Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bullies and a six pack (aka a nauseating post)

When Andy and I were dating in college we must have been a bit nauseating to friends and family. We enjoyed a deep connection and passion. We were depressed when we had to be apart for more than a day. We would make the goodnight kiss last for an hour. We wrote letters to one another when summer came and we had to spend the week days apart. I remember taking a trip to Yellowstone with my family my sophomore year in college. Not wanting to hurt my Dad's feelings, I would sneak away to call Andy. I missed him so much after 8 days that it physically ached. I might have cried a time or two. In fact, I might have cried two weekends ago when he was away two days for a hunting trip. Man alive, that's pathetic.

Sadly or blissfully (depending) things haven't changed much. The kids and I stand at the door holding and hugging him a little too long each morning. We ask him at the beginning of every new day, "When will you be back??" We call him and check in after lunch. He and I text prayer requests and updates. And when he travels for work he always calls home with the same statement, "I am MISERABLE."

We really enjoy one another. I can not say this about every year of our marriage, but God has redeemed our relationship and brought beauty and grace from sin and selfishness. There were two years in our marriage that I dreaded hearing his car pull into the driveway. Quite honestly, I hated him. God knows, I am so thankful for mercy. After 13 years, I feel like a teenager who has just tasted love for the first time. (And like someone who is not afraid to bask in it!) My grandparents had the same type of relationship during their 66 year marriage. I don't know if I ever saw them walk together without hands or arms looped. Their lives just intertwined- even til death. I have been thinking about them a lot this week. They would have been married 68 years on Sunday. And now they are in heaven together enjoying their First Love, still sharing the same Passion and journey. Goodness, how beautiful! What a miracle it is to have a deep, meaningul, lasting marriage.

SO, when I want to insist on my own way, feverishly take the lead that belongs to Andy, look to the left or the right and compare our lives to others, or if we have a "dry" week (month, year...) with nothing especially romantic, I hope to remember these moments from today (that gave me butterflies):
:::His prayer: "Lord, make us obsessed with your Word!" (What a man!)

:::He came in from work, and snuck up on me in the kitchen to kiss the top of my shoulder.

:::He texted that he would be home early because I have been sick for the past 4 days and today was a hum-dinger of a day being the first day out of bed. But then he arrived 30 minutes late because his friend needed marriage advice. I didn't see the humor initially. But really, that's my Andy and you gotta love him.

:::As he was telling my son about how to deal with a bully, he began by not giving advice or correction or questioning (as, say for instance, a Mom would). He told his son, with tears welling up, that he was really sorry this had happened to him.

:::The bully situation reminded me of the one time he had to physically protect me. We were in college and a fraternity brother said the "f" word in front of me. Andy asked him to watch his mouth because "he was in the presence of a lady". The guy was humiliated and blurted out, "Are you sure?" Andy grabbed him by the throat, the guy's feet dangling, and assured him that he WAS sure. I stood there a little shocked, mouth gaped, but my honor was protected. And some wonder why I would follow this man to rural Alabama!?!

:::This very manly moment reminds me of the first time I saw his six-pack abs in college. My roommate and I went by his room to see if he and his brother wanted to do something. He was asleep and answered the door in his boxers. W-O-W. Off topic, moving along.

:::No matter how hurt I am by someone else, he reminds me to love boldly and selflessly. There was only one occasion when he asked me to walk away from a friend. And he was right.

:::His kisses still make my stomach sink into my shoes. And when I watch him with our children I feel each time like life is peaking and will never ever get any better. But it does.

**Picture 1: Back in the day; 1995; dating blissfully
**Picture 2: Andy now; 2009; married blissfully

January artist:Leonardo da Vinci

Our favorite books:

Our picture study of Mona Lisa:

Toot, 1st grade

Jaybird, third grade

Our field trip to a very special da Vinci exhibit and play:

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather in distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink..." ~Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Questions that have made my noodle dizzy today

A few nights ago I went out alone to have dinner with friends. I saw a hot pink VW "Herbie". It had a light pink floral pattern from top to bottom, along with a large Brazilian Bikini ad (complete with photographed model). How many points does that car score in the traveling car game? I'd say at least 50.

