Tuesday, April 29, 2008
3 year old Little Man, as I was patting his cute little behind: "I will have a big bottom when I'm grown up because my size will be big. And I will have hair in my nose."
11 year old G, clearly concerned at the notion that there was a finite amount of crude oil underground throughout the world: "Does it produce itself?" (I thought this was a really great question!)
Little Man, while watching butter melt onto his warm rice: "It's floating in!"
Monday, April 28, 2008
My brother in law lives on a couple acres out in the country....our children were in seventh heaven! If you look closely you can barely make out a blue blur about halfway up this tree. That would be my son G. I had a little freak out moment when I realized how high off the ground he was, but took my cue from my hubby who was completely unconcerned. How is it that so many boys survive to adulthood???
Saturday, April 26, 2008
You have brought us such joy! The last 11 years have not been without their challenges, but I absolutely love being your mommy, and I absolutely love you. I know that growing up is sometimes hard (as being grown up is sometimes hard) but your life is such a precious gift, and I treasure each year, each day with you. I love you as many as the stars. And I will always love you no matter what.
Monday, April 21, 2008
During our early afternoon recess today, she informed me immediately upon going outside that she was going to ride her bike around our block. I must confess, I prayed the whole time she was gone! An hour later, before coming in for more school, she rode around the other, much bigger block. I sat on the porch and waited for her return.
I want to be good at letting go. I don't want to be a mom that hangs on desperately. But it's painful at times. Not only do these privileges represent a greater potential "risk", as she is physically away from parental protection, but they also represent an emotional seperation. She needs me in such different ways now. It is more complex and challenging to be a support to her as she maneuvers the minefield of puberty, than it was to tie her shoes and kiss away a hurt when she was a toddler. There are times I miss how easy it used to be! But I do love the girl she is and the woman she is becoming. It is a delight and a joy to know her so well, and to watch how she struggles and grows through difficulties.
The changes she is experiencing represent changes for me as a mom too. And I want to embrace those changes and enjoy the newness they bring. I just wish the changes were never painful or hard!!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Went to our son's first soccer game of the season. G played hard, we are proud of him!
Waited impatiently for our federal income tax refund to arrive so I can spend the money. :-)
Made a book list for next school year.
Did dishes, laundry, sweeping, folding of throw blankets and replacing of couch pillows many times over.
Had to hand down a no-bike-riding-for-a-week consequence to one of our children who rode around the block without permission.
Listened to several very cute conversations. Here's one:
My husband: Who knows what a butterfly drinks?
5 year old C: He drinks honey.
3 year old A: No, he drinks nectar! (he learned that in co-op 2 days ago and remembered!!)
Struggled through a few days of school not feeling well.
Re-did the menus for the week based on what I actually had on hand so I wouldn't have to spend any money on groceries.
Did some prep work for our MOPS end of the year banquet.
Planted tulip bulbs that lived in my freezer all winter and hoped that they'd grow!
Made a meal for another family.
Went to a farewell party for our "illegal" friends who will be now be deported very soon.
Felt convicted about my selfishness (in a couple areas in particular).
Cried a few tears. Prayed a lot. Thanked God for all His many blessings.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
You will recall that famous phrase from Longfellow's poem: "one if by land, two if by sea...." Well, we set out to make Paul Revere type lanterns yesterday afternoon. First we cut appropriate lengths of thin metal sheeting off the big roll (called "flashing" and found in the roofing department of Lowe's).
Then each of the children drew a picture on paper and taped this to their metal flashing piece. We gave each of them hammers (Little Man was the only one who needed help!) and they began to pound little holes along the edges of their picture, for the light from the lantern to shine through. This took quite a while.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Earlier in the year we did a "scratch off" project when we were learning about complimentary colors. We colored a taped off square with one color of crayon, and then colored over it with its complimentary color of oil pastel. Then we used a toothpick to scratch off some of the oil pastel, revealing the crayon underneath. All 3 of these pictures were done by my daughter, and they are different bugs. I tried and tried to get them to come out more clear, but for some reason they want to be blurry today.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Just as an fyi, tomorrow (April 18) is the 233rd anniversary of Paul Revere's famous ride. Perfect timing for us since we have just finished learning about that! We are planning a special activity tomorrow afternoon after co-op to commemorate his ride. Hopefully I will have pictures to share!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
This might also be considered a mini commercial for our writing curriculum, Institute for Excellence in Writing, or IEW. I am so thankful the Lord brought us to this curriculum at this juncture in our homeschool journey. It is a curriculum that teaches writing skills using models, so from the very beginning students don't need to worry about what to write but are simply taught how to write. Once these models are practiced and retained, they become automatic and then older students can spend all their time on what to write because they already know the how. Make sense?
