Thursday, April 25, 2013


I've had a difficult few weeks.  Some health issues have come up...nothing life-threatening, but bothersome and uncomfortable all the same.  And a little bit complicated.  I'm sure I will share more about that in the future, when I know a little better what I'm dealing with.  For now, let's just say it's been a bit difficult.  I feel vulnerable and a little sad.  It's been hard to stay patient with those around me - not good if you're a homeschooling mama....

But something my oldest son said the other day has helped click things back into perspective.  So along those lines I'm going to count my blessings and camp on the truth.

On the brighter side, here are a few photos from our gorgeously sunny week.

a perfect day for popsicles!

taking a break while strolling around the neighborhood

He is obsessed with balls.

Really, there's a girl in there. I promise.
I am very blessed.  I am redeemed by my Lord, I am adored by my husband, and I am blessed with beautiful, amazing children.    So I'm counting my blessings one by one.  I'm trying.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Owen, age 5:  "These are my new Asians."

Me: "Your new what?"

Owen:  "My new Asians."

Me:  "Asians?"

Owen:  "Yep.  Agents."

Me: "Oh!  Your new agents.  That.......makes much more sense."

Monday, April 22, 2013

this solid ground

When my family arrived at our church on Sunday morning, the power was out.  Early that morning the electricity had gone out in several neighborhoods near our gathering place.   Stoplights were out.  There were candles lit in the hallways at church, and a generator to support the sanctuary.

The world seemed darker than usual.

But there was an undeniable power in spite of all that.  Hearts reaching toward the light.  The room was full, it seemed to be fairly bursting.   Those of us who had gathered...we were hungry.  In an uncertain, unstable world, we were hungry for something to cling to.

Dear reader, would you do something?  Would you take a few minutes to listen to this song and really take in the words, every single word?  To revel in the truth?

Just take a moment and soak in it.

He is it.  He alone saves.  He is the one.

All other ground is sinking sand.

Friday, April 19, 2013

sometimes it's the little things

Gabriel is weaned.

He was the latest of any of our little ones, at 16 months.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't completely ready to be done nursing him, and yet of course there's a little twinge of sadness and loss.  But mostly I'm thrilled.

The last feed which was dropped was the pre-breakfast session.  Because he is now weaned, I've beeb able to slip back into my old, pre-Gabe morning routine (mostly).   The key to that is that I come downstairs around 7:30 AM, serve breakfast around 8:00, and we can easily clean up, get chores done, and begin school by 9:00.

I realize this may not sound very exciting to you.  But trust me, I am tickled pink.

It just works so much better for us.  When I don't get downstairs until 8:00, I always feel like I'm running late.

I tend to get cranky when I'm running late.

homemade sourdough English muffins
Several days this past weekend found me in the kitchen alone as I prepared our first meal of the day.  "Alone" sounds a bit bleak, let me rephrase.  I was by myself.  The children were upstairs with their dad, even our little toddler-baby.  I could listen to a podcast, or some music, or just soak in the silence as I bustled around my domain.  It. Was. Awesome.

That isn't the way of it every day, of course, but even so - it's so nice to have that extra time in the morning.  Sometimes I even have a few minutes to sit down and blog before heading downstairs to fire up the stove - now that's luxury!

Gabe is happier in the mornings, too.  And he even had a stretch of several days when he slept until 7:00 AM, which was a rarity.  He was so cheerful with that extra hour or so under his belt.  A beautiful, beautiful thing!

Yeah, sometimes it's the little things.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"She doesn't like me."

The two of us were having another afternoon chat.  This time it involved painting our toenails, all the while trying to fend off the curious interest of the toddler-baby.  It was a delicate dance, but we managed with no great catastrophes.  And we talked.

My 3-year-old daughter saw a snapshot of a friend of hers from church.  A moment after I confirmed the little girl's name, my own sweetheart said something that stopped me in my tracks.

"She doesn't like me."

