Friday, December 29, 2006

Fire and Water

I'm pretty excited to be getting a new dishwasher installed today. I was perfectly happy with my old one and never had a complaint about it until it burst into flames on Christmas night. After a very full and happy day we said goodnight to my family at about 9:45. As is my habit I started the dishwasher and looked forward to falling into bed. I hadn't been sleeping well, or enough, in several days. Erik mentioned that he'd like to finish a movie we'd started and I agreed. I knew I'd regret it come morning, but for some reason I didn't really feel tired. We finished our movie around 11 and got ready for bed. Erik was in the back of the house and I was turning out the lights in the front rooms while brushing my teeth. Suddenly I heard some popping noises from the kitchen and looked over to see sparks and flames coming from underneath the dishwasher! I called franticly to Erik who came running out and saw what was going on. He knew in a second it was an electrical fire and ran to the breaker box to shut off the power. I ran out the door to ask our neighbors for a fire extinguisher (which we've talked about getting several times but had never gotten around to. We have now though!) By the time I got back he'd gotten the fire out. I'm so thankful to have a husband who knows what to do in situations like this.
We were both pretty shaken up and extremely thankful that God had protected our family and our home. The house was filled with toxic-smelling smoke from melted plastic and I realized that the fire alarm had never gone off. If we'd have gone to bed just a few minutes earlier, or an hour earlier when I'd wanted to, much of our home could have burned before we even knew there was a fire. God had allowed us to be up and me to be standing where I could see it right when it happened and the only damage done was to the dishwasher. We are praising Him for watching over us, and for letting this happen so that we could see some of the areas we can make our home safer. We realized there was no smoke alarm in the main part of the house, only in the back of the hallway and in the bedrooms as required by law, so we went and bought another one. This also gave us the kick-in-the-pants we needed to go buy some fire extinguishers. And we will be careful not to run appliances after going to bed or when we're not at home.
It makes me wonder how often we come near to injury or even death and are saved by God's intervention without being aware of it. We may never know all the times He saves us, and all the little things He may use to make sure we're where we are at any given moment- even things like a silly martial arts movie! We do know that He and His angels are watching over us, but it's actually a blessing to have been through this and to be reminded of His great care for us.
(Here's the rest of the story: We called Maytag the next morning and reported what had happened. The Maytag man came out to assess the damage and confirmed that it was irreparable. The corporate office contacted us and offered to come take out the old dishwasher and give us a check for $150. I asked if that was the best they could do and expressed some surprise that given the potential damage and their excellent reputation they wouldn't offer us something more. I asked if eight years was the average life expectancy of a Maytag dishwasher (since we'd be in the market for a new one) and also noted that there was a full 20-year warranty against tub leaks due to normal home usage. This was normal home usage and our tub had certainly developed a leak! The woman asked what I wanted them to do for us and made it sound like they were already being generous. I said we'd like them to replace the dishwasher and without a moment's hesitation she told me to go online and pick out the model I wanted and they'd have it installed! It made me realize that she was doing just what she'd been trained to do- offer a small "compensation prize" and hope I'd be satisfied with it. But when I wasn't, she moved on to plan B. I was glad I pressed it a bit! The new dishwasher is being installed right now.)
Again, we are very, very thankful to God for protecting us and for providing a new dishwasher.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


In reflecting on the Nativity of Christ this year a few thoughts come to mind. I remember when both of my children were born the overwhelming feelings that came along with the brand new life snuggled up in my arms. There were the immense feelings of joy and wonder and awe, there was tiredness and relief, and there was love so fresh it almost hurt. It felt as though the world and all of time had stopped, or at least like it should have. I remember thinking about life going on outside the walls of the hospital, of people waking up and driving to work and going on with their lives as if nothing had changed. There was part of me that wanted to shout "Stop! A child has been born! Earth will be a different place because there is a new life on it!" I wanted to make everyone slow down and marvel with me that a baby had been born. The world, my world at least, had changed forever with the coming of my little ones, and in those first intense moments I wondered that others couldn't feel what I felt.
I know that those feelings weren't unique to me and I've been imagining how Mary may have felt as she lay upon the hay in the stable. Outside life went on as usual, the streets of Bethlehem overflowed with people, children played, and goods were bought and sold. But inside she held in her arms a tiny son, God's son. Like any Mama, she must have felt like stopping time for a moment, like crying out "Look! Look at my baby! Life will never be the same because He has been born." The Father looked on and felt the same way; He sent messengers to proclaim the Birth of the One whose life truly did change the course of history. And earth has never been the same.
I wonder now, how often God is speaking, even shouting at us, to slow down, to pay attention, to remember that Immanuel has come. In all the busyness of the Christmas season, my hope for both you and I is that we will stop and listen to His voice, that like the shepherds who saw the host of angels that night, we will make haste to worship the Savior and to proclaim His wonders to others.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Glimpse of Mexico

Here are some photos of our time in Mexico!

Casa Azul was our home away from home. When I explained to Peregrine that casa means house and azul means blue he was very frustrated that they were in the wrong order! He kept telling me that it should be "Azoo Casa"!

Although Peregrine didn't really do any snorkeling he thought it was fun to get geared up! We spent a lovely and idyllic day on Isla Ixtapa where the water was clear and warm. My parents watched the kids for a while so Erik and I could go snorkeling and watch the amazing fish swim about in their coral home.

This was a large iguana sunning itself on a log! Peregrine loved the iguanas so much that he wanted to "so kiss them and bring them home" to live in his fish tank. At about three feet in length, I don't think they would fit! (Although I would much rather have an iguana for a pet than a dog or cat!)

These crocodiles, and several others, were living in a lagoon near the ocean. It had been fenced and a nice deck built above the water. It was amazing to be so close to them, although we did have to stop Peregrine from climbing through the railing! Also in this area were the iguanas, flocks of white egrets, and some turtles.

