Thursday, August 28, 2008

Extra cuddles

Last night when I was writing the previous post I heard footsteps as I had just typed the last word. It was Jaybird coming to ask me to "re-tuck him in". He needed an extra cuddle. Thankfully, there was nare a temptation to sigh under my breath or say something heartless and selfish like, "You really should be asleep." I am guilty of both in the past. Instead, with my blogging thoughts in the forefront of my mind I said, "I'm sorry you're having trouble, buddy. It would be a pleasure to come and help." Once he was snuggled with stuffed animals and pillows he looked me square in the eyes and said, "You are absolutely the best Mommy on the planet." I was beaming and full.
Unfortunately, I am not always full of grace and patience, especially on the inside. God is so good to sweep over all of our mistakes in the minds of our little ones and help them remember when we treat them with the love that we should! This week has been a really wonderful week with my crew, in spite of myself. I have really enjoyed learning with the boys. Motherhood has filled me to overflowing this week.
Highlights from a great week:

Nile river boats from our ancient Egypt study in history

Kidnex creatures from "warming up our hands" time. Don't you love the see-saw?

A not-so-edible model of an animal cell

We wanted to fit Five-in-a-Row in somewhere so we decided to read the books and bake something along the theme of the book one afternoon a week after science. This week we read Lentil and made lemonade. Just another great excuse to read together!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Their stories

With our new homeschooling venture, the warmth of our home is more important to me than ever. We spend a lot of time here! I found this new picture at a quaint little store the other day and couldn't resist. When I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or exhausted, I will remind myself that "this is where their story begins". And I am a major, MAJOR character! Even though God is the author, He gives me some control over the plot. What will they remember of my facial expressions, my affection, my words, the activities I choose for us? What beginning chapters will they take into adulthood? Will they leave our home and enter the world already wounded (by us, their parents)?
This is where their story begins...and I have the responsibility (by God's continually grace and guidance alone) to make the setting as beautiful, warm and loving as my mind can imagine. This encompasses their physical, emotional, and spiritual surroundings.
Lord, give me the strength, imagination, grace and love to provide a beautiful setting for the story YOU have chosen for my children! I can give them nothing good apart from You!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Miss priss

"I hope at the end of my life, God and I have more in common than we both love me." Author unknown

This quote came from our pastor's sermon on Sunday. He spoke of the exact topic that I wrote about on my previous post. I was so challenged by all that he said! Isn't it funny to see little Lydie, so young and egocentric, above the quote? "Miss Priss" was one of my Nana's nicknames for me as a child. I can only imagine how very appropriate it was! And now, how can I pass the chance to pass it on to Nana's namesake, my girl? Who knows, maybe Nana was a little prissy herself back in the day. Either way, the pose pictured above is her new favorite!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Opening a little theological can of worms

I've been thinking a lot lately about post-modern thought and its effect on the church. As a thirty-two year old woman, I have been exposed at every turn to the results of postmodernism on Christian thinking. In case you get all the -isms confused, as I do, I referred to good ole wikipedia for a definition of postmodernism. It says, "postmodernism tends to refer to a cultural, intellectual, or artistic state lacking a clear central hierarchy or organizing principle and embodying extreme complexity, contradiction, ambiguity, diversity..." This definition encompasses all that I have seen in many women, particularly between 25 and 35, and how they discern right and wrong. (Particularly "lacking a clear central hierarchy, ambiguity and contradiction.")

I have spent a lot of time with other moms of young children. My friends and acquaintances generally range from 24-40+. I have shared many times of laughter and tears with other women over this challenging, ever-changing stage of life. I feel like, while I am certainly no expert, I have formed my opinion through many observations and experiences of what seems to dominate women's thinking in our culture.

In a word, it is a little disturbing. Many women my age that claim to follow Christ seem to embrace more "trendy" churches. Among these women, I have found that the number one, sometimes sole, basis for determining how to run their households, interact in relationships, and spend their time seems to be marked by one major theme: what feels good. Obviously, this line of thought creeps into any one's choice making at times as a result of our sinfulness. But with this age group and this type of religious philosophy, it is purposefully the factor that is used. Not in a moment of weakness, sin, or oblivion, but all the time. It is the moral compass they seem to have embraced, purposefully: feeling good; being comfortable. As I have been searching my own heart and praying about my own life patterns, I can see how I also bought into this line of thinking in my mid-twenties, at least to some degree. I get the attraction in the human heart, just not where many churches seem to encourage this way of thinking as okay when it is not biblical.

