Friday, January 28, 2011

Miss Cheerful!

Charis wants to cheer! Her and her friend Jalyn did their first cheer clinic together a few days ago, and they both LOVED it! I think cheerleading would be so right up Charis' alley, and fitting for her personality. This summer she is going to try out some cheer and tumbling classes and see what she thinks, but for now, her and Jalyn had fun and looked adorable out there on the court!

Even though this photo is blurry, I love it because it shows how excited and bouncy they were!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

House Blessing

"By wisdom a house is built. By understanding it is established. Through knowledge, it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4
This is the verse that Jim and Gwen Schnorrenberg (the Family Ministers from our church) wrote on the header piece of wood above our fireplace. It is a blessing for our family.
One of my good friends, Jen, had this really neat idea to " bless" our new home. Before the walls go on, before the flooring gets laid, when it's just the foundation and the bones of the house, the idea is to go in with sharpies and write all over the place, "blessing" the house and our family with scriptures, prayers, and personal blessings. I loved the idea. So we invited a few faithful friends and family, and we all got together this morning to bless our new home.

Alan, the kids, and I, arrived a little earlier than everyone else. We wanted just a little bit of time to let the kids do some " blessing" so we could savor the moments. Knowing when everyone else arrived, we might miss out on the kids. And I'm soooo glad we did! It was really neat. Right off the bat the girls went upstairs to their rooms.

Selah wrote on her floor some of the lyrics to one of her favorite songs:
"Come, and go with me, to my Father's house. Come, and go with me, to my Father's house. It's a big big house, with lots and lots of rooms. It's a big big table, with lots and lots of food. There's a big big yard, where we can play football. It's a big big house... It's my Father's house."

I liked that lot. She has her heart set already on the end goal in life. Being in heaven with God. Pleasure in worshipping and fellowshipping in heaven. And she wants those who are friends and family to go with her. It's evangelistic. I think its neat that those words and that song came to her heart and mind when thinking of blessing her room. Of blessing herself, and her friends and family that will spend time in her room with her during her years growing up. Awesome.

I walked downstairs and had to step around Bryson to make it all the way down. He was sitting at the bottom of the steps, writing on the third step going up.

As I looked over his shoulders, he was busy writing these words, also lyrics to one of his favorite songs:
"When I get down, He lifts me up"
That made my heart skip a beat. How profound are those words! And that he picked just those 8 words out from a song he really likes. It's a fun song with really fun actions that they sing in kids church. But that he understands tthe impact those few words can have on his life. And ours. Amazing.
I told him that I will forever remember that he wrote those words on that step. I wish I didn't have to cover them up. But they are there, and they are in my mind and heart. And for as long as we live in this house, when I go through times of feeling "down" or when we go through times of "defeat" or "hardships," I will remind myself and my family of those words that 7 year old Bryson blessed our home with. That God lifts us up.

I walked back upstairs and found Charis and Alan on the floor of her room. Charis was writing a note to God. It said:
"Keep everyone safe" with a big heart drawn underneath her note to God. Yes! That is one of the prayers I also pray frequently. I pray for safety, protection, and for His hand to be on these people that I so dearly love and care for. That was a good prayer and request to God. That He keeps us safe. Thank you Charis, for praying that prayer for us!

Soon after, everyone else arrived. We all spread out to whatever room we wanted and wrote various scriptures on the walls. The kids enjoyed writing on the walls alongside their good friends, the Lyness'. Jodie wrote a scripture the week before when she was here visiting, and Alan's mom sent 2 poems God laid on her heart to bless our home with.

After we were done writing our scriptures and words of blessings, we split up into various rooms and prayed over the house and our family. James and Lydia wanted to go upstairs to pray for the kids (awesome).

Jennifer and Kevin and their kids wanted to pray in the school room, for our years of education and learning (perfect).

Jim and Gwen went to the master bedroom to pray for Alan and I and our marriage. They said we should expect lots of good "blessings" now after their prayers (Ha! Ha! Ha!). The Lyness family prayed in the dining room (awwww).

And I wanted the kitchen . That's my spot. My heart. They say the kitchen is the heart of the house. Feeding my family is the heart of my life. Not only the joy of cooking for them, and from sitting and dining together as a family, but also feeding them the Word of the Lord. Feeding them knowledge and wisdom for life. I love being in the kitchen.

