

My husband made this treasure map on the computer. The kids are going to dig up buried treasure boxes with shovels, go over the swamp (creek) to earn the masks, walk the plank ( a log) for their swords, and do an obstacle course in the back woods for their tatoos. He will be dressed in full pirate costume leading the crew (beard and all).

Pirate party for 12 kids
Food- pizza (20) + cake (5) + capri suns (5) = 30
Decor- balloons (4) + banner (3) + pirate ship drawn on cardboard refrig box (2 for paint)= 10
Games/ favors- buckets/shovels (11) + swords (33) + masks (11) + tatoos (3) + pinata (5) + pirate costume for daddy (borrowed, free) = 63
invitations- 11
TOTAL= $114

Treasure box pinata found in the Kroger sale isle for $5.

Buckets for kids found at Michael's for $1. Painted their names and found foamy stickers for decorations.A few piratey extras
I definitely splurged on the swords, masks and buckets. Those 3 things that we are giving to each child accounted for $55, almost half the total. I think the kids will enjoy them. Pictures from the party to come!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A day out with Thomas

My #2 has loved trains since he was 18 months old. He had a Thomas the train party for his 2nd, 3rd, and 4rth birthdays. No kidding. We were encouraged for years to take him to "A Day Out With Thomas". Somehow, we never took the time and money to go. We finally decided that if we did not go now, he would definitely be too old to enjoy the magic. So we squeezed the money out of the budget, ordered the tickets, packed the snacks and lunches, and headed for the mountains on Saturday and had a wonderful day as a family. The kids were all amazing during the long ride there and back. The rainy forecast was wrong and it was cool (70 degrees) and cloudy. The kids had fun. Although the train ride was not magical for the boys, they enjoyed themselves so much. I realized that my little boys are growing up as I looked around and saw the 2 and 3 years olds squeal with glee and wave at Thomas. The boys are coming to an end of the preschool years and entering the grade school years. It's bittersweet. I am thankful to be able to look back at the last 7 years and see the Lord's hand and grace in their growth. Here are a few family pics (*Notice my man's beard? Doesn't he look different? He's also lost 15-20 pounds this summer. He's growing the beard for the pirate party. He's dressing up as a pirate to lead the treasure hunt. The party is Tuesday. I'll post pics and how I did with my $75 budget that I was trying to stick with for the party. See this post! Until then...):

The man of the hour

Friday, July 27, 2007

Agape love

Passion flower and fern from our back yard. The boys picked them for me. Wasn't that sweet?
I have been reviewing a Galatians study that I did along with my church a couple of years ago. It is life changing. I was looking at the definitions of the fruits of the Spirit. I got stuck on the very first one. It says:
"Agape"- love
Definition: To serve a person for their good and intrinsic value, not for what the person brings you.
Opposite: Fear, self-protection and abusing people.
Counterfeit: Selfish affection. Rescuing someone but really rescuing self. Attracted not to person, but to how this person's love makes you feel about yourself.

How counter-cultural is that counterfeit definition? I wonder how many times I have heard someone say they love someone because of how they make them feel about themselves. I never thought of that statement as a selfish one. But I think it is true that if you love someone (spouse, friend, family) for their intrinsic value and not for what that person brings to you, then the counterfeit definition is true. Hmm, food for thought.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

10 months old

My sweet baby girl is 10 months old! She is more curious and fiesty than ever. Her major milestones for the month have been dancing and pointing. She dances to everything from music to tapping hands or feet. (She is bouncing right now to the tapping of the keyboard. :) )The girl's got soul! She began pointing to communicate her needs. What a blessing! She knows what she wants and it is great for us to now know, as well. She also waves, high fives, claps and does a few baby signs to help us understand her needs.

She has learned how to SCALE the steps. She just learned how to shake her head no. (Which she does to my husband when he asks for a kiss. He has a new beard which she hates and refuses to love on Daddy now, breaking his heart!) She can climb out of her high chair (and its buckle) and her bath seat. She has developed a more hearty appetite, willing and able to eat anything. She has tried and loved such foods as black olives, artichokes and feta cheese. Thank the Lord for what appears to be a good eater!

We are so grateful for her health and bright mind. What a gift to our family! The boys are more in love with her than ever.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

God is wiff you!