We are currently learning how to write short narrative stories, and the model we are using for this is the fable. First we learned how to break the fable down into its three main parts (characters/setting; conflict/problem; climax/resolution/epilogue) and made an outline of these parts. Then today our daughter put the original fable away, looked at her outline, and re-wrote the fable from her notes. She was required to add in the "dress-ups" that she's learned, those elements of style that tend to "dress up" our writing, making it fancier.
Here is her fable (the Fox and the Crow), minus a catchy title which we haven't come up with yet. She did this 100% on her own, and you can tell that she likes adjectives!
Once there was a black crow perched on a leafy branch in the dewy sun of the morning, with a big yellow delicious piece of cheese in her beak. Along came a fox trotting through the forest. When he saw the piece of cheese in the crow's beak, he drooled and licked his lips. The fox craved the cheese and said to the crow, "Good morning, you look very beautiful today!" The crow smiled but didn't say anything because of the piece of cheese in her beak.
Then the sly fox said, "How black and glossy your feathers are." The crow puffed up with pride. Then the fox pleaded, "I'm sure your voice is even more beautiful than your feathers. Please just sing a few notes for me." This pleased her and the poor crow opened her mouth to sing. The piece of yellow cheese dropped down to the open mouth of the waiting fox. Then the fox gobbled up the cheese and said, "Ha! That was very delicious cheese, but your song was ugly. Remember, watch out for flattery." And with that, the fox walked off into the sunny forest.
The crow was left behind on the branch of the tree, starring into the forest. Then she flew over into a bigger tree where she had a large stash of nuts and cheese. "Well, at least I have more cheese," she gloated, "but that selfish fox did teach me a lesson. Beware of flattery."
We need to work on alternate ways of beginning a sentence other than with the word "then", but I thought it was a wonderful start!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Little Man was too busy pushing around his shopping cart to play Marco Polo!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Did you know that if you go to the library first thing when it opens on Saturday morning, there are also no lines at check out?
Did you know that if your daughter stays up until nearly 2:00 A.M. at a church event your entire family will suffer the consequences for about two days afterward?
Did you know that if YOU stay up until nearly 2:00 A.M. reading a good book, you will have to work really hard at not letting your family suffer the consequences for about two days afterward?
Did you know that if you don't set the alarm for your "quick nap" you will oversleep and have to serve frozen waffles for dinner?
Did you know it can snow in April?
Did you know that it is such a blessing to receive forgiveness from your child when you have inadvertantly embarrassed them in front of their siblings?
Did you know it is possible to watch the same scene from a movie 4 times in one day?
Saturday, April 12, 2008
We have been doing a different activity each day for about 8 school days so far and haven't quite cycled through everything I have on hand. I hope Little Man will continue to be in love with this special time even when he begins doing the same activity over again!
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Their grief has become my grief. For those of you who have been touched by grief, you know that it is a continuous cycle or tide that comes and goes, sometimes unexpectedly. I believe this is normal and good. There is no "getting over" a deep loss, but there is a "learning to live with it comfortably" that comes with time.
If you are a regular blog reader you know that we have suffered the loss of several children before they were born. The fact that we have 5 healthy children does not lessen the grief we have felt for the loss of the others. All of our children are deeply loved and wanted, and we recognize each of them as unique people created by God.
I used to ponder the "easier/harder" dilemma quite a bit......was it "easier" to lose them before we knew them? Would it be "harder" to lose them if they died after birth? After 2 years? After 10? After 30? Of course I do believe it would be harder to lose them later, after having known them, but I also think there is a sweetness in having known them that is missed when they die before birth. And I have come to understand that while there are many kinds of grief, none of them are "easy". They are just different.
It has been nearly two years since we lost our sweet little twins at the end of my first trimester. I am still learning much from that journey (am probably still ON that journey). One thing that struck me so vividly in the early days and weeks of the twins' miscarriage was that God seemed to be answering "no" to all my requests. That sounds like a negative thing, but stay with me! When we first learned that they weren't as big as they should be and probably weren't growing right, we also learned one of the babies was quite a bit bigger than the other one. We began to fervently pray that God would spare our babies, and that at the very least He would allow the biggest one to thrive.
