Saturday, September 25, 2010

Amy's baby

Amy from Raising Arrows had her baby!  You wouldn't believe the size of this baby!  Mine ranged in weight from 5 pounds 9 ounces to 6 pounds 6 ounces.  And I thought my labors were painful!  I can't imagine.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 The very hungry caterpillar has eaten all day long.  Do you see him on the twig with a leaf in his (or her) mouth?  The mouth is on the left.
Here is a macro shot, with the mouth on the right now.  

My next question is, how did this thing, which will become a sphinx moth, go from dead-as-a-doornail, to very hungry and active and agile?

Was it our prayers?  Or does their skin heal from boo boos, just as ours does?

One thing for sure.  This little bugger is pretty entertaining.

Okay, yes.  I admit it.  We're weird.  

driven to distraction and caterpillars

The AT&T van was outside my home yesterday.  I didn't talk with the driver, but as I pulled out of my driveway and headed to the library with the kids, I expected the Internet to be unavailable upon my return.  We'd been using AT&T high speed Internet for $37 dollars a month.  We don't have a land phone or cable TV, so $37 was the cheapest deal around.   

But alas, I write to you today from my home, so the employee was apparently in the neighborhood on some other business.   The bill is more than thirty days overdue, so I'm sure he'll be back soon.  I have yet to get on the phone and order the disconnection.  

What I will miss most about in-home Internet is the opportunity to connect with another adult.  I lead a fairly isolated life, as is true for many stay-at-home moms.  

It has been a doosey of a morning!  It doesn't matter, somehow, that no one may read this or respond for hours--or respond at all.  It just helps to interact with someone old enough to pour their own drink without spilling it.  Ya know what I mean?

It all started when I sent the children outside for a brief playtime.  I needed to do the morning dishes and get the table ready for school.  Miss Active Toddler Beth is content playing outside when her siblings are with her.  Oftentimes sending them all outside is the only way I can accomplish needed tasks (without a high-enough, working child safety gate, that is).  Don't ask me what we'll do in winter!  

In our backyard, Peter found a caterpillar none of us had seen before.  He was excited and immediately grabbed it, forgetting our no-bare-hands rule.  That rule has been longstanding and is usually followed.  

Back when Peter was four years old we were on a hike, during which Peter found a white caterpillar.  He held it in his hand for about an hour (we had no containers with us).  To make a long story short, his whole hand swelled up a day later, necessitating a doctor visit.  Steroid cream and an oral antihistamine were prescribed. It was a painful experience, in more ways than one.  :)

Anyhow, this morning, in shock, Peter abruptly dropped the caterpillar and screamed.  It did something to his hand (pricked, stabbed--whatever) that triggered a full blown anxiety attack--almost destroying Peter's excitement at having discovered something new.  And in our backyard no less!  

The anxiety pretty much stopped all of us in our tracks.  Peter's behavior often sometimes has that quality about it.  Ahem.  

I felt forced to drop everything and research what kind of caterpillar he'd found, to discover how to treat his hand and calm his anxiety.  He felt sure he would die.  For my part, I knew that a second allergic reaction wouldn't be good, per the doctor's warning.  Whether it depends on being the same type of caterpillar, I don't know.  The prior reaction was not caused by one of the stinging, harmful caterpillars.  It was assumed that it was the amount of time Peter's hand had contact with the caterpillar hairs.  

Neither is this morning's caterpillar one of the dangerous ones, thank goodness.  At any rate, I gave him oral antihistamine.  Peter, that is, not the caterpillar.

And in the meantime the caterpillar--due to having been dropped--slowed his activity level, then began bleeding and dying.  Or rather he was lifeless and appeared to have died (we found out later).  Peter wailed in sadness and pounded the floor, and on the inside, I wailed in stress and sadness.  You see, we were all kind of excited about what it might turn into.  Butterfly or moth?  Colorful or boring?  Big or little?  

We love the mystery of nature.

Now, several hours later, I can report that Peter's caterpillar resurrected itself, as it were.  The bleeding spot repaired itself and he or she is eating contentedly and pooping, but not crawling.  Perhaps we can keep putting the leaves near its mouth until the dear thing is large enough to make a chrysalis--this will be soon, judging from the size.

