Saturday, August 30, 2008

Date

Today daughter G and I went on an impromptu "date" to the mall to buy soap. Yes, soap. There are a couple soaps I just love at Bath and Body Works, and we have been out of "pump" soap in our house for a few weeks now. While at the mall we bought a large cinnamon pretzel to share, G tried on some clothes, we talked about the high price of clothing ($39.50 for a pair of jeans for her!! Nope, not gonna happen.....), looked at nail polish, and bought 7 bottles of soap for $20. Hopefully that will last until Christmas.

It was a great time to share together. I love spending time with my daughter!

Strangest thing we saw.....a sign that said, "Back to school special, $4.50 margaritas". Ummmm.......I'm pretty sure that school children shouldn't be drinking margaritas!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tapestry of Grace Virtual Co-op and Dam Building

This morning was our daughter's first virtual co-op class. It was amazing!! We have had a blast this past week, she and I, doing her reading and discussing every day how all that she is reading ties together. Since she is a new dialectic student (dialectic refers to the age roughly equivalent to the middle school years, when students can think more abstractly and begin to make connections between different threads or streams of thought) I am walking her through the process of reading, filling out her SAP's (student activity pages) and noticing things that are similar or that happen at the same time in different parts of the world.

Tapestry is ALL that we have done for the past week (due to my hand which is now in a splint rather than the soft cast) and it has taken us a good two hours most days! Yikes! But I know that as we learn better how to learn this way, it will go faster. And the cool thing is that G has totally gotton into it and not complained at all. She has, in particular, loved having me to herself for at least an hour each day. Something which I need to keep in mind!

The class was amazing to listen to. An experienced co-op mom is leading the first two discussions so us newbies can hear how it's done. She did such a great job!! (thanks Marcie!!) I actually got tears in my eyes at a couple different points when Marcie was drawing parallels between events in two different countries that were similar, and I could see the light bulbs going on in G's head and thinking, "this is what I wanted all along when we began using Tapestry!" Now that G is old enough to benefit more from the socratic method of discussions I feel that we are finally beginning to reap more from the Tapestry way of learning. It is very exciting to be at this point.

While G was busy on the computer with her virtual class, the four boys were up in my bedroom watching a science video on dam building (thanks Uncle David!! aka "Lava Man"). They were riveted. Afterward, all on their own, they set about constructing a dam. All I had to do was provide them with a tub of some sort, popsicle sticks, and pebbles. They got some sand from the sandbox and set to work.



The video below shows our first dam test. Did it work?? Watch it and find out!
video

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Mouse Funeral and 2 new pets!

Max died late last week. He was just over two years old, which is getting pretty old for a mouse. Our daughter was sad but handled it well. We buried him in our ever growing pet cemetery (flowerbed in the backyard) alongside 3 of his siblings, with a prayer and good memories of Max shared by everyone. G immediately turned her attention to getting a replacement for Max, and tonight we brought home two little sister mice which G named Pepsi and Sprite. They are incredibly active and fun to watch!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Tomato Staking

The parenting kind, not the gardening kind. :-)

If you are unfamiliar with this term, it means that just as a tomato plant must be staked in order to grow tall and straight and strong and produce fruit that doesn't rot, children at times need to be "staked" to their parent in order to develop character that is strong and straight as well. This means that the child must literally be physically close to the parent at all times, usually because the child cannot be trusted to follow through on anything once out of the parent's sight. When you have toddlers this becomes a moot point because the toddler is never far from the parent to begin with, but when you have older children this becomes a major reigning in of freedom they have become accustomed to.

When I broke my finger last weekend and got the cast on, I will admit I was rather bummed. We had planned to start school this past Wed after two last intense prep days for me (Mon and Tues). I had a bunch of stuff to do on the computer for MOPS, the Mothers of Preschoolers ministry I am involved with, and had deeply desired to help out at the home of a dear friend who is currently hospitalized. All of these plans had to change. It is taking a ridiculously long time for me to finger peck type this, all writing and most of the physical prep needed for school just has to wait until I get my cast off. And I won't even mention what the kitchen looks like.....

Well.....God is so good. How thankful I am that His ways are higher than mine! I believe that perhaps He slowed me down this week so that I could focus my energies on something infinitely more important. The character of my children.