God answered no to both of those requests. The babies died and we chose to let the miscarriage happen naturally at home. It was a very sad time, of course. I had to grieve in bits and pieces in between the normal rhythm of our family life. We managed to finish our home school year during this time, I honestly don't remember how. Our two oldest children played soccer for the first time that spring, so we had twice weekly practices and games every Saturday. Our church family graciously brought us meals for quite a while. Somehow life went on, but it was as if my body moved and breathed in one reality while my soul anguished in another.
The physical aspect of the miscarriage lasted 6 weeks. It was an agonizingly long time. During those weeks I prayed that God would allow the babies to pass from my body intact, so that I might at least see them and be allowed to say goodbye to actual physical babies. After it dragged on so long I realized that the likelihood of my prayer being answered was very small. I went in for another ultrasound and it showed that my uterus was empty. I was still spotting but there was really nothing left to miscarry. It was very hard for me to relinquish that desire to the Lord. It seemed like such a small thing for Him to be able to accomplish, yet it would have meant so much to me.
Does God's nature change when He says "no"? Does He somehow become capricious just because He didn't do what I wanted Him to do? How does God show His love for me? Does He love me less when He allows hard things? No. God is faithful. Unchanging. He displayed His love in all its agony and glory when Christ died for me and 3 days later overcame the power of death and rose to life again! He is full of compassion. I felt Him weep with me and walk with me through the loss of our babies. Even though He chose to allow this pain, I know it pained Him to do so. I didn't understand why so many of my private prayers had been answered "no", but I trusted that He knew best and continually prayed for more trust.
Then an amazing thing happened. When I was least expecting it and thought that the physical miscarriage was virtually over, my body finally released the bigger, stronger of the two babies. Intact. When I had accepted all of God's no's, He chose to give me a totally unexpected yes. It was not the BIG yes that I had wanted most, but it was a sweet, comforting, tender yes that whispered His love and care to me.
God's nature is good. He is a good God. He is good when bad things happen. He is good when good things happen. He is good when my heart is at peace. He is good when I am troubled and don't understand. He is good. Period. My circumstances don't change His nature. Can you imagine what a truly awful world it would be if our circumstances DID dictate the nature of God?!
So, all this long personal story to say that God is. He is good. He loves me. He loves the Smiths. He loves baby Audrey. I like to imagine baby Audrey and our twins (which I have imagined are two girls) completely whole, running to Jesus in heaven, climbing on His lap and kissing his face. Perhaps they were welcomed to heaven by my dear grandparents. I can't wait to meet them one day and to meet the One in whose presence they are complete and perfect.
Thank you, Lord, for the hope of heaven. Not a wishful thinking kind of hope, but a surety that hasn't yet come to pass. Thank you that You are real. Thank you for your great love. You have experienced the deepest, most intense kind of grief, so You are able to lift and carry us when we are incapable of going on. I love you Lord. I would be lost without you. When there are no words, You are there. Thank you. Thank you.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Please pray for them tomorrow as they deliver their sweet Audrey into this world and then into the next.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
The 3 middle children and I all had dental cleaning appts at 8:00 this morning. The appts went fine, but the boys were awful while there. Truly awful. Their behavior made me a little mad and a lot sad.
Their daddy had a long heart to heart with them when we got home and they have lost all screen time (both tv and computer) until they have shown a consistent pattern of obedience. He had to explain "consistent" and "pattern" ~ that it's what they're characterized by over a period of time rather than one or two or three times of obedience in one day. They only got 2 hours a week of computer time anyway, and very little tv/video watching, so this consequence REALLY mattered to them. For which I'm thankful. I wanted the consequence to "hurt" them enough to make a big impression.
Our 7 year old had been asking me all week to play with my webkin online so that he could watch. We were going to do that today, but I told him that even if I played he wasn't allowed to watch because he had lost the privilege of screen time. Then it dawned on him that he wouldn't even be allowed to watch his sister play during her two hours this week, and he "got it".
