Saturday, December 27, 2008


It's not for sissies. That's all I can say.

Prayers that poor, poor, POOR Girly Pie's two top front teeth come in soon so that her misery can end. The poor child is grumpy, eating little, nursing fitfully and sleeping terribly.

And Mommy is ready to have her smiley, scooty, wiggly, happy, sweet girl back.

Oh, and Mommy is also ready to sleep somewhat consistently again. At least for a night or two.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Ok. So I apparently misspoke. I looked up the records and according to our local news weather site, there was snow on the ground for Christmas once before in my lifetime.

I was 11, and it was a previous snow that had not melted by the time Christmas had rolled around. So technically I guess this will be my second white Christmas in my life.

But still.

Let it snow...

Big happy sigh.

I am 29 years old (and as a side note, I'm still in a bit of denial that I have actually celebrated my last twenties birthday...) and I think I can safely say that this will be my first white Christmas ever in my life.

And I am so happy about that I can't even find the words for it.

I know it's a silly thing in the big scheme of life. But living in the Great Northwest since I was five (California before that so no snow for sure there!) has meant many a chilly, wet, gray and green Christmas morning. We've had snow the day after Christmas and snow the few days before... But not once that I can recall have we actually had snow on the ground for Christmas.

Now we have more snow than anyone knows what to do with! We still have 8-12 inches of accumulated snow from the past two weeks' worth of snow storms, and as I look out our office window right now there is the lightest, prettiest snow falling on top of the already thickly coated white roof tops of the neighborhood.

Granted no one can drive anywhere and even our annual family Christmas afternoon at my husband's parents house (only a 40 minute drive away) has been postponed to New Years day. Sure the plow guys have run out of places to shove the snow from the roads. And yes, it's treacherous even walking to get the mail since the snow is so thick you can't tell where the sidewalk ends and the street begins (I fell flat on my behind a few days ago while carrying Girly Pie to check the mail... I thought I was on the sidewalk but I was actually on a neighbor's driveway as it sloped into the street and the ice under the thick snow was slippery and SPLAT! I have the bruised bottom to prove it!). We're not making it out to town for the Christmas Eve church service and we're hopeful we'll even be able to make it the 3/4 of a mile to Mary Grace's house to celebrate Christmas afternoon together!

But all the modern inconveniences aside, I am still just tickled pink that there is snow on the ground as Christmas arrives. I know our savior was not born in anywhere near snowy weather. But I do have to say that I have always dreamed of that old-fashioned classic white Christmas.

And then on Friday it can all melt and I'll be just fine. I'll have had my fill of white for the winter.


So Merry Christmas to you all. I hope that your special day is filled with the warmth of a loving family, the peace of a safe home, the awareness of God's gift of grace and love... and sprinkled with the laughter of happy children, the smiles of eager anticipation as your little ones await your reaction to a gift they've worked so very hard to make or buy for you, the memories of your own young Christmases full of warmth and joy... and maybe, just maybe, a few inches of white stuff covering the still world around you as you celebrate the birth of our savior.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Silly Goose...

Have you ever seen a two year old try to cross his eyes? It's pretty darn hilarious. Goose, just a bit shy of two and a half, has been doing it quite a bit for the past week or two - just to be plain old silly. We got a shot of him recently and I couldn't resist posting it. He's just so darn CUTE!!

Goose is in one of those delightful toddler stages where you just can't get enough of him. He's happy as can be about 95% of the time. When you ask him to do something, or gently correct him if he's done something wrong, he mimics what he hears the big brothers say with a completely pleasant demeanor... "Yes Ma'am." But somehow it's just a little bit cuter coming out of a two year old's mouth with that little lisp and the slight toddler accent that he still has. He recently started praying, which is also precious. "Deaw Foddow. Tink oo uh Piglet. Tink oo uh Pooh. Tink oo uh Mommy. Tink oo uhhhh, Piglet. Tink oo uh hot dogs. (etc...)" And he'll go on and on and on until you add in your own "Amen." at which point he happily shouts "AMEN!" and prayer is done. He's also shown a renewed interest in Girly Pie, which is so sweet. He's always so excited to see her and kiss her and make her laugh with Peek-a-boo or silly faces. And if someone is hurt he is so concerned... "You OK, Mommy? I kiss it. You better now?" It's especially sweet when he's the one inflicting the pain. He'll step on my toe with all 35 pounds of muscular chunky toddler strength and I'll say something along the lines of, "Ouch. Careful Honey, that was Mommy's toe." It's said gently and I don't think much of it, until he's checking in on my well being and bending down to kiss my foot and asking me if I feel better now. It's just so funny.

And the eye crossing. It seems as though he often does it when he's eating something, and he really wants to see what's going in his mouth as he takes his bites. It's just so hard not to laugh when you look over during dinner and he's sitting there all cross-eyed and staring hard at his apple slice. He's just such a goof.

And the little sense of imagination kicking in is just a riot right now. He likes to play trains on the train table, and more than the bigger boys ever were he is infatuated with Thomas and friends. It's so fun to look over during my morning kitchen cleaning time and hear him chatting away with his trains. "No Thomas. You no do dat. Wook Percy. I Thomas. I Drivin'. Wook out, Percy." Or when he's running around mostly naked, but with a backwards plastic knight's shield draped over his shoulder and a hard hat on his head. And maybe a pair of cowboy boots, depending on his mood.

So anyway. Each age has it's own special magic. Goose is just in one of those particularly magical phases where my husband and I could just eat him up. Considering the fits the kid can throw when he's not in a "Happy Place," we'll gladly soak up the cuteness now. Maybe we can bottle some of it to open up on a rainy day sometime in the next few months when he's pushing three and working hard to reassert his toddler independence. ;o)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Women, part 4

But again, the Lord was there even without my knowing it or really even asking Him to be. He put us in that first house knowing I would need those friendly neighbor women. He knew I would need people to smile at me and my way too cute babies. He knew I’d need others to say, “It’s ok. I’ve been there.” And to plan neighborhood potlucks with and to introduce me to the world of homeschooling.

He knew that in a few short years after we moved to our first home, that Mary Grace and her family would be moving in just down the road from us. He knew I was in need of a mentor and a true best friend: a woman to walk with hand-in-hand through this beautiful season of life. He created in me an apprentice’s spirit, and He knew that I would need to have a friend to watch and walk alongside without my even being aware of it.

I was not created with an innate knowledge of the world of mothering and of women. I was not raised in a home with anyone modeling these things for me either. But I was brought up in an environment with a very loving and supportive father, and women all around me pouring into me in various ways that went unnoticed for years.

So now, to sum up a bit from all the ramblings… I realize that I really do like women.

I love being able to talk to Mary Grace for hours about nothing really worth keeping a record of, but still I can walk away feeling justified, supported, refreshed, loved, understood… I love that. I love that she can encourage me without even trying. Heck, she can encourage me in the middle of telling me about a tough moment for her just in the fact that I do not feel alone in my occasional chaos or struggles to be all that I am called to be.

I enjoy having another friend I met from church (Let’s call her E.) over with her children and we can let our 6 walking and talking children play together and make gingerbread cookies and while we hold our babies and share stories of support and encouragement of the Lord and His work in our life. We can mention something that we cannot quite put words to in our world of mothering and the other can say, “I know! That is so true.” Even when we do not have the right words to make it all make sense. The thought, the feeling… the understanding is still there.