Almost all of my favorite authors wrote juvenille literature. (C.S. Lewis, J.R. Tolken, E.B. White, Laura Ingalls Wilder, J.K. Rowling, Madeleine L'Engle) What does this say about me? Maybe all the really good writers write children's novels. Or maybe I have the insight of a ten year old. Who knows.

As I have been watching the horrorible situation in Haiti, I decided to do some research on the history of Haiti. What a heartbreaking story they have of fighting slavery and desperately trying to build a country with their limited resources. I tried to count the amount of times they have changed leadership, but lost count.
A good place to give:

I have watched The Notebook three times in the last two weeks. If you take out the sex, the courtship in this movie reminds me so much of mine and Andy's. So much passion, so many differences, yet such a perfect match. And, I think the guy looks like Andy (I don't know the actor's name). I watched it one night last weekend when Andy was gone on a hunting trip and cried my eyes out for an hour...after the movie was over! I am so thankful for him, our love story, continued passion...what a gift.

How does a woman balance her many callings? The only universal answer I can come up with is with discernment, wisdom, and grace. It is such a great responsibility to listen to God as I seek to use my moments well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mid-year thoughts about home school

Now that we know for certain that we are staying the course with home schooling, I feel the sudden urge to evaluate where we are for the year. Last year was our first year to home school. All things considered, I was very pleased and we all enjoyed it. But this year has been very enjoyable for me. I am sure a big reason is because I do not have a needy toddler any more. Home schooling is so much more difficult with a younger child that needs so much attention and constant supervision. This year, Lydie sits and does her own activities and is beginning to play well on her own. Also, the boys are able to do almost any type of chore around the house now. So my housework load is much less. We have really gelled with our family routine and I absolutely love all that we are using for academics this year. I have changed a few things around since the beginning of the year. Here's what we do:

Devotion: Leading Little Ones to God (looking for a different book with a reformed worldview) and hoping to soon begin Family Time Training books by Kirk Weaver
Memorizing: catechism questions, bible passage and OT books, poetry, and a hymn each month from this book:
Bible Study: Veritas Press
**Occasionally doing a topical study comparing one character strait with another (recently: lazy vs. diligent man) as the Lord leads.
**The most important discipleship comes along during the course of the day. They have so many questions!
The framework(Taught every day.):
Phonics: (J)Explode the Code 8/ (T) Explode the Code 5
Reading: (J) Veritas Press' reading list and comprehension guides gr. 4
T)Veritas Press' reading list gr. 2
**Plus, lots of read-alouds all the time. I use Honey for a Child's Heart as a reference tool, along with this website. I get simple book reports from How To Report on Books (gr. 1-2 or 3-4). We am hoping to have J do some reports on men from Famous Men of the Middle Ages (Greenleaf Press) soon.
Grammar/Writing Technique: (J) BJU Press English 3
(T) BJU Press English 2
Creative Writing: (both) daily journal writing- free choice, a topic from history, or a given topic
Cursive handwriting: (both) Abeka workbook
Math: (J) Saxon 3/ (T) Horizons 1 + lots of computer math games for drill+ math shark
**This is the only subject I hear complaints about. Jaybird really hates math. He especially hates that his work is always in black and white, while his brother's is colorful. But Saxon has been highly recommended for him, so we are staying the course. Praying it will get easier/more enjoyable for him.