About a month ago one of our children was caught in a series of intentional, deliberate lies told directly to my face. We were very hurt, me in particular. The child suffered an immediate consequence and a longer term consequence that is still on-going. We talked with this child about how lies not only dishonor God, they damage human relationships too. Over the course of several days, in calm moments, we brought up these points again. We worked on tangible ways to help this child measure their improvement (positively pointing out every time they told the truth). I really felt that we were making progress, and that the child was working to restore our trust in him.

Three days ago this same child was caught in an act of deceit. Clearly, we were not making progress.

The child sat in their room for over an hour while I prayed and called my hubby at work to ask him to pray also. He was in a meeting at the time and didn't have time to hear all the details, but I told him that the same child had been caught in deceit and that we could talk more about it when he got home. When he arrived home we discovered that independently of each other, God had quietly led us both to the same conclusion. We had to tomato stake this child.

He cannot be in the basement playing in the toyroom unless I am down there with him. He cannot play in the backyard unless I am sitting on the patio watching him. He cannot ride his bike around our loop (our street is a long cul de sac) unless I am sitting in the front yard watching him. When I am sitting at the table trying to do paperwork, he must be sitting with me. When I am in the kitchen with a plastic bag over my cast trying to wash dishes, he must be helping me. Two days ago we made a trip to the library to pick up a few books for school (driving is hard, but thankfully I can do it!). Everyone else was allowed to look through the picture book section and choose some books for fun, while this child had to come with me to the non-fiction stacks and find the right book on Napoleon. He cried and asked me why and I quietly told him that the other children had not lied to me. He had nothing to say to that. Right now he is sitting on the couch 3 feet away as I type. This is a major crimp in his freedom and he hates it, but it has already provided so many additional opportunities for extra training and (I pray) has been the literal picture of what broken trust looks like that he needed in order to understand. He is now praying every day that God will help him to be "gooder" and that I will trust Him again.

From my perspective as the "stake" it is not always pleasant either, but I am the parent. It is to me and my hubby that God has given authority to raise these blessings from Him, and it is to Him that we will one day give an account. This is at times a heavy responsibility, but He has not left us alone to figure out how to do it! He gives hourly grace and courage and perseverence and wisdom. Though this is not what I had planned for the week, it is infinitely more important than grammer and multiplication and the course of the French Revolution.

So if the Lord brings us to mind this week, please pray that our son will have a heart change, and that we will have the wisdom and perseverence to parent well. And now I am off to tackle the kitchen with my staked tomato plant!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Honey!!!!

46 years ago today my wonderful hubby was born, and I'm so glad he was! He is such a blessing in my life. I was a little bummed to be largely incapacitated on his special day, but we celebrated anyway! Here is our daughter G making his favorite cake.


And here is a picture of what he's going to get once they go on sale at the end of summer and once I can get around better!


Honey, I am so thankful for you. I love that you are so selfless, that you do so much for us, that you work hard to provide for us, that you are such a great husband and dad. I love to watch you with our children, and I love to hear you reading to them with all the different voices! Thank you for being such a good listener, for empathizing before trying to just "fix" things, for taking seriously all of my concerns. I love being married to you and I love belonging to you. Happy Birthday! I look forward to another year of loving you.

New Bunkbed

We were given a set of bunkbeds last weekend, which proved very exciting! It is not a set I would have chosen, but it was FREE and we are grateful for it. My hubby has been working on a set of bunkbeds for a long time which, when finished, will go in our oldest son's room. So this freebie set went in L and C's room, but our oldest son G got to be the first one to sleep on the top bunk. Make sense? There have to be some advantages to being oldest!

The bottom bunk is full sized, but for now we have a twin mattress there, on top of a full sized piece of plywood. This means C has a platform right next to him for stuffed animals.

Our boys are very excited to have the exact same bunkbed as their cousins Tim and Elijah!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Dislocated Finger

We spent a lovely 3 hours at Urgent Care yesterday morning instead of going to church. I managed to dislocate my pinkie finger (which they "reduced" or manipulated back into place) and also chip the bone (which they gave me a soft cast for). So my dominant hand is virtually useless this week and I am having to learn how to do a few things with just my left hand. Like type!!

I am very thankful it was not worse, thankful it happened while my hubby was home, and thankful our children were such troopers at urgent care for 3 loooooong hours. Here is my finger before "reduction". Yes, I have a picture taking sickness, I know.



Blogger is insisting on turning this picture sideways today, no matter what I try, so you'll have to tilt your head, but here is my lovely soft cast which I have to keep on for a minimum of one week. This will be a great opportunity for our children to have to step up and help more!



