Monday, January 31, 2011

The Husband

I've noticed a trend among female bloggers to refer to their husbands by some sort of nickname. Take, for example, Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman), who is married to "Marlboro Man." And then there is Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience, happily married to her "Farmer Husband." I've read of women married to "The Captain," and I've read of women married to "The Man."

So it's got me to thinking. Am I supposed to give my own husband a name? I've always just referred to him as Jamie. Except for a brief period when I called him Farm Boy because I needed him to fetch me a pitcher. And the other time when he was Lightning because I was Sonora and we entertained village children in Mexico. But that was a really, really long time ago. Forget I ever mentioned it.

Anyway, my husband is in the video business. So what does a woman call a man who spends most of his time either behind a camera, editing at the computer or laying out storyboards? How about . . . "Video Guy?" Or perhaps "Film Fellow?" Maybe it should be "Mr. Movie" or "Man of Action?"

Ooooh, I know: The Director. Sounds impressive. Very imposing and prestigious.

What d'ya think?

All right, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my close-up.
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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dancing Shadows

The longer the kids are cooped up, the more creative they get. Of course I don't want them to remain cooped up in an attempt to foster more creativity, it's just an observation. In fact, we just might make it out of the house in the next day or two (as long as I can keep my own sniffles at bay . . .).

But the kids are finally healthy and have recently discovered a new diversion. The other day, in an attempt to do something mathematical with a rather contrary five-year-old, I pulled out the overhead projector. (You know you're a homeschool mom when your last thoughts before drifting off to sleep are, "Ooooooh! Overhead! That will be fun!")

So out it came, along with the pattern blocks. She was thrilled with the idea of seeing her patterns projected onto the living room wall. I had been keenly aware of the fact that there is still absolutely no artwork on that particular wall in our home. But maybe that's not such a bad thing for now. Hexagons and triangles, parallelograms and squares danced shadows across the void, projecting the visions of my child's mind.

Aidan was sick the day I pulled out the projector, so he wasn't aware of the new activity. Poor thing -- the next morning, when he was himself again, he saw it sitting in the living room and asked, "Was I gone yesterday?" I reminded him that he had spent the day on the couch. The light of recollection dawned, and he merrily plopped down in front of the screen to create.

The kids have continued to create for the last few days. At first they followed very basic quilt-like patterns, adhering to pattern block "rules." That is, the shapes fit nicely together, lying flat on the surface.

Today, however, Aidan realized that he could think outside of the box. He proved that what appears on the glass screen might look a bit unconventional -- blocks stacked and askew. But when projected by the light, it is transformed into a work of art. And that's how he made people.

But not just any people. Rolfe and Liesl people. Dancing. With a telegram.

That's my boy.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

All Along

This morning while sitting at my desk, I leaned over to pull a book from a bag on the floor. I stopped. What was that? I could just barely detect faint strains of . . . music. It didn't take long for me to realize that my head was right next to the CD player. (My powers of deduction are really quite astonishing.)

I usually keep the classical music station playing in the school room during the day. At times I'm forced to turn it down. If a child starts practicing the piano or smackin' away at the snare, down goes Mozart. That must have happened yesterday. Only I never turned it all the way off. Just down. And it had been playing all along.

If we listen carefully -- oh, so carefully -- we'll hear it. The faintest strains will gain strength and momentum as our ears learn to detect the music. We'll tune out the distracting, discordant din and focus on the beauty. And we'll realize that it's been there all along.

Childhood Idyll by Adolphe-William Bouguereau 1900
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Love You More

She always said, "I love you more than you love me." We laughed and argued back, "No, Mommy! I love you more than you love me!" The volley continued until she trumped us with the final, "I loved you . . . before you were born . . . ." And that settled it. She always won. But never was a victory so precious to the "defeated." We knew we were loved.

I've grown since then, and now the volley continues with my own children. They insist that they love me more. Aidan tries to prove his point with an impressive boast: "I love you an infinity and ninety-nine!" Drew helps him out by defining a googolplex. Bethie relents and says, "Oh, Mommy . . . ." And Avery insists that she loves me more because she cries for me. I answer back, grinning, with the challenge, "Well, I cry for you, too . . . ."

