Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Going, going...

It's been a busy week around here, and I can't think of anything to blog about, but I just wanted to say we are all still alive and well.  I've been trying to finish up Ella's birthday DVD this morning.  I don't think it will be "awesome," but I think my girl will like it anyway.  I feel like the summer has flown by, and as she kept reminding me yesterday, "It's getting cooler because it's almost my birthday."

The mornings have indeed been a bit cooler, but the afternoons still heat up quite nicely.  My almost 5-year-old said something quite perceptive last night.  We were at Target picking up birthday party supplies and ran into a friend from church.  As we discussed the heat, and Ella told us it would soon be cooler, Ella added, "When it's cooler we'll just want it to be hot again."

And you are correct, my girl.  She's already a student of human character.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Conspirator (2011) - HD Trailer

I watched this movie last night.  It was interesting; I learned about events surrounding President Lincoln's assassination that I didn't know.  It made me think about ongoing issues in our country:  trials in a time of war, capital punishment with insufficient evidence, and of course, the trial ended with an amendment making it wrong to try civilians in a military court.  I'm sure the movie was meant to make you think through these things. 

It was beautifully made.  I've been so immersed in British history in preparation for our trip that it felt somewhat strange to delve into American history, but I enjoyed it.  I can't remember a time that I didn't know "Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president, and he was assassinated."  The facts were so familiar that until last night, I never really felt the horror of a good man being shot from behind with his wife at his side.  It was such a tragic and horrible end.  I also didn't realize that the conspirators' plan also included killing Vice President Johnson and the Secretary of State.  

I always enjoy James McAvoy in period pieces, and I'm always impressed by the ability of a Scottish actor to lose the accent and talk like an American.  The costumes and sets were superb, and the lighting was lovely.  After a while I thought, "Wow, every single scene features this lovely sunlight coming in through the windows," and it almost got repetitive, but then I thought maybe that was part of the authenticity.  Besides candles and kerosene lamps, sunlight was all they had.  

The other aspect of the movie I thought was interesting was when they briefly showed the rounding up of John Wilkes Booth and the other conspirators.  I'm definitely used to watching movies portray 21st century manhunts; it was a big contrast seeing it 19th century style, riding through the woods on horseback instead of following the suspect via satellite.  

I think the movie did a good job of portraying that there was uncertainty as to whether Mary Surratt was innocent or guilty, but the bigger issues were her being given a fair trial by a jury of her peers, not a military court that had already found her guilty.  I found the entire transcript of her attorney, Frederick Aiken's, defense of her online.

 God has not only given us life, but He has filled the world with everything to make life desirable; and when we sit down to determine the taking away of that which we did not give, and which, when once taken, we can not restore, we consider a subject the most solemn and momentous within the range of human thought and human action.

"Nobody talks like that anymore."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A somewhat stream of consciousness early morning blog post

Early.  I woke up way too early this morning.  But I knew there was small chance of me going back to sleep so I'm just embracing it.  You know, before I had children I never had any trouble sleeping.  I went to sleep at night and knew nothing until morning.  I slept 8 or 9 hours each night, and the only time I ever got less was if I had a research paper due in college.  

Since having children, my sleep patterns are very erratic.  I think it's because if I ever woke up early before, I could go back to sleep.  There were no responsibilities waiting for me.  But now I know that my children could be awake at anytime so why waste time lying in bed for 30 minutes when I can go ahead and be up and ready for them?  

Last night started out normally; we went to bed on time, but a late-night phone call informed us KJ's father had a virus, and KJ would have to preach this morning.  That news left him kind of awake for a while thinking about what he would do, which had me sleeping fitfully as well.  You would think I would sleep later since I went to sleep later.  Nope. Good morning 5:45 a.m.  

I can't believe it is August 28!  This month has gone by so quickly.  Five years ago today it was Ella's due date.  I was waiting, wondering what labor would feel like, worrying that I would somehow mess up knowing the right time to go to the hospital, with no way to fathom how our lives were about to change.  The sweet girl didn't come today, though.  She waited, and after one more trip to the doctor, we made plans for me to have labor induced on September 1.  

Where did that little family go?

