December 23, 2008

My husband loves me!

This bouquet came today.  It's almost as big as my husband is.  Not really.  The vase is huge, and this thing is really heavy.  I was telling my oldest, who acted as my photographer, "Take the picture quick!"

December 11, 2008


On a paper or in a book, the margin is the blank space. It's good for lots of things. Jotting notes down, punching holes for a 3-ring binder, giving our eyes a boundary before the edge of the page.

In the book titled "Margin" by Dr. Richard Swenson, he encourages us to put margin in our lives. For most of us, our schedules are overbooked, our money is overspent, our bodies are exhausted, and our emotions are spent. Dr. Swenson calls us to a simpler life, giving priority to what is most important, and leaving room for the unexpected, the unplanned, and even some peace and quiet. With a disciplined effort in keeping margin in our lives, we are able to do better at what we do, and don't snap when plans are changed or we are interrupted. Having margin gives us the opportunity to spend extra time listening to a friend in need, witnessing to the acquaintance we encountered, giving financial support to the needy, or exercising patience in difficult circumstances.

Check out Dr. Swenson and his resources here, including group study resources, and "A Minute of Margin" for a little piece of wisdom each day of the year to inspire you toward this simpler life.

November 08, 2008

Maui Trip

We had a great trip to Maui this week.

We had to get up really early to meet the Hawaii Superferry at the dock in Honolulu at 5 a.m. on Monday, November 3rd.  We had our car packed with all the supplies for our 5-day, 4-night stay, and drove it right onto the ferry.  The passenger deck was large, comfortable, and had a small play area for kids.  We had a great view of the sunrise as we pulled out of Oahu a little before 6:30.  The 3-hour trip was pleasant, and we were able to eat our breakfast food I brought, plus some extra we bought at their concession.  We had a nice view of Molokai and Maui as we sailed by.  We docked in Maui a little after 9:30.  Our first trip was to the 'Iao Needle in scenic 'Iao Valley.  We enjoyed the short hike to the view of the needle (a thin ridge sticking up in the middle of the valley), then drove into Kahului for some lunch.  We couldn't find the place we were looking for, Manana Garage, because, as we found out by asking a local, it had gone out of business 2 months prior!  So we instead went to Amigo's and had our fill of Mexican food.  Next we headed to the Aquarium, called the Maui Ocean Center.  It is one of the best aquariums I have ever been to, and we spent 2 hours enjoying all it had to offer.  Besides having a live coral reef, it has a tunnel you can be inside while viewing the fish and rays all around you.  We saw baby sea turtles, jelly fish and squid, and lots of other marine life as well.  By then we were all tired, and headed toward our condo to settle in.  We stayed in a 1 bedroom place in Kihei with a full kitchen, which allowed us to bring our cooler full of groceries for the week.  The girls shared the bedroom, and my husband and I took the sofa bed.  We had a view of the pool, and were a block's walk from the beach.  Everyone was tired, so besides a short walk around after dinner, we didn't do anything except go to sleep!

Tuesday morning we woke up and decided to venture out on the road to Hana and beyond, which would take us around the South side of Maui, circling the volcano, Haleakala.  So after breakfast we headed out early.  Derek got lots of practice driving curvy hilly roads and we stopped at several lookouts and interesting places.  We saw one particular waterfall that was truly spectacular.  We ate snacks along the way, and stopped for lunch at the Haleakala National Park's lower section where we also hiked to a waterfall and saw people swimming in the tide pools.  It was interesting to see the town of Hana.  On we traveled on the unpaved, one-lane roads at times, viewing a very different kind of climate on the drier side.  Ranches, steep cliffs below, steep slopes above, and dry land with little vegetation was the scene.  We made it all the way around and back home to cook dinner, and viewed the election results.  (Yes we voted, absentee in the month prior.)

Wednesday, our destination was the Haleakala crater and the Polipoli State Park where we hoped to see Redwood trees.  So the 10,000 feet we had to climb to the crater was a nice drive going back and forth up the mountain at a steep pace, most of it through a large cow pasture.  We also had to watch for Nene, the Hawaiian native geese that don't seem to move if they see a car.  The summit was spectacular!  We'd seen the volcano on the Big Island, but this one was unique.  The crater is 7 miles across and 2 1/2 miles wide, and the clouds blow in one side that is open.  We could see the Big Island from the top as it was an exceptionally clear day.  Really an awesome experience.  It wasn't too cold at about 60 degrees.  We enjoyed various lookout points for awhile there, and then headed back down for lunch.  The view of central Maui from the road on the mountain was luscious!  In the town of Pukalani, we ate at this awesome Italian place called Serpico's.  Yummy!  Then it was on to Polipoli State park.  We have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and it was necessary for this venture.  After slowly meandering through more ranch land, zig-zagging up the mountain, and then onto the one-lane dirt road with random potholes for several miles, we finally spotted the park trail heads.  There was, fortunately, a nice restroom there, and we were happy to get out and stretch our legs.  We hiked about 45 minutes before deciding to turn back to avoid getting stuck on the unpaved road in the dark.  We never did make it to the stretch of trail that was where the biggest redwoods were supposed to be.  Oh well.  We'll hit California sometime in the future.