And I like that I can call the slightly younger friend down the road (I’ll call her C.) with her very young family of two children under two years old and chat about the thrill and newness of our same-aged babies. It’s great that she can come over and try out a craft we’ve been doing for years and to watch her face light up as she enters this world of mothering that I have enjoyed for so many years (well, almost seven years… it feels like it’s been longer though!) and I get to feel just that little bit like the mentors who have meant so much to me over the years.

And the day I started this silly little Women post, after a morning chat with Mary Grace, a midday baking and chatting time with E. and her brood, and an evening spent at C.’s house where we were invited for a lovely quesadilla dinner and we stayed for a nice chat and some super cute play time between our two-ish year olds and our 7 month olds… well, that day it occurred to me that the women in my life are truly a blessing.

These days (though the aforementioned day was a bit more full than I am accustomed to) fill me up in ways that I cannot describe. To share a common thread with these women, to be a part of this world that I once feared… even hated at times… to be accepted, loved, understood…to have others see the beauty in the day-to-day details of my life and understand them on a level that only another mom could… well I am not the graceful and talented writer that is my friend Mary Grace, so I cannot find the words to describe the feelings that come with this connection. But, I have a feeling that if you are a woman reading this right now that you may just have some idea of what I am talking about.

So all this to say that my friends, the women that I can clearly see were chose by the Lord Himself to walk with me in this life, mean very much to me indeed. I once thought that a husband to love me and children to raise were all I needed.

It didn’t take me too long to realize that God had more planned for me. He knew, first of all, that I needed Him. He also knew that I needed friends. And I think He created us that way to begin with. I do not think women were meant to go it alone, you know? Not that every one of us needs to be a social butterfly. One best friend is perfect for me, and one or two other close friends to walk along beside me as well round me out just right.

But at this point in my life, at least now in this short but important season of raising up my young family, I am so very thankful that I can do it alongside a few other women who can hold my hand and hear my stories and enjoy them, and who can share theirs with me. And then, once I have gotten all my chatty excitement out on them, I have just enough left for my husband to enjoy but not to feel overwhelmed by. ;o)

After all, as my dad occasionally says to my husband with a wink, “You married her. She’s all yours now.” And half the time he’ll make the little flapping hand sign that is synonymous with talking too much. So I guess that even though I looked like a boy once upon a time… I always did talk like a girl.

And one last little point, though I have been terribly long winded already… I adore my sons. I love (and always have loved) the world of boys and I always did feel like I would be the mother of boys. And after three of them, I was pretty well sure that I was going to be the mother of only boys. During my pregnancy with Girly Pie, we did not find out her sex (as with all my pregnancies) and I was completely confident and convinced that she was a boy. I remember having pangs and thoughts along the lines of, "I never got to be on the daughter end of a winning mother-daughter relationship. And I wonder if I will ever get to be on the mother end of a right and good mother-daughter relationship." But I was ok with that. I was just thrilled to be having a fourth child regardless!

I am still in awe at times that God blessed me with a daughter of my own. I only pray that He has prepared the right women to come alongside in her life to help guide her toward His purpose for her as He did for me in mine. And I am so very thankful that He has allowed me the gift of being one of those women.

And, for the record, so far I am deeply enjoying this whole mother-daughter thing from the mom end of things. It has been well worth the wait.

Ok. I’ll stop talking now. ;o)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Women, part 3

Now fast forward a few years to the time of meeting, befriending, loving, marrying and eventually having children with the man I am proud to call my husband…

When I first married my Man, I thought, “Who needs friends? I have a husband. He’ll make me happy and complete.”

Are you laughing with me here? Because I am. Oh, how naïve and innocent I was then. I was a few weeks shy of my 21st birthday when I married my Man. I thought I had it all. We bought our first house three months later and life was good. The neighbors seemed nice, we had decent jobs, the house was perfect for raising a family.

Life was good.

And then the babies came. And oh how long I had waited for them! (well, it felt like a long time... but patience was not a virtue I yet had at 22 years old...) Now, still I thought that aside from my long dreamed-of children, my husband was the only person I needed in my life. I was still under this delusion. I was not a believer at the time, so I didn’t think I needed God. I was close enough with my dad, but I was grown now and didn’t want to “need” him anymore, either. I certainly had no need whatsoever for my mom. And those other women? Oh well. I could do it just fine on my own.

I had nannied for the years before marriage and up to the time Punky was four months old and again, though I didn’t realize it, these women I was working with daily were filling me up with the stuff it takes to be a woman, a mother, a friend. It’s funny how clear everything is when looking back. Hindsight’s always 20/20, right? At the time it was just a job. Back when I watched those children as an adolescent and teenager, that was just fun work with cute babies. But those women, those moms behind the scenes… it’s only now as a woman and a mother myself do I see the important role they played in my life. I didn’t feel like I needed anyone, because I had always been blessed with people I didn’t even realize were there.

But as my family grew and my children got older and needed more of me - the deeper me, not just my arms and my breasts and my kisses, but my thoughts and my instruction and my constant attention - things started to change. Suddenly, my husband wasn’t enough. Suddenly he didn’t want to hear about the daily goings on now that we had our own kids. Or at least he did not want it in the minute and monotonous details that I was so fascinated and enthralled with. Suddenly I had questions and challenge and stories that I could not share with him. Suddenly I was a mother, a woman… and I was alone...

...To be continued AGAIN (getting down to the end here...)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Women, part 2

God knew I would eventually be called to be a mother and a wife. I remember being perplexed at my cousin even in kindergarten as she dreamed of fancy wedding dresses and ornate jewelry and decorations… and I just wanted to hurry up and have babies. So God, in all His infinite wisdom, groomed me for the plan that He had set up for me. He knew my mother would be absent, but instead of my heart turning away from that world of mothers, I began to long for that life that I missed out on. If I couldn’t have a mom there when I got home from school, than darnit, I was going to BE that mom someday. If I couldn’t have a mom to bake cookies with me and teach me to sew and cook and bake and talk with me, then I was going to do all that and more when I grew up and became a mom.

I went out of my way to play with other people’s babies. I was blessed with some women in my life who had small children, and since I was a responsible and kind young lady who adored children, I played with them and watched their children often. At the time I was just enjoying the time with small children, but what I didn’t know was that my young mind and heart were being filled with the stuff that families are made of. These women took me under their wing. They loved me, shopped with me, talked with me, comforted me, invited me into their homes and made cookies with me and let me enjoy their children and play with them and feel just a little bit like the (albeit older) daughter of a woman who actually loved her children. Though they were receiving the benefit of cheap or free help with their young families, they were also pouring their love out to me.

And I drank it in.

These women were such a huge blessing to me in my life. They were the ones who actually gave me glimpses into this world of women that I someday would be a part of. And they made it look like a world that I might actually enjoy living in.

And then as I grew into the upper years of high school and got caught up in friends and driving and boys (well, the idea of boys, though no real boys actually existed in my world – also by God’s grace in hindsight) and I moved on from these surrogate mothers in my life, but their presence remained in my heart. I saw them occasionally, and spent time with some mothers of my friends, but I took for granted their presence and only in hindsight did I really see any of these women for the angels that they were...

...To be continued again (part 3 will follow soon... I felt quite verbose on this topic, can you tell?)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finny's Funnies...

