Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Hate Halloween

I've never understood Christian Halloween alternatives. Probably because the first time I heard of such a things was when I was first married, with no kids, and not many concerns about the day. I heard it proclaimed from our other newly married Christian friends that "we refuse to give the devil any honor on his special day, so we will be throwing a big party where everyone can dress up (in non-scary costumes, of course) and pass out candy to all the church kids on October 31st." I think they figured that if they called it fall festival and held it in the church it would somehow not be a Halloween party. Somehow, that just didn't make any sense to me. Call me crazy. I pretty much figured then that I would either be for or against Halloween and not do this "let's pretend we're not celebrating Halloween when we really are" thing.

...and then I had kids...

We have done many different things about Halloween over the years. The ideal thing would be to know what stance we're going to take and stick with it. But so far, we just haven't been able to do that. Some years we did the door to door thing. Some years we did the fake Halloween church thing, depending on our church's plans that year. A couple years we've just sat it out and treated it like any normal day.

But the main reason I now hate Halloween is this... CANDY! I hate my kids getting loads of candy. It's not fair that now that we eat a pretty healthy diet, I can't use sweets as a reward for a job well done, good behavior, and as a "school treat", but because of a ridiculous holiday they get a year's supply of sugar that I have to figure out how to deal with. If we let them do Halloween in any form, we have two options of what to do with the candy. Let them pig out until it's gone and over with, risking putting their little bodies into anaphylactic shock or a sugar coma. Or ration it out so that I have to face Halloween candy, one piece at a time, for the next four months. It's the holiday that lasts forever that way. I suppose we could figure out a way to make candy not be part of it, but try telling that to my candy-deprived but obsessed kids who know exactly what they will be missing.

This year, the lady who helps me by watching the kids on Fridays is all excited about bringing bags of candy for them when she comes to babysit. She's one of those people who shows you how much she loves you by feeding you. And she loves my kids a lot!!! So, I took the opportunity to let my kids know that Miss Crystal is saving them from a lot of hard work going door to door. We'll just watch a movie together at home this year... and eat candy... grrr.

Oh, and please don't feel that you have to pray for me to see the light about the spiritual evils of Halloween. I know, I know, I know! It's not really a good thing at all to celebrate such a terrible holiday. But I just couldn't resist that cute little pumpkin costume when my first-born was a baby. Call me weak. If I had my perfect dream come true, we would never do a thing on Halloween except be together, enjoying each other as a family, like we do on most every other Friday night.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Swaddling at 11 months?

After having my cousin's newborn in the house, my big girl thought it would be fun to treat our baby girl like an infant. Tessa whined while she was being wrapped, but by the time Syd brought her to me, she was entranced by the snuggled up feeling.

She soon noticed all the attention this was getting her. She loved having the kids and I cooing and gooing at how precious she looked all bundled up and still. See the smile behind the pacifier?

She just let Syd hold her and carry her around like this for quite a while. I guess it didn't hurt that she was sleepy and ready for her nap. She normally only gets her pacifier when she's layed in bed.

What an unexpected, precious moment in our day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baked Oatmeal

Our Monday morning tradition is to start our week off with our favorite breakfast, baked oatmeal. Here is the recipe...

I like to use some of the ideas from The Maker's Diet (J.S. Rubin) to make a healthier version of my favorite recipes. The substitutions I make in this recipe are exchanging the vegetable oil for liquefied coconut oil, using 1/2 cup raw honey for the 3/4 cup sugar, and drizzling pure maple syrup after baking instead of brown sugar sprinkled on before. We also put in extra raisins. I've made this recipe both ways, and honestly, it doesn't taste any better with all the sugar. It's just as good done the healthier way.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall break... time for real life lessons

OK... so my regular readers know about my obsession with a "schedule" this year in our schooling. We've done very well so far this school year. But the last two weeks have been a deliberate fall break. The kids have kept up with their reading, and we've done a smattering of special history lessons, character lessons, and even some math. During this time we have prepared for, hosted (to a degree), and recovered from a much anticipated family reunion that lasted quite a few days. This is also the reason I have not blogged much at all during this time period. My grandmother celebrated her 81st birthday, and her kids and grandkids made the trip from many miles and many different directions to come and celebrate together. It was a wonderful gathering and we made some great memories.

So, as far as school goes, we lost a couple days worth of "full curriculum completed" but gained some life lessons in the importance of family. Sydney learned some homemaking etiquette about having overnight guests. She got to shadow my cousin's sweet and gracious wife as she cared for her precious 3 week old baby. She also got to work on her photography skills some more. The boys got to hang out with my cousin who helped them refine their magic tricks and table tennis game. They also got several chances to go out on the golf course with their father and great uncles to work on their chipping, putting, and driving, not to mention, the traditional male bonding. Little Macy got to sit on the laps of adoring great aunts and uncles and say her nursery rhymes over, and over, and over, and over... There was also the great tradition of craft time with Aunt Nancy that the children always look forward to. Those are just some of the wonderful moments that could be afforded because we have the opportunity to set the schedule aside temporarily and take advantage of life's living lessons. I love homeschooling!