Our spirits, previously downcast, have been lifted--like on an Easter morn.

But somehow, I still feel like I need a vacation.

Or a handful of chocolate chips.  Or another batch of yummy homemade applesauce.  Or an apple crisp.  

Closing thoughts on the Internet.  More than anything, the Internet is a distraction in our home.  I like that information is at our fingertips, but I can list our research topics and we can look them up all at once on a Tuesday morning at the neighborhood library.  In fact, all uses of the Internet (for us) are better being compartmentalized into a few sittings a week.

Somehow, without this distraction, I think we will truly find each other.  Truly dwell in knowledge of each other.  Unable to escape--no longer driven to distraction--we can better achieve our goals.  

And our goals are these:  

Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Well-Rounded Education

Our homeschooling days are peaceful and fun now, for the most part.  I love Charlotte Mason!

I did not write a detailed master school schedule for fall semester.  There were too many changes and interruptions with a baby around to make it work last year, and the same will be true for this year, with an active toddler in our midst.

Instead, each morning after breakfast the boys take out a piece of paper and I dictate their morning schedules for them to write out (including morning chores/group devotions).  When they're done they've got a simple list of tasks (no time frames are included, except for independent reading).  This is working very well.  It still feels structured and keeps the ADHD under some control, while also easily accommodating changes to our routine, like a teething baby, sick children, or literacy morning at the library on Thursdays for my two little girls, ages 21 months and 3.5-years.

We write another schedule after lunch, if we still have more schooling or chores/cooking/baking to do.  Usually by the afternoon they just have to listen to mom read one or two more things, followed by their short dictations.  Listening and dictating are always low stress, and thus perfect for the afternoons.  We find any type of storytime a bonding experience.

All four children have ample outside play and explore time, despite the hefty list of living books you'll see below.

The girls benefit as well from hearing all this good classical literature!  I read to the boys in the playroom while the girls play, or at the kitchen table while the girls work with Playdoh/crayons/puzzles.

Some non-Charlotte Mason details:  Paul is finishing up a 2nd grade math book, and Peter has begun a 3rd grade math book.  Paul rarely needs help, while Peter needs help on every section, partially due to wanting to be spoon fed his math concepts, rather than working diligently at figuring things out on his own.  Math is the most trying part of my day.  3rd grade math does get complicated, so I have to walk a fine line--encouraging him to try harder, while providing sufficient support for complicated concepts.

I purchased Explode the Code spelling/phonics books last year, which we are finishing up.  After that I'll go my own way in spelling.

The boys do copywork three times a week, which consists of copying Bible verses.

Peter writes casual friendly letters/thank you notes 2-3 times a week, but Paul currently does no composing.

Charlotte Mason homeschooling log:

The boys are reading & narrating the following (in 25-minute reading segments, twice a day, for 50 total independent reading minutes):

8.5-year-old Peter is reading Laura's Pa, by Laura Ingalls Wilder - reading level 3.5

6.5-year-old Paul is reading Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White - reading level 4.9--if he hadn't already seen the movie, this book would probably be too hard.  He is narrating it to my satisfaction so far.

Mom is reading these selections to the boys, after which they narrate (retell the events of the story, in order):

Literature - Heidi, by Johanna Spyri - (Reading level 3.5)  They can read it themselves, but I grabbed it off our shelf for before-bed story time one night, before realizing the reading level was technically too low for a read aloud.  But we've enjoyed this experience together!  It's been priceless.

Ideally, read alouds should be at least two levels higher than your child's own reading level, to enhance vocabulary.

Literature - Robin hood, Howard Pyle  (Reading level 6.1)

Literature - The Complete Poems, by Christina Rossetti

Science - Pagoo, by Holling Clancy Holling.  (Reading level 6.1) This is a living book for science which describes the life of Pagoo, a hermit crab who started as a speck of ocean plankton.  Fascinating!

Science - Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock

History - This Country of Ours, by H.E. Marshall (4th - 6th grade reading level)--a living book for social studies.  A living book is in story form, often, and written by someone who has a passion for the subject matter.  Put another way, living books are the opposite of boring textbooks.  They make the subject matter come alive for the learner.   In this first term we are reading about how the Vikings of old found new land.

