Friday, September 30, 2011

Excuse you!

In lieu of a spelling test, I assigned Micah a project to use as many of his spelling words as possible in a story.  Following is his submission exactly as he wrote it.  I guess I don't know what I expected.  I just wanted him to use the words {somewhat} appropriately.  I hoped he would be responsible enough to get the spelling right (since he was typing it in Word, after all).  Grade??  It wasn't a time-consuming effort on his part, but he did do exactly what I asked.  I think I need to decide what he's saying first of all...I  know some of the words are not used quite right...but I found his attempt humorous anyway...ok, here it goes:

Once upon a time, a Indo-European family, who spoke Sanskrit which came with a hint of Germanic, had a phenomenon. The analytical son, Fred, tried to separate the Semitic languages, Hebrew and Arabic. After failing terribly, the son tried to find the correlation between linguists and philologists, and discovered cheese curds. Fred’s descendant, Fred the third, tried to followed in the foots steps of his Grandfather, and discovered how civilization can express language to isolated people with dialects which express their dominion over peninsulas.

What a list of words!!

I think I may just go back and assign a 'normal' spelling test...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Autumnal Equinox

 My laundry beckons the sun to climb higher, but the sun said, "Not now, I'm sinking lower."  

My house now shades the deck fully, when only a couple months ago it was in full sun and we were begging for shade.

 The oak tree wears a majestic crown, a testimony to a beautiful summer now turning golden.
She will hold her leaves valiantly all winter long, through every stormy blast.

 The sunflowers hang their heads and wait for the birds to come.

 The garden goes to sleep and one lone tomato teases us as the sun warms its face.

A quick frost finally convinces our cucumbers to give up their struggling battle to produce fruit but no leaves.  

Long days give way now to long nights.
We rest.  We wait.

    While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
(Genesis 8:22 ESV)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Real Food

Caleb (10 years old): 
"Why are we having Hamburger Helper tonight?  Don't we have any real food?"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Call for Mercy

We love receiving the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter at our house.
 (Eden especially has a tenderness for reading the newsletter.) 

Watch the video, visit to read Asia Bibi's story, then sign the petition.  And pray.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pictures from this week (Obi is crawling!)

Our days are very, very busy.  It's hard to stop and get caught up on blogging as often as I think about it!

 Tirzah is such a "little mommy".  This actually causes some problems.  I am amazed by the differences between girls and boys!

 Obi is not impressed with her mothering skills.  ;)

Caleb and Micah both enjoy putting Obi to sleep, and they are quite good at it.  One day Caleb said to me, "Mom, Obadiah is the cutest when he is sleeping.  I mean, he's cute all the time, but he's especially cute when he's sleeping."  Oh yes, all sleeping babies are adorable!
Mitch bought this airplane to assemble as a fun project for him and Josh.

 Trouble maker!

 The kids or Mitch (I can't remember which) received a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans from Marilyn.  It was a while ago and we just now opened them to share.  Mitch & I call sharing these a "mini-date".

Obadiah can officially crawl!  He gets up on his hands and knees, rocks back and forth, and shoots forward.  He could move around quite a bit before he turned 5 months old.  But he really couldn't control where he was going.  He just knew he liked the movement.  Now at 5.5 months he has no problem getting his eyes focused on a target and working his way there.  That is, as long as an older sibling doesn't come along and pick him up.  Today he crawled through this tunnel thing to get to me.

I didn't think he was going to crawl through.  I went around to the other side, behind him, and tried to move closer to him, but that just annoyed him.  He insisted on going forward.  He got excited again when I moved back around to the original side.

 Almost there!

(Speaking of which, he thinks peek-a-boo is the funnest game ever invented.  He laughs and laughs and laughs.)

Our weather this weekend is supposed to be warm(er) and very little chance of rain.  We decided it's time to do the door.  This part of it is fairly discouraging--getting the old door out and inspecting the floor underneath.  We have to get the rotting wood out.  We have to make sure that when we put the door back in we will not end up with the same leaks.  Part of that will be adding a storm door.  But part of it (as I understand it) will be removing some of the deck and making a better path for water to drain.  I am biting my tongue.  I really want to blame the builders.  But it really doesn't matter who is to blame.  Can we fix it?  What can we learn?  Will Mitch later be able to use his skills to help someone else?   I am looking forward to having a storm door that I can open the glass on so that air can flow through the screen!