She thinks I'm being silly. But she doesn't understand.

She doesn't understand that I really do cry for her. I cry tears of joy for the beauty in her. I cry tears of agony for the trials she must face. I cry tears of anger over the conflicts we experience and then I cry tears of frustration over the war I must wage to defeat my own selfishness.

But I also cry tears of thanksgiving. Because I know that there is One who loves her even more. This same One who trumps all because He loved me . . . before I was born. He wins the game every time. He, the triumphant King, holds her tenderly in the palm of His hand and calls her by name. And He does the same for me.

She and I, we sit together in our Father's presence, both loved more than we could ever imagine. Beyond infinity and ninety-nine, beyond a googolplex, beyond a ba-zillion. We are always loved . . . more.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let Me Count the Ways

I've been housebound for nine days now. Well, I suppose I did run down the street to get the mail on Saturday. And I did drop Drew off at his percussion class last week. But that doesn't count. For the most part, we've canceled lessons, invitations and events to tend fevers, coughs and sniffles.

The funny thing is, it wasn't until last night that I realized I hadn't gone out (for real) for over a week. Now if a mother of four can stay in one spot for a week and not notice, she's either delusional . . . or blessed.

I choose to think of myself as blessed.

It is a blessing to look at one's surroundings and see beauty, no matter how much laundry is piled up or how many legos are scattered across the floor. Now don't get me wrong. This isn't always an automatic reaction. Far too frequently, I fall into the trap of not seeing the beauty. And I miss out on the blessing.

God has infinite treasure to bestow . . . . Blind as we are,
we hinder God and stop the current of His graces.
(Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God)

I don't want to spend my days missing the blessings. I don't want to fester in stagnancy when the current of His graces is so close at hand. So I pray that my heart might focus on the beauty.

When I see the watercolors and the brushes and the newspaper all over the kitchen table, my first instinct is to cringe. But as I bring my little one to the sink and wash the colors from her pink hands, I choose to focus on that moment: I hold that hand -- that hand that won't be so tiny for long -- and I wash away the mess. I force the smudges, the mess, the ugly -- that in me which fails to see beauty -- I wash it down the drain. I kiss the paint-smeared forehead, knowing that I've just taken part in a blessed, holy moment. Again.

So even though I might be hanging out at home for a few more days, I will continue to look for beauty. Perhaps put a little twist on Elizabeth Barrett Browning's words: "How does He love me? Let me count the ways . . . ."

*little hands stroking my face
*Drew's first youth group retreat
*Avery baptizing herself while taking a bath
*exchanging emails when I'm housebound (especially with my mom and sister who agree to the challenge of sending only correspondence that rhymes. This week we moved on to haiku. Please feel free to join in.)
*fevers dropping
*a friend who shares Scripture: Isaiah 55
*words of joy!
*hot soup on a cold winter day
*foggy mornings
*sisters sharing a stack of library books
*reading with Bethie over a cup of tea
*Aidan's paper airplanes
*steady work -- God's faithfulness!
*sunshine after endless rain
*rearranging furniture
*hearing the front door, knowing he's home
*surprise hugs and kisses from my Aidan

I will tell of the kindness of the Lord,
the deeds for which He is to be praised . . .
yes, the many good things He has done.
Isaiah 63:7

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Family Movie Night

Friday night. Seven o'clock. If you were to peek into a certain white house with green trim, you'd likely find six Lawsons squished together on the L-shaped couch. Piled under blankets, legs and elbows askew and voices shushing, they are about to embark on a grand adventure known as Family Movie Night. The lights are dimmed "just like a movie feeder," chocolate chip cookies are in the oven, and they eagerly await the pick of the week . . .

Sometimes it's a favorite from Daddy and Mommy's growing up years, like Anne of Green Gables or Little House on the Prairie.

Other times it's a brand new story waiting to unfold, like Up. Most often, however, it's a gem from the past, such as the original Cheaper by the Dozen, National Velvet or Leave it to Beaver. And if it happens to be a musical like Meet Me in St. Louis, Mary Poppins, or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?

