Friday, August 31, 2007

Toot's Star Wars party

Today my little boy turned five. I think it is safe to say that he had a wonderful day. He got to spend the morning with his best friend. This little boy blesses us all with his sweet smile, easy going personality, leftie personality and quiet disposition. He is a lot like our Toot. Remember the friend that I said offered to take the kids in carpool earlier this week? Well, she again "kidnapped" Toot and took him all morning. He didn't come home until this afternoon when it was time for his party. Toot's party was the same agenda: swimming, scavenger hunt (disguised as a Jedi Training course), pinata and cake. It was really fun and sweet. Three families from church came over. I enjoyed my time with friends as much as the kids. Ironically, today is also our eleventh wedding anniversary. I'll have to comment more on my sweetie later. Here's what the party looked like(Per my husband's request, I will not be posting pictures of our children any more and all old pictures have been deleted. So these pictures aren't very cute. But I'll try to still post lots of pictures of other things like projects, parties, etc. I'll have to be creative.):
My man made this map for the Jedi training
Simple centerpieces...confetti and toys
I hung star lights around the windows
My friend loaned her cardboard characters...a big hit
I bought this costume for my man. He felt goofy, the kids LOVED it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My little guy

Yesterday when the car was perfectly quiet, except for the beautiful piano music playing, Toot asks, "Momma, when will I get dead?" I looked over my shoulder quickly to see if he was asking with an oh-my-gosh-I-will-really-die-some-day look or the usual carefree Toot look. It was the latter. So I said, "I don't know, sweetie. Some day, I guess." Now, Toot, he is not the deep thinker of the family. At least not yet. This answer could have probably sufficed for him. But I continued, hoping for a good conversation. "But usually people die when they are much older." He asks, "When will I get old?" So I begin the explanation, wishing I had a book. Toot doesn't "do" auditory learning. "Well, Friday you will be five. That's a big boy age. Then you will be a really big boy. Then a teenager. Soon after that you become an adult. And guess what? Later you become a husband. Then a Daddy. Then a Poppy. Then a great Poppy. Then a very old man. And usually that is when people die. When they are very old." Well, that lead to heaven, the gospel, his sin. Not in deep questions. Just little questions like, "So heaven's really good?". That precious little boy made my day.

I dropped him off at speech class a few minutes later and asked his teacher to read a story to him and tell me what she thinks about his reading comprehension. Later when I picked him up she said, "I see why you might have been concerned about his comprehension. But he doesn't have a comprehension problem. I think the problem is, you are comparing his reading level to his comprehension. His comprehension is precisely at age level. He is reading on an early second grade level." And it hit me like a ton of bricks how extremely brilliant my little Toot is, just in a completely unique way from his older brother. I love his bright, bubbly, simple ways. What a smart, beam of sunshine. Completely individual, easily misunderstood, rarely ruffled. I love that kid!


Flowers from my aunt and cousin from the weekend
My gift from today

Being one of God's children brings an unceasing series of amazing experiences. Not always seemingly fun or good, but amazing. I received an email today that left me completely deflated and hurt. Someone needs something from me, and I am not delivering on her timeline. She was demanding, and it stung. As I read over the message again with my husband, I began to realize she really lacked grace towards me. That thought carried with me throughout my day.

It's so easy for me to shrivel or become angry when people are not gracious, particularly when I am wronged. And it is extremely hard to respond in grace when I feel wrongly accused. I have to bathe situations like this in prayer, or I am tempted to run over them mentally with a fine-toothed comb over and over again. I know that is unhealthy, unproductive and usually leads to sinful thoughts. All I could do is beg God for grace.

As I pulled through the carpool line, my friend motioned for me to meet her in the back of the parking lot. She met me with flowers. (She was giving me a belated get well bouquet from my food poisoning.) Then she opened the van door and yelled, "Boys, you want to come over and play at my house?" There it was. Unusually magnificant grace, right from God himself through the sweet instrument of my friend. She enabled me to run some errands with just the baby, a much needed time of peace. When I came home after picking the children up from her house, I came home to a freshly cleaned house (my Mom had called our dear Isabel who cleans our house at a moment's notice when I am swamped). There was the grace, again.

