Saturday, January 31, 2009

This Week-Book Club

Our oldest son's book club is currently reading In The Year Of The Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord. We will finish the book at our next meeting. It's been a great read and we've learned quite a bit along the way.

This past week we focused on milestones in the history of black Americans. We created a timeline beginning in 1619 when the first slave ships arrived in America and ended in 2009, when the first black American was elected president. There were quite a few interesting facts along the way that I hope the kids internalized. So many advancements have been made just in my lifetime, which is amazing.

So far my favorite speech from the book came from the main character's teacher. She shared with the kids how anything is possible in America.

"Baseball is not just another sport. America is not just another country..."
"Mrs. Rappaport's speech thrilled Shirley like sunlight and trumpets.
'In our national pastime, each player is a member of a team, but when he comes to bat, he stands alone. One man. Many opportunities. For no matter how far behind, how late in the game, he, by himself, can make a difference. He can change what has been. He can make it a new ball game.
'In the life of our nation, each man is a citizen of the United States, but he has the right to pursue his won happiness. For no matter what his race, religion or creed, be he pauper or president, he has the right to speak his mind, to live as he wishes within the law, to elect our officials and stand for office, to excel. To make a difference. To change what has been. To make a better America.
'And so can you! And so must you!
'This year, Jackie Robinson is at bat. He stands for himself, for Americans of every hue, for an America that honors fair play.
'Jackie Robinson is the grandson of a slave, the son of a sharecropper, raised in poverty by a lone mother who took in ironing and washing. But a woman determined to achieve a better life for her son. And she did. For despite hostility and injustice, Jackie Robinson went to college, excelled in all sports, served his country in war. And now, Jackie Robinson is at bat in the big leagues. Jackie Robinson is making a difference. Jackie Robinson has changed what has been. And Jackie Robinson is making a better America.
'And so can you! And so must you!'" (my empasis)

This Week- Hold Them

This week was an emotional one. On Tuesday we prepared a meal for a family struggling with a sick little one. Their 7-year old son has a brain tumor. He has done remarkably well for the type of cancer he has, but began failing in December.
The little guy and our middle son are in the same Sunday school class. We don't know the family, but have been following their blog and praying for them.
It breaks my heart to know of any child suffering, but I've been so impressed with the way this family is handling the painful life situation. They are living each day to the fullest and embracing the wonders that surround them. They are so optimistic, loving and encouraging.
As I dropped the food off, I introduced myself, told them of the food and then the Mom gave me a hug, kissed me on the cheek and thanked us. I was blessed by her sweetness and strength. Amazing!
When I got home I checked my email and found that an acquaintance had been in a car wreck while taking her girls to school in the morning and her 7-year old daughter had tragically been killed in the wreck. This stopped me in my tracks. The road she was on was one we travel often. And she was doing what so many of us do every day..taking our children to school and activities.
How does this happen? She woke up one morning and was just doing life and then in a flash it has all changed.
That Tuesday night I climbed into bed with my sweetheart, paused, and then told him I'd be back later. He asked where I was going. I responded I was going to cuddle with my 7-year old and hold him. I want to cherish each moment with the precious children we've been blessed with.
This has given me much to think about this week. I've looked my children in the eye more and intently listened to their many stories. I hope to live each day to the fullest and enjoy the moments together!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Today the boys in our family headed to the mountain and my girl and I stayed home. To make our day more eventful and not just a sit-around-the-house kind of day, we decided to take in a movie and wander around the mall.
We're now at the place where we can walk together. Gone are the days of strollers and diaper bags packed in the back of the car. We now shop together and my little princess loves to take a trip to the "fitting room" to try on clothes. She loves that she is growing up, but I'm trying to put on the breaks and slow this train down.
After this week of making it to the learning how to ride a bike milestone, I've reflected on the other milestones our youngest is achieving. It feels as if I'm soaking her in more because I don't want to miss anything or more importantly not remember every detail of our kid's lives.
I've loved having the opportunity to teach her how to read this year. Teaching a child how to read is usually not my favorite thing to do. It's very slow and can be frustrating, but for some reason I'm really enjoying it. I love watching her little mouth as she's trying to produce the "th" or the "f" sounds. With the "th" her tongue comes out sometimes spittle makes me laugh. Or the way she tries to sound out the word "old" but always says "load" when she tries to prounounce it. We get a chuckle out of it now. Her brain must mix the letters up in the process from sounding to saying.
Oh, and I love looking at her little arms. Her skin is so soft and I can still see the faint dimples in her precious!
Yesterday when we were driving in the car she realized she has a tooth that is beginning to wiggle quite a bit. She still has all her baby teeth. I asked her if I'd still recognize her if she lost some of her teeth. She reassured me that I'd still know it was her because she can still recognize her friends who have lost their teeth. But what she didn't realize is I'm thinking of the "little girl" face I'm so familiar with. Will she lose that with the teeth and start looking like a "big girl?"
I wonder if every mom who realizes her time with her kids is quickly slipping by thinks on these things? I know I do. I'm grateful for the opportunity to spend every day with these precious gifts and really KNOW them. What a blessing!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This Week-Craft Club