"What?" I asked.  "You think she doesn't like you?"

She shrugged her small shoulders.  "She doesn't like me.  She doesn't say hi back to me."  We talked about her her friend was quite a bit younger than herself, how it may not even occur to this little one to return a greeting.

But it got me thinking.  How often do we assume that the way people respond to our social advances is about us?  I do it too, all the time.  If someone always fails to return my smile in the church hallway, I wonder if she doesn't like me.  If we spend time socializing with another family and they never reciprocate, we think maybe they didn't enjoy the time as much as we did.

When I extend an invitation, maybe several invitations, and they are all declined, I am tempted to decide the person probably doesn't want to spend time with me.  Why?  I wonder.  What is it about me that makes her not want to spend time with me? Am I boring?  Awkward?  Unapproachable?  

What I've come to understand is that it isn't always about me.  In fact I suspect that it rarely is.    I don't meant to imply that I am a fascinating companion, a dazzling conversationalist, a social butterfly; let's face it, I am not.  There may be people who come into my daughter's life who honestly don't like her.  And our family?  I suspect the idea of inviting our family over is fairly intimidating.

Still, I think we need to stop making assumptions.  Or rather, stop making assumptions about how others see us.

People are busy.  Stressed.  Trying (like me!) to strike that delicate balance between getting everything done, spending time with their families and friends, and having time to play and relax.   Household chores, homework.  Taking time to cuddle, read, and just be.  Making sure responsibilities are taken care of as well as seizing the opportunity to take the kids to the park on a sunny day.

And people have their own concerns.  Worries.  They have their own insecurities, their own needs.  Sometimes, people are so preoccupied that it might not even occur to them to return a smile or an invitation.   It's not that they think much of anything about us; they've got other things on their minds.

So from now on, I'm resolving to assume that if someone doesn't return my efforts toward friendship, it isn't about me.  I'm going to assume they're busy, or preoccupied, or simply that their dance card is full already.  I'm going to straighten my shoulders and turn my gaze elsewhere.  There may be times when it is about me.  But most of the time that's simply not the case.

This weekend I will be gathering with a group of friends.  We've been planning this dinner for awhile now, and I'm looking forward to it.   All of us are busy.  We have families to raise, husbands to whom we're devoted, and households to run.  Most of us are homeschooling too.  Still, we have made the decision to take time for friendship as well.

That makes me smile.  Because it's a good thing to have a support group...and because it isn't all about me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16, 1974

On this day a few decades ago, something huge happened.  Well, it was hugely significant for me, and for more than a few other people.  This is the day that my husband was born.

I myself wasn't alive at that time; I don't know what the weather was like or how the room's atmosphere felt.  I couldn't say how the news was delivered, whether or not he was sleepy that first day  he saw sunlight.

I imagine him blinking his newborn-gray eyes, stretching a bit, looking around.  Wrapped in a blue blanket with a tiny hat on his head, a little startled at his sudden change in circumstance.  Curious, of course...always curious.

What I know for certain is this:  my love came into the world that day.  Bursting forth to change the lives of his fact, everyone who would come to know and love him.

Most especially me.

 Brown hair.  Eyes now blue.  Tall with a warm smile.  Quick to laugh.  Active father.  Disciple of Christ.

This man is such a blessing to me: the way he leads our family, the way he raises our children, the way he loves me.  I am so thankful for him, so awed that I was allowed to be his wife, and so ready to celebrate this gift.

Because of these things, I will always say a prayer of thanks for...

...April 16, 1974.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Kyle:  "Mom, there's no place for this kombucha bottle in the fridge."

Me:  "Oh, well that's because the salad dressing is where the kombucha is supposed to be."

Kyle:  "Then where is the salad dressing supposed to be?"

Me:  "Where the jam is."

Kyle:  "So where's the jam supposed to go?"

Me:  "Where the horseradish is!"

Kyle:  "Alright, where is the horseradish going to go?"