Well, there are no complaints from the females in the bunch. (Of course you know how I feel about The Sound of Music.) And don't worry. To add a little action for the males, we are sure to include lively stories like Swiss Family Robinson or Follow Me, Boys!, and great science features like Life.

A friend recently asked for movie suggestions, and I passed a few titles on. (My titles are fairly conservative and mild -- we have a rather sensitive viewer in our bunch.) It was fun to think through the list, and it occurred to me that I'd love to add more ideas to the pot. And so I come to you. What are some of your family favorites? Slip me a note, either here, via email or facebook, and I'll compile a little list to share with any others who find themselves buried under blankets on a Friday night.

Lights . . . camera . . . action!
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Hills are Alive

Jamie got me The Sound of Music for Christmas. He's a good man. I'm not sure how many times I've let the kids play the "songs only" version of the DVD. The movie skips from one song to the next with the option of sing-a-long subtitles. Their favorite is "The Lonely Goatherd." It makes me laugh to think that my children already know the words to "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," when it took me years to understand what Rolfe was saying to that enviable, soft-focus Liesl (roues, cads and all).

Do you remember when The Sound of Music aired regularly on television? It was edited to fit in the allotted time space, so when my family got the much desired VCR and copied the much desired movie, the version we ended up with had a few plot holes. My sister and I didn't mind, though. We watched it over and over and over until we had it memorized. Our enthusiasm even went beyond the film. Every time our family went for a drive, she and I were on the lookout for the perfect "Maria hill" -- you know, the hill that would be perfectly suited to accommodate rapturous, melodious twirling.

Just a few years ago I watched the full-length, unedited movie with no commercial breaks. I was astonished. I was thrilled. It was like seeing my favorite movie for the very first time. I felt complete and whole. (And it finally made sense to me why Kurt's response to Maria after her long-awaited return from the abbey was, "Hungry!")

Now, I had seen the original before -- at a movie theater, in fact (red curtain intermission and all!). The details are a bit hazy in my mind, but I do recall singing along at the top of my lungs with everyone in my party (you people know who you are), much to the consternation of fellow theater goers. It was a glorious moment, somewhere in my youth . . . or childhood. But time wore on, and I eventually forgot the missing scenes. I was content to live with the edited version.

Maybe this is a bit like the waiting we experience each day. The waiting for our Lord to return and create a new heaven and a new earth. We see hints of it now, and we already love much of what we see. We rewind and go to our favorite parts again and again. Some of us even have the scenes memorized: the etched slope of Mt. Hood against an eastern sky, the gray twist of the Columbia River through towering basalt, the thunderous crash of the mighty Pacific against sandy shores.

But this -- what we have now -- this is only the incomplete, commercial-broken, flawed story. There are plot holes and mistakes, and at times we just don't get it. Even worse, we sometimes forget that something is missing and content ourselves with mediocrity.

But then, we are reminded. We dream once more of seeing the whole picture as it was meant to be. We imagine the story growing to fruition: the red curtain rising, the hazy details coming into sharp focus, the Male Lead sweeping us off of our feet.

Some day, we'll have front row seats in the theater. The dreams and imaginings will be fully alive. The story will astonish and maybe even surprise us. But it will be thrilling, achingly beautiful, and it will make us complete.

Some day, those hills are really going to be alive. Personally, I intend to spend many a day on the perfect Maria hill, absorbed in rapturous, melodious twirling. Who's with me?

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
I Corinthians 13:12
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Practice

Several weeks ago I found a copy of Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God at a book sale. A friend had recommended it last summer, so I was on the lookout. That said, I was also a bit scared to find it. And even more scared to read it.

Because I knew it would require something of me.

To practice the presence of God -- the moment by moment awareness of the Spirit -- as much as I desired it, I knew I couldn't approach it like some sort of new hobby. Not like knitting or canning or painting, to be picked up one day and cast aside the next with no serious ramifications.

To practice the presence of the Almighty would be a commitment. Once I acknowledged it, I would fall into one of two camps: I would either be listening to God . . . or not. I would either be bowed in His presence . . . or not. That's what scared me.