Alan, Bryson, and I prayed earnestly for our family. For the love that comes from being together. We prayed for connectedness and communication and our relationships. We prayed that God would use this kitchen to not only bless us, but for the opportunity to use this kitchen to bless others and be a witness to others in the same way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NOT So Much the Apple of My Eye

Well, my eyes are changing. First I have some grey hairs, then I find wrinkles and laugh lines, and now, I know I need glasses!?!? Aaaaahhhh!
So I didn't realize it until this last week. I got Alan and Apple TV 2nd Generation for Christmas. That allows us to link up the computer, the iPad (an iPhone if we had one) to our TV. It is really cool! Through the Apple TV we can streamline movies and things from the Internet. The kids an play Webkinz or other Internet games. I can facebook, e-mail, and blog. Alan can surf or do business stuff, using a wireless keyboard, or the iPad. It's nice not to have to have your face in a laptop or iPad so much now.
However, I can't see the words on the TV screen! From my couch that is 8 feet away!!! I had no idea!!! The first night I decided to blog using the TV as my computer screen, I asked Alan why it was all blurry. He said it wasn't. I said it was! He went and got me a pair of glasses from the bedroom and I put them on and then all at once, not blurry.
((deep sigh))
And now, it seems I all of a sudden can tell even in other everyday activities. My eyes need help.
I'm going to go make an appointment now. Glasses or contacts?
Not really happy about this.

Conversation Between Sisters

In the van, Selah says to Charis "what do you want to do when you grow up?"

Charis- "ummmm, I want to do hair and make-up for people"

Selah- " I want to be a baker at Sprinkes On Top, which will be the name of my own bakery."

Charis- " actually, I want to be a stay-home Mom, and make lunch and stuff!"

Selah- "what about you, Bryce?"

Bryce- silence. (Head buried in his DS game)

Selah- "well, I want Mommy and Daddy to build me a shed with an apartment in it for when I grow up. I'm never getting married or moving away from Mommy. And Daddy is gonna help me make do-nuts in the middle of the night, and Mommy can help me bake during the day."

Charis- "I am getting married. And I'm gonna buy a house just a little bit down from Mommy and Daddy so I can be close, but at my own house with my husband."

Mommy- "that ALL sounds great to me!" (then under my breath... "if only.")

Schooling and Learning at Home.

Well, it's been a year since we started homeschooling Selah again. Bryce has been home for his 1st grade year, and Charis does school right along with us. We have had a wonderful journey so far, and haven't looked back. As a whole, we all love it.
Dont get me wrong.... There are days I hear myself griping and yelling way more than I wish, there are too many times that I say "go get the phone!!! I'm calling the school and you're going back if you don't straighten UP!". (is it bad to threaten my kids with 'school'? Ha! ha! Oh well. I never claimed to be a perfect Mom!) But most days are spent learning, playing, creating, cooking, building, cleaning and sharing home responsibilities. Also participating in sports, dance, art classes, Co-op activities with Heritage, and going on various field trips. And, also playing Wii. Selah has just started blogging on her own blogspot, so that is a fun for her, and great incentive to get schoolwork done so she can write and blog. In fact, just this morning by the time I woke up at 7:55, she had already written in her journal, and finished her math and English workbook pages, and was anxious to write a new post.

Selah likes history most of all. We are studying early American Hstory. The early settlers, the Patriots vs. Loyalists, breaking away from the King, and the early life for the colonists. Much of this has been done through our Amerian Girl reading and studies. We have also learned the various freedoms the people in the US have rights to. We have studied the symbols that represent our country, coins and money, and much more.
She also really likes science and English. She finds science very interesting, and she enjoys English and is good at it. Any time I say "it's time for science!" Or "English!" Or "History!" she yells "Yayyyy!!!"
Math, however, does not evoke the same response. At all. The first half of the year she spent "hating math" (to use her exact words). It would take her an hour to do a page or two in her workbook. Last year in school she aced math and had no problems at all. Those were the days of patterns, story problems, etc. She does great at that. But this year, there has been lots of math facts - addition and subtraction. That has come harder to her. So much so that she doesn't even want to do it. I've tried a few different approaches to help her in learning the math facts, and it seems to be getting better. Since Thanksgiving it hasn't been as much of a struggle, and her confidence and ability has improved, so it has been going much better. Other than that, learning is good. She proclaims to LOVE learning at home.

Bryce is soaring through his studies too. He does the 2nd grade English, Science, History, and Reading curriculum right along with her, and doesn't miss a beat. In math, I started him with a 1st grade book. Last year at the end of kindergarten he tested at almost a 4th grade math level, but I still chose to give him a first grade curriculum since math builds on itself so much. I don't want him to miss out on fundamentals and then be lost somewhere down the road. He is almost finished with 1st grade, and I will be buying 2nd grade for him in a few weeks. Math and spelling are his thing. He's good at it and loves it. He wants to play math and spelling games in his spare time - ha!
He is also really likes science and history, just like Selah does. We do all this learning together as a family. Charis learns right along with them. Hs least favorite is English. While he does it and does fine at it, he does not enjoy it. Its the one he groans about when I say "time for some English."

