Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September Baby

So he's not a baby anymore.

But one fine September evening, he arrived as a tiny bundle. He was my smallest baby by far, and the baby of our family he will always be. He has never wanted the position of last-born, but he sure enjoys the benefits.  :)

Just like the babies that came before him, the Lord enlarged my heart's capacity of love still more. The fierceness of my love for each my kids has been one of my life's greatest wonders.

Jacob is my fun- and people-loving guy who must find solitude to recharge. I'm not sure if that makes him extroverted or introverted, but it does prove that he comes from two very different parents! He loves to talk and he still tells us all of his secrets! He practically believes he is invincible, loves sports and activity, and appreciates nature. He is affectionate and LOVES his family and friends. He is a collector of rocks, shells, plants, and good walking sticks and bamboo spears. Although there are few situations in which he lacks confidence, there is one setting that produces anxiety and discomfort. I can relate with him in it, but unlike him as a child, he is a fighter. He resigns himself to bear the difficulty quietly, and I am confident he will be an exceptional man some day because of this strength.

Most remarkable to me, however, are his tender thoughts about the Lord and His appreciation for His goodness in his life. Even tonight, as he rode in the back seat of the car with the window down, he stuck his arm out as far as he could reach and set his chin on the window sill as he looked out. Then he turned to me and exclaimed with enthusiasm, "I'm just so glad God made all this stuff!" More than my other kids, he feels life with all his senses and acknowledges the One who created all that he takes in.

Tonight, we searched for a lost Lego guy - a really important Lego guy - to no avail. At bedtime, I reminded him that God knows all things and that He invites us to tell Him our concerns. Peace immediately replaced his worry as he pulled the covers high because he has noted many times before that God is good and can be trusted.

Another wonder of life is how a mother can learn so much from her children. Simple, child-like faith is no small thing.

Jacob's birthday is early in the month, which means it comes at a pretty busy time with the start of school and sport season. I knew it was important to him to have some sort of celebration with his buddies, but I wasn't sure I had the time to pull it off. Someone from our church, however, gave me six tickets to Legoland. This was perfect. (Yes, this was a school day for some, but homeschool moms are flexible and know that the best time to go to an amusement park is when everyone else is in school! Also, they are just really sweet moms to allow it!) The boys came over for an early lunch and cake, then it was five boys and me for the day. I literally ran with them from one ride to the next! A few people looked at me and made sympathetic comments like, "Oh, bless you..." If only they knew just how much I loved it. Boys are so much fun! They did things like dab for the camera on the way down the roller coaster, then they laughed at my expression on the picture: "Look! We're all dabbing and you're holding onto the bar with your eyes big!" Also, I am no longer able to beat my boys' score with the laser guns.

Jack's actual birth date was spent with just us. It had to be a simple kind of day, but whenever I asked him what he wanted to do next, his reply always expressed concern of everyone else.

Double digits 

We had breakfast and opened presents outside, then later in the day we took a bike ride into the next beach town.

Me and my "baby"

Being silly

Because he loves the beach so much, we just had to make a stop on our way home.

Skipping a rock just right...

Then - oh my! - we got to enjoy a live show after dinner! Olivia and Andrew learned the Napoleon Dynamite dance and this was the premiere show! It is absolutely hilarious! I streamed tears of laugher the first time I saw them practice! (There's a mild obsession with Napoleon quotes and impersonations around here. See last year's pictures HERE.)


Well, I am ending this post abruptly. It has taken me multiple chunks of time to get this far, but that's pretty much the pattern of life during this season. Back to work again...


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Happy Saturday

It's Saturday, finally.

We past our third week of school, and the dust is finally settling. It seems that all the pieces are fitting together well, and we are pleased with how our schedule worked out.

But it's Saturday, and I'm really appreciating it. My alarm went off this morning and I was so confused as to what day it was and what I was supposed to be doing. I fell back asleep. Lucky for me it is Saturday, because I slept deep and hard and much too long.

I was driving home from Trader Joe's about an hour ago with Jacob and Andrew, our windows were down, and the air was perfect. One of the boys said, "I don't know why, but I'm just really happy today!" We each agreed. Sometimes that feeling comes - that fickle and fleeting feeling of happiness - and it's so good to stop and acknowledge it. Joy is possible in all circumstances, but the merry feeling of happiness is just so pleasant. It's a gift I am thankful for today.

Jacob and Andrew are now up in the tree having a snack. I just heard Andrew offer Jon help with some exterior repair work, which encouraged my heart!! Olivia and Michael are spending the afternoon at church: Michael has been given the opportunity to help set up sound for Sunday service, and Olivia gets to learn and practice playing the base with the band. They are both eager to learn and participate, which also encourages me! Jon is also learning something new (and saving us some dollars). He is learning how to repair a pool pump. He always models a good attitude of learning and working that I hope will someday inspire our children to great productivity.