So yesterday (or was it the day before? I dunno... it's all a blur...) I asked my big boys a question and they stumbled over the answer. Usually when I ask such a questions Punky jumps to the answer long before anyone else gets a chance to even really mull the question over. Normally Finny just happily parrots his brother's answer and just smiles, pleased that there is indeed an answer to the question at all. Sometimes he squawks that Punky didn't give him a chance. This time I think Finny got to it just a fraction of a second before his always-right-and-always-gotta-prove-it-to-the-world big brother. I didn't think much of it and did not tune into the minor conversation, and apparently disagreement, that ensued between them just after the incident. But what I did catch was Finny's just too cute and perfect response to his brother's apparent displeasure at Finny's knowing anything:

Finny (said with just the right amount of spunk, but not a trace of snottiness): "Punky, you're not the only smart one in this house."

Too true, Finny. Too true. And more power to you for figuring that out. Good for you, my boy.

Women, part 1

I’ve decided that I like women.

Now that may seem like a strange statement, but hear me out here.

I grew up as the only child to a single father. My mom moved out of the house just weeks after my second birthday, and never came back. She kept in touch and I visited her fairly often as long as we lived in the same state, but by the age of five, my dad and I left sunny California and headed north for rainy Washington. From that point on, to the best of my recollection, I only saw my mom for weekends once every two or three months, plus a week or so in the summer and a decent stint between Christmas and Thanksgiving.

By first grade I was BEGGING my dad to let me get a short hair cut. I refused to wear anything even remotely resembling girl clothes, including anything dress-like, anything pink, or anything with ruffles, ribbons, bows or fancy collars. By third grade I had a complete boy hair cut and actually gelled my hair to a stiff shine for school each day. I wore jeans, frumpy tee shirts and sweatshirts and even my dad’s long baggy shirts. I did not really like to play with girls too much and really and sincerely prayed a few times in my life that God would just make me a boy. I really wanted nothing to do with the world of women. As far as I was concerned, my dad was the only person in the world who mattered, and my mom was really not who I wanted to grow up to be like, so the world of men looked way more appealing to me.

Now the funny thing was I was a slight, prancy little girl with completely feminine tendencies and a girlish way about me. I loved babies and played "house" often. I had girly features and pretty hair (well, it would have been pretty had I let it get longer than my chin) and I flitted around in all my frumpy boy clothes with dainty little mannerisms. But still, I was in complete denial that I was created female.

Of course I didn’t really want to be a man either, and eventually I grew to appreciate the world of women and girls more by the time I hit middle school. I still remember a boy (a punky popular kid – the kind who can say something stupid and everyone else thinks it’s cool) asking me if I was a boy or a girl. I thought (but didn’t say out loud) “I’m wearing pink sweats, Stupid. What do you think I am?” But for the most part, I started making female friends and getting interested in boys and playing with Barbies and all that. So it worked out alright eventually.
And thankfully, though I was fairly unaware of it the whole time, God was there all along, working His grace in my life and guiding me right where He knew I needed to go...
...To be continued (part 2 will follow soon)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Health Update

Just for those of you wondering and/or praying, we did go into the pediatrician today and she checked Girly Pie's ear out. Much to my surprise and delight, Girly Pie is ear infection-FREE!!!


Apparently she has enough wax in there to possibly cause her some discomfort, but no pain. Also, the tail end of her cold, along with some teething troubles are probably what are making for some restless nights and fussy days. But I can take teething and colds any day over ear infections and hearing-inhibiting ear fluid. Every sickness that one of my babies makes it through without an ear infection is a blessing in my family. So bring on the fussy days and sleep deprived nights. I've got a healthy set of ears so I am a happy Momma!

And, as my good friend Mary Grace reminded me today, there may just be a little bit of maturing happening in my soon-to-be-seven-month-old. So where she used to be quite content to just be in my arms or in the wrap while going about our daily rounds with the big brothers, she may be getting to that point where my presence alone is just not good enough. She is not happy unless she has my full attention to boot. Not that I wouldn't be thrilled to offer her my full attention all the time... it's just going to take a little work and some tinkering with routines and schedules to take my attention away from the other bazillion things going on in a day.

So time to make Mommy-daughter time a priority, which I admit I am very excited about. This is clearly one bright, social, engaging, interactive, playful, sweet, alert and active little girl. It is just delightful to watch this girl grow!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Adventing, Benny-style

Last year I decided it would be fun to just skip “school” for the whole Advent season and just do Advent activities instead. I’d never celebrated Advent before myself, but was very excited to start this new tradition with our family and try and really bring the meaning of Christmas back to Jesus and the gift of His birth (and life and death).

So I put in a few hours at the computer Googling Christmas crafts, baking and activities. I put holds on a bunch of Christmas classics on video from our library’s great hold system (after all, what Christmas is complete without watching the stop animation version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer a few dozen times?). I ordered a Jesse Tree book and cut out the ornament circles for the season. I also found a whole Bible reading calendar for Advent online.

And then – and this is the key thing here – I used a small three ring binder and some plastic dividers with pockets in them labeled one for each week of Advent and printed out some weekly schedules from Donna Young. Then I just sat down and plugged the stuff into the weekly schedules. I left a column for each activity and filled something in for each day. We had movies planned in, a Christmas song to learn each week, baking days, ornaments to make, gifts to make, outings to go on, and days like St. Nicholas Day marked with an appropriate book ready from the library and the right items set aside to celebrate the day in a fun way.

And all this I had done long before Thanksgiving rolled around.

And do you know what? It was GREAT!!! The boys were thrilled with the crafts and the baking. We had so much fun! I loved having everything all laid out ahead of time so I wasn’t trying to think of something in a pinch. The recipes, craft directions, coloring pages and advent and Jesse tree readings were all right there in my little book, even down the which movie was up for the day and what song we were learning for the week. (By the way, there is nothing cuter than three little boys banging on upside down jars and singing The Little Drummer Boy. I’ll always remember the endless rounds of, “Puh-rum-pum-pum-pum… rum-pum-pum-pum… rum-pum-pum-puuuuhhhmmmm.” It was pretty stinking cute.)

We made our annual salt dough Christmas tree ornaments. We made caramel corn (yum!) and home made gum drops (not so yum...) for the first time. We cut out gingerbread people and decorated them and made a garland of them to hang in our dining room. We made handprint Jesse trees and the boys colored the Jesse Tree ornaments and glued them up their each morning after our Bible reading. We made Fruit Loop garlands to hang on the tree. And the cutest little craft ever was this little wreath shaped frame made from puzzle pieces painted green with little red holly berries dotted on them, and then used as picture frames for my kids and hung on the Christmas tree. So cute! We learned at least three Christmas carols that we had not yet memorized before.

The list goes on and on. I have so many fun memories from last year’s Advent season. Yes, our house was a wreck for most of the month. Sure, I was just barely finished cleaning up one project before the boys were digging into the next one. Yeah, we had so much paper lying around it was undoubtedly a fire hazard. And of course we did not do every single activity I had planned out on my handy-dandy weekly schedules. But we did most of them, and we had a blast doing it all. This year my boys started asking about Advent and when we would start it up again around, oh, late September.

