Friday, July 08, 2011

Meant to Live Life Together.


This idea is something that has been milling in my mind for awhile now, although the last couple of days have brought it to my more urgent attention.  We aren’t meant to live this life alone—God wants us to live life together.  He desires for us to be intentional with relationships.  He desires for us to first draw near to Him and to become dependent upon Him, but to then be relational people. 

If I am to be completely honest, I find it easier to try to strike out on my own.  Why do I need to open myself up to potential hurt? When I allow myself to become vulnerable, I open up the door to rejection. What if people don’t like what they see? What if I allow them to see the real me and they then decide that I’m not worth their friendship or their time? I’ve been burned before in friendship relationships. I’ve been burned before in familial relationships. The scars run deep. The feelings of insecurity are real. However, the more I dig into God’s word I see that He desires more for (and from) me. He wants to heal those broken places in my life (our lives) and to have me (all of us)  be in relationship with others. Is it all going to be all pretty like rainbows, candy, roses and ponies? No. We are a fallen people living in a broken world. It’s going to take work. It is going to take intention and vulnerability. It’s going to take courage and walking hand-in-hand with the Father. It’s also going to take letting go of selfishness and pride and to:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)

None of us have got it all together. We all have our shortcomings and failures. It is going to take the willingness to humble ourselves before God and before others and say, “You know what, I don’t have it all together. I need someone to walk alongside me on this journey of life. Are you with me?” (well, maybe not said in those exact words…). Also, we cannot become so shortsighted that we get so caught up in the immediate, here and now and forget other relationships.  I’m guilty of that and am praying for change. All relationships take work. They require our time and energy. I think that they are worth it in the long run. The eternal rewards are there.

Hmmm…guess I’d better take a step of courage and walk outside of my comfort zone. Care to join me?

**Quote from my friend Angela that I thought was good “food-for-thought.” 

Cicumstances vary, but the law of RISK is universal and eternal: The more you're willing to risk, the more GOD can use you. And if you're willing to risk EVERYTHING, then there is NOTHING God can't do in and through you!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Yesterday my great grandmother passed away.  I found out the sad news on Facebook (a good thing, not a bad thing).   We found out a couple of months ago that the doctors were giving her 3-6 more months to be with us here on Earth (I remember the timing of this news since it was right around my birthday).  Her breast cancer cells had gotten into her muscle tissue and were spreading (she was diagnosed last year at the age of 93).

IMG_6440Aidan with his Great Great Grandma Pearl Major – March 2009

My brother and I, upon hearing the news, flew to Seattle and drove across the state to visit her the first weekend in April.  I’m so very glad that we did.  We wanted our last memories of her to be positive ones.  We wanted to let her know that we loved her, and that although many miles separate us, we wanted her to know that we valued her. 

We had a great visit. It was fun showing up on her doorstep (she was very surprised—I had let one of my great aunts know that we were coming and verified that great grandma would be home). :) We laughed together. Enjoyed great conversation. Caught up on a few bits of family news.  Saw how blessed she was by the members of her quilting group (they made her a few gorgeous quilts—I got a little teary-eyed when I read the back tag and saw one of her frogs attached to the one that was pieced together by the group as a whole— my Grandma Velma was quite sneaky to “spirit” the frog away so it could be used on her gift). Apparently, she cried when they presented the quilt to her. I tried to hold it together so it wouldn’t set off another torrent of tears. 

We left her house completely amazed by the peace and grace that surrounded her (and her sense of humor!).  She was truly an inspiration to us.  I hope that I can follow her example and have a good attitude and be gracious under whatever circumstance might be facing me.  She was an excellent role model that I wish that I knew even better (although, what I did know – I adored!).


Me with my Great Grandma Pearl ,  Chewelah Park – Aug. 2010


Aidan, Great Grandma Pearl, David and me – Aug. 2010


Dustin and Great Grandma Pearl – April 2011


Me with my Great Grandma Pearl – April 2011

My great grandmother was a very special woman who will be greatly missed.  I am thankful that her time of pain and suffering was minimal.  I am thankful that she is no longer in pain. I am thankful that she was surrounded by family when she passed peacefully from this life.  She lived a full 94 years. This beautiful woman. I love you and look forward to spending an eternity in Heaven with you.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Cub Scouts go to Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge.