My heart is in such a wonderful place and ready for my talk with the person who sent the email. We are meeting tomorrow. God gave me the visible and invisible grace to meet this person through the lenses of the gospel, and not in my own flesh. I pray He will be glorified, and not anyone's pride. I am so thankful.

This verse gives me great hope:
Romans 6:12-14
"Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."

Thank you

Morning Song pointed out that I had missed this "Nice Matters" award. And Not before 7 pointed out that I had missed the other. Wow, thank you. I am hoping to have a calmer life that allows me to read blogs (and books) more really soon. Sorry I missed these posts on your blogs, but I really do appreciate your kindness!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Haven't fallen off the face of the earth! Did get a crazy bad case of food poisoning on Friday, which lead to an ER visit on Saturday. I am feeling almost myself again and looking forward to being back in the race tomorrow. Completely missed my big women's ministry event on Saturday. But it was apparently one for the record books. More women than ever have signed up for fall Bible study. The speakers were amazing. The decor and food were beautiful. I am praising God. I was a little sad to miss out on this event that became my second baby over the last month, but as my good friend says, "God is still on His throne!". He can use me as His instrument any day, but He certainly doesn't need me to fulfill His big plans.

So tomorrow I am back on my feet. Two small meals have passed through my system without a fight. My energy is slowly coming back. And I'll admit with all of the quiet bed rest, I have begun dreaming of the winter Women's event. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The women's event

Next to being a mama and a wife, the ministry that is top priority for me right now is the women's ministry at our church. It is the little arm of our church Body that God has called me to right now. I am increasingly passionate about my role as each day goes by. This year I am the Event's Coordinator as I think I have mentioned before. This Saturday is our big fall kick-off. I am so thrilled to be a part of it! I haven't written much lately because I have spent my mornings and afternoons creating centerpieces, running to Michael's and the pottery store and Target, and praying. I have spent long, wonderful hours talking to Jesus about the big and little details of our day. Did I mention I am excited?

I am so energized for several reasons. The primary reason is that women need one another. Pretty obvious, huh? But we do! I want to do my VERY BEST in planning this event because I desperately want the women in our church to be drawn to Jesus and drawn to one another. I know only Christ can draw a heart to himself, but he certainly can use us frail, sinful people as His instruments. I want to be used by Him in this area. So I have bathed each detail in prayer. The centerpieces, the food, the music, the speakers, the presentations, asking, "Lord, what would be best used to attract these wonderful ladies?". I have been deeply blessed this week. And tired, and busy, but blessed for sure. I will post pictures of our big day soon.

It has not been shocking or coincidental that I have received 5 phone calls from ladies in my family or church this week who were literally discouraged to the point of tears. One with an uncurable illness, one with a child that is having trouble adjusting to school, one whose feelings were hurt by another mom, one with health problems, one that feels inadequate. It just reaffirmed my commitment to pray for and love the women in our church, as well as my family and friends and especially the non-churched friends. Here is a quote by Dobson that saddens and inspires me,
"A century ago, women cooked together, canned together, washed clothes at the creek together, prayed together, went through menopause together and grew old together. And when a baby was born, aunts and grandmothers and neighbors were there to show the new mother how to diaper and feed and discipline. Great emotional support was provided in this feminine contact. A woman was never really alone. Alas, the situation is very different today. The extended family has disappeared, depriving the wife of that source of security and fellowship. Her mother lives in Connecticut and her sister is in Texas. Furthermore, American families move every three to four years, preventing any long-term friendships from developing among neighbors. And there's another factor that is seldom admitted: American women tend to be economically competitive and suspicious of one another. Many would not even consider inviting a group of friends to the house until is was repainted, refurnished or redecorated. As someone said, 'We're working so hard to have beautiful homes and there's nobody in them!" The result is isolation- or should I say insulation- and its first cousin: lonliness."