History - Our Island Story, by H. E. Marshall (grade range 9-11)  A living book for social studies.  The first term we are reading about the years 1066 - 1189 - Kings Harold II to Henry II

History Biography - The Little Duke, by Charlotte Yonge.  This is a biography of Richard, Duke of Normandy, great grandfather of William the Conqueror, 943 A.D.

Geography - Tree in the Trail, by Holling C. Holling

Geography - Seabird, by Holling C. Holling

Keep in mind that each reading is only about 15 minutes in duration, with the boys' narrations (oral retellings) taking no longer than five minutes each. 

We don't read all of these books every day.  We alternate.  And a few of them are large volumes which we will read over a couple of years (Our Island Story, and This Country of Ours, and Handbook of Nature Study, and The Complete Poems).

The purpose of reading so many different things at one time is to give kids a well-rounded education, so they can discover what things they feel most passionate about.  Without exposing them to a wide variety of literature and subject areas, they can't possibly develop their intellects fully.

The goal is for the students to be reading all these living books on their own by the 4th or 5th grade.

Language arts learning, incidentally, has four components: listening, speaking, reading and writing.  Often the listening and speaking components are woefully neglected, which makes it harder for a child to develop outstanding reading and writing skills.  The four components all depend on one another and build on one another.

I love Charlotte Mason for her instinct in rounding out a child's learning experiences, in more ways than one.  She was brilliant!  Of course she had no husband or children, so she had time to develop brilliance!  She dedicated her life to teaching and writing about education.

Details needing finalizing:  We still need to pick a composer and an artist to study for this term, and I need to get some handicraft projects planned and organized.  The boys do impromptu craft projects for now.  Ambleside Online, my Charlotte Mason companion, suggests you start slow with their curriculum.  That's just what we're doing!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

fruit farm fun

This is one of Peter's recent Monarch's, raised from a large Monarch caterpillar.  When they hatch from the chrysalis they stay still and dry their wings for a couple of hours, then we watch them fly away.

Drying its wings on our blind cords.

A bad picture of a gray tree frog, caught in our yard.  Peter loved it sacrificially, letting it go after a couple of days.  I was so proud of him!

This is Peter's female praying mantis.  He loved it sacrificially as well, letting it go after about eight days.  Daddy helped him release it in our garden yesterday, after which Peter shed no tears, surprisingly.  The gray tree frog did have tears shed over it--he loved that thing dearly!

We had a delightful time today picking raspberries and Jonathan apples at a lovely spot about thirty-five minutes away.  Just lovely, although the weather doesn't make it seem so.

Grandma and Mary

Mary feeding the delicious berries to Beth.  What a sweety.  Beth's tiny tummy has a large berry capacity!  I was sorry to have to keep her in the stroller, but she wouldn't have treated the plants nicely.  She was content as long as we kept feeding her berries!

I assumed this place was an organic farm, but tonight I checked their website to make sure, and since I couldn't find the word "organic" anywhere, I suppose they use pesticides.  Oops.  We probably shouldn't have indulged without washing them first!

My mother is 69 and quite pretty.

I love pick-your-own farm locations!  Love, love, love it!  Daddy was studying for a computer exam today so he couldn't join us.  Picking as a family is a tradition; I really missed him today.  We'll go back in a couple weeks with Daddy accompanying us.

In the meantime, I'll be busy with a lot of baking and applesauce making!  A bushel is a lot of apples!

You can use this website to find a pick-your-own place in your location.  Happy picking!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Loving Heidi

I've been reading Heidi (Johanna Spyri) to the boys for a couple weeks now.  How I loved this book as a child!  And oh, people! I am loving it all over again.  What a masterpiece!  I spent two hours reading ahead the other night, after tucking the boys in.  Then on two other nights, I was so involved in the story that I ended up reading to them until 10:00 p.m.!  Me, who is such a stickler for a consistent bedtime!

About the third day into it I told the boys how I loved it so much as a child, that I wanted to be Heidi.  Peter said, kind of embarrassed:  "Me too.  Is that okay?  I wish we lived in the beautiful mountains too and could run with the goats." 

