Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas Photos

You can see a little of how much Sam loves the train. He spends most the day playing with it. We had a fun time getting ready for Christmas.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Christmas Train

I will have some photos as soon as I find the cord to load them onto the computer. Last night we got our Christmas tree, and unearthed some of our decorations. It was especially fun and special because this is the first Christmas in three that we are in our own home. I haven't enjoyed the Christmas set up this much before. The kids are also old enough to really join in and have fun.

We have a train that we put around the bottom of the tree. It makes a lot of noise, and even puts out some smoke. Sam is totally in love with it. He was so excited last night when we got it out, and all he wants to do is play with the train. At bedtime, he wanted to take the whole thing with him into his crib. We told him that he could only take the engine, and even that was hard for him. But we got him to bed with out too many tears at leaving the beloved train. He is able to get it all aligned on the track, which isn't the easiest thing. I can tell that he will have major memories over this.

I have also been having fun with Madeline and Abigail this year. They are getting so big, and I can trust them with more responsiblity. Madeline and I were carrying a heavy box full of Christmas stuff up the stairs, and she was walking backwards. I was looking into her face as we walked, and I was thinking, "Baby Madeline is helping me carry a big box upstairs. This is so wierd." I can't believe how fast they grow. Abby has been a great helper to me lately too. She unlocks the front door, gets the mail for me, and likes to be independant. Yesterday I let her buy herself some gum with her own money. She loves to make choices for herself. I am enjoying seeing the differences between the girls as they grow.

Monday, December 05, 2005

That Suspended Feeling

William and I are in kind of a strange place in life right now. We know that it is getting to be time to move on from "the desert" and we can tell that changes are coming. Its exciting to be anticipating new things. However, we don't know what the new things will be. We have a number of different options in the hopper.

Most of you know that I am applying to Wheaton College to finish up my degree. Lots of hurdles have to be crossed if that is going to happen...Getting accepted, financial aid, William's job, a place to live and so on. If we actually make it there I feel like its a miracle. There are other possibilities too...William's exact job is up in the air. He has decided not to pursue Special Education, since it requires so much more schooling, at least here in California. So, there are questions about what will happen next year.

I have this picture in my head of me: I am leaping, suspended in mid-air with a really goofy grin on my face. I am excited about the future, but I have no clue where I am going to land. It's a little exhausting. In the meanwhile, William is applying for anything that sounds like fun, or a viable possiblility. Throw lots of bread out into the water, and see what comes back. I'll be just as excited as anyone to see what happens.

On the home front, Sam got a fever about three days ago for 36 hours stright. The day before yesterday, his whole mouth broke out in canker sores. He no longer had a fever, but I took him to the doctor yesterday. The doctor thought it was just cold sores. She said that it is normal for little kids to get a fever the first time they get canker sores. OK. So, today he is feeling a lot better. He still has canker sores, but they don't seem as painful. I hope this doesn't happen again soon.

Madeline and Abigail got two small fake trees from Grandma DeHart which they put in their room and decorated. I'm really enjoying this first Christmas season in three years in our own place. It is going to be exciting to get out the old decorations and put up the tree this week. I also made an advent wreath, and we are doing the readings together on Sunday nights. The girls are getting old enough to really enjoy and remember special meaning and traditions.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Latest

Well, let's see here. It's been a while, and lots has happened. We had a nice Thanksgiving at Gma & Gpa Seelye's house. It has been a few years since we spent it with them, so that was fun. Before going there, we went with Heather and David to a park, and the kids played while we talked. It was fun to watch Madeline, Abigail and Espen zoom around on their scooters. Sam (3) and Able (4) get along well. They are almost exactly one year apart, and are getting old enough to really communicate. I love hearing their little conversations. In the car on the way back from Edwards Air Force Base last month I heard this one:

(lots of shooting noises)
"Do you have any guns?" (Able)
"My mom is going to buy me 100 guns." (Sam, a little unsure, for good reason)
(lots of shooting noises)

We really enjoyed having five days off for the holiday. It was great to sleep in, and spend time with each other, and relatives. On Friday we went over to the DeHarts, where Jenna made gingerbread houses with the kids. Its the kind of project I definately don't want to tackle. But they had a lot of fun. Here are some photos.

Sam's house was made by Jacquie and me, mostly. He ate a lot of candy.

Abby's house looks great front and back...

Madeline's had beautiful decorations all over the roof, but then there was some structural damage...It was still fun.