A little gecko high on the wall of our casa. We always saw them outside in the evenings, and often inside too. I'm rather fond of these little creatures, and their little clicking sounds always make me smile!

Pozole is a simple hearty soup made with pork and hominy. It's a specialty of the region we we visited. Intentionally bland, it's served with a myriad of accompaniments so you can spice it up according to your taste!

Beautiful hand-painted pottery in the market place.

Erik carried Poppy in the Ergo a lot- she was happy with her ride and Erik was impressed with the carrier. This was very near to where we stayed.

This is Isabel, a lovely woman who ran a little taco stand near to us. We ate lunch there several times and although the food was good, she was what kept us coming back. She was joyful and friendly and loved our kids. If we put in a request the day before she would make us whatever we asked for. She said next time she'll give me some lessons!

I loved shopping for produce in the Mercado.

Erik saw this hard-shelled spider during his trip up into the mountains. He said it was as big as his hand. I'm glad I didn't see it!

The crab was dead, but still brought quite a look to Peregrine's face!

And a wonderful time was had by all.

Friday, December 08, 2006

There are Back Again

We're home! We had a wonderful two weeks in sunny Mexico but we're glad to be back. Thanks so much for your prayers; we all stayed healthy and safe. I'm trying to change gear from relaxed vacation mode back into "real life" and preparing for Christmas. There were lots of decorations and festivities going on where we were, but somehow I had a hard time feeling Christmasy when it was 90 degrees outside! I will post some pictures very soon.
For now I'll leave you with these. They are both edible fruits that grow in the part of Mexico we visited. You have probably enjoyed them yourself. Leave me a comment with your guesses of what they are!
Also, for those of you who were interested in ordering Erik's coffee, we're open for business again!

Friday, November 24, 2006

May I Suggest the House Coffee?

In honor of "Black Friday" I want to give an absolutely shameless plug for my husband's fresh roasted coffee. I've never liked coffee due to its bitterness but he makes a cup I can drink without chocolate and sugar in it! He roasts coffee as a side business and we're hoping that in time he'll be able quit his "real" job and roast full time from home. A pound of coffee makes a great stocking stuffer or gift for someone who is hard to buy for. It's also a thoughtful hostess gift and a nice alternative to a plate of cookies. (It's low-fat, low-carb, and low-calorie!) We ship all over the U.S. and you can specify when you want to receive it. We'll be happy to include a gift card with a message from you as well. We also offer various subscription options so you can give, or receive, great coffee on a regular basis. Mention that you're a blog reader and we'll give you a discount of $1 per pound from now until Christmas. (This option isn't offered on the website, so email us your order and we'll send you an invoice.)
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Leaving on a Jet Plane


A long-awaited day has finally arrived. We're flying south for the winter. Well, for two weeks anyway. The weather forecast at home is showing highs in the mid-30s next week but we won't be here to enjoy the cold; we'll be playing on a tropical beach in Zihuatanejo , Mexico! With the onset of our gray, rainy weather we've really been looking forward to this. I've dealt with my share of worries over keeping the kids healthy and safe and feel like God is giving me peace. I've laughed over the complexity of packing for a family of four. In just six short years I've gone from a single girl who traveled the world with a pack on my back to a Mama with matching suitcases. They even have red ribbons tied on their handles; we're lugging a play pen along, and having to remember to pack things like diaper wipes, kid friendly sunscreen, sippy cups and board books. The joys of mommyhood. (And you know I wouldn't trade it for anything!)
We've been reading books about Mexico and books about airplanes and airports to Peregrine for weeks. He's been asking for days "Is today the day we fly to Mexico?" Today is the day my boy, at last! Daddy is off work for over two weeks and there is a nice little casa waiting for us, not to mention fish tacos, fresh pineapple, and steaming bowls of pozole. And to sweeten the deal my Mom and Dad are joining us for the second half of our vacation! It will be so fun to be with them there. (And to take them up on their offer of a little babysitting so Erik and I can go snorkeling!)
Please pray for our safety and health while we are away. I hope to be able to post some updates on our adventures. Also, we've been in contact with a coffee grower in the region and hope to visit their plantation with the hopes of being able to import some of our own green coffee to roast. Pray that this will work out if it's supposed to. Thanks!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Apples and Idioms