In all this fear, however, I forgot one very important truth: God wants me to sense His presence. He desires it so very deeply that I can scarcely fathom His longing for me. He's not elusive. He's not unapproachable. He's not tricky or capricious or moody.

He's perfect. And He wants me.

I'm starting to understand this because even in my halting, pathetic little baby steps to try and live each moment in His presence, I find that my days are filled with gentle reminders.

I see hints of His love, hints of His beauty in the smallest things. The graceful curve of my baby's neck . . . the joy in my daughter's thirst for life . . . the intricate workings of my son's mind . . . the contagious laughter of my lively boy . . . the deep, steady gaze in my husband's eye . . . it's all there.

It all points back to Him.

So maybe I'm in His presence after all . . . . What if this practicing, this awareness, is simply an opening of the eyes? A tilting of the ear? A realization of what's really, truly going right in the midst of this whirl of life, whether we acknowledge it or not?

I believe that it is. And my desire is to practice it.
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Piercing

She's been waiting for years. Yesterday, it happened. She woke up smiling -- beaming, really -- and engulfed me in hugs. "I can't believe it's today!" she squealed. Her tenth birthday, the day of . . . The Piercing.

We drove to the mall where we met Noni, Auntie Krissie, and cousins Olivia and Alainna. Alainna, too, had been waiting for this moment and would receive the much desired adornment.

There were butterflies in their tummies and nervous little giggles as they waited. Indecision over which posts to choose. Should they go with their birthstones? Or matching flowers? In the end, they both decided on the rainbow crystal daisy.

Up into the chair went Bethie . . .

Oooh -- that hurt a bit more than expected! She's halfway there, though . . . .

Phew! Mingled relief and joy. She did it!

Now it's Alainna's turn. Much moral support . . . .

And it's done! As if the new holes weren't enough, we found matching hats on this Day of Accessorization (I'm not sure if that's a word). "Just the kind I've always wanted!" Bethie gushed. (Did I mention they were on sale? You know how I love a sale.)

Now, aren't these girls precious?
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Thursday, January 13, 2011


"Oh, Mom . . . can't I just stay home?" I pleaded. School was not my favorite place to hang out as a pre-teen. But I knew that my mother sent me out of love, not as some sort of punishment. This was evidenced not only by a long history of loving actions, but also by the promise of . . . soup. It became our code word. Our secret "I-love-you-more-than-anything-and-will-pray-for-you-today" word.

She gently led me to the door (no doubt assuming that I'd be chasing that bus yet again) and promised to have a steaming pot of my favorite soup waiting when I came home. She cupped my face, kissed my forehead and said, "Soup." Off I went, my school hours filled with reminders of my mother's love.

Last week was a soup week. Not because I made soup (which I did not), but because I needed it. I was grumpy and crabby and not a fun person to be with (even though I did agree to have my face scribbled on). I finally made it to Sunday. Jamie wasn't feeling well, so I took the kids to church. We were late, of course, so I stood along the back wall wondering where to put my sorry self. But God knew right where He wanted me. My sister caught my eye. She and her clan scooted over (even though there wasn't really any room), and I gladly let them enfold me.

I held my niece contentedly on my lap, and our row continued to blossom when Annie caught my eye. She, too, needed a place. The chairs were as full as could be, so she plopped herself down . . . on my purse. (Several chivalrous gentlemen offered their seats. She declined, preferring to hover gracefully over the bulletins.) So there I was, squeezed between this love, thanking God that He wouldn't let me wallow in self.

Thus began another soup week. But this time it was the food kind. I threw together a big pot of Italian sausage soup on Monday evening. As I stirred, I sensed God's love and provision, not only in meeting my physical needs, but my spiritual needs as well. I knew that I was surrounded by the promised prayers of a bulletin-hovering friend and that last week's valleys were only temporary. Those valleys served as points to which I could look back and say, "Thank you, Lord, for your grace. Thank you for keeping hold of me. And thank you for the reminder that I needn't struggle alone."