Learning about the world (History is taught every day. The others are taught twice a week.):
History: Mystery of History, vol. 2 + timeline. We love the lessons, quizzes, and hands-on projects!
Science: Andy was supposed to teach but honestly they are getting zilch! Hoping to follow The Well-Trained Mind's recommendations as soon as I can figure out when to fit it in!
Geography: excerpts from Galloping the Globe/ Geography songs/ Maps workbook
**Our goal is to learn the location of all European countries, along with major landmarks, capitals, and facts. And we hope to learn how to read a globe, map, and atlas well this year.
Latin: Song School Latin

Fine Arts (Usually each topic is taught twice a week):
Drawing technique: How Great Thou Art (continued from last year) and Nature Study. I was hoping to draw in our nature journals once a week. But we usually only draw in them once a month. Hope to also use the Draw Write Now (Middle Ages) book soon.
Art projects: fun ideas from here or here or Family Fun magazine.
Artist study: follow ideas from here. I use a lot of library books. And we have done some fun projects from Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of Great Masters.
**This book has been a good investment for the beautiful pictures: Composer study: follow ideas from here. I use a lot of library books. And we usually check out the cds from the library and listen to them while we are working or eating.
Music: finished Story of the Orchestra (continued from last year)/ hoped to start piano or guitar lessons, but we have not

Extras (Usually once a week, or as time allows.):
Logic: Mind Benders
Baking: seasonal or from this book:

We usually spend around 4 hours a day doing "school", although life and school all mesh together now. I enjoy our life immensely!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gifts of encouragement today

::Remembering dinner with 6 friends last night. They understand so much. And the wine and French food was wonderful!

::A list of crafting dreams for the winter. Spring tassels, a Valentine shirt for Lydie, a flag banner for the kitchen. DREAMS!

::The boys' excitement for learning. Comparing Islam to Christianity. Comparing the lazy man and the diligent man. Letting them ask questions and make conclusions. Seeing them bask in the freedom they have in Christ. (For example, "So people try to earn their way to heaven? That's impossible!)

::Painting tiny, three-year old toenails the loveliest shade of baby pink. Her squeals, especially after she has spent two quiet days in bed with a virus.

::Very encouraging, friendly emails from the man that will be our pastor in Alabama. He's kind, funny, and so helpful. He's our age and went to the same college. The anticipation of new friendships!

::Finding out our Alabama church is filled with home school families and a home school co-op. (And finding out the Christian school option is not a fit for our family.) The black hole is filling with light!

::Witty, sister-to-sister texts from my best friend. We seem to have a constant conversation going on these days, even if only by email or text. She knows me so well! A longing fulfilled- a sister.

::Counting the days until we go on a Caribbean cruise in March. My family is giving the trip to us as a gift- 26 of us will be traveling together! And then in June, more tropical travel with Andy's family, another gift. Just when you think it will be a long time until you enjoy another vacation, He delivers beyond my imagination!

::A note that my friend gave me with prayer requests and these verses:

Matthew 6:33
"But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness..."
Isaiah 64:4
"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."

Cool art

Since we are actually experiencing a cold winter, we have really enjoyed winter art projects this year. I love the ideas I find on this blog. Here is one that we tried yesterday. I love the way it turned out! (This one was made by my first grade son.) It was a two step project, and took a little over an hour total. But the end result is worth it!

Monday, January 18, 2010

No game plan

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."
C. S. Lewis

I am really struggling right now to not live in fear. I am concerned about the area to which we are moving for several reasons. I am really dreading leaving behind my dreamy church, friends, house, among other things. (Have I mentioned Target lately?) I am contemplating putting the boys in a Christian school instead of homeschooling because they will need a close community of good friends, which seems like it will be hard to provide. Our schooling options are limited (unless we want to travel an hour away!), but there is one possibility nearby. Ultimately, I am fearful that my little dream life that I have enjoyed for the past three years is coming to an end-in every way! And as a woman, I certainly do enjoy security (aka a "game plan").