Even though I'm a native English speaker, the usage of our language still holds surprises for me on a regular basis. Most of these come in the form of idioms Erik uses that, even after 31 years of being immersed in English, I'm unfamiliar with! It seems that about once a week he says something to which I put on my best blank stare and say "What does that mean?" It's become a bit of a joke between us, so much that I've suspected he makes them up just to see my reaction! How can I have missed out on so many odd little phrases that are in common usage? Is it because I grew up in Canada? Went to private schools and was homeschooled? Don't watch television? Recently we were speaking of someone getting a new job and it was said that "it must have been a real shot in the arm" for him. Erik had to explain what that meant to me, and later I tried to use it in a similar context, only I said "a real shot in the foot" instead! Oops, I guess I shot the wrong body part with that one. (But now I know two new idioms and I *think* I can use them correctly!)
Another phrase I read recently was "don't judge October apples in June". This, again, was new to me, but I've been pondering it because I tend to do this when it comes to my children. We've had some hard days with Peregrine and his fierce will. I easily start to envision the teenage years and beyond, how horrid it will be, all the trouble he will get into, how we have failed so dreadfully, et-cetera. And he's only just turned four! At other times he's sweet and compliant and very enjoyable- then I do the opposite thing and think "he's going to turn into a fine godly man after all." Both extremes are pretty silly (and I know it), but I do get caught up in this kind of thinking, letting the moment with its emotions dictate how I perceive the future. I need to remind myself that none of us, including my children, have finished the race yet. It's only June in their little apple lives- they are small and immature and have a long way to go yet. There is still much sun that needs to shine on them and many rains that need to fall before we can say they are "ready".
I vacillate between congratulating myself on my great parenting skills when all is peaceful and condemning myself for my lack of them the rest of the time. Instead I need to be looking to God for wisdom each moment with Peregrine and Alethea and trusting Him to draw my little ones to Himself. I need to thank Him when things are going well, when Peregrine is making wise choices and having a good attitude. And when the opposite is true, when we see his selfish and stubborn streak, I also need to be praying for him, and for Erik and I as we seek to raise him in righteousness. And in all things I have to trust God for the souls of these precious little people he's given to us. It reminds me of another old idiom I did learn as a child. "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I've been thinking recently about how many of my hopes are hung on some elusive day in the future.... The day I can breathe a sigh of relief that my children have turned out "okay", the day I become the perfect wife, the day self-discipline comes as naturally as breathing, the day I'm able to maintain my home and responsibilities with ease and balance, the day there is justice in our land, etcetera. (My list goes on and on.) Even as a small child I always was looking forward to some event; my birthday, school being out, Christmas, a trip. These are the sort of things that come and then are gone, unlike my list of ideals as an adult. Most of those are worthy things to work towards, but really are unattainable.
Listening to the way people talk, the way the media feeds the idea that if only we had certain things we would then be happy, makes me think this is innate to our humanity. It's the waiting for your proverbial ship to come in.... someday. It's graduating from school, getting married, settling down or seeking adventure, having children, getting a promotion, retiring. It's always some time down the line, this elusive contentment we seek.
As humans we're filled with longings, some of them base and selfish, but many of them noble and good. On a natural, survival level we long to love and be loved, to be comfortable and happy in this life. And, I believe, because we are made in God's image, we long for peace and beauty and justice. So the thought that struck me as I was pondering these things, is that inborn in us is the longing for heaven. For there our hope will be fulfilled, for love and peace, for joy, and ultimately for perfection. If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever then on some level we're longing for the fulfillment of what we were created for. Why is it far easier to let the cares of this earth weigh us down, to let our affections and hopes rest on things that will never ultimately satisfy us, for the very reason that they aren't meant to!
I remember thinking as a child that heaven sounded pretty boring. Granted, it sounded a whole lot better than hell, but I thought it would be... well, boring. The more I "grow up" though, the better it sounds. I have had, and do have, a wonderful life. I have a great family, amazing husband, precious children. I'm living the life I've always wanted to, being a wife and mama. There is a feeling though, of anticipation, of still longing for that "some day". The best way I can describe it is by remembering how I was so eager to be married during my late teens and first half of my twenties. Over time I did learn to be content, but I felt strongly that my "calling" was to be a wife and mama and that there was part of me that would be unfulfilled until that happened. And I was right- I love being married to Erik and caring for Peregrine and Alethea and wouldn't trade it for the world. But I'm realizing that nothing in this life will ever fully satisfy, that it's not supposed to, and that seeking perfection here will only disappoint. We're made for heaven, made for glory; all of the happiness we seek here is but a shadow of the real thing.
Losing Esther has been one thing that's made me think more about heaven. Ultimately she is where I want all of my children to be. Amidst the pain and the sorrow there is a sigh of relief, knowing that she is safe, that she is Home. I've always had "wanderlust". I never feel fully at home, and I'm starting to realize that it's because I'm not. I am a pilgrim here. As long as I am here there will be pain and sorrow, there will be, on some level, discontent. I need to be reminded- often- to think on things that are eternal, because I'm just so earthbound. I need to remember that we are just "camping" here, and it's nice in many ways, but that most of it is not nearly as important as it seems.
Someday..... we will be Home. I will be reunited with my precious daughter. The pain I've caused others and the hurt I've known will matter no more. We will fall at the feet of Jesus, we will join the saints around the throne singing "Holy, Holy, Holy"!
Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Meet my Dad

My Dad (on the right) and one of his friends.

I've written a bit before about my Dad's ministry to the homeless in our community. Yesterday's paper carried this article about him. I was blessed to read it, and I hope you will be too. Apart from the fact that he's my Dad, it's refreshing to read something positive about Christians!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Our Days of Creation pages..... so far!

I'm so enjoying learning alongside Peregrine. Together we read lots of books, and while we haven't started anything "official" as far as school goes, there's plenty of learning going on around here. It's fun, and it happens so naturally as we spend our days together; does "school" really have to be much different than this? One of the reasons I'm so excited to homeschool my children is because of all I get to learn along with them! Here are some of the things we're doing right now:
  • Reading through The Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine and listening to the accompanying CD. I am totally clueless about classical music so we're really learning this together. The book is separated into three sections; composers divided by era, the instruments, and the conductor. Each track on the CD highlights what we read about. The university here puts on inexpensive performances occasionally so I hope to take him to hear a real orchestra at some point.
  • Learning about the days of creation. We've been making a picture for each day. I'm no artist (read: cannot draw) and I've been raiding my scrapbooking supplies to help him do these pictures! Hooray for stickers and patterned paper!
  • Reading poetry. We have a very old, worn, and well-loved copy of Poems Children Will Sit Still For that my Mom read to me as a child. He also loves the poetry of AA Milne.
  • Reading Daniel Boone: Frontiersman. Peregrine, of course, is fascinated with the battles and the hunting, and I'm learning a lot. (Seriously, my knowledge of Daniel Boone was limited to a 'coon skin cap, exploring the frontier, and some poem about elbowroom. Pertty pathetic, especially since we learned in this book he preferred a plain cap and not the fur cap I associated with him.)
  • We're just getting started with Beginning Thinking Skills. He has enjoyed the few sheets we've done and especially enjoys playing with the cubes and blocks!
So, all this "learnin" is pretty exciting! I was surprised when I realized that Mozart was composing at the same time that Daniel Boone was exploring the Eastern frontier. Which makes me want to have some kind of a timeline we could be filling in. I know there are lots of different options. Does anyone have one they would reccomend?
I'd also like to expand our poetry selections a bit. If you know of any good books of poetry would you please let me know? Thanks!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Through Peregrine's Lens

Since photography is something enjoyed by both Erik and I we decided to give Peregrine a camera for his birthday. We found one that is built for kids and hopefully will not be destroyed too easily! And it's digital, so he can take all the pictures he wants without wasting film. In fact, he seems to be pretty fond of the garbage can icon and deletes more pictures than he keeps. Here are a few of his pictures that I thought were interesting- Mom and Dad the way he sees us!

