Monday, February 28, 2011

There Is No Question (period)

God is good. Everything about him is good. He sees the beginning from the ending. I have no need to question. I can rest. I can be content. There is no better answer than God. And I am not alone. Every moment, in everything, there is a glimpse of God. He is always at work. He never sleeps. As I watch him work and work with Him, I can know Him better. I repent of my sin of ingratitude. I am nothing but grateful to this amazing God who is nothing but good. And who shows himself to me all the time. (#91-137 of the Thousand, Endless Gifts)

*making dinner together
*"hug me again"
*"will you pray for me?"
*an afternoon with no plans
*working weekends/nights, a flexible career as a nurse, my second job
*homeschooling
*being united as a team
*smiling boys in the morning
*all the little games they play together
*God-school
*integrated learning, little connections
*bowing down
*dance as an offering
*class ending early
*wind blows, wind dies down
*brillant blue skies, heavy  clouds, rushing across the sky
*a lasting friendship
*being loved on by God
*my home
*not having to worry
*slowing down
*a mom and daughter morning
*family support
*little voices
*a million questions :)
*exercise
*my health
*time
*little laughter
*when he gets home early
*the boys in one room together and lovin' it, playing quietly/contently in the morning
*a little more room in our room
*that God is big enough to help others out when I am at a loss
*the first star
*blueberry pancakes (at home, any meal, made by loving hands)
*the shadow of the cross
*mornings
*little fists, little fingers
*gratitude
*studying Isaiah
*the names of God
*now, resting, knowing
*of Him, through Him, to Him--glory
*in Him I live, and move, and have my being
*obedience, lessons learned (and sometimes learned again)
*getting out of bed each day


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Let's Go Fly A Kite!



Last year, Olivia and I tried about 30 times to go out across the street and fly a kite, but the wind was never consistent enough to get it in the air, let alone keep it there. Eventually, winter rolled around and we gave up. Last weekend, though, was beautiful and windy, so we tried again and this time were very successful! The wind was blowing hard and kept the kite high in the air. Olivia had a great time doing it, even though we got caught in the trees twice.


 
We Also got out a "Boomer-ring" that we got at the circus. it was supposed to fly out and come back, but with the wind, it never quite did that. Olivia got quite good at chasing it down and throwing it at me, though. :)
 
 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good Morning, Popeye

Ezra has a blocked tear duct. Our tear ducts allow tears, along with dust, debris, bacteria, etc to drain out of our eyes and into our noses. We frequently wash out his eye and massage the corner with saline and warm wash cloths. We are certainly hoping that it opens on it own soon. Gabe had the same thing and it opened somewhere around his 10th month. But we find him to be cute after a nights sleep when the eye is stuck shut. He is remains entirely joyful as he isn't the least phased by this issue. Well, of course, that is until we have to clean it or massage it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings
 
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings.
Wealth can never buy your reward in heaven,
nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.


I remember singing this hymn in church growing up and I still love it. So again this week I sat down to write my blessings and was just overwhelmed by all the ways that God cares about me. Me! Thank you, Lord! (#51-90 of the Thousand, Endless Gifts)

*patches of warm sunlight on the lawn
*a cool (but not cold) breeze
*putting on flip-flops
*emerging from outside basement stairs to see a brilliant pink, orange, and blue sunrise
*baby thighs
*hugs and kisses to send me off to work
*more homeschool curriculum, actually putting my hands on some of the options
*a song just for me when I get in the car
*God's provision in friends
*turning hurtful words over to God
*prayer
*finding the perfect gift, using a gift certificate
*tiptoes
*brother praying for his sister
*singing hymns, family worship
*starting a rock garden
*family walks, full moon, stars
*a new baby, joyful mom, blessing her, Olivia's card, milk for the baby, a meal for the parents
*big-boy bed
*my nieces and nephews
*early bedtimes
*having my back tickled
*praising God and not using "I" or "me" at all, keeping God in perspective
*seeing God's infinite patience with me
*playing Wii bowling with JR and the kids
*cleaning up the old, dead leaves out of the yard (left over from the fall)
*the "You are Special" plate
*sharing mocha cake
*bringing him home coffee
*chance conversation
*receiving compliments for my kids
*"cracker man"
*being comfortable with those who "aren't like us", warm breakfast at the park
*playing together quietly
*science with daddy
*underneath some trees, like a perfect little room
*my possessions in perspective
*coming home to Olivia "setting the breakfast table" by her own initiative (she was the only one awake in the house)


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Strongmen

"Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?" 
- Deuteronomy 3:24
 
One of the segments at the circus was the "Ukrainian Strongmen". They did various feats of strength, including spinning a log like a baton and capping it off by picking up a pair of crossed telephone-pole-sized logs with swings attached (each holding a dancing girl) and then spinning the whole rig like a carnival ride. For good measure, one of the clowns jumped up on the logs and went along for the ride.
We did get a picture during the show, but it was pretty blurry, so we snagged this one from Ringling Brothers' website.
 In a humorous twist, Ezra snatched the straw from our cup of lemonade and decided it was his "log". He was swinging it and spinning it around as if he was imitating the strongmen. 

