The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. Psalm 16:6


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

All Together Again

There are seven of us living in The Shoe again. Yippee! Gretchen came back from her youth retreat last Sunday afternoon. She had a fantastic time. The highlight for her was the zipline. She actually rode it! I was so proud of her, because I am absolutely sure she was scared. This is the girl who wouldn't go down the fireman's pole at the local playground because it was too high off the ground! So, it probably took some serious courage on her part. Go Gretchen!

The teaching was solid. Mark MacArthur challenged the children to evaluate their lives to determine whether they are truly saved and producing fruit, or deceived because they are living in a Christian family.

Good stuff.

Gretchen and Gustav had a long talk when she returned. We pray God will do a mighty work in her heart!

Nicholas returned on Monday from nine days away at "Camp Pa." He shot guns, rode the ATV and learned to drive Pa's pick-up truck! He had a very good time. He flew as an unaccompanied minor and did a great job. When I got there to pick him up I got into the line to check in so I could walk to the gate to get him and, lo and behold, there he was right behind the desk chit-chatting with the United employees! They landed really early and he kept getting passed along until he made it to the check-in desk. I was mortified! But he took it all in stride. "Come on, Mom, baggage claim is over here..." Yep, he's big.

So, The Shoe is full to bursting again. But what a wonderful time of year to be snug together in a small house. We have all the Christmas decorations out. We have been having lots of company and are looking forward to our Bible study's Christmas party here on Saturday. I am getting out the chocolate fountain!

Yum!

I decided to call school off until after Christmas. I was a bit burnt and needed a break. Now we can focus on sending out Christmas cards, making fudge and cookies, and just plain enjoying this blessed season.

We are so sorry to be missing the baby boom in CT right now, but we rejoice in the Lord's goodness along with you!

And we rejoice in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well. May the wonder of the goodness of God flood your hearts this season.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Just a House

As many of you know, we had made our first offer on a SoCal house last week. The market here is doing such odd things that we decided to give it a try and see if we could "shoe-horn" ourselves into this big, beautiful, new home.

They denied our offer, and that's O.K. No, it really is. Praise God! I had requested prayer from many of you that I would be content with the Lord's answer. And I am. Completely content. Without anxiety. He is so good to hear our prayers.

It is just a house. Just a structure to contain our stuff. It is cold, impersonal, unable to offer any more than walls and a roof. My desire is for the house of the Lord. It is there that I wish to dwell. In the house of forgiveness, salvation, communion with God, and eternal life. And I don't even need to make an offer. As a matter of fact, I can make no offer. I have nothing of value for the owner of that house. He needs nothing from me. I need everything from Him.

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4


So, I have confidence in the provision of my Lord. He knows where I will physically live. He knows, too , where I will live eternally. And I praise Him that my eternal house is built and paid for by the blood of Christ. No mortgages. No rising and falling interest rates. No crashing markets. No foreclosures.

Just a house with a view. A view of the Savior. A view of which I will never tire.

Friday, November 30, 2007

And Then There Were Three

Well, I drove home from church with only three children today. We dropped Gretchen off for her first youth camp. She was absolutely beside herself with excitement. I had always thought we would wait for our children to do away-from-home camps. But this was something Gretchen wanted to do SOOO badly. It was very, very important to her. So I invoked my parenting rule #1: Always be ready to re-evaluate your decisions.

I pray for my sweet girl, that the Lord would speak to her heart this weekend. I pray that she would know Him. And I pray that she would be safe and protected by Him while she is away.

And yes, there is that part of me that hopes she will miss us. At least a little.

So, "the Shoe" is so very quiet. ("The Shoe" is the nickname of our home. Gustav thought it up...think "There was an Old Woman..." I thought it was brilliant!!) Currently, I have 2 of the three left napping away. It is so, so very quiet. So, I've been doing a little Christmas shopping online. A little laundry. A little school planning. A little sorting through outgrown clothes.

And a little reflecting on how in the world my children got to be so big.

Oh, and a little wishing they were here.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

And Then There Were Four

We returned from our Thanksgiving in Tucson minus one child. Nicholas returned to CO with his Pa for a week of Camp Pa. "What is Camp Pa?" you ask. Well, it is all about things that make little boys tick (at least mine)...shooting guns, riding ATV's, playing with dogs, staying up late, and watching lots of The History Channel.

Nicholas will spend one week away and then return by airplane all by himself. (GULP) I know he can do it. He is showing such maturity, but, the mommy in me really can't wait for him to be home.

It's kind of an amazing thing watching this young boy-man as he gropes along on the road to manhood. There are times he startles me with his maturity. When he empties the vacuum cleaner canister "because it's full, Mom." Or when he gives away his last piece of gum "because she wanted it more than me." Or going back to open the door for someone at the library who has an arm-full of books.

Then, of course, there are the times when both sneaker-clod feet are planted firmly in childhood, and I wonder if that maturity I thought I saw was merely a mirage on my road to senility. When I look at my life in action and wonder when it was that I signed up to be a zookeeper. When I honestly question if God will give me the grace to do this one more day. If they will ever grow up.