It will be an exciting week around here, with lots of birthday preparations.  Ella has stuck to her guns about having a "surprise" birthday party.  Whenever I discuss plans with KJ, she covers her ears.  She doesn't want a preview of her birthday dvd, and she doesn't want to see party invitations.  I am starting to feel a bit pressured by her expectation.  :)  I remember at her party last year, she was drinking the sweet tea I made and said, "This tea is perfect."  That's what I'm going for again this year.  Perfection in her little 5-year-old imagination.  

And now that I'm sufficiently awake, I think a little Bible-reading is in order before the troops get out of bed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Little Moment in Time

I took this about three weeks ago.
It was a normal day before Ella started school.
I looked up and saw James watching something on T.V.
and realized it was just one of those moments I wanted to treasure in my heart.

It's the little things.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Things Unseen

Walking into church last night, I felt my mind and heart suddenly awaken to the wonder of the world around me.  It was something caused by getting out of the car and feeling the wind blow and the way the light shone through the clouds.  At that moment I forgot about how stressful it was to get everyone fed, dressed, and out the door, my worries of making sure they got home, bathed and in bed in time, and I relaxed.  Then a fragment of poetry popped into my head, which I later looked Googled to figure out what it was.  Don't you love Google as a research engine?  I think it's even replaced Bible concordances for me.  I *heart* Google.

Bliss was it that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was  very heaven!

Google informed me that was from a poem by William Wordsworth about the French Revolution, which was odd, I thought, because according to Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, the French Revolution was a really bloody, frightening time to be alive.  

The point of all of this, I suppose, is that I was thinking today about the life of the mind and heart and how it directs my actions and interactions with people, how thinking about unseen realities helps so much in dealing with the frustrations of the realities I see.  Frustrations like, I feel like I'm never going to be good at staying within my grocery budget.  I'll keep trying, but frugality is unsatisfying to me.  Being responsible and living within our means is satisfying, but I am not a frugal person by nature, and this month I am way over the budget. But we were out of milk and juice, so I had to go to the store this morning, and I like shopping!  I like buying things that my family will enjoy and entertaining and being lavish.  

And then there was my son, who cries with frustration at his inability to communicate clearly to me, and hollers with desire whenever we see a balloon in a store, and my stress levels rise, as I am trying to concentrate on my grocery list and saving money.  The realities we live with are not always pleasant.  

But then, I got in the car, and I was listening to music and thinking about how one day, oh one day, I'll live in a place where I can be as lavish as I want.  I serve a God who has no limits, no means to live within.  These present frustrations will not always exist.  

Now, I know that these frustrations are not to be compared with the struggles and sufferings of others, but those were mine this morning, and they will not always exist.  That made me glad, and I turned up the music in the car to drown out James' crying, and felt that perhaps it really was bliss to be alive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Reminder

I was thinking of this quote yesterday:

"...I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened."  - Winston Churchill 

And then it made me think of this quote:  "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."  - Jesus, Matthew 6:34

I thought it was a good reminder to focus on the things that really are and not on what we might think could be.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Morning

I feel so bereft when she walks out the door.

For this picture, Ella said, "I have a great idea, Mom.  You stand over there, and I'll come running through the doorway, and you take my picture."  It was a great idea.  I love her face.  
I just need grace to deal patiently with all her exuberance.  Oh, how I need to be changed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I spent some time yesterday solidifying plans for our trip to the United Kingdom in 7 weeks.  I thought I would share as we plan, because as long as we have the internet, I'll be sharing as we go along on the trip, I'm sure.  

First, we'll arrive at London's Gatwick Airport first thing in the morning.  We chose this airport because it's actually outside of London, and we're saving London for the end of the trip, although if there are still riots going on we will probably avoid it as much of possible.  Right now we're basically planning a driving tour that avoids major cities.  It seems safer and is what we really wanted to do anyway.  So we'll be renting a car and heading 30 miles down the road to our first stop:  Brighton.  I was so excited to find that so far, everything we want to see is so close to each other.  I realized that this was really a small island, but it's amazing that you can see so much of a country in such a short amount of time.  I'm definitely used to 4, 5, or 8 hour drives to places just in the southeast United States.

