Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Uniforms

We've been doing some social studies lately, talking about the different kinds of houses people live in around the world, the different types of clothes they wear, etc.  Yesterday we were talking about work and how some people wear special clothes for their work. 

Do you know anybody who wears a uniform for work, Ella?  I was expecting the usual policemen answer.




What's a pastor's uniform? 

A suit?     


Thoughts from Parenting
Last week I planned an outing for the kids that accomplished some errands for me and some fun things for them.  Ella knew the first part of my plan but not the full extent of it, and she was upset and crying because of one thing I wouldn't let her do.  She was speaking in absolutes, just like I do when I get upset.  I just NEVER get to do what I want!  [pitiful face]  She responded well to my instruction and recovered herself, and we had a fun outing, and the Spirit within me connected some dots for me, too. 

How often have I cried, felt sad because I couldn't do what I wanted or because some other felt need wasn't being met the way I thought it should, and all the while, the Lord has these wonderful, kind, and gracious plans waiting for me.  Ella was partly upset because she thought something was being withheld from her, and I thought to myself, "Do I EVER go to the store without bringing her some small treat?  Don't I plan fun things for her all the time?  Doesn't she know how good I am to her?"  And don't I know the same truths about my heavenly Father?  He has given me the best gift in His Son.  And doesn't He show a million kindnesses day by day?  I am always having my own heart revealed through shepherding my children's hearts.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,
how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
- Romans 8:32 -
Thoughts from Television
A couple of days ago I was exercising during James' nap-time while I caught up on some television-watching.  Somewhere in between some bicep curls a woman comforted another woman who was crying over the end of a relationship.  She said something to the effect of:  The relationship you had was alive and vibrant, and now it's dead.  You're a scientist.  Have you ever seen something dead come back to life better than it was?  I just thought, no, I haven't seen it, but I believe it, and I put my hope in it.   

Science and the things we see can only take us so far.  I was overwhelmed again by the hope of Christ's resurrection and so thankful that life is made up of more than what we see.  Our hope is so sure and so great.

Though you have not seen him, you love him.
Though you do not now see him, you believe in him
and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
obtaining the outcome of your faith,
the salvation of your souls.
- 1 Peter 1:8-9 -

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Small Happenings

Yesterday was one of those rare Mondays where I didn't feel overwhelmed by a mountain of things I needed to do after the many comings and goings of Sunday.  I'm sure this was due to my staying home from church Sunday morning with James.  I don't like to send him to Sunday School when he has green snot pouring out of his nose.  It doesn't seem kind to the teacher or the other kids.  We stayed home and played Rummikub, and then he fell out on my bed by 11:15, a combination of getting up in the night AND too early in the morning in addition to the dose of Benadryl I gave him.

So we spent a pretty quiet day yesterday.  James' nose is still running, and he's got a cough, but I think he's on the mend.  It's probably not the best thing for him this time of year, but the kids spent a lot of time outside playing yesterday.  I took them out in the morning for a bike ride, and they were out in the backyard on two occasions throwing balls and picking grass and weeds.  Again, that's probably not the best for his spring allergies, but they were having fun.

We had a really wonderful time catching up with David and Hillary over the weekend, as well as being with the friends who came to the book party.

This is their second reading of what could genuinely be a helpful book, but it is also an extremely gross book.  But in our struggle with James and #2 in the potty, I've said this to him a lot.

Everyone does, and it's good to do it, James!

I just couldn't feel inspired to do housework last night, and things were mostly clean, so I played the piano and then sat on the kitchen counter reading my first P.G. Wodehouse book aloud to KJ while he conquered the world in a computer game.  And I just have to say, Wodehouse is a comic genius.  Seriously.  It's a pleasure reading to KJ because he laughs in all the right places. There just seems to be a certain wit in the writing of British gentlemen in the 40s and 50s that is not easily replicated. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Franco Fridays: Books I've Read

As soon as I knew our trip to Paris was a possibility my mind started gathering everything I've ever read, thought, or seen about Paris and France in general.  I also came up with a mental pie chart of what I think will enhance my enjoyment of the trip.  It looked something like this.