This week is VBS at our church. My kids LOVE VBS! Last year the spiritual fruits that #1 received from VBS were amazing, so we have been counting down the days until this summer! After their second day today I already saw our first benefit from this wonderful ministry!
The boys were swimming in the pool today. Toot wanted so badly to jump in the pool, but he was scared. Before I could say anything, #1 said, "Remember our Bible point from VBS? God is always with you!" No kidding. And later when the kids were doing a little art at the kitchen table I overheard more encourgement, this time from #2. My #1 HATES to mess up and have to erase in art or handwriting. When that happened and he got frustrated #2 said, "We-member? God is wiff you!" Wow.
At dinner tonight when I was telling my husband what I overheard I asked him, "Do we apply the spiritual truths that we hear at church or in studies as quickly and appropriately as they do?" We both agreed that we probably don't. Thank you, God, for softening their little hearts! No matter how hard I try, my efforts are all feeble and worthless without the work of your Spirit in their hearts. Your grace is so amazing!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Delighting in the Lord

Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad." Psalms 35:27

I have been trying to read through the One Year Bible. I am at the end of February on the assignment chart. :) So, it will probably take two years for me. I am currently reading Leviticus and Mark. I love Leviticus. I know, how many people can say that? It is just so humbling and wonderful to see the laws that Christ fulfilled, the temple curtain torn in two, and the standards met in Christ. I guess that's the beauty of reading Leviticus and Mark simultaneously.

All of this reading has lead me to some heavy thought about our current culture. Our "post-modern" culture, as it is labeled. I have been thinking of the two extremes that are most often found in the church and how a follower of Christ has to walk a fine line or "narrow path" in order not to be found at either extreme. (Although we all are found in error due to our flesh.) The two extremes that I see are legalism and hedonism. Both are so prevalent in the evangelical church!

We all know and have been the legalist. This person is striving for righteousness through his actions. I don't catorgorize myself as a legalist, but I do see that my thoughts are subtly legalistic quite often if I am honest with myself. If I ask myself what motivates me, sometimes/ some days I am motivated by duty or guilt and not by my love/ worship for Jesus.

The other extreme, hedonism would be a word few Christians would use to describe themselves. But I observe this worship of pleasure and comfort in so many modern Christians that are my age! We have such a sense of entitlement that is unbiblical. We feel we are entitled to a house that is a certain size, decorated a certain way. So we either whine or go into debt and justify our actions. This is subtle hedonism, wouldn't you say? We feel our children are entitled to certain luxuries like vacations, meals at restaurants, certain activities and toys, so we spend away a phantom budget that is not there to spend! And then we justify, "If I had a budget it would be too stressful for me." "Other non-Christians will be able to relate to me more in this house or with this ___________." "Everyone else has _________." "But it is so cute and it was on sale!" We are all guilty of these thoughts when we aren't in prayer or the Word. And it leads to such misery!

I say all of this not to judge, notice I used the "we" in each example. I have noticed that as I continually strive to live a life a worship, surrendering the details of my life to Christ, staying in His word and really praying for permission as I let Him have ownership of my life, I see a difference in my joy and in how He uses me. Life becomes more mainstreamed with boundaries and budgets and more disciplines, but it is all a joy because the motivation is seeing my Savior glorified. (Still, I don't choose to honor Christ with my thoughts, actions and words as often as I want to!)

The other week I was having a very rough couple of days lamenting over my sin. I have committed to too much this summer due to a lack of prayer over certain decisions. It is painful when you see your sins and see your family suffering for them! My sweet friend called and asked what was wrong. I was sharing with her my sin, the idols in my heart, and now the pain I was feeling. It's not that I was wallering in guilt, I knew I was forgiven. But I felt sorrowful! And she listened as I told her of my longing to glorify Jesus and my sadness over my sin, but great hope in the Gospel. It was this weird sadness that I had not felt in a while. I see my oldest son feel this way all the time when he is in sin. And I realized that it is healthy and so often we stop ourselves short of these feelings. We are so afraid to hurt our "self-image" or crush our "self-esteem". We justify our sins so often with so many excuses, i.e. our childhood, our plot in life, our personalities, our circumstances. I realized I had missed out on precious time with Christ by "guarding myself". I SHOULD be sad when I disobey the creator of the universe! Not stuck in my guilt, but saddened, for sure. Maybe this feeling and just a general feeling that all of life is an opportunity for worship is part of what we are missing! Maybe these feelings and the lack of reminding ourselves of the Gospel of grace are what keep us from walking the narrow path that offers true happiness!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A wonderful treat

Today was such a welcomed, carefree day! Not that our summer days aren't always somewhat carefree. But today, it was a carefree-budget-free day! My mom is here this week and she treated us to an amazing day at a museum. I paid admission, and after that she completely spoiled us all. She bought us yummy lunches, not to mention an assortment of kiddie delights. Dinosaur cups, lizard shirts, snake toys, to name a few.

