Saturday, December 27, 2008

Watch Her Go

My girl is READING!!! I am so proud!

We love these books. And this website. And of course reading aloud lots and lots of good books.

No matter how many times I have seen children begin to read on their own, I am always amazed at the magic of it. I am so thankful for the opportunity to see my children begin this amazing adventure myself.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Some of Our Favorite Holiday Traditions

I thought this might be a good time to post some of our favorite holiday traditions for all to enjoy. So, here goes...

We always have the grammies and our auntie come over for homemade pizza on Friday after Thanksgiving to put up our tree. After dinner, we put up the tree, watch White Christmas (singing loudly on "Sisters"), and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies.

We love to have the children choose a new ornament each year. We usually go out for lunch or dinner and then head to a local Hallmark store. We love these ornaments, because there is a good selection, they are collectible, and they are well-packaged for use from year to year. I say that I will send them off to their own homes with this collection of ornaments, but how will I part with them?! ;)

Okay, this isn't a tradition, as we just started it this year, but we have been working on a beautiful advent puzzle as a family this year. This was the perfect year to begin with hubby being home-bound due to injury and the children being older.

I always make gingerbread playdough for the children to play with and pretend to bake gingerbread men/women complete with button eyes and rickrack icing. The smell is so yummy, so I have to remind the children not to taste it!

We have a huge collection of Christmas books that we get out each year. I don't pressure myself to read them all every single year, but we do try to get to each of the favorites and a few new ones. Some faves include "The Best Christmas Pagent Ever", "Who's Coming to Our House?", "The First Christmas" (Pop-Up), "The Gingerbread Baby", and "The Legend of the Poinsetta".

We do "Jesus stockings" where the children choose an item from the World Vision or Samaritan's Purse catalog and then do chores to earn the money to keep in their stocking until Christmas. They take the money they have earned to purchase the gift to "do to the least of these" as our Christmas offering to Him.

We have a sweet advent calendar that I purchased one year from CBD. It was pricey, but I love it and so do the children. This year, our aunt also bought us the chocolate filled calendars and the children have really been enjoying these.

Hubby and I light the fireplace, turn off all but the Christmas lights, and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" at least once during December.

Hubby takes a Christmas shopping night with some of his buddies from his former job. They always make short work of the shopping and long work of the steak dinner they reward themselves with at the end!

A red velvet cake has always been a tradition in my extended family on Christmas day. When I was younger, it was for my uncle, who has a Christmas Eve birthday. But now, in our immediate family, we call it the Jesus Birthday Cake and remind ourselves of the blood He shed to cleanse us from our sin.

I have lots of child-friendly nativity sets - the playmobil one, the fisher-price one, and another one that I got from the Hallmark store years ago. I also have a fabric one that I opted not to get out this year. My children love playing with these and they are considered so special because they only come out once a year, that they are the most popular items to play with in December around here. My favorite nativity set though, is one that my mom got me a few years ago - made by Jim Shore. LOVE it! No children allowed to play with that one, though!

These are some of the things that have brought special meaning to our family in December. Maybe next I should write the post about the traditions that I never started, but wanted to, or the traditions that we have scrapped! Can you say gingerbread house?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some of My Favorite Quotes From Today

During our family prayer time dd3 said, "I wanna say a prayer just fo mysef, okay? God, thank you for da foxshes and da rainbows and da ballewinas."

During same family prayer time, dd(almost)6 humbly said, "God you made the Herdmans." I guess she understood one of the most touching points of our read-aloud this week, "The Best Christmas Pagent Ever" by Barbara Robinson.

And during our nightly pick up of his room, I inquired of my son, 7, if his sweat pants needed to be washed or not, to which he replied, "No, I've only worn them, like, 3 or 4 times." I suppose that I might have gone a bit overboard on telling him he didn't have to throw his jeans in the wash after one wearing!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Two Cutie-Pie Things That My Baby Girl is Saying These Days

Fwoot Be-uh = Root Beer (she still doesn't say "rrr" even after being back from UK for a year!)

Medicine Cough = Cough Medicine

She's growing up way to fast. Wish I could just stop time somehow...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who Knew That Walkers Needed to be Pretty?

I recently heard this conversation between DD(nearly)6 and her father-with-the-tibial-plateau-fracture:

DD: "Good thing you got a different walker than at the hospital! It was horrible! I didn't even want to look at it."

Dad: "Why?"

DD: "Uh...the stripes."

I guess she thought that those stripes on the hospital-borrowed walker were not at all pretty enough.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Books Recently Read (Or Listened to) in Our Home

A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey
The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

Olivia by Ian Falconer

Whole Family is Enjoying
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (especially "How the Camel Got His Hump")

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hubby's Serious Injury = No Blogging

Hubby was injured very seriously on September 29. He broke his leg severely under his knee cap. There were two breaks -- one on each side of the tibia -- and lots of crushed bone directly under the knee. This ordeal has involved surgery to implant 2 large plates into the knee with 13! screws, a life-threatening blood clot, and 9 days in the hospital. It's also taken lots of recovery time at home and he has been ordered to be non-weight bearing until the end of December. All this has meant lots and lots of prayer for me and many extra responsibilities that my terrific husband, who is my true partner in every way, normally takes care of. As you might know or remember, hubby is also job-searching. So, this time has been a serious trust-building one for our family. God is teaching us so much about His absolute sufficiency in all circumstances. He is also reminding us that each day with loved ones is a blessing. Please pray for our family to keep looking up to Him as we continue in this trial. And, hopefully, I can begin to blog more regularly soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reckless Faith

"As I read the inspirational words (of an old sermon), there came to me a sudden glimpse of the privilege and the glory of being called to walk in paths so dark, that only an utter recklessness of trust would be possible! 'You have not passed this way heretofore' it may be; but today it is your happy privilege to prove, as never before, your loyal confidence in Jesus, by starting out with Him on a life and walk of faith, lived, moment by moment in absolute childlike trust in Him." -- Hannah Whitall Smith

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Van Gogh- Our New Artist

We have been studying Mary Cassatt's life and work for the summer and into the school year. We have so enjoyed her life story, especially of her time in Paris, and her friendship with Edgar Degas. As the mom, and the one who was planning the study, I especially enjoyed the novel "Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper" by Harriet Scott Chessman. It provided an enjoyable read with some good information by a well-researched author about the life that Mary and her family enjoyed in Paris during her painting years and Lydia's illness. The children can recognize and name several of Mary's paintings and are looking forward to seeing some of them someday when we visit their cousins in Washington D.C. and visit the National Gallery of Art.

But, now we are moving on in our art studies and have chosen Van Gogh. We enjoyed some of his paintings while in London when we often visited the National Gallery of London. Here are some of the books that I checked out at the library today in preparation for our study:

*My Brother, Vincent Van Gogh
*Vincent Van Gogh, Modern Artist
*Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist
*Vincent's Colors
*Visiting Vincent Van Gogh
*What Makes a Van Gogh a Van Gogh?
*The Yellow House: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin Side by Side

I am definitely considering how I can gently explain Van Gogh's death if necessary. But mostly, I want to share the wonderful art of amazing artist with my children. Starry Night is my favorite painting of all time and I am hoping that one of my children might love it as much as me!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

LOVE This Quote

"Don't become a stranger to your child's soul." -Abraham Joshua Heschel

Day in the Life of Our Homeschool

Here's a peek into our typical day:

Wake up and do morning routines. This includes bed-making, teeth-brushing, getting dressed and tidying up bedrooms for the children. I assist the youngest with all of the above.

Breakfast. Since Daddy is working remotely from home for the next few weeks until his job is finished, he surprised us with chocolate chip pancakes this morning. When mommy is in charge, much easier fare is prepared!

