Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just not sure...

We have been adding much needed lighting in our house this past month. We used the rest of our Christmas money and added recessed lights to the family room and kitchen, and new chandeliers in the kitchen and foyer. The foyer chandelier was outdated and just needed to be replaced.Remember this great yard sale bargain? (I took a picture of it turned on and off. I like it a lot better turned off! I know, I am so impractical!) Two friends predicted that it would never leave our house...and they were right! It is simple and a good fit for the foyer.But the kitchen lighting...I love the recessed lights. There are four, and who knew four little round lights could add so much warmth? I like this black chandelier, and black is definitely the color I am looking for. But the globes (is that what they are called?). I'm not so sure about them! My husband thinks they look old-fashioned, in a bad way. He actually said, "I think my Grandmother had these in her house in the 70s." I think they look sweet and fun and cute, in a cottage-y way. What do you think? The original globes that came with this chandelier were modern, big, round and had a frosty-swirly pattern. I like solid white or clear. Frosty or twirly frosty are not my thing for this house. So, should I try again with the globes or are they a good fit? I am a straight-shooter, so let me have it! Don't worry, if you hate my choice it will not hurt my feelings!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sweet treats

Tonight as I read from the computer, Lydie sat in my lap facing me. She is entertained with a Mason jar and jingly items dropping in and out. Our house is so peaceful tonight. I can hear the boys pretending to be knights. The dishwasher and soft music from the kitchen are the only other sounds in the house. I have an Amazon box waiting to be opened with two new, challenging books. I have a brownie and a cup of coffee on the endtable for dessert. Sweet little treats are all around me!
Lydie is practicing a plethora of new words that she has added to her expanding vocabulary this month. She sees a baby. She says, "Ba-ba!" And I agree and ask, "Are you my baby?" And she says, "No!" "Are you my big girl?" She nods her head yes and says, "Oh!" She then points and squeals, "Dog-dog!" "Da-da!" "More" Then she tries to touch the computer mouse. When I reprimand her she says, "Me?" And then she whines and grabs her doll. She starts to walk away, and then she smiles over her shoulder and says, "Doll-doll!"
Our life is flying along. We decided to measure the children's heights just recently. They had all grown 1-2 inches since October, with Toot leading the pack at a full 2" of growth in 3 months! Another sign that time just won't stand still. Our Jaybird is also growing by leaps, but more so in his little mind. His theological discussions still fill us with wonder and joy. Tonight at dinner we discussed how God is omniscient. He seemed to understand the concept (as well as a human mind is able), and most assuredly will remember his new vocabulary word. Can't wait to see where that word spills out into conversation. And Toot is thriving as well. This year at home has been just right for him. Not only is he reading at a second grade level (and words have never been his gift, he's a numbers kinda guy), but his little love tank overflows. Praise God for all of these gifts in our life!
I have just been persuaded by the baby to get off of the computer as she walked in my room and said, "All-du(done)!" But one last thought...I have been very convicted with purposefully discipling my children and what that needs to look like in our home. Discipleship as a parent...I'm mulling over it and will hopefully write more on that later...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Transportation unit

I posted at the beginning of the year some ideas for a farm unit with preschoolers. I was not sure if there is an interest, so I haven't posted any other units from my homeschool plans with Toot. But we just enjoyed a 2 week transportation unit very much. If you have a child that is 3,4 or 5 and interested in "things that go", you may find it useful.
About our "school"...We do about 15 minutes each of writing, reading and math. We have devotions and memory work as a family. The boys have a sports gym class and we listen to every kind of music from the library. For Toot's read-alouds I am following the recommendations on the Charlotte Mason ambleside website. Other than that, we do these little units. They incorporate science, a little history, poetry and art projects. **If you have general art supplies and car and train toys around the house, this unit will cost you nothing! Even the field trip is free of charge! So, here's our transportation unit.

Day 1- Define the word transportation
Play an "I'm thinking of a type of transportation that..." guessing game
Introduce our poem for the unit: Truck Tunes by Bobbi Katz
Read aloud: Going by Plane (Susan Ashley)
Project: make paper airplanes and test them on the porch (The Paper Airplane Book)Day 2-Review from day 1
Share Look Inside: Cross Sections Trains and discuss different types of trains
Read aloud: Trains (Gail Gibbons)
Project: play with wooden trains together and listen to The Caboose Who Got Loose on audio tapeDay 3-Review
Read aloud: Cars (Hal Rogers)
Project:Tracks painting: dip hotwheels or toy tractors in paint and zoom across the paper in patterns
Look under the hood of the car
Day 4-Review
Read aloud: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (Virginia Lee Burton)
Project: Use paper squares, circles and rectangles to create a car/train collage
Day 5- Review
Read aloud: Katy and the Big Snow (Virginia Lee Burton)
Talk about boats and floating
Float/sink different types of objects in the kitchen sink

