Monday, April 21, 2014

There's No Place Like Home

Home is where the heart is. -Pliny the Elder
Home is the place where when you have to go there they have to take you in. -Robert Frost
Where thou art, that is home. -Emily Dickinson
Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it actually is.
-Charles M. Schulz
Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Home is the nicest word there is. -Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I think about the word "home" it brings to mind more than one place for me. It's not the number of places I've lived, but the ways in which those places -- and the people I've encountered there -- have touched me.

Where I live now is home in many ways. I grew up near here. So did the hubby. It was my first home. There is a lot that is familiar in the way the seasons feel, the way that people interact with each other, the things to see and do. Here I can watch the Mississippi River reflect on the stainless steel sides of the arch, but within 10 minutes of my front door I can be in a field where the view of the stars isn't tainted by city lights. Here I'm close to my dad. Here there are people who have known me nearly all my life, seen me grow from a child into an adult, and are now witnessing my children grow. In returning here, I've also had the privilege of making fabulous new friends and learning more about this area. This has only made me love it more. 

However, it is not my only home. Denver is also home. I lived there longer than I have lived anywhere else in my adult life. It was there we bought our first house. It was there my children were born. It was there I was a full-time teacher and then a full-time at-home mom. The friends there grew with me from a young married woman in my twenties to a mother of three in my thirties. They stood by me through those changes and loved me before and after. Denver has permanently etched itself on my heart.

Yet, there is another place that is home to me. Barcelona is where I had my first job, where I first lived on my own. I moved there when I was still wet behind the ears with the university experience. When I left, I was older, wiser, and married. I met and fell in love with my sweet man there. He stole my heart as we strolled the streets and beaches, while we sipped cafe con leche in our favorite restaurants. It was there I truly learned how to speak foreign languages. It was there I discovered the importance and intrigue of different cultures. My time there impacted the way I viewed - and continue to view - the world around me.

I have lived other places. They have touched and moved me, too. I have good friends from my times there. For whatever reason, though, they were never "home." It seemed as though I was an extended tourist, part of me longing for one of my homes. 

We are getting ready to move again. To leave this home for another place to live. Who can say whether I will consider it home. Although I am sad to be leaving here, I am prepared for what God will teach me. I am ready for new experiences. I am hoping to see plenty of this:
Kansas may soon be more than just something to endure between here and there. Or maybe not. Maybe it is still just a road on the way somewhere else. Ask me in a year.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


There is a lot of this
quite a bit of this
some of this
even some of this
Let's face it. Easter is a pretty stinking cute time of of year. 

This year there have been lots of cold days, so the trees are just barely beginning to bud. The dogwood outside the bay window isn't showing much hope of having its symbolic blooms ready to celebrate the Resurrection.

Inside, though, we've been trying to get ready. Oh, we still do some of that adorable stuff up there. I enjoyed it as a kid. I enjoy it as a grown up. I don't think there is any harm in allowing children to actually enjoy sacred days. We don't want them to think of them as drudgery, do we? Honestly. Do we? Can't they enjoy themselves at the same time as learning about the saving grace of God provided through the death of Jesus on the cross? Can't they think that it is wonderful to celebrate God's victory over sin and death on the day of Jesus' resurrection? I hope so. 

So we do the cute stuff. We also do some deep thinking and quiet reflecting. Starting on Palm Sunday, we read about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.

Luke 19:37-40

English Standard Version (ESV)
37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Jesus deserves to be praised. So we began learning this song.
We read this book
Later in the week, we read about Jesus' last supper with his disciples.

Luke 22:19

English Standard Version (ESV)
19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We talked about bread. How it sustains us, fills us, gives us life. How Jesus does the same.
We happen to be reading this book for school. The timing was perfect, and we were able to dig into Passover a little bit more than we have done in previous years. It is amazing to see the kids grow in their understanding. It really enriches the holiday. 
We had our very own special Passover meal with some of the recipes from Mrs. Katz and Tush as well as a Seder plate. We talked a lot about the symbolism of each of the elements included on the plate. What did it mean for the Jewish people, and what does it mean for Christians. How does Jesus' death truly fulfill the symbolism of the Passover lamb? How does he save us? How does he set us free?
Before bed, we read this book, the story told in a different way, to help solidify our understanding
And here we are in the waiting. In the expectation between Jesus' death and His glorious resurrection. The boys feel that expectation because they are looking forward to hunting for eggs. Decorated real eggs are symbols of the rebirth and renewal that Jesus experienced and that we experience when we accept Him as our Savior (not just some vague recollection of some mostly-forgotten pagan goddess).