By piano lesson day, that pot of soup had dwindled to a few lunch portions. So I packed it up and we headed to my parents' house for lessons. The kids took turns at the keyboard and they took turns slurping their soup. When it was time to leave, I noticed that there was just enough soup left for one more person. I popped my head into the piano room. "Mom? Might you enjoy a nice, hot cup of soup on your lunch break?" Her eyes lit up like a school girl. And we both said, "Soup."
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

{Begin with a Smile}

We started up our normal school schedule this week. It's always a bit tricky to get back into the groove after a long break, so I made it a point to have a special breakfast ready on Monday morning.

As we gathered around hot, syrupy French toast, I could still sense that some people were not quite chipper yet. Oddly enough, the Lord had already given me two diverting experiences that morning that I knew would surely bring a smile to some peoples' faces. So I shared.

"Guess what two silly things your mother did this morning?" Eyes widened in expectation. "I ran outside in my pajamas while it was still dark, and I cracked an egg between my knees!"

This got exactly the response I was hoping for. Now mind you, these were two separate occurrences. I did not crack an egg between my knees while running through the streets in my pajamas. But for the purposes of bringing a smile to some people, I chose to give only the details that were rather ludicrous. It worked.

I then explained that I had realized early that morning that we had forgotten to take down the trash. Hence my Wee Willie Winkie dash. And later, while making French toast, an egg slipped from my hands. My instinct, of course, was to try and catch it. With my knees.

After breakfast, I furthered the merry theme by introducing a "smile envelope" in hopes of keeping that perk in our morning. As soon as a child worked through his morning lessons, he got to take a secret peek into the "A Smile for You" envelope. Contained was something guaranteed to make them smile. Such as this:

Now, doesn't that make you smile?

I think Avery was about three when we took this picture. She wanted to play "baby," so I wadded her up. This was the creepy result.
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Saturday, January 8, 2011


Did you know that a girl considers many things to be "essential" when preparing for a sleepover? Naturally, one must include pajamas, a toothbrush, a change of clothes . . . and every single American Girl catalog ever printed.

Papa and Noni came over this morning to collect our daughter (and all of her worldly possessions) for the annual cousin pair-off sleepover. Bethie and Alainna were the lucky pair number one. My first clue that this was going to be a rather large event was Bethie's desire to bring a suitcase. For one night. I mentioned in my last post that I've been trying to say "yes" to my children more often rather than the automatic (and often less messy) "no." So I smiled and said that she could bring the suitcase.

She started packing days ago. (Did I mention that the sleepover was to last one night?) Frequent phone calls and email chats between the cousins served only to lengthen the list of things that were deemed necessary to be included in the packing. Beanie Babies were piled high. American Girl clothes were added to the suitcase alongside the Bethie Girl clothes. It was also apparently quite necessary for Bethie's doll to bring her horse, dog, cat, scooter and school desk. She might want to catch up on homework, you know.

I'm not sure when Bethie woke up this morning. But I know it was long before my feet hit the floor. She and Alainna continued to phone and email right until Papa and Noni's chauffeur service arrived.

Papa's eyes widened slightly at the staggering pile that was to be added to the already bulging trunk. (Alainna was apparently equally as ambitious in her packing. My sister said "yes" to the suitcase, too.) He pointed tentatively toward the mound of animals, "Is all this coming?" The girls nodded vigorously. And Papa quietly began the trek from house to car, arms full of Beanie Babies, sleepwear and catalogs (no doubt reminding him of two other little girls that tended to pack rather enthusiastically . . . once upon a time).

They finally drove off, all smiles, eager for the many plans that awaited. I shuddered to think of what Papa and Noni's house would look like once the multitudinous treasures were strewn about. But I knew that all four of them would have a blast. And I also knew that Bethie's doll's head was going to be very well protected. That helmet just had to come. Because you never know when you might need a helmet.
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Friday, January 7, 2011

When Mama Says, "Yes . . . "

This mama has been trying to say, "yes" to her children more often.

She's learned a thing or two.

Like, when Mama says, "Yes,"

It might turn into art all over the table.

It might turn into art all over the child.

And it might turn into art all over the Mama.