Next, we do our circle time, which includes going over Bible memory work (Psalm 23 from NIRV, right now), "Windows to the World" for geography (today was Bangladesh) and prayer, reading from "The Story for Kids", and working on patterns. We've been doing a fun thing, where the kids think up patterns to make by clapping, patting, etc. and then we create the pattern using pattern blocks to represent the A,B,C, etc. parts.

Next, individual work begins with the children. While I am working with one child, the others are working independently. (Ideally, of course!). Today, the oldest had to narrate from "Henry and Ribsy". I had him narrate all the chapters from memory and was very impressed with what he had retained, including some interesting phrases and whole portions of dialogue. He also had piano practice and lesson. He worked in his Horizons math book, and worked in his writing journal detailing his football practice last night.

Daughter worked on patterns with pattern blocks, and upper and lower case letters. She and I worked on her scrapbook where she narrated the text to me from the pictures. We played a game with the white board where she had to guess what letter I was making before I finished making it. Then, to keep score, we used tally marks and learned about those. Because it was her first time using tally marks, we talked about and practiced (lots!) counting by 5's. Then, she wanted to go play outside. She is my dig-in-the-dirt girl! She came in with two worms, so then she and I looked up worms in the "Handbook of Nature Study" -- not much there for her, but I will use the questions to formulate some little mini lessons and observation-type projects as we watch the worms. We talked about the importance of only keeping the worms for a short time and then releasing them back into their natural habitat.

The littlest, who is normally with us, was having a playdate with a neighbor. We normally do all the preschool type things with her. Painting and playdough are favorites. And she loves to be read to!

Usually, it's around lunch by this time, so we take a break for that. Then, it's outside for play/nature study. After that, we all do a house project for the next hour or so before rest time. Today we are making cookies for a new neighbor and working in the upstairs bedrooms. All of the children still take a rest each day. The oldest often read or play quietly, while the youngest still naps. This is time for mommy to regroup!

After rest time, there is usually snack and more outside play until supper. On Tuesdays, though, we have "Tuesday Teatime" where we do art study and poetry and manners. We are getting ready to study a new artist after spending several months with Mary Cassatt. We have so enjoyed her art! We'll be moving on to Van Gogh next week. Often, our poetry comes from Favorite Poems Old and New. Our favorite manners game is from EBoo and they are funny flash cards with pigs using nice manners. A book we use for manners is "Everyday Graces" by Karen Santorum. It is a truly beautiful book that we will use for years to come!

That's the short version of a day in the life of our very busy little homeschool!

Monday, September 8, 2008

New DL Article

Our new DiVine Lines women's newsletter is up from our church. Read below for my latest column. Oh, and be sure to check out these links for other wonderful articles.

"Hide and Seek"

Children love to play hide and seek. There’s something about the thrill of hiding and wondering whether or not you will be found. There’s something about being the
seeker and hoping to find the treasure behind the next door. I love to watch my own children play hide and seek. As toddlers, they used to hide and then immediately
call out, “Here I am!” because they really wanted to be found. When they got a bit bigger, they would hide in the most conspicuous places, thinking of course that they were really well hidden, and finding to their great disappointment that they were not. Lately, my son has invented a game called “Hide and Sneak” where it’s encouraged to sneak around and find different places to hide even as you are being sought.

I thought about the simple game of hide and seek recently as I was studying what the
Bible says about seeking God. Psalm 9:10 tells us that, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Jeremiah 29:13 promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Isn’t that amazing? While our human tendency is to hide from God just like Adam and Eve, God’s holy desire is to be found.

But who are those who find the Lord? Those who know God’s name and seek Him with all their hearts. What? Doesn’t God have one name… namely, well…God? Well, yes and no. The One True God revealed His character through many different “names” in the Old Testament. Names like El Shaddai (God Almighty), Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is There), and El Roi (The God Who Sees) are a few examples of ways in which God revealed Himself to people in certain circumstances to show who He was in their specific situation or trial. Through understanding more about God’s names, we can know more about his character and begin to understand what it means to truly seek Him.

Those who “find” God are also, according to scripture, those who seek Him with all their hearts. Recently, while reading Isaiah 31:1, I was struck by the ways in which human nature has not changed since the beginning of time. Isaiah writes, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.” As I read those verses, I was impressed
with deep conviction in my own heart. How often do I trust in my flesh even though I am enslaved by it (go down to Egypt for help), find a way of escape to sooth my flesh (rely on horses- a way of escape), trust in power, prestige, or material goods (trust in chariots – the symbol of military prestige and power at that time), and finally, rely on people to solve my problems or dispense advice (trust in the strength of horsemen – who are mere people)? It seems that those to whom Isaiah was writing at the time are no different than me. Human nature is not to seek God, but first to seek other things. That is why so many of the Psalmists remind themselves and the Israelites to seek God. It’s not what humans naturally want to do! But it is the only way to true life and peace.

Throughout the next few months in this column,I’d like to explore with you some of these “names” of God and how knowing them can help us to seek Him diligently and trust Him more. My prayer is that we would all become women who seek God with all of our hearts and not trust in anything or anyone else! Knowing God in this way will increase our trust and will remind us that in Him we will never be forsaken. Won’t you join me for a little game of “Find and Seek”?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How My Son Would Rate TV Shows

In discussing the movie ratings system, my son was extolling the virtues of "Y" to his sisters telling them that it was "very, very good for kids, and it's not like 'R'!". His baby sister, simply to annoy him, said, "But I like 'R'!"(which sounds more like 'ahhhh', but I digress). The sherriff in our family (which would be the boy) promptly said, "But 'R' means that shows have very bad words in them. Words like stupid! Now, do you like those words? I don't think so!"

If only it were so.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How To Choose Jammies and All About Spiders

Two conversations that had me cracking up tonight and also swooning with affection. First off, it's baby daughter:

"But mama, I'm weally scawed of a mommy-long-legs! Because they can kill you!" (Well, at least she's stopped referring to every spider she sees as a tarantula.)

And next up, daughter in the middle:

"Mom, what jammies are you wearing tonight?"

Me: "I'm not sure. Why?"

Daughter in the Middle: "Because I wanna be like you."

Me: "But I don't have any Cinderella jammies."

Daughter in the Middle: "No, mom. I'm not talking about the pattern!"

Me: "Well, okay, how about I wear shorts and a t-shirt like you?"

Daughter in the Middle: "But mom, my bear doesn't have any shorts and she wants to be like me!"

Yes. Now I definitely see the dilemma.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It Seems That When Your Children Have Lived In England...

...they spend more time drawing round-abouts on their sidewalk chalk driveway maps than they do drawing stop signs. Hmmmm....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Perhaps She Has a Future in Broadcasting

Miss Middle announced this morning as she arrived in our room: "I just came in here for some ammouncements, Mom!"

"First, there is a spider web on my light."

"And second," (pointing proudly to her outfit) "This matches!"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On Why the 6-Year-Old Boy is So Endearing To Me

This quote sums it up:

"Mom, I wanna smell your skin. (Snnnniiiifff!) Oh, yeah, you've got that lotion on."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Praying for Piglet

The three-year-old was wailing from her bed this evening. I went up to inquire about the circumstances since she had just been down to visit me where I had prayed with her about her fear of "scawee bad dweams". I went up to give her a talking to, truth be told. But when I got there, she held up her stuffed cuddle, Piglet. "I prayed for you, remember? You will be fine. You need to go to sleep now." To which she sadly replied, "Yeah, mommy, but Pigwet's still scaaad. You need to pray for him too." Or maybe, sort of like Piglet says of Pooh, my little baby just wanted to be sure of me.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.

