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Monday, December 31, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
I love quotes. I have a collection of them I have gathered throughout my life. They are things I've read somewhere that struck a resonant chord within me and I identified with the writer or the feeling they've captured. I came across one around Thanksgiving that I had filed away and I found it fit the person I want to be so well that I used it on a plaque for my wall.
"Best of all is to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song." -Konrad von Gesner
He truly is the whole reason we celebrate this wonderful season. We would be no where good without His love and tender compassion. I love when it says in Psalms,
"As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverance, worship and awe]. For He knows our frame, He[earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust." (Ps. 103:13-14)
May you be blessed this Holiday Season (and every other season of your life) and I pray you will remember the times when the God of Heaven reached down and touched your life for your good and know that it was simply because He loves you so dearly.
I am a little disappointed that this isn't working out. Some would probably say I haven't given it enough time, but I have to admit that I am just not cut out for schooling all of my kids at the same time. The past three and a half months have been the most stressful and tension-filled time our family has ever experienced. After lots of thought and talk and tears and yelling and frustration and exasperation and much crying out for God's help and patience, Adam and I felt like it was wise to put the kids back in regular public school, which we did a couple of weeks ago. The atmoshpere in our home has changed dramatically ever since.
I had to let go of the unrealistic expectations I had of how homeschooling would be. I had a picture in my head of what I thought it would be like and reality was vastly different!
While the whole experience was very trying and full of frustration, it wasn't all horrible. I learned a lot about how my kids think and learn. They are all so individual and so remarkable. I also saw more of a reflection of myself in my kids than I ever wanted to. My son, Mr. Meticulous, is more like me than I had ever realized. We think and learn very similarly, and while in some ways it's helped me understand him better, it has also been the source of an impressive amount of frustration and clashing with each other.
So I am retiring my desire to be the ultimate homeschooling mother of 4, choosing instead to focus again on the things that matter most like the spiritual education of my children's hearts.
Thanks for all of your prayers. I am quite sure they are the sole reason I actually still have an entire head full of hair today!
(I love my kids, but I can't wait for Monday!......)
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
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HAPPY THANKSGIVING! May you all be blessed and know that we enjoy the privilege to call you friends and family! We miss you and love you.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
It started off with the red carpet arrivals of each dazzling Diva. The Paparazzi had their work cut out for them with all the glitz and glamour and flashes lit up every eye!
Inside, the girls were given a sticker on their back with the name of a famous Diva they might know (like Princess Fiona or Barbie) and they had to ask each other yes or no questions in order to figure out who they had on their sticker.
Next was a rousing game of nail polish hot potato where the bottle of polish is passed round and round the group as music plays in the background. When the music stopped, the girl caught holding the bottle had to paint one fingernail. The first Diva to have all fingers on one hand painted was the winner. We had sherbet punch and a gorgeous cake and enjoyed being silly before it was PRESENT TIME!
After opening all her gifts, Brielle treated us to a song during our very own Diva Awards Ceremony. Here's a peek at the whole event:
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Thursday, September 27, 2007
The cousins all had a blast playing together and comiserating over school work together (as Celeste also does class online through a similar program to Connections Academy). I was glad to not have to be a big "meanie" and make my kids miss out on anything because of school...instead, they all missed out together! (just kidding!)
The weather was very warm most of the time they were here and we took the opportunity to refresh ourselves in the river one day. We packed up some lovely salmon dip, chips and homemade salsa (made with tomatoes fresh from our own garden! YUM!) and some drinks and enjoyed the end of a hot day at our new favorite swimming hole. (I made a little slide show about it with a new program I am trying out. I posted it here for you to see.)
After saying our goodbyes to Grandma and Grandpa, the rest of us took off in a caravan over the pass to see the other Millers on their organic farm. Uncle Tom and Aunt Kathi were thrilled to have us all there and we laughed and talked a long while. The kids had a BLAST running everywhere and checking out the new tiny piglets, chickens, turkeys, horses, cows and a dog or two. It was a city kid's playground! (I'll post another slide show of that fun too.)
Well, I'd better get on it. Not a whole lot of time to mess around on here anymore with school taking up so much time. We are working on establishing a routine and finding a workable schedule. We will get it down yet! Keep praying for us, though!
Love to you all.
