Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pinch me...

Today was a dreamy Sunday. Thank the Lord for pick-me-up days like this! To my delight I had a full hour to get dressed for church, alone, with the door locked. I actually primped. When I emerged, all three of the children were bathed and dressed. I took the boys to church and my man stayed home with the baby to give her one more day to get over the virus. When we came home, my man had grilled and lunch was waiting. That man never ceases to amaze me! After lunch, we all strolled down to the neighborhood lake. The kids played on the playground, strolled around the lake, fed the ducks and visited a friend. It was quiet and sweet. Sigh. Later, I had the time to go for a jog all by myself. I had so much quiet time today I actually ran out of things to pray for. Crazy, I know. Now, all three kids are tucked in. I am getting ready to sip a Diet Coke and watch a TV show. So this is what it feels like to have a real Sabbath. Rest, worship, cuddles. Wow, I think we should do this more often. (Sadly, we are usually busy at our church small group on Sunday afternoons and evenings. :) )

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The virus has spread...

Five low points from the day: :)

1. Cleaning vomit off of the floor in the meat department of Kroger, fast and feverishly, as people steered their carts quickly in the other direction.

2. Cleaning vomit off of the sink in Kroger.

3. Staring at vomit clumps in the sink and wondering what in the world to do? My children have never vomitted in public!

4. Watching Lydie bug vomit for the first time. The poor sweetheart looked confused and beside herself with fear.

5. And the lowest point, which you shouldn't read if you are weak in the stomach or not a mom, is when I stared back into the sink and did what any panic-stricken mom would do in such a situation, I used my BARE hands and shoved those little clumps down the drain. Then I scoured the sink with paper towels and soap. Then I scoured my hands and her hands, legs and face with soap and paper towels. Then I stripped her down to her diaper. Then I left. Then she threw up in the carpool line...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My cycle of lonliness

About every couple of months I have a day or two when I feel lonely. Not just a little out of touch, but deep down lonliness. It is usually sparked by the brush-off of a friend or most commonly when I feel like my husband is too busy for me. It sounds really silly and a little pathetic, in retrospect. This sensitivity is one of the worst aspects of being an extreme extrovert.

This morning I woke up feeling this morose lonliness. After dropping Jaybird off in carpool, I decided to head north to the outlet malls to make some exchanges. The outlet malls are an hour away, and Jaybird is only in school 3 hours, 15 minutes. As irrational as a trip this far away during our time frame seemed, I needed the quiet time in the car, so I popped in a Baby Einstein movie and we were on our way.

The car ride was quiet and beautiful. As I sulked and prayed, God tenderly revealed the paradox of my own heart. I realized that my "lonely funks" are almost always paralleled with an absence of time with God. I felt like the Lord allowed me to feel this way because He wanted to reveal His own desire that I spend time with Him. When I don't have time with my closest friends, particularly my husband, I quickly feel disconnected and eventually neglected and sad. Although I am not foolish enough to think that my absence causes God to be lonely, I do know that He laments my spiritual independence and it saddens Him. So many stories in the Bible reveal this aspect of His character. For example, in the story of Noah and the flood, Genesis says that no one revered God and He was grieved that He made man. Of course, this is only one example of this theme that runs through out the Bible. The Bible, after all, is the beautiful love story of God and His bride and that He gave His life for Her in the midst of her "spiritual adultery".

As my ride came to an end, I had travelled the spectrum from self-pity to conviction. And as I remembered that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, the conviction gently and lovingly lead to repentance by the Spirit. Once again, the Lord graciously drew me back into His arms and away from myself. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times...His grace really is amazing.
"But God proved His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A mover and shaker

I forgot to mention that my girl started walking last week. She took her first steps weeks ago and then last week decided she would be upright permanently. It was so cute to watch her toddle around at her first birthday party. We have another out world!
(Trying hard to honor the promise to my man not to post pics of the kids. This doesn't count, does it? I figure I can creatively find pictures of them that don't reveal their faces!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Her first birthday

I wish I could post pictures of the birthday girl!!!
The birthday party for our little lady was very sweet. As Toot was running a fever on Thursday and she is cutting four molars, I was not expecting the best moods from the children. But to my surprise, everyone was healthy and had a ball. We enjoyed having our family all together at our house more than words could express. What fun!