"Yes, Piglet?"

"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."

Do you think God's answers prayers for stuffed Piglets? Let's hope so. For the sake of three-year-olds.

A Three Book Weekend

Three books I am reading this weekend, with one quote from each:

"I don't know when the suspicion began for me, but for a while I've had a growing fear that my own life is small, when I crave bigness. I would like to make a grand contribution to the world to justify my existence and help define me. I don't want to be small. I want to be incredibly, unbelievably signifigant. (And yet could anyone accuse Jane of being insignificant?) I know that part of that is good and spiritual - this desire for a life not to be wasted - and yet it seems a great stroke of pride. I hope that somehow this proximity to Jane's life will help me understand my own"
From "A Walk With Jane Austen" by Lori Smith

"The essence of meditation is to think your way into the very mind of the inspired writers who were granted by inspiration to think the thoughts of God. Think and mull and ponder and chew until you see God (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:21) the way they see God - namely, as precious and valuable and beautiful and desirable. This is how the Word serves joy."
From "When I Don't Desire God" by John Piper

"For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore, be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."
From "The Bible" Hebrews 4:10-11

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Today, while my daughter was drawing me a picture, she and her little sister started arguing. I had requested a picture of hearts and flowers and trees and rainbows, some of her best subjects. ;) She was doing an earnest job, adding lots of colors and taking her time. Often, because she is an artistic little person, she sees and does things differently. And her little sister decided to point out to her that what she was drawing didn't look like hearts at all. Of course, in typical little girl fashion, she started trying to convince her sister that indeed they were hearts. She tried explaining the shape of things, attempting to convince her of validity of hearts drawn in this fashion. Little sister, being the literal little 3 year old that she is, insisted that no, they were not hearts. After this disagreement, the older-sister-heart-artist wailed loudly to me that her baby sister was saying that "These are not hearts and they are, Mommy! See?!"

As I answered, I found myself not thinking much about what I was saying. Sometimes the mothering thing just takes over and the little axioms, etc. just fly out of one's mouth. But after I said what I had said to console her, I was prompted to stop and think about it. You see, my daughter sounded so very much What I told her was this, "Why are you worrying about what she thinks? You are drawing this masterpiece for me." Yes. Yes. Yes. How much time do I spend wondering what others think of my ideas, motives, character, instead of remembering that God is the recipient I want to be content with pleasing Him. When I am tempted to explain my behavior, or convince others of what God has spoken into my heart, or hope that my relationship with Him appears valid and real to those around me, that is faulty and unfruitful thinking. It's not necessarily bad, it just so misses the mark. He is the reason I live. He is the reason I create...and do...and am.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Beth Moore teachings about the Greek word poiema, which means masterpiece and is used in Ephesians 2:10 which states, "For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we could walk in them." In the teaching Beth says that the word translated into English as workmanship is poiema in Greek, and thus can mean masterpiece. I suppose it's hard to believe that He's creating me into a masterpiece, but indeed, He is an artist and it's true!

Nicole Nordeman penned a song a few years called Anyway. I'll end this little musing with the lyrics. It seems that they are quite appropriate when it comes to masterpieces.

Bless the days this restoration is complete
dirty, dusty, something must be underneath
So I scrape and I scuff
though it's never quite enough
I am starting to see me finally

A gallery of paintings new and paintings old
Guess its no suprise that I'm no michaelangelo
every layer of mine
hides a lovely design
Itit might take a little patience
it might take a little time

but you called me beautiful
when you saw my shame
and you palced me on the wall

you who have begun this work will someday see
A portrait of the holiness you meant for me
so I polish and shine till its easier to find
even an outline of mine

but you called me beautiful
when you saw my shame
and you palced me on the wall

It seems that even with all my imperfections, He is willing to call me beautiful, place me on a wall, and create me in His image to be a masterpiece. Sweet Jesus, may that ever and always be enough for me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Good Quote for the Homeschooling Mom

When I feel I should be doing "more", I need to remember that...

"More time with less people equals greater impact for the Kingdom."

--Dawson Trotman, founder of Navigators

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hero Worship

DS6: "Daddy, Tiger Woods is my favorite golfer on t.v."

Daddy: "Really?"

DS6: "But you're my favorite golfer for real."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Daughter Comments on My Hair

"Mom, is that a wig? 'Cause it looks good today!"

I do surmise that these little people are all about keeping us humble.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Favorite Quote...

...from the book "Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper"...

"Her days glitter, round and new, like gold coins in a huge jar, filled almost to the brim, her only worry how to spend them." --Harriet Scott Chessman

In the book, this is the way that the dying Lydia Cassatt, sister to the famous artist Mary, describes her sister. The language in this book is like chocolate --rich and sweet. Chessman, in describing the Paris impressionists scene and the relationship between two sisters, is a word artist, painting beautiful word pictures. The story of the sisters engages the reader with such tenderness. I loved this book and learned much more about Mary Cassatt in the process.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I took two of my kiddos to the doctor's office today for their yearly check-ups, the first they have had since we returned home from London. Their sister, who had her check-up about a month ago, had gotten 3 vaccinations at her appointment. Needless to say, that was the main question they had about going to the doctor themselves, "Will we have to get shots too?" I looked at both of their vaccination records and assured them that no, they should not be getting shots today at their appointment. But, guess what? I was wrong. Both needed one shot to get them up to date with healthiness! I felt really bad, as if I had purposely deceived them, when in reality, I hadn't. But they still looked at me as if I had while the nurse stuck their little legs!

I was thinking more about this today as I reflected on what I tell them everytime they get shots. When they ask, "But why do we have to get shots if they hurt so much and we're not sick?" I always tell them that the shots, even though they hurt for a few moments, can prevent them from getting very sick at some later date. Of course, being children, they are much more interested in the here and now. They don't want the shot. But, really, aren't grown-ups just kids with big bodies? Because sometimes I want to ask God the same things, mainly, "Why am I going through this?" And His answer is much like mine, "Because I have more information than you. I know what is best for you." I can also relate to my children's ideas: "But it hurts and all seems okay right now!"

Sometimes what I am going through at the time feels much bigger than the temporary pin-prick of a shot, but I am reminded of Paul's words, that our current experiences are "light and momentary troubles". And, maybe the Father, like me, knows that the "shot" will innoculate me in the end. I need these trials, these innoculations, against passivity and hard-heartedness. In the end, they increase my faith and remind me that growth in Christ is not painless. But pain is necessary for growth. Do you think God hands out stickers in heaven for those who endured their shots?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier

Last weekend, I read "Burning Bright" by Tracy Chevalier. I was drawn to the book because it was historical fiction set in London during the time of the French Revolution. I found that I was easily drawn into the book and the lives of the characters, especially those of Jem and Maggie, the two characters around whom the book mostly centers. Having lived in London and done some travel in the English countryside, I was easily transported to the locales in the book.

Jem and his family have traveled to London from a very small town in mid-western England in order to heal wounds in their family and to make chairs for a famous circus owner, Richard Astley. As the story unfolds, it turns out that Jem's family moves in next door to the rather famous and not-so-popular (at the time) William Blake. Jem meets Maggie who is basically a city street rat whose brash and even dishonest ways irritate Jem's mother, but fascinate Jem. Maggie sets to work right away showing Jem the ropes city life. Jem and Maggie become fast friends and are often found talking with or following the Blakes. They are curious and fascinated by his lifestyle and by his courage in supporting the French Revolution. He is also interested in them, sharing poems with them and showing them his printing press.

