Thursday, February 28, 2008

Projects, projects everywhere

Wherever you cast your eyes, there is no spot in the universe wherein you cannot discern at least some sparks of glory." ~John Calvin

Jaybird studied Abe Lincoln and created his own edible log cabin with his Daddy.

Toot and I did a science unit on sound and music. He is learning about pitch. Lydie creates a masterpiece on her own body.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Warm memories and cold weather

Today was an unusually cold day for the South. The weather put me in the mood for Christmas music. I find it sad that Christmas comes so early in the winter. I wish it were later in winter as it would surely be a nice pick-me-up from the winter blahs. So, on very cold days I play Christmas music. Today, we ate pizza rolls, yogurt and carrot sticks with a friend as we listened to Nat King Cole.

The cold weather also makes me want to bake something warm and yummy. So I used our ripe bananas to make banana bread. I love making bread because the swishy swirl of the sifter reminds me of warm, happy times at my Nana's house. I can almost feel and see her hands on top of mind swirling the handle round and round. She loved to bake and sew and garden; I guess she loved to create. She was the perfect combination of cultured and home-grown. As I remember her hands, there was always a little scrape or cut from gardening or cooking. She had deep grooves in her fingernails, which I inherited. Her fingernails were always painted, but also could sometimes be found with dirt underneath. Her hands were petite and she never got used to her age spots. Her hands were familiar with hand-holding and hard work. I loved the soul attached to those hands so much! I think of her so often as my daughter is her namesake. Even on a grey, cold, wintery day (my least favorite kind of day), the memories of her love warm our home.

"The family is one of nature's masterpieces." ~George Santayana

Monday, February 25, 2008

The faith of a child

Yesterday at the dinner table, Jaybird said, "I would really like for us to live out in the country one day." I said, "Really? Why would you like that?" His reply both shocked and thrilled me. "Well, you see, I would have a secret place for just "Toot" (little brother) and I. It would be at the top of a hill. Daddy could make three wooden crosses. And I would make a wooden sign that said in big letters, "BECAUSE HE DIED FOR ME..." It would be a special place for "Toot" and I to pray and worship God together."

Dear Lord, help me to save my very best treasures and times for you. Help me to have the faith of my little boy. Thank you for sharing his life with me.
*Pictured above: Jaybird a couple of years ago

Friday, February 22, 2008

Heart strings

When I was a little girl, I loved being in the spotlight. I always sat on the front row during class. When a question was asked, even if I did not know the answer, I would raise my hand high and grunt or say, "Oh, oh, oh!" From preschool up to college I was obsessed with dancing and lived for the performances. I entered my high school's beauty pageant three of the four years. I did not enter because I thought I was pretty, but because I loved the excitement and warmth of being under the stage lights. I was at home there. I was an extreme extrovert and gained energy and enthusiasm and creativity from being around others.
After I got married, my desire to be seen and heard all of the time subdued with age. I still enjoy being the emcee or event coordinator for little events, I enjoy striking up conversations with complete strangers, and I even love those silly ice-breaker games at parties than no one else seems to enjoy. But I am equally happy listening, thinking and not being recognized. Many of my favorite past times require no one else. My husband, who used to be an extreme introvert, has rubbed off on me and we
have some how met right in the middle.
So it should come as no great shock that I now have a child who reflects my own personality. If one becomes a parent of a handful, eventually I think most people find one of their children to be a mirror into their own soul. God just seems to work it out this way, as I see it. This little being will bring out the heights of joy and the depths of frustration. She will receive no more love, because sometimes the other children who are so mysterious and interestingly different will actually be easier to love and because all three have my heart completely. But there is a unique heart string connection. That is what I have with my Lydie. She is me in so many ways.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy days

Thanks for the encouragement with our homeschooling decision. This week has confirmed our decision, as it has been an incredible week together for our family. Monday was a school holiday and Tuesday we had another day off due to a teacher training day. We were encouraged to make Tuesday a mercy project day as a family. Our family chose to use coupons and $20 to see how much food we could buy for the local food pantry.
Jaybird rides in the cart to take a break from the mental math required when using coupons (with no calculator)

We had fun just being together. But we especially enjoyed seeing the children carefully choose what they thought other kids would want to have. (For example, see the sugary cereal in the cart below!) My husband lead us in a short, but sweet devotion from Acts regarding feeding/caring for the poor.
Devotion in the car
I hope to do much more mercy ministry as a family when we homeschool this fall! I read this quote and pray that we can nourish our children's souls for the glory of God during these few, quick years that they are under our roof!
Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
~G.K. Chesterton
A day well spent

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Our big news...