Our daughter had her girlie friends over yesterday for craft club. We actually squeezed in three activities.
They did some beading and all made bracelets. We made a Valentine hanging heart. And they each decorated a mini-cupcake to finish off craft day.
It was all great fun and a great opportunity for moms to sit around with a cup of coffee and visit.

This Week-Book Club Magician's Nephew

Each of our kids has their own club, our youngest has her Craft Club and the boys each have a book club (different book, different group of boys).
The boys meet 2 weeks out of each month. This week was our middle son's book club meeting.
His group is reading The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. They are responsible for reading about 3 chapters prior to club and answering the worksheets I give them. When we meet we go over their answers and then do an activity related to the homework/reading.
This week we read the chapters where Digory, Polly, the cabby, the witch, Uncle Andrew and a horse all travel to the Wood Between the Worlds. To comfort those involved the cabby begins to sing a hymn. I loved that and decided the kids would learn about the history of a couple of hymns.
This past Christmas my mom gave the kids 2 books Hymns for a Kid's Heart Volumes 1 & 2 by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada. We read about Redinald Heber who wrote Holy, Holy, Holy and Fanny Crosby who wrote To God Be the Glory.
Many churches sing worship songs, but hymns seem to be a thing of the past in our church. But the words and background of the hymns are both heartwarming and inspiring.
I hope to continue learning and teaching our kids about the authors of these hymns. They are great stories of how God touched regular people for an eternal purpose.

This Week-Baby Girl Learns to Ride a Bike

Okay, I know she's not a baby, but she's my baby and this week she learned how to ride a two-wheel bike without training wheels.
My kids are blessed with a big brother (10 years old) who really helps them out! He taught our second born son how to ride a bike and now he's taught his sister how to ride. He tirelessly runs behind or beside them holding on until just the right moment when he lets them go and they ride on their own. There were a couple minor crashes trying to master the steering, but all is well and our little princess is so proud now that she can ride around the neighborhood.
Isn't life exciting!

This Week-Beautiful Morning!

I know I take a lot of pictures of the mountain, but I just can't help it. No matter how many times I look at it, its beauty still stops me in my tracks. Although it's always there it's new every morning. I know something or someone else like that.

God is like that. This week as we read Praying the Names of Jesus we learned that the angels never tire of singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy". When they see God and his majesty they are awestruck and can't help but sing. If I look at the mountain and try to take in its beauty and magnificence, can I even fathom how I will feel when I stand in the presence of The Lamb? I can't even imagine!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quote for the Day

"Opa taught us, 'When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus leads you through your life, He brings you safely home.'"
-From In My Father's House by Corrie Ten Boom

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cooking up a Storm

This past Christmas grandparents came through and bought our girlie a great bounty of cooking supplies. She now has at least 3 different aprons to choose from, oven mitts, cupcake pan, whisks, serving dishes, and Easy Bake Oven and much more. There is so much cooking going on- It's Awesome!
I remember my days with an Easy Bake Oven. It looked quite a bit different than the microwave style of 2008, but never-the-less it was equally amazing. A budding chef could mix a cake, but it in an oven heated with a light bulb and Voila! a cake would bake.
I'm so happy our kids love to cook and bake! The passion continues.