The climax of the book is well-written, with Jem's father and Blake being ostracized in the neighborhood for their unwillingness to sign a petition supporting the crown of England. Jem and his family return home and Maggie is left behind caring for Maisie, Jem's sister, who has been taken in by the Blakes. Maggie and Jem are eventually reunited and the story ends away from London. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it for those interested in Blake, late 1700's England, or just a good summer read.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Current Reading

"The God of All Comfort" by Hannah Whitall Smith

"The Call to Joy and Pain" by Ajith Fernando

"The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Henri Nouwen

"Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper" by Harriet Scott Chessman

Psalm 42 and 1/2 Thessalonians

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thankfulness in All Circumstances

Be Still by Stephanie Marrott
Be Still

“Is a man ever made to drink the cup of affliction when no drop of mercy is
intermingled? Is he ever visited with calamity which does not in some way
contemplate his own temporal or eternal good? Could we see all, we should see
that we are never placed in circumstances in which there is not much for which we
should thank God. And when, in His dealings, a cloud seems to cover His face,
let us remember the good things without number which we have received, and
especially remember that we are in the world of redeeming love, and we shall find
enough for which to be thankful.”

--Albert Barnes

Monday, May 19, 2008

Praed Street

I came across this site recently which is called The Way We See It and is dedicated to Londoners taking pictures of specific locations and then putting them all on a flicker stream. I was excited to see some photos of the very building we lived in when we first arrived in London. This is the building at West End Quay on Praed Street that we lived in for one month after our arrival. Here is another picture. And here is the little souvenir shop we passed each day as we walked along. Another view of the building with a deserted pub across the street, which is very near to the metro Tesco where we would get our "daily shop" in. And finally the zebra crossing from St. Mary's Hospital, whose ambulance sirens kept us up half the night until we got used to them. Thanks for taking the trip with me to Praed Street, London!

Little Steps of Faith

"If we would have great faith we must begin to use the little faith we already have. Put it to work by reverent and faithful praying, and it will grow and become stronger day by day. Dare today to trust God for something small and ordinary and next week or next year you may be able to trust Him for answers bordering on the miraculous." -A.W. Tozer

Since becoming a parent nearly 7 years ago now, I had to learn to trust God in new and more meaningful ways. I will never forget holding my newly firstborn and thinking how very underprepared I was to be his parent --and this after reading every book and magazine on new parenting that was out at the time! Then after my second child, who was born only 15 months after the first was born, there was a new level of faith required. This time, I needed to trust God that He would supply all I needed as I endured sleepless nights with a newborn and the demands of a toddler.

About 9 months after my middle child was born, she and her Daddy took a nasty tumble down the stairs that caused a traumatic brain injury and could very nearly have cost her life. In those moments, I remember crying out to God that I simply did not have enough faith to give her back to Him. But in the end, I came to the determination that I had no choice. And in His grace, He spared not only her life, but her health in its entirety. You would never know now that she had suffered such an injury.

When my older two were merely 3 and 2 years old, our youngest was born. The faith required this time was for my own personal sanity, as I suffered with post-partum depression as I never had before, enduring torturous thoughts from the enemy about the health and safety of all of my children. I had to take very small steps of faith then, as miniscule steps were all I could muster. I had to believe that God had good plans for me and my children, plans to prosper and not to harm. I stood frequently in that promise.

This past year and a half required a new level and type of faith --the faith that is required to move away completely from all you know and into another culture with my family. The faith that is needed when one is lonely and isolated and alien. I grasped onto faith then with the very tips of my fingernails as if I were gripping onto the edge of a tall cliff. I learned in a very real sense that "Jesus Loves Me This I Know" at a point in my life when I have never felt more alone, unloveable, and bumbling.

Now, I am at another crossroads of faith, one that involves as I've written about previously, the provision of a job for our family. This new kind of faith - faith for our very sustenance - has proven difficult for me. In the end, I wrestle with my erroneous theology and find that I do not believe that I should expect anything more from God than my salvation. Hasn't that been gift enough? But He does promise to provide for his children, does He not? The perfectionist in me gets frustrated with my imperfect self in this new test of faith.

But this quote by Tozer (above) reminds me that the steps of faith that I have been taking all along have not been in vain. All of the faith steps above and others that I have not written about but have definitely lived out in the years since I invited Jesus into my heart all those many years ago --all of those little steps of faith--are the very foundation for which I will trust Him for the next big thing. And in the end, may there be something very miraculous indeed. Not the job that God provides, no, but the faith. The faith that believes He can do anything. The faith that becomes sight. And the legacy for our family when we tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Natural Thrill

Bird nest with eggs by James P. Blair
Bird nest with eggs

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter...
to be thrilled by the stars at night;
to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring -
these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
~John Burroughs

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sometimes Their Prayers Put Me to Shame

During our circle time today, we were praying for some church friends who are in Guatamala for the summer and we got to our "thanksgiving" portion of the prayer time. My two oldest blew me away by what they shared. One said, "Thank you God for our home and our family and for music and for books." The other said, "Thank you God for your Bible and your words that Jesus brought to us." I was astounded that the once simple prayers of thanks for home and family (which are very valid in their own right) had turned into thanksgiving for his good gifts of books and music and His wonderful Word. I am humbled to be praying with my little people. Through these simple every day experiences, sometimes God gives me a glimpse into the Kingdom people that He is growing them to be and I think about them in the future and I am excited and blown away and scared all at the same time. I am so thankful that as a mom I get to see these little pieces of their hearts during our prayer time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What? No Bank Holidays?

DS6 (while looking at our English calendar): "What?! Yesterday was a bank holiday and we missed it?! And dad could have stayed home for that day?!"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Guess I'll Be Googling This...

DD5: "Mom, what is paint made out of?"

Me: "I'm not sure. That's a good question."

DD5: "Well, you're so smart. Shouldn't you know that?"

How's that for a back-handed compliment? ;)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Starting With Myself

We've been suffering some bad attitudes around here of late. Lots of me-first arguments, raised voices, and harsh tones. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by 9 (AM!). It's funny...I think I often am frustrated by my own expectations of what I think I deserve. Sinful thoughts such as these creep into my mind often: I got up and had my quiet time, so I deserve not to have a bad attitude myself. I pour and pour and pour into my children only to have them be unappreciative. I find it curious that some of the attitudes of ingratitude that I see in them are also found in me.

Today, as I sat down for a moment to pray after a difficult morning with one child in particular, I was asking God what to do. And so loudly, so clearly in my mind, I heard "Start with you." Ouch. But how true it is! How can I expect my little people to cultivate attitudes of gratitude if they hear mommy complaining? How can I expect them to go about their chores in a cheerful manner when I do not?

I have been reading some posts lately at a new (to me) blog called Metro Moms. They have encouraged me to cultivate redemptive speech. Among other things in this particular entry, I read a quote from Jerry Bridges which reminded me that “We tend to exhibit many sins most freely in the context of our own families.” Yep. So, let me start this day anew with fresh resolve to confront those sins in my own life and heart before expecting my children to have mastered them. Let me start with myself.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Me, Lately

Watching Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, and Jon and Kate Plus 8

Reading Seasons of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson, 1 Corinthians

Meditating On Matthew 6:25-34

Praying for My brother's family (my sister in law is in treatment for cancer) and hubby's job, my friends (various needs)

Cleaning out my garage and my bedroom closet (ugh!)

Looking forward to golfing with my husband this summer (didn't get to while in England)

Missing the English parks with their lovely spring blooms

Can't wait to plant my flowers

Listening to Michael Buble

Working on less worrying

Cooking lots of muffins lately

Most recent purchase shoes at Payless (it's BOGO, you know!)