Day 6- Review
In My Neighborhood: Fire Fighters (Paulette Bourgeois)
Field trip: local fire station

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Budget-friendly gifts

If you are ever in need of a nice gift for a friend who needs encouragement, I recommend Trader Joe's if there is one nearby. Yesterday, with my own children and two extra friends in tote I bought this little potted rose and chocolate bar for under $5. It was so affordable that I grabbed an extra potted rose (under $3) for another friend. And Trader Joe's is very kid friendly, with miniature carts and balloons. This gift was exactly what I wanted and within my budget!

Friday, January 25, 2008


As I shared earlier this week, we are watching many friends suffer. I am so thankful to say, that we are also seeing great things accomplished in their suffering. The friend that had the double mastectomy is recovering amazingly. Her family's faith is being tested...and strengthened, as is many people who are witnessing their experience. The family that lost the baby through the tragic drowning is also a testimony of faith. The Dad spent 30 minutes testifying of God's love and faith at his son's funeral. He pleaded with the thousands attending to come to faith in Christ, and felt deeply that God used his son to bring many to Him. I am uplifted at these great acts of courage and faith. Only the living God can produce these outcomes. Praise God!

"Delayed hope makes one sick at heart, but a fulfilled longing is a tree of life."
Proverbs 13:12

A new little project. I have wanted a blackboard for a while, and now having my "word" has inspired me. This one was less than $3 at Walmart. I added the ribbon and buttons from the craft closet and it found the perfect home on the baker's rack!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Facing the storm

It has been observed that if our lives were only sunshine, they would be a desert."
Tim Hansel

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dizzying darkness

Today I spent some time talking with a couple of friends, sharing war wounds and prayer requests, sipping up refreshment. I spoke of my friend whose husband's affair was just unapologetically unveiled, a hometown hero whose little toddling boy drowned in the family pool, a person very close to me dealing with addiction, a church member in the midst of surgery facing a double mastectomy. The darkness of this world was swirling around me, almost making life dizzy today. So much brokenness in the lives around me. Carrying these burdens, sharing them hand
in hand or through prayer, can feel almost unbearable. The thankfulness I feel for healthy bodies and relationships is not enough relief. I remember these prayers swirling around in my mind and on my heart today and feeling like I needed to cry out.

It is times like this that I am so deeply grateful that I am not made to be alone. Tonight the house is quiet and I have time to meditate on this nagging desire for deep encouragement. I read tonight this quote and my hope began to be renewed.
"Teach us to place our happiness in Thee, the blessed God, never seeking life among the dead things of earth, or asking for that which satisfies the deluded; May we prize the light of Thy smile, implore the joy of Thy salvation, find our heaven in Thee."
Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers

God is so faithful to reveal the marvelous gifts of knowing Him, tasting the grace He has lavished on me through His Son, sending His encouragement through the beauty of His creation and the words of His people. Each day, though marked with sin and sorrow, is so much more full of Hope through the work of His Son. May I not walk around deaf and lame and blind, but with a heart open and waiting and looking for the truth of the gospel that surrounds me!
"For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for that city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." Hebrews 13:14-16

*Pictured above: Toot spells I-L-O-V-E with blocks. He says, "It was gonna say I love you but I ran out of blocks." These children are such blessings to my soul!

Taking flight

To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury

and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy not respectable;

and wealthy not rich;
to study hard, think quietly,

talk gently, act frankly...
to bear all cheerfully...

in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious
grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony."

William Henry Channing

Monday, January 21, 2008

Just what I needed

This weekend my husband chaperoned our church's Winter Youth Conference. Due to exhaustion, bad weather, and the anticipation of lonliness as he has been gone an unusual amount lately, the children and I decided to travel to Mimi and Papa's house for some r & r. I called my husband on the way out of town and said, "I am honestly living beyond myself...and not in a good way." As the baby was also too tired to cope, she had cried at least an hour and a half in the car. I pulled over for ice cream, prayer and a few tears. I have to admit I debated calling my husband, asking him to back out of his commitment, get in his car and come and get us. Thankfully, the ice cream and the break from the car was good for us all. When I picked the baby up to take her inside, shaky and teary, I was encouraged by her little dress. It says, "For I know the plans I have for you." I remembered the rest of the verse, "to prosper you and not to harm you." God's word gave me clarity and the courage to see our trip through. Thankfully, Lydie didn't cry at all the rest of the way. And the weekend only got more peaceful.
Saturday I literally spent the entire day in my pajamas watching the television and playing with the kids when they crossed my path. I had to change positions frequently to avoid numbness! I did get up after dinner for a bubble bath, if that counts for movement! Sunday was also very restful and we enjoyed our time with family. Would you believe I slept 12 HOURS without interruption on Friday night? I could go on, but needless to say, I am physically refreshed. I am so thankful for a break! This parenting gig is not for wimps!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time flies

Lydie bug at 15 months...