Thursday our goal was to circumvent the East side of the island.  First, though, we had to drive the rest of the way down South Kihei Road to La Perouse Bay.  It was neat to see the lava fields there, and some old Hawaiian walls built with lava rock.  We were too late to try to spot the dolphins that are reportedly sometimes there.  However, we had more island to explore, so we headed North toward Lahaina.  We enjoyed the scenery and seeing the areas many tourists enjoy.  Lanai was off in the distance.  In Ka'anapali, we enjoyed a restaurant called Honokowai Okazuya Deli.  The restaurant has the best local food for carry-out, and we enjoyed their chicken katsu, panko fried mahi-mahi, kung pao chicken, sticky rice, macaroni salad, and their unique cole slaw.  Yummy.  The fun stop we made later that afternoon was at Julia's (I think it was in Kahakuloa) where you can buy the world's best banana bread.  It was scrumptious!  So was the coconut candy, and the candied mango.  We didn't make it to any of the olivine pools or to the blowhole, because the natives were getting restless (the children in our back seat).  And we had promised them we'd spend some time at the beach across the street from our condo, which we did in the wind.  Then we fixed supper and prepared to check out the next morning.

Friday's checkout was followed by breakfast and Denny's, and then a drive to the Superferry dock, and our trip back to Oahu.  It was really neat to see another one of our state's islands.  A word to anyone who might come to vacation here - don't just limit your time to Oahu, because there is so much variety among the other islands that Oahu doesn't have if you're interested in different terrains and ecosystems.  Our trip last Fall to the Big Island was extremely interesting, and our trip to Maui was equally so.  Oahu has a lot to see and do, and plenty of beaches and recreation opportunities, but the other islands are less crowded, and more relaxing.  We hope the Superferry has service to Kauai by Spring so we can vacation there for a few days before we move out of state.

September 12, 2008

Chaos Ensues

    Why is it that when you put our three girls together, the result is chaos?  They feed off each others' antics, whether they're playing well together or getting on each others' nerves.  This leads to escalating decibels of noise pollution, and sensory overload for me.  That is why they were put to bed at 7 p.m. tonight.  Aaah.  That was two hours ago.  They went right to sleep.  I went right to my Bible study.  I feel much MUCH better now.

    My usual strategy to deter them from either fighting or from creating too much havoc in the house is assigning one of them to a task.  Willing, or not, they eventually do it, and not only does it distract them from the sibling they are either antagonizing or encouraging toward complete rambunctiosity (yes, I made that word up), it also aids me in maintaining an orderly home.

    For example, here's something that might happen around dinner time.  J comes to me complaining that M is not sharing.  I assign J to clean up the baby dolls she left in the living room.  By the time she gets that done, M is ready to share.  A comes in wanting food.  (This often occurs.  Especially if I happen to be in the kitchen.)  I assign her to observe the pizza which is baking in the oven.  She peers in at it, exclaims "pizza!" and then goes off to play again.  M comes in saying she's hungry.  I put her to work setting the table.  See?  It works.

August 29, 2008

Cooking and Cleaning

As a mother of 3 small children, I find myself spending the majority of my days cooking and cleaning. I've come to the conclusion that if I didn't have to feed my children, I would have a lot more time to do other things! It's the daily grind of meals, snacks, dishes, cleaning up crumbs, wiping off faces and washing hands, laundering bibs and soiled clothing and kitchen towels, putting clean linens away, making weekly menu plans, grocery lists, running to the store, putting food away, preparing food, etc. I think I could safely say that 30% of my awake time during the week is spent doing these things! I told my husband I feel like an oxen plowing a huge field, as I trudge through these tasks.

However, I need to remind myself that it is part of the noble calling of motherhood. I am not just cooking and cleaning. I'm providing healthy meals for my family. I'm ensuring their good nutrition and ability to fight off germs. I'm giving them fuel for their bodies and brains to help them grow and mature as they should. I'm showing them myriads of things by example on how parents should work diligently to provide for their children, so that someday they will do the same for their own. I'm teaching good stewardship of our resources by not being wasteful, and by keeping the home God has given us clean. I could go on and on listing the many values that are being caught and taught with these daily tasks I carry out.

I think that's a pretty good investment of 30% of my day.

August 12, 2008

For Women Only

I just finished reading this excellent resource for wives. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is married, newly or seasoned. Not only is it well-researched and well-presented information, but it's dealing with topics that other marriage resources I've encountered don't cover.

Shaunti Feldhahn has explained with real quotes from real husbands, and with real examples why men are the way they are, what makes them tick, and what they really want their wives to know. She conducted two in-depth surveys of all kinds of married men around the country with the help of a survey expert. The results were a surprise, even to her! Her discoveries presented here give wives the tools they need to understand their husbands, to relate to them in inspiring and encouraging ways, and to how to accept the way their husbands show love to them.

You can see more about her book, and additional resources she recommends at her website, . My husband has read her other book, "For Men Only" and found it highly beneficial as well!