So on Sunday we will get up and dress in some of the nicer things that are hanging in the closet, not because we are trying to impress God or anyone else with our finery, but because it is a day of grand celebration. If it were a wedding, we would dress up. If it were a night out on the town with our friends, we would dress up. If it were a date with our kind of IS a date with our beloved. We will dress up.

After that, we will let the kids run amok in the back yard looking for treasures and sit down to a lovely meal with our family. And we will break bread together. And we will remember that we are His. That He paid the ultimate price for us because He loves us. We are His treasures.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What was that Sound?

Warning: This post may contain explicit content and have a high gross-out factor.

After the kids were tucked in and soundly sleeping, the hubby and I were sitting around and chatting when we heard a strange sound. It sounded a little bit like the cough/barf keyboard from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. You know the one I'm talking about.

We listened carefully to see if we could identify its origin or cause, but didn't hear anything else. We dismissed it. Figuring that if it had been anything important, we would have heard some sort of follow-up noises.

Roughly 20 minutes later, we discovered what had happened. Are you ready for this?

Shorty had apparently loudly pooped his pants while sleeping.

I know, I know. Don't ask me how one does that. All I know is that it happened. He awoke, uncomfortable due to the mess in his pants. Naturally. Then he reached in and removed the solid mass that he found, placing it in the center of his bed. Why wouldn't he? Who can walk with a large turd weighing him down? He decided to head to the bathroom to get cleaned up, as it was quite a messy bowel movement. As he reached the door to his room, he was faced with a dilemma. His hands were covered in excrement, yet he needed to turn the knob to get out. He tried to open the door with his elbows, because they were clean. That didn't work. He didn't want to call out loudly, since his brothers were sleeping, so he tried softly knocking on the door to see if we could hear him. We didn't.

We still don't know how long he was standing there before Daddy's Spidey Sense told him to check on the boys.

There he was, poo smeared in unlikely and unpleasant places, devastated at the state of things. And we had our answer to the question, "What was that sound?"

Monday, April 7, 2014

Field Trip Fridays

Who doesn't love a field trip? I know I do. I know my boys do. I hope you do.

I will admit that, when left to its own devices, my life tends toward chaos. Schedules and routines break down. Cleanliness? Well. The house begins to look a bit more like piles of slightly related stuff cleared off any surface the OCD clean freak very tidy (and actually, very helpful) hubby might need to use in the near future and shoved in the laundry room, the basement, or (for those urgent matters) the buffet.
I am 100% sure that the"coffee" was drinkable 2 days (at minimum) before this picture was taken)
Over this first year of homeschooling, I have found that this chaotic (read: disastrous) trend leaves school plans in shambles by the end of the week. Let's not talk about what it does to dinner. Or plans for a shower. For now we will stick to confessions of a homeschool mom rather than of a wife, housekeeper, homemaker, or just plain mommy. Or probably just confessions of a grown woman who has trouble taking care of herself. Yeah. Let's just stick to school.

In order to create a routine I will stick to, add some adventure into our week, and ease my end-of-the-week burden, we have started having Field Trip Fridays. So far, they have been the absolute highlight of nearly every week. We do our best to tie them into the lessons we have been working on, at least in part, and use them as a hands-on extension of the school week.

When we were studying A New Coat for Anna, we headed to the Magic House. In the book, Anna's mother takes yarn to a weaver, who weaves it into a bolt of cloth. I could have sworn there was one of those giant looms with ribbon and fabric there. We were going to see how long it takes, and what hard work it is to weave cloth. Well, we didn't find it. Now, the Magic House is gi-normous, so I'm not going to say I was wrong. It is possible that we just didn't find it. I might also have been thinking of our local children's museum. Oh, well. We had plenty of other things to discover there!
mixing cement
every construction worker needs safety gear
ready to build with bricks!
reviewing simple machines with Sid the Science Kid...this is how a pulley works!
Lego art
and more Lego art
art with stencils and shapes (while the brothers make Lego art in the background)
We may not have found what we were looking for, but we had a great time learning and playing together. I couldn't have asked for a better day. We decided to weave construction paper placemats at home, instead.