Coyote Wanderer

This must be animal week at our house. First the rodent and now...The Coyote!
I woke up this morning, went to do the morning routine of filling the coffee pot (Yes, the NEW coffee pot) with ultra-filtered water (which is located in the laundry room off the kitchen). I stood looking at the frost covered lawn and took in the beauty of the clear, yet crisp morning.
Then, much to my surprise, across the back yard wandered a BIG dog...wait a minute...I refocused my eyes and realized that is no dog- It's a Coyote!
The coyote was limping across the yard while holding one back leg up. I quickly shouted to the kids to look out the window.
We wondered a couple things. Why was he wandering around in broad daylight? We hear them at night occaisionally, but never during the day. And...Why was he limping? Did he get hit by a car? Was he dazed? Who knows?
He limped though our yard and then went to the adjacent pasture and paused. He stood for a couple seconds and then suddenly dipped his nose to the ground and came up with a rodent in his mouth. He stood there enjoying his breakfast and took off to the north.
Crazy mornings in Rodentsville!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fresh Spring Rolls

Our children love to cook and help out in the kitchen. And we love fresh spring rolls. They are so easy and a healthy choice for a dinner appetizer or lunch meal.
This particular night I had a lot of help from our middle son. I cut up the vegetables and cooked the shrimp and he rolled his little heart out.
The trick to rolling these is not in the process, but in the soaking of the rice paper. I had a Vietnamese friend who gave us an inside scoop. He said just soak the rice paper in luke warm water for a few seconds until pliable and then lay them out and roll. If you soak them too long they'll just rip and fall apart.
We dip our rolls in a peanut sauce. You can make one from scratch, but I've found an easy and tasty method. I just put some hoison sauce in a bowl, add the juice from one lime and add a couple tablespoons of sugar. Stir and top with chopped peanuts.
Yum! Yum!

Playing Around

The other day our little girlie wanted to play one of her favorite games we like to call "Beauty Station." When playing beauty station we speak with different accents, we have funny made up names and we speak of things only imaginary and extravagent. We charge BIG bucks for crazy hair do's and laugh A LOT. This particular time "Foot Bull" had his hair done and took on a completely different personality far from his usual subdued, Lego building self. It was great fun!

Beware! Graphic Photo! Mission Accomplished!

I came home from a meeting tonight and the house was quiet. Everyone was asleep. Sitting on the kitchen counter was the camera and a piece of paper that read, "Look at the Pictures!"

I checked out the photos. I know they look so terrible and cruel, but the little bugger should have stayed OUT of the house! From the looks of the photo, I think it's obvious the bother was eating well.

Enough of gross photos. I think I'll post something cute just to counter balance this awful thing. But thanks for all of your well wishes. Mission Accomplished...unless he has a brother.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Between the Tapeworm and the Hanta Virus

I love life in the country! The night skies void of light pollution and a clear view (except on cloudy nights) of the stars. The quiet calmness. The space for kids to run, yell and laugh with no one to complain of the "noise." The extra space to "stretch out" without the feeling of cramping the neighbors. The benefits are NUMEROUS!
But there are also the drawbacks.
Rodents. Rodents! Rodents!!
I've posted about these little bothers before, but I thought our days of the invaders were done.
We now have a fabulous mousing cat. He adopted us about a year ago and he is a master at his craft. He's such a great mouser we should buy stock in worm pills. Each time he catches (and eats) a mouse he's probably exposed and injesting a tapeworm. I must say, being the germ-phobe-cleanie that I am, I'm completely disgusted when I find a remnant of the tapeworm on a chair. Ugh! Just thinking about it makes me feel like cleaning!
Back to Master Luke, the Jedi Mouser. He's so awesome, I think he can catch even the most cunning from the darkside. But I guess I was wrong. Or maybe he takes care of the out-of-doors and is "off duty" inside. Whatever the case, we have a mysterious prowler who makes his way up into some built-in cabinetry under our stairs. It's in these cabinets I store candles, childhood paperwork and linens.
I got a candle out about 2 days ago and there was no sign. Today I opened the drawer and, Oh My Word! It was littered with mouse evidence! Yuck!
Years ago I read a book called The Coming Plague and it was at that time that I learned about Hantavirus. Now everytime I see rodent droppings, I'm reminded of this potentially fatal virus. My first response is a desire to suit our kids up in Hazmat clothing and disinfect the surroundings. I may be going overboard a bit, but my distaste for the pests is apparent.
So, needless to say, I've cleaned out, vacuumed out and set traps for that/those little buggers. Let's hope we catch it (them) soon, before sweet husband has to go back to work.
Wish us success!