But quite frankly, earthly security is just not what the Lord desires for me. And although it is uncomfortable to admit, I need less of it. I need to be forced to dwell on my heavenly home and the security that it will provide more than I have been. I need to be forced to rely on God more. Through prayer, I desire the peace that comes with submitting fully to what might be difficult, knowing that He only gives us the very best thing for our sanctification. Maybe that sanctification process, the slow and certain process of seeing and loving the world as Jesus does, needs to be more important to me. Maybe I have taken my eyes off of Christ and made comfort, stability, and predictability dangerous idols in my life.

I am praying for the wisdom, strength, and faith to face this change with zeal and hope. Knowing and following Christ is a wonderful journey to be on. It is always life-giving, joyful (not necessarily happy), and rewarding- even with hardship, trial, and suffering. I guess what it all boils down to is this: I do not really need answers or a plan or anything else that would boost my confidence regarding the future. I need Jesus-His grace is sufficient for me!

Isaiah 41:10
"Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."


Lydie has always been very articulate and verbal. But as of late, she has been replacing words with her own nicknames. It is so adorable!
Paper towels= Wiper towels
Tap shoes=Clap shoes
Poooo-ter= computer
Oh, and from the influence of the books she listens to when I home school the boys, she has recently taken to calling me "Mother" and sometimes even "Ma". She also tells me "You crack me up!" and other phrases that are funny coming from her little 30 pound frame. What a spunky little darling! I love having a little friend to be with all day long!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Want a tour?

The house is officially on the market and the first agent came to show it on Thursday. It made this whole move seem more real than ever! But I am determined to enjoy the house while I can. (After all, how often are all the rooms neat and organized?) I am so curious about how people decorate. If you are too, come on and take a look. Keep your expectations low because I do not recall ever spending over $200 on a room before, so every room was put together on a shoestring budget! I also want to post all of these pictures because I want to remember how these rooms looked.

From the front door we have a narrow foyer:
The foyer leads to the master on the right. Our "master" bathroom is pretty tiny. Cozy, but cute.

Our bedroom:

*The view from my bed: my birthday present from Andy. We got it on ebay for $35 several years ago and he remembered the canvas and had it framed for me. The foot board is about four feet from the wall, even though it looks like it is against the wall in this picture.*

From the foyer, the kitchen is straight ahead: *Twirling girl not included in the sale of the house*
The family room is on the left of the foyer:

And behind the family room is the dining room. We have been in this house three and a half years and this room has changed five or six times. It was a dining room, play room, dining room again, school room, and now back to dining room. It has been four colors!

And this is our pantry/art closet/laundry room, all labeled and neat. This order is a miracle!:
Let's go upstairs to the kids' domain. Upstairs we have two bedrooms. The boys' space room on the left. This bedroom is one of the few rooms in the house that I would describe as big. I will miss this space for the boys!

And Lydie's pink room (my favorite room in the house):

And the there is the kids' bathroom. We painted the walls and cabinets the same color as our master bathroom. The shower curtain was from our last house, and works well with both pink and blue to represent all three kids! All of the wall decor is from Toot's nursery. I kept it all because during that very rough time in our lives when he was born, his nursery was a place of happy, sweet memories. He was the sweetest, most beautiful baby! In fact, when we renovated this bathroom a couple of months ago, we spent under $50- the cost to replace the light and bath mat.

And the last floor is the basement. One of our art displays is at the bottom of the steps. Here's a picture looking up from the basement. We keep our timeline and our baskets of shoes in here.And downstairs we have our school room:

And a bedroom (or office, in this case). It is plain and pretty ugly, but at least it has been cleaned out. It had become pretty junky. We are hoping to find a day bed to put in here soon. Maybe I'll fix it up a little if I have time. If we were staying here, I would paint this room a neutral color and fill the walls with color. Then I would move all of my craft stuff down here and take over!

(Attached to the ugly office is an unpictured very plain full bath. It's about as boring as the office room.)

I'm going to miss this quaint little piece of the world! I must remember my word! I actually made a little plate for the kitchen as a reminder:
Thanks for touring the house!! Hopefully we will feel just as comfortable in the next one!