  At the end of March, we went to Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge with our Cub Scout pack.  It was a beautiful day to get out into nature and to hike along the trails in the wildlife refuge.  We took a vote at the very beginning to see what hike the kids wanted to do.  The adults figured that many of the boys, the younger ones especially, would want to take the shorter hike and that the older ones would go on the longer hike.  However, only 2 of the moms wanted to take the shorter hike (one was 8.5 months pregnant, the other was myself who wanted to stay with her pregnant friend, just in case…). Since we were obviously outnumbered, she and I joined the rest of the group on the 4 mile hike. 


The kids did amazingly well going the distance and enduring the 90+ degree temperatures we had.  Our only problem was trying to get them to slow down to see what different animals could find!  It is awfully difficult to see things when one tries to race past them. :) 


There were several “Stop, Look and Listen” points marked on our trail.  Here, the boys were supposed to stop, look around at the surroundings and write or draw what they saw.  Did they see any birds? If so, what ones did they see? What types of plants were around in the area? Was there any water?


We all saw and heard many different birds.  My David was very excited to hear a cardinal call while we were out on our hike since that is his favorite bird.  One of the boys happened to see a Texas tortoise alongside the trail about 2 miles in.  We had to work a bit to keep the boys from touching it, trying to pick it up, etc. :)  They were just a wee bit excited about their find!


I enjoyed visiting with a few of the moms on the hike, watching the kids have fun and also enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers in bloom alongside the trail. Unfortunately for me, I forgot to grab a new memory card for the camera, so I had to be very particular about what photos I wanted to take while on the hike. Hopefully I will remember to pack a spare in our hiking pack next time!


When we arrived back at the visitor’s center for lunch, Aidan and I stopped next to one of the bird feeding areas.  A woman there quietly pointed out a green jay that was eating sections out of an orange to us.  It was mine and Aidan’s first time seeing a green jay in “real life.”  Honestly, it is one of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen!  We were fortunate to have stopped by the bird feeding area when we did, because the green jay flew away only a couple of minutes after we had it pointed out to us.  There were red-winged blackbirds in abundance, and I even saw a woodpecker!


After the hike, we had a picnic lunch outside of the visitors center, then the majority of our group went on the tram tour through the refuge.  I think that the tram tour was one of the best parts of the outing.  Our guides pointed out different plants and animals to us, explained the history and other aspects of the refuge to us and really helped us to gain a greater understanding for where we were.  All in all, it was a great outing, and a good time was had by all who went.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Celebrating 7.

crazy_costume Thank you Nana birthday boy make a wish

Today we celebrated a very special 7-year-old.  For the mama, it is amazing to think that this baby boy can already be as old as he is (can 7 years have really passed since he entered the world?).  Aidan has enriched all of our lives and we cannot imagine life without him.

Here are a few things that capture Aidan right now:

  • He is full of joy.
  • His laughter is contagious.
  • He is mischievous.
  • He is very animated in expression and with hand motions.
  • He is extremely competitive.
  • He likes things to be fair and equal and quickly points out any injustice (that he perceives).
  • “Someday, when I am a dad…” is a phrase he says regularly.
  • Every morning and afternoon require “cuddle time.”
  • For every kiss I give him, he gives me 2 or 3 in return.
  • He adores his big brother.
  • He is a Texas Rangers fan (unless his cousin Kaitlyn is around, then he will cheer for the Mariners). ;-)
  • Blue is still your favorite color.
  • “Uncle” James turned him into an Auburn Tigers fan this past January.
  • He is a full head shorter than his brother, but makes up for that with effort and heart.
  • His reading fluency and speed has exploded over the last couple of months.
  • “For real?” is something he says often.
  • He’s a little LEGO builder.
  • He wants to be a pilot for the United States Air Force when he grows up (and wants to fly the A-10 after seeing it in action at the air show last month).

