Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hello to anyone who reads this-yes, I've been a long time since I've written! i am planning on getting back to it, but in order to simplify things for now, i am only planning on posting new writing on my other blog. I have found this site easier to use for posting pictures, etc, but have found more of a "community" of bloggers at Homeschoolblogger who i relate to because home schooling. I still plan on writing the same kinds fo things( not just school stuff) , just keeping all at one place instead of 2. i hope you will find me there, and leave comments and maybe start a blog of your own if you don't have one yet--I hope to write more soon. Thanks for reading!


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Big Weekend

Peace ~ Ballet

Jessamyn ~ Jazz

Jessamyn ~ Hip Hop

Gabriel won a gold medal at the Chess Tournament

The kids all enjoyed a big weekend. The girls had 2 dance recitals each and Gabriel competed in a Chess Tournament-- fortunately, they were both held at the same high school near where we live, so I could go back and forth. It was busy, but lots of fun and we got to see the results of their hard work this year.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mother's Day Sweetness

Peace gave me a mother's day gift of a certificate to a day of being taken care of by her. She is such a thoughtful girl and I can see how it makes her happpy to care for people. She borrowed a little brass bell from Grama that I was to ring if I needed anything . I was to spend the day relaxing!

She had planned 3 meals (she did this for my birthday last year also) and put them together with a little help. A parfait for breakfast -granola, yogurt and strawberries (everybody loves a parfait) Lunch was a quesadilla and salsa, and dinner was pasta with pesto and salad and a choice of chicken we had leftover or tofu with her own secret spice blend. She's the only 8 yr. old i know who loves to cook (and eat tofu) and who has business cards for giving back massages! She collapsed after dinner because she was "so exhausted" from all that hard work. I am blessed by her sweetness and pleased to see how she was responsible and organized to do this for me.

It was a nice Mother's day today and also on Sunday. It was good to have my own mom home after her trip and see her enjoy her kitchen makeover. Scott and I took a walk in the morning and found this lot where they had torn down an old house and we picked all these irises and other flowers and I came home with this huge "bride" bouquet. I'm glad to be a mom, there's nothing better.

I think I'll ring the bell f0r a massage now...

Spring 2006

Here are a few pictures of what we've been doing this spring:
Making vegetable (Star Wars) people

Gabriel turns 11

Jessamyn goes to a St. Patrick's day Dance

The flowers are blooming

Peace is a Dryad for Narnia Night

Training hard in Karate

Easter Morning

Peace sews a pillowcase using the machine for the first time

Monday, May 15, 2006

Luxuriant Lounging

I have long had a goal to practice more of what my sister calls Luxuriant Lounging—deliberate laziness. This past weekend I got to do just that. Scott had given me the Christmas gift of a day at the spa and a hotel room downtown in which to recover from my day at the spa without the activity and noise of the kids. I decided to combine this with a night out with him and finally got it all planned for this past weekend.

I started the day with a water aerobics class and soak in the hot tub at the gym. I did a little shopping and took my time. I met up with Gloria (originator and huge supporter of Luxuriant Lounging) at her house where she fed me a deluxe brunch and we were off for more shopping (chocolate in more than one kind at Trader Joe’s)

Then I arrived at the spa where they pampered me with calming teas and lemon water and the smells and sounds that made me feel like my world was really far away. I had a Body Polish treatment, a candlelit shower, a facial, a foot soak, and a massage. When I walked out I felt so relaxed and light and glowing (and a little greasy from all those layers of oils.)

I met Scott for dinner at the Oregon Electric Station, which is a restaurant built in a historic train station and you dine in a train car. I’d only ever actually had dinner there once before and it was so so good.

We got checked into the hotel and then across the courtyard to the Hult Center for the ballet. This was a collaboration of one of our favorite bands, Pink Martini and dance to their music. It was amazing and a great finish to a great day.

