Thursday, September 29, 2011


This post has been kicking around in my mind for quite some time now. Bear with me, please.

I have been hearing the song "Beautiful" by Mercy Me on the radio a lot recently. A couple of weeks ago my husband said to me "What do you think he means?" And I responded that I thought he was speaking to a soul who had lost the way. Perhaps she belonged to the Lord and was walking apart from Him. Perhaps he had never known Him and was just being introduced to Him. I was thinking about the lyrics in the first verse that time. I was picturing an addict in rehab.

"Days will come when you don't have the strength
And all you hear is you're not worth anything

Wondering if you ever could be loved

And if they truly saw your heart

They'd see so much

You're beautiful, You're beautiful

You are made for so much more than all of this

You're beautiful, You're beautiful

You are treasured,
you are sacred,
you are His

You're beautiful"

But then a few days later I was listening to the song again. I was in the car on the way home from a long trip to Costco. After spending the morning cleaning. After a night of being up and down (still) with a baby. I was feeling bad I had been so cranky to my kids. And I realized that the song was talking about a stay at home Mom. The thing is we ARE so much more than all of this. Than yelling at our kids when we shouldn't. Than not being thankful for the precious gift that those tiny little bodies are. Than not loving our husbands the way we should. Than getting caught up in the chaos of the morning and forgetting (or choosing not to) spend the few moments of silence asking our Maker for help to get through the day.

"Praying that you have the heart to fight
you are more than what is hurting you tonight

For all the lies you've held inside so long

But they are nothing in the shadow of the cross

You're beautiful, You're beautiful

You are made for so much more than all of this

You're beautiful, You're beautiful

You are treasured,
ou are sacred,
you are His

You're beautiful"

The next time I listened to the song it struck me that it would have spoken to me in a whole different way as a teenager. When it's easy to get caught up in school stress, friend drama, feeling sorry for yourself. When it's easy to blame it all on the hormones, on the parents, on the popular kids at school. And it is so easy to forget that:

"Before you ever took a breath
Long before the world began

Of all the wonders He possessed

There was one more precious

Of all the earth and skies above

You're the one He madly loves

Enough to die!"

Because die He did. Knowing full well that I would let "all of this" pull me down. Knowing that I would forget to bring my problems--big and small--to the Shadow of the Cross. I just love that line "They are nothing in the shadow of the cross."
The birds who sing for Him every morning with no reminder. The Sun that shines each day at His command. The flowers that bloom all for His Glory. They are not the recipient of His dying love. Instead it's me. The one who doesn't bloom each day. The one who forgets to shine often. Who has to be reminded to sing.

"You're beautiful, You're beautiful
In His eyes
You're beautiful!
You are made for so much more than all of this

You're beautiful!

You are treasured,
you are sacred,
you are His

You're beautiful!

You are made for so much more than all of this

You're beautiful!
You are treasured

You are sacred
You are His"

You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His. Remember that today.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We Made Our Escape

Last Friday we went ahead and "Made Our Escape" to the Puyallup Fair. We did not go on free day this time, and that was a good call. It's much less crowded on a pay to get in day. And all three kids are still free, so it wasn't too bad. Of course, I had to have Grandpa and Grandma Tractor meet us there or the whole trip wouldn't have happened. Three kids plus one Mommy at a fair of that size is a recipe for a lost child...or three. Aren't those four day old piglets darling? Nora adored all the animals. We spent a lot of time in the cow barns and with the pigs. She couldn't get enough of the animals. But she wouldn't touch that baby pig. Later in the day she conquered her fears and had a blast in the petting zoo. She especially loved the "coot" and sooooffft" baby chickens and baby bunny.

We had a couple of shows that we wanted to catch for sure. The first was this "Big Air Mountain Boarding" show. The kids had fun watching the mountain board dudes do jumps and flips and get some gnarly, mad, wicked air, yo.
Next up was the street performing, juggling, slack line walking entertainer. Wait, is that my boy standing beside him? Yes, yes it is. He didn't even give Ezra a choice of whether he wanted to join the act or not. He just walked right up, grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him in. A few weeks ago, before kindergarten started, Ezra probably would have run back to me and hid. But now he bit his lip, stood there shaking in his boots and took it like a man. After he made eye contact with me and I have him the "it's okay" look, he calmed down and had fun.