I am praying for rich, deep relationships to form as a result of our event this Saturday. I would like to see the women in our church feel warmly embraced and loved, a reflection of the love lavished by the Father.

PS Promise to soon post pics of the new bedroom. I never think to take pictures until it is dark and the lighting is terrible. If not tomorrow, this weekend I will take pictures. (Sorry Wendy for the delay! You should post pics of your new bedroom, too!)

Monday, August 20, 2007

A moment of confirmation

Tonight was such a powerful night for me. As I have said before, schooling decisions are laborious for me. I pray about who, where and what they will be taught all year long. It is so important to me! And this year I really felt like the Lord wanted Jaybird at the same Christian school again for first grade. But honestly, I really hadn't seen my decision confirmed in a big way. I have been to all of the beginning of the year meetings and marvelled at the wonderful goals and people and objectives. I have been very happy, but not overcome with joy like I like to feel about education. Tonight I had my moment.

We had our first parent meeting. I sat and looked around at the seven other sets of parents, praying that I would get to know them better this year. The teacher spoke of her family, her classroom discipline plans, her goals, etc. She is lovely and I was very happy. Then the room parents did something extraordinary. They gave us a piece of paper with our child's name on it. We turned it over and wrote out prayer requests for our child. We then switched papers with our neighbor. As I have said, there are only 8 children in the class. And then we prayed. It didn't take more than two precious, loving parents' prayers for the tears to flow. To hear these mamas and daddies pouring out their hearts for the families and children represented brought more emotion than I had the power to with hold! My friend prayed for Jaybird, begging God to help his fine motor skills to improve. Asking God to give him deep friendships with the boys. Praising God for his spiritual maturity and growth and asking God to allow that love for Jesus to spread and be shared with the other children, I sobbed a little. And then she thanked God that we had joined the school, as she personally had prayed that we would. I had such a deep sense of the Body of Christ, of community, of belonging. We are where we need to be. Thank you God for that moment that I have been longing for. My heart is ready to commit fully to this wonderful school!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The tide comes in

"A Passing Glimpse", by Robert Frost
I often see flowers from a passing car that are gone before I can tell what they are. I want to get out of the train and go back to see what they were beside the track. I name all the flowers I am sure they weren't: not fireweed loving where woods have burnt, not bluebells gracing a tunnel mouth, not lupine living on sand and drouth. Was something brushed across my mind that no one on earth will ever find? Heaven gives its glimpses only to those not in position to look too close.

As my man and I compared calendars for this fall, I realized that we are "there". We are in that place where we are willing and able to extend our ministries a little more out from under this roof and into the lives of those outside our family. This new place is very exciting for us both, but a little scary as well. We have enjoyed family lunches and dinners almost daily this past year. We will have to sacrifice a few of those as we are separated some nights and off to meetings and commitments. Is this really necessary? Should we really put waves and ripples in the calm little stream that is our life? Well, for us the answer is yes! God has recently called us to make waves and ripples and He will give us the grace to embrace the new tide that will sweep over our house this fall. I have to ask God now to prompt me through His Spirit to obey him graciously and selflessly and not try to hold on to comfort and be selfish with my family's time and affection. May all we seek to do be for His glory! I am clinging to this verse (and maybe you can remind me of it when I struggle in a couple of months, because I am sure I will!):
2 Corinthians 4:15
"Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God."
*Update on #3 and her eating/sleeping:
God has been so gracious to us. We weaned #3 cold turkey starting Tuesday morning. This little baby had never had a bottle, as you know. She went directly to the sippie cup and took it like a pro. She took whole milk just fine, so we never had to mess with formula. She did surprisingly well, confused, but compliant on Tuesday. She slept until 6:30 that night! Wednesday she had a hard time going down for naps without breastfeeding. That day was the hardest and she woke up at 4:30! But I was determined to stick to what I felt like God wanted me to do which was wean her. The next day on Thursday she did great and the same on Friday, sleeping until around 6:00 each night. Today I have not had to pump at all and it has now been 5 days since she nursed and she has slept much better. For various reasons, I have not slept as well as I hoped, but I know I will. I expected her to be very stressed, but she has actually been much more relaxed and lessed anxious than before. She had her first babysitter (at least the first one when she was awake) on Friday and did not cry a peep and went down for her nap just fine. We are all very relieved and thankful! Thanks again for the encouragement and prayers!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tying up loose ends

