Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Math vs. the Mower

Wednesday morning, 8:25am. I am wondering where Jake is and thinking I ought to get him started on his math for the day.

I check the garage. Is he at work with Cameron's tools again? Nope.

I check the street. Is he riding his bike? Negative.

I check the backyard. And this is what I find.
He is happily mowing the yard--still wearing his pajamas.( I tell Cameron that I hope when he prays he remembers to thank the Lord for sending him a son who begs and pleads to be able to mow the lawn.)

On second thought, maybe we'll be starting that math lesson at 9 instead of 8:30 this morning.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: The Horse and His Boy

As an English major and writer, sometimes it is embarrassing to admit which books I haven't read. I am always reading something, but there are still plenty of classics I haven't enjoyed yet. Chronicles of Narnia are some of those--I feel kind of sheepish when I say that I haven't read them all. When I was young I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and part of Prince Caspian. But that's as far as I made it.

So recently I decided to start reading them in chronological order, starting with The Magician's Nephew, proceeding to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, then The Horse and His Boy, then  Prince Caspian and the rest of the series. I love Chronicles of Narnia for the Christian symbolism. I'm really not one who generally enjoys fantasy, but for C. S. Lewis we must make exceptions, don't you think?
The Horse and His Boy is the story of a boy named Shasta who is introduced to a talking horse named Bree who was stolen from Narnia. The book is the story of their quest to return to Narnia. As with the other books in the series, I marveled at how deftly Lewis wove the details of the story. I think he blends the perfect amount of plot twists and suspense to make it interesting.

My favorite part of the story took place when Shasta was alone on a journey, lost, cold, and surrounded by fog and darkness. He was beginning to sink into self pity when he became aware that someone or something was next to him.

"Who are you?" he said, scarcely above a whisper.

"One who has waited long for you to speak," said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep...."Tell me your sorrows."

Shasta unloaded his whole life on the being who walked beside him. And slowly it came out that the being was Aslan (the lion who represents Christ throughout the Narnia series). Aslan explained to Shasta the different times in Shasta's life when Aslan had cared for and comforted him.

"I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."

Countless times Aslan had quietly and anonymously worked in Shasta's life and Shasta hadn't even realized it.

How often does Christ work in my life without me realizing it? I am sure that, like Shasta, I am often blind to His careful hand. But this much I do know: Jesus Christ is my Savior. He is the Savior of the whole world. And I rejoice in the knowledge that He is at work in my life and the lives of those around me, whether or not we recognize it. He loves us. And He lives.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Joy of Homeschool

We took the leap this year into the brave world of homeschooling. Homeschooling can be intimidating and overwhelming. But so far, it's a lot better than I thought it would be. I love seeing the kids learn and grow, watching them make connections, and incorporating things they learn throughout our day.

I love adjusting our schedule according to our needs and last week when construction crews came to replace some local fire hydrants. My kids had a grand time watching the parade of dump trucks, diggers, and construction equipment.
See those two kids standing on our neighbor's lawn? Yep. They spent a few hours there that day.

I love the freedom to take the kids to museums and other places at off-times when things are quiet and we can enjoy displays a lot more. Here they all are at a recent trip to the natural history museum.

I love the extra time my kids have to play with each other. I love Grace's insistence on doing school, too. I love "recess" in the back yard and Lego Club at the library. Homeschool is a good deal.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Just Call Me Sunbeam

Our summer was dominated by the presence of lots of little neighbor friends. Sometimes they all hung like monkeys from our backyard swing set. Sometimes, when the temperatures got a little too warm, our basement became a hide-and-seek battleground. Generally the kids were all good and I enjoyed hosting everyone.
Abby with some of the neighborhood boys
One day I stepped into the backyard to snip some onion from my herb garden. Jake and three friends were in the back by the swing set. On seeing me one of them started loudly calling out to the others, "Alert! Alert! Sunbeam! Alert! Sunbeam!"

Hmm. Subtler than a bowling ball on your little toe. Just call me Sunbeam.