So we'll explore Brighton a bit and then head down the road to Portsmouth.  I'm really happy about driving down the coast of England on our first day.  After a little research I found that Portsmouth had a few things I was interested in seeing.  It is the birth place of Charles Dickens, has a dockyard with three very important ships in England's history, including the Trafalgar.  There is also a D-Day museum that I thought would be interesting.  It would be neat to see memorabilia and WWII history from another perspective.

From Portsmouth it's just a few more miles down the road to Southampton, the port where the Titanic set sail.  Jane Austen also lived there for a few years with her brother, Frank, who was in the Royal Navy.  

At this point, we may end up spending the night in Southampton and traveling eight miles up the road the next day to Winchester.  That little road trip from Brighton to Winchester is a whopping 1 hour and 45 minutes.  It's so exciting to know we'll be able to see a lot that first day without a lot of travel time.  So after our coastal tour, the second day will be devoted to dear Jane Austen.  She is buried in the beautiful Winchester Cathedral, and the surrounding Hampshire countryside contains the home where she lived with her mother and sister, as well as the church where her father served.  I think it will take at least a day and a half to two days to do all of these things.

But by the end of the third day we may be driving up the road one hour to Oxford.  We'll definitely be a couple of days there, and then we'll head an hour and a half west to Bath.  From there, KJ wants to drive through Wales from whence the Pugh name comes, and this post is becoming long, so we'll stop there for now.  But it has been extremely thrilling to put a little flesh on these plans of the imagination.  

Oh, and here's a couple more shots of Claire.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It is your life.

I was reminded this morning of these words from Deuteronomy (a book I have loved since studying it in my mom's Sunday School class in college):  "Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law.  For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life".  

Ella's school has a verse they are encouraged/required to memorize each week.  Memorization is so good for your mind, and when it's God's Word, good for your heart and life as well.  I sent the paper with the verse typed on it with KJ to leave in his car so he can work on it with her on the ride to school each morning.  I asked her this morning how it was coming, and she did very well with a little encouragement at a few parts.

You will make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy;
in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
- Psalm 16:11 -

I love hearing God's Word come from her lips.  These words are not idle for us, but they are our life.  

My Little School girl

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Afternoon Play Time

You'll have to forgive my frequent posts and all the playing around I'm doing with Photoshop.  Now that Ella's in school I'm all alone during James' nap time, and I can do whatever I want without being interrupted for at least an hour and a half.  It's kind of blissful.  And I still have two hours to clean the house before she comes home!  

I'm also trying to please my husband with this silly watermark thing.  I promise I'm not trying to be really cool; I just want to protect my pictures because I love them.  The latest suggestions from KJ look like this:


KJ informed me that my earlier copyright symbol looked too big.
He was right, of course.  
He was also right in saying that just putting a copyright
symbol on my picture didn't make it any more mine,
just like saying, "I declare bankruptcy!!"
doesn't really mean anything.

But in the meantime, it looks kind of official.

And I just realized I forgot to take away Claire's mosquito bites in this picture!  I promised her mother I would take them away from the poor girl.  Oh, well.  Just for this one picture, you can see how cute she is even with mosquito bites.

A Writer

I've got a writer on my hands.  One of his favorite things to do these days is to sneak into Ella's room and find a pencil and a pad of paper.  He sits down and writes so carefully for several minutes.  Yes, he has written on some inappropriate places, i.e. the wall, but at least it's only a pencil.  He is so cute and writes with such concentration, babbling to me nonstop about whatever it is he's writing.

And yes, he is wearing a headband.  He begged so earnestly when I put Ella's on this morning before school.  I figured it would be too hard to explain to a 22-month old that headbands are for girls.  He's also been writing with his left hand a lot.  From time to time I'll move the pencil over to his right hand, and sometimes he'll write interchangeably on his own.  We'll see what happens with that.

This morning I felt a little sad being left in the quiet house after the rush of getting Ella off to school.  But after sharing a breakfast with my little one, I just felt so thankful to have this time alone with him. I had it with Ella, and it's so precious...and easy.  I wonder what my aspiring writer will write about one day?  Yesterday he drew a circle with a squiggly line coming from it (by accident, I'm sure) and got so excited.  "Bulll, Bulll," he yelled.  Balloon that is.  It's hard to write out phonetically the way he says it.  He rolls his "l's" brilliantly.