So, I did lounge and luxuriate and radiate and I’m thankful for my husband (who’s always a great gift giver) and had to do the travel that earned him the hotel stay points; everyone else—Papa for watching the kids (they were thrilled that you didn’t make them eat salad like mom amd Grama do) Josh for the gift certificate for dinner, and those wonderful women in my life who were excited for me and know much good a little lounging can do for the body and soul!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Thursdays this term are busy from morning to night. The kids all seemed draggy and headachey and so I let them stay home from karate. It was so leisurely and made me think—

Is my life so complicated that it takes phone calls to 5 different people when I rearrange my plans? ( call in sick, cancel my walk with Gloria, tell one friend I can’t drive her son, tell another she doesn’t need to drive my daughter, tell another my son may be revived in time for chess and I’ll call her again in an hour or two)

So I LINGERED over my salad., talking silliness with the kids (who aren’t acting all that sick). I MEANDERED outside and LOUNGED in the melty warm sun while Scott worked on the sprinklers. I ENJOYED watching the butterflies on my flowers. I didn’t look at the clock or say “hurry” or “do you have your water bottles?” I PONDERED on how I should spend my stolen three hours—on the computer, reading, getting a project done? I PLAYED another game of chess with Gabriel (that didn’t take long because I’m not very good!) I finally WANDERED back here to the computer so I could write.

Is this why kids play hooky and people call in sick when they’re not? Time that’s suddenly come unplanned is a gift, even if it feels a little stolen. Time to DO NOTHING feels a little weird and makes me restless, but it’s a good thing. My flowers are growing fast and so are my kids and in a lot of ways, I am too. I want to be more comfortable with BEING STILL. Oh, now I only have an hour left……

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Lunch

Most Sundays our big family gets together for lunch. We eat, we talk, we read the paper, hold the babies, play games, maybe eat some more. I guess it’s a tradition our kids will grow up remembering. I often have a sense of “this is as life was meant to be”. Breaking bread, sharing our homes and food, an abundance of flavors and laughter and chaos and togetherness. Pots of steaming soup and homemade bread, burritos, ice cream, gourmet coffee and herbal tea, and everyone has their “Famous” dishes-- Papa’s famous bean soup and carnitas , the fruit salad queen (me) Beca’s cakes and curries, Gloria’s tofu scramble, and anything mom makes is famous and enough to make anyone veer off their diet! I The littlest kid gets the high chair that was originally mine when I was 2 or 3. It’s when we wish our brothers were here and Dad looks around that table at our growing family and gets teary. It’s just a really great part of the week and it doesn’t feel right to miss it.

Today was so sunny and Scott’s been wanting to BBQ, so we had everyone over for Sunday Lunch here. Mom’s out of town, so we had to pull this one off by ourselves. When I got back with groceries, we put on some music and we all pitched in to get the house and the food ready. It’s nice to have the kids big enough to help. Peace made no-bake cheesecake and Gabriel made a platter for vegetables and dip all by himself. It was a nice day and I was appreciating all that we’ve been blessed with and how good it is to share our meals and our time and our lives. The only thing that would have made it better was if Mom was here, and Jacob and Jackie and Joseph and Josh and Annie…..

Having people over is something that for one reason or another, we haven’t done a lot of over that last couple years and I’d really like to do more of this year.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Boxes of Papers

I spent a couple hours going through 2 boxes of papers yesterday. This was a very random assortment of stuff—calendars I saved because they have cute things the kids said scribbled on them, or their heights and weights at a certain age, old journals of mine, a few sweet letters and cards from my husband, lots of stuff I no longer needed and there were pictures the kids had drawn. Seeing the kids drawing was so cute and finding little things they’re said like—

“I want Jesus to give me a guitar, no three guitars and He can get more.”

“Here’s a picture of Daddy with a pear and another pear and an apple and a banana and a pizza and a bagel…”

“Mommy told me we are going to have a new baby. I hope it’s a girl. Babies are such a cute little nature”

“Every girl I see is a beautiful graceful angel floating above heaven,
And boys are handsome
Very Much
And I love them even if they’re rude”

So that’s always fun and nostalgic to go through and we had some good laughs. I took 2 trash bags of paper to the recycling. Not sure why I saved some of that stuff! I guess now with the internet I don’t have to rip recipes and craft ideas our of magazines with the intention of using them someday.