Some characteristics that mark this type of life seem to be: emotional but shallow worship, little concern for theological study or reading the Bible at all for that matter, very little self-discipline, little care for staying out of debt, merit marked by dress size and a fulfilling sex life, an unhealthy obsession with being physically fit, selfish friendships (embracing gossip and drama/no joy for others), and depression. I want to make myself clear in saying that every Christian woman, certainly including myself, struggles with keeping these areas under the authority and grace umbrella that Christ provides. Again, I am speaking of those that embrace and defend this line of thinking.

I am left to wonder: Where has the church gone wrong? When did the Christian church stray so far away from seeking first His kingdom, self-sacrifice, living simply, a life of service, embracing His means of grace, and pursuing holiness? How in the world do I have a healthy friendship with this type of person? (It seems like I become either unopinionated/too passive OR voice the truth as I see it and appear judgemental and critical.) Why are so many people embracing this way of thinking?

I would love to hear what you all think. I am not trying to quarrel or cause divisiveness, just to gain a better insight into this philosophy. I love women's ministry and need some encouragement/wisdom!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My peeps

Burgers and the park on a Saturday night
Freeze tag and hide-and-seek never get old

Her first time to wear pigtails, a great combo with her tu-tu

Our heart throb

Our Hemingway

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Words from my encourager

Remembering these words that my husband left on a scratch sheet of paper for me back in December. Maybe you need them today, too.

"You are not laying up many treasures here on this earth. This is the truth...but with every folded Spider-Man underwear, with every stir of a pot of green beans, with every spray of the water bottle on Jaybird's morning bedhead, and every foot that you drive to school you are dropping off treasure in your heavenly bucket. You are doing these things not because they are fun- but because God has called you to a life of motherhood- the hardest, most unrecognized, lifelong career in the world. This is a calling for the strong, the weak can't do it. This is a calling for people with integrity- because absolutely nothing is done where people are watching. Rather, it is done in the mundane, day to day funk that we call life. And you know what? You do it well! So rejoice! God is watching you. He is proud of you and He is taking notice. You are doing God's work and you are doing it well. I am just happy to be connected to you. Hang in there. I love you beyond everything visible. You make my day. Every day. Believe it!"

Friday, August 15, 2008


Today was root canal day. I woke up nervous and on-edge. Remembering this trip to the dentist, I was determined NOT TO CRY. For some reason, it was difficult not to. But one hour, two shots, and lots of yuck later it was over. By 10:00 my tooth was fixed. And I had not shed a tear. I went to the car, called my husband, and sat and...cried. All of the stress from the last week, month, year decided to come trickling down my cheeks right there in the parking lot.

I realized something pretty important about myself in my car today. Sometimes with the hopes of taking the high road, I forget to lament. Sometimes in my determination to look past sin and the results of human sin (sickness, death, disappointment, disobedience, etc.) and look to the cross, I forget to FEEL sorrow and pain. Lament actually means, "the expression of sorrow or grief". I guess I have no idea how to grieve. I try to sweep right past it. But eventually, it always finds me. And that's exactly what happened in the parking lot of the dentist today.

Apparently, the result of sin on this earth is simply too painful to pass by. My little abscessed tooth was just a small picture of the darkness and ugliness that is all around me each day. I am certainly not asked to dwell on these things, but just the opposite. (Phillipians 4:8) But I think David was on to something when his sin, or the result of someone else's, hit him and he took time to acknowledge it, be sad over it, cry out to God, and wait for healing. Today I drove around for close to an hour acknowledging the pain in my life right now, both physical and emotional. I took it to God with humility, desperation, and a little anger. Now I can sit before Him and feel His grace flow down and cover me. It makes the cross even more beautiful than before.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is it bed time yet?