There are several things of which I have written and then forgotten to follow up. The first is the Thinking Blogger award from this post. It slipped my mind! It's too late now, but I will say that two of my favorite blogs to read are The Happy Helms and Lots of Scotts. Both ladies are incredible, challenging writers and mothers. Secondly, remember this post about my reading challenge? Well, sadly, it has taken me this long to finish Don Quixote. I did not like a single page of it! I am now reading The Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan. I have read many excerpts from this book, but never the book in its entirety. I enjoy the style much more and it is actually thought provoking. And last, my bedroom makeover that I spoke of in this post is still underway. In fact, the tape and spackling were done by my man today and he will paint tonight and tomorrow. He volunteered to paint the room as an anniversary present to me. He truly has no idea what a perfect gift this is for me! I will post pictures of our progress on Monday. I am still looking for something special and unique to hang above the bed. I thought I had the perfect oil painting and frame, but it is three feet tall, too tall for the space. But I will share more later for those of you that have asked or just like to see other people's decorating projects like I do! I also have many stories and pictures from my blog break including the kids' first day of school and others. I'll save them and post one at a time. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I'm back...

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. Each word was a treasure to me!
This has been an eventful week! School started for #1 and homeschool started for #2. (More details about school later!) #3 has been completely weaned. And I have had some great prayer time with the Lord. After much prayer, I decided to persist with a sippy cup and quit breastfeeding cold turkey. #3 now drinks from a sippie cup and a straw, praise the Lord! She has not nursed in 2 days and is doing well, with her main trouble during settling down for naps. (The cold turkey method sounds cruel and is not advised. But I know my little girl well and I truly believe this method is best for her personality.) Yesterday I wanted to throw in the towel so badly and just nurse her! But I called my two closest friends and found encouragement. That is the great thing about prayer. When you bathe a decision in prayer and feel the Lord's leading, you can rest in that peace when times are tough or you doubt your decision. So we made it through the day and I stuck with it! God is forever faithful and kind when life is hard! More later and I can't wait to catch up on your blogs!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A little blog fast

I think Morning Song's suggestion to fast and pray is a great idea. Since I can't fast from food (with the nursing), the only other thing I can think of that I do regularly that is not essential to my family functioning is blogging. (Too bad I couldn't fast from washing dishes!) So I'm going to take 7 days away from blog land to pray about some decisions for the baby. I promise to come visit and catch up next week. Although I will miss you, I'm looking forward to having this time of focussed prayer. Pray it will be a time of growth with the Father. Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Calling all Moms!

Oh my goodness, I am weary this morning. I am hoping you mamas can help me with a little baby advice. Our baby has given us much grief in the area of sleeping/nursing. Thankfully, she has always nursed very well and required plenty of sleep. The problem is, she has never had a bottle, much less a pacifier/ sucked her thumb. This has been her choice and not ours. We are finding that now she is having a hard time sleeping through the night. I think sometimes she wakes up due to thirst (we do have a busy little life outdoors), but more often than not she wants to nurse for comfort since I am all she uses in that area.
I am really frustrated with myself for following her lead with the pacifiers and bottles and giving up with them. I think I listened to one friend in particular that was giving me the La Leche League banter about how pacifiers aren't natural, etc. (Her little girl now takes a pacifier, go figure!) So when she rejected all artificial nipples, I just shrugged it off. Oh wow, if I had only known how we would suffer! Including the times that we went to her room last night to reassure her that she was okay, she cried for two hours. And guess what? I finally gave in and nursed her. The sun was going to come up soon!
So here we are approacing 11 months. I have not gotten an uninterrupted night's sleep for more than a handful of nights at a time. She has never had a bottle. It's no wonder why I can't explain my emotions some days!?! I think I know what I need to do. It's the usual...establish a routine and stick to it, put her down awake (which I already do), keep working at the sippie cup, let her cry. I'm just so tired and overwhelmed with it all that I don't know where to begin. I think she and I will both have an emotional breakdown if I try it all at once. So for those of you that are well-rested and in your right minds, could you help me figure out where to start? And if you have the time, an encouraging verse would be wonderful!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My #1