August 02, 2008

The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious

Thanks to a recommendation by a friend, and through discovery in a catalog, I have found three cookbooks which are worth taking a look at if you, like me, have trouble getting someone in your family to eat enough veggies or fruits!

"The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals" by Missy Chase Lapine is the first one. The premise is that you create purees of fruits and/or veggies that you store in your freezer (or fridge for short-term use). Then you add them to things like pizza sauce, macaroni and cheese, baked goods, etc. Her second book, "The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (in the Kitchen!): Hiding Healthy Foods in Hearty Meals any Guy Will Love" is also worth checking out for adult food ideas. You can visit her website for free recipes to try. I printed them all, and have tried several just this week with the following results:

Doctor's Choice Chili (vegetarian version): everyone loved it!
One & Only Guacamole: a little heavy on the lime. Not my favorite.
Power Pizza: yummy and quick - feels good to serve this "cheese only" pizza to my kids
Mac & Cheese: they had no idea I snuck cauliflower and zucchini puree in it; gobbled up!
Better-for-You Brownies: yummy with wheat germ, pureed spinach and blueberries
Legal Donuts: These were so good I shared with my neighbor!
Granola Bar Fix: oh yeah, very tasty. Mine had dried blueberries in them.
Cold Sesame Noodles: none of us liked this. Too bad, since I made a special trip to get the tahini! Anyone know any good recipes to use up my tahini?

The other book is called "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld. Now the concept is the same, and some of the recipes are suspiciously quite similar. However, from what I read online, Missy Chase Lapine doesn't care, as long as people start eating healthier. My library had this book available, and I tried these this week with the following results:

Quesadillas: all but one daughter loved these
Chocolate Pudding: the avocado puree wasn't masked well enough for myself and my oldest daughter. The other two gobbled it up.

There are oodles of other recipes in the book I hope to try next week!

Here's a tip from me if you end up trying these. When you freeze the purees in ziploc bags, flatten the puree inside the bag to make a thin layer. This makes it quick to thaw when you need it.

Have fun being sneaky and deceptive!

August 01, 2008

Internet vs. Books

I subscribe to World magazine, which I enjoy because it provides a Christian perspective on current events around the world. In the July 26/August 2 issue, there is an article that caught my attention about the internet and it's affect on our minds. It's called "Fleeting Thoughts: How the internet is eating my brain" by Janie Cheaney. Here's the link to the article.

To sum it up, most see a great benefit in the internet being a resource for a wealth of information. However, it may be changing how we read, and how we think. People tend to skim something, click a link and skim something else, and so on, following rabbit trails. I know I do! As she puts it, "five thousand words on a given topic makes the mind go deep; five links makes it go wide. Maybe even to the point of flattening." I certainly want my children to learn to think deeply and critically, not shallowly and aimlessly.

The author's practical recommendation was, "Ideally, children should be kept from the internet until they can comprehend book-length nonfiction in a variety of subjects. Since that seems unlikely, we can at least set aside 30 minutes of focused reading per day."

Sounds like good advice to me. As for myself, I think I better take a break from the internet and go read a book.

July 13, 2008

Draw Write Now

When I discovered this series, I knew it was perfect for my daughter who loves to draw. Each lesson has step-by-step demonstrations on how to draw a picture as well as a sentence that the student can copy as handwriting practice. The pictures are really cute. My daughter pours over these when she's in the mood, and makes pretty decent reproductions. I've seen the skills she's learned from these books show up in some of her other art-making.

There are eight books in the series, each one with it's own theme. We have books one and two. I'm hoping someone sends us the others for Christmas! Check out samples at the website

July 09, 2008


So far, I have resisted buying a pre-packaged curriculum. Maybe it's because I like to go against the mainstream, or because I like having control of what I teach and how I teach it. So, in my search for resources to tailor my daughter's schooling to fit she and I, I discovered Design-A-Study books. Kathryn Stout, the Christian author of these books, is a former school teacher who home schooled her own children. Each book is a complete resource for teaching a particular subject from K-8 in most subjects, and through grade 12 in others. These thin paperback books provide specific content of what to teach, and a wealth of ideas on how to teach them.

I first acquired the "Natural Speller" book, and was so impressed with it (imagine, being impressed with a spelling book) that I got the rest of the series, which includes "Maximum Math", "Comprehensive Composition", "Critical Conditioning" (which is about teaching critical thinking, reading comprehension, study skills, etc.", and "Science Scope". There's also a history book called, "Guides to History Plus" which suggests how to do unit studies for this subject. There are other books on the website also worth considering for history and literature.

As of this writing, I am using "Natural Speller" weekly for my word lists, and most of the other books for reference. I used them heavily in planning for first grade. I expect I'll gradually use the whole series more frequently as we enter 2nd grade. I can see, by flipping through these again that I need to add some of these suggested books to my library list that will enhance the study of some of the topics we're currently into.

So browse Katherine Stout's website at and maybe you'll find something you can use.

July 07, 2008

Home Learning Year by Year

This is my best resource for homeschooling! I use it constantly. It shows a scope and sequence for all grades K-12, and includes explanations of objectives, as well as resources such as library books, websites, and other curriculum aids that are helpful for teaching each objective. I used it for Kindergarten and now am using it for 1st grade. It's called Home Learning Year by Year, by Rebecca Rupp.