Mmmmmmm.........one of our favorite summertime things is picking blackberries and we did that in abundance this year. After all the picking, washing, freezing and bagging were done, we had about 5 gallons stockpiled in our chest freezer! There was, of course, a blessing in mind for those wonderful berries. We knew Grandma and Grandpa were coming down from Alaska in September and we also knew how they loved blackberries, so we were picking and bagging as many as we could so we could send them home with a bunch. Little did we know that they would show up here with a cooler full of Alaskan salmon and halibut for us! It was like an old fashioned native trade. Fish for berries. Wonderful! A blessing both ways.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
We've had a wonderful time at the fair this year. It's the first time we've been there in about 5 years, I think, so consequently, it was little Mister's first time at the fair. He had a blast.
A big hit was the children's garden play area where everything is handmade and all of the veggies are hand sewn.
Another favorite is always the animals. It's really why we go.
This year we got to see baby chicks hatch out of eggs
the tiniest goat I've ever seen
(this little guy's mom was only as tall as my knee.....maybe!)
and lots and lots of piglets!
We have been contemplating whether we should enter some items in the fair next year. I think we will. I have always wanted to and I want the kids to feel pride in what they make. Who knows, maybe we could bring home a blue ribbon or two.
Well, here ya go. The much awaited pictures of Mr. Meticulous' eye surgery results. The surgery is amazing. The doctor repositioned the two muscles on either side of the eye by cutting them and stitching them onto the eye in their new position. The one on the right (as you look at the picture) was moved further back on the eye to create less of a pull and the muscle on the left was moved forward and restitched to the eye. You can see the edge of it beside the rim of the iris in the picture above. He is healing very well. We have a check up appointment tomorrow so I will post an update about his progress sometime tomorrow. He will have at least one more appointment after that and get new glasses with his new prescription.
"I'm selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.
You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the
kids together and give them “The Lecture“.
“The Lecture“ goes like this…
MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again.”
OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go. Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.
At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer good naturedly, “Yep!" “Oh my, you have your hands full.” “Yes, I do, but it‘s fun!” I say smiling. I’ve heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.
We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never
thought that would happen!” I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say,
“Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???” “No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.” With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child
actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.
A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?” Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”
OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I’m tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of “Can we gets” begins.
“Can we get donuts?”
“Can we get cupcakes?”
“Can we get muffins?”
“Can we get pie?”
You’d think they’d catch on by this point, but no, they’re just getting started. In the bakery, they’re giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, my kids all take one. The toddler decides he doesn’t like it and proceeds to spit it out in my hand. (That’s what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children’s mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We’d rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I’m not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same.) Of course, there’s no garbage can around, so I continue shopping one-handed while searching for someplace to dispose
of the regurgitated mess in my hand. In the meat department, a mother with one small baby asks me, “Wow! Are all six yours?” I answer her, “Yes, but I’m thinking of selling a couple of them.” (Still searching for a garbage can at this point.)
OK, after the meat department, my kids’ attention spans are spent. They’re done
shopping at this point, but we aren’t even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My seventh “child”, also known as my husband. While I’m picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of a Keebler elf stacked with packages of cookies. Ah! Yes! I find a small trash can by the coffee machine in the cereal aisle and finally dump out the squishy contents of my hand. After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have twenty open boxes of cereal in my house. As this is going on, my toddler is playing Houdini and maneuvering his little body out of the seat belt in an attempt to stand up in the cart.
I’m amazed the kid made it to his second birthday without suffering a brain
damaging head injury. In between trying to flip himself out of the cart, he sucks on the metal bars of the shopping cart. Mmmm, can you say “influenza”?
The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that the toddler has flung out of the cart. I
desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts. Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where my kids start in on a chorus of, “Can we have candy?” What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child’s eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children. As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts unbeknownst to me. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don’t even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing them unbeknownst to me. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, “Are they all yours?” Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from writing out a check for $289.53, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, “No. They’re not mine. I just go around the neighborhood gathering up kids to take to the grocery store
because it’s so much more fun that way.”
So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness. "
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Summer is abounding in our house. The carefree, lazy feeling of warm days and sweet summer evenings......the smell of the grill and sound of laughter as we gather on the back porch with our friends.....camping trips and other romps through the woods......cool dips in the lake when you feel as though you'll melt from the heat of the brilliant days......yes, the evidence of summer permeates our very thoughts.
We have hosted a myriad of BBQs in our back yard and it seems nearly every weekend is packed with activities (usually involving at least one other family). My poor calendar is about to revolt if I mark it up any more.