I haven't had the bittersweet little cry that I usually have when my children turn one. I am waiting still for it to hit me that we have no little baby any more. But I have thought a little about how this little girl has impacted our family. Lydie has at times been a complete mystery and also at times felt like a little mirror looking into my own heart and soul. She has brought laughter and joy and exhaustion all at once. Her determination, femininity and intelligence are so amazing and beautiful. She is like a little ten year old trapped in a one year old baby's body. My man and I got a good laugh when she at first rejected her birthday cake. I knew just what to do...go and get a fork. After all, she is 12 months old, she seems to say. With the help of the fork and her cousin, she took a liking to it. She imitates everything that I do...combing her hair, putting my keys in the door lock, rubbing her hands together when we approach a sink, washing her hair, etc. She is very slow to show affection, making her loved ones work hard to win her over. But once she loves you, she loves passionately and deeply flooding her loved one with hugs and kisses and words that she is sure you can understand. She studies people and her surroundings, staring intently. She seems to have every stereotypical girl trait. She is emotional, she loves new clothes and shoes (she said, "OOOOoooo!" as she opened presents with clothing), she loves pretend, and even loves to be dressed up. When she holds her bears or baby dolls and I say, "Rock your baby! Love the baby!", she rocks and squeezes and kisses them affectionately. And she has her Mama's interest in people, waving and saying, "Hi!" to each stranger that we pass in public. She is complicated and strong and lovely and petite, all at once. I could not have chosen a more amazing daughter and I adore her, completely.

Some days, I wake up and still can't believe that we have a daughter and two beautiful boys. All I can say is, Thank you , Jesus! I feel so deeply thankful and honored for the priviledge of parenting His children. I pray that my inability and emptiness and ignorance as a Mama will send me to the fullness and abundant love and grace that only He offers. Happy birthday, Lydie bug!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another craft

I am planning for our last birthday party until next summer. (This is our last kid birthday party until next summer, in case you feel like all I ever do is plan parties!) My precious baby will be one year old tomorrow. I wanted to find a way to "walk down memory lane" with our family at her party. So I got a picture from each month of her life. Then I "backed" the pictures like I do when I am scrapbooking. And then I glued the month at top with a little lady bug sticker. Then a taped each picture to a baby food jar. I am going to put white gerber daisies, if they come in white, or sunflowers in each jar and use them for centerpieces.

Here's a few...

and the others...

One up close...

And the back. Now, I guess I need to move on to more important things like a birthday cake and food. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My bedroom make-over

I posted a while back on my bedroom make-over. See this post for before pictures of the ugliest bedroom in America. Here's my attempt at improvement. The modern art above the bed is very "unlike" me. But I saw it set aside in a check-out aisle. Someone changed their mind last minute. Jaybird pointed it out and I thought it was perfect.

This picture probably captures the blue paint most accurately. It has a good bit of grey in its tone. My precious man painted the room for me as an anniversary present. The curtains are new as well. (Target) This is the little spot in our little room where I blog.
This is a better picture of my new bed! I spent almost 1/2 of my paycheck from this summer. (I wrote 7 science units for Jaybird's school. ) It felt very odd spending around $500, a BIG splurge for me. But God gave Andy and me a perfect peace about this purchase. One week later we saw God's hand. We had a teacher from Jaybird's school in desperate need for furniture for a loved one. We were able to give her our old bedroom set. We had a good cry together over God's providence.

This chest-of-drawers is the only piece of furniture in our bedroom that holds clothing. I bought lots of metal shelving and plastic storage for our walk-in closet. Most of our clothes are in there now. We have always wanted a sleigh bed and the space was an easy trade for the opportunity to buy quality furniture first hand.Our bedroom door used to have furniture behind it. You could only open the door half way. LOVE the open space.
These pictures are not very clear (as usual I waited until after dark to take pictures and the lighting is not good). But this is a repainted end table. These lamps are not new, but I do love them. They are probably the only thing from our bedroom that I liked. The lamps are polished silver and the shades have big polka dots.