That's mine?

I've wondered about photo-sharing on the internet in the past and was talking to my sister-in-law a couple of days about its safety.  She sent me a link last night from a blog she reads where someone had stolen pictures of a dog from this girl's blog and made this whole page on a site about how it was her dog and gave him a new name and everything.  Weird.  Anyway, I'm just looking into different ways to make my pictures safe on the internet, so you might see some different things.  Here's my 20-minute-before the children get up effort this morning.

That looks sort of official, but I guess someone could black it out?  I hate to write across her face.  Now, this is not my child.  This is my niece.  She is FUN.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Magical Evening

My niece will be turning 2 next month (one week before cousin James!), and her mommy wanted some special pictures made to celebrate.  I really loved these.  Really.  Our location worked out so well.  It felt like we were in the ruins of Cair Paravel.  (Thank you, Leslie, for telling me about this park!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Read a book today!

"When you come bring the cloak which I left at
Troas with Carpus, and the books
especially the parchments."
- 1 Timothy 4:13 -

"He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He has had wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up in the third heaven, and had heard things unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He has written a major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every Christian, ‘Give thyself to reading.’ The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon on the Apostle Paul's desire for books

You tell 'em, Charles.

Reading is important, even if you only do it a little every day.

Our Weekend

The cousins are in town.  
We enjoyed a fun Saturday morning of Slip n' Slide fun with them.

Yesterday was an interesting Sunday with unexpected twists and turns.
I missed the morning service because I walked by the nursery and saw my son, miserable and crying, a result of his too-early wake time.  
I couldn't ignore him in that condition, so I tried to rock him and let him rest.

Of course, this resulted in the same thing that happened a couple of weeks ago.
A 15-minute cat nap in Mommy's arms made it hard to go down for a nap at the normal time when we got home, which made him finally collapse later in the afternoon.

I forgot to press "Start" on my crock pot Sunday morning.
This resulted in a cold roast when we came home from church.

There were redeeming qualities to the day, though.
I played Rummikub and Uno with Ella.
She likes games, and she's good at them, too.

James' late nap gave me some time to spend with a neighbor,
who I've wanted to spend time with for awhile.

By the end of the day, I was too tired for multitasking.
I simply watched a movie on the couch with my husband.
It was nice.

Now we're off to a new week of school and me trying to figure out what to do with my early-waking boy.  Back to two naps (like we did on Saturday)?  I'm not sure, but I don't like being unsure.  It makes it hard to plan outings.  We've got cousins to visit.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Things

KJ asked me last night how I felt about the new state of things around here.  Yesterday was only the second full day of my being home with just James and Ella being gone most of the day, so it was hard to give a full assessment, but here are my observations so far:

  1. Ella seems to be doing great.  It will be good to have the whole day with her tomorrow.  It's hard to know how she's doing when I haven't had much time with her.  She's had a lot of activity the past couple of days, playing with her cousin after school (Yea!).  KJ has walked up the hill during her lunch time to ask her about her day, and both times she's been excited and happy and making new friends.  
  2. God has been gracious to give peace.  I've been very glad to see her face when my girl comes in the door, but I haven't been worried about her.  I've taken my anxieties to the Lord in prayer, and He has given His peace.  Yesterday I read, "He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.  His heart is steady; he will not be afraid" (Psalm 112:7-8a).  
  3. I do have more time to think.  Solitude of the mind is a little more accessible, and I actually am completely alone when James takes his nap.  Normally my only alone time is a trip to the grocery store, so this is nice.
  4. The day is longer and more productive.  I feel busier in some ways even though I have one less child at home.  The day starts earlier, and I am trying to accomplish a lot of things by the time KJ brings Ella home in the afternoon.  There are also a lot of things to be taken care of at night to get Ella in bed on time, picking out the next day's clothes, washing and cleaning out lunch box supplies, and washing and drying her hair.
  5. I have more time to edit pictures.  This has been good because I've had a lot I was working on for people and for myself.
  6. I have more time to be active.  Yesterday I walked 3 miles, did half of P90X's Chest and Back, and cut the grass in the front yard.  That felt good.
What has James been up to during his alone time with Mom?  Well, the first day, I tried to engage him in some learning play time in his room, but he ran to the television to turn it on, so I caved and let him.
He seemed so happy and content watching Dora that I went ahead and cleaned up the kitchen.  Yesterday I opened the patio door to clean the glass on the outside of it.  It was raining lightly at the time, and James ran out and climbed in the rocking chair.  He loves to rock, and he's never tried to go out in the rain before, so I let him rock away while I cleaned.  My boy has gotten a little more adventurous lately, though, and as the rain started to fall harder, he ventured out in the yard.  He laughed wildly and got completely soaked and had the time of his life.