This project will actually take quite a bit of work.  Replacing a door is difficult enough in itself.  But we also have to replace the door and fix the water runoff issues.  Mitch went to buy a piece of plywood and other supplies.  He plans to put the plywood over the door opening tonight.  But if he didn't want to, I think this is a good plan--the heavy down blanket is blocking the cold very efficiently (supposed to be 40 F overnight tonight).  The hole in the floor will catch any would-be burglars!  :)

After the new door is installed, we will finish laying the floor.  I'm really looking forward to that!  We also have to put down quarter round trim.  Since the weather is going to be nice this weekend, I may see if I can help by sanding/staining the trim.  Lots and lots to do!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: Espresso for Your Spirit

Pooped out.  Yep, that is a good way to describe me at the end of these fast-paced, jam-packed homeschool/daycare days!  My schedule is so full.  I often look ahead and wonder if I'll be able to hold it together, or if I'm just winding up for a big *snap* at some point in the future.  Do I have enough balance in my life to keep going, or is there a train wreck at the end of the tracks?  I thought a good book might be just the thing to balance me out, but I wondered where I would find time to read a book.  Hmmmm...

Espresso for Your Spirit, by Pam Vredevelt, to the rescue!  With a tagline like this:  "Hope and Humor for Pooped Out Parents", I had high hopes that this little book would be just the pick-me-up that I need.

Espresso for Your Spirit is a collection of 28 short chapters that can be easily and quickly sipped down in the time that you have available.  Pam tells stories that are captivating and encouraging, either from her own life experiences or from those she has met.  She writes from 20 years of experience as a therapist, as the mother of 3 children, and as a pastor's wife. 

If you have ever felt like God is not listening, does not care about what's going on in your life, or that He's distant, you might need a good refreshing look at life.  Each story in Espresso for Your Spirit is a reminder that God is in control, that He cares, and He is very near.  Pam ties in scripture and personal application to help motivate and push you back on the right track.  Each story is tied up neatly to give glory back to God for the work that He is doing. 

The book is promoted for "parents" in general, but I guess I couldn't help but feel moms will connect more with the stories than dads will.  Also I think that it can't help but feel a bit "clinical" at times when Pam tackles topics like depression or tells stories of transformation in a client's life.  I noticed myself becoming more analytical instead of just sitting back and enjoying the story.  The cure for me was to take it a little slower, savor the story, and allow myself to reflect, rather than rushing ahead to the next chapter.

This book would make a fantastic coffee-table book, gift book, etc.  It's perfect for your nightstand, briefcase, or wherever you may find yourself caught with a few minutes to refresh.  As a mom who is currently nursing a baby, I think it's well-suited to grab for our 10-15 minute nursing sessions!

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher, Waterbrook Multnomah, as a part of their Blogging for Books program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Please take time to rank my review so I can continue to get books to review from Multnomah!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Mitch, Micah, Eden and Caleb went camping last night with the YFU exchange students.  They went to our favorite group site at Warner Lake County Park.  It's pretty rustic--a long walk to pit toilets, no running water, no showers, no electricity.  It was also supposed to be pretty cold overnight (low 40s), so I decided I would stay home with the younger kids.  I wanted to make the evening fun for them, but at the same time I wanted to work on character training (we have been hitting that pretty hard the past 3 weeks since school started).  So I warned them ahead of time that there would be no "screen time".  There were some tears (give me a break!) when Mitch and kids pulled away.  But we headed to the basement to pick out a board game.  We played a round of Sorry!  This definitely brought up some "problem" areas of character to work on.  I love how a little board game competition can bring out the worst in us (ouch).  :)  After the game we had a fun supper with very kid-friendly special treats.  I bribed the kids with dessert once the table and dishes were cleaned up.  Everyone except Obadiah pitched in and helped with clearing the table, doing dishes, and putting toys away.  Our dessert choices were cupcakes (left over from Patrick's birthday) or brownies (extras left after I sent some camping).  After dessert Zeke and Josh were rewarded with reading some books that we normally don't allow them to read because they don't care well enough for them and pages are falling out.  While they reading, I made some dough for sugar cookies for us to cut out this morning.  When that was done, it was time for bed.  I surprised the boys by asking them if they wanted to "camp out" in our living room.  They were excited about that.

 I don't remember exactly when in the evening this one happened, but it was precious.  Zeke is actually reading (!!!) his library book to Tirzah.  Malachi jumped in to hear, too.  He did a great job.  I am especially impressed because he did it by his own choice.

 Trying to get comfortable.  Tirzah and Obi actually slept in my bed.  The boys got quiet right away, but they didn't really go to sleep until almost 10 pm.

 This morning everyone was awake and ready to go by 6 a.m.  I am glad I went to bed when they did last night!  Even 8 hours of sleep is not hardly enough for me.  Ugh.  I'm tired!  After breakfast was done and cleaned up, we got started with sugar cookies.  Bonnie brought us these fun cut-outs.  Now I will tell you a secret.  I personally don't even like to eat sugar cookies.  I don't particularly like cooking with my kids at all.  I'd rather just do it myself.  But to do sugar cookies WITH my kids is a real stretch.  I managed to keep my patience and let go of my perfectionist tendencies and use a nice voice almost the entire time.  Whew!  (This is the power of Christ in me...)