That's all so far! I have an oil painting that needs to be stretched into a frame. (Has any one done this before? I am thinking of giving it a try. It costs $60 at Michael's with a coupon. How hard could it be? We have a staple gun and cardboard. Am I being naive here?) And I need to hang curtains on the other window. Then voile, project complete.

The baby's birthday dress

A completed project! Wow, that's a new concept around here lately! Why am I posting at 3:33 am? Because the kids and I spent 3 hours at the mall looking for a party dress for the baby with lady bugs to match her birthday theme. We were not successful. So I went back to my original plan, the only available time to sew I am so thankful that we did not buy her a dress at the mall. We had a fun day together and we actually love the mall (carousel, food court, cookie company, playground, what fun!). And now she has a special keepsake.
This dress is a pillow case dress. It is easy to make, as easy as sewing can be. (My friend told me it would take 30 minutes. Including the ribbon and rick rack it took me an hour and a half. But this is only my second dress to make.) It can be worn with tights and a turtle neck in the fall/winter and all by itself in the hot summer.

This picture is so blurry. Sorry! I drew on a piece of paper my idea for the monogrammer. I will drop it off tomorrow and have the black dots monogrammed in a circle with her initials (which of course are not AAA) monogrammed in red. I am excited to see the finished product. If any one likes to sew and would like to make a pillow case dress, let me know and I will post instructions.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Grace for the weary

Today was an awful day for me. I battled feelings of being overwhelmed and discontent all day. And then a simple filling at the dentist for Jaybird turned in to an extraction. He handled it beautifully. But it was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I could feel the self-pity setting in. I began to question God with, "I am trying to honor you. Why do the circumstances feel so difficult?" I won't go into each thing that is burdensome, but I will admit that I was struggling physically, emotionally and spiritually today. Then tonight I read the following excerpt from another blog. The author will be admitted into the hospital tomorrow to deliver her daughter that is diagnosed with trisomy-18. (The same diagnosis as Eliot if you were familiar with his story). Any way, although her circumstances are full of much deeper pain and much more difficult trials, her words rang true with my own emotions. I was blessed by her words so much. I am praying for her tonight, as well as the Lord's gracious hand in giving us all a new day tomorrow filled with abundant grace.

And sometimes the only way to receive grace, and to really understand what you're accepting (that you are responsible for exactly 0% of what God fully accomplished in saving you), is to be broken. Broken enough that you can't hold onto anything except Jesus' hand when He stretches it out.This season has broken me. It breaks me daily. Someone recently told me that going through an experience like this will leave you with a "limp" - that I can expect to never feel totally "put together" again. They weren't referring to emotions, I don't think. They didn't mean I'd be a constant wreck for years to come. I think they simply meant that the Lord will allow me to incur a wound that, while He may heal it, will leave a scar I will never be able to forget - certainly not cover up. I know the Father uses the weak; the stories of Jesus healing the crippled in the New Testament reveal, over and over again, God's heart for the lame. Irregardless, I don't want to be included in that demographic; I'd rather be 'whole' in the eyes of the world, whole by the standards that I know to be real here in this life. And so Jesus understood - knew from the beginning of time - that I'd need to be reminded that in my weakness, He is made strong. It is in the things the world calls foolish and insignificant that He reveals His glory. May His strength swallow up my frailty, His joy my sorrow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My treasure trove

2 toys for the baby
2 shirts, 2 vests and three pants for Jaybird

6 dresses, one pair of shoes, one sweater and two pants for the baby (I hardly ever buy her pants, but these two are so cute! The khaki has red apples sew in. The jeans has a pink ribbon and bow around the waist band!

