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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


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 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'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'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 :-)