Most recently, we went camping with our friends, the Eleys. Finding an open campsite anywhere near the ocean (which is one of our favorite destinations when camping with them) in the summer is something akin to staking out a claim in the pioneer days. If you are lucky enough to actually find something in a relatively convenient proximity to a bathroom, you had better dig in your stakes and spread those poles as fast as you can. There is no "keeping it in mind while we look for a better one" in this game! That is why we were so surprised to actually find an opening at Loon Lake Lodge on Hwy. 38 just past Drain, OR. We booked a group site as there were 11 of us in all.
The camp was very nice. Located directly across the street from the little lodge store/restaurant, it was very convenient indeed. Each and every site there was set up with its own port-a-potty so the bathroom was handy. (Though, our arrival was timed a little off....they had just had a group of about 40 people in our site who left earlier in the day and let's just say the bathrooms weren't exactly pleasant until they had been cleaned out 2 days later.....ICK!)
One of the highlights of the place was that the local deer population was very accustomed to being fed by the employees of the lodge. Every day, someone would set out some sort of food (resembling oats for horses) for the deer in various places around the lodge. The deer didn't seem to mind people much and even ate out of our hands a few times.
The kids and Big Daddy really got a kick out of this. Several times the deer wandered up into our campsite and nosed around a bit. They came quite close to us, yet were still on their guard and if we made any sudden moves they bounded away.
I have to admit it was rather exhilarating to walk out of your tent in the early morning and nearly trip over a young buck! Wow.
One of my favorite parts of camping, if I had to choose one, is sitting by the crackling fire. I love the smell of the wood burning.
We thoroghly enjoyed ourselves and plan on planning ahead for next year to reserve another site across the way from where we were this time. The other site had 2 yurts. If you've never camped in one of those you are missing out on one cool thing! We love yurts! I will write more about those ingenious inventions some other time. For now, I will leave you with a few pictures to enjoy.
Monday, July 16, 2007
The pencil maker took the pencil aside, just before putting it into the box."There are five things you need to know before I send you out into the world. Always remember these five things, and you'll be a great pencil.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
We had a little car trouble on the way up to Portland to put her on the 7:30 pm flight straight through to Denver. Just outside of Wilsonville at about 6:10 the serpentine belt SHREDDED itself all over the engine! Chicky-babe and I were stuck! We called Big Daddy to ask for help only to find out he was just sitting down with Sweetpea and little Mister in the expensive theater to see the movie Ratatouille. Aunt Shelli and Mr. Meticulous were out and about in other theaters seeing a double-header for his belated birthday present. Well, I saw no logic in making them leave their movie so Chicky-babe and I settled in for a long wait. Big Daddy called Aunt Naph and they got the ticket changed to the first flight out in the morning and he worked out with Aunt Shelli that she would hang out with Mr. Meticulous until we would get back. Big Daddy finished the movie with the little guys and tried to find a serpentine belt. Unfortunately, none of the parts stores were open at that hour and Walmart does not carry serpentine belts. He resigned himself to fixing it in the morning after we got Chicky-babe on that airplane and tried to locate Aunt Shelli to possibly drop off the littles with her while he made the hour and a half trek up to rescue us. No luck, so off he drove toward Portland toting two very sleepy and grouchy little kids.
In the meantime, Chicky-babe and I were thoroughly engrossed in her new book (which she had bought to read on the plane). Point Break by Anthony Horowitz. I have to say, that guy sure can write an interesting young adult spy novel! Well, the book, a set of press-on nails and the ODOT guy who stopped by to check on us and give us water kept us decently distracted from the fact that we were stranded along I-5 near no restrooms in the increasing darkness of night...alone. Finally, around 11:30 pm Big Daddy called to have us put on our hazards so he would see them to find us (we had not had them on previously to conserve battery power and because the ODOT guy said we were far enough off the side of the road on a large straight stretch that we didn't need to have them on).
Happy to see him and very hungry despite the snacks we shared from Chicky-babe's carry on bag, we locked up the van and piled into his work truck amid two sleeping babe's. Trying to find a place to eat that is still open at almost midnight and that has room to accommodate a big truck pulling a 12 foot trailer behind it is quite a challenge after a long day, but we settled on Arby's and headed home. We arrived home at 1:30 am and I drove Aunt Shelli home so she could go to bed too as she had to be up to work in the morning. Expressing my thanks, I headed home for bed as well.......at least for an hour or two! We had to drag everyone.....loudly protesting.....out of bed and stick them into the work truck (again) at 3:30 am so we could have Chicky-babe at the airport on time for the rescheduled flight.