I love that Heidi always puts the feelings of others above her own.  She loves sacrificially.  I love her contagious good nature and her unabashed joy regarding nature.  She reminds me of my Peter, at times.  I love her conversion story and how she led others to faith in the book. 

Funny, but I don't remember this being a Christian book.  Reading it now, as an adult, I see so much symbolism.  I wonder if it influenced my heart for God, all those years ago?  I know I read it at least three times as a child--only Little Women was read (and cried over) more times by my little bookworm, childish self.   

A classic isn't just a book that's timeless.  I'm finding they're also books that teach and appeal to children and adults alike. 

Anyway, we are loving the Charlotte Mason learning style!  I'm reading a number of wonderful living books to the boys right now.  It's all such a pleasure!  More on that to come.

My mother is visiting right now, although she's staying with her sister.  I love her dearly, but why do mothers say things such as the following?

"Oh, my goodness, Christine!  You're so skinny!  What size are you, a 2!"

To which I answered, "No, I'm a 4.  I haven't seen a 2 since the second child was born."  (My bone structure in the hip area is completely different now.)

"Well, that's a good thing.  If you were any skinnier, you'd look like a meth addict!"

Gee.  Thanks.  

Let's make a pact right now, Ladies!  May we only say uplifting things to our daughters about their physical appearances (except in the case of immodest clothing, and then only gently.  Very gently.).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

according to your purpose

When God is working on you, he is purposeful, kind, and patient, but also unrelenting.

Recall I posted that I sometimes obsessively check e-mail?  Apparently God thinks I can't solve this problem on my own.  I must have shown a lack of cooperation with the Holy Spirit's whispers.

As I crunched the numbers for bills and incoming resources, it became clear.  Our in-home Internet service days are numbered.  By the end of the month, I think we'll be visiting the library to go online.

What does this mean?  It's all good!

I'll be able to publish a blog post and check e-mail two to three days a week.

"And we know that in all things the Lord works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

Praise God to be called!  Yes, Lord!  

Search me.  Help me.  Change me....

according to your purpose.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ann is home

Ann arrived home in the wee hours.  She will need prayer.  On the last day of these trips the bloggers visit the worst the area has to offer, in terms of physical poverty.  In Guatemala's case this was the city dump, next to which 20,000 people live in one square kilometer.  The water isn't even fit for rats.

Her husband and her six children, as well as her community, will not understand the depths of her sorrow.  She is forever changed, and will need lots of prayer as she lives in the tension of that change, and as she listens to what God wants her to do next, in response to the truth she's seen.  

Here is what Kristin did, six months after returning from Kenya.

If you don't have the $38.00/mo. required to sponsor a child, you can write to a Compassion child that someone else sponsors.  Some children don't get letters from their sponsors, and the letter writing ministry addresses that yearning in the children's hearts.  This post explains that to the children involved, the letters mean everything.  They are the life-changing link--relationship. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Are You a Disciple?

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Mark 8:34

It's so easy to think that as Christians, we have no tasks greater than believing and repenting, praying and reading.  And to be sure, these are wonderful things--great starting points in the Christian walk.

But these things do not make us disciples of Jesus.  Nor do they give us an abundant life.

To be a disciple and to experience the abundant life here on earth, Jesus said a man must:

1.  deny himself - This does not refer to giving up a luxury.  It refers, instead, to giving up the ownership of ourselves.   To deny yourself means to sit in the passenger's seat, rather than the driver's seat--purposely giving up control over your life.

2.  take up his cross - This does not refer to a trial, a hardship, or a handicap.  To take up your cross means to be like Paul the Apostle--willing to suffer, willing to be persecuted, willing to be humbled, willing to die for the causes of Christ.  It doesn't mean you will die for Christ, literally--just that you are willing to.  

3.  follow me - To follow Jesus means to obey him.  We must do whatever he asks of us, relying on his power to do it.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
Mark 8:35

Can one be a Christian, but not a disciple?  Yes.  You will make it to heaven, but in choosing to remain in the driver seat, you lose the abundant life.  You will not know true fulfillment, true joy, here on earth.  Whatever fleeting joy you do come across, it will never compare to what a disciple experiences.  