So I guess that so far, the change in schedule is going well.  I feel Ella's absence in my heart, but I feel good about where she is and what she's doing.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We interrupt your regular programming...

I'm taking a break from blogging about Kindergarten to post a few pictures I've been working on the past couple of weeks. 

I think this is so lovely.
I can't resist telling little girls to spin.
It's just such a girly thing to do.

The Boys

I love this picture so much.  So much.
It probably has something to do with the fact that I also have a 5-year-old daughter.
Sometimes they pout.
Elizabeth is in Ella's class at school.  They're sweet friends.

Practicing her cheers

Lizzie's pouting made her miss out on some brotherly love.

Joseph knows how to cheer his sister up, though.
Frowns turn to smiles so easily at this age.

And then a little scooter-riding...

So there's what I've been working on at night.  Lately, I take our wonderful 22-inch all-in-one computer and sit it in the floor in the living room and edit pictures while watching movies with my husband.  It starts to hurt my back after a while, but it's still fun.  I suppose the above diatribe about our computer can be in honor of its first year in our home.  I really wasn't so sure about it when KJ decided to make the purchase last summer, but oh, how I love it now.  It's so wonderful for editing pictures and video, and in a house with no office, it's so easy to move around from room to room.  Happy anniversary, my computer friend.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Ella's not home yet to tell me all about it, but I think we got off to a good start this morning.  I think she was prepared and excited about school, and I hung around off and on until noon taking pictures (I got asked to be school photographer!), so I was able to see her at lunch.  She seemed like she was enjoying herself.  Now James is napping, and it's mighty quiet around here....I kind of like it.  I better get the house clean so I'll be ready for her when she comes home.  Maybe she'll allow a video interview.  I'm looking forward to it.  I think I'm also going to record her favorite shows on the DVR since she's missing her afternoon t.v.  :)  

Monday, August 8, 2011


"Bean picked his nose delicately with a long finger."
- from The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

There was something about the word delicately being used to describe the way the wiry farmer picked his nose that made me laugh.  

Maybe she's ready.

"I just feel like I've played with all my toys.
What about learning something?"
- Ella

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Morning Thoughts

It's hard to believe another Sunday is here.  This will be a week of many changes for our family, and we are excited.  I'm thankful to have been able to wake up early this morning and have time to read and pray.  I'm just hearing the first sounds of awakening from James' room.  He was babbling in his own little language, but now he is quiet again.  Those are the sweetest morning sounds.  

I'm thankful for all the birthdays celebrated in my family yesterday.  We were only able to be with KJ's dad, but his grandmother, and one of my uncles celebrated a birthday on August 6 as well.  It must be a good day for birthdays.  

I'm thinking about this:  "With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free" (Ephesians 6:7-8).  That's a staggering promise that should have us clamoring to do good to others.  Though we would only be doing what we ought, God graciously gives back to us in return.  

Last night we began James' training in the art of sitting still when told to do so.  He cried and carried on, but did finally sit still, while I shouted these words over the clamor during our family worship time, "AND THOSE ARE THE ONES ON WHOM SEED WAS SOWN ON THE GOOD SOIL; AND THEY HEAR THE WORD AND ACCEPT IT AND BEAR FRUIT, THIRTY, SIXTY, AND A HUNDREDFOLD."  May God's Word fall on the good soil of your heart today.  (And don't worry about James.  He survived to get up and dance with Ella in a rousing rendition of This is My Commandment.  KJ is confident there won't be as much hollering tonight.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

She's so impressive.