But He does. And they will.

Having Nicholas away has been a great time of reflection for me. What do I want for him? What does he need? Fenelon puts it so succinctly:

The principle object, that we ought incessantly to keep before the eyes of children, is Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith, the center of all, and our only hope.


Well, there it is. So simple. Incessantly keep Jesus Christ before his eyes. And the eyes of all of my sweet, precious children. But how? By living my life quietly in the shadow of the cross. By continuously keeping before my own eyes this same Jesus. The Author and Finisher of MY faith. The center of MY all. MY only hope. I need to delight in the things of the Lord. I need to KNOW His Word and meditate upon it day and night. I need to have His joy and contentment. I need to know that He is GOD.

So we grope together, Nicholas and I. Together, meaning at the same time, but down two very different roads. His is the path set out for him by God. As is mine. May the Lord grant us the grace to make it to the end. To finish the race. To reach the finish line in the presence of God who speaks these words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

For that, truly, is all I want for Him.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What I Learned Yesterday...

I learned some very important things yesterday. I thought maybe they could benefit some of you out there!

(1) When a child decides to color his face with washable markers so that he looks like an alien, certain colors wash off better than others. A word of advice: Steer your children toward green and red and away from purple and yellow.

(2) Ingesting dog food won't hurt a 9 month old, but it just might make him gag.

(3) When a mama of five doesn't exercise in the morning, she is considerable more irritable for the whole day.

(4) Ditto on said mama going to bed at midnight and waking up at 5:30AM.

(5) Children can have more fun with a digital camera that records sound than they should.

(6) When one offers a seminary student coffee at 7:30PM, and he has been up since 4:00AM, you don't have to be be up front with the information that it's decaf. unless he asks. Let the psychological effect do its thing.

(7) Parsing Latin sentences causes one of my children to weep like a baby.

(8) It is very difficult, nigh impossible, to write a novel when there is a nine year old standing over your left shoulder asking incessant questions. All day.

(9) Kids will eat artichokes, if you cut them up small enough.

(10) You may have a 52-in. wide screen T.V., but watching a movie on Daddy's laptop, now THAT's exciting!!

(11) God is so good...something that is TRUE every day, yet I must be reminded of constantly.


So, what did you learn today?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Updates

They're pretty cute, huh?

Kurt was in yesterday for his 9 month check up. He is 22.6lbs. 75th% all around. The nurse stuck his finger to do an iron check and then put a Band-Aid on it. So I am watching her do this and thinking to myself...he's never going to leave that alone. He proceeded to bite and chew at it until he got it off. Then Mama had to go in with the finger sweep so he wouldn't swallow it. Of course, his little finger was still bleeding. It wouldn't stop. I tried to hold a tissue on it, but of course he hated that. Finally I started going through all of the cabinets to find a Band-Aid. By the time I got it on (and I cranked it down tight this time) I had little drops and smears of blood all over my shirt and pants!

Gustav has had some small film opportunities recently. Little things here and there. It's all so interesting...the whole film business. We have teamed up, you could say, in an effort to get his career off the ground. I research all the movies that are in production, find ones that have local production companies and would be a good fit for Gustav, and compile all of the info. into a spreadsheet. He takes the list with him while he drives to work and calls to see if they have selected a composer, and to sell himself if they have not. Last week he was actually able to speak to 2 actual decision-makers, which is amazing! Then I follow up with CD's and emails. We pray that the Lord would prosper our efforts.

Thanks to those of you who have reviewed Gustav's CD on Amazon! Anyone else who might have some dripping words of praise, please feel free to leave them there as well. :-) Some time after the New Year we will find out how his sales have been. He will get a commission on his sales, so hopefully they will be decent.

On a completely different note: we have decided to have some pictures done of the whole family, as it has been so long since we did this. I am really excited about it! Our dear friend Jini, who is a very talented artist, has agreed to take a bunch of shots of us at a park over in Pasadena. I will be sure to post some when they are available.

Lastly, I may be a bit scarce here on the blog this month. You see, November is National Novel Writing Month. I'll bet you didn't know that! Well, I have decided to join NaNoWriMo, because I don't have enough to do already!! Check out the link...it's a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. My numbers are not up to par...I've only got 2000 words or so, but I am determined to finish it. I have a great idea. (Don't we all?) So, I will be in to update periodically, but my creative juices need to be reserved for my novel :-)

Thanks so much for all of the calls and updates. It is just wonderful to hear from everyone. Thanks to my great friend who sent me cookies from Pasticceria Italia Pastry!! Yummy! A little taste of home!!

The Lord has blessed me with such wonderful friends and family! Praise Him!




Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beautiful


I was exercising yesterday morning...offering up sweaty prayers to God from the elliptical, when I noticed this weird orange-y light coming in through the back window. Given all of the fires lately and strange light associated with them, I was a bit curious as to why everything was so orange. Imagine my delight as I looked out the back window (sweating and panting) to see that sunrise! Beautiful! God was rewarding me for getting up early, I think!!