Since so far I've created my own curriculum, rather than used a pre-packaged curriculum, this book is my resource for planning a school year, finding free resources at the library, and gauging how much progress my daughter has made. With the Kindergarten standards in this book met, some teacher friends of mine said my daughter was ahead of where most public school Kingergarteners are. Also, whenever the objective is stated in terms I don't understand, I don't have to worry, because she explains and/or gives examples of what she means. For me, that's so much easier than reading a state or school district's list of objectives and deciphering what that means in practical day-to-day learning.

I have loaned this book out to a few friends, and then had to ask for it back because I needed it for reference. This year, though, I'm more organized, so all the pertinent info I need for 1st grade is written down in my homeschooling notebook. So if anyone wants to borrow my copy, give me a holler!

Check out the website for this resource, and other related resources at

June 08, 2008

Daily seeking God

Since late March, God has been leading me to view my relationship with Him in this way - He is there to walk with me through every moment throughout my day to guide my choices, my attitudes, and my goals.

I feel a lot is at stake each day as I strive to raise our three girls in a way that pleases God, and points them to their own lives that I trust will serve Him as well. Parenting is such a daunting task. Homeschooling is a monumental task, one I am committing to one year at a time. My goal in homeschooling is to equip each child to make an impact for God's Kingdom as God leads them in their adult life. Also intimidating, is the fact that my daily witness to the people around me may make or break a chance for me to point them to Christ for salvation. With all these larger-than-human tasks in my life, I must have God's daily guidance. Only He can see the big picture, and order my life to be used exactly as He needs to fulfill these purposes I believe He has given me.

So, I am inspired by this need for daily direction from God, and I need to seek Him. As much of a morning person I am not, I decided that in order to give God my best, I need to find a time when the children won't interrupt me, and when my mind is ready to absorb what God shows me. That time was early morning, before the girls wake up. So since I have been keeping this habit of Bible reading and prayer, it has both rewarded and challenged me. I see God leading me daily, and also challenging me to change, and I see the enemy trying to inhibit that relationship and growth. (Note to enemy - game on! God and I win. You lose.)

There is a need for all believers to seek God daily. Without that, who is guiding your goals? Who directs the choices you make in how you spend your time, money and energy? It seems so basic, and I believe that it is supposed to be. We simply need to let God show us His way, and how to walk in it, day after day, so that He can use us for His glory.

God has made it simple for us to not only have a relationship with Him, but also to understand Him better through His Word. Don't settle for 5-10 minute devotions as your only time spent in personal Bible Study. Don't settle for merely Sunday morning worship services, sermons, Christian TV, Christian radio, Christian books to feed your soul. Rather, let the Holy Spirit, this awesome gift that we have upon receiving Christ as our Savior, reveal to you God's character and His proddings toward spiritual growth, tailored just for you through His intimate understanding of who you are and what you need. Through the simple reading of Scripture and prayer, God can give you all the direction you need, and He will not steer you wrong.

Recently, my husband wrote the following, which I believe says something important about the need for each Christian to seek God daily:

"[I want to help people] understand Biblical theology as opposed to canned theology, which I see as accepting pat, predefined, easy answers someone else has already worked out, as opposed to struggling with the Scriptures and wrestling with the difficult questions of faith that challenge our security and preconceptions about God.

"Canned theology robs us of the shaping struggle of coming to grips with the challenges of faith in real life. It stumps our growth. . . having doubts and questions for God is a healthy thing. It's not that they question the essentials, but since they don't have a quick answer or a forceful system of thought on a certain finer point of theology they feel intimidated and the Accuser is using that to make them feel less than they are. . . it has already created some very in-depth theological discussions that are challenging us to grow." -- Derek Pottinger

I agree that this danger of being led to believe something about God or His ways that may or may not be Scriptural is real. Without each Christian searching for the Truth in God's Word, there are bound to be a lot of incorrect beliefs. We need to take our questions to God and ask Him to show us His answers. He may not answer everything, but He will give us all that we need.

June 04, 2008

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

This is a book that I have used successfully with my oldest, and am now beginning with my middle child. Using the introduction of sounds, rather than beginning with the names of the letters, this approach gradually teaches the child to sound out the words by putting together the sounds he/she has learned. There are verbal games that teach rhyming, saying the words slowly (as in sounding things out) and then repeating them fast. Each lesson then concludes with handwriting practice. I discovered printable worksheets for these handwriting lessons at Donna Young's homeschool resource website. Her website is a valuable tool in itself for many areas of homeschooling, by the way.

I started using the "100 Lessons" book with my oldest when she was almost 4 years old, and sporadically picked it up and put it away, due to my lack of consistency in homeschooling preschool, and finally finished it when she was a couple months past 5 years old. Now, eager to begin with my 3-year-old, we're just testing the waters with the first few lessons, and I'm not sure how far we'll go before we table it until she's older. You may be able to find this book at your public library to try or preview before buying it. The resource's website is

Signing Time

From the time our firstborn was 7 months old, we began working with her to teach her a little sign language. You've probably heard the wisdom in this - that babies can learn simple hand signals before their verbal development allows them to form words. Therefore, if they can communicate with signs, it reduces the fussing and screaming that results from their frustration on not being understood. We have not only found this to be true, but also found that it's enhanced the progress in our girls learning speech and the meaning of words, AND, sign language for them is as much fun as singing songs.