This year things are a little different. This year I have a six month old (almost seven months… Ack!) Girly Pie in tow and I am much less organized. This year Thanksgiving just came later than it seems like it should, so it snuck up on me that Advent was starting YESTERDAY!!! This year, I still have a handy little notebook, but I did steal much of what’s in the new one from what I had planned out last year. But I guess that’s kind of the point. I took the stuff we really enjoyed, I dropped the stuff that was less fun or just not worth doing every single year, and I added in a few new ideas that were better for my kids being a year older (or just easier for a Mommy with one more little one to juggle in the mix) or that just looked like fun.

So we’ll see how it goes this year. Today was Day One of the full crafting schedule. And it was a little hectic, I admit. We made the handprint trees and some popsicle stick angels, and did our Bible readings. But Goose didn’t nap, Punky has been sliding into disrespect lately so we had some teachable moments that interrupted the flow of the day, and Finny is in need of some sensory activated every 2-3 hours so I need to keep on top of our schedule more than I did last year (I’ll write more on the sensory stuff another time…).

And, much to my great dismay, sweet Girly Pie is starting to look like she’s got an ear infection. I know an ear infection does not sound like the end of the world to most people… but to a mom who has watched one baby boy go through years of chronic ear infections and fluid and has fought off ear tubes for four years with her darling Sunshine Boy only to be told by a new Ear, Nose, Throat doc that he needs to have tubes NOW, oh, and a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, too… just weeks after his fourth birthday and that he might have suffered some slight permanent hearing loss due to all those years of yuck… well, let me just say that I am not looking forward to going down that road again. It’s a little off topic, I know… but prayers are appreciated for anyone with room left on their prayer list that my Girly Pie does not share the same faulty genetics that her big brother Finny and her Daddy (and her paternal Grandma… the list goes on…) have with a really bad ear history. I just don’t know if I can take walking down that scary, pain-filled road again with another of my babies. But God’s will be done.. not mine.

Ok. Moving on. It might not even be an infection, after all. ;o)

So back to the point. The point is… Advent. It’s fun. It surely has brought us closer together as a family and made for some really great memories for us all. We made more time to study God’s word and really got a lot out of that part of the season… but we also just enjoyed the family tradition side of Christmas, too. And as much as I want my children to know the true meaning of Christmas, I do want them to really have a lot of memories of family time and fun, too. So we may not be the biggest shoppers this time of year, and we may also not be completely focused on Jesus’ birth in every activity that we do, either… but on the whole, it has been a really wonderful thing for our family.

And if you haven’t done something like this before, maybe you can give it a try this year. I don’t have time tonight to hyperlink all the resources I have used, but I’ll gladly pass along links that anyone requests in the comments area.

So Merry Christmas to all… and Happy Adventing, too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Wonderful Man

There is just nothing sweeter than a man and his children thoroughly enjoying each other's company.

My husband has an outdoor job, and it was wet and rainy today. I think we had some near record floods even. There were threats of the only highway that leads to our small town being closed. But my Man made it home. He walked through the door (a good hour later than he'd planned) wet but happy to be here. He threw his work clothes in the wash so they could be ready for tomorrow and I brought down some fresh, dry sweats.

And then the fun began. That wonderful Man of mine just got down on the floor and let a couple of the boys tackle him and he listened to the excited explanations of the day's happenings. Punky told him all about how much flood water we'd seen on our drive to and from town for Girly Pie's 6 month checkup this morning and Daddy listened with full interest. Finny tackled and tickled and Punky went to get this new doodad that came in a ball pump package. It's a tee for football kicking. I'm sure there is a very technical term for the little plastic thingy that holds the football still so the kicker guy can kick it. But I'll be darned if I have a clue what that technical term might be. Anyway. Daddy knew the name. And Punky kicked the ball and Finny caught it. Daddy then gave them the basics of football and showed them how to properly tackle an opposing player who catches the ball. I'm a complete idiot when it comes to sports, and though my husband is quite knowledgeable on most sports, it's still not one of his major passions in life. So it was a novel thing tonight to have this sports tutorial.

But boy did those boys all have fun kicking and tackling and throwing around the family room. And my Man was smiling the whole time and so happy to be there with his boys. And I was getting the last bits of dinner ready and on the table for my beautiful family. And Goose (who apparently has an ear infection) finally got over the post-nap stupor he'd been fighting all afternoon and was just a complete goofy delight at dinner.

When my Man was spooning bites of stuffing into little Goose's mouth, Goose was standing in his booster seat (bad habit, it bugs me but Daddy doesn't mind so I don't fight it) doing a crazy little dance with each mouthful. It was hilarious.

And is it just me, or is there something just so darn cute and sexy about a man whose eyes twinkle at the sight of his kids doing something cute or sweet? I just love that.

And when Girly Pie spotted him he gave her his best Daddy grin and she was in the Moby wrap and did the full body wiggle of delight and bobbed her head down in this demure, faux-shy girly little move that none of the boys have ever done. It's funny to me that it seems to really delight her Daddy when she does that. That girl is going to win that man over hands down.

Ahhh. life is so sweet when you have such a wonderful, loving man to share it with, you know?

Doing this 30-Day Challenge has been neat, but I admit that it's not been life altering. Now don't get me wrong... I can definitely use the daily reminder to say something encouraging to him and to avoid the temptation to complain to him or about him when he does something I don't like. But on the whole I have realized that I am generally doing alright naturally at complimenting him and appreciating all that he does for me and for our family.

I know that had I tried it two or three years ago it would have been really difficult to follow through on. To give a quick rundown on the challenge, the goal is to go thirty days without saying anything negative to your husband or about him to anyone else. You also need to make sure you say at least one positive thing to him, and one positive thing about him to someone else, every day. I know that in years past this would have been very hard for me. I was quite disrespectful and undermining of my husband's role in our home and family for the vast majority of our relationship. But the sad part is that I didn't even see it as such. And to have tried this a few years back, even after becoming Christian, would have been really eye opening for me. But honestly, I've realized that I am already doing this most of the time in a conscious effort to be more respectful of him in general.

The real turning point for me in my attitude towards my husband was really when we read Emerson Eggerichs' Love and Respect about two years ago. It was really an awakening for me into how much I was taking away from his confidence by constantly trying to better him and "constructively" criticize him. The basic point the book makes is that men should love their wives unconditionally (and society seems to support this half of the equation) and that wives should respect their husbands unconditionally (this goes completely against societal norms - when is the last time you watched a prime time sitcom where the husband was treated with respect either by the wife or the children?). It was hard at first, but I was amazed at how quickly our relationship changed when I just started to focus on the things I did love and respect about my husband, and I tried to ignore or gloss over the things that I thought needed improvement.

Funny thing. Suddenly I really saw that he was this great guy, and he didn't really need much improvement after all. I was the one who needed improvement. And the icing on this lovely cake? He actually started doing nicer things for me and improving naturally in all the areas that I felt worries about previous to my change in attitude. Crazy, huh?
So, I bring all this up just to say that books like Love and Respect, and efforts like the 30-Day Challenge really can make an amazing difference in a marriage. I would never go so far as to say we had an unhappy marriage. But now that I make a general daily effort to appreciate the man that God has blessed me with I find that our relationship is, on the whole, a beautiful one.

I am one very blessed woman. And I love that my husband lets me know that he feels like a very blessed man, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Days...