Most of all, he is loved so very much by his family.  Happy 7th birthday buddy!  May you grow in God’s grace, wisdom and knowledge this upcoming year. 

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sprouts, Bugs and Lessons from a Movie.

Yay! The radishes have sprouted and are now growing their next set of leaves. The lettuce, green onions, thyme and a few of the sunflowers that we planted have also emerged. The boys have enjoyed going out into the backyard with me to check on the plants' growth each day. It has been amazing to us how much plants grow from the morning to the early evening as well.

Although we have been rejoicing over the sprouting and new growth of our garden, we have encountered a couple of hiccups along the way. When we went out to water the garden Monday morning, we noticed that something was eating the leaves of our radishes! We were so bummed (me especially, since I had just thinned the row the afternoon before...). I went and grabbed my book, The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith, and looked up his recipes for Homemade Pest- and Disease-Control Remedies. I love that the ingredients for the bug sprays are made from ingredients that I have in my kitchen. Unfortunately, the only one I had all of the ingredients for this time took 2-3 days to steep! Oh well, 'twas yet another lesson in patience for me. :) There are others that you can use immediately that have similar ingredients to the one I made that I found when I did a little Google search on organic pest control methods, but this is one that we have had success with when we used it in years past.

Here is the recipe for the bug spray I was finally able to use this morning.

7 cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon powdered cayenne pepper
3 cups hot (not boiling) water

Crush the garlic and place it in a heat-proof container. Add the cayenne. Pour the hot water over the garlic and cayenne. Stir to combine completely. Steep your mixture for 2-3 days, then strain and pour into a hand-held sprayer.

It smells good to me, but apparently, pests don't like the strong garlic smell, or the heat from the cayenne.
My poor tomato plants were not to be left unscathed this season. :( The leaves were full of leafminer tunnels almost overnight! After doing a bit of internet research, I found out that the leaves with the tunnels in them needed to be removed and thrown away in a plastic garbage sack, and the soil around the plants needed to be sprayed with neem oil. You are supposed to spray every few days, fertilize your plants with compost weekly, and after a couple of weeks, can spray every 10 days or so (if I remember reading this correctly--truly, the Internet contains a wealth of information! It is one of my favorite resources.). Although the plants are looking pretty sad at the moment, new growth is appearing and we think that they are going to make it! Doesn't the LORD also prune things from our lives to allow for new growth to take place? Hmmm...I see a new Bible object lesson forming around this thought right now!

Now you may be wondering where lessons from a movie may come in with regard to gardening. Please bear with me a moment. Rob and I recently saw the movie Soul Surfer. Just a little FYI--we LOVED the movie (and I bawled through about half of it...)! While I was outside watering the gardens this morning with Aidan, we noticed that there were more baby palm trees sprouting in the ornamental bed next to our pool. We literally pull anywhere from 10-50 baby palms a day. I had just pulled a bunch yesterday and was a little bummed that more sprouted up overnight. I'd get down into the garden, right where the palms were growing and would work the soil with my hand cultivator, loosening up the soil so I could pull the unwanted plan out, roots and all (some of them have very long and interconnected roots). Meanwhile, Aidan is chattering away. He is asking me about what I am doing, why we always have baby palm trees sprouting, if we are going to dig rock out of the section I was working in, etc. I stand up, thinking I was done working in one particular area and realize that I had missed at least 10 different little green spikes. I had been so close to the issue, that I didn't notice what I had missed until I had a change in perspective. The scene in the movie where Bethany and her youth leader were speaking about perspective came to mind at that moment. I realized just how true that statement was with not only gardening, but with so many other areas of life too. We can be working our wheels trying to work through some problem, thinking that we have it all figured out and then we step back and see that maybe there was something we missed along the way that we couldn't see when were close to it.

The LORD has been speaking to me and has been teaching me (and the boys as well) so much this month through the work we have been doing in the garden. I wonder what will be next and what we will learn from that?