When Mama says, "Yes."
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another Very Important Purchase

You will perhaps recall the Pot Holder Incident of 2010 in which I finally realized my need, after fourteen years, for a new set of pot holders. I recently observed that this same phenomenon was taking place among other household linens as well. This time, it was the bath towels. I had looked at the same old things for days and months and years, slowly watching them deteriorate, not realizing that perhaps I could do a little something about it. But when shreds of fourteen-year-old terrycloth (wound with various other indiscernible threads) began to get caught between my toes, I finally snapped out of it and came to grips with the sad nature of our towels.

I remembered reading somewhere how pleasant it is to have white towels in the bathroom -- clean, fresh, bright. And so I determined to find (yes, you guessed it) the perfect white bath towel. Times six. Now this time, (my pot holder experience having served me well) I was a bit quicker to realize that maybe I didn't need to seek perfection after all. Maybe I just needed to find something that didn't threaten to strangle, as our current set was falling severely short of that desirable mark.

My sister and I were at Ross a couple of weeks ago. I love Ross. I could shop there every day. Anyway, there we were. I mentioned that I might mosey on over to the bath section to check out the towels while she tinkered among various wrought iron creatures. Guess what I found? Two crisp, bright white towels. On clearance. I nearly swooned. Stroking their cottony perfection, I eyed the red tag again. And again. $3.49. Oh yes. These were begging to come home with me.

Then I had another revelation. I didn't need to find six towels that matched perfectly. This pair would go in the master bath anyway. I could buy the others separately.

Home they came. I washed them immediately and hung the plump terrycloth on the rack. I was tempted to take a shower right smack in the middle of the day as I reveled in the delicious discovery that a towel could feel like anything other than sandpaper.

My success led me to scan another Ross location the following week. Drew and Bethie had long since outgrown their baby towels from Noni. (Now, don't get me wrong. We love our handmade Noni towels. Everyone does. Dozens and dozens of babies have been wrapped in her love. But I knew it was finally time to let my growing dears dry themselves with a full-sized towel devoid of fading choo-choo trains and Sunbonnet Sues. Sniff.)

Well there they were, way up on the top shelf: two more fluffy white towels. On clearance. This time, I took it a step further. I noticed a couple of smudges on the towels. Maybe I could get a discount on the discount . . . . Sure enough, the checker agreed to knock off another 15%. I got the beauties for a mere $2.50 a piece. It was a good day.

They, too, were washed (with the smudges coming out nicely) and immediately hung on the kids' bath rack. Bethie's eyes glowed when I whispered that she had a brand new towel. Just for her. Such a simple pleasure -- and so easy to fulfill. Why on earth did it take me so long?

Now, Aidan and Avery are still quite comfortable in their plump, hooded Noni towels. The soft cotton still fully covers their little bubble-bathed bodies, so I think I can hold off on adding more fluffy whiteness to our collection for the time being. But I promise to remain vigilant. Next time around I'll see to it that they're cozily wrapped in brand new terrycloth before someone's wee toes become dangerously entwined in ancient threads.
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Easing In

I knew that jumping right back into a rigorous schedule would be a bit of a shock to our systems, so I've chosen to revise this first week of school. The kids are tired from two weeks of weird sleeping schedules (Little Miss Avery Kate hung on until well after midnight on New Year's Eve) and weird eating schedules (Daddy's chocolate souffle sure makes for a delicious dinner . . .).

But I knew that we needed to start sometime, somehow. (Our year-round, "Sabbath Schooling" system allows for some flexibility here. I had planned to take three weeks for Christmas anyway.)

So this week has been dubbed "Read, Write, Create!" The kids have each chosen (with my guidance) a chapter book to complete over the course of the week. Drew is reading Jack London's White Fang. Bethie chose My Side of the Mountain, and Aidan started Snow Treasure. Avery and I will read picture books together each morning. Today we giggled over Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever. (Have you ever read a Richard Scarry story? If not, please drop everything and read one. Right now.)

After reading their books for a specific amount of time each morning, they move on to their writing assignment. This is basically a written summary of what they've just read. (Of course my expectations for each child are tailored according to age -- Drew types a full page, while Avery copies the first line of a poem, such as "Tom, Tom the piper's son . . .")