Boy. It seems like it was so easy for a while there to find time for myself. And now all of the sudden it takes a whole lot more work to get everything just right so that all four of my kiddos are quiet and contained and I have moment alone.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. In fact I've quite enjoyed my busier time of really being in the moment with my family. We're doing more fun stuff with school as the year moves along, which I know my bigger boys both enjoy. Goose is starting little bits of preschool stuff, too. He loves numbers right now so I'm trying to take time here and there to go do some fun counting and manipulative work with numbers. He loves it when I can carve out the time. It's far from daily though. I'm working on that. And Girly Pie is at that really fun interactive stage at six months. she's still not crawling or sitting up on her own, but she can roll across quite a large space, and will soon (I'd bet within a week) figure out that she can span a room to get where she wants to go. So I'm just busier with her drinking in all the cuteness and fun of one of the most pleasant stages of childhood, I think. She really is in that "golden age" of babyhood. She's all smiles and sweetness, and she really can light up a room just by being in it right now. So when she's awake, it's much harder for me to just plunk her in my lap and type away. I just can't ignore that girl! She's irresistible right now!

And in a perfect world I would really be on top of keeping a better schedule. I've read Managers of Their Homes and while I agree that having a schedule is ideal, I have yet to manage my home as efficiently as the author of the book seems to. I think I am more of a routine person than a schedule person.

So are you curious about what our routine is? I'm happy to share it. It's a fluid thing, but we are beginning to see the real routine of life with four children 6 and younger take shape... Here's what a typical weekday looks like around here, barring any outings, sickness, temper tantrums, potty disasters, visitors or other such unexpected interruptions (so you can imagine that it's not exactly a constant thing! But we're working on it!):

6am: I wake (new to me... just trying the early rise thing... it works great when I have the will power to get out of my warm bed!) and heads downstairs for what Bible reading and quiet time with the Lord I can find. Girly Pie is often awake with me at this point, but sometimes she still dozes in bed with her Daddy.

6:30-7am: Boys start waking up and tumbling downstairs. They generally start the day off with free play time for a bit.

7-7:30-ish am: Big boys work on their daily chores while I prepare breakfast and tend to Girly Pie. Daddy is up and Goose is most likely following him around as he prepares for his work day.

7:30-8-ish am: We eat breakfast together and kiss Daddy goodbye as he heads out for the day around 8 (unless it's the busy time of year, at which time he's gone before most of the kids are up).

8-9 or 9:30am: Boys finish any lingering chores and Punky whips out two pages in both his Singapore Math book and his Spectrum reading comprehension workbook before their free time starts. Most days (when our ancient computer is cooperating with its failing sound card) Punky will do some online learning programs to supplement his math and spelling skills at this time, too. Goose plays on his own for the most part during this time and he flits in and out of my routine and the big boys' free play as I go about my morning chores. Girly Pie is usually in the Moby Wrap at this time or in her exersaucer or rolling around on the ground with toys. This is my work time and my free with the babies time of the day. Often, too, I will spend this time in the morning investing in the wonderful friendship that God has blessed me with in Mary Grace. I know it is a bit of a guilty pleasure to spend time on the phone in the morning. And we don't talk every single day. But more often than not we will check in with one another and talk about our day, our children, our faith, our husbands, our worries, our achievements and our failings... we support each other and laugh and cry together. And with nine kids between us at this point, all of whom are homeschooled, many of whom have various appointments for doctors, therapy, etc... it is just getting really darn hard to physically get together and enjoy each other's company. So that time in the morning I look at as fellowship and support. I do know that the actual routine and schedule of my days would go better if I spent that time more wisely... but I fear that my heart and my spirit would fade more quickly through the day if I did not spend that time with the friend God has blessed me with.

All that as a good excuse for chatting on the phone for an hour or so most mornings. Can you tell I feel just a little bit guilty for that indulgence? But it's worth it. ;o)

OK. Moving on.

9:30 or 10am: Girly Pie starts her morning nap and I get going on any handsfree school work I have planned with the boys. Often Goose does playdough or plays with his little diggers in a tray of rice at the table with us during any project time. On Fridays we usually bake something tasty during this time. Some days it's a craft, some days it's sit down lesson stuff. Some days we just play board games. Today I did some laundry and played battleship with Punky while a very cranky Goose watched a video and Finny floated between the two activities.

10:30 or 11am: Girly Pie's nap is wrapping up and the boys are revved up and ready for some free time, so usually Punky and Finny play Legos or dress up as knights or Egyptians or scuba divers... whatever we're doing in school or reading in our books at the time that inspires them... Goose will float with them or hang in the kitchen with me while I putter around and prepare lunch or tidy any messes left from our project or Goose's play time.

Usually we eat lunch around 12, give or take 30 minutes. up to this point in the day, the times really move around and some things take longer and others are skipped. I throw laundry in and out of the machines and fold in fits and starts when I can. Girly Pie is up or down at varied points, since I still have not pushed her to a strict sleeping schedule yet. Goose floats a ton in the mornings. I want to make the perfect time to have just mommy and Goose time... I'm working on that one.

12-1pm: At some point in here lunch is over, and I excuse Goose and myself upstairs while the big boys finish up their food and clear their places to have a few minutes of quiet free time downstairs. Goose still takes naps and we really enjoy the time of reading and snuggling while I get him ready for his nap. Girly Pie is usually with us, but she's happy to roll around on his bed and chew on his toys while we read.

12-1p: Still in the window of time but after goose is down for nap, I try to tidy the kitchen from lunch, but often just skip it for now. This is when we begin our Goose-free school stuff that really takes my (mostly) full attention. We read our Sonlight books during this time... We all enjoy this part of the day, though I admit it is definitely the most time consuming part of school for us. Often we'll skip basics even, like Punky reading his own books, for the sake of reading our Sonlight stuff. But many days he does get to read on his own to me, and I think it's OK for now that he's not reading books daily. He reads something in his morning workbooks daily and often will finds something on his own throughout the day. Right now we are reading Jack Plank Tells Tales together, taking turns reading paragraphs. It's a very cute book. I'd recommend it so far. For Sonlight right now we are still working on Egypt. Our projects have included building several kinds of pyramids and making sledges to see how simple machines aided in the construction of the real pyramids. I need to get a raw chicken leg so we can try to mummify it later this week. When I came down from putting Girly Pie down for her nap today, my boys were role playing something unfamiliar... it involved swords made of Zoobs of course... but the costumes were new as was what I could catch from the plot. They were playing Egypt. Only it was kind of like Tarzan and Swiss Family Robinson. Only not really. Anyway, take 4 and 6 year old boys, just enough knowedge of history to be dangerous, some plastic construction toy weapons, a bucket full of random dressup items and a healthy lust for certain Disney films... and voila! You get my family!

1:30-2 pm: At this point I am usually finished with our school reading time and Goose is still sleeping. Girly Pie is usually ready for her second nap now (if she's not already sleeping) and if I can manage just right... I can scoot the big boys upstairs to their shared bedroom and put on a book on CD for them and they begin their 90 minute rest (the CD player is set on a timer and clicks off after 90 minutes). They start out in their beds with a quiet activity (reading, coloring, resting...) and after a set number of chapters they are allowed to play quietly together in their room. They usually choose a combination of Lincoln Logs, Playmobil "guys," other characters and some home made wooden toys and play castles or pirates or Egypt... that sort of thing. I think it's one of their favorite times of day. And they have heard some great stories on CD, too. Usually something like a Little House book or one of the Freddy the Pig books, some Magic Treehouse, some A.A. Milne, a bit of Hank the Cowdog, Mr. Popper's Penguins... and a ton more. And if it's all just perfect... that is when I have all four of them happy, quiet and occupied... and that is when I get to sit here and post this (like right now.)