I realized that a season of life with little kids has passed. I’m handing down my “preschool ideas” to my sister. We heard yesterday that the boys we wanted to adopt will most likely be going to a relative who can take all four. I was disappointed for us, but it sounds good for them and we’ll see what the future has for us in that way. In the mean time I intend to fully enjoy this “big kid” season.
There’s a part of looking back over the past that is so bittersweet. I read my journals and see how different I was, but how the same I still am. I pile up all these ideas that I just never did, articles I never read, recipes I never made, inspirations I never put into practice. I think of that quote’ life is what happens while you’re making other plans’. Oh the many times I have resolved to do better, the expectations I have had. I can see those “failings” piled up like papers on the floor and be discouraged, but then I stop and think of life as it really has been and the pile of “joys”,the precious times, the grace of God and the love in our family and its so much bigger. I’m ok with not having “done everything” if I’ve traded that for building relationships and the things that can’t be measured.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Catching Up

It’s almost the end of April. I haven’t written in my blog in a month. I actually have a blog on 2 sites now and have just been putting off writing because it was feeling complicated, esp. to post pictures. But I would rather just jot down a few sentences now and then than never get to it because it’s too time consuming to make it perfect.

So what’s going on with us?

Spring has been rainy so far, but the past few days we’ve had some beautiful sun. Our flower bed is bursting with new color every day, as perennials return and we’ve added a few new things. Lots of blue this year.

We’re getting to that time of the year that we are close to finishing some subjects and the kids are counting the days. It’s been a busy year with of outside activities, but I feel like our home school time has been smooth and the kids are all taking initiative to get their work done when they’re supposed to. For the first time in years I feel like we’re gaining ground with some organizing and routines as we all pitch in together. It becoamesa lot less overwhelming.

Jessamyn moved to the brown belt class in Karate and has just one test before she tests for black belt. She went to an American Civil War dance last night and had a fun time learning some dances from that era. She’s knitting her 2nd sweater, a baby elf sweater for Poppy.

Gabriel has his green belt with a black stripe and is going to chess twice a week. He loves it and is going to a tournament at a local school in a few weeks. He’s made friends with a couple boys down the street and that’s been fun for him.

Peace went to roller skating yesterday. She’s the only one who seems to find that fun at this point. She’s reading huge books and helping in the garden. She and Jessamyn are both excited about their dance recitals coming up in May.

On Thursday nights I’ve been going to a mosaic class, which is really interesting. I feel good to have some creative things going, as well as going swimming for exercise more. Mosaic is fun because you get to SMASH stuff! Take the broken pieces and make something more unique and beautiful, there’s a very spiritual parallel there. While I’m at class, Scott and the kids have been brainstorming ideas and have a basic plot for a novel. The kids are always starting stories, so we want to help them finish them. I went to a writer’s workshop and that was inspiring to get them developing their writing more.

So, in the middle of this we are starting the process to adopt 2 little boys! We have always wanted to do this and maybe these are the ones. Scott’s sister has been a foster mother to them for 2 years and we spent some time with them on visits. They are precious and we’re all excited and hopeful (cautiously hopeful because these things can take time and go all sorts of directions) and trying to make plans. We need lots of prayer—it would really change our lives!

Well, that sort of captures what our family’s been up to. I really want to get more thoughts up here more often.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Spring Cleaning (kind of)

It's the first day of spring break but you'd think it was Christmas-- from the living room, i am hearing the happy sounds of a harmonica, and "look at this!" and "hey look at all these i have !" the sound of legos being piled and the occasional"I get this". No, Christmas did not come early (or late) and UPS has not come to the door-- I found a box in the garage that was full of junk we never sorted through last time we did a thourough cleaning on Gabriel's room! A wonderful and scary assortment of a busy boy's junk-- Legos, dozens of rubber bands, coins, sharp rocks duct taped to sticks to make arrows, a barrel of monkeys not in the barrel anymore. dried up markers, marbles, coins form a few different counties, magnets with paper clips and nails stuck to them.... tell me we're not the only ones, please!!! But a very fun way for the kids to pass the afternoon (if we were really studioous we could pretend it's an archeological dig) so, there's part of me that says I don't want to clean their rooms using this method anymore (the stash and dash) but on the other hand, here we have a whole afternoon of thrills and amusement 6 months later.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Gabriel's Birthday Today

Chess cake by Aunt Beca

Gabriel turns 11 today! We already had a family party and will be having a friend party in a few days. (Birthdays in this family seem to turn into week-long extravaganzas!) But today is his real birthday and I just want us to relax and enjoy the day. We started with our “traditional” breakfast of crepes with berries and whipped cream and chocolate sauce, read out loud from Eldest, the dragon story that’s getting really exciting. Now the kids are doing their jobs and setting up for a game of Clue, as well as continuing Heroscape, Gabriel’s new favorite game. I hope to get them outdoors for a walk later. Gabriel can bring his new pocket knife and cut up the sticks he collects!