While I was outside, Gabriel poked his head out. He's always the first one to greet me in the morning. We both stood in awe and watched the sunrise. He got his trusty binoculars to see better :-)

While out there we took a few pictures of the roses, which are extraordinarily beautiful right now. Too bad you can't smell them through the screen!
I will add a couple of pictures of the children taken recently. Here's a good one of Kurt on his way to accost Thurston:
Here are Nicholas and Kurt, enjoying a movie together...how cute!



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monopoly at our House


Gretchen still has some birthday money left. It's actually a wonderful thing. She seems to be out of that "must spend money withing 24 hours" phase of her life. She has been researching and considering what she really wants. One of the things she decided on was Monopoly. She's a game player. An obsessive game player who struggles a bit with losing. Oh, I mean, she just loves games :-)

So...we went to Target on Saturday and bought Monopoly Here and Now. When we got home and opened the box, it was a time of much laughing and snickering for Gustav and I. The game pieces are: a Starbucks coffee, a Nike sneaker, McDonalds fries, a laptop, a cell phone, a Labradoodle (a Labradoodle??), a jet plane, and a Toyota Prius. Now, this was enough to have Gustav and I cracking up...what with his working at Toyota, our love of Starbucks, and just the silliness of the whole thing. I mean, I guess kids wouldn't even know what a thimble is any more! But the laughing continued as the game progressed.

First off, the monetary amounts are huge. Almost all of the transactions are in the millions. Poor Lillian was completely lost. That's a lot of zeros! We opted for the "fast game" mode, which only took 2 days. Yeah, we had to eat at a different table, so the monopoly game could remain undisturbed. We were NOT going to start over!!

There are no longer railroads to buy, but airports. Good 'ol LAX was there. You could also purchase Times Square and Fenway Park! At one point in the game, Gustav was a bit short on funds. Lillian gathered up a handful of bills and handed them to her Daddy. "What are these for?" G asks. "You need money," was Lillian's sweet reply. We both agreed she has no future in business.

Gretchen started tearing up the board, putting hotels on her properties. When Nicholas landed on one of her hotels, Gretchen, jumping up and down, shouted, "You owe me $9.5 million!!" Nicholas' deadpan reply: "What if I don't want to pay her?" A definite future in business! Or as a target of the IRS.

Gustav, still in the hole financially, finally passed GO
and looked forward to his $2 million dollar salary, when he landed on the income tax square which required that he pay, well, $2 million dollars. "This is way too much like real life. It has stopped being fun," was his humorous retort.

Lillian then got a tax break for driving a hybrid. I was crying I was laughing so hard!

Needless to say, Gretchen won, once I counted all of her money, because as I stated before, that's a whole lot 'o zeros! All in all, I think Monopoly Here and Now was a great investment. We laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats. I highly recommend it!


Thursday, October 18, 2007

So Fast



So, I had shared with all of you that Mr. Contentment, a.k.a. Kurt, was very slow to learn to sit. He was 8 months before he could sit well. Last week he finally decided to take a stab at crawling. So the "army crawl" ensued. Then he figured out how to get up onto his knees as you can see in this picture. He loves drawers! Loves 'em. So you can imagine how thrilled he was when he figured out how to pull this drawer open and get to his knees.

Now 2 days ago we all looked over and he was standing! Standing! He only started sitting 4 weeks ago, one week ago he learned to crawl, now he can stand! Amazing! He loves to torment Thurston by crawling over to his crate and pulling himself up on it. Then he stands there and literally screams at the dog. These are squeals of delight, but Thurston just looks horrified when he does it. Too funny!

Now he's trying to cruise along the coffee table...something he is NOT good at. He had a great fall this morning bringing on many tears and wails. Poor little boy. He needs to slow down. I liked it when he was Mr. Contentment!

We tried our first attempt at the 2007 Christmas picture yesterday. It was NOT successful!Taking pictures of 4 children all over the age of 3 is easy. Taking pictures of 4 children and a 9 month old is NOT easy. The problem was the big kids kept looking at Kurt! I couldn't get them to look at me! Sheesh. Upstaged by the baby again.

We will be traveling to Atlanta for Christmas this year. My sister, Beth, is expecting her second baby, a boy, around the first of the year. Yippee!! My Mom and Dad and brother Mike and his girlfriend will all be there. We will also have the pleasure of seeing the Henriques family in Birmingham, AL and the Runkle family as they visit Greenville, SC. We are thrilled at the opportunity to see dear family and friends all in one trip. It will be wonderful!

Have a great day, everyone. Enjoy your families. Much love from the left coast.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Out of the Ordinary Life


I pass another little bowl of Cheerios to awaiting hands. It is such a novelty, Cheerios. Now that Kurt is eating them, everyone else is remembering how much they liked them when they were “little.” They are like edible memories. Remembrances of simpler times.