Besides the innumerable teachable moments that I had at the museum (explaining that the earth is not, indeed, a million years old according to the Bible for the millionth time, observing the difference between a gecko and a cameleon, etc., etc.), I had a wonderful moment with #1. Randomly, he asks: "Mama, so what will our new bodies look like in heaven?" I thought this question was a very interesting question coming from a 6 year old! Then before I could speak he says, "Well, anyway, if I could pick I would want to be a kid!" Interesting, huh? Sometimes, no a lot of times, he leaves me speechless!

Tonight I had planned on taco night. We were all pooped after fighting the traffic on the way home. Lo and behold, Mom saved the day again and took us all out to dinner. Thank you, Lord, for the blessings!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My first blogging contest

I have never entered a blogging contest before. But I heard about this one and I love the clothes here. The clothing givaway is from a new store called Kangerdoodle. The clothes are adorable! There are sundresses and bloomers with monograms and ribbons, just #3's style! And the little john-johns for boys make me want to do baby-boyhood again! Well, almost! The give away is Wednesday evening. Sign up now and good luck!

One more thing, there is a new blog to mamas for mamas here. It's called "Mama Speaks". Check it out. It looks super cute!

Monday, July 16, 2007

My new love

I have a new, favorite hobby. It's been around for ages. My oldest boy fell in love with it before I did. But now I am hooked, completely. It's reading. I admit, I have enjoyed a good book on occassion, but honestly the television usually won the battle over my free time at night. About a month ago, we finally bit the bullet and cancelled cable. As a result, I have become a complete nerd.
I think the summer was the perfect time to cancel cable. Without HGTV or TLC, what is there to watch at night on the local channels? After reading The Well-Trained Mind and LOVING it, I decided that I, too, wanted the classical education that I missed. (I was exposed to a better-than-average, public high school education. Unfortunately, I studied enough to make good grades and did not care a bit about what I was learning. I was too interested in boys, popularity and the dance team. :) Any way, for whatever reason, I am interested now. I am deeply interested, actually. I want to read the classics again, learn more about world history, and learn how to record what I am learning. I need to learn how to think more logically. Consequently, I am reading The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had(Susan Bauer) . After a few wonderful chapters of explaining how to read good books, she suggests a chronological book list from each of the five genres of literature. Tomorrow I start my first book, Don Quixote. The genre that she begins with is the novel. I will read 31 novels.
As I stated before, I have become a nerd, and here's the proof...I am so excited!
If you want to join in on the reading, and I know you mamas are busy so only a few if any will be excited about reading the old classics in your precious spare time, but if you do...please let me know. I would love to have a partner. My man says he'll read along with me. We're going to read a little simple historical information along with each book to "set the scene" for the author's "world". Anyway, it will probably take me at least a year to read all of the books in each genre. I am setting aside 40 or so minutes a day. My goal at the end is to feel like I have at least listened to the "human conversation". I want to know more about the past 400 years and what has shaped the world that I live in today. I want to see how God has been at work. I want Him to be glorified as I study His story. So, here goes...

Blog Award

Thank you so much Morning Song! I am so grateful! Wow!

In a couple of days when I have a little more time at the computer, I'll "pay it forward" and choose my own five blogs.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A creative outlet, my son's birthday party



As a Mom, I should have known there would soon be a way to feel my need to "create". My #1 will be 7 on the 31st. We are gearing up for a big pirate party. I decided that I was going to give him a party on a $75 budget because that is what we can afford.