Ezra has become our own little strongman at home as well. He squirms and struggles whenever we change his diaper and manages to flip himself over and crawl away while we try to dress him. We have to constantly drag him back and chastise him (you can imagine how well that works!) to stay still. And Heaven forbid you let him get a hold of something he likes...you'll never get it away from him.

As funny and amazing as these two things are, it brings to mind that we are much like Ezra in his struggles and squirming when it comes to God. But ultimately, God is infinitely stronger than we are and can endure any amount of our struggling against him. Watching the two circus strongmen was impressive, but the feats they perform are pitifully small compared to the might and power of God. He can hold the universe in his hand and think nothing of it.

Thank God that He's as infinitely patient as he is strong. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Greatest Show on Earth

Last week, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus came to town and my parents bought tickets for all of us. The tickets included a free "open house" that let you walk through the pens and see the animals before the show and then go down on the main floor and see some of the performers up close.


We got to see the tigers (and a couple of cubs), zebras, horses and elephants in their pens. Olivia and Gabe really enjoyed the elephants.

 
It was obvious that most people come to see them. They had little displays set up with info about the elephants, their physiology and diet. One explained that by measuring the circumference of the foot and doubling it, you know how tall the elephant is at the shoulder.

Gabe just thought it was neat to stand on the model foot they had on display.

Once we found our seats, I took Olivia and Gabe down to the floor and got to watch some twins from Argentina doing some amazing juggling. I happen to love juggling and have been a fan since seeing the Flying Karamazov Brothers on TV when I was a kid.


Then it was time for the show.

Now, I have to admit, I fully expected it to be hokey and really kid-oriented. I was wrong. It was fantastic. Lots of lights, music and amazing feats of acrobatics, strength and agility. There were some tumblers that really need to be on the US Men's Olympic gymnastics team.


Gabe loved the clowns! Well, really, he loved the whole thing. He pretty much spent the whole show in a trance.

It's impressive to see animals so large do things like this. Elephants are surprisingly agile.

Olivia also loved the clowns. She thought they were really funny. They did one long routine where they were trying to change a giant light bulb that she really loved.
 Rather than the typical "Human Cannonball", they launched this guy on a giant crossbow. As they were building up to the launch, i saw them prepping the guy and I said to Rebecca, "It looks like they're going to light that poor man on fire." Then...
video

They did.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Lord Has Made Me Glad!

Psalm 92:1-5

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.
It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.


For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, LORD,
how profound your thoughts!

I have challenged myself to stop and look at all the little blessings that God puts in my way each day. I want to be filled with peace and joy. I want to be content. The best way to do that is to have a thankful heart. It is a discipline. My how God opened my eyes when I asked to see those blessings clearly. I just sat down to write a few from the past week and out came a whole list (#1-#50 of the Thousand, Endless Gifts)...

*my family around the table
*"love is laying down"
*reading the perfect book. for me. at this time.
*warm sheets
*his face, eyes closed, sleeping peacefully
*touching hands
*a warm soothing cup of coffee
*early morning workout
*encouraging and challenging conversation with friend
*wide-eyed awe
*browsing homeschool books and feeling peace
*reading scripture with my other half
*reading scripture with my God
*every afternoon when he walks through the door
*stacks of books
*reading aloud to my children on the couch
*being silly together
*making faces with the baby
*"love you too"
*"look mom, I see an angel in the clouds"
* a bible verse that was part of our homeschool curriculum but spoke right to my heart
*braiding hair
*big sister volunteering to entertain her brothers
*getting there on time
*a 2 year old singing Jesus Loves Me and moving my mouth to sing with him
*trains and cars driving through my hair
*watching my kids use selfcontrol, being gracious even when they don't get everything they want, good fruit produced
*kind words from a friend
*God doing a work in my heart when I wanted to be angry and hurt
*the song just for me
*slowly understanding more about God's sovereignty
*stopping to pray with my kids
*taking a walk
*not having to wear a jacket, sunshine
*creative, imaginative play
*throwing out some clutter
*finding the perfect gift, making a friend smile
*snuggling in bed with my daughter
*a night of family fun
*listening to Olivia discuss how to apply the bible to our lives
*literal interpretations, wise words
*excitement over helping with chores
*hugs and forgiveness after I mess up, confessing a loud in front of my family
*afternoon naps
*"the way I feel about you is kind of a song"