Kurt is learning so many new things right now. It's a world of opportunity for him. He has begun crawling, if you can call it that. What he does, actually, is throw his chubby little hands in front of him, up over his head, and then drag his entire body forward. His feet and legs are completely uninvolved in this. I've never had a baby crawl this way...it's too cute, albeit a surefire way to get really dirty. Thankfully, he's still pretty slow. Thankfully, I've had time to move things, cover things up, rethink the layout a bit.


This, too, has been a reason to discuss “how I crawled when I was little...” One thing that I really adore about having a baby with older children in the house, is that every “new” thing for Kurt is an opportunity to share memories from when the bigguns were littleuns. Also, every new thing that Kurt can do is reason for a complete family-wide celebration. Wow! Kurt can sit! Wow! Kurt can feed himself! Wow! Kurt is drinking out of a cup! Hooray!


Oh, what an immense blessing to see every day the way my precious children see every day. To live in the joy of the new and unknown. To breathe the freshness of every hour. To see the sunshine in every moment:


There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.

~Eliza E. Hewitt


I always hate to see those old annoying sins creep back into my life. Those discontent, restless thoughts that monopolize my moments. The joy-quenching irritations that should be blessings. The sunshine-less soul. That voice inside that speaks of better things, not just this ordinary life.


And then I always inevitably remember: I deserve none of this ordinary life the Lord has blessed me with. Yes, blessed me abundantly with. The Lord God of the universe owes me nothing. Zilch. Zip. Zippo. It is with the prideful sense of entitlement that this soul becomes discontent. Entitlement to what? Happiness? Wealth? Children who are perfect? Who of the wicked, sinful human race deserves these things? Not I, for sure. Not I.


Hannah Whitehall Smith says: “Doubts and discouragements are, I believe, inlets by which evil enters, while faith is an impregnable wall against all evil.”


How true is that? It is when I become discouraged with the blessings of the Lord and doubt his goodness that the floodgates are open wide to evil thoughts, bitterness, pride, resentment.


Ann Voskamp over at Holy Experience writes so eloquently, and yet so convictingly:

The words reverberate inside of me, and ring true, sure. When I expect something, demand something, presume, anticipate, await something, I fail to be to grateful for what is. I smother the gift of what simply is, in my stampeding expectation for what I proudly, arrogantly, wrongly think should be. My expectations of what kind of life God should give snuffs out my gratitude for the life He has given.

It gets uglier: my pride drives my expectations. I
deserve sunshine today, a working washing machine, healthy children, a husband who gets out of bed, electricity. Food on the table. My arrogance and sense of entitlement inflates my expectations of what I should get today, what He should bestow.



Those words cut deep into my heart when I read them. Surely that's not me, I thought. But nary a second passed without that confirmation from within that, yes, this was me. In spades. Why can't they wake without fighting? Why does my hubby get to sleep in...again? Why is there never enough money/time/energy/space/insert prideful expectation? Why are we here in L.A., with little space and no yard and traffic and smog? Why? Why? Why? Not the kind of genuine, curious 'why' at what the Lord will do in my life. But the demanding, foot-stomping, show-me-why-this-is-all-I-get 'why.' The joy that should come from the perfect gift of this ordinary life has been smothered, curbed, bridled, suppressed.


And yet, the truth is there, staring at me plainly and unwaveringly. I have not gotten what I deserve. I have not, and never will, receive my due 'reward.' And because of this plain fact I should be shouting from the rooftops: Praise God!


The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
Genesis 6:4-6

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16


May my longing be only for Him. May I look and see that He is good. In spades. His mercy endures forever. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary has given me a clean heart, freedom from the shackles of sin, an invitation to live with my Savior in paradise for all of eternity. What I have to be thankful for so greatly outweighs any discomfort, trial, or irritation this sinful world can deliver. May thankfulness overflow the banks of my heart and spill forth from my mouth in words of adoration and praise!


Praise God for this out-of-the-ordinary life. This exceptional, incredible, uncommon life!



Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A School Update, Part 1


*this is Nicholas' recently completed edible spinal cord project.

I must say that we have all been enjoying this school year very much. Well, let me rephrase that. I have been enjoying our progress thus far, and well, the kids haven't complained too much!

I have put many hours into our family's custom schedule a la Managers of Their Homes. I really, really cannot say enough about the peace that this little investment of time and money has brought to our home. I can now be the picture book reading, math tutor, project leading Mommy instead of the irritated, drill sergeant, frazzled Mommy. All I have to do is point out the schedule, which is hanging prominently in the dining/school area, and watch all the pieces fall into place. Sounds Utopian, no?

I am pleased with our curriculum choices thus far. My children all use and do very well with Singapore Math, although I have found myself stumped on a number of occasions already this year. Gretchen was using the Intensive Practice 4 and, whoa!, that stuff is tricky!! I have purchased (for the first time) the Home Instructor's Guide for Nicholas who is in 5A. Thankfully, after some reading and boning up on bar diagrams, I don't feel quite as STOOPID as I did a couple of weeks ago. There's nothing like looking into your 5th grader's frustrated face and saying, "Honey, we'll have to wait until Daddy comes home." Yep, God keeps me humble.