Trying to figure out a good way to do family devotions with Dad

Friday, April 25, 2008

Healthy Habits of a Happy Homeschool

I'm not much of a "meme" girl, but this one from Heart of the Matter seemed to be something I could relate to.

One habit that we have with our homeschool philosophy is to attach important things to things you already do. For example, our Bible time always happens during a meal (either breakfast or dinner) and our art study/manners time always occurs during our tea time on Tuesdays. This way, it becomes a habit and we are more likely to do it if it is hooked to something else in our routine.

Tuesday teatime is another habit we've established this year. Please do not read this to be some perfect family time where I make homemade little finger sandwiches while we read classic literature. While that seems wonderful, it is a bit unrealistic for our family at this stage. Still, I wanted to establish the habit of a special relationship building time each week into our routine. And, as mentioned above, I decided to use this time to do our art study and manners instruction, as it was conducive to this type of occasion. The children LOVE this time and are so sad when it is over. Plus, I no longer feel guilty about the desire to do more with art and manners because it is done in such a fun, natural, and regular manner.

Another routine, related to the above manners and art study idea is to start small. Think of something you'd like to add into your routine or curriculum and start small. For example, I used to read about art study and think I would have to create great notebooks, and mimic the styles of artist, etc during the study. Instead of trying to do my ideal art study time, I decided it was more important to start small. So, I chose an artist to focus on(Mary Cassatt), copied some questions from the Hearts and Trees blog, found my prints, and then each week we simply discuss the prints. We compare the prints each week to the other prints. I am astounded how simply 15-20 minutes per week with this routine has produced such joy and appreciation for art in my children. I will never forget when my youngest, who is barely three saw a familiar print in a book at the library and yelled out, "Mommy, look it's Young Muda (Mother )Sewing!" So, start small. Something is better than nothing.

Lastly, I try to have all my oldest's assignments for the week, including chores and special activities such as piano lesson or Spanish class, written out on one piece of paper for the entire week. I use a standard size printer paper, folded into fourths. I use each square for a day of the week, turning it over for Friday. The chores are always listed as "chores" until the day I assign them. Then, when I have the more specific list, I attach that post-it note to the current day. This saves me lots of trouble in explaining. And it makes my big boy more responsible. Now, if I could get him to establish the habit of putting it in the same place each day! ;)

Well, I hope you can use some of these ideas. Check out the Heart of the Matter for more great habit ideas from fellow homeschooling families.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Why, Because of the DS, We Will Never Be On TLC's "How Clean Is Your House?"

"Mom, you might want to go get the...umm...umm...umm...feather duster and go clean off that mower!"

Those first children are a bit an*l retentive now aren't they?

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Wonderful Spring Afternoon

Our pansies are within view as I type, blowing just a bit in the breeze. They sit on my white wicker outside table on our front porch. I have the windows up and I can hear my children outside playing. Little sister says, "Hey, guys! Do you wanna pway "Wing Awound Da Wosie?" And then, of course, the singing and twirling begins. I have witnessed several little accidents today. All involved Miss Middle. In the first, she was the hero. I sent her out earlier this morning to feed the dog. When she did not come back as soon as I'd anticipated, I went out to the garage to find her. I found her in great distress. "Mama!" she wailed, "I was just coming to get you because there is a birdie in our garage. He's trapped! See his little tail feather peeking out from under that box by the window? See, Mama! See?! We've got to help him!" So, we helped the mourning dove escape to fly free outside of our garage. The second two accidents involved Miss Middle as was a falling-off-of-the-monkeybars type of accident, the second was a falling-off-of-the-swing-and-getting-her-feet-caught-in-the-swing-chain type of accident. Never one to miss an opportunity for drama, both of these incidents brought about much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Well, that's all for now, I must go collect my latest gift from the girls...a dandelion bouquet.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Praying for the Job Search

My brother recently sent me a package with two books in it. One was titled, "Worry: Pursuing a Better Path to Peace" and the other "Running Scared". Do you think he's trying to send me a message? I had recently spoken to the sweet man about our family's uncertainty regarding hubby's job. The plant where hubby has worked since getting out of college fifteen years ago is closing in June. We are uncertain as to where God is taking us next. We are waiting expectantly for God to provide a new job for this family.

Throughout this season of uncertainty and waiting I have wrestled with many questions and seen my faith for what it is...and isn't. I now realize that one of the faulty beliefs I've held is that God is always waiting to "teach me a lesson". I have been surprised to learn how very little I trust in God's goodness. Could God actually gift this family with the desires of our heart? That has been tough for me to think, say, even to type here. The key scripture that God keeps taking me back to to confront that faulty thinking is from Matthew 7, "What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf would give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him." Now, that is not to say that the "good gift" that I desire is or is not the will of God in this particular situation, but it is life-giving to know that my Father will provide good gifts for his children, which includes our family. I find it very hard --presumptuous even -- to say and believe that, but I choose to believe based on the truth in this Scripture.

Right now, we are living to enjoy each simple moment in our wonderful life. And, we are simply praying that the God of the Heavens, the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the God who is our Provider will align our will to His. And in that, I know that He will answer our prayer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thank Goodness God Made Worms Regenerative

A conversation in our driveway this afternoon:

Me to baby girl 3: "Do you still have your worm?"

Baby Girl 3: "Yeah, but I broked him."


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Real Life Learning -- Cooking With Mom

Another real-life learning experience that we try to incorporate on a regular basis around here is cooking. Each day, I have a "helper of the day" who gets to help with special chores, gets to choose activities, etc. This was borne out of necessity of course, to prevent arguing. But, I'm sure that never happens at your house, right?! Anyway, the helper of the day usually has the opportunity to help out in the kitchen, often helping me to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am quite sure that, yes, it would be easier and quicker to do it without the little hands. But, the skills they learn and the time we spend together working at a common task (read: relationship building!)are well worth the increased time and effort! Today, the my son and I made this for breakfast:

French Toast Casserole
1 loaf of french bread
1/2 c of butter
2/3 c of brown sugar
cinnamon to taste
1 c of milk
1/2 t of salt
3 eggs

Melt butter in 9x9 pan. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over melted butter. Beat eggs, salt, and milk together in a bowl. Dip slices in egg mix. Place in pan and back at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Turn each slice over at 15 minutes).

We love this recipe and the helper and I decided to top the french toast slices off with peaches. What a hit! I have found so many benefits to having the children helping out in the kitchen this way. I mentioned a few of them above, but I also find that being more independent, more willing to take risks, and eager to help are a few added benefits. And also the children are learning so much about cooking, math, etc. while helping out.

Just another little bit of real life learning in our homeschool!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lifting Hands Blog

I have been so blessed by this site. It is a site where prayers for children, usually taken right from scripture and highly influenced by Stormie O'Martian's work, are written at the beginning of each week. I write these prayers down on my spiral-bound notecards and then put them up in my kitchen to pray for my children as I am reminded throughout the week. I highly encourage you to visit and pray for your children as well through using this wonderful tool.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Real Life Learning

One of the things I love about homeschooling are the opportunities for real life learning. I remember as a school teacher having to teach my second graders about the proper formation of a letter and how to address an envelope. Of course, I wanted this to be a real life experience for them, but often, we ended up using a workbook page or something, just so they could get lots of practice. With homeschooling, these things are learned in the context of real life. This week, my son wanted to write a get-well letter to a friend. He used the inspiration from his Bible reading and drew a lovely picture and put some encouraging words for this friend. Then we put it in an envelope, and in the context of this real experience, he began to learn about the proper way to address an envelope. With this experience, he has a reason to learn. And that is motivating. For student and for mommy!

Spring Has Sprung!

"Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf in springtime." ---Martin Luther

I was really looking forward to today because the weather was supposed to be warm and the sun was supposed to be shining. We needed to get some work in the yard done.
Well, the weather turned out to be beautiful. As I type it is sunny and 60 degrees. Last week was rainy and quite chilly most days, so the sun was a welcome visitor! I really hope he decides to stick around.

We did get out into the yard and do some cleaning up. We were excited to get out and do this because we had been gone all last year and some of the trees, bushes, and beds etc. were in need of pruning, sprucing up, and weeding. We finally got all of the beds cleared out of weeds, leaves, etc. and got the trees trimmed. The most frustrating part of the day was cutting the ornamental grass and cleaning it up. My sweet neighbor came over to help out with the trimming with his chain saw! And another frustration became some beastly and persistent vinca vine that had apparently fallen out of a potted plant and into the landscape in a previous year. Who knew that sweet vinca vine that I always add to all my pots could be so pesky in the garden?! Anyway, the beds are cleared, the trees are pruned, and the little buds and perennials are now beginning to peek out from their underground winter homes.

So far, we've seen the beginnings of hostas, irises, lillies, peonies, and japanese fern. I simply love to see the little buds bursting forth from the cold, hard ground as it begins to soften. I am always reminded as I take off the old dead plant growth and see the new green ones of the beauty of new life. I always think of the spiritual life when gardening. The garden has such perfect metaphors for these things I think. We are also planning to plant some pansies and violas in pots for the front porch tomorrow.

I am hoping to plant some vegetables for the first time this year, add to my landscape with perennials and bulbs, and then to plant some sunflowers for the children. I saw in Family Fun magazine a darling sunflower "house" that I would love to attempt, but fear might hold me back, as it seems like such a big project. I recently bought a book that I've gotten from the library several times called "Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots" that I'll be using with the children as we begin to get outside more. It has all kinds of creative ideas for kids in the garden.

What are you doing in the garden this spring?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Two Favorite Quotes From Saturday

On the way home from seeing "Horton Hears a Who", my son said to his daddy and I, "Man, mom, that Jojo had 96 sisters! That's a lot of responsibility, because he's the oldest of course!"

And on the way to said movie, my youngest, who is three, looked at her older sister, who is five and said, "Do you like my tights, sisdah? Do you like my haih bows?" And big sister replied, "Yes, but you should have worn your spotty pants because they matched better with that dress." I guess the fashion sisterhood begins very early!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Then and Now

Last year, for Easter, we were just settling into our new home in London. Hubby and I reflected today on the differences between the two. Here is a comparison.

Last Year
Were in a new (to us) semi-detached home, with little to no Easter decorations.
Were worshiping here.
Took public transport to church with lots of hung-over folks who wondered why we were so dressed up.
Had lunch at McDonald's.
Played at Hyde Park -- no egg hunt.
Couldn't find Easter baskets and kids got Easter bags instead.
Couldn't find jelly beans or many Easter goodies, but the Brits sure love their large chocolate Easter eggs and have them in any theme available. Somehow the Bart Simpson egg didn't really "speak" Easter to us. Alas, we skipped the British tradition!
Had fresh hot cross buns.
Got dressed up for church only to realize that this was NOT apparently an Easter tradition in Britain.
Hubby had a four-day weekend and we spent it visiting the Broadstairs beach and Dover Castle.

This Year
"Back Home Again in Indiana"...(Sing it with me, people. Okay, so if you're not a Hoosier, you don't even know that's a song!)
Worshipped at our home church and sat beside my mama today.
Took our van to church and wondered to myself how could it be full of so much junk, yet again.
Had our traditional Easter feast at mother's -- ham, baked beans, bread, buffet salad, asparagus, cheese potatoes and chocolate pie.
Had an egg hunt in grammy's back yard.
Dug out the Easter baskets that had gone unused from last year.
Jellybeans galore!
I miss those hot cross buns, and all those yummy British bakeries.
Got dressed up for church only to be attacked by a three-year-old weilding a pink chapstick with landed right in the middle of my new dress.
Hubby has a four-day weekend and we spent it shopping for a new vacuum and doing laundry.

Since being back, we find it interesting to play the "what were we doing last year at this time" game. Thanks for reading along!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter

"We need to immerse ourselves over and over again for long periods of time and very quietly into the living, speaking, acting, suffering and dying of Jesus; so that we may recognize what God promises and what He fulfills." --Deitrich Bonhoffer

Thursday, March 20, 2008

So, Maybe We'll Write a Book

I was on the phone with a friend today while my two girls played outside. I was watching from the back door and noticed that the three year old was chewing something. This is never a good feeling when you're the mommy and you know you haven't given your children anything to eat. And they are outside. Where it is really muddy and yucky. In the middle of our phone conversation, my friend heard:

Me: "What are you eating?!"

Three Year Old: "Ice."

Me: "Yuck!! No, that ice has lots of yucky stuff in it!"

No response.

Me: "Lots of yucky stuff is in that ice like maybe..bird poop!!" (Do other mothers use such exaggeration to get their children to stop doing gross things?)

No response. Child keeps chewing.

Me: Yuck! Spit it out!"

Finally, the three year old obeys and spits out the ice.

At which point my friend said, "You know, we should write a book or something. The things that we hear each other say on the phone, without really seeing what's going on, are just so silly. Imagine if some random person heard that."

It's true, when you're a mother, you could be quoted saying some really, really weird things. I wonder what the neighbors think?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

We Stopped In Montgomery, Too, Y'all

On the way to Destin last week, we stopped over in Montgomery for a night. Being the history buff that I am, I made hubby stop at the visitor's center that was right by our hotel. Boy, was I glad that I did! I didn't realize what a history goldmine that we'd landed in. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Hank Williams, and the first white house of the Confederacy where all there. Here are some photos:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Where We've Been For the Past Ten Days

After spending nearly two years without a nice warm summer to speak of, we were excited to make our way to Destin, Florida for a wonderful and relaxing vacation with friends. Somehow, the Panhandle was much warmer than the last trip we had made to the beach with the children --to the North Sea in Scotland!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring is Coming --The Red-Winged Blackbirds and Robins Are Back!

The red-winged blackbirds are back, as are the robins around these parts. It is so funny how the robin seems such a common bird in spring, summer, and fall, yet seems such a welcome sight at the end of a long, cold winter!

Here is a list of the birds we've seen at our feeder since January:

red-winged blackbird
house sparrow
song sparrow
purple finch
house finch
male and female cardinal
black-capped chickadee
mourning dove
brown-headed cowbird
dark-eyed junco

Monday, March 3, 2008

Little House on the Prairie Narration - Ch 1; Pages 1-5

The boy is reading "Little House on the Prairie". Here is his first narration.

"Pa wanted to move West, because he liked to see the deer and the fawns. Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary and baby Carrie moved West. Their cousins waved and kissed them goodbye. And their grandmas and aunts too."

Please humor me as I use this as a place to record little things about our homeschool day so that I can keep track! ;)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Preaching the Gospel to His Little Self

He runs upstairs, something triggering a thought and an excitement to share something good, something very good.

He comes down with this.

He proceeds to read us all a Psalm. We are all encouraged.

He tells us how the Psalms are ministering to his little boy heart. "At night, when I am scared, I read a happy one and it makes me feel better."

Father God, thank you...thank you...thank you. Continue to remind me that it is YOU who is the heart-wooer. I trust you with my boy. Never let go of him. Pierce his heart with your love each day until You consume his very life.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Green Hour Challenge - Week Two - Describing

We took Green Hour Challenge number 2 this week. We had a lovely day with a bit of sunshine and warmer weather today, so we headed out into our yard. I pre-read the assigned pages from the Handbook of Nature Study, and therefore learned about the importance of preparing the children what to look for, etc. I simply told them that we were going to take a nature walk, and that we would be listening, looking, and touching things. I tried to model curiosity and a posture of listening/observing.