I made myself a purse that I am rather proud of. I needed something bigger than my very old leather one, and I got some fabric and zipper for less than $5. Jacquie gave me the lining fabric, which I love.

For the last month or so I have been reading from my Norton's Anthology of Early American Literature. I realized that I had very little awareness of the timeline for American events, like John Smith's arrival in America, and whether or not it was before or after the Pilgrims. So, I've been reading all these journal entries, and official documents. It has been fascinating to me. I am really gaining an appreciation for how America started, and what the hopes and dreams of the people were. It is making me value America more. So this Thanksgiving had a lot more meaning for me than usual. It definately put into perspective a cross country move. At least I'm not on a boat for months from Holland, stuck with 100 people below deck the size of a volley ball court, arriving at an uninhabited country in the dead of winter with no food. It a miracle the Pilgrims survived at all.

I made my first full Thanksgiving dinner for our family. Granted, I did use a 7 lb chicken instead of a Turkey, but the process and side dishes were the same. It was fun to realize that I can make good gravy and stuffing. I feel more confident for future years.

Oh, I also have to include this photo of some soft pretzles I made. They tasted great.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Homeschooling Abigail

The latest in Abigail's schooling saga...Abby started out this year repeating first grade. Some of you may know that we held Madeline back last year to get strong in reading. So she was in Second grade while Abby was in first. At the end of first grade, Abby was reading at end of kidnergarten level, so we decided to hold her back this year. We realized that our kids just needed that extra year to develop into readers before we sent them on. So, Abigail is more socially aware, and really didn't want to be at school. Every morning she'd announce that she wasn't going, and then when it was time to get out of the car she'd cling to me and beg to stay with me. Poor thing. So, we started asking her all the usual questions about how she felt about school. Nothing specific seemed wrong...but I started to think about homeschooling. Will and I both thought it might be a good idea, and we asked Abby what she thought. She got all excited, but needed a couple days to think about it. In the end, we all felt it was best, and we started last week. I talked to her teacher at the parent teacher conference about it, and she could see the pros too. She gave me some input on what to practice, and I'm using the same phonics book they use in the class.

So, Abby and I are enjoying it. Since it is a repeat of first grade, it is pretty main goals are to get her reading and writing well, learn to hold her pencil correctly, and keep up in everything else. We do cooking projects once a week, and also go to the Palmdale children's library for lots of books to read to each other. It is nice to have time together that we havn't had before, and it's good for Abby and Sam to play by themselves too.

Another exciting event: Today Sam stuck a dry piece of rice in his ear, and was trying to get it out. I immediately started imagining the trip to the doctor, but thankfully I was able to get it out with tweezers while he sat very still. Whew.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Still more about Fall

The last few weeks I have composed a number of blogs in my mind, but have never sat down to write them. We've been doing lots of fun fall events...Visiting a local pumpkin patch, seeing an air show at Edwards Air Force base with Heather and the kids, homeschooling Abigail, going to Halloween parties, and lots of cooking. As I type, my hands smell like onion because I am making stock (thank you Carol for the particulars) from a chicken carcass, and I threw in the onions after checking up on Carol's blog to make sure I did it right.

Here are some photos from the last month or so...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Domesticity Fever

I have been inspired by a number of things...Laura Ingles' Farmer Boy, which I'm reading outloud to the girls, the rainy fall weather, and a love of baking to engage in some fun food projects. On Friday, while Madeline was spending the night at a friend's house, Abby and I made bread. We got the recipe from her kid's cookbook, and Abby did a lot of the work kneading it. The point of the bread was to make fun shapes with the dough. So, the flavor wasn't great, and it only rose once, so it was pretty dense. But we ate it for dinner and it was tasty. Today, I made stew, and right before dinner the girls and I made little apple pies in muffin tins. I let Abby make the dough, again from the kid's cookbook, and Madeline cut up the apples and mixed in the spices and sugar. Sam got in the way. The pies are cute, and tasty.