Early spring is such a sweet time to have a baby, all that waiting through the winter and it rained all week, but the day he was born the sun shone, everything sparkled in the light and we were so glad to have our son in our arms. He’s everything we could want in a boy—boundless energy, imagination, curiosity, and affection. He says it feels like he’s been 10 for a whole year now! The days go by slow sometimes but the years go by fast. The kids have been reminiscing a lot lately about when they were little, which must mean they are feeling grown up. And as Gabriel says, he doesn’t really want to grow up, but he does look forward to all the exciting ideas he wants to do. He wants to be a stay at home dad to lots and lots of children, like 40! He’s a boy who knows strongly what he likes—art. writing, building, outdoors, chess, fantasy stories and games, martial arts, reading, the ocean, computer, and being silly with his family. It has been and will be fascinating to watch him develop his interests and personality as he’s becoming an young man. My prayer for him is that he will know when to be strong and when to be gentle with his words and actions and that he will always pursue the path God has for him with a whole heart.

I love you so much, Gabriel. I always tell you that you are the best boy I could imagine. I love your liveliness and the way you love me. I hope this is your best year ever!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Mama's Hands

Yesterday Gabriel said to me,
“Mom, I love your hands, they never change”.
I said,
“That’s because they’re the hands that have cared for you your whole life.”

That was so sweet to me. We talked about how much his hands are growing and how much more they’ll keep growing. I love my children, they’re my Happy Thoughts!

Then I was remembering how much I loved my mom’s soft hands and playing with her wedding ring during church when I was a kid. She's nurtured us and loved us with those hands our whole lives. As I went to title this “Mama’s Hands’, thinking only about Gabriel’s comment, the timing was ironic because my mom injured one of her hands the other day and has been really sick with an infection in it. This is probably the longest we can remember her needing care and not being the one taking care of everyone else. As bad as we have felt for her though, we don’t mind caring for her a bit—it could never compare to the years of her caring for us—holding our hands, cooking, cleaning, everything.

As I grow older and my hands get more wrinkly I don’t want to be bothered by it, I just want to remember, these are the hands that my children love. Now if I could just come to terms with going gray… maybe that will be my next topic!

Rebeca read this and just sent me this beautiful picture of our mom's hands. (photo taken by Erik)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I just started my first knitting project. Jessamyn has been making beautiful scarves for a couple years and I decided to join her in a class this term. It’s been fun and a learning experience ( I don’t like getting it wrong, I want it to be perfect on the first try, I want the end result without the practice…) Knitting, like life, goes much better if I relax my shoulders and take a breath once in a while, and like a good habit, soon becomes automatic and I can do it without thinking.

It’s been unexpectedly fun to be doing it in a class. The teacher has been so encouraging and it’s inspiring to see how everyone’s projects are going each week. Moms and girls together , both learning and teaching, as it used to be when people had quilting bees, etc. We’ve gotten to know our neighbors from down the street, as well as meeting up again with a family we hadn’t seen for years. I think I’ll miss it when it’s over.

And all that gorgeous yarn they have now—it’s so hard to choose! I guess I’ll have to keep finding projects when this one is done.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Gloria's Wedding

Gloria and Okon’s wedding (from my view as Big Sister and Coordinator of Glamour)