 By the time the cookies were out of the oven I was WAY too tired to make my own frosting.  So we used store-bought.  But I gave each of the kids a small amount to put on their cookies.  Before even 1 min had passed I caught multiple kids licking their knives already.  LOL.  So I distinguished their cookies from all the others by using blue sprinkles.  Just a hint:  don't eat the ones with blue frosting.

 Forget tasting frosting, Tirzah decided to sample the whole cookie before it was time. 

Finally I said, "Ok, everyone can eat a cookie!"  They were all very happy to sample their cookies (though Josh says he doesn't like them).  Even I thought they taste pretty good.  For a sugar cookie.  As I was walking away, Zeke said, "This is the funnest day ever."  I let out a silent "Yes!"  I know it won't last.  In fact, he's already whining about not getting screen time yet.  So I'd better go and come up with some more fun.  Hopefully our family will be home early this afternoon.  I think Mitch is bringing home a special visitor--an exchange student from South Korea that we have been hoping to meet since this spring.  I'm so excited!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

1st Haircut

I found Obi quite distracted enough to be somewhat still this afternoon outside on the deck, so I decided it was time to get the scissors after the crazy hairs on top of his head.  He is the first of 8 children that has "needed" a haircut before turning 1 year old.  In fact, Tirzah is over 2 years old and still hasn't had her first haircut!



It may not be very even--those fine hairs are very hard to comb up and hold evenly!  I will probably have to do some more after he has it washed.  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Patrick's Birthday!

Happy birthday, Patrick!

We had cupcakes.  Caleb reminded us which kind we should have.  Eden brought it upstairs from "paradise" for me (aka the crawl space).  Micah cracked the eggs.  Malachi offered (several times) to lick the frosting from the knife.  I also overheard him telling Josh, "I bet I could eat this whole thing of frosting!"  And I bet he could.  The daycare kids were THRILLED that I actually let them have cupcakes, too, rather than saving them for after dinner for just our family.  Everyone helped blow out the candle.

We hope you have a fabulous year.  "May the Lord bless you and keep you, the whole year through!" 

Duluth, MN

We were invited to attend the wedding of Mitch's youngest step-brother this weekend in Duluth, on the shore of Lake Superior.  The young couple was blessed with a beautiful day...the weather was absolutely perfect!  Summer hung on for one more.  :)

I tried to take pictures, and I did get some very good ones, but I was very busy trying to juggle the baby and keep track of kids (even with Mitch's help).  It was hard to get in my "groove."  Here are the ones I wanted to share!

 The wedding took place at the historic Glensheen Mansion in Duluth.  After the wedding was over, we were able to take a tour inside the mansion.  I didn't know the history of the mansion, and I asked a few questions as I went through, but after I got home I did a little more research (there was a murder there in 1977).  I think it would be fun to go back some day!  It was crazy how many rooms the mansion had and how big the rooms were.

 The kids would have loved to just play at the shore.  I hope next summer we can go up to the north shore for a vacation.

 You probably noticed this one already.

 I try hard not to take pictures that another photographer has posed...I feel it is a copyright violation.  However, the photographer stood on shore (quite a distance away), and had Bobby & Missy walk out to the dock.  I hardly think he can take credit for how incredibly stunning they look!  :)  So I took the picture too. 

 This is the view of the back gardens and shoreline from the balcony of the mansion.

 This is the view of the front door of the mansion.

 Nate with Tristan and Mitch with Obi.

 We told Josh he really does look like a hobbit.  Since his name on our family shirts is "Frodo", Mitch gave him a ring.  Hehe....we told him to slip it on his finger...

 He disappeared!  :) 
 Hope and Selena
 Me, Holly with both babies, and Hope

 Bobby waiting patiently

 Paul & Marilyn

 Karen & Marc

 The beautiful bride, Missy

I wish I had gotten more pictures of the wedding ceremony, but at just the next moment, Obi decided it was time to nurse.  At the reception I really had a hard time getting the settings right on my camera (and I was also busy chasing kids).  

 At the reception the photographers had set up a backdrop area for photographs for a scrapbook.  They took one "serious" photo and one goofy photo.  For the goofy photos, they had an entire table set up with all kinds of fun things (masks, hats, necklaces, etc) for dressing up.  This was a very fun idea!

 Hope bought Obi and Tristan matching outfits for the wedding.  Aren't they cute?!  Obi wouldn't sit still.  It was SO funny!