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Fun-Filled Farm Field Trip

I like to have a little fun with alliteration, if you couldn't tell by the title of this blog post. :)

This morning, the boys, my daughter for the day :) and I trekked over to Harlingen to tour Yahweh's All Natural Farm and Garden run by Saul and Diana Padilla. Diana was not there when we first arrived, so Saul introduced the kids and I to many of the animals who live on their farm. We were able to see chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, a cow and calf, a peacock, dogs, rabbits and turkeys (I am afraid that I'm missing something...). The kids were able to pick up a baby chick, pet a 3-day-old baby goat, pet and play with the baby calf, watch the pigs, chase the peacock (that would be David--we quickly put a stop to that!). The boys convinced Saul to catch one of the lambs for them to pet too!

After Diana returned, we looked at the fruit trees in various stages of growth, bottle-fed the baby calf (and the boys sat on it too. Corrie was too scared to sit on it...until after it was put back into its pen. She quickly got over any sadness over that missed opportunity when she was allowed to bottle feed 2 baby goats!

A little view of some south Texas plant life. (photo by Aidan)

The peacock, strutting his stuff.

David bottle feeding the calf (I think he's practicing so Uncle Steve can put him to work next time we visit the dairy), Aidan pretending that he's a rodeo buckaroo, and the boys petting the lamb that Saul so kindly caught for them.

Sweet baby chick we all were able to hold.

More animals we saw on the farm!

After having fun with all of the animals, we took a tour of the gardens. The big garden that they use for their CSA and for selling produce at local farmer's markets covers 3 acres. The kids and I were all in awe over the sheer size of the garden, and of how beautiful it was. Had it not been for the 2 youngest children needing to take a potty break, we could have spent so much longer walking through the garden, identifying plants and maybe even would have gotten to pick something too. Alas, nature called, and that portion of the tour was cut short.

This field trip was truly wonderful. Saul and Diana are so kind and hospitable, and visiting their farm and organic garden made for a very pleasurable morning. The animals and the fun had, will be the talk of our house for days and weeks to come!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gardening - Part 2: Rocks...Lots and Lots of Rocks.

Introducing to you, the long, rectangular garden bed next to the pool. Before this weekend, it was full of 3 tall palm trees, 1 shorter palm tree (as can be seen in the first photo below), a hibiscus plant and LOTS of grass and other assorted weeds. Oh, can I mention that is full of something else too? It is full of ROCKS!!! The first time we weeded this flower bed, we noticed that it was really difficult digging in the majority of the soil. We kept hitting rocks. After awhile, we realized that there was quite a deep layer of river rock all underneath the 2-3 inches of soil that we could see on top of the bed.

Apparently, the bed was filled at one time with decorative rock. Then, large bark chips were laid on top of the rock to help camouflage it. Later, a layer of thin landscaping plastic and a few inches of dirt were spread on top of that with a few plants thrown in for good measure. Most of the new plants that were there when we bought the house almost 2 years ago died within a couple months of us moving in. The one hibiscus that survived (okay, the Mexican heather survived, but I transplanted that to line my courtyard last summer) has not gotten any taller. The poor plants didn't have a chance to let their roots go deep.

But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. - Mark 4:6 (NIV)

Last weekend, we began working on removing the rock again. After two solid days of digging, not even 1/4 of the garden is complete. The task begins to feel daunting, and the end seems to be nowhere in sight. However, what good lessons in perseverance and patience can be gleaned from this task. We also have been talking about the parable of the sower and why rocky soil is not ideal for plant growth. The people who tried to hide the rocks, who tried to make the garden bed look like something that it was not may not be ones I would currently vote "person of the year," but my Heavenly Father is teaching me lessons through this tedious task. I wonder what else He has in store? :)

See those last two trees where my man and my firstborn are? That small section is what we spent 2 days laboring over. Oh, and Rob is pulling up the landscaping timber--the edging is going to get a major face-lift! :)

I love this kid! My firstborn and I had some great conversations while picking up rocks together over the weekend. (See the timber in the foreground? That is no longer there.)

