Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Time Well Spent

"We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime." Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

It seems like we are always chasing after and trying to acquire more stuff. The latest technology, the biggest TV, the hottest video game - always looking for something to entertain us and always experiencing short-lived thrills. Maybe all we really need is more time. Time to be, time to breathe, time to laugh, time to create, time to spend with family and friends.

We don't really know what today holds for us. I mean we have plans and think we know what is in store for today. Our lives are only a breath and can change in the blink of an eye - sometimes for good, sometimes for not so good.

So today we'll breathe, we'll laugh, we'll create and we'll spend the time well.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Proper Way to Make Cupcakes

When making cupcakes, it is important to be sure the batter is yummy before filling the cupcake tins.

Next, get some chocolatey batter from the bowl with your spoon.

Carefully put some batter in your cupcake tins like this:

Don't forget to taste it again to be sure it is still yummy!

More batter on the spoon - we're almost done.

Yep, these are yummy!

Time for mommy to put them in the oven.

Making cupcakes was the best part of our day!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Summer Begins

It is a glorious morning! Yesterday we completed our last official day of school. Goodbye to routines, algebra and chemistry. Hello to good books, the backyard and flip flops.

Summer has been beckoning to us for several weeks now making it difficult to focus on anything important. The swing set/fort that Pop built is complete, the pool is up and running and just this week we set up the volleyball/badminton net. In between the last few chemistry and algebra lessons we have ventured out for bike rides and badminton games.

So this morning the kids are sleeping in, the younger cousins are coming to play, the school books will find their way back to the shelves for safe keeping until August and tonight the older kids are off to the new Indiana Jones movie with friends.

Yes, summer is here!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fall Like Rain

I woke to the sound of falling rain this morning and immediately my mind turned toward a couple of things I have been pondering lately.

In Deuteronomy 32, Moses stood before the whole assembly of Israel to address them once more before he died. He started by saying, "Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants." Wow, if only my words to my children could always come across like that!

It's the time of year when I look back over the last school year wondering if we have accomplished enough and on to the next year wondering what we can do better. After ten years of homeschooling, we have tried most every program in most every subject. I am not convinced there is any stellar curriculum out there, and what worked with one child doesn't necessarily work with next.

Looking toward the coming days and months, I want to really encourage the motivations of my older ones. Lindsay has a real desire to write and loves music. She is sensitive, thoughtful, and full of enthusiasm for causes that touch her heart. I want to help her craft her writing and music to touch the hearts of others. Alex just wants to play baseball all the time and he is very good. He sees the world in black and white and always wants to lead, but he is also tender hearted and gentle (especially with his baby sister). I want him to have every opportunity to play ball and learn to lead and support a family one day.

It sounds like such a huge task and as I have been pondering how to shape the oldest two, and let my words fall like rain, I am reminded of God's faithfulness. In Isaiah He says that just as the rain falls from heaven and does not return without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so his word will not return to him without accomplishing his plan. Just like the falling rain today is causing my yard to bloom, I can trust that as we continue to seek God and his plan for our family, he is at work even when I can't see it.

So with only one official week of school left and plans for next year still in the works, my prayer is that my teaching will fall like rain and these children will bloom beautifully.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Living the Dream

This morning I am reminded that we are living the dream - life with kids. No, we don't have a big, fancy house or drive new cars, but I have a great husband who never minds peanut butter and jelly or cereal and bagels for supper when we have spent the day in the yard reading or reworking math problems. I get to spend most of my time with four amazing kids with completely different abilities and personalities trying desperately to shape them into relatively smart and caring little people. We work at our own pace and are able (when we break out of our self-imposed, okay mom-imposed, boxes) to study the things we are interested in. We read really great books, some out loud and some on our own. When we are exhausted from life, we have the freedom to take breaks or slow things down. At lunch we are free to play board games or play outside, and when our extended families need us, we just put things on hold and lend a hand.

Now there are the occasional days when the dream feels like a nightmare. You know, the days when no child is interested in any thing - not books, chores, or even other people. But today, we will focus on living the dream rather than the nightmare. Today, we'll read, play, write, work, rest, and laugh together. Most of all, we'll be thankful that we can live the dream.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Be Present

Be present. Live in the moment. There is nothing I can do about what has already happened, and worrying about what will happen in the future doesn't really help. When Ken first shared this insight with me I thought it was a great idea, so it has been a theme around our house for the last few months.

While it sounds simple enough, it is actually quite difficult to live out. Often while I am reading with Jonathan, I am thinking about the household chores that need my attention, or the math that Alex needs help with, or the fact that Lindsay hasn't finished chemistry yet. And my favorite - what are we going to do next school year? Needless to say, with all of these things on my mind, it is hard to concentrate on Jonathan and my patience isn't what it should be because I am thinking about the future. If I can learn to really be in the moment that I am reading with Jonathan, it goes well and I don't feel the anxiety and frustration of the future that is not even here yet.

Or maybe it's the past I'm thinking about while I am working on math with Alex. There's really nothing I can do about the things that have already happened. I mean if I have offended someone or done something wrong, I can make amends, but beyond that what is done is done. It is a waste of time to continue to spend energy on the past. Besides, it causes me not to be in the moment because I am looking back.

So how do I stay in the moment when there are a thousand things to do this week, and many things from yesterday that may creep up? Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything (this includes past, present, and future), but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I think that says it all. I have to choose not to be anxious because I know that God is in control, and everytime I pick up the past or the future and become anxious, I take it back to Him and let His peace guard my heart and mind in Christ. In Christ is key because in Lori doesn't work.

Now I am off to be present with my four little people and not let the worries of the last moment or the next cause me to be anxious. I'll let you know how that works out.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gentle and Patient

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

Today we were talking about how to do this in our family. It often seems easier to be gentle and patient with the folks outside of our home than with those we love the most and spend most of our time with. I wonder why...

After we read from Ephesians today, I was helping Alex with Algebra and became so frustrated with him (which isn't hard some days). He's like me and would much rather be outside in the sunshine than sitting inside working algebra problems. Even as my frustration grew, I could hear this verse ringing in my head and I wondered why it is difficult to be patient with those I love the most.

The good news is that having those words planted in my thoughts has made me more aware today of my shortcoming in the patient and gentle area. It has been a reminder to me how dependent I am on God's word and how it really can transform my day and my life if I will let it.