Above is the invitation I made. I bought a dozen cream colored blank invitations and envelopes at Wal-Mart. They were around 3.50 including tax. I bought pirate stickers for around 2.50. The pirate stickers were not necessary. I am a sucker for cute invitations. So I basically spent 50 cents per invitation. I printed the invitations on to the paper in Gothic font. I looked on partycat.com for an idea for the wording. (Why reinvent the wheel?) Can you read the words? They say: "Ahoy Mates! Let's go find treasure and gold, __________ is turning 7 years old! A treasure hunt we will do, Swim, eat pizza and cake too! Date, time, place RSVP or walk the plank!" (The red bandana is just for background for the picture. It is not part of the invitation.)

Anyway, the next step is tedious. I took a lighter a burnt the edges of the cards. It took around 4 minutes for each invitation. Then I took a black and red scrapbooking marker and drew the dots and "x marks the spot". Finally, I folded them and added the pirate sticker on the outside.

Including postage, I think I spent $11. Let's see what I can do with the remaining $64!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Dinner Table

Glass Half Full has asked us to share our dinner table. This poor, old 11 year old table has been in one eat-in-kitchen or another since our first apartment in 1996. My parents bought it for us when we were engaged from Belks, I think. It has been very versatile and weathered 8 moves!

My kitchen is decorated in citrus colors, so there is always a different yellow, orange or lime green accessory in the middle of our table. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner here with very few exceptions. The rare nights that Daddy is not here for dinner, we have been known on occassion to have a picnic in the family room and watch a movie. The kids love picnics!

There have been too many theological questions asked here to count, mostly by my 6 year old. This table is where their Daddy and I read them their devotion each day, typically at breakfast while they consume cereal or a granola bar. Almost every day here for lunch we have sandwiches, fruit, carrot sticks and some type of yogurt or crackers or chips. My older son and I have been known to replace the sandwich with other more appealing options (hot dogs for him, salads for me). This table seats us for 6 dinners a week. I usually cook a hot meal with a meat, veggie, fruit and sometimes a bread. And once a week we eat out. (We have just started to really tackle our eating out habit and not cheat on the eating out once a week rule!) I make dessert once a week and it usually takes 2 days to consume the entire thing. The rest of the week we dream of what will be served the next week and usually settle for a popsicle or Nilla wafer.

This is our dinner table. It brings us some of the livliest, deepest, funniest conversations from our days together. Thanks for the idea, Glass Half Full!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rainy days

All of the rainy days have lead to a few complaints of boredom. I have almost no tolerance for kids complaining of boredom, but I must admit by the fourth day of being at home with no option of playing outside, I too was tempted to use the B word! So look below to see what I concocted. For some reason, the same old toys were fun again. I guess we all like checking things off of a list! Any good rainy day ideas? (We have had lightning and thunder with the rain, so ideas need to be indoor activities!)
PS The "swing outside" option was for a lull in the rain. The mud and water tracked in was worth the small time of fresh air!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My time

I am in the midst of learning a very painful spiritual truth. Beneficial and necessary for my sanctification, but painful none the less. I am learning to ask God permission before I give away my time and energy outside my home. I am at a place of emotional and physical exhaustion, and I have no one to blame but myself!
Looking back, I can see that even my best of intentions for overcommitting myself were at least slightly tinged with sin. Pride, looking to others for approval and selfishness all drive me to say "yes" before I pray. The result is weariness, bitterness and even a little anger.
My husband gave me the very best advice this morning, showing me once again how very blessed I am to walk through life with him. As I literally was crying on his shoulder, he said, "You need to go upstairs and spend time with the Lord. Not just reading the Word, but really praying. It will all work itself out once you've done that." Of course, he was right. Although, "working itself out" sometimes mean God showing us our sin. Ouch. But I am so thankful. I am thankful for the time with Jesus. I am thankful that I am forgiven. I am thankful for his Word, that encourages and guides me. I found this quote this morning that I love:

"Our security lies not in our faithfulness, but in the faithfulness of God and His Word…..
So our faithfulness is not the ground of our confidence; rather, our confidence is the ground of our faithfulness."
–Douglas Wilson in Back to Basics

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Creativity denied

Happy 4rth!