The wedding was so Beautiful. Gloria was glowing beautiful and it was beautiful how so many family members and friends go to be involved in making the day special from start to finish. Lots of work, but it made it really special and meaningful to all of us. Our mom made Gloria’s dress and veil and worked hard to get a custom fit and the design even evolved as she went. All us girls got to join Gloria on shopping trips (yeah Christmas clearance!) and every time we got together we were updating her on the perfect candle holders we got at the goodwill, or the sugar calla lilies Beca found for the cake, the hunt for more Michael’s coupons, lace and cranberries. We soon realized a small wedding doesn’t necessarily mean a simple one, but then again, who in our family has ever kept anything simple (ok, maybe Dad, once when we let him). At our house, we took Gloria’s decorating ideas and for a couple weeks, we had tulle and lights and cranberries in glasses and candles all “practicing” around our house(my kids are creative, but opinionated!) we got free samples whenever Beca tested a new cake (3 decadent flavors-chocolate-hazelnut, lemon and chai) and Peace was thrilled to spend a morning as cake helper. Then whirlwind picked up pace when the 3 J’s arrived form Alaska—more shopping and a fun shower for Gloria, all fueled by coffee and chocolate, of course Jacob and Dad labored over carnitas and enchiladas (the best) for the Mexican dinner. Gabriel painted a painting that we turned in to a card. That was special because he loves to paint with Gloria. Peace also got to help Gloria make favors and Gloria was remembering how she had done that with me for my wedding when she was Peace’s age. So we all got as ready as we could and the big day arrived, the first non-rainy day in a long time. We shared a breakfast and presentaion of gifts (evolution of the toolbox) and words of encouragement and blessing. Then it was a rush of activity, Beca had the most beautiful cake ever to assemble, we needed to create a breathtaking atmosphere in the cottage (thankful for the women who beautified and the men who engineered the lights, etc) and there were 3 year olds needing naps and everyone needing showers and mirrors….

Between our family and Okon’s and friends we pulled it all together by 3:00, candles lit along the fireplace, lights all around and overhead, quiet music by Margaret and Natalie, a very handsome groom… and then we waited.. and waited… ( well, she had said it would be her Moment of Drama) and waited, then there they were, teary parents, beaming Gloria, with her Spanish lace veil and bouquet of dark callas and peacock feathers. And the wedding began. It was short and simple. I like when people write their own vows. Everyone cheered as they had the first kiss as husband and wife and then they went off to take pictures by the river (great photos by Erik) and the rest of us made coffee , set tables, heated up dinner and visited, and took family pictures. The dinner was delicious—how can you beat home cooked by the 2 families? The atmosphere was so magically pretty, and they looked so happy. There were toasts (especially meaningful was hearing Okon talk about when he met Gloria and also what his sister said about our two families) and laughter and celebration and kisses and gifts and CAKE.

When it was time for them to leave, we lined up on each side of the side walk and help up lit sparklers for them to walk through (Scott was in his element as head of pyrotechnics) and we sent them on their way (in their “glass slipper” with Just Married sign by Jessamyn in the back window and baskets of goodies for feasting on their honeymoon) We started cleaning up and though we were tired, the feeling of celebration continues with dancing ( Okon’s taught the girls the Electric Slide) Gabriel drove JoJo around on the cart and we blew out the candles.
It was emotional for me. I remember when Gloria was born. I remember helping pick her name and how the northern lights danced for her that night. I remember her love of purple and changing her clothes fifty times a day and her homemade cabbage patch doll and her being a wild and strong little girl in her white nightgown and her long hair. I remember braiding her hair and creating some great 80’s choreography with her! How she thought I was just too lucky to be real and she was my great excuse –to watch her instead of sitting in church or gardening or (Lord help us) cutting up a deer. I hope that as she starts her family, time will only bring all of us sisters even closer.

It was a special day for everyone and I think we’re all glad to have been a part of it. It was really a beautiful , perfect day and I love my sister and welcome Okon to our family and wish them a long and happy life together!
pictures by Erik Groomer 2-5-06

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


This morning it snowed here, a rare and unexpected treat. It was falling down so gently and in such big fat flakes. What amazes me about living here is that we can have snow like that in the morning and this afternoon be admiring the pink blooming trees in the bright sunshine. Peace has been so excited about the signs of spring, crocuses, and daffodils already. I love that she loves gardening and growing flowers so much.

I realized yesterday that writing this blog has really helped me to be thankful for the rich blessings in my life. So much joy and beauty that i don't always take the time to experience. My personal journal contains my late night and early morning scribblings and is so much more filled with my feelings that aren't the ones I readily want to share-- all my frustrations, overwhelmedness, indecision, fears and prayers that cry for help fill the pages. My resolutions to be better, do better, cope better...the circle of thoughts that lead me back to Truth and peace. Just whatever's in my mind and heart that needs to pour out. I do write about good things as well, and I don't want to only put those things in my blog, I want to be able to share my struggles as well. But it's been good to start with writing about my blessings because that's what's come to my mind, even taken me by surprise. When Rebeca started her blog and it was full of beautiful and encouraging insights, I was inspired to write, but felt I would need to warn everyone that when I write, it's either newsy and silly or it's crazy and rambling and honest and depressing. It feels good, it gives me perspective to be able to write about both the dark and light of my life(and to read about others)I guess that's what any kind of art, including writing does, it expresses something you didn't even know was there. Now if i would just let go of my fear of what would happen if i starting painting ....