A daughter is a mother's gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of herself."
Author unknown

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Spiritual Crisis

About a month ago, I learned of yet another pending divorce that has grieved me deeply. Satan is now enjoying another victory, this time involving the leader of the college ministry with which we were involved. The spiritual attacks I have seen on marriages over the past year are enough to alarm anyone. And I don't intend to continue on without a fight. This year, my husband and I will pray about organizing a marriage retreat for our church. I L-O-V-E our church body, particularly my sisters in Christ, and I have had enough conversations with young women to know that the institutions of Family and Marriage do not look like they used to. I wonder how God will use us; young, busy, but eager? We have read many books on Christian marriage, but have no tangible answers for some of the darkness that we have seen this year. I guess we will begin where we always should, and so often fail to, with prayer. Would you join me in praying for the marriages in your church (most importantly for those in leadership), as well as for those of your close family and friends? It's a wonderful place to start...

"Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray...The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective."
James 5:13-14a, 16b

Friday, January 11, 2008

Scattered and diced (not hashbrowns from Waffle House, but our week)

This week has been engulfed with family, travel and unpredictability. Our "Mimi" arrived for a visit on Monday, only to turn around and follow us back to my hometown the next afternoon. My Grandmom had a stroke Tuesday morning. We spent around 24 hours visiting her, speaking with doctors, and consulting other family members. After seeing for myself that she was improving, and my parents were doing okay, we came home Wednesday night. Thursday was a blur. But fortunately, my husband got back in town, as he had been on a business trip since Monday. And now, it is Friday...right? My Grandmom has been released to in-patient rehabilitation therapy to improve her balance and can not receive visitors for three days, so my Mom is here for the weekend. I spent the entire morning with a friend, as my week was so off kilter that I didn't have any idea what I needed to be doing. (So why not eat a bagel and browse the bookstore with four little ones. Why not?) And we are headed into a weekend that is equally unpredictable.

I wanted to update my "diet" status. I think I lost about 1/2 of a pound this week. Unfortunately, my health seemed fairly insignificant this week and warranted none of my prayer time. But I have still eaten healthy in the midst of the chaos. Puny little update, but I am still focused on my goals.

I am looking forward to the beginning of a new week. This week was purposeful and wonderful in its own rite...but I will welcome a little more normalcy. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My kitchen decision

Yesterday the new Po*tery Barn catalog arrived in the mail. Within three hours, two of my artsy friends called to ask me if I had seen it. I had and was equally excited. With the words "Bold Color" written across the cover, I couldn't wait to scour each page looking for decorating ideas. After 15 minutes, I decided I would spend some of my Christmas money for a must-have. I decided to keep the kitchen yellow and move my baker's rack into the kitchen and buy these plates.

They were 6 for $30 in the catalog. But at the store you could choose the ones you wanted and you buy them individually. So I found a nice splash of color for $15, and saved even more on new paint!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Beauty in the little things

The following bargains are posted not to brag, but to encourage you to not settle for less than your style, even if you are on a shoestring budget. If you are willing to buy second-hand, you can still have color and beauty in your home and wardrobe that you enjoy. It just takes a little more planning (shopping ahead) and time.
Some of my thrifting finds from Christmas and this month have been very exciting. I continue to be amazed and blessed at how the Lord provides. It is no wonder, as He is the creator of color and sound and nature. Of course He cares about the aesthetics... of course He would!These tights were both gifts, one bought and one handed-down. Both just what I would have chosen! The jumper was found at the Thrift Store...$1.79 with 70% off. I paid less than 50 cents for this dress! I invested $6.99 for the monogram. And Nana bought her the most beautiful white shirt to match. All in all, less than $8.00. I plan to use the jumper with a hot pink turtleneck and some tights she has for her Valentine outfit. (The tights are hot pink with red polka dots, another gift from Mimi!) She also wore three Christmas shirts, red overalls, a red skirt, and a smocked green and white check dress during the holiday season...all handed down from family.

Later I will post our desk we sanded and repainted for Jaybird. I forgot to take a picture of the final product.