I also pay bills at this point, or make business calls or set up appointments, or plan some school or finish cleaning up the kitchen from lunch. Sometimes I will indulge in a catnap, but that is rare at this point.

by 3 or 4, depending on the day, everyone is up and moving from our daily rest time. The afternoons are mostly free, and I get to spend more time with Goose or play games with the bigger boys if we missed that earlier. This is when we go outside if weather allows.

4:30-ish: This is when I usually start dinner prep, or at least figure out exactly what I'm feeding the troops if it's a usual week and I've once again managed to forget to plan meals for the week. Tonight it's ranch chicken and stuffing. Unless my hubby tries to bring home Thai food for a grown up date night later in which case the kids get corn dogs while we have a family movie night. We'll see. I'm waiting on the call from him that will dictate when he's home and what plan he picks. His call, not mine. Finny sets the table for dinner. Girly Pie floats in the Moby or exersaucer, Goose plays with the big boys.

5:30 pm: Family dinner time. Daddy is home, food is hot and ready. We always eat dinner together and though it is something I take for granted at times, I do feel very blessed to be able to count on that almost every night for the vast majority of the year.

6-6:30 pm: Dinner wraps up. Punky clears the table, Finny and Goose run upstairs. If it's not a bath night, they all get in jammies and have some train table time in their rooms for a bit. If it's bath night then play time gets skipped.

7-7:30 pm: Daddy and Goose do bedtime routine together in Goose's room while I read with Punky and Finny in their room. Girly Pie rolls around on the floor and chews on their wooden train tracks or blows on the toy kazoo (it's so cute to see a six month old play a kazoo. She's brilliant, I tell you!).

7:30-10 pm: Kids are down, baby is still up until 9 usually, hubby and I wrap up work stuff (I will catch up on emails or organize school stuff, he will finish up business calls or emails that were missed in the work day) and then start whatever evening activity is in store for us. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do my best to work at real school planning or cleaning up and organizing my desk and office (where all the school stuff tends to pile up and never get sorted out). Other evenings are pretty much free and we usually read a book together or watch a movie, or we just hang out. Some nights we fritter away wasting time on email or the computer. I don't like those nights as much, but my hubby and I are both putterers, so it does happen more often than I'd like.

So there is the basic rundown of my day. Like I said, it's all fluid still. But it's looking pretty consistent within that framework. My goals include making more school planning time, and making more efforts for one on one time each day with each child. But with four of them, I may not get complete one on one with each of them each day... but we get lots of little snippets here and there, and lots of Mommy and a couple of kids time.

So I've typed too long and Girly Pie is waking up. So up I go to rescue her from her nap. And then on to the afternoon of our day. I wonder what we'll do this afternoon... I'm thinking making something tasty. I'm hungry for a sweet something. Wonder if those boys are up for baking?

Monday, November 10, 2008

I've been quiet, but...

...I'm still here!

I've been busy with school, four beautiful babies, time with my amazing husband, keeping up with dear friends and lots of appointments for my kiddos...

But I'm still here. I'll write a real post soon. But tonight I have a date to hang out with my husband, so I am going to go and do that.

By the way, I'm working on the 30-Day Challenge. It's a challenge to encourage my husband and see what growth can come from that in my faith and in our marriage. I learned of it from a blogger I follow, and she was kind enough to allow me to link to it for anyone else interested in trying the 30-Day Challenge out themselves. So if you want to learn more about the challenge or about Meghann and her beautiful family, go to her blog and check them out.

I plan to write more soon about the 30-Day Challenge, as well as about our school time and discipline with my children, sensory issues we're learning about with one of our boys, teeth for Girly Pie, Christmas and Advent planning and activities and just general day to day stuff like that. But again, as I said, I've got a date with my Man.

So off I go to enjoy his wonderful company. I can't wait to carve out a few minutes to write about some of the wonderful things floating around in my heart and mind of late.

Oh, and just so you all know... my Girly Pie turned six months old this weekend! Wow. Time does fly.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sweet Punky Loo

I am about to head up to bed, but before I do I wanted to just say quickly how wonderful my biggest boy is. Punky is responsible, loving, exuberant, charming, full of laughter and joy, and always on the lookout for ways to make his loved ones happy.

Today Goose needed to pee at a very bad moment for me to help. I had just gotten a very hungry Girly Pie from her crib after a long nap and had just gotten all settled on the couch nursing her. Poor Girly Pie is teething right now and sometimes it's tricky to get her latched and happy without her gums bugging her, so when she was happily nursing and suddenly Goose hollers "PEE!" from across the house, I was in a bit of a bind.

In comes Punky to the rescue! I asked if he wouldn't mind helping his little brother get his pants off to go potty. Punky didn't even bat an eye. He just climbed off the rocking horse still dressed in his fancy ninja getup and walked over to the bathroom with a smile as he sweetly depantsed (is that a word?) his two year old brother. Then he picked up the 32 pound hunk of toddler and plopped him on the pot to do his business. Goose was relieved, Punky congratulated him on doing a good job on the potty, and life went on as usual.

These kinds of things happen numerous times each day around here. And I realized as I was heading up to bed how little I celebrate his helpful nature. I mean, I appreciate it, and I know I tell people about it. But I know I haven't posted about it. And I know I could focus on that kind of thing more often.

So anyway. My Punky is an amazing little man. And I have no idea how I could keep up with all that goes on in a day in this happy and busy house of ours if it weren't for him. From helping little brothers to pee and holding baby sisters when mom is in a pinch, to volunteering to vacuum for his mom just because he loves her and wants to "let (his) light shine before men so that they may see (his) good deeds and praise (his) Father in heaven." (Matt 5:16) that Punky is one amazing young man.

Thank you, Punky. I love you so much, my boy!

Friday, October 31, 2008


It's Friday. It's raining outside and I can hear my two big boys upstairs in their "quiet" rest time (I use the term quiet loosely here... Finny in particular is, I think, the loudest person that God has created on this earth... though Goose might be a close second.) as they jumble about and play with their Playmobil guys and Lincoln Logs. I think frontier forts with pirates and knights battling it out with a pack of dollar store plastic policemen (like little army guys only they're police) is the current theme of most of their bedroom play time. Oh, and last I checked there was a handful of little Indians and a plastic gorilla involved, too. And one monster truck.

Goose is finally napping. He's skipped nap for the past two days, so I am very happy for him (and myself) that he's napping today. Thankfully when he skips nap he still somehow manages to be quiet and happy in his bed for two hours, give or take. Alone. Sounds pretty amazing, huh? Might make you think I have this whole Mommy thing down to have a two year old who will play alone in his bed quietly for two hours, right? Well don't be fooled. It took getting through two very finicky sleepers who have always loved waking up hours before dawn and fought sleep terribly for most of their infant and toddler development before God obviously felt sorry enough for me that he threw me a bone and gave me one who actually likes sleep and quiet time. Thank you for that, Lord. ;o)

Girly Pie is also down for a nap. My girl has the first speck of her first tooth showing through today. It's bittersweet, the whole first teeth thing. It's so great on one hand, to see them growing and developing so well. Those two tooth grins are just stinkin' adorable, too. But on the other hand, my baby girl is getting bigger much more quickly than I anticipated that she would. I mean, she was just born, like yesterday, right? Surely that's not my baby that is just spitting distance from the six month mark. Surely not. She can't possible be heading into the second half of her first year ALREADY, can she? But alas, it's true. And as much as I have enjoyed her early babyhood, I know I'll enjoy these coming months (and years) even more. She's just a delight, and such a blessing to us all. And as much as I'll miss that toothless, gummy little piggy grin she's been flashing for months, I know that new toothy little smile will completely melt my heart.