Our sign language journey began with a resource called "Sign With Your Baby" by Joseph Garcia. I recommend the kit, which includes the book, a laminated reference chart of signs, and a DVD. From this, and our persistence, our first child learned to sign "more", "help", "milk", and a few others I can't remember right now.

When she was about two, I discovered Signing Time videos at our local library, and fell in love with them. These are fun videos for children and parents, because they include wonderful original songs that teach and reinforce the signs being taught. The first series has grown into 13 DVDs, each with a set of different signs. If you want something geared specifically towards babies, check out the two volumes of "Baby Signing Time". Last year, PBS began showing Signing Time on Saturday mornings. Now I see the company has recently released series two, which includes 13 new DVDs. Pardon me while I go update my wish list. Never mind. Amazon doesn't carry it yet.

Well, you can go to and see all about what they offer, and get a preview of what I'm talking about. My three girls all love the videos we currently own at their ages of 5 1/2, 3, and 1 1/2. So I hope you can find these at your library too, or put them on your wish list and enjoy!

June 03, 2008

Twin Sisters Productions

My favorite resource from this publishing company, started by sisters who were teachers and found that music was a great tool for teaching children, is their Scripture memory song CDs. Titled "Scripture Memory Songs" and "Growing in God's Word", both contain great songs that are kid-friendly, fun to learn, and not the annoying style of music most children's music tends to be. These CDs make great gifts.

I also own their Spanish songs CD and workbook, that together teach some basic Spanish vocabulary.

In addition to that, one day I discovered they were having a huge sale on their cassette tapes, and I filled up my online shopping cart with one of each 50 cent tape containing topics everywhere from physics to silly songs. I'm fortunate I have a cassette player from when I was in Jr. High that still works. The girls listen to those in their playroom while they play, and they've picked up quite a bit of info from them.

They offer so much more than what I've mentioned, but these are the things I have personally used. You can check out more by them at their website,

June 01, 2008

The Power of a Praying Wife

In this post, I again take the risk of boring many who may have heard of this resource years ago. However, I still find it a valuable resource, and know that it continues to make an impact in the marriages of people around me.

In The Power of a Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian has written 30 chapters, each covering a topic for prayer that a wife can pray for concerning her husband. There are a few pages giving examples and explanations on the topic, followed by a pre-written sample prayer, then followed by related Scriptures. Since there are 30, it's the perfect format for praying one topic per day of the month. I would never come up with these specific matters for prayer on my own: his finances, his purpose, his trials, his priorities, his walk, his talk, his faith, his future, etc. Nor would I be able to come up with the specific prayers that Mrs. Omartian writes. Yet, when I read them, I can agree that they are valuable for bringing to God's throne, and pray them for my husband.

This is a great book for any wife, newlywed or otherwise. For me, God used this book to make a huge impact on my marriage. Instead of being critical of my husband and trying to change him like I did in the first couple years of marriage, I began to change my attitude to being less selfish, and to letting God do the changing that He deemed necessary.

Stormie Omartian has also written other books in this series, including "The Power of a Praying Husband", "The Power of a Praying Parent", "The Power of a Praying Woman", "The Power of Praying", and others. For the last month, I've been utilizing the prayers in the "Wife", "Parent" and "Woman" books for my guide in prayer time. Now it's June 1st and time to start back at the beginning again. So enhance your marriage, your parenting, or your life by using these resources to inspire you to pray and let God work in your life and the lives of others. Here is Stormie Omartian's website:

May 30, 2008

Enchanted Learning

If you're homeschooling preschool through 3rd grade or so, or are looking for summer projects or worksheets, check out . I use it for printable worksheets for every subject from phonics, to math, to geography, to art, and a few others. You can print many pages for free without a membership. I recommend the membership if you see you'll use it a lot. With the $20/year fee, you get access to the entire website, pages that are more printer-friendly, and a banner-free version of the website.

It's great for my Kindergartener and I, because we use workbooks I've picked up from the thrift store or garage sales. Occasionally I see the need to reinforce a concept with additional worksheets, and I can almost always find something on Enchanted Learning that fits the bill.

There are so many valuable free resources for homeschooling on the internet. Do yourself a favor, and search for free resources before you go buying something. You can print entire unit studies, reading lists, activity ideas, lesson plans, etc. I'll be posting more of my best resources here.

If you always buy printer ink brand new, this approach may be costly. I buy my ink from or for which you can always find online coupon codes to save you additional 5-20% or get free shipping. I usually end up paying $5-6 per ink cartridge, and even in Hawaii, they get shipped to me within a week.

