Monday, March 29, 2010

Journal: Milking It

Monday March 22, 2010
It seems like our family just cannot get healthy this winter. We finally got over a month-long cold, and now the boys are throwing up. Donny woke up sick during the night, requiring a few changes of sheets, and Hayden joined in the vomiting fun after nap time. The boys slept a lot of the day while it rained outside. Don and I were supposed to go to a wake for my stepmother's father at night, but because I could not leave the children, Don went by himself.

Tuesday March 23, 2010
The boys have stopped throwing up, but they were very tired and had no appetite today. Lydia is getting two more top teeth (lateral incisors). Don gave notice that he will be leaving his part-time job coaching gymnastics soon to start his personal training business.

Wednesday March 24, 2010
The boys seem better, but now Lydia is throwing up and has a fever. She needed to be held all day. To go with our C-c-Cow unit, we made butter by whipping heavy cream in the Kitchen-Aid mixer. It was interesting to watch the different stages it went through, and Donny and I enjoyed eating it on crackers!

Thursday March 25, 2010
Our friend Bill, a heating and cooling technician, was here all day installing our new boiler. Apparently we caught the stomach bug from his family. Lydia is still sick and needy. I tried making baked oatmeal, and I liked it so much that I ate nearly half the pan in one day!

Friday March 26, 2010
Last week’s beautiful weather was apparently a fluke; earlier this week was rainy, and today the temperature made a drastic drop to the 30’s. Thankfully, everyone was feeling well enough to run errands this morning, but the boys still are not eating much, and Lydia is more clingy than usual. My stomach is starting to hurt, too.

Saturday March 27, 2010
Don ended up getting sick last night and slept all day today. Bill was here most of the day finishing the boiler installation. The boys and I made ice cream by shaking up cream, vanilla, and sugar in a baggie surrounded by ice and salt. It was too bad our ten minutes of vigorous shaking only produced a small quantity, because it was delicious! Hayden was a good sport to help even though he can't have ice cream or any other dairy products. I am also attempting to make yogurt in the crockpot, including a coconut milk version for Hayden. We’ll see how it turns out in the morning!

Sunday March 28, 2010

The attempt at coconut milk yogurt was unsuccessful, which could have been due to keeping the heat too high, or using the wrong kind of probiotic to start it. The cow’s milk yogurt was entirely drinkable, but definitely yogurt in flavor. I will have to try it again using a different incubation method.

Don was at a gymnastics meet all day, and we had decided in advance that I would stay home with the children to avoid sharing our sick germs. It was really nice to have a peaceful Sunday without having to rush off to Sunday School, home from church for a late lunch, then back to church for Youth Group, and home again for a late bedtime. I love our church dearly, but once in a while, a day of actual rest is a blessing!

A verse from this week's readings:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ...
The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7, 24-25

Friday, March 19, 2010

Glory in the Sticks

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?

Job 12:7-9

This afternoon was an amazing 70 degrees outside, and it was the perfect day for an adventure in our yard. With Lydia in the Ergo, and the boys dressed in their boots, we set out to explore the woods beside our house.

Believe it or not, in the 15 months that we have owned this home, I have never been to that part of our property…and our land is less than an acre! Our side yard is a wooded corner lot, providing just a taste of forest wonders before one meets the road, and until today I never had the simultaneous time, desire, and appropriate weather to investigate it. Today, after a brief lesson on the proper method of carrying a walking stick (so as not to impale one's brother), our first stop was by the edge of the large ditch that still held water from last weekend’s heavy rains. The boys thought it was the perfect spot to go fishing.

They found a “cuttlefish” plastic soda bottle and some “jellyfish” made of pine needle muck. Watching them play at the water’s edge reminded me of my own childhood, when I would explore the woods behind our house, making up all kinds of stories in my imagination as I crossed brooks, gathered sticks, and played beneath spruce trees. When they were done fishing, we investigated some fallen trees – and even a fallen telephone pole – and gathered some nice dry sticks for Daddy to burn in our next campfire. On our way back towards the front yard, we discovered a completely isolated evergreen; amidst young and old pines, and a few maples, was a random Christmas tree!

Before heading inside, we spent some time in our little strip of front yard (the only place where we have anything that resembles grass). I let Lydia loose on the dead grass, and she was both serious and delighted with her first real outdoor encounter.

We saw the mail carrier deliver our mail, and a few neighbors visiting their mailboxes, including Mrs. K., an older lady who lives across the street. In our brief conversation about the beautiful day and how busy I must be with three children, she commented that it’s nice I can be home with them. Watching my baby girl pluck fistfuls of grass and sneak a taste of tree bark, while my boys entertain themselves by banging sticks against the maple tree, I could not agree more.