We had a doozy of a day. But with much prayer and determination to choose joy, we ended well. Long story short, we had unplanned trips to the doctor and dentist. The results: sinus infection and absessed tooth. This has not been a good tooth year for me.
We came up for air from our first week of home school and had a marvelous play date with the boys' best buds. We have taken the rigorous academics that I have chosen for the year, and broken them up through out the day with many, long breaks. As a result, we have not actually finished our last subject until around 4:00 each day. But it works for us and the kids get plenty of exercise when they need it and the weather is best. And if something fun is going on with friends, we can join them. In general, we are enjoying it all so much! By the grace of God, I am finding flexibility to be liberating. I want to find a balance this year of being purposeful and organized with goals but also flexible and understanding. Only three days into our year I am realizing that this balance takes constant prayer and discernment. I am quite certain that I will learn much, much more than my children this year!
*Pictured above: The boys enjoyed making their (sugar cube) step pyramids. History is the highlight of the day for Jaybird and me. Toot loves math the best, but really enjoys these hands-on projects.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Birthday party #1

This past Friday the boys had a joint party. The days of joint parties may be coming to an end, so we savored this one. They jumped on the inflatables and enjoyed cake and presents. We usually host all of their birthday parties at our house. This year my husband made the call to hand over the responsibility and I appreciated his wisdom in managing our time well. Still, we had to do our annual cake decorating. We really enjoy staying up late the night before the party and making their cakes. This year, the boys drew out their designs on paper...the pressure! This Indian* Jones theme was so fun!

My cousin Photoshopped their names off of the cake. This one was Toot's cake. He wanted the bridge scene. My husband made the bridge with pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks and hot glue.

This is the cave scence when the boulder falls and rolls towards Indian* Jones. We used a train hill, lego torches, plastic spiders and rock candy for the decorations.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The first day...

Tantagrams-Learning to be "God seekers!" in our studies-Math games-Phonics review-funny reading-Diving into Ancient Egypt-geography from a child's perspective

Tonight at dinner I started a tradition that I hope to keep daily. I asked the boys, "How were we God-seekers today?" I was overwhelmed by their responses. Some included, "By seeking to love him by doing our best work." "By looking at ancient Egypt to see what His story of history tells us." "To try to understand how He created His world in science and geography." "By seeking His order in math."

They were listening today! What a great day together. Can't wait for another!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Little lady

A tiny daughter gives parents a life in a climate of perpetual wonder.
-Pierre Doucet

Thursday, August 07, 2008

My Homeschool Plan

Morning time:
*Fine motor practice: Boys:"Warm up your hands time!" (Legos, lacing, building)
Lydie: Hands-on-Homeschooling for 2 yr. olds
*Circle time (prayer, calendar, memory work, songs)
*Phonics (Explode the Code)
*Grammar (First Language Lessons)

*Vocabulary (Wordly Wise)
*Math (Saxon 2 and Horizons K) followed with a board game or drill game
*Snack and outdoor time
*Spelling (Spelling Workout)
*Handwriting (Zaner-Blozer)
*Independent Reading (my own lists from Veritas Press, Sonlight and Logos curriculum, and Honey for a Child's Heart)
-Comprehension Guides from Veritas Press
-How to Report on Books (Evan Moor)
*Art/Drawing/Music/Composer studies
-Art history (Monday)- artists studies with Discovering Great Artists
-Drawing (Wednesday)- How to Teach Art to Children -Music theory (Thursday)- Alfred's Basic Piano Library Music Theory Games cd-rom
-Composer studies (Friday)- Classical Kids cds, read-alouds, activities from, other cds and books

*Lunch and outdoor break
*Geography/Nature study/Journaling/Picture book with cooking
-Geography (Monday, Wednesday)- Discovering Maps, geography games and puzzles
-Nature study (Tuesday)- Charlotte Mason's methods
-Journaling (Thursday)
-Picture book cooking (Friday)- a beautiful book plus a cooking enrichment activity
*Science/History- (Jaybird only)
-Science(Tuesday, Thursday)-Christian Kids Explore Biology

-History(Monday, Wednesday, Friday)- Tapestry of Grace (Also includes church history, literature, writing) *Unit studies (including science, history, literature and more)- Five in a Row (Toot only)
Keys to getting it all in:
-Short 20 minute lessons per subject in the morning
-Tuesdays the boys are in homeschool extracurricular classes until noon
-Lydie will attend Mother's Morning Out (Tuesday & Thursday)
*Note: I will have time alone on Tuesday mornings
-Lots of planned activities for Lydie on the other mornings (she will be napping during afternoon studies)
-Prayer, flexibility, discernment! And also, realizing we WON'T always get it all in!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My respite