The well balanced performer picked the right helper--Ezra threw the (unlit) torches with perfect aim right at him. Yes, he did juggle lit torches while riding a "suicycle" on a slack line. He also juggled knives up there. He gave Ezra $5 for helping him.
The lovely and talented aerobatic artist on the silks. It was soothing to watch her pose and twirl in the air. And a little overwhelming to think how much strength it takes to hold yourself on two long silk curtains.
For the end of the act those three men went about fifty feet up and juggled together. I was getting nervous at that point.Then things turned crazy. That boy there climbed up a pole eighty feet in the air without ropes or even nets below him. He swayed back and forth and held his hands up in the air. And then he did a hand stand. I nearly threw up. Ezra was on his knees in the stands with his hands over his face--but he was peeking between his fingers. Three little girls in the front row got up and left because they were too scared to watch. Wimps, I tell ya--we're all a bunch of wimps. But he lived, don't worry. He claimed he turned out the way he did because he was home schooled.
I think that show was the highlight of my day. Other than the eighty foot pole part. Oh wait, I think actually that the chocolate shake I got in the dairy barns, er the food portion of the dairy barns, was the highlight. Or the funnel cake my mom shared with me.

She wasn't too sure about the cotton candy. Ezra and Caroline were. It's the whole reason they went to the fair.
We met up with our good friend Ange and her Mama Michelle.
Who wants to be a fire fighter? At that age--who doesn't?

Going fishing in the "Get outside and Play!" tent.
Usually we go to the Fair just for Mutton' Bustin. This year the kids both said they'd rather not do it. Then Ange wanted to, so they changed their mind and decided to give it another go. However, once I had paid the non-refundable ten bucks a kid, nerves struck.
"I don't want to do it mom!" ~Caroline
"My tummy is telling me not to do this!" ~Ezra

There's Ange racing away on her sheep. Just after I snapped this shot she hit the ground and the sheep stepped on her thigh. It ripped a big hole in her brand new jeans. Bugger!
In the above shot Ezra is saying "no, no, no". The announcer guy usually says "no way, take him off" if he hears a kid saying that. Thankfully, he couldn't hear him and that nice cowboy there kept saying "You'll be fine" and let the sheep go anyway : ) Bless his cowhand heart!
Hey! He got right in the way of my shot, maybe I don't like him quite so much after all! Caroline said "NO!" loud enough for the head honcho cowboy announcer to proclaim "That child does NOT want to do this" and not allow her on a sheep.
This is how we all felt by the end of the day. I wish I could say it was still light out when the day ended, but I'm afraid we stuck around until bed time. Had to get the $9 admission worth!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Sunrise This Morning

...was very similar to the sunrise on September 20th, 2002. Nine years ago today, on a day of sunshine and blue skies...
this dapper young fellow...
wed this young lady.
In a ceremony at the Chapel on Echo Bay.
Thank you Honey for nine years of putting up with forgotten wallets, cell phone mix ups, dinner mess ups, laundry fiascoes, pregnancy woes, delivery room rantings, middle of the night tears (from the babies and me), floods, moving and so much more. Thanks for enjoying all the good times too : )
Would I go back to that day given the chance? Let's see...go back and do over the last nine years? Three labors again? No thanks--glad those are in the past. Four moves again? No thanks--happy to have that all over with. But just to go back to that day--yes, please! Everyone we love all in one room eating and smiling and laughing and celebrating our love. What could be better? Although, I would probably miss my sweet little munchkins.
Nine years and 3 kids later.
We've changed a bit, and so has our love--for the better, of course. And the God of all Creation still holds us safe in His palm. All the way He has led us, and I know He won't let us go now!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Labor Day Hike

On Labor Day we had plans to visit the Evergreen State Fair. Just as we were about to head out the door we changed our minds and decided to go hiking instead. The kids were excited to go on a family hike, but a little sad about not getting to spend their little baggies of money from their piggy banks on giant bags of cotton candy--the ultimate treat in their minds.
We drove east on Highway 2 to the Barclay Lake trail. A guidebook from a friend had listed this hike as perfect for small children. And it was. Two miles in and two miles out (duh) with only 250 feet of elevation gain. It was just the right challenge for Caroline and not too terribly long for Nora to be stuck in the back pack. The trail is 4.2 miles down a forest service road, so that means that it's not too crowded--even on a three day weekend. We did run into quite a few people, but it wasn't like we were walking in an endless line of hikers.My view as I brought up the rear.
Arrived at Barclay Lake. I sure do know how to make a photo look awkward. I knew that once I got on my knees with that contraption on my back there would be no getting back up. But I should have risked it. That's just ridiculous.
All three of our kids would happily spend the rest of their lives throwing rocks and sticks into a body of water.