Hopefully they can brush up on their detective skills before trying to ward off any more suspicious characters.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Hope You Get a Child Like You

Wondering where I've been the last seven months? Check out this new page. For now, here is a piece I wrote last winter but never posted:

Recently Grace was helping me clean the bathroom floor. She approached the task with the same vigor and endless energy that she does everything else in life. As I watched her serious expression while she scrubbed with all her toddler might, I couldn't help but smile and think, "Oh, Grace, I hope when you grow up you get a child just like you." Grace is the source of endless smiles and laughter around here. Her enthusiasm brings us much joy.

That night Jake overheard me telling Cameron how hungry I had been before dinner. Thinking the same might still be true, he dashed off to secretly make me a sandwich then raced in to present it to me. My boisterous, affectionate, passionate Jacob--I hope when you grow up you get a child just like you. Every parent should have a kid who hugs so tightly and writes such wonderful love notes. I feel like such a lucky mom.
The same day Abby decided it was time (in the middle of a blustery winter day) to have a picnic in the backyard with Grace. Ignoring my warnings about outside temperatures, they bundled up in coats, scarves, gloves, and sun bonnets and set out with apple slices and a basket full of toy food. I love Abby's active imagination. I love watching her play. I love hearing her delightful little giggle. I hope when she grows up she gets a child just like her.
And then there is my sweet baby Emma. She smiles, laughs, and doesn't complain about being schlepped about from one destination to the next for all of our family's different obligations. She is mild and sweet and a great source of joy and laughter. I love nuzzling her and whispering to her that she is my little slice of heaven. It's true. I hope when she grows up she gets a baby just like her.
Young motherhood is exhausting, but through it all our children bring us much joy and satisfaction. I hope when they grow up they all get children just like themselves.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Babies Are for Cuddling

One thing has become clear the past few months since Emma has joined our ranks: I turn into a bigger softie with each baby. Let me explain.

God sent Jake to us as our first child to teach us how to be parents. Jake takes his job very, very seriously and has from the day we brought him home from the hospital. When Jake was a baby I would listen enviously to moms who claimed they could just lay their baby in a crib and the child would calmly drift off to sleep alone. Jake was a baby who demanded (loudly and in no uncertain terms) that he be held at all times, conscious or otherwise. And in the process Cameron and I were molded into much more sensitive parents than we might have been.

When Abby and then Grace came along I tried to see if either one of them were interested in going to sleep without being held or rocked. Both of them showed brief interest then decided being held was much better. I decided I couldn't really blame them and acquiesced to their wishes.

Then this week I noticed Emma trying to settle herself into deeper sleep. She squirmed around, and I silently observed and debated. Should I pick her up or let her sort it out alone? She wasn't crying. Of course I've been told many times through the years that babies have to learn to be independent and it's better if they learn sleep skills by themselves.

Good thing I'm not running for any sleep trainer awards. My soft side won out. (It seems it always does.) I picked up Emma, snuggled her, and went to sit in the rocking chair. I couldn't have been happier with my choice.
Independence is for 16-year-olds. Babies are for cuddling.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Finding the Joy

Recently Cameron and I were having one of those late-night (read: after 9pm) talks where we discuss our family, our goals, and our progress. Cameron expressed the sentiment that if we're not generally happy on most days (minus moments of stress, the occasional all-out bad day, etc.) we might want to change some things. I shared with him my moments of joy from taking care of the kids that day. And the next day, the concept of joy in small moments stuck with me.

Joy is watching Abby and Grace sit on Cameron's legs while he does sit ups. They giggle, bounce, and rock, and I wonder how I got such a wonderful husband and such cute, happy girls.

Joy is watching Grace try to play with Emma, who is laying innocently in the middle of my bed. Grace gets right up in Emma's face and announces that she is a monster who is going to eat Emma. Emma remains unfazed by this threat, and Grace continues happily talking to her.

Joy is listening from the next room while Abby "reads" Grace a book.

Joy is getting spontaneous love notes from Jake.
Joy is racing boisterously around the house giving the kids piggy-back rides.

Joy is having Emma smile at me...or even just look contentedly around the room. (Just about anything she does melts my heart. I'm a sucker for babies.)
Right now I have four children, ages six to zero, and life isn't all that easy. But there are lots of moments of joy that shine through all the hard work. When I count my blessings, those four awesome kids and terrific husband are at the top of my list.