I have noticed in perusing my usual blogs that several of you are so creative! I don't boast any talent in any artistic area, but I do so enjoy time to create. I have spent every rare, spare moment reading and writing this summer. I am re-writing some science units for my son's school, along with several other teachers and parents this summer. It has been a very big task, much bigger than I ever imagined! Between the units and my recent insatiable desire to read about classical education and other topics of interest, I have not made time to sew, paint, scrapbook, or draw. I am LONGING for time to just sit and make something! But I fear this fall will be my soonest opportunity, as I have committed to certain deadlines.

All this to say that you all inspire me! Particularly you moms that are sewing such adorable bibs and dresses. Keep the projects coming! I am storing your wonderful, creative ideas in a mental file for "some day soon"!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

More on schooling

Remember my recent post on schooling? I thought I might share my thoughts on curriculum, just for fun. If this doesn't sound fun to you, call me crazy and don't read further!

This is the book that I devoured, cover to cover, in 2 days. It's called The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. It is a secular book describing the classical education model. I was first exposed to classical education in college when my roommate let me borrow her current read, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, by Doug Wilson. Thanks for a life-long fascination, Rach! I find myself quite often constructing the "perfect" classical school in my mind, always looking out for a new book or tool to use. Strange, I know! Who does this?

The classical model is centered around the "trivium". The trivium is the word that is used to describe the three stages of child development. The stages include the grammar, logic and rhetoric stage. Experts disagree on the ages of each stage. But basically, the elementary years are called the grammar years because this is a time of laying a foundation in each subject area. During this stage children memorize and soak up knowledge like little sponges. During the logic stage (middle school years), they begin to ask, "Why?". They continue to obtain knowledge, with a bent toward answering their questions. They are introduced to logic, which teaches them how to discern between truth and fallacy. The last stage, the rhetoric stage, is filled with training the child to present arguements informatively and articulately. In addition to teaching around these stages, the classical model is very rich in literature and the arts, particularly great books.
The most exciting part of teaching my children about God's world through this model is the integration of history, science, art, music and the Bible. The book pictured above suggests dividing the history of the world into 4 eras: ancient times, medieval/renaissance, late renaissance/ early modern and modern. You teach the four eras three times (1-4rth grade, and again 5th-8th, and again 9th-12th, each on deeper levels.) So for example, for ancient times we would spend some time studying the Egyptians in history, the Exodus from the Bible and make hieroglyphics in art. Doesn't that sound fun? There is a lot of memorization in the grammar stage, so the children might learn the names of the Pharoahs, the major rivers in Egypt, etc. And they will learn what went on all over the world during the time that the pyramids were built and how to reference this time with biblical history. I am fascinated with this chronological way to unfold history because I did not learn this way. What was going on in Asia when Jesus was born? I have NO idea! But I hope that my kids will! And the science is equally fascinating, alternating earth science, biology, chemistry and physics.
Without expounding any more on my new obsession, I am in prayer. I think we will be homeschooling in a year or so simply because I can not shake the "bug". It's nice to have time to pray and research (and let the baby grow a little). Hope I haven't bored you all to death!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sweet, funny kiddo

I have enjoyed watching my little girl create mischief today. Sounds strange to say, but she does amuse me. Curious to a fault, she got "stuck" under the kitchen table earlier. She weaved her body through the chairs, and couldn't remember her path. At the doctor's office (she had her 9 month check up), she was extremely interested in the paper over the examining table, as well as the nurse. She would crawl quickly across the table and then attack the paper, crinkling it between her toes and hands and laugh. She would then point at the nurse and yell for attention. She thought it was funny. And she looked so cute, we couldn't help but laugh.

Then at the store, she began the pointing again. #1 had her in the stroller, following my cart. Everyone that walked by got a point and a babble. It was as if she was asking their name. This is her latest trick, she points or holds things up to me and waits for me to name them. Then she nods her head and tries to mimic the sound. It usually sounds like, "dada" "mama" "gaga" or "dis". Then she nods again as if to say, "Got it."

This afternoon, after a day of tearing up the house (she rippped one of her brother's dollars and chipped one of my trinkets, among other things), she settled down as I was nursing her. She did the usual ritual. While she nurses, she rubs my tummy. Her little pudgy hands go round and round in circles. Her eyes start out wide open and sparkly. Then after a few minutes she dozes off. As I put her up on my shoulder to pat her back and kiss her I felt so connected to her. Her tummy and my tummy were exposed, and as I held her I couldn't feel an ending to my skin and a beginnning to hers.