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I’ve been aware that Valentine’s Day is coming up for a while now. Not just because of all the candy and junk at the stores (since when did valentine’s day become an occasion to buy stuffed animals and plastic toys for your kids and pets???) but because whenever I look out our bedroom window I see my neighbor’s decorations. This is the first year this lady has been in this house and we to enjoy each holiday to the fullest, complete with flags, banners, window clings, garlands, and ribbons. There was a blow up haunted house at Halloween, complete with howling sound effects. Santa’s on the chimney and large turkeys… probably every neighborhood has a house like that. Anyway, I looked out my window a couple weeks ago and thought the red glow was emergency vehicles, but it was just the beginning of the valentine’s season and the red light was from the flashing neon sign the said LOVE in their window. So we have love outside our window and romance is in the air—well, the heart shaped banner are streaming ion the wind anyway, and I’ve been thinking about it….

I guess what’s really romantic are the things that are special to your relationship. The things that are anticipated traditions, and the things that catch you by surprise and make you remember why this is the one you loved and still love and will keep loving year after year. I like how Scott calls me outside, or on the phone, to look at the moon, or the sunset, or the rainbow, or to see the snow because he knows I’ll be excited about it. How he always watches for the first rose to bloom and he cuts it with a long stem and takes all the thorns off of it and hides it behind his back before he presents it to me. How he has so much excitement about my birthday and Christmas present and wants me open them early. How he loves babies. How we can still laugh at the same jokes that are just ours from years ago. How we can get talking and not realize it’s one in the morning. Our lives are really busy and full with our children and although we plan dates sometimes and are able to get that time away together in the classic romantic sense—I think it’s these little things woven in our lives and appreciated in our hearts that keep our love alive. It’s going through life together, facing some hard things, but knowing we’re in it together. I’ve heard several people give him compliments lately –he was dependable, a willing servant, he’s working hard to deal with unexpected difficulties and I see him through different eyes and don’t want to take him for granted.
So, Valentine’s day… I have many memories come to mind. We don’t usually celebrate it on the actual day, sometimes Scott’s had to work. Our trip to New York, the first year we were married he gave me the Bible I read everyday. A spagetti dinner with friends, special menus planned by the kids, little letter of love to eachother, flowers that brightened up the house for weeks until spring arrived, decadent boxes of Euphoria chocolate. I always find myself thinking, Valentine’s isn’t that big of a deal, we always love each other, it so commercial…..But then I’m glad it’s a holiday because it’s good to celebrate love, romantic love and all kinds of love that we’re been given. And with that light outside our window flashing LOVE LOVE LOVE there's no way we could ignore it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chess and My Blue-eyed Boy

Gabriel is taking a Chess class and though he had played before, he is suddenly very excited about it. He studies his notebook, plays with his dad, uncle, grandma, and by himself. He wanted to teach me a couple weeks ago and I tried for his sake, but realized I like a game you don’t have to think about so much. Yesterday he wanted me to play again, so I said ok. He thrives on undivided attention and Scott had just left on a trip, so I figured I could take time out of my busyness for him. I got a cup of tea and we sat down to play and it turned out to be the sweetest time. I’d been going in all directions all morning and to sit across from him and see his blue eyes light up and his expressive face as he talked excitedly about strategies, castle-ing, and corridors. I was filled with such a love and appreciation for him. We have been butting heads lately and sometimes I’m overwhelmed by his energy. I was reminded of all his charm and uniqueness and how much it means for him to have time alone with me. Because of his enthusiasm, I actually learned some things (like what the pieces are called and how they can move!) and we had a great time. I saw that something I was doing for his sake turned out to be a blessing for me. I still don’t know if I’ll ever love Chess or win a game, but I do love my boy and our times together.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The River Path