Where is the rock going? Rob and I pulled the waist-high grass (most of it was dead due to Rob's dumping the remainder of a bottle of Roundup on it), laid down landscaping cloth and started dumping the rock pulled up out of the garden on top of it. The area around the AC looks much nicer now!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rock Cycle.

The boys holding their foil "rock" packets over the candle flame to convert the metamorphic rock into an igneous rock.

Little man is standing on the top board to change his sedimentary rock into a metamorphic rock (him standing on the board signified the pressure that metamorphic rocks undergo). The "big" little man is lighting one of the candles for the next stage.

The packet of crayon shavings, er "sediment," was placed between 2 boards, then the boys pounded the top board with a hammer to cement the layers together to make their sedimentary rock.

D - pounding away to create his sedimentary rock.

I have to admit that projects like this make me love homeschooling even more! It is SO much fun doing an activity with my boys and then seeing the light come on for each of them as they are bettering their understanding of a given subject. In this instance, we were studying rocks and minerals. What better way to learn about the rock cycle than actually participating in an activity that illustrates a concept that seems abstract on paper.

To prepare, I shaved crayons with my dad's old Boy Scout knife--we used 4 or 5 different colors (honestly, I probably only used the time I got to the last color of crayon, I was ready to be done). The boys both gave me a few crazy looks, then looked at each other to communicate in a way that only two brothers who are best friends can only understand--"Mama is at it she goes with another crazy project!" ;-) This project was surrounded by much intrigue. After all, how often do my boys see their mama break out a pocketknife to shave crayons? I would have had them do the dirty work if we would have had a regular crayon sharpener.

After I finally finished shaving crayons, we drew a 4 cm x 4 cm square onto a piece of aluminum foil, they layered crayon shavings, one color at a time, onto their square, we folded the foil into a little packet, then were off to the garage in search of a hammer and 2 boards. The hammer and boards were found in short order, then the boys took turns hammering their crayon "sediment" packets that were placed between the two boards. One of the crayon sedimentary "rocks" broke, so we could actually see the different colored layers--it was really neat to see! After they inspected their rocks, they put the packet back between the two boards and stood on it to add pressure to the "rock." We discussed what we read in The Magic School Bus: Inside The Earth about metamorphic rocks being created by heat and pressure being applied to an existing rock. Once they inspected their pressurized rocks, they were impressed by how much more compact it was.

The final step was to hold the foil packets over a candle flame to melt the "rock" and then to let it cool to form an igneous rock. We clipped clothespins to the corner of our packet so our hands were further away from the flame. There was a time where the packets also rested on the lip of the candle. Be careful with this step--if you don't have a tight seal on your foil packet, or if holes or tears have been made to the packet during the sedimentary or metamorphic rock phases, hot wax will flow out, I repeat, hot wax will flow out if you are not careful.

I hope that you enjoyed a little glimpse into one of our many fun school projects! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gardening - Part 1: preparing and planting


My big helper picking up rocks from the pool-side flower bed.

My little helper posing how a gardener or farmer would pose. :)

Some of the fun things that we planted

The garden after we weeded it and planted the basil. My rosemary bush has grown SO much since last year!!! The front bed is mine, the one behind it belongs to the boys this year.

Last Friday, we planted our vegetable beds. Before we could begin, we had to pull the grass and other weeds that had sprouted up in the raised beds that Rob and the boys built our first fall down here in the valley. We had to finish pulling out the dead tomato plants that the freeze killed at the end of January as well. My littlest helper stayed with me while his older brother had guitar lessons. He helped me pull weeds, cultivate the soil, plan what we were going to plant and then set the seeds and plants. The bed closest to the gate enclosing our AC unit is for the boys. My goal to get them to enjoy gardening was to give them a place of their own to plant whatever they wanted to. Sunflowers and other flowers ended up being the seeds of choice to plant in their space. They did leave me a little space to plant a heat-resistant variety of lettuce and some green onions. I planted herbs, radishes and lettuce in my area, although the radishes were really the boys' idea...hmmm...