Mama in Apron


Thursday, November 02, 2006


About a year ago I bought the complete tales and poems of Winnie-the-Pooh on cassette tape for Peregrine to listen to. I guess cassettes aren't a real hot commodity anymore because they were marked down to what I thought was a great deal. Last week I got an email saying that you can purchase the entire set of eight tapes now for only $10! Peregrine has spent countless hours listening to these stories and poems during his rest time, and Erik and I have also enjoyed them in the van. They're read by a British man, Peter Dennis, who does an excellent job. They are unabridged; this is pure, unadulterated Winnie-the-Pooh!
Christopher Robin Milne with Pooh, 1925

A.A. Milne's son Christopher said "... Peter Dennis has made himself Pooh's Ambassador Extraordinary and no bear has ever had a more devoted friend. So if you want to meet the real Pooh, the bear I knew, the bear my father wrote about, go and listen to Peter. You will not be disappointed. ..." We certainly have not been disappointed by these. Books on tape don't come any cheaper than this, so I thought I'd pass this on as I know people are starting to think about Christmas gifts. There's also a fascinating history of Winnie-the-Pooh along with lots of pictures of the original characters on the Pooh Corner website. I grew up on these stories and poems and I love reading them to Peregrine. But I still enjoy having them read to me!

Eeyore, Pooh, Kanga and Roo, and Tigger

Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.

(Read the whole poem Us Two here; from Now we are Six by A.A. Milne)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Long-Awaited Day

My Peregrine,
It is the eve of your fourth birthday. There has been much talk of it, much anticipation and eagerness. You have practiced holding up four fingers instead of three. We had a party for you on Saturday; you dressed like an astronaut and your eyes shone like the stars. You were surrounded by people who love you, people who have watched you grow over the last four years. How quickly they have gone by, these days with you. You who are full of life and laughter and opinions and stories and will.
When you went to bed tonight I lay down with you and told you the story of the Autumn night on which you were born. It was much like this night was, cold and clear with stars like frozen diamonds in the sky. I spared you most of the details, but when I said that I had to work hard and that I had some pain you scrunched up your face and asked with all sweetness "Is this what your face looked like when you had that pain?" I told you how Daddy walked with me, how Daddy held me and reminded me that you would be born soon. And when finally you were in our arms what joy we felt, our boy, brand new, dark hair and dark eyes, a life entrusted to our care, tiny, precious. I told you how you cried, and Daddy leaned close to you and spoke, and at the familiar sound of his voice you turned toward him and grew quiet. As you heard this story tonight you tucked into your blankets, your big blankets in your big bed, and pretended to be that tiny baby once again.
But you are changed, no longer that baby who needed me for your very life and sustenance. You are racing toward independence, becoming the person you will be. I lingered with you tonight, feeling the passage of time, saying goodbye to three and hello to four. It's only one day's difference, but it feels big. It's unstoppable, this thing called time. I kissed you and hugged you, feeling your arms around my neck. (Arms that fly toy airplanes and throw rocks and swing swords.) Some people give bear hugs, but you "boa constrict" me when you want to give me your strongest, fiercest hug. And I boa constrict you right back, wanting to hold on to my little boy. Tonight one hug and kiss wasn't enough, (it's never enough) and we did it again. I looked at you and told you with all seriousness that this was the last kiss and the last hug as a three year old, that you would never be three again. You looked sober for half a second at the thought of that, but soon gave way to merriment once again.
Daddy took us out for dinner tonight; you ate pot-stickers and rice with "pump" sauce. You exclaimed several times how much you loved this meal. In the parking lot afterward, I crouched down next to you and we breathed into the cold night air, breathed dragon smoke together. We breathed dragon smoke, and roared, and laughed. Daddy bought you a new sword, one with a sheath, and when we got home you knelt down in front of him and he knighted you with it. You were full of excitement.
I don't know when this happened, this bigness. You have a different look, different even then a few months ago. You are becoming more somehow, more you, more complex, more of who you will be. I'm glad that God chose me and Daddy to walk this road with you. We hardly feel equal to the task, but that keeps us crying out for wisdom. You were our baby, our firstborn; you are our boy. We love you, with all that is in us.
Here's to many more adventures together, my sweet Peregrine.
And a very happy birthday!
I love you always. (And I love you more.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

....In Which a Boy Turns Four

We celebrated Peregrine's fourth birthday on Saturday with a grand party. The birthday boy came as an astronaut so we had a space theme. A wonderful time was had by all!

Peregrine the Astronaut with Alethea, his Star Princess

Alethea with me in a Tibetan dress- the apron shows that I'm married!

The Sun and Moon, aka my sister Gloria and brother-in-law Okon. We were also joined by Anna and the King of Siam, some Oregon Duck Fans, an alien space commander, and some stars. Fun for all!

Erik's Mom and Dad bought him a Playmobil set that he loves. When he opened it he said "Mom, it's the $40 set from Target!" He also got the Dramatized Chronicles of Narnia on CD from my side of the family. It's so nice to have family who doesn't inundate us with junk!

The Cake

My favorite part of each year's party is watching his face when we sing to him. It's always filled with such joy and wonder!