Gloria and I walked down by Alton Baker Park yesterday afternoon. It’s been raining so much and the river is so high, it’s amazing. The water’s up to the bottom of the little bridge and is lapping waves up around it. It’s flowing so fast and muddy with big splashes of white against the bushes on the other side. The bench where we feed the birds on the island is half under water and the duck and geese didn’t seem to know what to do. I felt the same—my familiar walking place, yet everything seems out of place and wild. But really beautiful and alive! It had been cold and foggy, but the sun burst out and actually felt warm on our faces, making us wish for Spring. Gloria showed me the red branches she wants us to use to decorate her wedding next week and took me to see the peacocks that live by the maintenance building. I never would have known to look for them, but there’s a male and female and he was too shy to fan his tail, but so magnificently beautiful blue in the sun. We talked about all kinds of things while we walked. Life is such a mix of good and hard, and so many family and friends going though things right now. Ones who are sick in the hospital, family waiting for news, a marriage hanging by a thread, the girls who’s dad died in this river on New Year’s day. Our aunt who’s lost so many loved ones, and how could one person bear that much pain? The sadness of life on this earth.. and then the joys and wonders. Weddings . Having someone who loves you completely and wants to be with you forever. Healthy, beautiful children who make me laugh everyday. We talked about how we don’t know how we’d get through if something bad happened that changed every thing, and we don’t even want to think about it. I have to believe that God is a present help in time of need and has grace and strength for what each day might hold. I look at Gloria and Okon beginning their life together and I hope the journey is like how the river path usually is-winding by a lazy river that sparkles in the sun. Enjoying each day but also knowing there are miles of beauty still ahead and wonderful surprises like “the red berry tree” we raided at Christmas and the peacock couple and watching the sun set and the moon rise. I love the many blessings of having a family and I want all that for them. I also know that life can be hard. We’ll have fog and rain and maybe someday it will even feel that the river has flooded high enough to sweep us away someday. Maybe we’ll have to find a different way than we planned, maybe it will take longer and be steeper, but if that time comes for them, for us, and those we talked of who are living it right now—God, I ask for the grace to be there, strength to keep going, for some unexpected beauty along the way, some birds to sing when we can’t and the hope and promise of spring again.

I have been kind if emotional and reflective, maybe because my little sister is getting married. It’s a precious time and it goes so fast. This year we’ll have been married 16 years and our oldest will be in high school! I want to make the most of our days. One of our favorite songs says:
We live, we love, we forgive and never give up,
Because the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to Love.--superchic(k)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Little Women

I watched Little Women with the girls tonight. Peace had never seen it and she didn't think she'd like it, but I told her to give it a try. She ended up saying that she loved the story and wants to read the book. I remembered that when I was her age Little Women was my favorite book and I used it for as many book reports as my teachers would let me. I think the first one I read was a children's version where Beth doesn't actually die. I loved the way it paralled with Pilgrim's progress, and the surprising twists the story takes. Mostly, I was drawn to the way the family stuck together through good and bad times. And the way each of the sisters was so different, but they loved each other so much.

It's fun to be able to pass on our love of certain stories to our children and remember my mom doing the same with us. I remember both of us crying and crying at the end of Charlotte's Web. All of us kids begging for just one more chapter of the suspenseful Trapped in the Old Cabin. Laughing over the Gordon Korman books. Not wanting the last in the Narnia series to come to an end. We didn't have a tv and lots of evenings were spent reading together. It was also a good way to pass the time on many long car trips.

We always have a chapter book going and usually I save it for last after our other school work and Bible reading are done. But this moring I brought it out first and we read 2 chapters of Eragon, eating breakfast and drinking tea, wrapped in blankets on the couch. Eragon is a fantasy that ended up on the best seller list, written by a homeschooled teenager. He has such an extensive vocabulary that I've had to get the dictionary out few times. Today we learned what exactly a zephyr is and what it meant when a horse quaffed. Because of it's themes, I'm glad to be reading it together with the kids-- it leads to all kinds of interesting discussions.

I hope my children will continue to enjoy being read to for a long, long time. I hope they continue to like some the books I grew up on and learn from the new ones. I hope Peace will like Little Women, but if not--that's ok, there's a lot more books out there!

Enough is as Good as a Feast

I am blessed with so much in my life. I’m blessed with the things that matter—love and family and friends. I’m blessed to live in a beautiful place, to be free to believe what I want and to teach my children. I’m blessed to have so many opportunities and choices. And compared to most of the world, I am blessed worth an abundance of material things.

