"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 10:10

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 30, 2014

Sometimes I marvel at our full house.  Each one of our beautiful girls is so different.  Here are examples of their unique personalities from this weekend:

Julia:  She had a major tantrum about changing her clothes after church.  She knows what she wants, and nobody can persuade her otherwise.  She can also make Cora cry.  Julia is 20 months old.  Cora is 4 years old.

Cora:  When I asked her to throw a piece of trash away in the living room tonight, she agreed to do it.  Then she said she would do it because we are the Mommies, and the Mommies have to clean up.  

Anna:  She was one of the first ones up this morning.  She bounds in to our room, with a smile on her face, and tells us about her plans for the day.

Lydia:  When watching Frozen and the choir came on for the coronation, she said, "Nice choir."  This afternoon she made up a game for the neighbor kids to play together.  They would jump across the creek (read, waterway) in the common area in the back and try to tag the other kids.  She titled this game "Tag with an element of surprise."

Madeline:  When she and I got home this afternoon from memory master proofing, she saw Lydia with their tablet outside.  It is not suppose to be outside.  She rolled down the window and was yelling at Lydia to bring the tablet inside.  Lydia had run the power low, had it outside, and Madeline was almost in tears.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

March 28, 2014

I made our monthly trip to Sam's Club this afternoon.  I'm sticking with the once a month big grocery shopping, and so far it is working pretty well.  By the end of the month we are running low, but it is keeping me out of the store which helps our budget and my time.

However, I really don't like going to Sam's.  For me, it still has too much of the Wal Mart feel.  My cart is overflowing after walking through the huge warehouse store, I pay $400 as I check out, and begrudgingly load every single little item into the van and then out of the van.  It zaps my energy.  I get a really grumpy attitude about it.  

Then tonight I was convicted of this grumpiness.  It hit me that there are women around the world who have to walk miles every day just to get fresh water for their family.  There are women who have to grind their own flour or corn to make bread for their families every single day.  There are women who would love to feed their families fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables all year round.  So maybe the problem isn't Sam's Club (although I would really love a Costco in Lincoln), but me.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014

Mark is taking the day off tomorrow.  I love the possibility of a weekend.  There are so many things to check off the to do list.  But then there is always the idea of relaxing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26, 2014

Madeline passed her second round of Memory Master for Classical Conversations today.  They recite every piece of information that has been presented this year in every subject.  This includes reciting the times tables from 1 to 15, an entire timeline of world history, 24 science facts, detailed history sentences, Latin conjugations, finding countries on a world map, plus much more.  The whole recitation takes from one to two hours, depending on how quick the child spews the information.  The student first has to complete a proof with his or her own parent where they can miss or get help on 3 facts per subject, then they have to proof with another parent outside the family where they can miss or get help on one fact per subject, then proof with their tutor with no mistakes, and finally be spot checked with the director.

It is amazing!  When I first heard about this I thought, "No way.  Why would you want to put your child through that?  What if they try but fail?  Could anyone seriously recite all that information?"  I have proofed three additional children, in addition to Madeline, over the past couple years.  They can do it, and it blows my mind.  My policy for our family is for memory master to be a requirement for their 4th, 5th, and 6th grade years.  If they want to do it before then that is fine, but I won't push it.  I think there is a maturity level that is necessary to make it their own.  I do not have the time or capacity to drill the information with them constantly.  I will help out if asked and we review every week as a family.  But, it is their responsibility to be memory master ready. Now, I still get nervous when it comes to proofing time but I know this is an invaluable experience for them.  The purpose of the experience is to become a master, which doesn't mean it has to be absolutely perfect.  At first this seems contradictory or a little ambiguous.  But when a child starts rolling out the information, it is obvious whether they know (have mastered) the material.  It is not possible to cram for this.  It needs to be in long term memory, no short term processing.  There are high standards, but it is not a terrifying experience because it is with people who love you and are cheering for you.  I think this is also where the maturity level needs to be assessed again.  It may be that they try but do miss too many and fail.  Will they be able to handle that?  Will I be able to handle that?  

The lessons learned, hard work put in,  tears cried, and studying instead of playing are all worth it.  It seems that in our modern culture and education system, self esteem is a big issue.  Yes, I want my children to feel good about themselves.  I want them to be self confident.  I want them to know that God created them perfectly and has great plans for their life.  I believe that the most effective way to instill self esteem in a child is to give them a hard task, watch them have to really struggle or work at it, and conquer it.  They can see through the telling them that they did a good job all the time, especially if it is a false congratulations.  But they know when they have worked hard and really accomplished something.  And let me tell you, memory master is difficult.  