Ella had two more vaccinations she needed before she could start Kindergarten, and we went to get those yesterday.  Of course she was unhappy about having to get shots when I first told her about it a couple of weeks ago, but yesterday she was as brave as she could be.  She didn't fuss, and she didn't cry.  She simply requested to bring Katherine (her Cabbage Patch doll) along for comfort, and off we went.  She was also excited about getting to paint when it was over.

We had a wee photo shoot before we left
in honor of the week before Kindergarten.

As a side note, I would not have picked out the clothes
Ella is wearing for an outing on the town, but this girl
ALWAYS wants to wear a dress and NEVER wants to wear
her tennis-shoes.  But yesterday, she picked this outfit out 
and thought it was so great, so I didn't say a word.

While in the waiting room, I told Ella I brought her a book to read.  When she started to read aloud I was amazed at her all over again.  In my ideal world, we would have time for her to practice reading every day, but of course that doesn't always happen.  Even so, the progression of her reading skills amazes me every time.

Even after we were called back to the waiting room, she showed no signs of apprehension about her shots.  She was bouncy and fun, and we read together some more.  When the nurse came in, she did as I asked her and sat in my lap, looked away and had her two shots.  They lasted a few seconds, but she didn't cry or make a sound.  Then it was over like a flash, and she was so excited about her two sparkly princess stickers.  She skipped out of the doctor's office ready for our painting adventure.  I love that girl.  She amazes me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Pugh Party

I get to spend the evening with this lovely couple.

A Brighter Outlook

The clouds are heavy across the sky this morning, but the clouds that were over my heart yesterday are long gone.  Whew.  I don't like days like that.  If I had written a blog post yesterday it would have sounded like I was stuck with Anne in the depths of despair.  I suppose a day like that is just a byproduct of 13-hour days of child-rearing.  Monday through Wednesday are long days with KJ having visitation, jail ministry, and college Bible study all in a row, so by the time he comes through the door at 9:45 on Wednesday night, I am more than ready for his day off on Thursday.  He switched his day off this week, however, so off he left yesterday morning.  

I think all I wanted/needed was some solitude, just a little bit of peace.  I think I would have been able to take a day of rest if James wasn't at the age of needing constant instruction and correction.  Ella is quite able to entertain herself if need be, but James is at the age of needing to be taught how to play with others.  Whatever toy Ella has always looks soo inviting to him, and he walks up and snatches it.  Then there are tears from Ella and hollering from him when I try to take it from him and return it to her.  In the morning of new grace I can laugh at these things.  

Oddly enough, the outing that snatched me out of my funk yesterday was the Open House at Ella's new school!  It's so fun going places with my big girl.  Of course, it's always been fun going places with her.  From the time she was 8 or 9 months old she has been a joy to go out in public with.  Wal-Mart and Target and the library were all grand adventures to her.  

She was so excited last night and so grown-up about getting dressed and going to see her class room, and once we got in her class room with the other children and parents and the teacher, I felt so excited, too.  I just wanted her to stay in Kindergarten forever.

My heart felt completely at ease seeing a class of only 12 children, learning that the boy sitting beside Ella was the teacher's grandson, knowing that she already knew several girls in the class; hearing the teacher talk about how her greatest joy was teaching the kids about our Savior, that if any parent had something they wanted to share with the class to let her know and she'd plan it, that we can come and eat lunch with her anytime.  I felt the reality of the school's desire to partner with parents in educating their children.  Also, I was asked to take pictures on the first day of school for a scrapbook!  Happy mommy.  I was dreading simply dropping her off to fend for herself the first day.  Now I've been given permission to be there and photograph every minute.  Cheers.

It was an exciting night, and KJ is staying home today!  This means that I am able to get out of the house and take care of some more school preparation:  vaccines.  That's not incredibly exciting, but after the shots Ella and I are going to paint ceramics, and she is super-excited about that.  This evening we will be attending a birthday party for KJ's dad.  Ella whispered in my ear on Sunday, "Big Daddy said we were invited to his birthday party!"  You know how important that is to Kindergartners.  