Tomorrow afternoon I get to host a meeting for the staff of our youth group. I am so thankful for the work they do each week, and thankful for the impact they are having on my kids. I always look forward to hearing how things are going within the group and to think through ways Jon and I can support them. In addition, I enjoy figuring out simple ways to provide refreshments and to make a pretty table arrangement with what's already available to me from our home and yard. It's an enjoyable challenge in resourcefulness and creativity.

Since I'm really appreciating Saturday right now, I thought I'd post some pictures from recent Saturdays around here...

Andrew made a sort of zip line with ropes and some pulleys. His initial design required someone to stand in the bucket while the rider takes a turn on the zip line!

The coffee sack pillow covers I made a few years ago for the school room chairs have served us well, but three of the four started falling apart. I used some no-longer-needed Ikea curtain panels to make new covers. This is the extent of my sewing skills...

I made an extra cover for Olivia, and she added some pretty embellishments taken from an old article of clothing...

Jacob invaded my work space with his Legos...

From my work space at the table, I snapped this shot of Michael cleaning our windows.

One of the boys decided to bunch all my pins in one area. Who knows why boys do the things they do! Some of those pins are the old lead tipped pins from my great-aunt. She was a nun, and she wore a wedding ring because she was "married to Jesus!" That was humorous to me even as a child.

This was Jacob this morning, watering his growing collection of succulents and cacti. It's such a cute little hobby!

I hope you've enjoyed you Saturday!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Stress Relief

The summer months have past, and this morning we noted that a few of the trees in our area are beginning to show signs of fall. Nonetheless, the boys still ask me to take them to the beach nearly everyday. Most days it's an impossibility, but on occasion we can head down for an hour or so of down time. It's not always the easiest choice for me to make - because down time for me doesn't really include more sand in the car, more laundry, and more rush - but I do it because I think it's important for us. In this busy, busy world in which we live, I feel we must intentionally carve out down time. Kids are under a lot of pressure nowadays, and it is important to create opportunities for stress relief. God's beautiful nature is a wonderful stress relief, as is unstructured physical activity and play. It is good for the mind and the body, and for sibling relationships. I want my kids to reap the benefits and to set a pattern that they can carry into adulthood. And for me, stepping away from work and obligation into fresh, open space sets my mind back onto what really matters most.

I just have pictures to post today. Sometimes my fingers are itching to type out what my thoughts and heart are bursting with, but not today. My thoughts have been communicated in other ways, though, namely in my prayer time and in my conversations with God during some long runs. It has done me such good. Prayer is the absolute best stress relief!

My computer and my camera card are full of summer beach pictures. This set is from a busy August morning when school registration and preparations were underway. We took off for early morning donuts and a dunk in the sea before the day started. Donuts are a rarity, but we did this at the end of summer the previous year, and it seemed like a good idea once again. (Although, I admit, the morning sugar rush reminded why I personally don't do donuts much!)

The cliff cast a cold shadow on the beach because the sun was not yet high enough.

The bravest ones, going first...

Olivia and Jack did Olympic-style warm ups before dashing in...

My turn...

(Below) My head before the invigorating wave washed over me;
Andrew is laughing because he "tricked" me and let me go alone.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."   Phil. 4:7


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Beach Pictures

Many hours were spent at the beach during the month of August. Sometimes we'd head out for the day, other times it was a quick jaunt into the waves and setting sun after a day of work.

Most times, as I pulled into the garage all tired and sandy, the boys would ask if we could please go again tomorrow. 

I tried extra hard this summer to spend as much quality time as possible with my kids, whether that was in conversation or simply by entering their world and experiencing their pleasures. This was definitely the case at the beach. If I wasn't in the water with them, I was shooting pictures of them, praying for them, talking with one or two, and admiring the various collections of rocks and shells. This collections of summer pictures was during an end-of-day, spontaneous trip. We travelled light and picked a quiet beach. Olivia and I opted to stay (mostly) dry and to create: She sketched according to what inspired her, while I framed up and captured what spoke to me from my surroundings.

They dream of the ocean as soon as it is out of sight, and run to it as fast as they can...

Details. I love details:

Sun tanned skin
Cool, wet sand 
Tiny wrinkles at the wrist
Wet suit sleeves inattentively rolled
My boy delighting in nature

Ripples like snake skin

Creativity. Proof we are made in the image of God.

Eyelashes, curls, summer skin

For the most part, my zoom lens is no longer adequate to capture my kids at the beach. The tide was out and I ventured as far as I dared (but still managed to get my shorts soaked while keeping the camera dry).

Andrew has enjoyed taking the long board out a few times this summer, but he still prefers to surf his body board. 

Jack... Always with the expression that says, "Did you see me, Mom?"

I love you too, babe! ;)

Growing up and up and up!

Conquering? Or maybe signaling to his brother that they should ride the next wave?

Brothers. These two are almost always together. They are so entirely different in personality, but the closest of friends.

I enjoy framing up the sights from different angles; it helps me to find beauty and to remember my days as they really are. Framing out the distractions in all of life is a practice that benefits me in many ways.

Happy long weekend! After a first week of school, it seems we already need it!!