I was amazed at the things we were able to see in our very own backyard, which is mostly used for swinging, sliding, and bird feeding! We found evidence of bunnies (you know the little brown kind!) in two places in the yard, and because it was Saturday and daddy was with us, he pointed out the places in the yard that he has noticed bunnies hiding.

We visited a grouping of bushes near the back of the yard where birds seem to gather. There were clusters of small red berries on that bush. We discussed that perhaps the birds like the bush for the berries. Then we took note of the area around the feeder. The birds had been quite messy with the seed and there was much on the ground. We were delighted to see the branches on the tree turning a scarlet red color on the ends!

So, here are the observations that each family member made
DD3 heard birds, saw three birds, and felt soft, little berries.
DD5 heard tweeting, saw spotted leaves and felt nice soft "hay" (aka dead grass!).
DS6 heard chirping, saw red berries, and felt dry, hard grass
Daddy heard hooting, saw a flying kite, and felt a smooth and rough tree.
Mommy heard barking, saw red branch tips, and felt cool, gentle wind.

All in all a wonderful challenge full of fun and lots of noticing in our very own backyard! We have decided to start with a family nature journal with a weekly entry.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Girly Conversation to Remember

As a teacher, I was always amazed at the conversations girls had as opposed to boys, who often played together without much conversation. Today, I witnessed just such a conversation between my own two young daughters.

DD 3: "Sowwy, Sisdah."

DD 5: "For what?"

DD 3: "For talkeen back to you."

DD5: "It's okay. I'm not the mom. She's the mom (pointing to me)."

DD3: "I won't be wude to you anymoe."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quote for Sunday

"The church or individual that is Bible taught without being Spirit taught (and there are many of them) has simply failed to see that truth lies deeper than the theological statement of it." --A.W. Tozer

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Latest Barnes and Noble Visit

Hubby and I went to Barnes and Noble for our date tonight. We also went to Hobby Lobby. How generous is hubby? I suppose he's adding all this up so that in the summer we will have lots of golf dates. ;)

Here's what's in the bag from tonight:

*The Archeological Study Bible (Told hubby I wanted this for my upcoming bday, but he said to get it tonight, as he was also interested. Again, isn't hubby generous?)

*In Britain magazine (Helps me with my English cravings and reminds me of all the things I love and miss.)

*Leadership magazine (always terrific!)

*Discipleship Journal magazine (Wanted this because the theme this month is looking at the Bible with fresh eyes.)

*Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman (Love my kiddos as they are, but I also love Leman's sage and tongue-in-cheek advice to parents.)

What didn't make it into the bag...(and is now in my amazon cart being saved for later or to be ordered from our fabulous bookstore at church)

*Knowing God by Name by David Wilkerson

*God's Joyful Surprise by Sue Monk Kidd

*What Women Want: The Life You Crave and How God Satisfies by Lisa T. Bergren and Rebecca Price

*The Faith by Charles Colson

*Creating Keepsakes magazine

*Today's Christian Woman magazine

*Midwest Living magazine

*The Unschooled Mind by Howard Gardner

So, as you can see, I spent far less than I put away. Or at least that is how I justify my book madness.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Green Hour Challenge - Week One - Ice!

*****We are participating the the Green Hour Challenges being posted by Harmony Art Mom here. These can be for homeschoolers or just folks who want to instill a love and knowledge of nature in their children. I encourage you to participate as well.*****

We ventured out into the snow on Wednesday this week for our Green Hour Challenge. I am not known around this house as being the adventurous snow-mom, so I was quite proud of myself, truth be told. Now, when it's fall, spring, or summer, I would rather be outside, but in the winter I tend to hibernate. But, snow it did and remembering Barb's words, "even if it is really cold and yucky", we put on our boots, buttoned up our coats, and headed out!

The children enjoyed walking in the snow and really noticed the ice and icicles that were covering things as we walked. My middle daughter in particular was enamored by the diamond-like qualities of the ice. Since I just have one officially school-aged person, we mostly spent time observing and chatting, and watching our breath vaporize. ;) I will note that the Water Forms chapter of the Handbook of Nature Study has a small bit about ice and a very simple experiment about placing a jar of water outside in the cold to observe what happens. Maybe we'll try this next week.

Here are some of the quotes that struck me (for future encouragement) in reading the Handbook of Nature Study for this week's assignment:

"Nature study gives the child practical and helpful knowledge."

"Nature study cultivates the child's imagination...cultivat(ing) in him a perception and regard for what is true and the power to express it."

"But more than all, nature study gives the child a sense of companionship with life out-of-doors and an abiding love of nature."

"Out in this, God's beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care."

"In nature study, any teacher can with honor say, "I do not know"; for perhaps the question is as yet unanswered by the great scientists. But she should not let the lack of knowledge be a wet blanket thrown over her pupils' interest. She should say frankly, "I do not know; let us see if we cannot together find out this mysterious thing."

"But they (the students) never lost confidence in me or in my knowledge; they simply gained respect for the vastness of the unknown."
"If nature study is made a drill, its pedagogic value is lost. When it is properly taught, the child is unconscious of the mental effort or that he is suffering the act of teaching. As soon as nature study becomes a task, it should be dropped. But how could it ever be a task to see that the sky is blue or the dandelion golden or to listen to the oriole in the elm!"

Thanks, Barb for the challenge. We're looking forward to Challenge #2!

Baby DD to Middle DD while trying to "Wook at Mommy and Daddy Buh-dees (Birdies) Out Da Window"

"I NEED THOSE RE-NOP-AH-LAHS (translation: binoculars) RIGHT NOW!!!!!"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Downside of a Happy Heart

My middle dd who is known as the happy girl in our family, because she is always singing and smiling, recently shared with me the downside of her joy. "Mom," said she, "I have got to quit humming. I really need to. I really try to quit, but I never can. Even at night, mommy, I hum. But I really want to stop!" Of course, my response was, "Why?" To which she matter-of-factly replied, "Because it's hurting my throat!"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Little Moments

"Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous glowing pearls. And strung together, built upon one another, lined up through the days and the years, they make a life, a person. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than at the movies. But this is what I'm finding, in glimpses and flashes: This is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I'm waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. this is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets --this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience." --Shanna Niequist

I've been collecting my own strand of pearls recently. My own necklace of little moments that when I look back on them, I can recall with each one the joy in the moment. Like a pearl necklace, with each finger rubbing over the sphere of each pearl, one single memory, making up the strand of my own pedestrian life. Here are some of the moments that I'm adding to my strand:

*The gleeful joy that my son exhibited last week as we practiced loving-kindness toward a "secret pal" in our own family.

*The look of shock, surprise, and pleasure while watching the eyes and countenance of my youngest as she attempted, and for the first time succeeded, in completing a summersault. And then the pride of her older sister, as she turned to me and said, "I taught her that!"

*Watching my daughter with her daddy and realizing that he is truly her hero. To put it simply, answers to prayer --that my own daughters might have a father who is worthy of hero-worship.

*Listening to my middle daughter and her own little vocabulary of communication. Her latest word is mistaked, as in, "I mistaked." Oh, I want to remember that one. And I want to live like her, not hanging on to my mistakes, simply stating that I mistaked and then moving back to my joy.

My pearls are not the same as yours. But you have them, too. What are they? Are you collecting? I want to be savoring the pearls in the every day that is my life, not overlooking one single treasure. My glorious, ordinary, one life.