We've done a good bit of school this week, in that Punky and Finny both learned a lot even if I did sort of toss the workbooks aside more days than not. Punky is working on telling time with an analog clock. It's been fun guessing times together and playing a game I made up to help cement his fives times table (Do they still call them times tables? Or is that way out of date?) so he can easily look at a clock face and see the minute hand's location and know what time it is.

Oh, and we've played hangman. I loved that game when I was a kid. I can't say I know for sure where Punky learned how to play it, though I think Sunday school is the best bet. But I know for sure I didn't teach it to him! I started seeing him draw gallows with little unhappy men hanging from nooses on the steamy shower glass and figured he'd been playing the game for a while. So now we pull out our little mini dry erase board and play hangman on there a lot. Even Finny loves to get in on this game. He's our little artist and he's very particular about the features drawn on the little fellow dangling from the rope. He must have hair, you see. And not curly hair. Straight hair. And eyes, a mouth, ears, a body, arms and legs, AND feet and hands. And if he's really lucky Mommy will give the guy a peg leg, a hook hand and one patched eye. Then it's really fun, even when you're not really winning. Of course Finny can barely read and neither boy can spell worth beans. But we have a great time regardless.

We've also been learning about ancient Egypt. That's been fun. I can't believe how much I have learned while teaching my FIRST GRADER that I swear I was not taught even in high school. Seriously! And yesterday my boys both brought out chapter books that we'd read before and each boy wanted to start a new book. I love that. Finny wants Dr. Dolittle and Punky wants Mr. Popper's Penguins. It's just so fun to see them drop their Legos and Playmobil guys and home made cardboard swords (Punky's current favorite craft item) and grab a beloved book and beg me to start reading it NOW! So we'll be starting a new book soon, now that we've finished our current read aloud. So all in all, it's been a good week full of fun and learning.

And today is Halloween. That's a borderline holiday for us. We don't do the trick or treating, nor do we go out and buy costumes. But the kids do dig out from their bountiful collection of dressup clothes and hand out candy with bible verses attached to them to the trick or treaters in the neighborhood. They seem quite happy with this arrangement. It's not a holiday I feel great about honoring at all, in that I can't see that it brings much glory to God, but then I did grow up doing the whole thing and it was fun and I didn't turn out bad. So that's our middle ground. Hopefully they never feel like they've missed out on all that much. Really. I mean it is cold and wet out there anyway. And we let them eat the candy we bought. So it works out in the end. We also have our good friends coming over to share in the fun with us, and we'll be making some cookies together to boot.

So there's my rambling update of today. Oh, and my hubby's baby brother just became a father last night! His wife gave birth to their son at 9:52pm on October 30. He was 6 pounds, 15 ounces, and that was 11 days overdue. So just a little peanut of a guy! But we are thrilled for them and can't wait to meet our newest nephew/cousin. They only live an hour away, so we'll see them soon enough! And also we are so thrilled to get to meet Mary Grace and clan's newest addition, little Mr. Manolin. They're the lovely friends coming over today. We are so excited for them and can't wait to see this smiley, giggly little man we've heard so much about!

Ok, so NOW I am done rambling. ;o) Just a rambling, rainy kind of afternoon, I guess. I'm one blessed and happy woman. It's a wonderful life! And at this moment, I'm just so thankful for it all!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You mean that counts as SCHOOL!?!?!

I'm a homeschooler. My children consider me Mom and Teacher. It's all blurry though, the line between the two.

And I think that's a good thing most of the time.

Last week my sister in law called me to ask a question about some maternity clothes I had lent her. While we were on the phone she heard me talking to my boys about the book on CD they were listening to and asked me if I could suggest any good chapter books she could start reading with her six year old daughter and her four year old son.

She didn't have a clue what she was getting herself into.

I'm sure she expected me to mention a book, maybe two, that we had read and enjoyed together. What she got was a muddled conversation punctuated with "Ooh. And this book!" and "I forgot about that one. " and "OH, have you read THIS one?" and "you MUST try THIS book. They'd LOVE this one!" And after that conversation, she also received an email with a very long list of books that I remembered after hanging up the phone.

My list of chapter books that my boys have enjoyed is full of books I had never heard of as a child and had never read until I had children of my own. It's a list that I was shocked to look at as I sent the email along. My oldest is only six, after all. And that was just the quick list of books that we had really enjoyed from our Sonlight cores, one Winter Promise year and some random suggestions from friends or finds from the library (plus the Chronicles of Narnia, which I did enjoy as a child myself).

And as I wrote them down for her, I was so excited to share the wealth of joy and laughter and fun and tears we'd gotten from all those books. I realized that I had really taken all of that for granted.
We are in first grade at our upper end of school here in Benny's house. And I admit that with three children not even on the books for "school" that there are days we struggle to officially learn anything school-like. I mostly use Sonlight thanks to Mary Grace and her generosity and example. We do skip the books that do not draw us in, and we add in other read alouds that inspire us. We do our own math, language arts, science (when we do any of that at all) and even most of our own Bible. I don't think Punky even reads most of their readers at this point, since we just get our own books from the library for him. So I often wonder why we use Sonlight at all, when I have to work so hard to get all the basics of school in on top of what we read for our core.

But that day as I listed all the books that had brought so much excitement and adventure into our lives, I realized that most of the fun reading we've ever done has actually been school. We usually do not think of it as such. And there are definitely some Sonlight books that we've read for history that we've just done for the sake of checking off the box. But all those read alouds, all those books... I never would have known about most of them had it not been for using Sonlight.

And I felt bad for my sister in law, who does not homeschool (they go to a Waldorf school, which I happen to think is a pretty neat alternative to standard private schools) and does not have the same access to the options of really good books that are out there.
So, all this to say how blessed we are. And I didn't even know it! I just did it. We see the book listed, we read it, we enjoy it to pieces, then we move onto the next one. So today I am very grateful for the opportunities we've had to explore the world of reading with a handy list of some of the best literature written for children (and adults!). And my kids love it, and we think of it as our free time to read most of it.
And now I get to smile and feel good about myself. I guess we've done a lot more school over the years than I had realized. I guess that even if we stick to our low key, almost-but-not-quite-unschool approach, we'll be bringing Sonlight (or at least some of it) along for the ride.

And in case you were curious, I've listed some of our favorites here, in case you are looking for a good book that your six and unders might enjoy.

My Father’s Dragon - Ruth Stiles Gannett
Elmer and the Dragon - “ “ “
Dragons of Blueland - “ “ “
Gooseberry Park – Cynthia Rylant
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle – Betty MacDonald
Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Richard and Florence Atwater
Dr. Dolittle – Hugh Lofting
Capyboppy – Bill Peet
The Hundred Dresses – Eleanor Estes
In Grandma’s Attic – Arleta Richardson
Boxcar Children – Gertrude Chandler Warner
Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
Ereth’s Birthday – Avi (this one brought my Punky to tears at 4, it's a bit intense, but worth it)
Dolphin Adventure – Wayne Grover
Dolphin Treasure – “ “ “
Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Any advice?