I am so privileged to have this job of teaching little ones about the world God made for us, witnessing their wonder and delight, and striving to answer their many questions. I am consumed by the great responsibility that their words, their actions, and their attitudes will be shaped by mine. And I realize that my life must be characterized by constant prayer, both in praise for God’s blessings, and in seeking wisdom for the many decisions to be made each day.

I don’t like bugs or dirt or neglecting chores that need to be completed, so I do not often look forward to taking the children outside. But once we are out there, basking in the waning sunshine, I realize how much I love it. There is something so peaceful and simple about interacting with nature, something that no human-created environment can duplicate. In the style of Charlotte Mason, I have a sense that these outdoor adventures are as much a part of the children’s education as any formal lesson. Any inconvenience of getting outside is forgotten when I realize how worthwhile it is to be there.

Raising children is a backyard adventure. There are trails to blaze, hills to climb, and mud puddles to wade through. It takes time away from other activities that we may prefer, but with the right attitude, we find it rewarding. It may not have the glamorous sound of other professions, any more than exploring our yard sounds like swimming the English Channel or hiking through Yellowstone. It is full of things that seem commonplace on the surface: sticks and stones and trees; crawling and reading and baths and laundry. Yet when we take a few moments to examine the pattern of a leaf, to feel the texture of grass or a smooth stone, to discover the brilliant color of a wildflower, we realize that God’s glory is revealed right here in the small things. I may not be feeding orphans in the streets of India or preaching the Gospel to African tribes, but I am here in the yard, doing the work God gave me, and seeing His glory in the sticks and stones and smiles.

Thank you Lord, for blessing me with three willing explorers, and for Your faithful guidance as I help them discover the world.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Journal: Year Seven, Week One

Monday March 1, 2010
“I’ve worked you over for six years. Now I’ll take a Sabbath year off,” Don teased me this morning. As of sometime between yesterday and today, we have been married for six years. Inspired by our recent reading in Leviticus, we joked about celebrating our 50th anniversary as our Year of Jubilee. I decided that to help me remember our seventh year of marriage, I will write a few sentences every day to record the days’ events, and that I will share some of these entries on my blog to give my readers a glimpse into our lives.

During school time, the children and I finished our W-w-Water unit with watercolor paintings and started our two week I-i-Insect unit. Everyone has been sick a lot this winter, and I definitely have a cold. At bedtime, Don surprised me with an anniversary card under my pillow. (To let you know how unexpected this was, the last anniversary card he gave me was when we had been together for one month!)

Tuesday March 2, 2010
Donny and Hayden painted rocks to look like ladybugs. We took a quick trip to the library to get the rest of our insect books after picking up Hayden’s nebulizer medication at the pharmacy drive-through. (The drive-through is recent discovery which I am very excited more unbuckling three children and dragging them through the store just to pick up a prescription refill!) I made a pot roast for dinner. Then the children watched the library’s “Way Cool Creepy Crawlies” DVD with Daddy. I am reading The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. Don is reading Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker, a book recommended to him by an old friend from gymnastics who owns a successful personal training business.

Wednesday March 3, 2010

Today our toddler friends Madalyn and Riley came over to play, as they usually do on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Lydia sat in her new booster seat that Grandma and Grandpa sent her. I made almond protein bars, which were tasty, but didn't settle well with me. The children, especially Hayden, coughed a lot and had poor appetites most of the day.

Thursday March 4, 2010
We baked bread and caught up on laundry. Donny practiced reading with Lesson 38 in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Hayden wanted to participate too, so I did Lesson 1 with him.

Friday March 5, 2010
It was sunny and nice out today, so for the first time since November, the boys got to play in the front yard after we came home from our weekly grocery shopping trip. I baked Six Layer Bars (substituting crushed pretzels for the graham cracker crumbs, since I didn't have any) and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies for Grandma’s birthday party tomorrow.

Saturday March 6, 2010

Don and our friend Bill went to get some parts to fix our leaky boiler while I watched Bill’s son Owen. After visiting with them, we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to celebrate Grandma and Auntie Crystal’s birthdays. Then Don and I went out to celebrate our anniversary at the firing line. It was my first time shooting a real gun (a Glock 19 that we rented). I had not anticipated how exceedingly loud it would be or how far the shells would fly, but we had a good time. I was excited when, after some practice, I hit the center of the target!

Sunday March 7, 2010

We went to church for Sunday School, but because the children were coughing too much to go in the nursery or sit in the service, we decided to come home during church time. We read fromThe MacArthur Daily Bible, watched “Naaman the Leper” on the Bible Adventures DVD, and sang some songs while Don played the guitar. Don, Donny, and Hayden went to Auntie Shelly and Uncle Nathan’s house to meet their new golden doodle puppy. Then we went back to church for youth ministry. The children stayed with Don and I while we taught the 11th and 12th grade teens in our new small group.

A verse from this week's readings:
"But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
Mark 10:6-9

I praise God for six years of marriage to my amazing husband, and for the blessings the Lord has brought out of our adventure together!