We had a truly beautiful day, weather wise, and the children played outside all afternoon. We had a frustrating time with the neighbor children coming over and not obeying the rules of our yard. For any new readers, this is a recurring problem. One of them repeatedly entered our garage after being told not to, and ate up the last remaining easter candy out of someone's basket. We are seriously thinking of putting a fence around our yard. Which makes me sad. I have loved the open look and feel of our backyard. But it appears that we need a visual and physical boundary, and the power to invite others in when we would like to include them, and the power to keep them out at other times. We simply cannot put our pool up again without a fence.
I baked bread today. And took a 3 hour nap. Wonderful!! Our daughter did a fabulous job mopping the kitchen floor. I am enjoying just gazing on its cleanliness! I taught our 7 year old how to wet swiff the dining room floor. It was a pretty good first lesson.
I am really tired and ready for bed. It was a hard parenting day.
Friday, April 4, 2008
The MOPS moms had submitted questions ahead of time, and they asked some very good ones! It is my prayer that some of the moms will seriously consider homeschooling their children, as there is simply no better way to disciple your children and train them "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" as parents are commmanded to do in Eph. 6:4. For those moms who do choose to utilize institutional school for their children, I pray they will continue to be the ultimate authority in their children's education, and be very involved in the classroom!
I have been studying Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It has some very compelling thoughts related to the value of homeschooling. Consider the weight of these words:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
How can I impress the commandment to "love the Lord your God with all your heart" upon my children if we are never sitting together at home? And how can I impress them upon my children if they are not first on my own heart? This book I am reading, Teaching the Trivium, describes how the Israelites took the above verses literally and would attach parchment scrolls of these verses on the posts and gates of their houses. Unfortunately it became the custom to roll up the scroll before attaching it, so every day they touched it or kissed it as if it were a protective charm, but they didn't read it! I so don't want to give my children the head knowledge of God's Word without it being impressed upon their very hearts. I am so impressed to just get close to Jesus. So many of my daily struggles and frustrations would simply melt away in His presence.
So.....after this stimulating morning at MOPS I went to the bank. All. By. Myself. DURING THE DAY. Do you realize the significance of this? It felt strange not to be holding some little person's hand! And after I was finished at the bank I made a quick trip to the grocery store. All. By. Myself. And I didn't even need a cart!! And I was in and out in less than 5 minutes. Strange. A taste of things to come.......but don't let that come too soon!
When my hubby and kids came home from co-op (where he had once again taught my classes - yay hubby!!!) I really missed them and was so ready to see them again! Thank you Lord, for settling the barren woman in her home, as a happy mother of children. (Psalm 113:9)
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I wanted to give the children a concrete example so that they would more readily understand this teaching, so I told them that daddy and I have prayed for years for a loved one who has not yet trusted Jesus as Savior, and who has made many poor choices and also struggles with substance abuse. Should we stop praying for this person just because God hasn't answered yet? Do we give up? I think (I hope) that they got it at that point. We discussed this person and their lifestyle choices at length. At one point one of our sons said, "they need to stop smoking and stop drinking and stop taking drugs!" to which I said, "no, they need to accept Jesus. HE is the answer to this person's problems."
After we had discussed many facets of this topic for quite a while, our 7 year old son said earnestly, "we should pray for them right now!" It was so encouraging to see his tender and sincere spirit in action! Truly, it blessed my heart. So we held hands and prayed together right then for this person's salvation and for protection from their own bad choices. I am pretty sure the older 3 have added this person to their own prayers from now on. I am so grateful for Luke 11, and for this opportunity to be reminded of and to teach our children about this important lesson on prayer.
As part of this lengthy discussion we did talk about alcoholic beverages and the nature of addiction, and we looked up what the Bible has to say about alcohol. The children were absolutely fascinated that the Bible actually says, "do not get drunk on wine". Our 7 year old read it outloud to all of us. I'm not sure what was going on their minds at this point, I would sure love to know!
Lord Jesus, thank you so much for the freedom and privilege we enjoy to teach our children at home. Thank you for all the small and big teachable moments. Help me to recognize them and take advantage of them when they occur. Help me to not be just a hearer of the Word and so deceive myself, help me to be a DOER of the Word! Help me to model a vibrant and real prayer life to the children. Help me to not just teach them about prayer. Help me to PRAY! And please draw this wayward person to yourself, Lord. Reveal your truth and your love to them. Thank you for loving me, for loving all of us, when we are unloveable. I bask in Your love and throw myself on Your mercy. Amen.