We had a real storm that started Saturday night, and is still going now, on Monday. We have enjoyed thunder and lightning. While out driving today, (to buy candles due to some random power outages) I got to splash through big floods in the street, and also through a small river on a side road. It's an adventure driving in the rain out here in the desert. The water goes wherever it wants; across streets and everything. You just never know where the low points are until it rains. I'm enjoying this seasonal shift.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Van Gets Some Love

I am happy to say that today we finally sold our '89 Ford Van, and used the money immediately to buy tires, fix the alignment, and get the front brakes and roters done in our newer '94 Mazda MPV. It cost exactly what the other van sold for. So, while I was excited to have some extra money for about six hours, I am also glad to know that our Mazda is safe and reliable. We knew that we'd have to get the work done this month, so I'd say that the Lord provided just what we needed. And, on a happy note, we no longer have to pay to insure the old van.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Madeline!

Today is Madeline's ninth birthday. It's hard for me to believe she's this old. I remember being nine myself. To celebrate today we made cupcakes for her class, and Madeline got to choose what to eat for dinner. She choose the all-you-can-eat Chinese food restaurant in town. We all enjoy it, and the self-serve ice cream for dessert is every kid's dream. Madeline had two bowls. Last night we also had cupcakes and Madeline's had nine candles. It was fun to honor her today. She is a blessing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Day in the Life

I thought it would be fun to post pictures of what happened after school at our house yesterday. The kids have been begging me to let them attack the last quarter of watermelon like I did last week. They made short and sticky work of it.

After eating the melon, and cleaning up their room, they went outside on our "front lawn" to play. It was a beautiful day, so all the other kids who play there too were over. I got to talk to one of the moms for a while. Here are all our neighbor kids.

I also got a shot of the doll house bush that the girls were putting together.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hit the Fan

Some of you may have chosen to stop reading the sometimes painful "discussion" going on at Will's Blog. There's a lot of poop in the air over there. But really, you just must go look again. You'll see a portrait of the man I married. It's worth the cost of admission, and upkeep. You can see here too that The Wig made it onto all of us, or at least near us. Sam wouldn't let me touch him with the thing, and Abby was too horrified to show her face. Here we are.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Will and I rented a really interesting documentary all about Tammy Faye, her life, the whole PTL scandal and what has happened since then. I was only in Jr. High when the Bakker's ministry came crashing down. I didn't know many of the details. It was so fascinating to learn the timeline and what happened. We came away with the realization that being raised in California in the Evangelical culture, we were very unaware of a huge Christian flow that existed in other parts of the country.

I remember Grandmother Shackelford watching the 700 Club when she babysat us. We thought it was crazy...all the crying and hand raising and makeup. But I see now how previlant that experience and culture is/was for so many Christians. And I also believe that they were experiencing the Lord in an authentic way.

As I have moved into and experienced the Charismatic church, I have gotten to see the pendulum swing to the other side. On one side, as Evangelicals, we focus strongly on correct doctrine, reasonable faith, knowing the Bible and using it as our road map. As Charismatics, we focus strongly on hearing and knowing God in relationship through the Holy Spirit, finding direction on a daily basis from the Lord, and making spiritual reality part of our daily life. Both Evangelicals and Charismatics have keys that are necessicary for a balanced life of faith.

I remember feeling in College that we talked all about relationship with Christ, and we studied it, but I really couldn't say that I knew what that looked like. How do you talk to and hear from someone you can't see or hear? That question has been at the back of my mind for all these years. And I now feel that I have found an answer to that question. It's not in how much I know about God, or how many Bible verses I have memorized. It is through the Holy Spirit, who makes God known to me in a surprisingly tangible way. Yet it really isn't surprising. Jesus said that he had to leave so that he could send the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, counselor and teacher.

Tammy Faye has many things about her that can be offensive. She openly embraces homosexuals, she wears more makeup than anyone I've ever seen. She has been divorced and remarried, she loves to be on TV, and in front of a camera. She also demonstrates Christlike love to people who are easy to condemn. And isn't that exactly what Jesus did? Wasn't that his offense too? She talks constantly about forgiveness, and how to love. And she has had a lot to forgive. When it comes right down to it, I can learn more about Christ from her than I thought I could.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Thank You Darwin

About five years ago my Grandma Cox was cleaning out the books in the garage from my Grandpa's library. She let us take a few boxes of books; One of them was "The Orgin of Species." As the years have gone by, we have learned that it is a second edition, quite rare and worth a lot of money. Through various circumstances we came into contact with a antiquarian book dealer who lives in Sherman Oaks. He looked at digital photos of the book, gave us an estimate for it, and we set up a time to meet.

So, this last Friday we had an appointment with him. It took us a little time to find the place; it was in a beautiful old neighborhood with tall trees and big houses. The business is run out of a home, with one of the upstairs bedrooms the office. There were rare books everywhere in built-in bookcases. It was kind of strange to be surrounded by rare books.