Madeline still has her big proof left, with her tutor.  I think she'll make it, but will be so grateful when this is done.  I can't wait to see how the foundation of all this fascinating information she is memorizing blossoms in her future studies.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A random day indeed

The day started out getting the house ready for our cleaning lady to come.  She comes once a month, and it helps me remain sane.  While it is a monumental task getting everything put where it is suppose to be, that is part of the beauty of the arrangement.  I know that once a month the house will be completely put together.  It is also one of the difficulties of cleaning house.  By the time everything gets put to its rightful place, I'm too tired to clean.  Juanita waltzes in and helps me out.  

After everything was in order, all the girls accompanied me to my doctor appointment.  I'm 35 weeks today!  The reality that this baby is really coming within the next 6 weeks has hit home.  One thing we have checked off the "baby is coming" checklist is a vehicle to fit all 8 of us!  Here is our new (to us!) Honda Odyssey.  After researching and considering 8 seated options, I decided I could not part from my push the button and the door opens feature of a mini van.  We are figuring out how to configure everyone in there, but there is enough room for our growing family.  I love it!

After the doctor, we completed the very important tasks of dropping off items we don't really need at Goodwill, depositing money in the bank, getting gas, and filling an asthma prescription at Walgreens.  Everyone was doing so great, I decided to push it.  (I think it was the novelty of the new van and excitement that we weren't at home doing school.)  We headed up to north Lincoln to check out bunk beds.  

Yet another item on the "baby is coming" checklist:  beds for everyone.  I got the good news this morning that my mom and sisters may be coming for a weekend in April to help prepare for baby so I really started to think about what needs to get done.  One priority is rearranging rooms.  I originally was going to just get an additional bunk bed, throw some girls together, and call it good.  But as the girls and I sat at the furniture store talking, we came up with many different options that all have their merits for who goes where.  One thing leads to another and now I'm thinking I'll take this opportunity to completely rearrange everyone and rehab the rooms.  See this little Petunia screaming her head off in the bath tub because she threw everything out of the bath tub?  Yes, she is the wild card.  Who do I put her with? 

After eating some nummy Carlos O'Kelly's (Tuesday is discounted kids meal days), stopping in Dress Barn to look for a dress for a very pregnant lady (I resisted going in to that store for years simply because of its atrocious name, but may be appropriate at this point), and getting everyone to bed for naps, I started looking at beds and bedroom inspiration online.  That is when the toddler beds caught my eye.  We've never used a toddler bed.  But they are so cute!  And space and money saving compared to other options, I think I'll tuck the Jules in a toddler bed in someone's room.  After nap time, we were measuring and brainstorming.  We have three decent but not big bedrooms to work with.  I'm still not sure what we'll end up with.  

At 4:30, Lydia showed me that her wire on her braces was out.  The last time this happened it was a Saturday morning and I would temporarily put it back in every couple hours.  I didn't want to do that again, so we buzzed in to the orthodontist for a quick fix before they closed.  Mark is in South Dakota tonight for a quick work trip, so supper was "whatever you can find or create and clean up."  I finished my leftover Carlos'.  I'm to the point where I can't eat too much at one sitting because my stomach is so squished.  

Now it is bath time and bed.  You may be wondering, what about school?  Well, they're watching Magic School Bus right now.  Isn't that the homeschool mom's favorite fall back?  Actually, we have been very dilligent with school lately and haven't had a day off in a while so this was our small spring break.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23, 2014

Julia will occasionally pretend to throw up in the toilet.

A couple days ago I was standing outside watching the kids play, with Julia standing beside me.  She started checking me out, looking me up and down.  She proceeded to put her arms on her hips and stick her tummy out.  

Just like Mommy.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22, 2014

After having visitors for a week straight, today we are regrouping.  We are enjoying long rest times, putting everything away where it goes, cleaning out the refrigerator, and reestablishing our parental authority.  Living away from family, we are so grateful when our parents, sisters, and kiddos make the effort to visit us.  I know that it is not easy.  But we love them and love to see them!

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21, 2014

Last night Mark and I went out to eat to Misty's, a Lincoln steak place.  I know that Misty's isn't the hippest spot in town, but I didn't know that Thursday night is senior citizen night.  There was hardly any music playing to drown out conversation.  We had a case of the giggles listening to all the white hair conversation around us.  I think it was one of those "had to be there" situations, so I won't document the hilarity here.  Just trust me, it was good.  We have had a lot going on in life lately, and it was a relief to laugh.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014

Cora loves to call herself Gretel.  
As in, 
"Can Gretel have some more salad?"  
"Gretel helped Julia get her coat on."  
"Gretel likes her activity during school."  


