Monday, September 27, 2010

Fun last days of the summer season

Last week we took our homeschool work on the road to enjoy a trip to Nana and Poppy's house for a few days. At one point or another during the three days, we got to see all of our grandparents and cousins, which is a real treat. Hopefully it was our last week of summer heat!
Family birthday dinner at Johnny Rocket's.

*How did Mimi skirt the camera? Sorry I have no pictures of half the family! I think my camera was put away by the time Uncle Ben, Aunt Kim, and kids arrived. Or else I was just pooped. :(
*Pink dress of Lydie's was bought by her Daddy to wear on her actual birthday, September 21st. *Stuffed puppy was given to her by our best friends, the Harpers for her birthday. It is well loved and affectionately named "Chocolate Chip" or just plain "Chip".
Homewood Park
Birmingham Zoo

Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcome, fall!

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
~George Eliot

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Lord Jesus,
Help me remember today when I meet
the stranger,
the family member,
the rich one,
the poor one,
the joyful,
the bitter,
the young,
the old,
the insecure,
the proud,
the Christian,
the non-Christian,
and particularly the one that you know I struggle with,
that I have one very significant thing in common with each and every one.
We are all broken and in need of a Savior. Every day.
Please Jesus, take away my
naive expectations,
negative stereotypes,
false assumptions,
disbelief in real change,
strong, strong desire to retreat,
inability to extend compassion yet again,
pain, shame, and weaknesses,
and pour your Holy Spirit- Peace- in its place.
I have no capability,
or currently even quiet moments
to love others, especially those with whom you know I am struggling painfully right now, on my own. I'm fresh out of grace. And my plate feels full with just my husband and children! I would really, really love to ignore this situation and just enjoy them and others who reciprocate and fill my love tank. But don't let me, Lord!

Please continue to revive my heart and draw me in to your presence through your Word and prayer. "You are the vine..." I am convinced that the answer to my questions lately of how to look at the face of pain (especially when it is literally a human face), and continue to march towards it when you ask me to, is to know You more and more. After all the analyzing, I believe this simple truth is the simple Truth. Forgive me, as I have put up a cold wall instead of trusting you.

Knowing you makes me able to look at I Corinthians 13 and not begin to sweat with anxiety and defeatedness. Knowing you gives me hope and strength to boldly love the angry one who continues to hurt others. Knowing you makes me free to love even when others might not be making the effort I would like. Knowing you makes me refuse to feel like a victim, but instead to become a servant without expectation. Knowing you makes me love irrationally! Knowing you makes me able to give tough love too, if that is what is best. Lately I have not loved as someone who knows you. I have fallen silent and defeated. When I fail to love, redirect me and help me to do it again and again.

Lord, you know what the future holds. Help me to trust you with what is yours and not try to steal it. "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it..." Yours are the answers, outcomes, power, future, hearts, and all the other things I find myself wishing I could control or manipulate for a time. But these things do not belong to me and nothing I can say or do will change these things. And that is a good thing. But you can use me as an instrument of your grace, and I pray you will.

Unconditional love is so very hard to give. Help me to remember the cross and how unimaginable your grace is for me. Help me not to listen to the evil one when He tempts me to pridefully think "I would never", as if I should judge. Go before, beside, and behind me Lord, and hem me in with your love so that it overflows. Be glorified. And if you choose, in your wisdom, to keep things the same, show me how to be fully alive here, while longing and treasuring heaven more and more. Help me remember that there will be a day when everything will be all good. Thank you that I can taste and see how good you are now, too. Amen

I Corinthians 13:1-4

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy birthday, Lydia Joy!

Our girl is officially four today. I would use the same words to describe her today as I have in years past. She is precocious, sensitive, bright, and sweet. She tends to be the leader of the pack among friends. Honestly, she tends to be the leader of the pack at home, too. She likes to remind the boys to chew with their mouths closed, clean their toothpaste out of the sink, and remember to flush. (I should probably remind her to do her future spouse a favor and give up on those things now. But since the boys tend to listen and follow along, I just remind her to say "please" and let her work her magic. Shameful. :) )She is all things associated with being feminine- both positive and negative. :)
She still loves princesses, pink, dress-up, tea parties, and the like. She almost always has on jewelry and chap stick. Her latest interest is the Wizard of Oz. She gasps every time Dorothy steps into Oz and the color spreads over the screen. And I do, too. She is so much like me, or at least like I was as a young girl. She likes individual time alone with us and her brothers. She talks and asks questions frequently. But this year she has also begun to enjoy playing alone in her own little world.
She loves ballet and singing, oh and getting new clothes. Her Daddy took her shopping for a new dress to wear to dinner tonight. I am extremely thankful that he knows her so well and loves her so well. She squeals when I redecorate or make a new piece of art. And she frequently sucks in her breath and says, "You look so beautiful!"
She spends a good bit of time writing, drawing, cooking and painting with me. Similarly, I used to shadow my Nana, Lydia Mae, when I was at her house. She taught me to braid my hair, bake, garden, paint my nails, and set the table. Lydie's relationship with me is much like mine with Nana. Unfortunately I can't stop everything like my Nana could to spend the afternoon in the yard. Nana lived alone, widowed at a young age. She had what some would consider a difficult life. But she loved loved and appreciated beauty and hard work. She had a servant heart and never chose to stay at home and spend her time pampering or feeling sorry for herself. She invested in me, and her grandsons, her neighbors, and volunteered at a hospital until she couldn't get around to do so. For me, the homeschooling, laundry, and other Mommy responsibilities continue. I have to bide my time well between each of my children, my husband, and others. But I am very thankful that Lydia Joy and I are kindred spirits. Every little girl needs a kindred spirited adult, and one who is willing to invest time and energy- even when they do not feel like it. Especially an old soul personality like my girl. I am trying my best to be that, as well as Mom, for her!
Even though Lydie is very girly, her brothers have impacted her in some ways. She has become a pretty fast runner and tricycler this year as she is trying to keep up with them. (We are giving her the *cutest* polka dotted Hello Kitty bike for her birthday today!) She taught herself to do a somersault one evening out of sheer determination. She wanted to know how, and she wanted to know that night. So she did it.
I get reminded frequently that "Joy" is the perfect name for her by her teachers at church and preschool. And we agree whole heartedly. She is a sweet joy! Happy birthday, baby girl!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lydie's 4rth birthday party