We continue to use and LOVE Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization put out by IEW. First off, I love poetry. Secondly, I love the vocabulary we learn. Thirdly, it's just plain cool that Gabriel, at the tender age of 4, can recite Carroll's Jabberwocky or Tennyson's The Eagle. I mean, come on...it's just awesome:

Twas bwiwig, and the slithy toves did gire and gimbwe in da wabe. (That's it in Gabrielese.)

So far we have memorized 33 poems in 14 months. Here's a breakdown of our favorites:

Lillian: Jonathan Bing by Beatrice Curtis Brown
Gretchen: The Ingenious Little Old Man by John Bennett
Nicholas: The Duke of Plaza Toro by W.S. Gilbert
Gabriel: The Vulture by Hilaire Belloc
Me: any of the great Hilaire Belloc poems that deal with a child paying the price for some bad habit...sooo funny!

I think that Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization is my favorite-ever curriculum purchase. How's that for an endorsement?

Lastly I will mention My World Science, which is a curriculum written by cyber-friend Ria at The Well Trained Mind board. We are using the unit on the Human Body right now and are really enjoying it. It is simple and thorough, my 2 criteria for science. Because I know that if it's simple and thorough it will get done and we will learn. Plus, my children are loving the simple experiments and projects. I tend to shy away from projects...I am a bit of a no-fun homeschooler in that respect. But these projects have been straightforward and not too messy. Works for me!

OK, enough for now. It's AWANA night and I need to feed the troops before schlepping the girls over to AWANA. Stay tuned for Latin, History, and Writing. I know y'all are on the edge of your seats :-)

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Little Fun for a Friday Afternoon

video
He brings us such joy!! Happy Friday!!

Gretchen just pointed out that this week is kind of a Kurt-fest. Ah, well. The "witty banter" will return next week. (That's for you, Mr. C!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

8 Months Old!

Little Kurt is 8 months old! Can you believe it?? He is sooo adorable! Don't you agree?


A Reunion of Sorts



We had the wonderful, wonderful privilege recently to have some great old friends over to visit. Do you recognize them? Come on, most of you out there should!

Isn't it amazing when God orchestrates a special reunion of dear old friends in Christ? This was one of those times. We had sweet, sweet fellowship. We had new friends (Karen!) meet old friends. We shared stories and how God has worked in our lives. It was a truly blessed time!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Smattering


So, this past Saturday Gretchen decided to use her birthday money to get her ears pierced. Since Gustav and I had no reservations, we headed off to the mall, just the girls and I. We had a great, great time!

Gretchen's other desire was to spend some more of her birthday money to sit in the little picture booth. So we did.

That was fun, too.

We are having lovely fall-like weather here (for SoCal!) I still can't say we have seasons here (sorry Karen!!), it's more like 110 and stifling OR 75 and sunny. But, we did have rain on Saturday....wonderful, thundering, sweet-smelling rain. It actually pooled in our front yard in the rose bed. It's feast or famine for those poor roses. They get virtually no water all summer and then they're sitting under 6 inches of the wet stuff.

Let's just say we all LOVED the rain so, so very much! It seemed to clean the air. Suddenly the mountains were crisp in the distance, freed from the dust that was shrouding them. Of all the things I miss about the northeast, I have to say I think I miss moisture most!

We are continuing to love our time at Grace Community Church. It's not the children's programs, the music, the notoriety of the pastor, the hordes of people, the many ministries, the bookstores, or the facilities that make it so awesome. It's the consistent, unwavering preaching of the Word of God that makes Grace Community Church such a God-honoring and, frankly, unique place. Don't get me wrong, our little Grace Church in CT is just wonderful, and very similar on a much smaller level. But Grace Community Church has been around for so long. It has remained faithful to the exposition of the Word of God so consistently over the years. It doesn't try to manipulate the message, or cater to the world in order to lure in new "customers." It. just. preaches. the. Word. Period. As Pastor MacArthur said last night, "If it's true, I say it."

And God has blessed.
And God has blessed us through it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Husband, the Cowboy


Well, here it is, just as I promised...my husband, the cowboy! I know what you're all thinking, but I promise it really is HIM. I did not steal this image from some ranching website or, heaven forbid, a PETA website (look at the poor creature's head!)

Gustav returned 2 weeks ago from a 5 day trip to Colorado to be a cowboy. Now, I know you all just got a vision of City Slickers in your head. Nope, it's not like that. These are real cowboys riding their real horses in the mountains of Colorado, and Gustav LOVES it. As a matter of fact, he loves it so much he threatens to go feral every year. (I love Wikipedia's definition..."A feral organism is one that has escaped from domestication and returned, partly or wholly, to its wild state.") Heh-heh. He's once again waxing poetic about owning property in Wyoming...