Today was a beautiful day! It wasn't all that warm, but the sun was out. It wasn't raining or snowing-Yeah! The sky was blue, the air was crisp, the mountain and hills stood amazingly clear in the distance and I had to get out to soak up the sun's rays and the day's magnificence. Also, the shovel and the dirt were calling my name.
Over the last couple weeks, as I look out the windows or drive by the flower beds I see things that need to be moved or removed. It drives me crazy to watch them and not get to the job, but today the task was underway.
Other than enjoying the beauty of the sun, working in the yard offers me a great opportunity to be quiet and listen. I listen to nature around me- birds chirping, wind rustling, and leaves crackling. I listen to the cars in the far off distance. But most importantly I listen to God. I let my mind rest, be quiet and try to hear what He wants me to hear.
Today the message, or maybe the question, had to do with Character. With Martin Luther King Day tomorrow, I was reminded of the quote we read last year from his "I Have A Dream" speech.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Daily I try to pour into my kids character making the most of these foundational building opportunities. I read the Bible, biographies, and historical accounts bringing to their attention people who had/have amazing character.
But what is character and what type of character was Martin Luther King referring to? Was he just referring to the "who" they are on the outside or is it something more. My guess is it's something more. A deeply spiritual man like Dr. King had to be speaking to the deeper quality of inner character.
1 Samuel 16:7 - "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (NIV)
I looked up character in Webster's Dictionary and found:
"Character: 5) the pattern of behavior or personality found in an individual or group 6. moral strength; self-discipline, fortitude 7. a) reputation b) good reputation"
So, does that mean character is the dominant way/pattern of behavior found in a group? Or is it more importantly moral strength, self-discipline or fortitude that would define a group or individual as having "Character?"
To add to this thought, what is "Moral Strength." Again, I turn to my friend Webster and find:
"Moral: 1. relating to, dealing with, or capable of distinguishing between right and wrong in conduct 2. of, teaching, or in accordance with, the principles of right and wrong 3. good or right conduct of character; sometimes, specif., sexually virtuous 4. designating support, etc. that involves sympathy without action 5. principles, standards, or habits with respect to right or wrong in conduct; ethics; sometimes, specif., standards of sexual behavior."
From the preceding definitions, I would conclude Moral Strength to be standing strong in your ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
The Bible, as our final authority, gives us many examples on how to live a moral life. I'm reminded of verses like:
"Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
"2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
Like Dr. King, I hope my children are judged by the content of their character and not by what their outer appearance is. Furthermore, I hope our children live lives that are full of Godly character and moral strength. Remember the standard isn't one of this world and it's relative morality, but Jesus's standard.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coffee Troubles