The really interesting thing was that we connected so well with the three people working there. There was an older lady who was in charge, and her partner, the guy we dealt with, about aged 45. And they had a young college aged girl who was their secretary. It turned out that the girl had gone to Agua Dulce Elementary for two years; her grandma lives in Agua Dulce. They were shocked to learn that Will worked there last year, and that our girls go there.

We had a great time talking about all kinds of things. It felt like one of those supercharged Divine appointments--all five of us were trying to get a word in edgewise. We haven't had a conversation like that in a long time. It felt like something really important was happening, but we have no idea what. Who knows what will come of it, besides selling "The Origin". I guess time will tell.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Just Call Me Missy

Driving up to get our mail yesterday, I noticed a large black man and woman sitting on the planter by the mailbox room door. The man had on a bandana, shiny sunglasses, earrings, and looked like a character. I parked, got out of the car and started towards them. They were in a good mood, laughing and talking, and the man said to me, "Nice culoutts. They look real nice."(refering to my rather loud Hawiian print skort.) I smiled, said thank you, and kept walking. I got my mail, and then, instead of passing right back in front of them I walked over to the building across the patio to look at a notice in the window. I was kind of hoping that they'd leave while I was there, but they didn't. I could overhear the man: "When my wife gets out of jail...culoutts...real nice...been in jail six years...culoutts..." As I finally went back to my car, he said, "Those culoutts are real nice, It's good to see a woman with a waistline.(I said thank you) What's your name?" As I looked at him, I thought, "I don't want this guy to know my name." So, off the top of my head I said, "Missy" and got into my car. As I started the engine I could hear him saying, "Missy...Missy...nice culoutts..."

So, like you may be, I spent the rest of the evening wondering why in the world I had chosen the name "Missy." I knew a girl in second grade named Missy. But why that one? Why not "Julie" or "Heather" or "Sophie" or whatever. It was kind of funny to see what I did in an on-the-spot situation. And I guess "Missy" is just the person who I'm not.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

300 Otter Pops Later

As I put the last 26 Otter Pops into the refrigerator yesterday, I suddenly realized that this was the last of the 300 Otter Pops we have eaten this summer. It was the best 10$ we ever spent, for sheer childish enjoyment. However, I began to ask myself some piercing questions: What kind of mom and I to allow my children to consume 300 Pops? They boast on the box "25% fruit juice", which still really doesn't make them much more than corn syrup water with artificial flavor and color. Am I really so ready to sacrifice health for cheapness and ease of cleanup? (Otter Pops come in a box at room temperature in long plastic packets.) They are cheap, easy to store, and they don't drip. They actually solve all the popcicle problems. I ask these questions, but really, when it comes right down to it, all I end up seeing is a memory from my childhood.

When I was about five, my parents took me to Central Park in Whittier. As I played, I glimpsed a little child my age, and in his hand was something I had never seen before: A Long Blue Popcicle Encased in Plastic. He looked like he was enjoying it immensely. I asked my mom what that thing was, and she told me that it was some sort of popcicle. I don't remember the rest of the conversation, but the unchangable fact is that I never actually tasted one of those things during the rest of my childhood. This blog could be a tribute to my mother's good nutritional taste, but for me, I always wanted one of those bad Otter Pops. So, you can imagine my delight when I discovered a box of room temperature Otter Pops in the grocery store a few years ago. I was finally able to figure out what they actually were, and I was able to buy them.

Now, Otter Pops are the frozen forbidden fruit that my children take for granted, and I feel slightly naughty and indulgent when I give them to them, or when I eat one myself.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Security Device Epidemic

Twice in the last three days Will or I have made a purchase and the sales people forgot to remove the security device. When we came home with our new digicam and the chip to go with it, the chip was encased in a heavy plastic box. As I watched Will hit it with a hammer, pry it with a screwdriver, attack it with his Very Sharp Pocketknife, and eventually just pull with all his might on the little crack that he made, I reflected that it certianly would be difficult to do that in the store. The device did send off an alarm as we left, but no one seemed to worry; they just waved us out the door. We never did get the thing open. We just slid the little chip out of the slit in the side.