As you may or may not have noticed if you've ever looked in on my blog before, I am the mother of three older sons and one baby girl. I truly believe God knew what he was doing when he gave us our three sons before he blessed us with a daughter. I do not believe I was ready to be the mother to our Girly Pie that she needed when I first became a parent.

(Now, in all honestly, I can't really say that I feel all that well prepared to be the mother of my sons, either.)

But somehow with my daughter, I just feel a new kind of pressure and responsibility.

So, this brings me to the point of my request here. I have read lots on mothering boys. I really enjoy Dr. Dobson's Bringing Up Boys (thank you MG!) in particular. I have also heard of Raising Modern Day Knights, though have not read that yet. I really want to bring our sons up to be strong, honorable, Godly gentlemen with a good work ethic and respect for others, and I want them to know how to treat a lady with care and respect. I hope that they will be blessed with wonderful wives someday whom they will love and cherish, and I pray that they will be wonderful husbands and fathers just as God calls them to be. I feel that between the books, the Bible, our friends, and our parents, my husband and I can do alright there.

But now we have a daughter. And as I read other posts on daughters and the trials that face them, I admit that even though she is a mere 5 months old, I begin to worry for her purity and the struggle to come for her to stay pure and to keep her integrity. This world does not model at all what we want for our daughter when she comes into womanhood. But I can't even say I know what it is we should be striving for in raising our little girl.

SO... the point at last... I come to you to see if anyone has some great suggestions on resources to better prepare my husband and I to raise a Godly daughter. I am not even sure what defines a Godly woman. It seems so much easier to define a Godly man. Is it just me?

So is there any advice out there? Any books? Videos? Specific Bible references that will help me?
I really want to be purposeful in how we raise our children. I feel like we've been doing pretty well so far, and I do see the beginnings of Little Gentlemen growing in our house already. But when I look ahead to what will be coming even in the next couple of years with our daughter, I feel very ill equipped to guide her down the path towards God and His plans for her.

Any advice or suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated. She is such a gift, such a sweet, pure little girl. I know she will be a woman someday. And I just want to do everything I can while she's still here, safe in our nest and willing to learn from us, to guide her down the right path to Him and His plan. I know there is only so much I can do, and that in the end that will be between Girly Pie and her Maker. But I also feel like there is a lot we can do now as her parents to make that a less painful transition for her when the time comes for her to make her own adult choices.

So. Advise and suggest away. I am all ears.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday Dear Mary Grace!

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy birthday to the very best friend in the whole, entire world. I love you Mary Grace!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Before I forget...

While I was overhearing my three boys playing with their dinosaurs which were attacking one another...

Punky: Look Finny. The meat eaters are attacking them.

Me (always the homeschooler): Boys, do you remember what meat eaters are called?

Punky: Carnivores.

Me: Right. Do you remember what the plant eaters are called?


Punky: Meatloaf?

Me (stifling a chuckle): Well, yes Punk, I suppose to the carnivores, they would be considered meatloaf. I was thinking of herbivore, myself. Thanks, Bud.

Kids say the darnedest things, huh?

Monday, October 13, 2008


Just a quick post to say how absolutely cute and adorable and wonderful my children are!

Girly Pie was just a smiling cutie pie all day long. She has figured out this whole napping thing recently, and that is lovely. She has always been a long napper, but has just recently mastered napping in her crib (rather than on my body or in her swing) and going to sleep smoothly without needing to be completely nursed to sleep. So with nice regular-ish naps, she is just happy as a clam when she's awake. She started rolling over last week, and is so pleased with her self whenever she can do it. And I love, love, LOVE this stage when they reach for your face and pet your cheeks and try to kiss you all over and eat you up with big, wet, toothless baby kisses. Mmm. She is just edible right now.

And Goose... two year olds are really such a mixed bag, aren't they? Not too long ago I was posting about how trying he was and how defiant he was in his attempts to gain his independence in toddlerhood. And now? Well, now Goose is right back to being the darling Golden Child of the house. He says the cutest little things and all of us, big brothers included, just delight in meal time conversations right now, as he parrots random words and phrases he picks up from our discussions. He's irresistible in his bright eyed excitement... when he wants your attention, he'll get right in your face (within an inch or two) and widen his eyes beyond what seems natural, and jabber semi-intelligibly some long, exciting thing, with only one or two clear key words to clue you into what exactly it is he's so excited about. It's very cute. And when he says "MOMMY!?" and gets right up in there with a little pucker on his lips, to plant the sweetest little kiss on my lips? Well. He's just such a goose right now.

And then there is my Finny. He is so delightful to watch in action when he's in good spirits. And though he goes through rough patches, as a general rule he's in a good mood more often than not. Today he was watching a little live action fire truck video with Goose while I prepped some school stuff (gotta love Dave and his live action series!) and in the middle of it he ran off and grabbed some paper and coloring supplies. Now Finny is not a man to miss a second of any movie. So I figured it had to be something good. Sure enough, by the end of the 30 minute video he had drawn a really wonderful picture of a firetruck racing to a burning building. He had colored the firetruck in fine detail just as he'd seen on the video, but I was even more impressed with the background. It's one thing for my boy to draw an impressive item. He's quite artistic and loves to draw daily. But usually he just draws the item of interest and moves on to a new piece of paper and a new interesting item. But this picture had the detailed truck along with an impressive background. And on top of all that, he named the fire fighter driving the fire truck. Apparently his name was David. And Finny sounded and wrote it out all on his own. Anyway, it's just a four year old's artwork. But I was impressed. I'll add it here for your viewing pleasure as well. Note the burning building on the left. No detail was missed.

And my Punky. That boy is such a pleasure. He's just so sweet and loving. He was so huggy today with me. I am so glad he is still like that. He does his own work without complaint and more often than not will find a chore of someone else's and do it for them just to be nice. He helps Goose when Goose needs someone to fix a toy or reach something he can't on his own. He has interesting things to say and intriguing questions to ask. And he is just so handsome. He's lean and his skin is perfect. He has beautiful brown eyes and a face that lights up with his smile. He looks so much like his father that it's almost eery. I just can't believe sometimes how much he is like a little man now. From his chiseled face and his muscular flat stomach to his probing questions and intuitive awareness. And he's only six. But if, by chance, I am ever fooled for a moment by his maturity, I am quickly reminded of his tender age by his constant motion and his weird, loud boy noises that seem to punctuate every action he makes in life. Isn't it wonderful how big and how small one can be at the same time?

So anyway, I am just busily drinking in all the wonder and sweetness of my darlings. They have just melted away any vestiges of my blues from last week. I love watching them play together. I love how all three of my boys melt when they see their baby sister and cannot go past her without stopping to say hi and give her a kiss or a hug or a kind word. I love how Goose follows Finny and Punky around and how they usually welcome him along for the ride. I love how I can scoop any one of them up and hug and kiss and tickle them until they can hardly breath, and no one complains about it or fights it. I love that when her Daddy walks by Girly Pie will smile and reach out for him, and he will in turn break into an ear splitting grin and grab her and snuggle her right up to his chest. And then she looks at me with a very satisfied expression, as if to share her glee with me. I love how all the boys clamor to tackle their Daddy when he walks through the door. And how he falls to the floor to let them do it.

Ahh. Life is oh so sweet.