May 24, 2008

Military Life: Looking Back, and Looking Forward

It's been nearly 2 years since we came to our first duty station here, and became a military family.  Hawaii aside, I wouldn't trade this experience for most anything.  I remember the first week we were here, living in the hotel on post, and the whole 25th Infantry Division had a "Division Run" for PT.  I remember hearing them begin to parade by, calling out their cadences, running with their unit flags, wearing their unit PT t-shirts.  I couldn't help but be proud to be a part of the military community.

After getting to know so many people in the last several months, and seeing the Army from the inside, there are a lot of things that aren't ideal, and some things that are just downright aggravating.  However, overall, the institution of the Army can really be a great place for a young person to learn discipline, learn skills for life and for work, and to give them some direction for the future.  Iraq is always a likely deployment destination, as is Afghanistan.  Some soldiers struggle more than others with that.  Families struggle immensely.  I have seen the effects of deployment from the first group that left after we arrived and has now returned, and now we're into the 2nd group that has gone.  The third big group will be going out shortly, many of them the same people that just got back from the 1st group. 

Sometimes it just doesn't seem fair.  I see children and parents who have barely reconnected, with the next deployment looming, knowing what the first one was like, and dreading the long wait to see each other again.  I see marriages struggling with the re-connection after deployment.  Many don't last.  Some families have been without their soldier for 4 deployments or more in the last 7 years.  There are re-enlistment bonuses, and financial benefits to being deployed, but money doesn't replace the time spent with your family member.

For those who are experiencing deployment now, it's very difficult.  They've only been gone 5 1/2 months, but it seems more like a year.  There are still many months to go.  Communication is hard sometimes.  Even with frequent e-mails, phone calls, shared pictures, care packages, cards and gifts, there is so much life lived in separate places that the other misses out on.  You can't video tape every neat moment, or share every cool thought or idea. 

However, there are blessings.  Separated families learn to plow through hard things.  Wives at home with children learn to manage things they've never had to manage before.  As an acting single parent, it is extremely tiring to give each child what she needs from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep.  But it challenges the parent to rely on God, to ask for help from friends, and to get a break by scheduling child care or a babysitter.  Limited communication with the soldier makes every word count, and challenges both to say what's really important, and leave nothing unsaid.  Plowing through the difficult times in deployment requires that we stay focused on the big picture.  What is our mission?  Why are we a part of it?  How is God using each of us during this time?  Families in the midst of deployment can put their trust in God that He will preserve the marriage relationship as well as the parent-children relationships.  It's easier said than done -- the trusting part -- however, it's the way I think they can have peace and forge ahead with life as it is.

So military life is both extremely challenging, but also very rewarding.  The friends I've made here not only bless me with their generosity and their companionship, but also challenge and inspire me to grow.  The chapel community I'm a part of has a dynamic ministry to this ever-changing community, very-well run, that rivals many civilian churches that have been developing their ministries for decades with the same core of people.  The neighbors, friends, and acquaintances I have are from all over the country and some from around the world.  They are interesting, talented, smart, strong people.  I'm better for having spent time with them.

Another hard thing is going on right now, and that is many of our good friends are moving to new duty stations.  There are bunches of families that move every summer and winter.  So I've seen it enough to know that there will be new people who move here that will fill our lives with their friendships.  However, these particular friends that are leaving are the ones we've gotten to know for 2 years, so we know them really well!  Hopefully our paths will cross in future assignments.

I'm looking forward to the next and final year of living in Hawaii, and then to the next military assignments beyond.  There is always adventure here.  That's what we were looking for.  It's what God prepared us for, and gave us the personality traits to pursue.

May 22, 2008

Go Fish

No, I'm not talking about the card game, but a Christian music group I've recently discovered that has made several great albums for kids. Self-described as "Great music for kids that won't drive parents bonkers", they've put out 5 albums that do just that. We own two of them, "Snazzy" and "Snooze". My girls love listening to them in the car. It's music we can have fun with, dance to, and sing together as we be-bop down the road.

You can hear samples of their music at their website and see their videos at .

I want to make special mention of one song called "The Mom Song". It's nice to hear the appreciation for an unsung hero put into a fun song. Check it out on either of the websites mentioned above.

May 19, 2008

The Five Love Languages

If you're familiar with this book, you might think, "Hasn't everyone heard about this book or at least the concepts presented in it?" I'm sometimes surprised by people who haven't heard of it. Personally I think the concepts Gary Chapman identifies and describes in his book are revolutionary in relating to anyone.

He identifies five primary love languages that each person has - some may have more than one that is primary and everyone has some that are secondary. Your love language is the way you feel loved by someone else, and often the way you show love to others. The languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Perhaps you can identify yours from this simple list. The book goes into great detail and examples of how people with each love language feel loved and give love. If you can identify this about yourself and your spouse; or about anyone in your family or circle of friends, it will help you understand and appreciate your differences with them, and therefore relate to them better.

My only criticism of his book is that I think he left out a 6th love language - tasty food. I feel very loved when my husband takes me to a yummy restaurant or cooks me a delicious meal. I feel loved when someone invites us to their home for a meal, or delivers a tasty treat. I love my family by creating pleasing dishes for them to enjoy. I love myself by ordering Papa John's pizza, or getting a mint chocolate chip hot fudge sundae, or by eating a Reese's peanut butter cup. Food definitely speaks love to me. And, just for the record, I am not overweight because of it.