Gustav had a fantastic time, especially because his best buddy, Tom, went along with him. Finally, after so many years, Gustav was able to show Tom just what the Rooftop Riders are all about. The club was started by Gustav's maternal grandfather many years ago, and Gustav's Dad, brother, and brother-in-law are also members.

Of course, his name tag say "Gus." Cause no one's ever heard of a cowboy called Gustav. But a Gus can blend right in.

I am so glad that Gus returned wholly to his domestication, as we were all really missing him. I get a little lonely without my piano-playin', cattle-ropin', movie-scorin', technology-fixin', Lord-lovin' hubby. Welcome home, Gus.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Just a quick one

to let you all know we are still alive! Just flagging in motivation :-)

Look what Baby Kurt can do now!

I promise I will give a more thorough update later. I need to post pictures of my cowboy husband.

Piqued your curiosity, didn't I? See, now you'll come back.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tea for Two


Gretchen and I had a delightful date for tea on Saturday morning. Despite the fact that it was 113 degrees outside, we went forward with our plans anyway! My sister-in-law, Lisa, gave Gretchen and I The Secret Keeper Girl Kit for Christmas, which promotes discussion between moms and their daughters on the topic of godly beauty and modesty. Over the course of 8 dates, such as our tea party, manicures, and dinner with Mom and Dad, object lessons are presented, as well as Scripture and discussion questions.

We chose The Tea Gardens in Santa Clarita (thanks to Karen's recommendation on her blog!) We had a really, really wonderful time just chatting and discussing the questions. We laughed at some answers, we cried when we talked about missing friends, and we connected in a way that was a HUGE blessing to me. Gretchen is sometimes hard for me to figure out, I think because she is so much like me! This quiet one-on-one time allowed me the chance to get to see inside her in a way that I haven't in a while.

On our way out, I told her that she could pick out a tea cup to buy to remember our date there together, and to help her remember the object lesson and Scripture we had discussed.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

She chose this adorable tea service for one. I thought it was so cute! Tomorrow is Gretchen's birthday. She will be 9 years old. She really is growing into a lovely little lady.

Thanks, Lisa, for giving us this great resource.


Monday, August 27, 2007

A Jonah Day

Are you familiar with that phrase? It's from Anne of Green Gables, my most favoritist book of all time. All right, so today wasn't really THAT bad, but it did fall considerably short of expectations.

Because the children (all SIX of them!!) are addicted to playing mystery computer games together, and because we didn't get home from church until 8:00 last night, and because they were at a particularly suspenseful place in said game, they did not go to bed until late. Very late.

And that error in judgment caused some adverse affects today. In a nutshell it was a whinygrumblingcomplainingunhappylifeis
notfairwhycan'tIjustread?
kind of day. Familiar with those? Yep, I thought so.

So, because I am just as stubborn as my children, we managed to complete school. I was so internally frazzled that I poured my kids a nice big cold cup of half and half with their lunch. Yeah, that went over like a lead balloon.

And then I insisted on Family Nap Time. What? You're going to make us NAP?

Yup.

So after the whining, grumbling, complaining, unhappy, life-is-not-fair, why can't I just read's? were over, I tucked them all in, gave them all kisses, grabbed a pillow and a blanket, and settled down for my own nap. And then do you know what happened?




The baby woke up.



But not in one of those cooing-aren't-I-so-adorable? kind of ways. No. He woke in one of those How-Dare-You-Expect-Me-To-Sleep-Why-
Did-God-Punish-Me-By-Putting-Me-In-
This-Family?
kind of way. He has learned the art of the blood-curdling screeeeeech. He's got a future in horror films.

So, I blogged instead of sleeping. Maybe my blogging is causing some of you to become sleepy. Well, I figure it's a less sinful way of responding than, say, eating a whole pan of brownies by myself. Right?

God is still good. I still ADORE my little people. And I echo the sentiments of this Daddy...

Why Don't You Want to Say Good Night?

Just so you know, Kurt is back in his bed.

And everyone else is up.

Just to leave off where I began, with Anne of Green Gables. "Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it. Yet."





Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Says Kurt

"Curse the day they realized the American Girl accessories fit me."

Monday, August 20, 2007

The First Day

Well, here it is. The First Day of School. (I kid you not, the first time I wrote that on the white board, at 6AM, I misspelled SCHOOL. God can keep me humble without too much effort!!) I can say, honestly, it was a delightful day! Praise God. It began with Kurt sleeping until 9:15AM. Amazing. That allowed me time to make some whole wheat applesauce pancakes with smiley faces made out of apple and banana slices. That was a hit with everyone. We were off on the right foot.

Then, the children completed their first day of school questionnaire, on which they had to answer some fun questions about their expectations for the year as well as draw a picture of themselves. How fun to see them through their own eyes!

We took first day of school pictures.