There are a couple appliances I can't live without. Before I got married I said (in jest), "I'm not getting married unless I know I'll start out with a Kitchen Aid Mixer and a Cuisinart Food Processor." I just figured I'd be a much better wife if I came with my arsenal of kitchen appliances. My mom instilled the love for cooking and gadgetry in me so she provided the necessary tools for my leap in to matrimony. I'm sure my dear husband is grateful-he's eaten well ever since. In the last 16 years I've replaced the bowl and lid on the Cuisinart a couple of times (thank you ebay) and added one more Kitchen Aid mixer (bigger, faster, stronger and RED).
In addition to those kitchen favorites are the coffee pot and the vacuum cleaner. I seem to be REALLY hard on these two household appliances. In years past when I felt stressed or anxious I would vacuum. Vacuum every day. Vacuum into the wee hours of the night- that was from the pre-kid era. These days, I'm so stinking tired when they go to bed, there's no vacuuming going on! But needless to say, the vacuum has been a source of cleanliness, but also a stress-reliever. It's had many miles put on it and it is barely hanging in there. It has numerous broken parts and accessories and my mom just taped up the exposed wires in the cord on her last visit. We've had it for a couple of years, but it looks like it's been around for decades. The first word that comes to mind when I think of our vacuum is "Pitiful."
The coffee pot, on the other hand, isn't abused, it is "LOVED!" It is only given the best water to fill its reservoir, it is gently used EVERY DAY and many afternoons. I love it when my sweetheart makes my coffee (he doesn't drink coffee. Other than that he's perfect in every way) on weekends. The smell of fresh brewed coffee can wake me from the deepest sleep. It just gives me the warm-all-over feeling that's not just related to the drink itself. It's the memories, the associations, the wake-me-up-get-the-day-started kind of feeling. I LOVE IT! I have special cups that no visitor touches. They have special handles, the perfect rim, they hold the "right" amount of coffee. We buy only whole beans so we can grind them every morning- so fresh and aromatic! I try to use only imported brown sugar cubes from Belgium. My mom has connections and hooks me up (thank you for this blessing!). There's something about these little cubes that adds to the perfect coffee experience. And then to top it off is the evaporated milk. To me it makes my coffee taste like Europe. When in Europe having coffee, I found their cream is like our evaporated milk. Doesn't this all sound so good, so cozy and warm? It's a perfect way to start each and every day...
Except today (big sadness and protruding lip going on right now). I think my coffee pot is may be a slow death, but it's near. I came downstairs this morning, filled the reservoir with filtered water, ground the coffee beans, and turned the switch. Nothing. I turned again and nothing. And then something. Enough coffee brewed for about a quarter of a cup (I'm a 2-3 cup girl, which is more like 8 cups according to the coffee pot measurements). Then it died. And I started this blog post.
Since I've been typing the coffee pot has mysteriously started again and finished the remaining water. Funny, it works for a minute, shuts off and then starts up again. It's dying. I'm so sad. Looks like I may be heading to Costco for another coffee pot.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

An Amazing Moment in Time

As Christians we know that God is Omnipresent. He is everywhere, all the time. But there are some moments in life where we "Feel" His presence more than others. Yesterday was one of those days.
I was asked to provide a meal for a family going through a tough time. Comfort food was the request. A beloved wife, mom, and friend is nearing the end of her days on this side of eternity as her physical body is wearing out due to cancer.
All day yesterday my mind prepared for the experience of meeting this precious woman of God and her family and hopefully blessing them with the meal. Little did I know the blessing would be mine.
God provided amazing words throughout the day. The kids and I are reading In My Father's House by Corrie Ten Boom. The words of encouragement found in this book are plentiful, but yesterday the writings were especially lifting.
Remembering her father's words from her youth, "Girl, it makes all the difference. Moses tells us in the Book of Deuteronomy that God is a dwelling place. We have the promise of security when His arms are beneath us... holding us...supporting us... strengthening us." Years later, Corrie was trying to comfort her sister in the concentration camp. "I tried to think of something comforting to say to her before we fell asleep, and suddenly I remembered the dining room, the red and black tablecloth, and Father saying in his calm voice, '...underneath are the everlasting arms.'"
"God is our Dwelling Place. Underneath are the everlasting arms."
What comfort are in these words!
In addition we read, "Father said, 'Isn't it wonderful to have such joy here on earth? It's a little foretaste of heaven. Yes, the best is yet to be.'"
The Best is Yet to Be!
These words prepared my heart to meet a woman who will soon meet her Savior and experience the best that lies ahead. Right now she is in the comforting everlasting arms of God waiting for the best which is yet to be.
I walked into the apartment and there in the living room lay a woman in a hospital bed surrounded by her husband, daughter and daughter-in-law. I was not met by misery but joy and gratitude. I set the food down in the kitchen and explained what I brought, but my heart just wanted to get back to the living room to pray with her. I was drawn to her like a magnet. It was unstoppable. The blessing to hold this precious woman's hand and pray. Jesus was in that place!
I couldn't stay long because I had kids to pick up and deliver to the next event, but my heart wanted to turn around and go back to that place. Back to the presence of a believer waiting to meet her Lord and the Lord awaiting one of his children.
Sometimes life offers you an opportunity to bless someone, but the blessing is ours. I was so outblessed by the experience than any earthly food can offer.
I hope to visit her once again on this side of eternity, but if the Lord calls her home before that visit, I know her face and I know she is in the comfort of everlasting arms.