If you'd like to specifically apply these love languages to other relationships besides your marriage, and want extra details and examples, you can check out Gary Chapman's other Love Languages books. "The Five Love Languages of Children", "The Five Love Languages of Teenagers", "The Love Languages of God", "The Five Love Languages: Men's Edition", and "The Five Love Languages of Singles". His website is

Wise Words for Moms

Only last year I discovered this unique resource called "Wise Words for Moms" by Ginger Plowman. I was searching for Biblical principles to apply to training our children. My search ended when I spent $4 on this tool.

The size and format of a calender, Wise Words for Moms is perfect to hang on a wall, bulletin board or refrigerator. You'll find 21 categories of wrong behavior or attitudes, along with Biblical ways to deal with them. Some of the categories are complaining, discontent, defiance, lying, arguing, tattling and worry. Each behavior has "heart probing" questions to ask your child, which helps them to recognize and admit their fault. In the next column, you'll see the sinful behavior with Scripture that teaches it's wrong. This is the thing you're reproofing, and asking your child to put off. Then comes the encouragement, the thing you encourage your child to put on. Again, the righteous behavior is coupled with Scripture that teaches on it. The final column lists additional verses that deal with the behavior.

I'm planning on using this as part of my home school curriculum in the coming year, as part of my goal to begin teaching Godly character. My hope is that I'll memorize these verses along with my daughter, and maybe even become a bit of a pro at coming out with these Scriptures to teach the younger two as certain behaviors come up. What a great resource for encouraging your children when you see them doing what pleases God as well!

I can't mention this tool without also mentioning Ginger Plowman's other resources. To better understand her parenting philosophy, and the way to use "Wise Words for Moms", check out either her DVD, called "Reaching the Heart of Your Child" or her book, called "Don't Make Me Count to Three". Both contain the same content, so choose the media form that suits your learning style best. For those of you who are familiar with the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp, Ginger Plowman's approach is similar, but for me, easier to identify with.

Parenting is a high calling. It's so much more than fulfilling your own desire to have children to enjoy or pass down the family name and traditions. It's more than seeing to it that your children are healthy and happy, and grow old enough to move out of the house. The resources Ginger Plowman has written really inspire parents to invest themselves fully in training their children in the fear and instruction of the Lord. If this is what you're looking for, you can find a myriad of resources at the website for The National Center for Biblical Parenting:

Ginger Plowman's resources can be found at her website, I've also only started to read her book, "Heaven at Home: Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home". So far it's very good. I see she's also added a new book "No More Whining! Three Easy Steps to Whine-Free Living". I need to order that right away!

May 04, 2008

"Professionalizing Motherhood"

I can't say enough about about this book by Jill Savage. I wish I could give a copy to every mother. For the past 4 1/2 months, I've been leading a class of young moms through this book.

In our society, being a stay-at-home mom is often looked at as the choice of a woman who isn't smart enough or good enough to work a paid job; or it's viewed as an interruption to pursuing a career or pursuing your own dreams. Jill Savage, however, in writing this book, not only affirms staying at home with your children as a valid expenditure of your time and energy, but also challenges mothers to take it on as you would any profession, by building a network of other professionals, utilizing resources to enhance your skills, pursuing it with a clear purpose with real goals and expected outcomes for your family. She also gives great ideas for how to be organized, how to laugh and have fun, how to be gracious, how to have a marriage-centered family, how to make Christ the center of your home and daily life, and building an incredible resume.

From this book, a mother can gain a new perspective that her role as a mother is a God-given calling, a privilege, and something she can do well with God walking with her daily. In our culture, a Godly mother who can give her children the love, support, guidance, training and stability they need is so necessary. I believe a generation of mothers who invest themselves fully in helping their children prepare for adulthood would change our culture immensely for the better.

If you like this book, or the concept of it, you should look into the ministry that Jill Savage has founded, called Hearts at Home. You can visit their website at to see all that they offer. I particularly recommend their conferences. I've attended two myself. Moms who can attend one of these conferences, while getting a break from their children, will come away refreshed, inspired, and equipped for the profession of motherhood. The ministry also has an e-mail newsletter, an online message board community, a magazine, several books and other tools for moms, and gift items for sale that celebrate motherhood.

Purpose, Passion, Persistence

Recently, the chaplain preaching the Sunday sermon challenged us to pursue the full life that God intends for us by finding out our God-given purpose, pursuing that one thing with single-minded focus and with passion, and by doing it with persistence. It came as no surprise to me, after praying about it for awhile, that my purpose is to be a wife and a mother. More specifically, I believe my purpose is to be a Godly wife to my husband, and to be a Godly parent to our 3 children. Being mother, for me, also includes being a home school teacher.

I have a strong desire to be a change-agent in our culture, pointing others to Christ for salvation and life. Right now, that means that I give a lot of time and energy to my children, teaching and exemplifying a God-honoring lifestyle. My aim is that they will come to accept Christ as their own personal Savior, and that they will mature and learn what they need to in order to be change agents themselves as adults. I feel God has equipped me with the desire and ability to teach our girls at home, rather than having them in an institution for school. I enjoy seeing them learn, and I love being the one to show them new things, and help them discover. They love learning, and I love teaching. I'm learning too-- a lot.