By the way, the quote is from Niequist's new book, "Cold Tangerines", a glorious book of anecdotes about the discipline of celebration. Highly recommended. Delicious writing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Don't Miss...

Shannon, Boomama and Shaun Grove's Uganda posts today. Click the Compassion International button in the sidebar where it says "read". Sorry, I'm having trouble linking them here. But, really, read them. Be changed.

Career Talk With the Boy in Our Family

Tonight, the kiddos discovered a new book from the "my-mommy-used-to-be-a-teacher-library" that is now in our home. It comes in quite handy at this homeschool! Anyway, the discovered and asked to read at bedtime, "Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse" by Leo Lionni. My son immediately noticed that the book had been a Caldecott Honor winner. He loves to look for gold and silver medals! And then announced that he had chosen his future career. "When I grow up, I'm going to be an illustrator like Tomie De-Poe-la!" He's always loved Tomie and even as a tiny boy has been drawn to and easily recognized his illustrations. We love the Strega Nona books, his illustrated Bible stories, and now my son is reading "26 Fairmount Avenue" which is the first in a series of memoirs that Tomie has written about his life. I just thought that was a sweet story about the connections he is making in his reading. And that he is realizing that writing and illustrating are careers. And that one day he'll be a grown up needing one (a career, that is!).

On the career note, we've recently been talking with the children about the fact that daddy will be needing a new job soon. And that might mean that we have to move. I asked the children if they would ever want to move back to London. "No!" both the big kids answered adamantly. Interesting! Anyway, my son had a new career path for Daddy and some good logic to go with it. His suggestion? Goodwill. Now, this made me ask why! He said, "Well, it's very close," which I suppose it is since daddy now works 30 minutes away, and the Goodwill is about 8 minutes from our house. And since we had been discussing London! I also began to think that all the decluttering that I've been doing lately had really impacted the way my son had been viewing life. From his perspective, we are always dropping something off at the Goodwill, so why shouldn't Daddy work there. During the week days we'd certainly get to see him more often! ;)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Can't Stop Thinking About...

***Updated to add...Check out the new Compassion Uganda button on my sidebar to track these bloggers on this important journey. And don't forget to pray!***

Today as I was cleaning out my freezer and throwing away old, forgotten meat, etc.

Last night as I was looking at those new valentine's day placemats from Target that I just "had to have".

When I was wrapping the many things that I had gotten my baby girl for her birthday this weekend.

As I was making a list of the new books that I "needed".

I was thinking about, remembering, and being convincted by the truth of these words.

Forgive me, Jesus. Forgive me.

I have so far to go to give up my stuff-ism. I hope this post and the truth shared in it will never, ever, ever leave my mind. Or yours.

Please pray for the blogging team on the trip with Compassion International. And please pray for us rich Americans to release all that we think we need to embrace real life.

Brrrrr! and Birds

I see on my computer screen this morning that it is a whopping 10 degrees outside this morning. It was 50 degrees on Saturday and very sunny and nice, which got me all excited about spring. But, alas, this is Indiana and so spring is not right around the corner as it sometimes can appear to be.

We've been enjoying watching the birds in our feeders this past month. Our best day was when a whole flock of male and female cardinals descended. We plan to add cardinals to our nature journals this week and discuss the fact that they are the state bird of Indiana. We've also had lots of sparrows. We put out a suet feeder in hopes of attracting other birds that won't come to seed feeders, but have so far had little luck. We did see a beautiful blue jay, though.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Proper Focus

"Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion. The secret of life is theological and the key to heaven as well. We learn with difficulty, forget easily and suffer many distractions. Therefore we should set our hearts to study theology. We should preach it from our pulpits, sing it in our hymns, teach it to our children and make it the subject of conversation when we meet with Christian friends." --A. W. Tozer

Friday, February 1, 2008

Wonder-Full Mothering

"Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them." --Charlotte Mason

Monday, January 28, 2008

What Animal Would You Be?

Our "Family Love Talk" question was really Barbara WaWa-ish tonight. It was this: "If you could be any animal, what would you be?"

Here were the answers:

DS6: "A turtle because they live the longest of any animal." (Who knew? Man, I'm glad that kid can read!)

DD2: "A tow-toe" (because she copies everything her siblings say!)

Dad: "An eagle so I could fly."

Mom: "A whale so I could see what goes on in the ocean."

And the sweetest answer of the night...

DD5: "A sheep, 'cause God is a Shepherd."

Yeah. Let's all be sheep.

What I Love About Upward

My son is participating in the Upward basketball program at our church. It is a terrific program, which focuses on teaching children skills, character, and God's Word all while playing a sport. After each game, there is a team meeting where the each player receives a star for what they did "best" in that particular game. So far, my son has received a defense star and an offense star. I figure the offense star would probably be the most coveted, right? Not so. This week on the way home, he said, "Man, I have just got to get that Christlike star! I've really been working on that one!" Gotta love it when your kiddo is striving to be Christlike, whether it's for a star or not. I'll take it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Official...I Have Lost My Mind

I began pulling the laundry out of the washer and putting it mindlessly in the dryer. Then I spent time (or so I thought) filling the washer with a new load of clothes. I started the dryer. I put the soap and fabric softener in and started the washer. I left to go get dinner started. Then, I had an "aha" moment. I went to the washer to confirm if my "aha" moment was correct. And, sadly, indeed it was.

That "load" of laundry I had washed? It was one pair of socks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Request for a Field Trip

DD5: "Mama, are we going anywhere today?"

Mama: "No, why?"

DD5: "Why? (said with extreme whineyness) I wanted to go somewhere!"

Mama: "Well, we were out all day yesterday. We went to a movie. We went to Target. We went to the grocery. Where did you want to go?"

DD5: "The museum."

Mama: (thinking of a museum we visit quite often) We can't go to the Children's Museum today honey. It's too far to drive.

DD5: "No, not that museum. The Natural History Museum."

Okay, so let me change my position. This museum is close. And this museum is far.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Why One Should Keep Their Drinks VERY Far Back on the Counter

"Where is that baby?" I wondered to myself.

Not too long afterward, I hear the patter, patter, patter of chubby little feet running across hardwood floors.

She declares with glee, "Mommy, I wuv Coke!"

Oh, so that's where she was.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


As the ambulance and fire engine roared past, we began doing what we often do...praying for the one in need of such help. My son was praying from the back seat, "God, please heal the woman or man or child who is sick. And God, please don't just heal their body. Heal their hearts too."


Sometimes I wonder if the things I say and do in the parenting journey bounce off my children's little ears --if they even penetrate their brains and hearts. And then, God smiles down at me, encouraging me with fruit that I can see in the hearts of my children. It overwhelms a tired mommy's heart with joy and gratitude.

Note To Self...

"Don't be alarmed when your children demonstrate inappropriate attitudes. Take that as an opportunity from the Lord to love your child in a very tangible way."
---Debbie Strayer

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Fashion Sense for a Three-Year-Old

My middle dd (newly turned 5) and I are known to have some real "rows" (as they say across the pond) over clothes. Who knew when I was so happy to have given birth to a daughter a mere 5 years ago the battles that could ensue with such a young girl over what she deems appropriate to put on her body. I quite mistakenly thought that these kinds of dicussions only took place with pre-teen and teen daughters.

Anyhoo, this trend is now beginning with my youngest -- who is not quite THREE, people! Her new requirements for chosen clothing for the day --pockets. Oh, and skirts that twirl.

God help us all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Pondering the Importance of Prayer with Spurgeon

This came in my inbox today from "Morning and Evening":

"We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, He intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much need of it." -Charles Haddon Spurgeon