Charis is my "unschooling" experiment for the time being. She has never been to school, so her experience of learning is what we do here at home. However, she is very driven to learn. Well, she is driven in anything and everything she does - it's part of who she is. Part of what she inherited from me, my mom, and my Grandmas. She wants to learn to read, and she will often bring me books and want to work on it. The other two kids were reading very well at 5 years old, but Charis is still working on it. She can spell any 3 or 4 letter word I ask her to, and she can sound out words and read 3 and 4 letter words, but she still has to sound them all out. She will get it, but I'm kind-of letting it be on her terms. While she can read and sound out words, the reading doesn't 'flow' just yet. However, next year she is kindergarten age, so I think she's doing pretty good! As for the science, history, even English, she sits and learns and answers questions and participates as much as she wants. Which is usually the whole time. She learns right along with them, and she GETS it. While the other two sometimes get antsy and wanna be done, she sits and enjoys whatever learning is going on. I'm glad she loves to learn, and loves to be with us at the table or on the couch or at the library or in the kitchen. She's So fun!

As for me, I really really do love getting to be home with the kids and getting to guide them along in their education. Of course, I spend many hours wondering if I'm doing the right thing.... Wondering if Bryce is challenged as much as he should be.... Wondering if he would end up better off down the road if he were being stretched to his level of IQ and beyond. I wonder if Selah having misspelled words is totally normal for her age and am I expecting too much... I wonder if I should let them play computer less or if its fine... Just let them enjoy it. Its like, when you're a mom, you sometimes 2nd guess and hope you've made the right decision in the ways you parent. Likewise, I also have those same thoughts and doubts with schooling. But then, after prayer, much analyzation and hours laying awake at night, I find a spot to "land" and we do life. And so far, it has been good. Very good. I'm proud of the kids and who they are turning out to be. I'm proud of their abilities, their heart, their service, and their participation in activities and in the lives of people. And I'm proud that they like being kids and having fun.

I often say that having kids this close together wasn't my plan - but there are benefits that go along with it. One benefit relating to school is that they learn together. And maybe most important - they are not bored. They love each other, they are best buddies, and they have a great time each and every day. Lucky me - I get to be a part of it and watch it all take place.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Celebrating 7 Years with Bryce

Our little buddy is 7!!!!!! Wow. I can't believe it! Yesterday was his birthday and we had a fun day of celebrating him! He woke up happy, came down the stairs, and right into my arms! I gave him a birthday hug and kiss, and we began our day. After church, we had donuts, and Grandpa Gene and Grandma Lou Lou were with us. Then it was off to party at Incredible Pizza for lunch, cake, and arcade time!!
Bryce chose to have his party there, and it really was a good time!. A little bit of craziness.... keeping up with all the kids would have been impossible had the parents not all been there, but it was fun to watch them smile as they played arcade games, mini-golf, bumped in bumper cars, raced in go-carts, bowled, played ice hockey, ski ball, and lots more. He had a BLAST and said it was his best birthday ever. We stayed all afternoon- started the party with lunch, and ended it with dinner. Then headed home. He got some cool gifts from his friends, and has been playing with them ever since. Lots of legos, Nerf stuff, books, games, $36 in cash. Oh, and he's been chewing lots of gum today from his gum ball machine Grandma and Grandpa got him. Last year they got him a plastic one, this year upgraded to a metal one. Next year maybe a life-sized big one on a stand???!!!!???? Ha! That would be cool!

This morning he woke up and said "Mommy, I don't think I'm really 7." I asked him why he was thinking that. He said "because it doesn't feel any different than when I was 6!"
Ahhhhhh. This is the reason I blog. So I won't forget those sweet little things they think and say.

He is such a fun little guy.
FUN- he has a great sense of humor. He's witty and sarcstic and we love it. He is laid back and gets along with everyone. If they know him, they like him. He is active and playful, and the epitome of a little boy having fun in life. I love most of all the way his whole face lights up when he smiles.
LITTLE- yes. He is. At least a head shorter and a whole lot lighter than the boys his age. He weighs in at I think 43 lbs maybe. But he is incredibly strong... I haven't seen him wrestle yet with a friend that he can't beat. He can run longer and faster than any other 6 year old we could find on record for 5ks (since 1998). And he is all about playing, running, exploring, climbing, etc outdoors. He is little, but he's a machine. We've been trying to feed that boy some carbs! :-)
GUY- the only one we got, which makes him extra special to us in that way. He's Daddy's little buddy, and he's Momma's baby boy! His sweet heart and warm hugs light up my life.