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. ~ Barbara Kingsolver
We have recently made a BIG decision for our family! We have decided to leave our school, the best school in the world incidentally, and homeschool. My husband and I have felt like the Lord was calling us to homeschooling all of our children, but we were waiting on His timing. Well, this fall we will be beginning what we hope to be a long journey of homeschooling our three little ones. Jaybird has been at a private school for half of kindergarten and will finish first grade there. Starting in the fall our homeschool will have two students and one cheerleader. We are looking forward to it so very much! We almost feel excited to be leaving a great school because it reassures us that God must be calling us to homeschool if we can't shake the desire, even in the very best environment! If you have any advice, please share!

For those of you that homeschool, here is the curriculum that we have chosen:
Tapestry of Grace (history, Bible, church history, drawing, art, literature, geography)
Explode the Code
Saxon Math
Life Science Units
Shurley Grammar
Institute for Excellence in Writing and Spelling
The Harp and Laurel Wreath Poetry
Classical Kids music
Nature and Artist studies from amblesideonline

All this requires only 4 hours a day! Hopefully we will have time for some special trips, mercy opportunities and lots of play time outside!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Top 10 on Valentine's

Ten things that fill me with love this Valentine's Day:
  1. Last night after two full days in bed with a virus I emerged for dinner. My husband was telling me of a "mess-up" with his company and how he would have to make it right by losing some money. Without a pause, my oldest son offered him the $5 he had just gotten in the mail hours earlier from Mimi as a Valentine's present. Selflessness beyond his years.

  2. My youngest son quietly patting my hair this morning and and saying, "Well, it's Valentine's Day. I love you, Mom." Quiet innocence and joy.

  3. My little girl in her Valentine's dress and her signature purse on her arm. Strong and beautiful.

  4. This amazing love note my husband wrote with the roses. Praise God for giving my husband boundless love for the Father and us! I am amazed at how my love for this man just grows and grows.

  5. Our family that is always ready to serve and encourage us. When I looked out the window as my Mom arrived today I almost ran to greet her. She is an excellent mother.

  6. The priveledge of being able to rest when I am sick. My husband drops everything to take care of our children. His job at home has required some financial sacrifice, but fewer things pale in comparison to the strong bonds that have been forged under this roof!

  7. A phone call from a friend today. My best friend Liz. We have been fashioned in very, very different ways. But I always feel closer to the Lord after spending time with her, and she always, always encourages me.

  8. Time alone this week, albeit with fever and chills, to rethink what really matters in this life. After reading "Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God" my perspective has been forever altered. A few, select books have the power to change lives forever. Thank you, God, for putting this book in my path and never leaving me the same way. Change is hard, sometimes painful, but so necessary in this process of sanctification!

  9. Time alone this week to see that I am missing absolutely nothing by not turning on the television. As I am scrabbling through laundry, reading books, trying to enjoy HotWheels, and pushing a baby on a swing, sometimes I dream of plopping myself on the sofa and tuning the children out with the television. Well, now I know first hand, the only thing between 9-5 on television that offers any usable, productive knowledge is the History Channel and Animal Planet. Really, the trash on television almost sent me into a depression.