We had a few plastic pots lying around that we planted a few things in as well. Chives and parsley were planted in a couple of them, we planted a couple of tomato plants bred for patio planting and also planted some wildflower seeds that the boys were given on their tour of the recycling center a couple of weekends ago. There are still a few pots left that are crying out to have something planted in them, although that will happen after I quit using them as buckets for putting the rock in that we are taking out of the pool-side garden bed.

After we planted the vegetable/flower garden beds along the side of the house, we moved to the pool-side garden bed. We managed to plant the daylilies that I purchased, the bluebonnets, my biggest little-man's honeysuckle vine and crape myrtle on one end. It took us a full day of digging up and carting out rock in one small section to plan the bird of paradise plant. :( That venture will take up an entire post of its own!

Starting the garden is always a lot of fun. Planning and dreaming of what you want to grow, where you want things planted and how good things will look growing and how wonderful fresh produce tastes. Honestly, it's probably my favorite part (along with the harvesting and preparing of the produce!). I think that my kids would both agree.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things we never thought would come out of our mouths...

...until having children!

I was on the phone with my dear friend, Shannon, on my birthday when I said to David:

"You may NOT use my kitchen tongs to catch lizards!"

Honestly, you'd think that would be a no-brainer. Things that I use for food preparation shouldn't be used to pick up live animals, right? Apparently, to my boys, things can be used for multiple purposes. There's no problem when it can be washed. Unfortunately, the very idea that the kitchen tongs could have potentially touched a live, squirming lizard just grosses this mama out!

Then either yesterday at breakfast, or at dinner the night before (my memory is failing me at the moment), I had to say to Aidan:

"Take that fork out of your nose! It's used for eating your dinner, not for picking your nose."

Oh, some of the many joys of having boys. ;)

Poison ivy/oak, ticks and no hot water--oh my!

That pretty much sums up last week--we had an awesome time camping up at Goliad State Park over the last half of spring break; however, 2 days after we returned home, my littlest man was covered in bumps and was itchy all over. While we were out camping, he got into some poison ivy or poison oak (not sure which) when he and his brother were out exploring on the bank leading down to the San Antonio river or in the little wooded area behind our campsite. Aidan fell asleep on the couch by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, his cute little face swollen and covered with flesh-colored bumps. He had a red rash under his right eye, on one of his ears, on each side of his chin, on his neck, spots on his legs, arms and hands. There was no crying (on his part)--he just itched and took his plight like a little champion.

The hubster took a quick trip to Walgreens (or Walmart--one of those Wal-stores...) after we consulted with a good friend about what to use to treat it. He came home with Zanfer, or as we like to call it in our house: liquid gold. 3 treatments over a period of 3 days, and now you would almost never know that he had it!

Here he is after homeschool co-op on Friday

Now to the no hot water. When Rob got home from work last Wednesday, he saw a small water puddle out by the garage door. We didn't think much about it at first, figuring that maybe someone decided to fill up a water bottle or something with the hose that is on that side of the house. We ate dinner, got ready for Awana and then noticed on the way out the door that water was running off the step from the area where the hot water tanks are in the garage and was trailing out the garage door. He sent the boys and I on without him, and stayed behind to take care of the water mess. The tank was leaking from the inside, and needed to be replaced. However, the home warranty company's contractors were not going to be able to get it taken care of until Monday!!! Ugh. We are so thankful for friends who offered to let us take showers at their houses, even if we only took one friend up on their offer. It's such a blessing to know that our Heavenly Father has blessed us with wonderful friends. :) The hot water was fixed yesterday, so we could finally take showers at home. And, come to find out, someone had turned the water main down, so we now have more water pressure than we have had since moving into this house. It is SO wonderful! We can now run two showers at the same time, which we haven't been able to do before. Oh, the little things we get so excited about! ;-)

Ticks...David found one on his stomach yesterday and freaked out a bit about it. To his credit, he picked it off himself and killed it. However, my little hypochondriac was scared that the bump was getting larger and redder (it was shrinking, but was only red where he was scratching it, every time that he thought about what had bitten him there). Today, the bite is nearly invisible--yay! I am unsure where he picked it up. He didn't have any in his hair or back or chest when I had checked him after our hike on Saturday, and he hadn't noticed anything until yesterday. Thankfully it is now gone, and we will now be on the lookout for more!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

School Views...