 I made a pie chart???  Moving on.

There is a second part to the announcement of our mission trip to Paris.  The second part is that KJ is planning for us to stay an extra week because...we're already in Europe, right?  He spent the bulk of yesterday fine-tuning two possible week-long excursions.  One involves a small tour of the Swiss Alps, the other involves staying a little longer around Paris and going to Normandy.  We really can't go wrong. 

Our England trip was like a coming home to me, and that was caused by that 60 % of the pie chart.  I'd spent 20 years of my life in the world of the English novel.  My grandmother gave me The Secret Garden in 1990, and I think that was the beginning.  France doesn't have that same leverage, but here are the books I've read that influence my real and imaginary knowledge about France and its history.

First up?  The Phantom of the Opera.  I started reading the classics in 11th grade.  I had the piano music to the musical, but I'd never seen it and wasn't familiar with the story when I read the book.  It was scary!  I thought the Phantom was an extremely menacing and evil character, and when KJ and I watched the musical turned movie after we got married, I did NOT feel the mercy towards him that they wanted you to feel.  He didn't have that sad origin story they give him in the musical.  I went back and read the book again after watching the movie and managed to feel a smidgen of pity for him the second go-round.

The Three Musketeers:  Reading this book was momentous because for the first time since 6th grade, Gone with the Wind was replaced as "my favorite book."  I still remember how I laughed at the understated humor and how funny d'Artagnan's arrival in Paris was.  11th grade was a big reading year for me, because next came...

A Tale of Two CitiesIt may not be written by a French author, but I probably get most of my information about the French Revolution from it, if not all.  It the best book, so beautiful, and one of the first books I read that at the end gave me a feeling of perfection. You can't end a story on a more perfect or poignant note.

Les Miserables:  I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it out for my beach reading when KJ and I took our small youth group in Kentucky to Student Life Camp.  I remember laughing at the time because it was not a light beach read in the least, but we were in one of those discount outlet book stores, and it was a steal.  I still remember the moment I finished this book:  8 or 9 months pregnant with Ella, in a lounge chair in the little backyard of our townhouse in Louisville, really happy I'd stuck it out and finished, because like A Tale of Two Cities, it struck just the right chord in my heart at the end.

The Count of Monte Cristo:  I asked for this tome for Christmas the year Ella was born.  KJ and I had just started subscribing to Netflix and rented the movie, and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to read the book, find out what really happened, you know?  There are some significant plot differences, of course, and some of them I liked, a few I wished could have been like the movie.  I'll try not to spoil it if anyone wants to tackle that one.

Yesterday I fnished Twenty Years After, a sequel to The Three Musketeers, which I somehow did not realize existed, probably because my knowledge of all things French is rather scant, but I am learning! and really enjoying the learning.  I thought Twenty Years After was even funnier than TTM, with maybe some of the best one-liners in literature. 

So that is the book knowledge I'm starting with:  musketeers, King Louis XIII, a haunted opera house, wild bloodshed, many injustices, redemption, scheming cardinals.  Perhaps my biggest takeaway from these books is how long and fought for was freedom and equality in France.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bathroom Before + Afters (kind of)

Over my "Birthday Weekend Re-do" I started my first attempt at painting a room, and as the Little Red Hen would say, "I did it all. by. my. self."  My husband refused to do this project for me, not because he's cruel...I'm sure I could have talked him into helping...but he really did want me to realize how long it took to do the projects I often task him with.  

Most of the rooms in our house are still "Builder's Beige," as my dear friend Molly once called them.  The only exceptions are James' room, which Molly and her sweet husband painted for me when I was pregnant with James and the kitchen and dining area, which KJ painted for me a couple of years ago.

I planned on helping KJ paint the kitchen, but KJ did 98% of that work.  I did help with a few small parts, but I was mostly afraid to mess something up once he got in a groove.  So I was excited to figure out how to do this by myself, because once I painted the smallest room in the house, there's nothing to stop me from tackling every other room in the place, besides time, money, and children underfoot, of course.