Then we got to work: memory work, math, science, poetry, writing, and grammar. We even managed to get all the instruments practiced with hardly any complaint. I am just thrilled with how the first day back went. Lillian even crawled up into my lap at breakfast and confided, "I'm actually excited about starting school today!" My girl.

We finished up our afternoon making life size replicas of the children for our human body study. When the poster board turned out to be too short for their height we improvised and printed out our first day pictures and taped them onto the shoulders! Go us!


I pray that each day will go as smoothly as today. I know they won't, but I pray to that end nonetheless! May the Lord bless this home school.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Five Important Things


In a moment of spontaneity yesterday morning, I decided to take the kids over to Santa Monica to the beach for a couple of hours. I informed them that we would not bring the cooler, nor lunch, nor drinks, nor snacks. Just us, our towels, the umbrella, the sand toys, and the baby. And we had a blast. There's just something about the seaside that I adore. On either coast. I drink in the smell of the salt water, the sound of the waves, rhythmic and unending. I love the happy sounds. Children laughing. Grown-ups laughing. Seagulls calling. The warm sun. The cool breeze. It's all just so wonderful.

As I was waiting in line to feed the parking lot machine, a young bronze-skinned man with longish hair, bare feet, and a surf board under his arm turned to me and silently counted the children. I could tell by the way his eyes went from one to the next, while silently bobbing his head at each.

"There are five?" he asked.
"Yes," I responded with a smile, waiting for the standard amazed comment.

None came.

"I'm one of five," he said in a matter of fact tone.
"Really?" I ask.
"Yeah, only we didn't have such a good mix...you've got 3 boys and 2 girls, right?"
"Yes."
"Yeah, my sister is the oldest, followed by 4 boys."
"Wow." I said. "Four boys in a row?
"Yeah, Mom kept trying for another girl." He was smiling now. "It just didn't work."

By this time he had paid for his space and began walking toward the water. We wished each other a good day, and we all watched him meander away, amazed that he could slowly walk across the pavement at midday with no shoes!

I'm sure when he drove to the beach that day to surf, he was not planning on encouraging a mom of five. Yet, he did. Just by speaking to me.

We spent two lovely hours at the beach. Laughing, jumping, splashing, watching. Kurt hung out in the sling. Gabriel spent almost the whole time running away from the water as it came tumbling toward him. Gretchen and Lillian worked diligently on a castle with moat. Nicholas jumped, ran, and swam without pause. We headed back to the car tired. Covered in sand. Happy.

As I watched my children play and laugh, I was reminded how much I want to savor these moments of childhood. To feast upon them as delicacies. There is so much joy in simply watching others who are filled with joy, no? I need the constant minutely reminder that there will always be stuff to do, but these, my precious children, will not always be by my side, laughing, giggling, and soaking up life. Now is the time to spend with them. To enjoy them. To teach them that which is eternally important. God has given me these specific children for His specific reasons. May I never consider the stuff more important than them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Let's Dance


A few days ago, I pulled a box out of the garage which held some old CD's of mine from college. The box had been moved many times without even being opened. I found what I was looking for: my Norton Anthology of Western Music CD's from my days at Hartt. We are planning some music appreciation lessons for the coming school year, and I thought these would be perfect.

What I didn't expect to find were a whole bunch of CD's that I loved in my younger days, and used to listen to all the time. Among them were a Miles Davis collection and a CD of Billie Holiday. I put the Billie Holiday one on and turned it up...real loud. What happened next was truly amazing. Everyone looked up from what they were doing...one here reading, one there playing Lego's. Everyone started to smile. Some even giggled. And then, everyone began moving. Gabriel began the dancing, as he so often does. Happiness bubbles out of him. He cannot hide it. Then the others, one by one... including this Mama...began tapping our toes and spinning to the music. The girls clutched one another and began twirling and jumping and laughing. Even Nicholas got in on the action, albeit in a shy, reserved way. We danced till we panted with excitement and exhaustion. We laughed and spun and bubbled over with joy.

Once the music ended, we all returned our attention to other things. There was dinner to make, pages to be read, and Lego armies to construct. There was work to do. But we all set off to work with a cheerful smile, and a little song in our heart. (Proverbs 17:22)

You can be sure I have set aside a small stack of CD's, right next to the stereo. There will be times in our future, I am sure, when our mouths will be smile-less and our hearts song-less. And I know just what to do. Insert CD, turn the volume up high, and clear the floor. Let's dance.


There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance...

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4




Sunday, August 12, 2007

How FUN!!!


Bighugelabs.com is fun!

A Little Favor?

Here's a request for those of you who have purchased Gustav's CD. Would you mind leaving a review at Amazon? (Gustav says, "Only if they liked it, honey.") A few glowing words of praise, perhaps? Maybe how it has dramatically changed your life? Made you smarter? A better person? Bueller?

Thanks so much. Here's a link for ya...

Gustav's CD at Amazon

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Stay Flexible


This one's for you, Laurie! This is Kurt's way of gently reminding us to stay flexible as we begin our new school year.