"For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life (soul in the greek).  For what can a man give in return for his soul?"
Mark 8: 36-37

So, what is the question of the week?  The question I've been pondering so much these last couple months?  What was the catalyst for this post?

Just this:  Why is it that only ten percent of Christian readers click on a poverty-themed post?  

The first reason is a simple one.  Sometimes, people are battling something so big in the here and now, there's no room for more conflict.  

The other reason is tragic.  

The vast majority of Christians have said no to discipleship.  

The cost is too high, and like the crowd Jesus spoke to, they've walked away.  They've chosen to save--and therefore lose--their lives.

Taking up poverty as a cause is costly.  Messy.  You'll be shunned by family, friends, and fellow churchgoers.  Kristin, from We Are That Family, did a lot of posts about poverty after returning from Kenya as a Compassion Blogger.  She began getting comments from readers, complaining that she was trying to make people feel guilty.  In truth she was only describing how and why her heart had changed, and how difficult it was at times, living in the tension of that change.

Really, it's no wonder the shunning occurs!  For what does it look like to really care about poverty?

- You won't look like the Joneses anymore.  You're giving so much to charity that you can no longer afford luxuries, like a stop at Starbuck's, or a weekly dinner out, or weekends away, or the latest fashions.  

- People will stare.  They will talk about you.   "Why are they suddenly less well off?  Don't they have good jobs?  Aren't they successful, like us?"  

- You won't have as many friends.  Even if you don't flaunt your giving, people will probably find out anyway, and they'll be uncomfortable.  They'll avoid you.

- You will be inconvenienced.  Your life won't be as comfortable, and at times it might be downright uncomfortable, physically speaking.

Don't all these things happen anyway, though, when we choose discipleship?  Yes!  Discipleship looks just like this--messy, hard, lonely at times.  

But let's not forget the reward!  "...whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."  This isn't referring merely to salvation, but to an abundant, fulfilling, worthwhile life.  

Few people in this life will choose to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus.  

So what about you?  What about me?  Have we been "saving it to lose it"?  Or "losing it to save it"?  Can we call ourselves disciples?  

Here is Ann Voskamp's latest post about poverty in Guatemala.  If you can't give, can you bend your knees for the cause?

Even if your own heart is ready, husbands aren't always on the same page when it comes to helping the poor.  While this can be painful, we can't nag.  We submit.  We let Jesus do the heart work.  We pray, "Make me a disciple, Jesus."

These verses speak of the rewards for helping the poor:
Ps 41:1-3; 112, Proverbs 14:21; 19:17, 22:9, 14:31, 28:27,  Isaiah 58:6-10

These verses speak of the consequences for not helping the poor:
Ezek. 16:49, Is.10:1-3, Luke 1:52, Ezek. 22:29, 31, Jer. 5:28, James 5:1-6, Luke 6:24, Luke 16:19-25


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shaun Groves - he's angry

This post is by Shaun Groves, leader of the Compassion Blogging trips:  Long Distance and Slow Violence.

I know posts about poverty make people uncomfortable.  In fact, few people even click on them.  I figure those who click on them were prompted to by our Lord.  Those who don't aren't ready to yet.  God readies us for these images...these truths.  When God is ready for you to respond in some way,  you'll find yourself clicking on them readily.

In the meantime, please don't be offended by these posts.

Sticky Glue

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may know the good, acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2

"Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
1 John 2:15

"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world."
John 17:14

Peter, Paul and Mary went to AWANA tonight.  I'm not helping this year, so far, so I have no control over the interactions my kids will have with other kids.  This makes me nervous.  I believe we are the only homeschooling family attending this year.

My children are going to be exposed to new things--not just to new verses.  I have to be ready to ask a lot of questions, or I may miss something big--something that needs to be filtered through a Scriptural lens, lest my children adopt a worldly view on something.

Peter got a lesson tonight in what it means to be "set apart" by God.

Two boys in his class were talking about computer video games.  Peter told them about a game he borrows from the library--Backyard Soccer (there is also one called Train Town they sometimes choose).  We don't buy any computer games or other kids' software (too expensive).

The boys have a twenty-minute daily limit for their library pick, which I think is enough to allow them amusement time...but not enough to cause screen addiction.