Sometimes they can be so loving. Trekking two miles up can knock the fight right out of ya, I guess.
Caroline couldn't figure out how to hug her brother and her sister at the same time. She kept going back and forth until she figured out this little move.

Team work! They lugged this big old tree as far as they could.
Nora the Explora.

For the first several days of Kindergarten, the class is working on their colors. So each day is assigned a color and they are supposed to wear that color if they can. So far we've done pretty well with all the colors except yellow--he only had a shirt with a yellow picture on it. Tomorrow is orange day, and unfortunately it is also school picture day. Thankfully his teacher told the kids they have to wear what Mom and Dad tell them to, and not worry about being orange : ) Below is a picture of him on "green day". He dug out my old Seattle Sonics hat to complete the outfit.Peace out (yo)!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Calendar Ideas

Now that it's back to school time--how about a little calendar talk. When I taught in a public school, we loved our "calendar time" in first grade. I bought myself a nice calendar set from Lakeshore Learning that came with all the trimmings and went to town. That calendar came home with me and sat in my "classroom stuff" box in various storage sheds, basement and garages until last year. Last year I dusted it off and hung it on the wall in our makeshift playroom. And we started using it. Doing a daily calendar time is such a simple, easy and fantastic learning tool.
There are so many different levels for this daily activity. Start with your pre-schooler or even toddlers. Then, if you choose to home school you can continue into the grade school years. Even if you choose to send your child out of the home for school, you can still use the calendar at home to reinforce what is being learned in the school.
Calendar time is about much more than the date.
It's hard for me to organize how I want to talk about this : ) First of all...if you don't have the money to buy a calendar set up at a fancy teaching store, that's fine. Simply get a piece of cardboard or poster board and use a ruler to make a 5x7 grid. Label the days of the week at the top. Each month you can write on a piece of paper and hang at the top. Laminate your work if you make it fancy and want to reuse it each year. My kit came with the numbers 1-31. I don't ever use those numbers though. Instead I cut out shapes for each month.
Let me explain why I do that--it's simple, that way I can teach shapes, color and patterns during calendar time. Each month I change the shapes and the colors and put them in a different pattern. Red, purple, red, purple one month and then blue, blue, orange, blue, blue, orange the next month. The pattern can also be explained in shapes: triangle, circle, square, triangle, circle, square.
The kids love to use a pointer and play teacher. A Lincoln log can be used in a pinch : ) This is a good time to learn leadership skills--speak in a loud, clear voice. Look at who you are speaking to. It's also a great chance to learn about taking turns. Not everyone gets to be the teacher each day.
I tape the numbers to a paper that I keep hanging on the wall. If you have cork board on your wall, or a hanging bulletin board you can tack them there. You can either use a tack for each day on the calendar, or slit a line in each square on the calendar and insert a paper clip for each day to be clipped on to.
Your child might not understand what a "pattern" is at first. They might not know their shapes and colors either. And you don't even have to explain these things. As the months go by you'll be surprised at how much they pick up. This activity touches on so many math themes from the most basic to complex it's not funny: even and odd numbers, counting by ones, patterns, shapes, colors, addition, months of the year. It's a good time to talk about seasons, weather and holidays as those topics come up. "What type of weather do we usually have during June?" "What clothes do you usually wear during January?" "What holiday do we celebrate in November?"
When you first begin this activity it's important to sit down and teach the procedure. You be the teacher for the first month. Explain what month it is and what a "date" is. Place the first date on the calendar and show that it doesn't automatically go in the first square--it corresponds with a day of the week. It's often hard to get going. Sometimes you feel like you're fighting an uphill battle. That's okay. Just keep at it. Count by ones each day and then stop before you get to the missing number,
"Okay boys and girls let's find today's date. Count with me as I point to each of the numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...Raise your hand if you know what number today will be." After they identify the number ask them if anyone can tell you what color or shape the date will be on. Then let a child find that date and hang it on the calendar. Count together slowly again while pointing at the numbers and include the newly posted date.
After a few months (or years, depending on how old your children are when you start) you can send the kids to the calendar and ask them to do the activity on their own for the day if you are in a hurry. It's so fun to see them progress to this point.
If you choose to do this activity with a child who goes to school it's a good idea to go into his/her classroom and see how the teacher uses her calendar so that you are not teaching your child differently than how they are learning at school.
While you are gathered together on the floor by the calendar is a great time to sing some songs or do some finger plays. Have some fun!