Dontcha wish you could still do that?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sushi Makes Me Happy


Looks yummy, doesn't it? Well, let me tell you, it was. Really. Really. Really yummy!

Gustav took me out for sushi tonight for my birthday, and well, honestly...I can think of nothing I could have wanted more. We went to 'Blue Fish' in Montrose for the second time and were equally as impressed this time as we were last time. We began with the assorted tempura pictured above. Gustav let me have the ONE broccoli. He must REALLY love me.

Then we moved on to the Descanso Garden Roll and the Candy Cane Roll. Oh. My. Word. 'Perfection on a plate' should actually be the subtitle for the Candy Cane Roll. It was delectable.

O.K., so that's not it. That's the Johnny Roll. But they didn't have a picture of the one I wanted! That one does look particularly yummy, though....next time.

We thought of our good buddy Tom while we were eating, and how much he would love the Candy Cane Roll. It got us to reminiscing about all of our beloved friends in CT who would trek to 'Ginza's' with us and sit in the little room behind the rice paper door. Aahh, the memories!

Anyhoo, Blue Fish had some GREAT names...my personal favorite...the Marilyn Mon-Roll. Yep, reading the menu is half the fun.

But you know what made the night truly perfect? My husband. The fact that I got to sit and actually have an unbroken conversation with him. These nights remind me why I married the lucky dog in the first place. These nights remind me how truly the Lord has blessed me to have such a life partner. These nights remind me how thrilled I am that the Lord designed me to complete him.

Oh, I forgot to mention...I got EXACTLY what I wanted for my birthday. A Costco membership. Things become so simple as you age.

Monday, August 6, 2007

My Hubby

Well, you will all be thrilled to know that Gustav just finished scoring his first full-length film! It was a wonderful experience for him, with a very thoughtful, easy-going director. He was able to broaden his music horizons a bit by composing music that was African in feel. He did a great job, and even finished 6 days before the deadline. The director was quite pleased and will be submitting the work to the Sundance Festival. I am so very proud of my hubby! He is very gifted at what he does, and also a great, faithful husband and Daddy!

Praise God for this opportunity and please pray that he will have more opportunities come his way.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Sea World


So here I am, up early on a Saturday morning with "the Boy Who Would Not Sleep" (aka Kurt), so I figured I'd update everyone on our trip to Sea World this week. We purchased Fun Cards back in April, and can therefore go for the rest of 2007 for free. So, off we went Wednesday morning, the five children and me (or was that The Five Children and It?) for a fun-filled day at Sea World. The commute there was icky (welcome to SoCal!) but after stopping and re-grouping over lunch at Denny's, we finally made it there.

And boy, did we have fun.

The children got to feed the dolphins, we saw the dolphin and sea lion shows, took a ride in the Sky Tower, we pet the bat rays, purchased ridiculously overpriced popcorn, and saw lots of cool fish! The pictures above are of the children having a little rest and snack in the afternoon.

Kurt was amazing, as he so often is. He took a long nap in the sling after being splashed by the dolphins, which he definitely DID NOT LIKE! You could hear the screaming for miles! Then he just hung out in the stroller for the remainder of the day, completely oblivious of the fish, which we tried continuously to point out to him.

Thankfully, our trip home was uneventful. We even made it through L.A. without much delay, which is tantamount to a miracle. Then, Daddy had PB&J's ready for us when we drove in the driveway!! Life was good on Wednesday!!

Just to update on Kurt's 6-month check up on Tuesday: he's a svelte 20lbs. 2ozs...heh-heh! To put that into perspective, Gabriel, my porker was 22lbs. 2 ozs at 6 months. BUT, he was 10 lbs. 4 ozs. when he was born. Kurt was only 7lbs. 15 ozs! Suffice it to say, he's not failing to thrive, my little Chunky Monkey!

Sea World


So here I am, up early on a Saturday morning with "the Boy Who Would Not Sleep" (aka Kurt), so I figured I'd update everyone on our trip to Sea World this week. We purchased Fun Cards back in April, and can therefore go for the rest of 2007 for free. So, off we went Wednesday morning, the five children and me (or was that The Five Children and It?) for a fun-filled day at Sea World. The commute there was icky (welcome to SoCal!) but after stopping and re-grouping over lunch at Denny's, we finally made it there.

And boy, did we have fun.

The children got to feed the dolphins, we saw the dolphin and sea lion shows, took a ride in the Sky Tower, we pet the bat rays, purchased ridiculously overpriced popcorn, and saw lots of cool fish! The pictures above are of the children having a little rest and snack in the afternoon.

Kurt was amazing, as he so often is. He took a long nap in the sling after being splashed by the dolphins, which he definitely DID NOT LIKE! You could hear the creaming for miles! Then he just hung out in the stroller for the remainder of the day, completely oblivious of the fish, which we tried continuously to point out to him.

Thankfully, our trip home was uneventful. We even made it through L.A. without much delay, which is tantamount to a miracle.