I’ve been thinking about those material things. I often say to the kids as we wander distractedly through a store-“Have you noticed they’re just trying to sell us stuff?’ Of course, that’s true, but I don’t always want to think of it that way. They want me to exchange my money for these things. That money spent cannot be spent again and it can’t be spent on something else, perhaps something more important. That money took a measured amount of my husband’s time and energy to earn. I’m responsible to spend it wisely.

We have had some years when money was tight and there weren’t so many options and decisions to make (besides which bill to pay late and which kind of Ramen noodles to buy!) I am so grateful for the blessing we have enjoyed the past few years of having a more stable income and room in our budget for some “extras”. But that comes also with a sobering sense of wanting to be a good steward of what we have, to use it wisely for our family and to help others.

I love to get a good price on stuff. That has, at times, contributed to my being a “junk collector’, as we call it in our family. I would see things at a garage sale, the Goodwill, or clearance table, or the homeschool give-away box and think I needed to get it just because it was a good deal, and if I didn’t need it, surely someone I knew could use it. I am trying not to do that anymore—I don’t want to add to the piles in my closet and the boxes in my garage that I am already need to clear the clutter out of. So, as I often find myself thinking some things a good deal, or free, and I might have a use for it someday, I am trying to stop and think-- What will having this thing gain me? Is it needed, useful or would actually bring beauty and joy to our lives? Or is it just one more thing that will cost me—by wasting my money, cluttering my house and ending up in a pile of stuff that overwhelms me?

I have to admit I fall into the trap advertising sets for me sometimes. I see the shiny pictures, the displays at the mall, the colors, or the excitement of an e-bay auction, the feeling of walking down the mall with an armful of bags, and I unconsciously think I would be happier if I just had that thing. I recently went to a Pampered Chef party with one or two things I was going to buy and then when I started looking at the catalogue- I saw about 20 more I wanted. There’s nothing wrong with these things, in fact some of them I probably will buy someday-if I will really use them and have a place for them. It was just the change I felt in my heart-rather than thankfulness for what I got, I focused on wishing I had more. And the truth is while these kitchen tools may be fun or make my jobs easier, no matter how well my kitchen is outfitted- they themselves don’t create the atmosphere of sitting down to a delicious meal with my family. It’s people—like the Proverb says ”better is a dish of vegetables where love is…” I think the lies that advertising sells us, especially women, are important to keep in mind and to expose to ourselves and to our children.

Peace and I were in the Goodwill about a year ago and I pulled out a pretty shirt her size. It was a good brand and only a dollar or two and I was trying to see if she wanted me to buy it for her. She told me, ”No, I think I have enough shirts’. This older lady was near us and she said,” Isn’t it great that someone so young can know when enough is enough?” That has stuck with me. Let’s leave the shirt for someone who needs it and will be happy to have it. Enough is enough.. Or as Mary Poppins said ,”Enough is as good as a feast.”
I have a quote on my fridge that says,’Life is relationships, the rest is just stuff. We can’t take it with us. It should serve us rather that us serving it by having it be too important or take away from what is important. I also am having the thought that this way of thinking is the key to living a simple life. Enough is enough when it comes to material things, but also to activities, to the pressure we put on ourselves, the things that complicate our lives.
So, the next time I go to the store and start getting vortexed—that’s what my kids say when we start wandering in circles looking at stuff—I want to see all that Stuff for what it is, no matter how great the sale is. I want to tell myself the truth about how happy it will make me, to make a wise decision, and to be very thankful for what I have been blessed with.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Well, I have officially admitted it-- my daughter is taller than me! At 13, Jessamyn has passed 5'6'' and is still growing taller. It's just one more moment in realizing how fast the time goes and how much I love my children. We were looking at baby pictures this week and it really seems like not so long ago that they were just like they're cousins who are 3 years old and 9 months old. Not only are they growing so rapidly on the outside, but I see their maturity and personality taking shape on the inside, to. They are becoming more thoughtful and aware of how what they affects other people, and getting independent in so many ways. That independence causes such mixed emotions in me. Sadness because they don't need me in some ways anymore. Excitement to see what the future holds for them. Gratefulness for the strong relationship we have and hope that that relationship will grow in new ways. A sense that it's time for me to find my identtity in more than just being their mom, as they find their identities apart from me. A prayer for all of us as we find our way as a family, that we will make the most of our days and years together and remember how precious we are to each other. Because before I know it, they will all be passing my height mark on the kitchen wall! picture--Mother's Day 2005 (when I was still taller!)