I did not want to forget to write about my dear first born son reflecting on his little life, specifically his last year since he just turned seven. As we would all say of our little ones, he is a miracle! I say that specifically for him because he has overcome many medical issues, most of which he knows nothing about. I am not sure how or when we will explain the specifics of his medical history, so until I figure that out I will remain nonspecific. But I will say that his physical abilities, while still a slower than average, have defied our expectations. And his social awareness is beyond his years, which is beyond explanation. He is a constant reminder of God's grace and mercy.

While he was the most fussy and non-social baby on planet earth, he grew into a precious little toddler. He was still extremely fearful and slow to warm up to strangers, but compliant and tender-hearted. He has been extremely verbal and a fast learner from day one. God captivated his heart at four years old in the deepest and most profound way. From the day He accepted Christ, I have never heard him doubt his salvation, which is truly remarkable. He has deep faith in Jesus and has had a heart for others to know Him since I shared the gospel with him. (After praying with me and exclaiming, "I'm a Christian! The angels are having a party for me in heaven!" he asked, "What about #2? Does he know about Jesus?") And then a year later he shared the gospel for the first time at the playground. It went something like this. Smooch! (The girl beside him squished a mosquito on her arm and blood splattered everywhere.) He says, "You know who else spilled their blood?..." And the rest is history.

As I have blogged before, he asks amazing, insightful theological questions. While that passion for real facts runs deep, he has an incredible imagination. He has all the typical traits of a first born: cautious, caring, nurturing, giving, pensive, people-pleaser. He is a very gifted reader, memorizer and story teller. (His last story that he narrated for me to write down lasted 20 minutes, no lie!) He warms my heart with his enormous blue eyes and statements like he made at our Day Out With Thomas. "Mama, can I have some ice cream? I really want it, but if we don't have the money it's okay. Really, Mama, that would be okay." Bless his heart. Or my favorite from school, "Mama, Ellie is really beautiful. But I would never have the nerve to tell her." All I could think is, "One day your Ellie will come. And she will adore you and be the luckiest girl alive!"

That's my #1 in a nutshell. I adore him and could hardly make it a day without him around. He points me to Christ and tugs at my heartstrings! I praise God for allowing us to share life with him.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

#2's homeschool plan

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

This quote will be posted on my refrigerator as I homeschool #2 this year. He is, after all, my precious little adventurer. After buying our materials, I am SO excited to be his teacher this year. #1is enrolled still at a Christian school for first grade. I am dreading the carpool and other time commitments. I have no problem with parental involvement, in fact I would never send him to a school that didn't require the parents to be involved. I am just looking forward to the following year when both the kiddos are in the same place. My man and I were talking about schooling and he firmly decided that after this year of prayer and experimenting, we will stick to whatever decision we make. Next fall, either they will both be at the school and there to stay. Or they will both be homeschooled for the long haul. You mamas of lots of kids that are all over the place, at home and at various schools, I don't know how you do it!

#2 could be in kindergarten this year (bday is August 31st), but if he were in a classroom I would be holding him back for a year. So I decided to purchase kindergarten math, phonics and reading for this year. The perk is that we can take our time, 3 lessons per week. There will be no rush because I can use the next 2 years to finish the curriculum. He is very ready intellectually for the material. He is reading fluently and is a math whiz. He also has an incredible attention span and curiosity. He is a dream student and a joy to teach, by the grace of God. If you are interested, here is what we are doing together. If hearing other plans stressed you, please do not read further! :) This is meant for benefit of those that might get good ideas, not to add stress to a sweet mama's life!
#2's Curriculum
Math-Horizons K
Reading alouds- Reading list from Honey For a Child's Heart/read through nursery rhymes
Phonics-Phonics Pathways
Writing- Practice with dry erase books/ School-Rite