  10. I am still amazed that the God of Moses and Isaac, the One I have read about this year in my attempt to read the Bible start to finish, is my God. The One who is holier than holy and had to set out so many rules my head can't fathom the Jewish life of ancient times, THAT God sent Jesus to cover me in His holiness and give me freedom in Christ. This is the God I serve! This is the One who now calls me friend! THAT God that wiped out civilizations because of His demand for holiness, he calls me daughter. I am amazed at the LOVE STORY that is weaved in every page of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. This Valentine's day, I bow down and worship the Lover of my Soul!
Happy Valentine's day!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


On Fridays at Jaybird's school, the first and second grade classes have "Enrichment Days". On these days, the parents teach. Every Mom is required to teach three times a year, and Dads are required to teach (or assist) twice a year. There is always two parents team teaching together. On these days, the entire day is devoted to a science unit. (Science is not taught throughout the week, as first and second grade is only a half day. They teach the basics, plus art, art studies, nature studies, and usually a literature unit during the other school days.)
For the past two Fridays, as well as this Friday, my husband and I are the teachers. We signed up for the animal lessons. We have had great fun doing art projects, teaching facts, reading books, playing games, eating snacks, and even enjoying a speaker who brought in real animals. Jaybird's class has 7 children, and they are immensely excited about learning and self-controlled. What a joy! My husband majored in wildlife biology and loves to talk about animals with kids, or any one who is willing to listen. One of the funny highlights of our lessons was when he taught about the products we enjoy that are made from animals...belts, food, etc. He threw in a little lesson on animal poop and all of its many values in farming. The kids loved that information, of course. Here are a few pictures of our class with the other first and second graders enjoying the speaker and her animals.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Three things

Three things that I am excited about today:

  1. This art project. This is on my fun-things-to-do-in-March list. Can't wait to start! Between now and then I should be able to collect enough Michael's and JoAnn's 50% off coupons to get the canvas, paper punch and glue dots on sale. It should be a cheap, beautiful addition to a blank corner in our home. Maybe I should set a think I can do this project with $15?

  2. This post by my dear, wise friend. Go read may need to grab a kleenex if you have had a rough day as a mom or it may just fire you up! But either way, it is beautifully written and a good reminder of our ministries as moms.

  3. My new coupon system that has enabled me to save $50 a week on groceries (I spent $87 this week, which included 6 dinners, 7 breakfasts and lunches, snacks, toiletries and diapers, not to mention a month's supply of vitamins for the entire family!). Here's the most inspiring part of Stephanie's passion, she created the website in order to give moms a way to cut out hunger in our country. I heard her speak in person and she is PASSIONATE! So I have chosen to start with 10 of those dollars that I am saving to buy items for our local homeless shelter. Let me tell ya, $10 with this lady's coupon savvy advice will provide a LOT of food!

Question: Why do toddlers smile like this when they see a camera? Why, oh, why? The baby started this at around 13 months old. Granted, she has chocolate cake all over her face. But this could have been an interesting picture. Just look at that silly fake smile! Sometimes she actually poses with her head cocked and hand under her chin...with this smile. I'll say, "Relax, just relax, sweetie." But that just leads to this squinty eyes!?! The second picture is man imitating her. Of course, this time she smiled normally and he is striking a pose alone. So funny.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A late recap of my fun weekend

This past weekend blessed me so much. It was our annual Women's Retreat at church. This event has been long anticipated by our Women's Ministry coordinators. I have enjoyed praying and watching God work out the details. For example, the money for the retreat was due right after Christmas. For this reason, low attendance was feared. We decided to pray for big numbers and God delivered. Ninety women of all ages attended our retreat. This was nearly half the women in our church! Wow! Here are some of the ladies at church that I love deeply! Somehow I left out my best friend. She's the only one that I didn't photograph, probably because she is always busy looking out for everyone else.
My friends (the one on the right happens to be my mother-in-law)
Two new, precious friends

Two ladies who have inspired me as a mom, and that's me on the right

These faces are what make me passionate about ministry out from under this roof. To see these women encouraged and strong in their faith fuels my fire!

Great friends and moms of my boys' friends

Sweet ladies

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lemons to lemonade

Psalm 65:8-10
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
You greatly enrich it;
The stream of God is full of water;
You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.
You water its furrows abundantly,
You settle its ridges,
You soften it with showers,
You bless its growth.