This is probably the best comparison picture I have.  There's not much natural light that reaches this room, so the lighting makes it difficult to get a picture with accurate coloring.  I started my update-the-bathroom project back in September with finally getting some pictures printed, a new shower curtain, and moving my "architectural interest" from the front porch to the bathroom.  I think the paint color ended up being a little closer to the exact shade of the shower curtain than I intended, but I'm still pleased with the results.  A fresh coat of paint in any color brightens up a room.

I used to have a little white shelf on that empty wall and on the wall above the towel rack.  I need to decide now whether to re-hang those, paint them a different color, or go with something altogether different.

I like my fresh little space.  See my shower curtain peeking out there?  Another fun pop of color.

If you're ever our guest, you can study a map of the London Underground while you shower.      

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Weekend

I don't normally have anything out of the ordinary going on during the weekend, but this past weekend was full of time with other women in our church, and how refreshing that was!  

But before that there were a few errands to run (library and Wal-Mart) and a stop to let the kids run and soak up some much-needed vitamin D.

Then it was off to T's for a girls' movie night.  Oddly enough, we watched a movie about Paris.

   "Every time I look through a camera I'm surprised.
It's like finding yourself in the middle of a story...
I think I've been taking pictures all my life,
long before I ever had a camera."
- Sabrina - 

I came home late humming, La Vie en Rose, and went back to T's early the next morning for a ladies Prayer Retreat.  It was a sweet time of fellowship and being reminded of the importance of prayer.  More prayer has a made a difference in my life this week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Usborne Book Party

We're having a party at our house Friday night, the best kind of party of all...a book party!  

The happy bride of two months (on Friday!) is now an Usborne Books and More Consultant.  I had heard of people selling Usborne books in the past, but it wasn't until this past year I've used and appreciated their products.

We use this Internet-Linked Children's Encyclopedia for History, Geography, and Science.  Almost every page has a link to interactive games, videos, pictures, coloring pages, or just more information about whatever subject you're studying.  I know I could search for all of those things myself, but it saves a lot of time having them all in one place, and knowing it's an okay link to click on.  The only link I ever got nervous about was a video of a dolphin being born...but it was amazing!

This Science Activities book is the source of all the science experiments we do around here.  It's probably the reason Ella loves Science, and the activities really do help concepts stick.  We've got some colored water with sugar sitting on our kitchen table right now.  We're waiting on it to evaporate and leave behind the sugar, illustrating how water molecules leave behind anything else they're mixed with when they become a gas.  Although, don't tell Ella what the results are supposed to be.  She wanted to be surprised.

Now this Sticker Dressing book is what Ella plans to order at the party Friday.  She emptied out her piggy bank and wallet last night and counted all her money.  She plans on doing some chores around the house this week to earn $2 more to order her book.  She ADORES these books.  I may order her another one, too.  Maybe this one?

I wanted to invite you all to be at the party virtually.  This link will take you to my e-show, and any purchases you make will go toward making Hillary's party a success.  Who wouldn't want to do that?  I know Ella wouldn't mind if you wanted to stock her up on the Sticker Dressing books.  She makes rules for herself on how many pages she can do each day so she won't finish it too fast.  Though she wants to finish it so badly.  That girl...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mommy's Tired + An Announcement

This morning I feel like I do during the first year of life with a baby:  tired.  So tired.  Lying there with the bright sunshine pouring into the bedroom and instead of feeling glad at the sight, wanting to roll over and pull the covers over my head.  

James is having sleep issues.  He has been for the past month.  I'm not a napper, but I've been forced into napping the past three days in a row, and they haven't been little catnaps.  I have been out cold in deep sleep.  Last night he was up from around 1-3 a.m.  The bright spot is that at 8:15 he's still asleep, and this is the latest he's slept in weeks.  He's been getting up with the sun.  I am thankful that this has not been the normal for us and praying this passes soon.

But is he cute or what?  It's hard to stay too irritated with him.  He's precious.  When I was putting him back to bed last night I asked him if he was okay, and he said in the sweetest voice, "Yeah, I just a little scared."  He just melts my heart.  But by 3 a.m. I was all stern voice, "Don't get out of that bed again."  Ahh, parenting...