Bible-Big Truths for Little Hearts; My ABC Bible Verses
Units (Science and Art)- Self-made units
Fine Motor- Hand Warm-ups w/beads, lacing, tweezers, blocks, pattern blocks, tying shoes
Gross Motor- karate, bike riding, swimming (in the afternoons with Jaybird)
Music- cds from library
Art technique- Bonnie’s class (our neighbor teaches art and is offering a homeschool class for 4-7 year olds)
Extra- Timothy School (one day a week he will take classes at a homeschool magnet school)

Vocabulary- Wordly Wise K (we will start this later in the year)

Sounds like a lot to you? It sounded like a lot to me, too, until I wrote out time increments. It will be managable when #3 takes her morning nap. He's my go-getter when it comes to sitting and learning. He is usually eager and focussed. I am hoping to work with him from 10-12 just in time to wake up the baby and get #1 at 12:30. Most days we eat lunch at the park or aquatic center. We like to be outside after a long morning indoors. I am hoping to enroll them in karate, swim indoors once or twice a week, and go to the park to play and ride bikes during the afternoon. We also have a playground and lake in our neighborhood. And then we can be at home during the baby's afternoon nap (3:30-5:00) for quiet time (movie, homework, play with toys, play in the yard, etc.). Here is the goal for #2 on school days (Tues.,Wed., Thurs.)
*Bible at breakfast with #1
*Music in the car
15 minutes: Warm-up hands
20 minutes: writing
20 minutes: phonics
15 minutes: Read aloud
20 minutes: math
30 minutes: science/corresponding art project

TOTAL: 2 hours
Monday is art and Friday is Timothy School in the mornings. We have at least one day a month when art or Timothy is cancelled. Those will be field trip days!

All that was inspired by that little Mark Twain quote!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Our bedroom

We've had our two days of recovery and I'm ready to push forward to a new project, or projectS. Currently, the most exciting project is redecorating our master bedroom. I use the word "master" hesitantly. We have an itty bitty bedroom with an itty bitty bathroom. I honestly think I could win an ugliest bedroom contest. I have taken almost every piece of art from the walls to add to other "finished" rooms. Our bedroom furniture is hodge podge hand-me-downs. The bedspread is okay, but not my taste. The poor room has been on the back burner.

I am humbly posting my BEFORE pictures below. We are painting this weekend. Also, today our new sleigh bed was delivered. I also got new bed linens, light gray/blue and chocolate brown. And I am framing an oil painting above the bed. It should be a great start.

Lovely, huh?

And for the finale, our tv stand. I think any effort would be an improvement.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Recovery, or lack there of

I really wanted to sit around and be lazy today. I felt a need for a day of recovery and relaxation. Does that even exist as a mama? Maybe so away from the house, but rarely under this roof!

So far, the only sitting and relaxing I have stolen away has been the ten minutes I spent nursing the baby before her nap. I chugged a Diet Coke and breezed through a magazine. No sooner had I walked down the steps than the phone rang. I was being beckoned to get on the ball with our Women's Ministry fall kick-off. It is in 3 1/2 weeks and I am the Events Coordinator this year. Then #2 wanted to sit down and make a guest list for his party (his birthday is in 30 days). I obliged with a smile, but deep down the thought of another party right now makes my stomach hurt. :) Then I began the RSVPs for this week's birthdays...4 in all for the week! (I secretly calculated that everyone must have mating season between Thanksgiving and many late July/August birthdays. Two of my kids were born during this time of year. :) ) Then I decided to go ahead and line up some fun play dates for the week since we start school on the 13th. So I did that while cleaning the kitchen. Now it is close to lunch time and the baby should be waking up. On to the second half of the day. With the Lord's strength and the wonderful thoughts of my happy little birthday boy from yesterday, I am going back now to face the music. Have a great day!