One of the AWANA boys, upon hearing that Peter can only play for twenty minutes, bragged that he has lots of games and can play them for "three or five hours".  And this boy also said "darn it".  Peter mentioned that matter to me because we ask our kids not to use any "fake" cuss words, lest doing so trains their tongues to use real ones, someday.

Peter became uncomfortable and stayed out of the boys' conversation after that.

I have spoken to both my boys about computer screens causing addiction in people's lives.  To me, this is a scary possibility, especially for highly visual kids, like my Paul.

I'm sure I don't have to mention that adults suffer too.  You frequently hear people joke about their compulsive e-mail checking, Twitter checking, or Facebook checking.  What's up with that, anyway?  It's a newer problem, I presume.  Are we addicted to approval, suddenly?  To validation by our peers?  If so, why aren't we more grounded in God's Word.....and in His view of us?

Is this rampant approval addiction caused by social networking, or did we always have it, but in a more hidden form?  Is it merely a "keep up with the Joneses" phenomenon?  We want to fit in...or lead the pack, even?

I struggle with a certain computer-related something.

If I spend a lot of time on a blog post, and feel it's a useful one with good insight, I rarely ever get any comments.

"Oh, my.  I thought that was a good post.  I must be out of my mind....nobody said a word.  Did I offend someone?" 

I shake off these feelings by reminding myself that, number one, I'm fortunate (and grateful) anyone takes the time to read my musings at all.  Second,  I remind myself that I just started writing 2.5 years ago.  That's really nothing, as far as practice time goes.  It takes 10,000  hours to become an expert at something!

So after my 10,000 practice hours, if there are still no comments on what I think is a good post,  I might have something to complain about.  Until then, I need to shut up and keep trying.

Or just shut up.

Anyhow, after I publish one of these "good" posts, I compulsively check my e-mail--just like I hear people joke about.  I don't use Twitter or Facebook, however.  Our lives are too uneventful to bother!

As an aside, I understand if you publish a book nowadays, you're expected to join these social networking sites and use them to promote your book.  Eeww.  I bet Ann Voskamp, who has a book coming out next year, hates the self-promoting part of authoring books.  I know I would have a hard time with that, as a fellow introvert.

Blog comments almost always show up in a blogger's inbox as a function of Blogger.  Now unfortunately, the boys notice when I'm having a compulsive e-mail-checking day.  Their noticing always makes me feel like a terrible parent who preaches one thing and lives another.  I feel so weak, low, despicable.  I hate it.

Okay.  Enough with my long confession digression.  Back to Peter's computer-game conversation.

After hearing of this boy's comments, I told Peter and Paul that it was none of our business how many hours someone uses a computer game--we are not to judge.  There could be a newborn baby in the household, or an illness, which might explain a relaxing of regular computer rules.  We never know what people are going through--or whether kids are telling a tall tale, for that matter.

But I felt they needed to know something else, too.  God expects us to be set apart from the crowd, as Christians.  We have to live for God and not covet the things of this world.  And we must use our time wisely.  We are bought and paid for by Jesus.   He owns us, and wants us set apart for his purposes.

If we spend three hours playing a computer game, can God work on us during that time--molding and changing us?  Can we focus on the Holy Spirit's whispers during that time?

In a word, no.  We can't.

I think I saw comprehension in their eyes over this "set apart" concept, but I'm sure we'll be covering it more and more.

Perhaps the harder part is making sure our kids--and ourselves--are "set apart", without also being prideful or legalistic.

How do we live daily in the tension that exists between this world and the "set apart" one?  

There is only one way.

We have to think of ourselves as having a covering of sticky glue.  If we stay near to God....through our Bible...our prayer life....our quiet listening times....our spiritual music, then we'll be "stuck" to Him.  If we venture too close to e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, computer games, new fashion, new phones, new cars, new decor--whatever we are making a god of--we'll stick to that instead.

We must pause during the day, asking: 

"What am I stuck to, today?  How can I pull away, and adhere only to God?'

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ann's 2nd post

Here is Ann's next Compassion post.  Some of the team traveled for nearly 24 hours, so they probably need our prayers for strength and renewal.  I'm sure exhaustion doesn't bode well for team cohesiveness.  This team varies widely in personalities, as I'm sure most ministry teams do.