I have a big announcement I wanted to make today (not another baby!), and I wanted to make it with bells and whistles, but I don't think my night of interrupted sleep gives me time for bells and whistles this morning.  So here goes...

Lord willing, and if everything works out, I'm going on a mission trip KJ is leading to Paris, to work with our friend Parker's church and with the International Mission Board.  Boom.  I am so excited.  I'm excited to fly away with KJ, to have sweet times of fellowship and service with people in our church I don't normally get time with, excited to see what the church looks like in France, excited about the ministry there, excited about filling up my new external harddrive with 3,000 more pictures.  I'm so thankful for such a gracious gift and opportunity (and for a husband and parents who make it possible). 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Our Valentine's Day

Yesterday was so beautiful here.  Sunshine after four days of clouds!  It was wonderful.  Valentine's Day fell on KJ's day off, so that was a win, and it meant I got to enjoy a cold morning walk by myself.  I'm such good company.  

It was time for our termite bond to be renewed, so we were furiously cleaning out every corner of our house all morning.  I thought my house was clean and organized until a stranger was going to be walking through each room, spraying in the corners.  Only then did I realize how dirty and un-organized it all is. 

All of our efforts ended up being for naught since apparently, after 7 years, it's no longer upkeep in the termite department, but it's time to re-treat everything.  Instead of spraying, the man walked around the outside of the house measuring, and we have two options to decide between, both unforeseen expenses.  That's life as homeowner, right? On the bright side, our house was really clean, and I had a shower!

It was so nice outside I felt very inspired and wanted to be creative and take pictures, but I thought Ella was probably tired of being my model, and I couldn't think of anyone that could get together very impromptu-like before Ella's gymnastics and before James woke up from nap.  So I read a little and took a nap instead.

I didn't get flowers yesterday, but I did spot the ghosts of Valentine's past rising again in the front yard.  Hooray for Spring!

      Tulips from the Past
(and some weeds that need picking)

When talking about past Valentine's Days last night, I made KJ very happy.  He never did things the "traditional" way, a dozen roses and a nice dinner.  I used to wish he would.  I used to think, "He thinks differently from everyone else.  Why is that?"But then," as I told him last night, "I realized your way of thinking was better than everyone else's."  He was exultant.  

His way of thinking includes flowers that can be re-planted and grow again and spending money on things that will last and things he knows I'll really enjoy and that will make me really happy.  And there's nothing so very wrong in that. 

On that note, here's what I had for dinner last night:

That was all KJ's idea, and it cracks me up, but his thoughtfulness meant a lot to me.  He picked up dinner on the way home from gymnastics with Ella, and after the kids went to bed we made it through at least half of a James Bond movie before I started falling asleep.  McDonalds and James Bond:  I think that's a pretty good way to spend Valentine's...except I woke up early this morning with a start because I was dreaming there was an intruder in our house, and I was so tired I couldn't make myself get up and take care of that problem. 

Do you remember the first Valentine's Day we were dating?

Mmm...why don't you remind me?

I think your mom probably had to call you and let you know it was Valentine's Day, because you weren't aware of things like that back then.  You picked me up at my dorm with a single rose and a box of conversation hearts...
I think conversation hearts are disgusting.

I LOVE conversation hearts!

I didn't eat them, but I saved them.

Those are 10 years old by now...
-A Valentine's Night Conversation -        

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For all our loved ones, far and near

Truly, we love you people so much.  "Coincidentally," James' memory verse for Cubbies this week is, "God is love."  It's really cute to hear him say it.  I'm reminded of what follows several verses later, "We love because he first loved us."  And we really do.  I'm so thankful for how God changes our hearts to love others and to little by little love them more than ourselves.  I have so many opportunities to learn this while mothering my little ones day after day.

Speaking of which, James' most frequent phrase to me lately is, "Mama, I like you."  And I'm so thankful (even more perhaps) for all the friendships with people I don't just love but people I genuinely like.  Friendship is such a gift, and in this season of my life, it is valued more than ever before since I don't have the free time to spend with friends that I once did.

Friendship is born at that moment when one
person says to another,
"What!  You too?  I thought I was the only one.
- C.S. Lewis -