Happy Birthday Sugar-booger! I love to have another year with you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"To Live As Christ" 2011

Christmas day lunch was quite memorable and touching this year. We always spend Christmas lunches at my Uncle Duane and Aunt Linda's house. With grandparents, cousins, everyone. This year after lunch we sat around the kitchen and living room and reminisced about the 2 women we are now missing, my mom, and my Great Grandma Punkin. Duane told several stories about the 2 of them and their lives, and the hertitage they have now left to us. My how they were so much alike. My how the stories made me look at my youngest daughter and see their spark and strength and joy-of-life shining now through her. Like my Charis, my mom and my Grandma Punkin could do, and did, anything they set their minds to. They were hard workers, super in love with their family, and concerned about carrying and sharing the values of family togetherness. Both had an incredible faith in God. Neither one wrapped up in "society" or concern for what other people might think of them, but rather just of doing what Jesus would've wanted them to do. Mom was born on the 4th of July, Grandma Punkin died on the 4th of July. Both of them, when their time on this earth was about up, were completely and genuinely ready to go.
Uncle Joe Bill, one of her sons, told about the day before Grandma died. She was in a nursing home the last couple months of her life, and every day she would ask why she was still here... Why she hadn't just gone on to be with Jesus. On the evening of July 3rd, my cousin Chas had gone to visit her. He was then maybe 20 years old. Joe Bill said when he walked in Grandmas room, Chas was beside Grandmas bed, on his knees, praying to God that He would take her home. Grandma asked him to pray that prayer, and he got down on his knees and granted her request and prayed that prayer for her. And the next day, God answered that prayer. Likewise, the night my Mom died, my Dad and youngest brother prayed that same prayer for my Mom. Again, He answered.
At first thought, it seems strange, unnatural, and even almost unthinkable to pray a prayer like that. But not for these women. Not for this family of such strong faith. They knew this life on earth was temporal, and both women had always, always longed for that day to be looking at the face of their Lord.
Duane told about the conversation he had with my mom once we found out the cancer was back, and with avengeance. He said what I heard her say too, that the part she was most upset about was not getting to see her grandkids grow up. But that she was 4-for-4 completely happy and proud of who her kids had turned out to be. And she found peace knowing the grandkids would grow up with us as parents. Then Duane told us the words of comfort she gave to him right then on the phone.... She said, "for ME to live is Christ. And to die is gain. I'm just gaining."
Wow. All they way to the end. And she meant it.

That is my inspiration for the rest of my life here on earth. Starting now with this new 2011 year. I want to "live as Christ." And I want to have such a love for Him, and such a deep, real, relationship with Him, that when my time comes, I will only see it as "gaining."
So in lieu if New Years Resolutions, I think as long as I'm striving for that, and as long as me and God are "like this".... then whatever comes along this year, good or bad, it'll all just

Christmas And New Years

Here we are all snug in our duplex, enjoying the Christmas season. We had a nice time in Springfield with the Aberles. Dedo and Tasha came to town for a couple days and it was fun hanging out with them. the Christmas Eve service has become one of my favorite things at Christmastime. I love singing the carols, being reminded of the birth and life of my Lord, and I treasure it as such a special time with my family. I always miss my Mom so much during the service, but I'm thankful I have memories of many Christmas Eve services with her.

New Years Eve and Day weekend was quiet and relaxing. We just stayed home and chilled out -- Best weekend we've had in a long time! Much needed! James, Lydia, and Brynlee came over New Years night and we grilled burgers, fried potatoes, and enjoyed a yummy baked banana dessert that Selah made for us. New Years Day I had a breakfast date with my Dad. Then the rest of the day, again, hanging out at home, just us. We watched football, and got our butts kicked by Bryson in the Just Dance Wii game. Does that kid have to be so good at EVERYTHING?!?!?!? Lol!! Actually, as embarrassing as it might be, Bryson and Alan smoke all us girls in the dance-offs. ((deep sigh)). Oh well! We also played Wii bowling (practicing for our upcoming tourney against the Lyness family - "GO ABERLES!!") and made a big pot of ham and beans. Does that count for good luck? I explained to Selah about superstitions and such, and she just looked at me and said, "well that's just weird and doesn't even make sense.". Yeah... I love my logical, don't-give-me-that-crap kind of kids. :-)

As for this last day of holiday breaks, we are watching football and once again, relaxing. Nice.