Here is the link to the official Compassion Blog.  You can read the other team member posts--as well as Ann's--at that site all this week.

Monday, September 6, 2010


- Husband and our three older kids hooked up with our homeschooling friend, Elizabeth (age 8), and her father today.  They went to a National Park--its waterfall area--where newts are known to be found.  Peter and Daddy are ecstatic over the finds of the day:  female praying mantis (Daddy caught one for Peter and one for Elizabeth), 1 newt, 2 small crayfish, and a small salamander.  Thank you, Lord, for building my little boy's faith this summer.  He is yours forever!

- The copywork assigned to my boys this week was Psalm 37:4--Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Peter says it works.  The evidence?  1 female praying mantis, 1 newt, 2 small crayfish, 1small salamander

- My baby.  She is my last baby and she happens to love nursing, thank the Lord!  The longer she nurses, the longer I can put off saying goodbye to her babyhood.  My second pediatrician had six kids.  He told me his wife nursed their last baby, a son, until he was three--he co-slept that long too.  So, see?  I'm not a freak.

- My husband loves the Lord.

- I took a few toys out of the shed (Little People Barn and accessories).  It feels a bit like Christmas to the girls.  Neat.  Rotating a few toys at the beginning of every season works wonders for playtime.

- I made a dessert with the name "crisp" in it and for once, it tasted good!  My error all this time was softening the butter beforehand--something I regularly do for baking.  I'm about as happy as Peter tonight, over my good-tasting fruit crisp!  Praying mantises for him, fruit crisps for me.  To each his own.

-  My mother has five sisters.  One is in a nursing home near me, having recently been diagnosed with dementia/heart issues.  Her children all work outside the home, which explains the nursing home decision.  They had to choose a nursing home rated a 1 out of 5, because at first my aunt was displaying violent tendencies and no one else would take her.  Now however, her medication seems to be at a more therapeutic level; they've been working to find the right combination of medicines.  As I'm opposed to nursing homes, I would like to care for this woman, if the doctor clears her to be around children.  All this made me realize something.  The events of the past 18 months (underemployment) taught me a big lesson:  "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13  Before, these were just lofty words.  Now, they're truth for me.  A deep-down truth.  Praise God for the experiences he walks us through!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Crisis for Our Men

I found an interesting article on We Are That Family's weekend links.  It's about the rampant immaturity of men between the ages of 18-34.  We have a crisis in the Church!  These men badly need godly models to grow them in the areas of Christian leadership and fatherhood.

Here is another article by Pastor Mark Driscoll about the same thing--written for The Washington Post.

Time to step up our prayers for our men!

late summer memories

Praying Mantis got away on us.  Remember he was a present from Daddy?  He ate well for one day in captivity. Day two he ate nothing.  Day three we decided to let him go.  Daddy and Peter really wanted an egg sac, which they scored by catching a female praying mantis two years ago.  But alas, research pointed to this guy being a boy.  Boys do less well in captivity; they like to move around a lot.  The girls are happy to sit around and get easy food.  

Did you know that female mantises often attack and start eating the male, even during the mating act--which then lasts longer, because of the urgency of the matter?  What's up with all that, God?  

My Mary was very unhappy that Mr. Mantis got to dine on small butterflies, which she just loves to catch--hour after hour.

My sweet baby girl will be 21 months in a few days.  I am in a panic about it.   Many times I've tried, but I don't think I can adequately express how much I love babies!   I fear I will have a dip in contentment in my life, for a time, as I adjust to the passing of this stage.  Counting blessings will help. 

I looked at recent fair pictures of both my husband and myself and I was astonished.  We look very old.  No wonder people stare at us in public, with our brood of four young children, at our ages!  It's so easy to forget our advanced ages, because as I said before, we don't feel old.  It's all so strange--to see a photo and be shocked and saddened at the personal changes.

All hands on board for homemade chicken soup.  There was a hint of fall a couple weeks ago. (Then several days of 90 degrees).  Anyhow, Peter was at the table slicing carrots and celery for the soup.  Mary kept sneaking up and eating little pieces of carrot.  Finally, Peter said, "Mary!  Stop it.  Don't you know the Bible says not to gorge on food?"