I trust that God is going to use the next 17+ years, while I commit to raising and teaching our girls, to prepare me for another ministry when they are on their own. I also believe that along the way, I'll have opportunities to minister to other moms, to other children, and to other Christians as I serve in my local congregation.

So through this blog, one thing I thought I'd do is share some of my passion for motherhood and for home schooling by reviewing resources that have been helpful and inspiring to me. There are so many I know of already! Perhaps as I go through the journey of raising my girls, others will be blessed by these same resources because of what I share.

April 25, 2008

Runaway Subduction

If anyone would like some light reading (sense sarcasm here), check out this article on a topic which currently has me fascinated.

It's a theory by creationists as to what happened when God caused the flood of Genesis.  I first read about it in a book called "Something From Nothing" by Kurt P. Wise and Sheila A. Richardson, which is an easy-to-read book, and very interesting about all the evidence for creation.

I actually recommend reading the book, especially chapters 10-12, more than the article, unless you're up for a scientific paper and can plow through it all.

April 05, 2008

Just Another Manic Saturday . . .

. . . Wish it was Sunday.  I usually get to really relax on Sunday afternoons.

Today I've been sorting, cleaning, cooking, and shuttling.  M is at a birthday party for a friend, playing on one of those inflatable water slides.  J, not to be left out, is playing in the little kid pool in the backyard.  A joined her at first, but got too cold.  So she's scattering things around the house that I cleaned up this morning.  Oh well, nothing new here.  I made fruit pizza this morning - M was dying to try it after I mentioned it.  I had enough fruit and sauce to make a 2nd one, so made a 2nd crust, and called my neighbor and she gladly accepted.  In return, she left me her 2nd grade daughter, who played with the older two girls for an hour or more, and gave me time to spend with my baby, and time to get some things done!

My husband wants me to send him the text of about 8 obscure Dr. Seuss books so he can make recordings for the girls.  It's a lot of typing.  Dr. Seuss used a lot of exclamation points.  I can relate.  He also used italics and all caps for emphasis on some words.  Have you ever read "The Butter Battle Book"?  It reminds me of the Cold War with Russia.  Could be.  Then there's "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back", during which the Cat in the Hat makes a pink cat ring by bathing in the tub.  He removes the stain in the tub by cleaning it with a dress, removes it from the dress by wiping it on the wall, and so on, until finally the stain is swept and blown by a fan out the window onto the snow.  It's really disgusting if you think about it.  I still have to type "Fox in Socks", "Hooper Humperdink? Not Him", "Horton Hears a Who", "If I Ran the Circus", "If I Ran the Zoo", "Oh Say Can You Say", and "Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose."  A couple of those I haven't found yet - have to get through inter-library loan.

I requested about 23 books from the local Army library system and the State library system for home school.  We'll be learning about how books are made, fractions, how many days in a week, how many months in a year, Colonial times, the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Presidency, the White House, children around the world, maps, easy science experiments, shadows and light, and musical instruments and their families.  I'm so glad I can teach my own child Kindergarten.  I've already learned a lot myself.  You laugh.  However, I'm enjoying the library books.  There are quite a few interesting things in them I didn't remember or never knew. 

Below are a few pictures from the last week.  The first is my new plumber.  Then the older two girls at gymnastics, followed by the girls participating in "PT at the Park" where they did Mousercise.

April 02, 2008

Small Potatoes

The title is in reference to my children.  I came home from choir practice tonight, and there they were, snuggled in their bean bag chairs in front of the cartoon channel, with sippy cups in their mouths, and lap blankets on.  The sitter said they had previously been actively playing outside, so they weren't completely couch potatoes yet.

Lately, my activist nature has been surging, wanting to merely change the world.  There are a myriad of issues that concern me about the American culture, specifically.  We're so spoiled, and we have taken for granted what our founding fathers and early pioneers of freedom worked so hard to create and preserve.  More importantly, many have either abandoned the foundational truths of Scripture and worship of God Almighty in favor of a lifestyle that brings themselves comfort, convenience and entertainment; or worse yet, they've turned against God altogether.  There's a lot of brokenness in our nation's homes.  Children are growing up in these broken environments, never learning the values and morals that make a citizen great, so they don't learn how to do their part in making the country great, even in their own community.  This is one of a dozen or more issues on my mind.

So someday, I hope to somehow be a change-agent in our culture, pointing people to God and His ways.  It may be through some sort of public speaking, writing, music, or however God leads.  My efforts won't change the whole world, but I hope they will change some lives.

Meanwhile, I've got more pressing things to do, like raising our 3 girls to be God-honoring people themselves, and to find what abilities they have that God gave them to use for His Kingdom.  And, if I say so myself, that is no small potatoes. 

If you know a mother with children at home, you should encourage her with this message.  Moms  are very important, and many moms don't recognize the value in what they do.  I recognize my value in this role, and I pray that God guides my daily choices to help me be a good role-model and a parent who disciplines with grace.