Me:  "Right here."

Kyle:  "Oh."

Problem solved. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

the question of the year

"Where Kyle?  Where Kyle?  Where Kyle?  Where Kyle?  Where Kyle?"  ~Gabriel, age 16 months

The boy loves him some Kyle.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

not yet

My 3-year-old had come downstairs just after I sat down to watch 30 minutes of a Civil War documentary I'm crawling through.   She had a few things to say to me as she joined me on the couch, so I paused my film and listened to her.  We discussed her favorite, Pink Bear, and she told me how pretty my hair looked today.

After a minute or two she paused and I asked, "Shall we keep watching the show now?"  As I held up the remote control, she beamed and answered me:

"But I not done talking yet."

She wasn't finished; she had more on her mind and on her heart.

So I listened.  I won't lie; I was a little wistful about something I'd been looking forward to doing.  I do want to see my movie.

But it turned out that her shining eyes and infectious smile were much more engaging.

There may come a time when she's not so interested in chatting away the afternoon with me.  When she doesn't reach for my hand or stroke my hair while she murmurs, "Me love you."

There may come a time when she doesn't want to spend her free time with me.  But that time isn't here yet.

Not yet.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Never again.

We are in the midst of Holocaust Remembrance Week.

I've always been fascinated by the stories of World War II.  It all sounds so surreal, like something out of a nightmare.  The stories that have come out of that time are mind-blowing.  Hatred and betrayal, sacrifice and heroism.  The best and worst of the human condition.

In college I took a course called "The Literature of the Holocaust."  It was a painful, eye-opening class.  I still have many of the books from it, and plan to use them when my children study WWII sometime in the future. I'm sure it will be a difficult unit for us all, but I believe it is important.

As I thought over this observance, this Remembrance Week, I wondered what I might have to say about the Holocaust that would matter.  How could I even scratch the surface of the atrocities which occurred, the unfathomable loss to humanity?  There were such unspeakable crimes against God and mankind.  What could I say that would make any difference at all?

And then I realized this: I can remember.  That is one thing I can do.  I can honor those who suffered during that time by this one simple act:  I can remember.

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” ― Elie WieselNight

Monday, April 8, 2013

My husband is a man.

Lately I've  noticed something.  Often we hear men referred to as...boys.   Sometimes in an affectionate manner, like her husband and son being a woman's "boys."  Often, though, it's a bit more snide than that.

"You have two sons?  I guess you're raising three boys!"
"Those guys are such boys.  Of course they're slobs, what else could you expect?"

Our culture seems to believe that adult males are stuck in a perpetual juvenile phase, doomed to make immature decisions and chose selfishness above all else.   One has only to watch a few television commercials to see evidence of this.  Guys are portrayed as just plain dumb.  There are precious few programs or films which depict fathers as deserving of respect.   They are clueless, helpless, and...well, immature.

As the mother of four males, this really bothers me.  Kids seem to rise to the expectations we've set for them.  What happens when they see others of their gender in this manner?  Not growing in character, not becoming wise and discerning, strong and gentle, but as perpetual goof-offs?

I know there are real-life males who fit that description.  But I'm thinking maybe they became that way (or never matured beyond it) because they were allowed to.  Expected to, even.

Parenting is hard.  Most of us are doing the very best we can, desperately hoping it's enough.  Praying for help, relying on God's guidance is invaluable in this.  I personally struggle to find the balance of "encouraging" my boys to do their best (which hopefully doesn't turn into criticism!), and accepting that they are kids: learning as they go along.

But I think that our attitudes toward our own husbands is connected to all this.  In fact, I believe that it is vitally important.   I want to show my boys that I believe their dad takes care of his family, leads us with wisdom, is both strong and gentle.  I want them to see that I respect him - so much!  I want them to see their father and think "I want to be like him someday."

And here's the main thing I wanted to say.  Ladies, let's treat our husbands like men.