I had to laugh!  This, spoken from Peter, who loves food to no end, skinny though he is.   

 "Did you remember that from Proverbs, Peter?", Mom asked.

Peter smiled.  "Yes."

Trying not to look too amused, I said, "Well, I'm glad you listen so well to Scripture readings.  That's outstanding.  But bites of carrot don't exactly equal gluttony."

Mary felt triumphant.

This girl!  She can eat a lot of berries!  It does look a little like gluttony here, doesn't it?  

My advice?  Undress your baby before feeding berries.  The stains don't always come off.

It was 90 degrees at the fair last weekend.  Phew!  The animal barns were stifling!  

The bunnies and turkeys were our favorites!  

We had the best time!  All of us!  There's just something about attending a county fair together.  It's a summer highlight, for sure.  I was sad to see the day end, and I wasn't alone in that sentiment.

Their first taste of cotton candy, courtesy of Daddy.  Did I ever mention my husband is like Templeton the Rat (at county fairs)?  When we watch Charlotte's Web, we always have to tease Daddy.

Little Beth was so hot that day!  Daddy is like a camel.  Loves the heat.

Gobble gobble!

Homeschool Group's Not-Back-to-School Party (last Tuesday).

This is at our friend Kim's house.

One of the Monarchs we said goodbye to.  Peter still has five chrysalises left.  When the last butterfly flies away this year, it will be a sad day for Peter.  As Paul keeps saying, "This has been a great summer!"  My children really lived this summer!

Twisting each other at the park yesterday.

It had been two weeks since we were last at this State Park.  I was amazed at the changes!  It is looking like fall.  The brilliant, lush green hues are gone.  While I love fall and often think it's my favorite season, I must admit, this has been a great summer!   I will miss this park's summer face.  

Even though it looked like fall, it was a sweltering 90 degrees during our visit.

Jesus blessed Peter with a tree frog!  He was on top of the world!  Even though he had prayed that morning for various caterpillar sightings, and for a female praying mantis, he got a tree frog instead.  I reminded him that he had spent a good month praying for a tree frog earlier in the summer.  He remembered and smiled.  "You never know when Jesus is going to answer a prayer, do you Mommy?"

We were all amazed at this adorable little frog.  Even Paul--who doesn't heart life science like Peter does--felt this little frog was a blessing.

Three hours later, little froggy died.  We were devastated!  Our joy deflated!  Life is like that, isn't it?  God gives and takes away.  One of these summers, Peter will hopefully observe nature without wanting to contain it.  I can't force it on him.  Kids go through this; it wasn't his fault.  But memories of beautiful little tree frogs that die in captivity will inspire him to let them be.  

Working on catching a butterfly for Mary, who was having a bad catching day.  Tears flowed.

I've just got to catch a butterfly!

She knows that cute little tree frog is in that stroller somewhere.  It amazed her.  No, she wasn't the culprit in his demise.  I believe it was the heat, unfortunately.  Or being handled.  They don't like being handled, we found out through research.

Leaves were falling off the trees at an amazing pace!  They tried to catch as many as they could.


Today, Peter wanted to write an e-mail to his homeschooling friend, Elizabeth.  She's as nerdy as he is when it comes to life science.  Here are the first and second e-mails, which I mostly typed to her, as is.  Forgive his spelling!  He sprints through his writing, focusing only on the content at this point in his "career".  LOL

Hiy Elizabith,

I was wundaring how much your fiar beley tods cost (fire belly toads)?  If they are posen (poison) it is ok.  Did you know that they los (lose) their posin in captivude?  And you said sumthing abot a river with lots of newts.  Where is that?  And do you know of sum plas weth lots of tre frogs?  

Love Peter

Hiy Elisebith,

Do you know of a plas that sels salamadas (sells salamanders)?  If you know of plases with amfibeens (amphibians), ples tell me.  

Did you get any new pets?  How is your crafish?  What did you do this summer?  

My aunt came.  We went to the bech.  We went in the pool a lot.  We went to parks every week, and  I raised many Monarch's.  My dad cot me a praying mantis.  We let it go.

Love, Peter