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of him hitting his pinata. We hung up stars on the ceiling and then made a white moon pinata that glowed in the dark! I think the pinata was the highlight of the party for him!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Practice Makes Perfect.... or at Least Better

With Peregrine's birthday just a week away you can feel the excitement in the air. One of games he's been playing the last while is that I'm him and it's my birthday; he carefully "wraps" a little toy with a piece of paper or cloth and tells me, with great affection that he has a present for me. I look at him and thank him, then carefully unwrap it. When I see what treasure lies inside I tell him how much I like it and thank him profusely for his thoughtfulness, etc. I'm a bit overboard, but hoping he will learn that this is what you do when given a gift. Then I switch roles with him- me being the Mama again- and have him practice opening silly little presents. He views it as a fun way to play together, and so do I. But, I also see it as training. If we practice this enough times, then hopefully when his birthday comes and he's opening real gifts he'll take the time to thank the giver and tell them how much he likes the gift. I know that instilling true thankfulness goes deeper than just saying the words, but I hope that this kind of play/practice will help.
Ginger Plowman talks about the importance of having your children walk through the steps of doing what is right in her book Don't Make me Count to Three. In the chapter called Training Children in Righteousness she discusses it in detail. She talks about how easy it is to correct and discipline for wrong behavior but neglect to train them to do what's right. This, she says, has two parts. First, use appropriate Scripture so they learn what God has to say about it and how to apply the Bible to their lives. We've found Parenting with Scripture to be a useful book to quickly find a verse that applies. Second, she says, have them go back and do what is right. "When we correct our children for wrong behavior but fail to train them in righteousness, we will exasperate them because we are not providing them with a way of escape..... As a rule, anytime you correct a child for wrong behavior, have him walk through the right behavior. This is how we train our children to walk in the righteousness of Christ." Now I realize that having them "act" what is right will not change their heart necessarily, but it shows them exactly what is expected of them for next time.
I need to do this more often with Peregrine. In some areas we've done it a lot; if I call him and he dawdles with a toy before coming I'll send him back to where he was and call him again. When he grabs a toy from Alethea he has to give it back to her and ask nicely for it. (Depending on the situation, she may or may not have to give it to him.) It takes more time and effort on my part to train him this way, but it really does seem to make a difference. This wasn't a discipline issue, but last year when it was time for Peregrine's check-up we played "doctor" for a week or so beforehand. I pretended to be our doctor and would give him little examinations so that he would know what to expect. His apprehension melted away and by the time we went in he was fine with it. His four-year check-up is coming up and he's already been telling be that he will just wait out in the waiting room! I guess it's time to start playing doctor again!
I love this kind of training. It's usually fun for Peregrine and for me. And it works. Practice may not make perfect, but it goes a long way toward making things better. And like I said, I need to be much more diligent in doing it with him, and keeping it fun. I guess I'd better be going: I've got some presents to wrap in handkerchiefs!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Curious: Questions for the Wise

(Before reading this you should know that we keep the microwave in the bedroom. After becoming convinced that microwaving food is not healthy, we moved in back there so that we could at least warm up our rice bags for cold toes.)
2:30 PM and all is quiet. Or should be at least. I hear a door close loudly in the back. (What is Peregrine doing now?) I hear Alethea start to cry. (Great, he's woken her up.) I'm on the phone so I finish my conversation before investigating. A few minutes later I head down the hallway and duck in to the bathroom first. I notice the lights are phasing; now brighter, now dimmer. (Hmmmm... what could be sucking power from lights?) Stepping out of the bathroom I notice my bedroom door is open and I smell an odd smell. Looking down I notice the microwave running. I open it only to discover a lovely little "feast" of wooden fruit and a cloth fish on little Tupperware play dishes. There are only 11 seconds left, so I figure its been in there long enough. The paint on the fruit is blistered and everything feels hot.
I leave the scene of the crime and venture in to Peregrine's room. Not surprisingly, he's nowhere to be seen. Ahh, he's hiding in the closet. I ask him about what he's done. He tells me he pressed 9-1-1 on the microwave. (That's for the telephone, son! In an emergency!) I give him the serious talk, again, on how he's never to use the microwave. How he could hurt himself, ruin the microwave, burn the house down, etc. Oh, and that he's supposed to be playing quietly in his room during rest time! Needless to say, I give him some consequences, one of which is he's going back to having to stay in his bed with books during rest time for a while.
Who knows what adventures a day will bring?

And now, some questions for you. (And there are actually some serious ones at the end!)
  • Why do I find airplanes crashed into my houseplants?
  • And toys stuffed into the toes of small grubby socks?
  • And why is flushing the toilet, which was so exciting at first, now almost entirely neglected?
  • And why is there a pile of dirt in a small boy's bed? (I got the answer to this one: "Because I wore my red rubber boots." In bed. Of course.)
  • Do you give your kids an allowance? How much and at what age? Are there certain "strings attatched"?
  • Does anyone do digital scrabooking? I'm looking into it and would love to hear what you use and how it works for you?
Thanks for your help!

Monday, October 16, 2006

...and More Fall Traditions

Today feels like fall. This morning it was grey outside, and the clouds let go of their rain. Later, the sun came out, and the grey gave way to vibrant blue, while big, puffy clouds drifted across it. A glance out the window now, and grey is winning at the moment, but still there is color; the reds and yellows and oranges of leaves on trees and on the ground, and, in those magical moments, fluttering in between. Inside we are warm and dry, and the house feels cozy. My Mom came over this morning and together we made a big pot of applesauce. It's sweet and spicy scent lingers in the air and mixes with the maple candle burning on the table. I have a dish cooling right now, and my mouth waters at the thought of it. Most of it will go in the freezer for the months ahead. On the baker's rack we have our "ode to fall"; a few small pumpkins and gourds in outrageous shapes and various shades of orange and green and yellow, and some pretty leaves the kids and I have picked up outside.
Have I said how much I love Fall? Susan asked me about the wax leaves I mentioned in a previous post, so I thought I'd share this simple project with anyone who is interested. And if that's not your cup of tea, then I'll share a recipe for Pumpkin Scones, some of the best I've ever had. (To go with whatever is your cup of tea, of course!)
Waxed Leaves This is a project we learned years ago from my Grams. It's not suitable for children too young. First you need to gather some beautiful fall leaves in various colors and shapes. We usually make an event of this and call it our "Leaf Walk". Make sure your leaves are dry before you start this project.
Melt some parafin wax on the stovetop in a disposable pie tin or something of the sort. Keep the heat very low. You can add a red or yellow crayon to enhance the color a bit, but it's not necessary. While the wax is melting place aluminum foil around the burner to protect your stovetop from drips, and spread a couple sheets of newspaper on the counter next to the stove. Holding the stem of the leaf, dip each one into the wax just until it's coated. Hold it over the wax while it drips, just a few seconds, and then lay it gently on the newspaper.
There you have it- your leaves will be preserved all fall with a lovely, shiny layer of wax. They look really pretty in a basket with some gourds or pumpkins, or my Mother-in-law pins them on the wall so they look like they just blew in! Happy Dipping!