Through the eyes of my eight-year-old son though, these last two weeks off of our new fairly strict schedule has been a very long time. And considering we were only "back to school" for seven weeks before this two week holiday, I guess it was easy for him to feel like those several weeks of school between summer break and fall break didn't amount to much at all. Eight year old boys, huh? Because as we hugged the last of our company goodbye on Wednesday, he made one of THOSE statements. You know them, the things our children sometimes say that make us homeschool moms laugh nervously as we try to find just the right explanation. When asked if he was ready to get back to his normal life and his school work, he said "ah, we don't hardly ever do school work". Thanks buddy. And next Monday he'll say "Mom, why do we ALWAYS have to do SO MUCH schoolwork?!" Got to love the precious little man.

Thank heaven for tooth losing, knee skinning, Sugar Creek Gang reading, plastic light-saber wielding, eye glasses breaking, awe-shucks grinning, big brother imitating little boys!

My Sovereign God

I'm turning my eyes away. I'm facing the other direction. I am looking away from corruption, greed, and ineptitude. I am not focusing on Washington D.C.,Wall Street, or the angry mobs of Main Street. I am turning my head the other way when I see those around me continuing to be inconsiderate, ungrateful, and selfish. I cannot watch these things any longer or I will risk losing my joy. I am choosing to look toward heaven. I want to stay fixed on beauty! I want my heart to stay tender and untouched by the cynicism that could so easily creep in. My God is sovereign! I must watch for His hand that holds me, my country, and my world through it all. Oh God, You are mighty and just... my hope and confidence is in You and You alone.

The purposes of God cannot be frustrated; there is none like God. If a purpose of God came to naught, it would imply that there is a power greater than God's. It would imply that someone could stay His hand when He designs to do a thing. But "none can stay his hand," as Nebuchadnezzar says:
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?" (Daniel 4: 34-35)
John Piper, Desiring God

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Grandma's Birthday

My Grandma celebrated her 81st birthday this week surrounded by her family. Her four children came from near and far to be together to honor my wonderful grandmother. All together, we had quite a large group here, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Happy Birthday, Grandma! We love you!

Friday, October 3, 2008

I've never been very artistic. I loved writing papers in high school and college, but had little reason to continue writing after that. In my 18 years of adulthood, marriage, and motherhood, my down time has been spent reading and hanging out with my man. I was never one to spend a lot of time scrapbooking, crafting, gardening, sewing, etc. I never really felt like I was missing out on anything, either. I always declared myself as "not artistic" to my family and friends. At one point I started to study decorating somewhat and found that I really enjoyed it. It was appropriate at the time, since we were building a new home, with colors to select and furniture to buy. But after the initial set-up, you can only do so much redecorating without doing a lot of needless spending.

This year has been the beginning of many new artistic ventures for me. In January, about two months after Tessa was born I woke up one morning with a big idea. I wanted to start making cards! Now, this isn't a big idea for most people, but for inartistic me, with a newborn and four other kids to care for and homeschool, this was a huge declaration. I didn't know how I was going to manage feeding and educating my whole crew yet, but I was going to start a new hobby. Where did that come from? And I normally don't have much faith in my ability to create crafty things either. But for some reason, I didn't feel intimidated at all. I have been thoroughly enjoying making cards since then. Some turn out better than others, and I am looking forward to learning more and improving as I go.

Shortly after the card idea, in February, my father in law came and started my vegetable garden for me. I had always told him how I would love to have a garden some day. And he graciously came and got a nice big garden all set up for me. I have to admit, I had always thought of my fantasy garden as just that, a fantasy. But there it was! Now, I don't know if one should consider gardening of this sort as artistic, but as I learned some about plants, it made me long for flower beds and more colorful landscaping. We'll see where gardening takes me next year!

Starting this blog was another thing that came about this year. I would love to find a reason to write again. At this point, my blog posts are pretty simple and more like updates for my homeschool friends. But I am hoping to be able to be more creative in my writing in the future. It's been a LONG time since those papers in school! So I'm hoping it will slowly come back to me. I am so looking forward to spending some time letting those creative juices flow.

Now, the latest interest for me has been photography. I don't know anything whatsoever about photography. And I really don't plan on improving my skills there too much. But I want to start taking more pictures for two reasons. For one thing, I don't want to forget the precious memories I am making with my kids. So, I have become one of those moms who takes entirely too many pictures. That's me. The other reason is that I want to take note of what's surrounding me. I want to be sure that I notice more often the beautiful things that are all around me. I want to pay attention to huge blessings that come my way, whether it be tiny baby toes curled up tight, a warm cup of tea in my favorite mug, morning sunlight streaming through the window onto my waking red-heads, the biggest tree in the yard hovering over Andrew and me as we walk barefoot in the back yard, or a dirt-smudged three year old's feet that has come in from "helping" to clean the garage. These are the treasures in life, and I have found that taking pictures of them helps me to really "notice" how beautiful and perfect they are. I don't want to overlook these pieces of art in my life.

I'm not quite sure why I want to express myself and be more creative all of a sudden. I don't know if it's my age or maybe it's a five kid thing? Maybe it's the effects homeschooling Charlotte Mason-style has on a mom. It may make more sense to me as I look back on it years from now. But I am enjoying my attempt at developing my creative side. I feel like a beginner, for sure. It's even a little embarrassing at times. But something in me wants to get right in there with the kids and write stories, plant a seed and watch it grow, cut and paste, stamp and color, look for natural treasures like a random wildflower or spider's web, and take pictures of it all!
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