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

When things don't go the way you want

Our recent art lessons have been focused where art can be found. First we studied cave art and Olivia tried her hand at it.
On this cave wall, we have identified a seagull, a duck, and a person. We are still working on identifying the other figures. :)
Our next project was to make a scratched clay pot. We were discussing and looking at pottery fragments that have been dug up in Jericho, Jordon. These types of pottery were formed inside of woven baskets. The directions for the project said to form a clay bowl inside of a paper bowl. When I had looked over my lesson plans the weekend before, I thought we had some paper or plastic bowls in the basement. Well, it seems I was wrong. :) I decided that we would still do the project but that she would just use one of our cereal bowls to form the bowl. I (sort of) thought about how impossible it would be to get it out once it dried but then I wanted to do the project since she had already started it. Olivia had a great time doing it.

A couple days later, when it was completely dry, it did prove to be impossible to get out of the bowl without breaking apart the clay. "Okay, how am I going to approach this with Olivia? Do I just make it disappear? Do I just try to explain that I messed up and see if she wants to do it again?" The answer came to me when I was looking at our art project for this week. We are learning about Minoan Fresco Paintings. They were paintings found on palace walls and floors. The lesson says that most of this art was found in fragments and restorers have put them back together like a puzzle. The light went on in my head! So we chipped her scratched clay pot out of the cereal bowl. We talked about archeologist that dig up the pottery fragments (along with other things) and we also talked about how the restorers would attempt to put the pieces back together. :) When things don't go the way you plan, just look for a different approach or a way to turn it into a learning opportunity.


The remains of her scratched bowl. It has a border and then a flower.

Her Fresco piece using the black outlines, a border pattern, and the somewhat typical colors of blue, black, rust and brown.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Paper Crafts

Olivia has been enjoying My Book of Easy Crafts by Kumon. She can do these cut, fold and paste crafts with little to no help. They help her with skills, provide her with lots of entertainment and the opportunity to be creative.

The shoe box is full of them. We definitely had to find a way to store them as they were spread all over her room.

This is probably her favorite at the moment, her spinning rocket


As an aside, I have used the Kumon workbooks frequently. I feel they have been a wonderful supplement to our homeschool. We started with some of the First Steps series a couple years ago to help with her preschool skills (coloring, cutting, folding, mazes, puzzles etc) and most recently we have used the two workbooks on telling time. Olivia really wanted to learn to tell time but was easily frustrated with the concept. The workbooks are step-by-step and have really helped her both in skill and in confidence.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Enjoying Patriotic Music

With our curriculum this year, we are listening to and learning a handful of patriotic music. It has been lots of fun! Our most recent favorites have been You're a Grand Old Flag and The Stars and Stripes Forever. Olivia (with a little help from me) made herself and Gabe drums decorated in a patriotic theme. We had a great time marching around with them. Even Ezra joined in the fun!


After these pictures were taken, Olivia (and daddy) added a sling to the drums so they could be worn around their necks and played more easily. She tried to use construction paper to make them at first but that didn't hold up. So daddy helped her put string on hers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

YUM! :)

Okay so, let me start this post with a story (or two). When I was a kid and my family celebrated birthdays, there was ALWAYS chocolate cake. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Well, when it was my birthday and I was asked what kind of cake I wanted, I must admit that I didn't want chocolate. (Wow, was I a silly kid or what?!) I always wanted a strawberry cake with strawberry icing. :) My grandmother thought I was crazy and said that I must not really be a Baldwin (my maiden name). But alas, they would make me a strawberry cake with strawberry icing. Well, I am happy to report that I have come around, Gma! :) I love chocolate cake! But I am not a purist. For instance I like the favors of chocolate and coffee or chocolate and orange or chocolate and mint. Now a days I prefer dark chocolate.  AND, I still like strawberry. I really like chocolate covered strawberries! JR once worked at a bookstore in the mall. One of his co-workers also worked at the Godiva store. Do you know the store I am talking about? Right in their window, there are almost always chocolate covered strawberries. JR would occasionally get a hold of the leftovers at closing time and bring them home to me. He has also made them for me. What a man! :)

So today I make a cake...

It all started with a container of strawberry icing sitting in my pantry. I am trying to clean it out. I think I had it for a food craft that I once planned for many kids but they didn't all show up so I had a container leftover. I also had a jar of Strawberry All Fruit. Strawberries were on sale last week and I also had a chocolate cake mix. So I created a chocolate strawberry cake. I mean why not? It may not look beautiful but it is yummy. Actually, almost 2 years ago, I took a cake decorating class and I would be ashamed to show this to my teacher. I did not use any of my skills to make this cake. BUT did I mention that it was YUMMY?! :)