I'm thankful for a brighter outlook this morning.  In fact, I can see that the sun is now shining through the clouds in my backyard, too.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Week Before Kindergarten

I've been trying to plan special activities and to spend a little extra time with Ella during this week before Kindergarten.  I've also been working everyone into an earlier bedtime since she will have to start waking up earlier to go to school.  KJ and I were laughing that I might have to start using an alarm again.  I haven't had to do that in five years.  I've always had a baby to wake me up in the morning.  I'm not sure I'll really need an alarm, though.  I went to bed on time myself last night and was up by 6:10 naturally, so I don't think it will be a problem.

Monday I painted Ella's toenails (that's an important thing to take care of before school starts, don't you think?), and we went to Wal-Mart to purchase a thermos.  She picked out one shaped like a Crayola crayon.  Very apropos.  

Yesterday we went to the library for story time.  For some reason they didn't actually have story time yesterday so after a trip to the fountain, returning books, and picking out new books and movies, it was time to take our leave.  James was not using his library voice.

Since Ella's mom has made photography a habit, Ella has taken to saying things like, "Why don't I lean up against this tree and you take my picture?"  On an agreeable day she's quite the little model. 

During James' nap we did a little scrap-booking.  She's getting very good with her glue stick.   

It is hard to think of letting my girl out of my oversight from 8-3 p.m. every day, but it has done wonders for my prayer life.  I don't think I've ever prayed so much before this.  I'm praying for Ella, for her friends, and for her teacher.  Focusing on rational requests helps keep irrational fears at bay.  It is definitely going to be a big transition for our family, but I am hoping it will be good one.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made.  And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad...

But now Iluvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, for in the music there were no flaws.  But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Iluvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself...for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own...

Some of these thoughts he [Melkor] now wove into his music, and straightway discord arose about him, and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered...then the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound...

Then Iluvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that he smiled; and he lifted up his left hand, and a new theme began amid the storm, like and yet unlike to the former theme, and it gathered power and had new beauty.  But the discord of Melkor rose in uproar and contended with it, and again there was a war of sound more violent than before...

Then Iluvatar spoke, and he said:  'Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Iluvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done.  And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite.  For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.'  (from Tolkien's Silmarillion)

Does that story sound like another story you know?  Another story you're a part of perhaps? I'm so thankful for the great redemptive work of Christ that is changing all the horrible effects of the fall into a glorious and good end.  Be encouraged.

But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My Glory, and the One who lifts my head.
- Psalm 3:3 -

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Pleasant Man

His picture may have been removed from my blog, but his words remain. Here's hoping to be a little bit more like Elwood each and every day.

Together at Home

Today begins a new month, and that means a lot of things in my mind as I make plans for the months ahead.  It means we're one month out from Ella's birthday, which means it's time for me to get busy planning her "awesome surprise" birthday party and making her "really good" birthday dvd.  Those were her stipulations this year.  It means I'm two months out from doing the same thing for James; however, he is not old enough to give any stipulations yet.

Most eminently, this week means we're one week out before the beginning of Kindergarten.  Kindergarten.  This is the last full week at home I will have with Ella until her Thanksgiving break.  It is the end of nearly five years of 24/7 care of my daughter.  It's made me think about my first full week in charge of her.

She fit just right on our sofa pillows,
and she loved sleeping there.

Looking over at the girl on my couch,
I can hardly believe this is really her.

I guess she slept a lot that first week.

I didn't.

She even slept in Uncle Kam's lap when he came over.

She was the sweetest little girl ever,
and she still is.

She's not a baby any longer, though, and she's ready for school.  She's ready for daily interaction with friends and structured times of learning that are hard for me to provide with little man constantly interrupting.  Although I will say, I think I've been able to teach her a lot.  The first grade teacher who conducted Ella's entrance interview at the school last week was very impressed with her reading skills.  I took a moment to pat us both on the back.  :)  

Now it's time for last minute preparations, getting into an earlier bedtime routine, and making lots of fun "last week" memories.  I'm excited.