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014

Tonight I finished Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the next book in our book club.  While not my favorite thus far, it was interesting and tells of the political happenings of the time.

Book club has been one of my proudest accomplishments over the past couple years.  We have read:
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

Diana and I have been busy making freezer meals today.  We made:
Chicken parmesan
Scalloped potatoes and ham
Broccoli cheddar soup
Orange chicken
Italian vegetable soup
Barbeque meatballs
Pizza bread

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 15, 2014

Diana, Sydney, and Dalton arrived today for a short visit.  I am always awed by how different our kids look, our blonde haired skinny girls to their dark haired stout kids.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fairy Land

We have had a gorgeous weather week here.  Temperatures in the 60's, sun, fresh air, and plenty of outside play time.

Lydia has been very busy making fairy houses, and even directing others to make a fairy town.  While the other kids are busy running and shouting she has been laser focused on her fairy land.  Oh my, how I love that girl.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13, 2014

I have two goals for Lent:  
1.  Give up Facebook.  
     This has been pretty easy.  I don't feel like I'm missing any critical information, and really most of my time on Facebook was just zoning out time when I could be focusing my attention on something more important.  
2.  Read through the entire New Testament.
     Ok, instead of reading through it I am listening to it.  The Truth and Life app has a dramatized audio version of the New Testament I'm using.  It is engaging, and easy to listen to.  They even have a 40 days through the New Testament playlist that will keep your place for you, and break it down by days. I am loving going quickly through the New Testament, getting the big picture and hearing stories I've heard over and over in a new way.

I remember the first time I participated in all the prepatory liturgical days leading up to Easter.  I grew up in a church that did not observe Maundy Thurday or Good Friday.  It was just "He arose!" without the acknowledgement that He died.  When we lived in Ankeny and went to Westkirk, we attended the Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday services.  The sadness and darkness of those services made Easter Sunday a true celebration of depth and emotion.  The lead up and walking with Christ through those days made it all more real.  The memory of the joy and tears on that Easter is a treasured memory.  

Now I am encountering Lent.  Lent is about spiritual discipline, preparation, and training our affections to love what we ought.  It is acknowledging our sin, and the new life we receive only through Christ.  Just as Jesus prepared for his earthly ministry by 40 days of preparation and retreat, we use Lent in the same way.    

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Best tantrum to date for the Jules

Julia gave a magnificent performance earlier this week in her quest to prove that she has an iron will.

As I was downstairs getting lunch ready, she was upstairs practicing how to put lipstick on.  (Side note:  how do they know what goes where?  If I catch her with my eye liner, she is trying to get it on her eye lid.  If she has lipstick it is somewhat close to her mouth.)  By the time word got down to Mommy that there was trouble brewing, there was lipstick all over her face, hair, clothes, and my bathroom.  It was a fine exhibition.  This picture is proof of the terror, after it was cleaned up.  

I took her to her bedroom to change her clothes.  Heaven forbid!  Oh no, this was not acceptable to her one year old mind.  She started screaming, kicking, flailing about.  She did not want clean clothes on, her face cleaned, or her hair without the lipstick.  I took this as a personal challenge of my wrestling abilities.  I got her all cleaned up, but she was still freaking out.  So, I did what any rational mother would do and left her on the floor of her bedroom screaming.  

When I came back a few minutes later, she was still screaming.  But instead of on the floor, she was climbing her changing table in hopes of retrieving those dirty clothes!  Put them back on!  I worked hard to make that big mess!  Get me up there to reverse this tragedy!  Mommy cannot win!

Oh yes, dear child.  Never give up.  I scooped her up and dropped her in her crib to cry, scream, and kick some more.  After about 15 minutes she was done.  But she still wimpered for a while after she had a good Mommy snuggle and calmed down. This was not our first or last battle, but it was a good one.  

March 11, 2014

I'm dusting myself off and climbing back on the horse.

So, amid life happenings, the main two consistent activities over the last month....
  • We're trying really hard to get school done by late April, before baby comes or Mommy hits a brick wall.  This means doubling on math and writing lessons, and not letting a day slip by with any excuse to omit these lessons.  We obviously fell behind last semester with me on the couch or over the toilet most of the days, but are making up lost time now.  
  • Speaking of, I've been growing a baby.  The movements have definitely changed from fluttery kicks to baby parts stretching out.  I'm visiting my doctor every two weeks.  My bedtime snack is a couple of Tums.