While we studied Wee Gillis, we took a field trip to the Watershed -- both the bike trail and the nature trail. Honestly, I think I just planned this excursion because it was a beautiful warm and sunny day. We haven't seen too many of those this spring. I really racked my brain trying to remember if there was some grand reason I thought of this particular field trip. I think the sunshine was reason enough.

W is dying to see beavers. Gnawed-off trees and wood shavings are as close as we got.
sunshine and my sweet little one -- he LOVES walks and hikes
Grandad helped with bicycle lessons
full steam ahead for these two!
We read Mirette on the High Wire, and the pictures are reminiscent of French Impressionism. It just so happens that our amazing (and free!) art museum is having an exhibit of French Impressionist artwork right now. I decided that we would stick to the few rooms in the main museum hall for our impressionist art, but there was plenty there to see and talk about. We ventured to the classical section to compare and contrast the styles. The boys do really well in museums for about an hour or two. Once we've been there for two hours, though, they start to grow weary of being told they must STAND BACK and NOT TOUCH anything, even if they find it beautiful, intriguing, or strange. So then we go run for a bit and they remember what a good time they had.
happy birthday, St Louis!!
the boys really, really wanted to climb through this piece of art/tunnel, but behaved themselves for a groovy photo op instead
The piece that tickled W's fancy that day was this Gauguin 
N and L really liked this galloping horse by Degas
The boys enjoyed reading Owl Moon and liked the idea of going owling. We don't have any woods near our house to venture out in at night, but decided to go for a hike at a nearby state park to see if we could see any animals or evidence of animals. We talked about being quiet and having silent steps just like the little girl in the book and her daddy. We discussed how loud noises and running can scare off any wild animals that might be nearby. They agreed that they wanted to be quiet and to see what they could discover. I'll just let you imagine how long that determination lasted with my wild boys. The desire to run, scream, fight is stronger within them than the desire to find a toad.
they stopped running for a few seconds so Grandad could show them some sap and talk about maple syrup
they found walking sticks that soon became swords
in an eagle's nest
happy to be hiking, even without seeing any wild creatures
I learned that the story of The Giraffe that Walked to Paris is actually, almost unbelievably, true. I love when I am learning right along side the kids. This world is full of amazing things, and I want to be a life-long student of it. Naturally, since that poor Giraffe went to the zoo, so did we. Once again, it wasn't exactly a "successful" field trip. That is, the giraffes were still inside for the winter, and we weren't able to observe them. 
here we are, outside the giraffe habitat, still smiling
We had had the goal of watching how they walk. Did you ever consider that they have to swing both left legs together, then both right legs together? Their legs are so long that, if they didn't, they would trip on their own feet. I had never thought about that before.

Despite that setback, we still saw tons of animals, and had a great time learning about them.
tiny box turtle
stretching lion
shiny peacock
ringtailed lemur, just chillin
chatting with the docent about primate skulls
 I had such a fun day in store for the Field Trip Friday that went along with the book Three Names. We were going to story time at the history museum. Then we were going to explore the exhibits at the history museum, looking at what life was like in the States long ago. Then we were going to purchase a bag of marbles, take them home, and learn how to play the "old-timey" game. It was even a warm and sunny day! Who could ask for a better day? The museum went off pretty well, the kids each got to pick out a shooter that they loved, and I filled the bag with enough marbles to play the game, plus some extras in case they got lost. I had all my bases covered. At home, we drew our chalk circle and went over the rules. The boys thought it was great fun!

Unfortunately, not every field trip has a happy ending. A friend just happened to be jogging by while we were playing. One of the boys decided to show off. "Watch what I can do!" he shouted as he picked up his shooter and threw it with all his might toward the driveway. We heard the crunch. We saw pieces fall the the ground. We thought, surely, he just broke that marble. He's going to be sad. We walked up to the back of the car to discover this:
Yeah. The boy wasn't the one who was sad.

I handled it all quite calmly and gently. I was stern, but showed grace. The boy learned a lesson on what "less than zero" means in regard to his bank account. There were apologies and hugs and forgiveness.

I was really thankful that our friend was still standing there. 

If she hadn't been, the scene may have been more colorful. There might have been screaming and tears. From more than one member of the family. We might have moved inside so that things could be said and done out of the neighbors' earshot. I might have been plagued with mom guilt for a long time because of how it was handled. Maybe I need to hire a witness for every day. I seem to be a better mom when others are watching.

And now I've literally lost my marbles. Honestly. I don't know where I hid them.

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