Pumpkin Scones This is a variation of the recipe found here, to give credit where it's due. And if you've never baked scones, they're quite simple and you can learn more about them here. Make sure to make the yummy spread to put on them. And eat them warm out of the oven. Mmmmmmm.......
  • 2 C Flour
  • 1/3 C Brown Sugar
  • 1 t. Pupkin Pie Spice
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 t. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 t. Salt
  • 1/2 Cold Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Buttermilk or Sour Milk
  • 1/2 C Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 t. Vanilla
  • 1/2 C Hershey's Cinnamon Chips or White Chocolate Chips or Chopped Nuts
  • 2 T. Milk
  • 2 T. Sugar
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and cut it into the flour until it resembles course crumbs. Add chips or nuts to dry mixture. In a separate bowl mix milk, pumpkin, and vanilla. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix gently with a fork until it forms a sticky dough. If it's not quite sticking together, add a bit more milk. Don't overmix. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead gently just a few times. Form it into a circle about an inch thick. Rub the top surface with the milk and sprinkle sugar on top. Cut into wedges. (A pizza cutter is great for this.) Place on a greased cookie sheet for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Spread
  • 1/3 C Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1/3 C Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 T. Maple Syrup or Sugar
  • 1/4 t. Cinnamon
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and spread on scones.

Friday, October 13, 2006

When Peregrine is Me

Sometimes Peregrine likes to "trade places" and pretend he's Mama and I'm him. Usually I play along; we have a lot of fun and I get to show him by example the sort of behavior I expect from him. (Although I did have a tantrum the other day, complete with rolling on the floor and yelling. Just to show him what he looks like when he does that.) Yesterday he was sitting at the table, being Mama, when he picked up my Bible and opened it. I grabbed his book and scribbled down what he was "reading". (As Jill Novak recommends in The Gift of Family Writing. I'm going to write a post about this book soon.) Sometimes I wonder what he comprehends when I read the Bible to him, and this was priceless. Here's what he "read" to me:
"Peregrine, I'm going to read you a chapter..... chapter 22.
"And as the scribes denied Jesus they threw eggs at Him. And the wicked priest Abraham (a different one than the good Abraham) threw eggs at Him. And as they threw eggs at Him they took out spears and poked Him and cut Him. That was on the cross, when He was on the cross." "
He then flipped to the map section in the back and showed me the map of Jesus' ministry and said "And first I want to show you on the map where Paul went. First he went to Jail, then he went to England. Then he blasted off in his M Rocket where those people wouldn't get him, back to his home and his city. And he ate and ate until he was no more hungry. And he went to the England of France.... And that's the story of that one (map)."
He finished off with a Psalm. "This is a Psalm, Psalm 9. Paul wrote this: actually David wrote this Psalm. "Oh Lord, don't let my enemies strike upon me and my eye. Don't let my enemies be strong. Oh Lord, help my enemies to grow their eyes old like I have." That's all of this Psalm."
And there you have it. The daily Bible reading by the almost four-year-old "Mama".

S is for Super Silly

S is an easy one. It Slithers like a Slimy Snake....
  • Make and eat Soup
  • Practice Sorting
  • Read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Be Super Silly
  • Read about Sea Creatures
  • Go Swimming
  • Learn about Spaceships

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fall Traditions

Tradition. How many of us, when we hear that word, start singing it along with Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof! When Erik and I got married I looked forward to creating traditions together. One of the first started when we bought a cheap waffle maker and started having Saturday morning waffles. It's a fun and leisurely meal that everyone enjoys, and also fun to invite others over for a waffle breakfast. In the Fall there are so many traditions associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas and my thoughts often turn toward "the things we always do at this time of year." I get out the candles, the ones that smell like cinnamon and pumpkin pie. The house starts to feel and smell cozy. We go to the farm and bring home gourds and pumpkins for our fall display. We melt paraffin wax and dip leaves in it; they hold up beautifully for a long time. Peregrine's birthday is in November and we always have a costume party for him, so there's sewing and planning and the air of mystery that surrounds this month, as no one reveals ahead of time what they're coming as. We usually spend a day or two making and freezing applesauce and it's sweet and spicy scent lingers in the air: there's nothing like a dish of warm, fresh applesauce with a splash of cream.
For some reason Fall seems to lend itself to Tradition, to being at home and being together. I think it's important to have things you can count on; things that everyone can participate in and look forward to. I'm sure as the years go by our traditions will evolve; we'll drop some and pick up others. On Sunday we started what I hope will become a new tradition for our family- afternoon tea. We always have a big lunch with my family after Church, and there's no need for another heavy meal. So we decided to have a "tea" instead. Erik made a pot of herbal tea (with milk and honey of course) and I made some scones and cut cheese slices with a gingerbread boy cookie cutter. We also had sliced apples with our favorite dip*. The kids loved it and Peregrine raved about how it was one of his favorite meals! It was simple and light, and special. It filled our bellies, but it also filled our hearts. We are making memories for ourselves and our children, and stories for our grandchildren!
What Fall Traditions do you have?