And here are some recent finds for Lydie:

Some holiday wear, each $1.48. For the Halloween dress, there is time to take the dress to my sister-in-law to de-monogram/re-monogram free of charge! Long story short regarding the pumpkin dress, I eyed this dress for two years in the CWD catalog. I could not justify a $30 purchase on a seasonal dress, only wearable for a month or two. Lo and behold this dress was waiting for me, and a size 2, perfect for the fall!
I even found a treat for myself, an Easter dress...$1.40. What can I say? I LOVE polka dots!

While the joy is not in the "things", there is certainly much to be enjoyed in creating a home full of color, fun and comfort. The desires to maintain beauty and order in our home seem to be deeply ingrained in who I am. I love my role as wife and mother!

Friday, January 04, 2008

A touchy topic

I am always reluctant to talk about weight loss around other women. You never know a person's struggles and it is a sensitive topic. Personally, I have struggled with this area for a long time. I realize that I am an emotional eater. Sometimes this leads to over eating, and some times deprivation. In high school I was a dancer which began a cycle of over-analyzing my body. At my lowest weight I had starved myself into a size 2, and weighed around 110 pounds, which is quite small for a 5'7" frame. I have a vivid memory of our dance instructor pulling out the scales and placing them in the center of the room. Each young girl had to weigh right there, as if standing naked before her peers. The weight was not announced, but noted by on-lookers. Much of how I defined myself back then was by that number.

Years later, I would find myself over eating on occasion for comfort. While not a regular occurrence, I found a good escape for too much stress. We all laugh at the girl in the movie who has just had her heart broken and is tearing into a gallon of chocolate ice cream. Of course, she is the size 2, but still, I can relate.

Now, I am very slow to step into an organized effort to lose weight. While there are many health benefits to losing a little weight, I also know the consequences if taken too far. While I am not considered overweight, and never have been, I could stand to lose a few pounds. I always feel like I need to wait until life is in order and calm so that I can focus on praying over every step and continually asking God for the grace to walk with Him through my weight loss. I have finally excepted the fact that I will never reach THAT place. So here I am, at the foot of the cross, ready to get more healthy.

I began praying more and being more aware of what I eat last Thursday. I have lost 5 1/2 pounds during the first week. I can honestly say that I have eaten healthy and the right proportions. I am at a place in my life, sadly for the first time at 32, that I am not willing to risk disobedience for a smaller waistline. It is a wonderful place to be, daily seeking and struggling. I will try to remember to update my journey every Thursday.

Lord, grant me the grace to obey you in this difficult area. All I have, all I am is yours.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Good conversation

Tonight, around the dinner table, Jaybird made a request (and I quote) "for good conversation". For some reason, I decided to tell the boys about the Taj Mahal. I explained the intracicies of the architecture, the two decades it took to build, the marble, and finally that it was a love offering from a king to his beloved wife.

Jaybird asked a few questions, pensive and interested as usual.

Toot stopped long enough to reply (with food in his mouth), "Mama, if I were a king I would build a palace...just for YOU!" Oh the joys of parenting little boys!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New flooring

The following is my most exciting Christmas present this far. I really had no idea that we would receive anything of great material value. It is so much more exciting to spend money on the grandchildren. And we certainly were content with that, as we decided not to exchange gifts this year. And then, lo and behold Mimi and Papa lavished us with money for house repairs. Thank you, thank you, thank you SO much!

The old...
Ignore, the cute, blurry little guy. Our old flooring was country blue, big, Mexican tiles with the deepest grout this side of the Mississippi. No broom could tackle the crumbs that would get stuck in this grout! This tile= sweeping three times a day on hands and knees to have a clean floor! Needless to say, our floor was not always clean.

In process...Again, ignore the cutie. The only thing less attractive is the laminate under the grout. Butter yellow with blue swirls. Thank you, sweetie, for saving us hundreds by doing all of the installation yourself.

The NEW!!!
The look is so much nicer, but even better, a smooth surface to maintain. This floor will truly bless me and our family every day this year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My Word

Heidi had the challenging idea to find one word to describe our aspirations for the new year. This suits me well, because for the first time ever, I am not recording any new year's resolutions. They would probably sound much like last year and the year before...lose a little weight, have regular date nights with my husband, etc. I have a mental list of what I know I need to do, and in order to avoid being overwhelmed I think that I'll just ask for grace each day to accomplish His goals for me.
So, one word, I can do that. My word is...Courage. I pray most for the courage to listen and obey. Step by step, day by day. To follow through with the dreams and aspirations that God has given me. Faithfully.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.