We had a lot of fun at Lydie's party yesterday. Some of the kids had not even heard of Strawberry Shortcake, but I think they all liked our games. Here's what we did:

First the kids decorated canvas bags to hold their treats. Too busy greeting guests to snap photos, but you can see the girls holding their bags in the picture below.

Then I showed them pictures of each of the characters and explained the idea behind Strawberry Shortcake. Then the kids were ready to go to Strawberry Bitty City for some fun.
Our first stop was the strawberry patch. The kids took turns in groups of three looking in a pink balloon-filled pool for candy. Then we played our Strawberry Shortcake cd and had a contest to see who could keep a balloon off the floor the longest without holding it but tapping or throwing it in the air.

Then we went to Orange Blossom's tree house. The kids tried to throw orange balls in the tree holes for a prize. While they were waiting in line for a turn, the older girls and boys put tattoos on the kids. (Our littlest guest tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get a pink balloon through the holes. So cute.)
Then we went to Angel Cake's house for our rendition of a cake walk. The kid each stood on colored pieces of paper that were laid out in a circle. We played music and let them hop from color to color. When the music stopped, I pulled a crayon out of a bag. If the crayon matched their color they were out. The last person standing was the winner. This game was a favorite. We played it several times.
Since we mentioned cake, but the "cake walk" involved no cake, we decided to have cake next. This Strawberry Shortcake hat cake was the easiest cake I have ever made for the kids. Since I couldn't find strawberry cake toppers, I just used stickers! I definitely took the easy route because I had to do all of the decorations, planning, food prep, etc. by myself this year. Andy came in town just in time for the party.

**The boy with the silly face is Lydie's future husband, fyi.*

Then we had a pinata. In the past we have had duds with these string-pulling types of pinatas. But this one worked and I was glad for a calmer, indoor version for this party.

After the pinata we decided to let the kids have fun, while helping us clean up. We gave them toothpicks and let them pop the balloons. Then they picked up balloon pieces and put them in the trash for us. They loved it, and so did we!

Lydie loved all of her toys. She is growing up and getting toys with lots of little pieces! This year she got some Polly Pockets, a first for her. She also got some very fun art toys (stamps, painting), a board game, and a Strawberry Shortcake toy, of course.
The activities ended with 20 or 30 minutes left over for free play. (Just enough time for me to catch up with the other Moms, too.) We were glad it all worked out inside. She opted out of a swim party. And we are just too tired of the heat to have an outdoor party without water! I think it was a great day and I hope Lydie will remember being celebrated on her special day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Berry" happy party prep

Today Lydie is having a Strawberry Shortcake party. I love the theme she chose. She helped me decorate the house, bake the cake, and pick out her party dress. We are both very excited!

our party favor bags

decorations for the doorways

and for the windows

and a little on the ceilings. (We fell in love with polka dot crepe paper!)

For the tables there is a touch of Lydie and a touch of me.

We found her dress at Target. The rosettes stole my heart.

And the polka dots are pretty cute, too. Once we add her pink knee socks, mary janes, and a bow I think she'll be looking pretty darling!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bees and cupcakes

Yesterday the boys had a day off of school for a field trip. They heard a bee keeper give a fabulous, informative talk on bees. We learned so much more than I anticipated. Andy hopes to have bees on our farm eventually. He believes that bees and earthworms are the most important and under appreciated of creatures. After yesterday, I think I agree.
The day worked out remarkably smoothly because the beekeeper spoke on the third floor of the same church that houses Lydie's preschool. So I was able to pop into her classroom when she had her birthday cakes and not miss a beat with the boys. Sometimes we try to combine field trip days with half a day of other lessons. But today we gave the entire morning, and half of the afternoon to our field trip and lunch with friends. It was a nice treat!