*Creamy Apple Spread
1 C. Cottage Cheese
2 T. Smooth Peanut Butter

1 T. Pure Maple Syrup or Honey

1/2 t. Cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spread on apple slices, toast, pancakes, etc.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Life Goes On

Here's a bit of what's going on in our lives:
  • It's been five weeks since we found out our baby had died, and four weeks since I went through the miscarriage. I'm getting stronger, but the going has been slow. I still get tired very easily, and even small things like laundry and unloading the dishwasher make me feel like I've pushed myself. I'm trying to spend most of my energy on our family, and thankfully we've had plenty of help so I've been able to. I think this is the first day I've been alone with the kids all day. My midwife said it could take up to a couple more weeks until I really feel my strength has returned fully; I'm looking forward to that!
  • Emotionally, I have my ups and downs. The first week the grief was the most intense, and since then it comes and goes. There is a sadness at the loss of a sweet baby we don't get to have and hold in this life, but a comfort too. I'm making a quilt in her honor, something tangible to remember her by, and our midwife is inscribing her name, Esther Hope, on a little porcelain shoe just like she did for us when Peregrine and Alethea were born. These things affirm that Esther was a real and loved, though unseen, part of our family, and will keep her memory visible.
  • Peregrine is still having a hard time; he seems to be showing a lot of anger. Some days are better than others and today has been really hard. He has been waking up very early and I wonder if part of what's going on is tiredness. Please pray for us to have wisdom and grace as we walk through each day with him.
  • Erik's coffee roasting venture is slowly picking up steam. He was excited to get his first commercial account with Ruthie B's, a fun antique store/cafe. He's busy, in his few spare moments, building his second roaster and keeping his customers supplied with beans roasted to perfection!
  • Finally, if you're looking for a movie to watch this weekend, may I recommend Ushpizin? We watched it Monday evening and it's one of those I'm still thinking about days later. It's set in a religious Jewish community in modern-day Israel during the festival of Sukkot (which starts tonight incidentally.) Sukkot was commanded by God in Leviticus 23:41-43. The people were instructed to build sukkots, or booths, to live in for seven days as a remembrance of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness after God brought them out of Egypt. In this film a man and his wife, childless after five years of marriage, have no money to build a sukkot, but they trust God to provide miracles for them. God provides, and also sends then two ushpizin, or guests, for them to provide hospitality to. The men, however, have just escaped from prison, and their presence causes great tests of faith and patience to the couple. It's a beautiful, sometimes humorous, thought-provoking film, and well worth watching. (I give it two thumbs up!)
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

In the Jungle

28 September, 2000 Trekking in the Jungle of Northern Thailand

When we arrived at our resting place near the waterfall it had been sunny and hot, but by the time we left the clouds had taken over and rain was pouring down through the dense canopy of trees. I was thankful for the cheap plastic rain poncho I'd bought at the last minute before starting our trek. The trails quickly became small muddy streams and the hard red dirt became slippery underfoot. We hiked along the river and had to cross it several times; sometimes we could step across on rocks, other times bamboo canes or an old log served as our bridge. And still other times we just had to wade through, up to our thighs in rushing water the color of chocolate milk. I slipped a few times and feel into it, as if I wasn't wet enough!
We eventually came to a place where the river was wide and we couldn't cross. The "bridge" had washed away. Instead we headed straight up the hillside and away from the river. Our guides cut vines and fallen bamboo to make a trail, and where the ground was too steep and slick one of them would gouge footholds for us with a piece of bamboo. Even still, there was much slipping and sliding in the mud and I fell at least once. It was slow going, our two Thai guides ahead and the eight of us following. There were three from our team and the rest we'd just met, travelers whom we hoped to share the love of Jesus with. We slowly made our way up the hillside, then across a ridge and down toward the river. I began to envision us wandering for hours, lost in the jungle, in the dark, with no food, huddled under our ponchos trying to stay warm.
(And all those creeping, slithering things I associate with the jungle appearing!) But our guides didn't fail us, and after an hour or more of trailblazing they led us directly back to where the trail was passable.
The rain had let up quite a bit by this time and I hardly remember the rest of the hike. It may have been another half hour, and then- wonderful sight- there were elephants waiting to take us to where we would stay the night! We climbed up a platform, stepped across the great beast's head, and onto a little wooden seat, two of us per elephant. A little rope tied across our laps secured us (sort of!) into our seat. A young boy sat on the elephant's head with his feet tucked behind the great floppy ears. And so we were off, through the lush green jungle, this time high atop a swaying elephant. It was a bit scary at first, so be so high and unsure of what this creature could do. We started out by going down a steep, narrow, muddy path and I wondered if the elephant would lose his footing and I'd tumble to the ground. Once I realized I was quite safe it really was fun. Sometimes their feet would slide a little in the mud but they never lost their footing as we had done. They would stop to tear up plants with their trunks for a little snack; their strength is impressive!
We went though the jungle for some time and then came out onto a road, and finally to our destination, the Elephant Camp, where we stayed last night. We arrived wet, cold, hungry and tired, but very happy to have made it! After changing into semi-dry clothing we began to warm up a bit. A delicious supper of rice and pumpkin and a stiri-fried green vegetable followed by hot tea and good conversation by candlelight was the perfect way to end the day.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