Today I brought home a new garment, and as I excitedly went to wash it to get ready to use it, I realized that the clasp thing was still there. (By the way, no alarm went off when I left the store.) I was really irritated because the store is 7 miles away, and I have to go back there to get it removed. I called the manager and told her the problem; she said she'd give me a 10% discount for my trouble. That covers the gas, I guess. I decided not to try to remove it myself, since cloth is less durable than plastic. And Will's Really Sharp Pocketknife might do more harm than good.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why I bought a digital camera

OK, yesterday morning I looked up and saw Sam standing before me. He had taken off his pants, was wearing only a tank top tee and Abby's new birthday skates. (Fallout from the Potty Train) It was the funniest sight, and tonight he got him self up in the above outfit. I guess he just has a flair for the dramatic. Let's blame it on his father.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Diller A Dollar

Our good friends Stacy and Julie Dollar, and their three kids, Justin, Aaron and Jessica stayed with us last night on their way home to Grand Junction, CO. We stayed with them for five nights this summer, so it was good to see them again, and to return the favor.

We live in a three bedroom, two bath condo/apt. It worked out pretty well to house five extra people. I learned a couple of things from the experience.

1. We need more bowls. I think over the years quite a number of them have broken, and I became more aware of the fact when six kids sat down to eat their cerial.

2. Our girls are hospitable. They stayed up late two nights ago and cleaned and orgainzed their room and bathroom very nicely. The motivation of guests is much more compelling than mom or dad expounding on the virtues of chores. They loved sharing their space with friends.

We had a great time talking, the kids had fun, and it was a good, but short, experience all around.

On the Potty Train

Sam is potty-training. Rocky, in Will's fourth grade class last year, gave Sam a little hot wheels car that looks like a toilet on wheels. Sam had been hearing us talk about potty-training him, and when he got the toilet car, he immediately called it "The Potty Train". Every morning when I take off his night time diaper I say, "OK, it's time to get on the Potty Train." I like the allusion to something that can get derailed, or that you can fall off of. It fits with the actuality of potty training.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Stocking the Pantry

Will and I went shopping at Costco today. I have to admit that I love shopping at Costco because I feel so thrifty. In fact, we were congratulating ourselves for our general smartness as we loaded our huge cartload of food into the trunk of the Hyundai Accent (read: tiny).

On the same note, I have to comment about how I feel virtuous when I shop at Trader Joe's. I feel like I care about the enviornment, and that I care about being really healthy, and that I am also cool. And I spend more money. I think it must have something to do with the music they play. I'm pretty sure that I am the target audience because I recognize the tunes from the time when I was really up on music. Things have disintegrated in that department since...But hey, there was a time.

When I go to Stater Bros., I don't have the same positive feelings. There is Muzak playing in the background, and the prices and quantities aren't as impressive as Costco. But, it's only two minutes from our house, and really, who can eat five lbs of celery before it goes bad anyway?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Pilfering from my Sister

If you look at Gretchen's blog, you will see these same photos. But, since I don't yet have a digital camera...These are from our Cox family campout in Ventura last week.

Here are Madeline, William, and the Furby. We were entertained watching each other talk to the furby. Madeline was especially persistant.

Lastly, Erin and Sam having a special moment in which he allowed her to pick him up. He can be pretty choosey about anyone holding him.

Ending Summer

This is the first week home from various vacations. It is starting to feel like fall; we missed most of the 105+ weather here in Palmdale, and when we got home from housesitting in Redondo Beach it was in the 80's. I was relieved. Yesterday evening we had a huge thunderstorm, and then it rained more during the night. It didn't feel like the desert, and I loved it.

This summer we have spent 4 out of 10 weeks away from home. This is the first "teacher schedule" we've experienced, and it has been fun. I like life on a school schedule. There are lots of times during the year that things start over. I enjoy the changes.

While I was in Redondo Beach I discovered Madeline L'Engle's non-fiction work. I read "Wrinkle in Time" when I was young, and a couple other fiction works by her, but I was especially touched by "Walking on Water-Reflections on Faith and Art" and also "Two-part Invention" which was about her marriage and the death of her husband. I appreciate the way ML embraces the tensions in life, and allows there to be things we don't understand about God. She also is working through the existance of pain and suffering as an underlying theme in her work.

This is significant because I am realizing that the problem of pain was bigger for me than I knew, and I too have been working through some of the questions that ML explores. Anyway, her work has been a blessing for me.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

New from DeHart

Its time to enter to Blogging world, for better or worse. This my first post starts me off. I look forward to having some fun and speaking my bit.