Let's show them, our children, and the world around us that we know these guys work hard, love their families, and are doing the best they know.   Let's bite our tongues when we're tempted to nag - er, remind...and instead let's praise them for what they're doing well.    For the ways they've stepped up to responsibility and done right.

Are you in a situation where it feels to hard?  Where you're struggling to respect your spouse?  I'm aware that you're out there.  I'm sorry.  Know that I'm praying for you today.   I would like to humbly suggest that you pray for a place to start, however basic.  What's one thing you respect about your husband?  Just fine one, and start from there.

I don't think we should call our husbands our "boys."  Let's honor them.  Let's call them what they are. Not our boys.  Not our burdens.  Not something to check off our task list.

But...our men.

Friday, April 5, 2013

homeschooling: taking the plunge, again.

I bought a few books last week.  Homeschooling books - for the 2013-14 school year.  I guess we're in!

The fact is, although we take it a year at a time, we still feel called to this homeschooling thing.  I feel that it's where God has us right now, so that's what we're doing.  All the same, when I start making curriculum purchases...that's when I sort of pause and say "Alright...another year."

And it's good.   I feel that although this past school year (not that we're finished with it yet) has been challenging, the slight changes we made at the beginning have worked well.   This year has been busy but filled with togetherness (usually good togetherness!) and a lot of reading.  We've learned about the Civil War and the Middle Ages.  We're exploring the solar system, fractions and decimals.  And we have mixed in a lot of play dates for the younger crowd as well; I'm learning that assigning my older kids a whole morning's worth of individual work can be excellent for everyone's morale.

I never thought I would be in this place: a homeschooling mother of five.  Never, ever ever.  The Lord certainly does have some surprises up His sleeve.  And you know what?  I think it's a testament to what He can do through a very, very weak- but willing - vessel.

I've seen progress this past year, and while we all have a lot of room to grow, I am greatly encouraged.

That being said, we're working our tails off to try to finish everything within the next few months.  I am not sure yet, but I think we might actually take an extended summer break this year - a first!  My kids aren't the only ones who like the sound of that...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring, springing

The first signs of spring in our yard: daffodils!

I adore hyacinths.

 Children always look beautiful when the sun is shining on their hair.

Studying worms in our square foot garden!

Pea shoots.

Enjoying the sunshine - it was nearly too warm out for jackets!

Monday, April 1, 2013

the day after Easter

We had a beautiful day yesterday.  Resurrection Sunday dawned clear and beautiful.  We had blue skies and warm temperatures.  The morning began with joy, and a wild pulsing happiness that made my heart sing.

The day found us raising our voices with other believers.  Gathering with family and soaking in the wonder of the day.    Listening to Handel's Messiah at full blast, swept up in the victory.  "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth."  "Hallelujah Chorus."  "Worthy is the Lamb."  Yes.  Yes!

And then Monday morning dawns.  It starts too early.  The sky is filled with clouds.  Our toddler is fussy.  Correction - our toddler is an absolute bear.  Breakfast is rushed, we're running late and the kitchen is a mess when we leave for Monday School.

The day feels harried and chaotic.  This Monday...the day after Easter.

Where is the wild happiness of yesterday?  Where are the ready smiles, the joyful thought of those sunbeams falling on an empty tomb on a morning so long ago?

The fact is that it's not about a day.  It's not about the sunshine or the songs, the new dresses or even the time with family.  It's about a risen Savior.  About truth, a truth that overcomes clouds and crankiness...sin and death.

Every day I have the knowledge of that truth.  Regardless of the minutiae of my day, truth remains.   The joy is there.  I have only to make the choice.

I want to keep my eyes on Him.   If I focus on the stuff around me, I will surely sink.   It's so good to know that the truth is not dependent on how my day is going, or how I'm feeling.  The truth is, He rose and He reigns.

It's not about a day.  It's not about a feeling.  It's about Jesus.

And so I choose joy.  I choose Him.