Two new diaper bags. ($3 a piece!) See how the black and white has a monogram? I can take off the J and D and keep the L for the baby!
6 shirts, one dressy outfit, one vest, one jacket and three pants for Toot

Two movies
Two books

2 games for the boys (we already played both after dinner:) )
I spent $140 at the preview consignment sale. I bought more than I planned (only planned on spending $100), but I am happy with my stash. Almost all of the clothing is Talbots, Gap, Gymboree, Old Navy or Children's Place. My most expensive item was $6.00, but most were around $3.00. Have I sold you on consignment sales yet? :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

A much needed surprise

Twice a year I clean, iron and tag all of the children's used clothes from the previous year and send them to a local church for a consignment sale. It is a LOT of hard work to make them look their best, but I make enough money this way to buy the next season's clothes. (Usually $300-$400) Well, this week is consignment week. Last night I stayed up until 2 am tagging clothing and making an inventory sheet. This week will be tedious and I will get little sleep. The two times a year that I commit my self to this seeming insanity, I am challenged in every way. I begin to beg God for little sweet ways of showing me His hand amidst the mess and work. This morning it was a beautiful sunrise that drew me closer to him. And this afternoon, it was a college student from our church. He is the nicest guy that my husband and I both adore. We have had him over to our house many times this past year and he and my husband go to a local pub several nights a month. He is like a younger brother to me. Well, tonight he came to help our family out at the last minute. I have a meeting and we realized it is our family's night to help out at the homeless shelter. (Just mentioning homeless shelter makes us sound so pious. We would probably never have the gumption to seek out this opportunity on our own. A friend at church organizes it all, and we just pick up food and serve. Just thought I would mention that as I read over it and see that it paints a picture of us that is inaccurate. We only serve there two or three times a year.) Anyway, our friend Peter is taking my place. As they were getting ready to leave the Lord blessed me through this dear friend. They called me into the kitchen and my husband said, "Okay, what's the plan again for tonight?" I knew something was fishy because he doesn't need a plan, being the free spirit of our family. As I was questioning him, I turned around and saw these on our table, snuck in by Peter. It was so encouraging I almost cried:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A homeschooler's P.E. class

When we decided to downsize our home last summer, we looked at house after house with much discouragement. When all was said and done, we were looking for a house that was $100,000 less than the amount we were asking for the house in which we were living. That's a big number. We needed at least 3 bedrooms, as I was pregnant with our third child, and we needed a basement for my man's office. Other than that, we could only dream. We were under a major time crunch to find a house. Through the Lord's caring hand, we "chanced" upon our house. It appears small from the front, but has plenty of room. But the part of our house that is an extraordinary blessing is our property. We moved from a brand new house on a 1/4 acre lot, to this much larger lot. I was thinking of what a tremendous blessing we have enjoyed in our yard. I laughed today as I was jumping on the trampoline with Toot. I told him he had the very best PE class, in my opinion. :) It is all found within the confines of our yard. Most of it is merely enjoying God's creation. Here is what it looks like:

Ya'll, if you have the chance to own a pool, give it a whirl! The previous owner installed ours. It added no value to the house. We paid the exact same amount for our house as any other house this size without a pool. It costs $600-$700 a year to maintain. But we just opt out of pool membership with the neighborhood and are not at a loss. We saved at least $300 in free entertainment for parties in the past year with our pool.
My parents gave this trampoline to the boys as a joint birthday present. I LOVE it! We played together on it for an hour today. Aerobic exercise today? Check!
Our balance beam.
The view from the trampoline to the house. The trampoline is in the bottom corner of the fenced area of the yard. The unfenced area has a little creek that I was too lazy to photograph. See our little white house in the upper left corner? And the boys still play on the swing set every day. They still love to swing and slide. Does that every get old?
And that's where the kids get their daily work outs. No fancy equipment, no fitness awards, but we have so much fun!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Toot's homeschool update

Well, we have had 3 weeks of homeschool with Toot. I am enjoying my time with him very much. Although, I am struggling in feeling a little like I am suffocating. I don't want to paint the picture of Mary Poppins around here. I usually do not get one minute alone until everyone is in bed. The baby is very needy, naturally. During her morning nap I homeschool Toot, and her afternoon nap is spent with #1 and sometimes Toot as well. Many leftover chores that did not get done are being attended to after the kids go to bed. Some days that is perfectly fine, and some days (like today), I struggle in many ways. Having said that, here's what our homeschool has looked like so far.
The first week, we eased in to each subject. Beginning week 2 we studied math, reading, writing, phonics and our unit study. (We do our devotion and memory at breakfast with #1.) I am about to post a ton of pictures, but we honestly did not spend over 1 hour, 15 minutes on 3 days a week doing school work. It's amazing what can be accomplished one-on-one! Here is what we are using for the main subjects:

This is the School Rite writing exercise. It is basically tracing, but helps them to follow the correct pattern and direction as they print. It is great for Toot as he is left-handed and wants to make strokes backwards.
A cheap easy way to practice writing. He loves it and always does more pages than asked.

We are doing kindergarten Horizons math, even though he will not be in kindergarten until next year. I am only hoping to do half of the lessons.
We are reviewing phonics with Phonics Pathways. I always add in games, I get easily bored with most reading/phonics curriculums. And I didn't use a really creative one like Veritas Press' Phonics Museum, which is incredible, because I only wanted to have a 20 minute dose a day. The letters in the bag we used this week for an alphabet soup game.

We used this poster and bookworm game to review reading three letter words. We have also read many of the Abeka "I Can Read" readers and Bob books.

To practice fine motor skills, he has around 20 minutes at the beginning of our lessons to play with things like this:

Our first unit was on the farm. I bought these five books for our home library from Amazon. They are paper back and I paid $5-$6 a piece for them, including shipping. Books are always worth the investment for me. My favorite was Have You Seen My Duckling?. By the end of the book we had to run down to Daddy's office and ask him for his bird guide to determine two of the birds in the book. This book has very few words, you and your little ones can basically create the story as you go along. I LOVE books like this! I tried to stick to one book each day that covered a specific farm animal, and then follow up with a craft. Here is what we read:

Here are our art projects: Toot built a barn out of blocks
I printed the pig from the internet. He cut, colored and painted mud.
He drew a duck, lilly pad and nest and added a feather.

He did a chalk drawing of a pig and clouds.

For the cows, we looked on the computer at these websites:

We also, did a drawing each day. He drew himself, a flower, and an elephant. He narrated a three sentence story for each one. He is learning the beginning stages of creative writing: to identify the beginning, middle and end of a story.

Tomorrow we are wrapping up our farm study with a trip to a real dairy farm. We will get to see the farmers and machines milk cows, watch the sheep dogs herd the cows, see their stalls, and see the process of the milk being pasturized and sent to the dairy. I think the book Milk Makers pictured above was a perfect preparation. We will also see many other farm animals. And the baby will be home, so it will be a rare day of giving Toot my undivided attention. I am very excited! I would highly recommend this unit to you if you are homeschooling 4-7 year olds. Think you know all their is to know about the farm? I learned a lot! It was fun!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Sunday message

I heard a wonderful message at church today. The topic was stewardship, not a popular topic considering most people cringe when money is mentioned within the four walls of a church. I know I have been guilty of cringing many times. Today was not one of those times. The main point of the sermon was the difference between stewardship and ownership involving our possessions. I was gripped by the truth that was presented to me! The idea is that stewardship is believing that everything we have (money as well as children, time, gifts, energy, talents) is fully and completely the Lord's. Ownership is believing that we own these things. I think that if I am honest with myself, I usually have an attitude somewhere in the middle. My thoughts sound something like this, "Lord I want to honor YOU with MY stuff." Wrong! My money and my children (the two things I like to hoard) were never mine to begin with. The Lord has given my husband his health, talents and success which lead to the pay check. And of course, our children have come from Him. Our pastor made an interesting statement regarding this truth. Humbly, he admitted that "his mind was orthodox, his heart was a heretic". In other words, he believes this truth in theory but struggles to live it out. Our pastor is one of the most transparent, honest men I have ever met regarding his sin. He obviously cares more about reaching people for Christ and with the grace of the gospel than what people think about him. I long to be that way, seeing little signs of progress here and there.
This sermon has prompted me to search my own heart for materialism and to look at money differently. Maybe I'll write more as God leads...