Long story short...she made it on the plane and we fixed the serpentine belt on the side of the road, drove home stopping in Albany for a short nap when we were both too tired to drive safely and finally ending up back in our driveway by 3 in the afternoon. Big Daddy, crazy as it sounds, had to go to work for a little bit and I napped on my big bed as the kids sat on the end of it and watched a movie. Boy were we totally wiped out!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Rule 1: Life is not fair -- get used to it!This list is the work of Charles J. Sykes, author of the book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, Or Add. (The list has appeared in newspapers, although not necessarily in this book.) Many versions omit the last three rules:
Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine aboutyour mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life
HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give
you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and
very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic.
Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth.
That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself"
with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.
Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.
Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You're welcome."
-This is exactly why God gave us parents instructions in Proverbs about how to raise our kids so that they will grow into responsible, self confident men and women of God who do the right thing.
The only thing on here that I found fault with is the purple hair thing. Sure, some people will think you look moronic, but others might just find you approachable enough to listen when you tell them how much Jesus loves them.....all because of your purple hair. You just don't know. (Oh, and the one that says we parents are boring because Big Daddy and I are almost NEVER boring! *grin*)
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You, too? Thought I was the only one."A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is my beloved and this is my friend.
-Song of Solomon
I spent the day on the beach with my best friend, Anita, recently. We met her family in Portland (where they were staying while attending the wedding of Nita's cousin) and drove to Seaside, Oregon to celebrate her son Jonathan's 1st birthday and to spend the day together. It was a wonderful day with great weather, warm sand and lots of catching up as she lives in Utah and I am here. Thinking about that day caused me to reflect on our many years of friendship.
Anita and I met in the 6th grade. I was the new girl in school fresh from the big city. We had just moved to Whitefish, Montana that summer from the Portland, Oregon area and I only knew 1 other kid my age when school started........and that was only because his parents and mine were friends.
I was seated by her and we fell into an easy friendship. We would spend our recesses together and soon we were having overnighters and dinners together. What began as simple friendship blossomed into a very close bond. Even when her parents moved her to Kansas City so her father could work on his degree in music in our 8th grade year, we wrote faithfully back and forth and told each other all the details of our everyday lives and shared who we were madly in love with at the time. When she returned, we simply picked up right where we had left off in our letters to each other as if there had never been any distance.
Through high school, we were inseparable. I probably spent at least as much time at her house as my own and sometimes more. Her parents became my second parents. I called them Mom2 and Papa C. and they adopted me as their "other kid". We went fishing with Papa C together and I even visited her in Calgary, Canada when she was a nanny for a really neat family. We did everything together we possibly could. I knew her husband as a friend before they began courtship and college.
Now, we watch each other's children grow up while exchanging pictures, parenting tips and sharing new milestones. Our kids play together and we consider each other family. It won't be long until we are consoling each other in our empty-nestedness it seems, though it is still a long way off. We have already shared the grief of losing a parent when my mother passed away in January. Soon it will be high school graduations we will attend and how long until we get to share a wedding? Amazing. Time passes like a river flowing by. You listen and admire the gentle babbling or you endure the rough tumbling a while lost in the wonder of it all and soon you find yourself asking, "how long have I been here?"
We have been friends for 25 years now. Wow, that's a lot of time. We've known each other for much longer than we haven't. I can't imagine my life without her. God knew we needed each other and it is largely because of my friendship with her that I now enjoy a relationship with Him. He is amazing in all of His orchestration of the seemingly insignificant details of human lives. Everything has a distinct purpose in His master plan. I am so grateful for all of the friends He's placed in my life, but this one friendship is a shining diamond to me. I would not be whole without her. She knows me better than anyone else and for that I am humbly blessed.
Monday, June 25, 2007
and then he just celebrated with his friends last weekend with a letterboxing birthday party at Mt. Pisgah.
I carved a special stamp just for him
......and planted it as his own letterbox which everyone hunted at the party. It was a blast!
All in all, I would say he is well celebrated!
(And I have to admit, he is my favorite 10 year old boy!)
Happy Birthday "Fin the Mighty"!
...that's his letterboxing trail name in case you were wondering...