I made it out of my room yesterday afternoon, just in time to enjoy a wonderful afternoon and evening with Mom and the kids. Today has been a lazy with my husband until 10:00, in my pajamas, no less. And later, out to lunch as a family. Then an afternoon of throwing out old toys and making room for new birthday presents in the boys' room. I also let the boys try on their new fall clothes and model them for me. That's no fun for boys, a dream for my girl.
Now, I hear two hyper boys playing a wrestling/jumping from furniture/sword kinda game. The baby is calling for me in her crib. And we will have PBJs for dinner. I have magazines to peruse and school to plan after the children are asleep. Life has been simple, ordinary and calm today. Thank the Lord for down time!
*Pictured above: Two boys getting creative because the 100 degree weather has kept them inside.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dry well

I'm all locked up in the bedroom taking a break from my three little ones. (My mom is here and playing with the boys while Lydie sleeps.) I am exhausted from birthdays, guests, traveling, meetings, and mommy work. I am feeling overwhelmed wondering if I am this tired at the end of the can I begin the new school year on Monday? Most tired moms will send their children to school on the bus Monday morning, in fact all of our neighborhood friends will be doing that with the exception of one. Lord, where will the energy come from to end this crazy, albeit fun, exhausting summer and enter a year of home schooling? I truly have no idea. But, I love this quote. Even though right now even one more task sounds like too much, I am inspired. All I know is to trust the Lord to provide His water of life where the well is empty.
“The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” ~ Anna Quindlen
*Pictured above: the energy-zappers

Monday, August 04, 2008

Stench of death

This afternoon Lydie and I were both grumpy. Even though the heat and mosquitoes usually make me more irritable, we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood together. There is nothing like a walk with a toddler to cheer you up! Every single little thing is conversation-worthy. The rocks, the mailboxes, the chirp of the birds...she wouldn't let me miss a thing. And I was encouraged by her eager plea to "let me see, let me see!" when I spotted something first. Even the heat and bugs couldn't take away her joy.
Moments like this with my children inspire me to shake off the stresses of the day and keep looking ahead in excitement. Keep wondering what's around the corner. Keep having eyes that are eager to spot His blessings. For me, this anticipation starts with changing my perspective.
My life is not perfect right now. There has been a constant stench of death this year. Not only with family and friends that have passed away, but even with relationships. We are all image-bearers, but also dust. We are reflectors of His glory, but also made of human, sinful flesh, as the Lord keeps reminding me. I guess it's time to just go to bed and rest well for a new day. Tomorrow's goal: To know Him more and more

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Our school room

Today I had to buckle down and do all of the things I have been putting off. I finished the school room and I am happy with the result!
Our school room is in the basement with NO WINDOWS! I love sunlight, so I made up for the lack of light with lots of vibrant colors. This is what you see when you walk in the room.
A closer view of my book jacket project. I really love the way this wall looks!!
This is the left wall. The wooden shelves were hand-me-downs from my best friend. Aren't they great?
A closer view of Lydie's corner.
The table and chairs are in the center of the room. This is where the learning will take place! That great table is another hand-me-down, same friend. It's an old, oak table from a Sunday school room. It is sturdy, long and has lots of little cubbie holes.
This wall is what the boys will facing from their chairs. I bought the little storage shelves and snazzy red garbage can today.
Remember our motto? (Learn, love, serve) I found these fun buttons today and added them to the outside of each word with a little Velcro to add a little pop.
Look! I even picked up my books on reserve at the library! If you are studying Egypt and you live in my county I apologize in advance.
Last wall. The piano and some of the boys' toys all neatly stacked. I'm enjoying that while it lasts. This picture is a close-up of that curtain rod across the wall. This is a simple artwork display. These are two of Toot's pictures from last year. They love seeing their stuff up on the wall. (I'm pretty proud of the watercolor (on right) He calls it "The Storm". See the boat and the dark blue paint underneath is the boat's shadow.
Well, that's the room. Notice there is no chair/area for the teacher. And I need a dry erase/flip chart combo that costs more than I can afford. Oh, and where will I hang our beautiful maps? Oh well, now on to lesson planning!

How do I get myself into these things?

By statements like these:
-"Mommy, we can't just leave him!"
-"Will he die here all alone?"
-"He's one of God's creatures."
-"We have to help!"
*Add veterinarian and bird mommy to my resume!*

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dizzy in the noodle

I have 10 days until we start our school year and I am not ready. I have a birthday party to give in 7 days and I am not ready. I have a meeting at my house in 3 days and I am not ready. I have to teach high school Sunday school in 2 days and I am not ready. So, how do I spend the only two quiet hours of my day? Decorating my foyer, of course, with the beginning pieces of a china collection.

"All the dreamers in all the world are dizzy in the noodle." Edie Adams

That's me...dreaming my day away!