We just finished up a geology unit and did so many fun things with it over the last 2 weeks! We grew a crystal garden, played a game to go through the rock cycle, modeled the rock cycle with crayon shavings (will do another post about that), made a lapbook (some of the pockets and mini books were printed from this site--I found them under the Rocks In His Head lesson plans and materials). I also purchased a rock and minerals kit from Home Science Tools--the boys really enjoyed getting to do the different tests when learning how to identify the different types of rocks and minerals. We read Magic School Bus Inside the Earth and Magic School Bus: Rocky Road Trip. There are 2 more things we have to do to finish this unit: finish our volcanoes and look at coal.

A and I also made a lapbook for review on our studies about Ancient Egypt, and we are now doing spring-themed copywork for penmanship and writing practice.

Here is a look at the "board" at the end of lessons today. D's spelling words are on there (A decided to write a few of them himself). A lot happens here--I don't know how I managed without it before now! :) I'm also going to start placing a few Spanish/English flashcards up here for the boys to grab to help them with learning Spanish. For the next week or so, we will be looking at colors.

Science experiments - electricity with batteries. The boys had a blast making their circuit maze and the headlamp. We still need to make our buzzer game, make our electromagnet in addition to a couple of other lab activities. Some things require more planning and time to execute, but we all have been learning a lot (and Rob thinks I'm now ready to start changing out outlets since I am becoming quite adept at stripping wires, connecting them, etc. I may leave those sorts of fun tasks to him though).

Math. We are just finishing up the first unit in each of these books. A flew through Singapore levels 1A and 1B and is just starting out in level 2A. It is definitely more challenging for him, but he enjoys it. D is now in Singapore 3B. I have really enjoyed using Singapore and Miquon math. My only qualm with the curriculum, Singapore especially, is that there is not enough drill and practice for certain sections. We have been able to by-pass that through various math websites online where you can print worksheets for free. has been my favorite go-to site for the past 3 years when we need to do a little extra drill and practice. I think the boys like it best when they get to do speed drills with Daddy, or when we get to play other games.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

D at 9.

Holding the chocolate moose that Nana and I made for his birthday.

  • You give amazing hugs!
  • You aren't too big to snuggle.
  • You are now tall enough to drive the go-carts at The Zone all by yourself (you come up to my collarbone).
  • You have a great sense of humor and love to tell jokes!
  • You love to read--you just devoured Chuck Black's Kingdom series, the first 3 Harry Potter books, are almost finished with My Side of the Mountain, and want to read through C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia for the 2nd time in less than a year.
  • Your favorite colors are green and yellow.
  • You love the Texas Rangers.
  • You were a Minnesota Vikings fan, but have now moved your allegiance to the Seattle Seahawks (which has made your daddy proud).
  • I often find you shooting hoops out in the driveway--especially when it is time for us to pile into the car to go somewhere! ;-)
  • You love to play football too.
  • You say that you hate math when people ask you about it, but I know better (you really do like it).
  • You like to catch frogs (and probably soon will like to catch lizards too).
  • You love to build with LEGO.
  • I love the worship songs that you make up and now accompany yourself to with your guitar.
  • I love how you love your little brother.
  • I love your tender heart.
  • I love how inquisitive and creative you are.
  • I love YOU!

These are just a few things about you, my firstborn, my heart. Blessings to you over the next year. :)

Mama xoxoxoxo

Spiritual lessons from the kitchen.

You may see this picture and wonder what pancakes have to do with anything spiritually related--don't worry, there truly is a connection. :)

I have a confession to make. I am not the most patient person on the planet. There are times when I feel that God's fruit of patience is showing (and growing) in my life, but there are so many other seconds, minutes, hours, etc. where this fruit seems to be out of my reach. Especially when patience is required to wait on God and His timing.