And then they get to create! (Aidan panted for this all morning.) "Create" is pretty open. The children can choose anything creative to work on, provided they have an end goal or product and stay focused for at least 30 minutes. They can work on a single project all week or choose something different each day.

As soon as Aidan was released from his reading and writing obligations, he flew upstairs to build a Lego city (Daddy passed by his room and Aidan assured him, "This is for school. Mommy said so.") Avery and I made play-dough, experimenting with food coloring and textures. Bethie designed some birthday cards, and Drew compiled basketball statistics for a chart he plans to present later in the week.

It was fun to see where their minds took them on this. I gave only a few suggestions, and they ran with it.

I look forward to seeing how the week plays out, and I think it will pave the way for focused and successful studies next week. If not . . . well, there's always chocolate souffle.
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Saturday, January 1, 2011


"Can we read another chapter?" he asks.

"Sure honey -- let me get my things pulled together," I reply. We settle down at the school table, me with a sketch book and colored pencils, he with a well worn copy of the first Harry Potter book. He wants me to share in the mystery and fantasy of his beloved series. So I listen. As Harry shoots by on his broomstick, I sketch away at my little chickadee. (That's pretty much all I can draw -- and the poor things still tend to be rather disproportionate every single time.)

The chapter comes to a thrilling close, and my little chestnut-backed chickadee has found his leafy habitat on the formerly blank white tablet page. It's not quite right. Something about that neck is amiss. Oh well. I'll keep practicing. I tuck away my supplies, and Drew and I agree to read the next chapter very soon.

Shortly after we've gone on to our separate activities and responsibilities, I notice that the school table is circled by three children. Each one gripping a colored pencil, face twisted in concentration. Three sketch books -- pages of creativity and promise spiraled together -- lie open, receiving the visions of young minds.

The scene before me is at once heartwarming and startling. They want to be just like their mama. They're sketching away at penguins, bluebirds and verdin . . . because that's what their mama does.

I've had a phrase stuck in my head for the last several days. I have Kat, over at Inspired to Action, to thank for this malady. Her "Twelve Words" on creating goals for the new year are succinct and pithy:

Need goals? Imagine who you want your kids to become. Be that.

My kids are "becoming." In many ways, they are becoming what is modeled by Jamie and me. I've known this, but the bird sketching session brought it vividly to mind once again.

I observe proof of this daily. I brew a cup of tea, and Avery is sure to ask, "Mama, can I have some tea, too?" I put on the finishing touches of my makeup, and Bethie sidles up, "Mama, can I wear some lip gloss?" I curl up with a book, and Aidan runs to me with his latest read, "Check out this dinosaur, Mom!" I write out something in my notebook and see Drew's many notebooks lying around, filled with his thoughts, projects and creations.

They're watching. And, for better or for worse, they're doing.

I don't usually come up with a list of New Year's resolutions. Of course I know that there are always many "shoulds" in my life. I should exercise more. I should eat less sugar. I should go to bed earlier. I should finish the book I started months ago. I should, I should, I should . . . .

But I've decided to take a different approach. I want this year to be a year of awareness. It's one goal, but like a nice tidy package, it's all-encompassing. Anything to which I might aspire this year begins with awareness.

I want to be aware that my children are watching me. I want to be aware that God has entrusted them to me and that He wants to shape me to be the mama that they need. I want to be aware that through the power of the cross, I can model for my children what I hope for them to be. I also want to be aware that, through the power of the cross, they can become much more than I have ever dreamed they could be.

This goal of awareness -- it's also forgiving. (I'm fond of forgiveness.) I will fall short this year. I will loose my temper, I will serve myself, I will make poor choices. I am aware of this. But with every shortcoming, with every slip, stumble and bumble, I can be aware that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). He won't leave me alone in the brambles. He'll remind His flawed little chestnut chickadee that He delights to make His power known, even through His erroneous creatures. And together -- throughout a year that stretches hopeful, promising, unknown beyond the horizon -- we'll soar.
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