For those of you wondering how this happened, it was oh so glamorous. I tripped while running up our hard wood stairs, and when I went to catch myself I jammed my finger on the lip of the top step. Haste truly does make waste. Since all the children were already buckled in the van to go to church, we just grabbed an ice pack and headed off to urgent care.

So if I don't blog a whole lot this week now you'll know why!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Overheard.....

This one is rated PG so be sure you don't have little eyes reading over your shoulder......

Little Man, with a hopeful expression, after he noticed my br*asts while we were changing out of our swim suits: "What's in there......juice?"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A New Believer!!

Rejoice with us ~ our 6 year old son C trusted Jesus as his Savior this morning!

He had asked me about it yesterday while we were out running errands, asking if I was sure he was going to go to heaven. I told him that I wasn't sure, because I didn't know if he understood that Jesus had died on the cross to take away his sin, and if he had asked Jesus to forgive him and invite Him to take control of his life. C told me that he hadn't really done that, but he wanted to. In the very next breath he asked me if I would turn on an Adventures in Odyssey CD in the van . :-)

I will confess that the busy-ness of daily life took over for the rest of the day, and since we are not ones to "push" our children into a commitment they are not ready to own, I temporarily forgot about this conversation.

This morning, C came in and woke me up and told me he was ready to pray. He laid next to me in his daddy's spot on the bed and repeated a very sincere prayer. We talked over everything first, and I am confident that he understands as much as he can right now and that this was driven by a sincere desire on his part to "belong to Jesus and see Him in heaven."

We called daddy at work to tell him, we drove to the church office and told all the secretaries, we told the director of children's ministries, we told Luke's piano teacher Miss E, and then we called both sets of grandparents and told them. And now I am telling all of you!! It is a very special day in our household today, and we are having a special dessert tonight to celebrate C's spiritual birthday.

What a privilege and a blessing as a parent, to witness your child choosing to follow Christ! It is the best thing in the world!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Change

The resignation of our senior pastor was announced in church yesterday. I am sad. He is well loved and I absolutely love his preaching. His whole family has been a tremendous blessing to our church. My hubby and I were somewhat surprised, though he had said on our way to church just that morning, "I wonder if the sabbatical will lead to a resignation?".

The elders and deacons of our church encouraged us to focus on prayer right now rather than speculation, which I agree is the right thing to do. And we are confident that his reason for leaving is NOT due to any sin or immorality on his part (stating that for my readers who will automatically wonder). I am glad, however, that there will be a question/answer time next Sunday evening. We are hoping that some of our own questions will be answered at that time. I have often heard when a pastor resigns (and it was stated yesterday) that, "he feels God is taking him in a different direction" or, "we feel God is leading our church in a different direction." Those words "different direction" seem to have become the default explanation for leadership changes. But I would like to know what that means. What direction were we going, and what direction is God taking us now? It is important for us to understand the "direction" that the leadership feels we are going, because if our church is going in a new direction, what if it's not a direction that our family can support? There is also a big difference between a different direction in terms of position and a different direction in terms of methods. We have no need or desire to know all the details surrounding this decision, but as it pertains to our understanding of our church's philosophy of ministry and the direction we are headed, we strongly desire a broader explanation.

Change is almost always hard, isn't it?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Video of our daughter G waterskiing!!

video

The day after this video was taken, she got right up and skiied for a loooong way before falling. She is definitely a skiier now, not just a learner! We are proud of her!

Pictures from the Cottage

I will apologize up front to those of you who like to look quickly and move on to other blogs, because this is a long post full of pictures! It will mean the most to those who know us personally. If you are not one of those, feel free to move on now. :-) Also, in fairness to my children (who check my blog regularly) I have to post a picture of each of the children doing the very same thing. So....with those disclaimers out of the way......

On either end of our camping trip we tacked on some days at the cottage. Here are some of the highlights:

The little ferry we take to get to the cottage


Daughter G and son L tubing together


Uncle Brian graciously letting everyone take turns driving his boat! Daughter G and son G especially are turning into quite the accomplished boat drivers.



My hubby, already an accomplished skiier, trying knee boarding for the very first time.
Getting his knees into the knee wells....

.....oh man, that pesky velcro strap!

Ah! Now I have it.
Admiring their daddy.