God reminded me about how cooking pancakes requires patience while I was standing in my kitchen making pancakes a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure that I responded something like this: "Huh?' and had a blank expression on my face. Then, the Holy Spirit brought to my recollection the first few times I ever tried to make pancakes. Oh my, those pancakes of years past were so deformed and misshapen (thankfully the way they looked did not impact they way they tasted!). I'm so thankful that Rob ate my feeble attempts at what were supposed to be pancakes during our first year or so of marriage. ;-) I had no patience. I felt that it wasn't important to wait until they were mostly set with air bubbles popping on the surface before flipping them. I just wanted to get those things done so we could eat breakfast! However, cooking pancakes requires waiting. The task requires patience. It takes practice too, but they definitely require patience. For someone who likes to be in control of things to some extent, and who sometimes feels a bit overwhelmed when she has to relinquish some sense of control, patience and waiting can be a bit difficult.

The common theme that my Father in heaven has been whispering to me over the last 2 months or so is to wait upon Him. I need to be patient. I need to trust in Him. God is trustworthy, I can put my trust in him and am learning (and practicing) putting my trust in Him. I know that he has a plan for me. His word says in Jeremiah 29:11,

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD
, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

His word also says: "The LORD will fulfill his purpose for you. His love for you endures forever--and he never abandons the works of His hands!" (from Psalm 138:8).

And do you know what? He is trustworthy. I don't need to be fearful of whatever the future may bring. As long as I am walking day-by-day with God, and am submitting my dreams, plans and everything to Him it will be okay. Things will not happen in my timing, they will unfold according to His perfect and sovereign plan (of which he reminded me in Isaiah 55:8 - "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD.").

My pancake-making skills have improved dramatically over the years, and I would like to think that with the Holy Spirit's help, I have also grown more in patience. But, I know that there is still ample room for growth, as I am being shaped into the likeness of my Creator.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Word for 2011.

Over the last few years, one of my favorite bloggers/scrapbookers posts her word of the year and encourages her readers to do the same. I have chosen not to participate in the game, not to laziness, but because I have never been able to think of a word in particular that emulates what my goals are for the upcoming year. I have prayed and pondered, and have prayed and have pondered some more, and finally have a word to focus on for 2011. Discipline.

dis-ci-pline - verb.
1. to train by instruction and exercise; drill
2. to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.

I desire to be disciplined through having a regular morning quiet time with the Lord. This is a HUGE stretch for me--I am NOT a morning person, but through discipline (and with God's and my husband's help), I can train myself to be. "She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family..." Proverbs 31:15a. Rob has woken me up the last two mornings, and it has been refreshing being able to drink my coffee in a quiet house, to read my Bible without having my children squabbling in the background and actually having time to pray! When I have tried to have my quiet time at other parts of the day, I become very distracted by what the boys are doing, I'm tired, or I stay up too late and sleep in too long.

Another area I desire to be disciplined in is exercise and eating well. To not eat cookies just because they are there (oh Girl Scout cookies, you are going to be testing my self control--thank goodness I already ate the Samoas!). ;-) I want to make healthier snack choices during the day, and to watch my portion sizes, even when I'm eating my favorite things! I want to get out with the boys to ride our bikes daily for part of our homeschool P.E. I want to walk with my friend, Angie, regularly. Once I get used to waking up before Rob leaves for campus, I'd like to wake up even earlier (eek--I can hardly believe I am saying that) to add yoga, weight training, etc. to my workout regimen. This will take discipline.

Discipline is something that I also need to be intentional about creating within our homeschool. To have a regular routine. For the most part, we do well routine-wise covering our subjects, but we really need to stay focused (I need to teach the boys how to stay focused on the task at hand), and have a better routine for getting our work done. Yesterday, they really enjoyed being able to play all afternoon since we finished school and had lunch by 1. Not all days are like that, but I think that we would all do better if they were. This routine will also flow into bedtime. Having the boys be in bed by 8:30 so Rob and I can spend time together before we go to sleep.

I have my work cut out for me this year. I know that challenges are going to arise; however, by writing this here, I'm hoping that there will be an added element of accountability.

"She sets about her work vigorously, her arms are strong for her tasks." Proverbs 31:17

"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27