We timed our last full day at the cottage to coincide with their annual small town celebration and parade. Our children love to participate in this parade! Their great uncle is very involved in the "river trail" project, making a paved trail for many miles right along the river. Each year he has a float in the parade to raise awareness for this project, and our children always ride on it or walk beside it with him. Daughter G is on the far left side, holding a sign. Son G is in the red shorts, hubby is walking at the back of the float. Uncle Dick is in the hat. Little Man and son L were sitting on the float, waving to their adoring public. Son C decided not to be in the parade this year, instead he sat and watched with me and caught all the candy thrown to him by some of the parade participants!



At the local park after the parade.


Back at the cottage, we had demonstrations for Little Man on how to jump off the dock. Here is G's demonstration.


Son C


Son L



Little Man finally decided he was brave enough to jump off the lower dock (closer to the water)


And finally got up enough nerve to jump off the high dock, first with daddy.....


......and then all by himself!


More tubing, this time sons G and C


And last but not least, daddy and Little Man! (this picture captures the happy moment at the end, after the perilous moment and the freak out moment mommy had).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

John Adams

I finished John Adams last night. 651 pages. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, and also a deep sadness that it is over. I have enjoyed this book SO much. I cried when Abigail died, even though I knew it was coming and she's been dead for nearly 200 years. I cried again at the end when John died. On the same day, 4th of July, as Thomas Jefferson. After their deaths, there was only one signer of the Declaration of Independence still alive. Truly the end of an era. And what an era it was! John Adams was an incredible, fascinating, and amazing man. I am quite sure I will see him in heaven, and I am so glad!! I will share more about this book later when I have more time, just had to report that I finished it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Camping Pics




Can you see the red dragonfly in the center of this picture?

Oh how I love this man!!


S'mores


Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Family Camping Trip

Once upon a time, a family of 7 decided to go on a camping trip. They packed a tent for sleeping, a small tent for gear, and bags and bags of food. At the campground they found a shaded site near the bathrooms that had a great fire pit, and set up camp.



They were something of a novelty at the campground, where they were the only tent campers in the whole place, and the only ones with 5 children. In fact, they were virtually the only ones under the age of 50! Several other campers came by on a regular basis to see how the "real campers" (their words) were making out. The children became friends with a pretty grey schnauzer named Sadie that came by every afternoon on her daily walk.
~
The first night, the dad had to get up twice to chase away a curious racoon. After the second time, at 4:30 in the morning, when the mom asked if he still loved camping, he whispered enthusiastically, "of course!".
~
Toward the end of the second night the mom and dad were awakened by the sound of distant thunder. It sounded ominous and was getting louder and closer by the minute. A torrential downpour began, and then lightning crackled directly overhead. The accompanying thunder boom woke up the children. They cuddled together in the tent, munching on dry cereal and making up a funny "fortunately, unfortunately" story. While they were busy making a memory, they were blissfully unaware that the tent was experiencing total rain failure. When they realized that all 3 seams were letting in water and that puddles were forming under all the children's foam pads, they piled the dry things in the driest part of the tent, piled the wet things and more breakfast food in the van, and escaped to the family lodge where they spent several hours drying out wet bedding in a commercial dryer, eating breakfast, watching cartoons, and making up games such as "ping pong pool".

They had many inquiries that day, about how they had come through the storm! Fortunately the other nights passed uneventfully. :-)
~
They only left the campground twice, once to buy large containers of water after they realized the campground water tasted funky, and again to buy a fresh bag of ice for their cooler. Otherwise they stayed on the grounds and enjoyed many fun activities together as a family.
~
They took hikes,


got ravenously hungry, and ate food they cooked themselves over an open fire (and sometimes they ate food the mom cooked on a camp stove).




They played putt-putt golf,



and swam every day in the beautiful campground pool.



Every afternoon the youngest and oldest members of the family would take peaceful, refreshing naps with the tent doors zipped open to let the gentle breeze blow through, while the other members of the family did quiet activities at the campsite.




They made s'mores, read stories, and fell asleep every night to the same goodnight song that the mom had sung with her family when she was a little girl. They slept like rocks. They discovered that it gets light before 7:00 AM! It was also confirmed that 3 of the children snore, which the mom had long asserted but the children had not believed until now. They went through 3 cans of mosquito repellent.
~
Everyone had a wonderful time, and many special family memories were made, which was just what they had wanted. Though they did agree that they needed a new (waterproof) tent before camping again, they all were enthusiastic about doing it again!

The End.