        My Alethea,
        You've reached the milestone of having been with us for one-and-a-half years. I just re-read the letter I wrote you six months ago, and you've changed so much. You were a little bud then, still a baby, and now you've blossomed. You were then just a hint of who you are now, and it's been delightful to watch you grow and change. We see so much more now of what makes you you, different from your brother, different from any other little girl. And the more we see you become you, the more taken we are; the more we love you.
        There are the obvious things that have changed; you've learned to walk, from your first wobbling steps a few months ago to fairly running now, especially when you want to catch up with Peregrine. You are adventurous and will climb just about anything you can. You're also learning to talk; some of your first words were 'balloon' and 'brother', which sounds like 'ba-lah'. You have lots of words in your repertoire and will repeat anything we ask you too. You still do a few signs, a frantic rubbing of your little chest which means please when you want something, and a dainty putting of your hand to your mouth and pulling it away again for thank-you. Peregrine is quite pleased that you will repeat words too, and has taught you a few, like 'mine' and 'gun' and an emphatic 'no'.
        You are a girl, and in spite of your brother's boyish company, you love all things girly. You get excited about dressing in the morning and prance around touching your dresses as if they were made of the finest silk. You bring us shoes and hair clips and already seem to feel the need to accessorize. (And you didn't get that from your plain-jane mama!) You are delighted when I let you have a dab of lotion of your hands; you smooth it on your skin and smell it and smile. You carry dolls around and touch them gently, just like a little Mama. You love it when we get out the play dishes; you're so pleased when I taste the things you bring me in the little Tupperware bowls whose colors betray the era I grew up in. (Olive, Brown, Orange, Gold.) I was the little Mama then, practicing for the day I'd have my own babies; I never could have imagined the sweetness of seeing my own little girl, so tiny, already finding joy in playing "house". You're quite pleased now that you can stand up on a chair next to me at the counter and "help" me with the real cooking. I just made you a tiny apron, and you were thrilled to grab your little broom this morning and help me sweep the floor. You're a good helper!
        You're cute. You have big blue eyes and dark wispy hair and a very happy smile. (I have to be careful not to praise you too much on account of your cuteness.) You're sweet too, happy and easygoing. Peregrine has been working on teaching you "Silly-ology" and you've been an excellent student! You know now when you're being silly, and laugh and squeal as though you're the funniest thing in the world. You still love to peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake and make itsy-bitsy spiders with me. And you like to dance, not in the wild and crazy way that Peregrine always did, but in a feminine way, twirling and gently bobbing around the room. You also love to be read to, and will bring book after book after book to whoever is willing to read them. You'll pry my hands open to get that book in there, and when we reach the end you're already off to the shelf for another one! I'm glad you like books and I look forward to all the stories we can read together.
        You love your Dada, and there are times you even prefer him to me. That makes him happy, to have his little girl stretch out her arms to her Dada, content with none but him. He plays with you and reads to you and sings to you, and your blue eyes shine like his. You love Peregrine too, and want to be where he is and do what he does. Most of the time you don't even mind when he bowls you over running down the hallway, but sometimes you let your voice be heard! I think you will be great friends.
        You are wonderful. I look into your eyes and wonder who you will become. It's a great honor to be your Mama. You inspire me to be a better woman, a better wife and mama and friend. Because I know that what I want you to become I must be myself.
        I love you my girl, my Poppy Joy girl. And I'm so glad you're mine.
        And I'm yours,


Monday, October 02, 2006

R is for Rockets

Letter R, here we come! My maiden name started with R and so my initials used to be RR; I even had a high school teacher who called me R Squared. Enough useless R trivia, here's what fun we plan to have with R:
  • Learn about Rockets, a subject Peregrine happens to be very interested in. (I had a hard time convincing him that The Old Rugged Cross wasn't The Old Rocket Cross!)
  • Make a tin can Robot.
  • Learn about Russia; read Sasha's Matrioshka Dolls and Martin the Shoemaker, both set in Russia. Let Peregrine play with my Russian Stacking Dolls (Matrioshka).
  • Do some Running on the River path!
  • Practice Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
  • Talk about Rainbows and the colors of the Rainbow.
  • Eat Raisins.
  • Look at some Rembrandt paintings.

Friday, September 29, 2006


As a child I was plagued by fear. There was a period of time where I wouldn't even answer "yes" or "no" because I was afraid I might be lying. I saw people walking up the stairs in our house and had dreams about horrible things. I was afraid the Nazis would come and persecute us for being Christians and I slept in my brother's room so as not to be alone. In Sunday school I wouldn't sing "I Love the Bible" because I wasn't sure I really loved it and was afraid I'd be lying if I did sing. (I'd mouth the words though, so I wouldn't have to explain to the teacher why I wasn't singing.) I don't know why, but I was unusually fearful. At some point God delivered me from living in fear and I grew into a confident adult, one who did "dangerous" things like climbed mountains and traveled alone and snowboarded and galavanted around the world. I truly felt like God had lifted the spirit of fear and given me instead "power and love and a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
And then I became a mama. And the fear began to creep in again. Not all at once, but a little at a time. From the moment I learned I was pregnant with Peregrine the worrisome thoughts began, the what-ifs. The slightest crampy feeling and I wondered if I was going to miscarry. An hour or two without any movement and the fear would rise up. The numerous times I would lay my hand on his little sleeping chest and stand, silently, to feel that reassuring rise and fall that meant life. And as he's grown and Alethea has joined our family I've continued in this; everywhere I look I see potential accidents, I envision injuries and car crashes and disease and rabid dogs around the corner. I've thought about it occasionally, how I've allowed myself to give in to fear, and I try to turn my imaginations into prayer for my children. But too often, I just worry, allowing the small thoughts to turn into full-blown scenarios of things that could happen to Peregrine or Alethea or Erik.
The last few weeks, since losing our unborn baby, I've been struggling with fear more than I have since I was a child. I feel like I want to keep my kids, and Erik for that matter, in my sight at all times, as if my presence will somehow protect them. Of course, since I was physically unable to do much more than lay on the couch for the first two weeks, I had to let my kids be cared for by others. Not just any others, but our parents and sisters who are capable and trustworthy. But still, the fear rises up. My Dad took the kids for a walk on the river path one morning. Their destination was the duck pond, our usual walk. I began to worry; what if one of the kids falls off the bridge, or drowns in the pond, or gets run over by a cyclist? This is my Dad, who raised five kids in the wilds of British Columbia and Alberta, who always guarded and protected us and does the same for his grandchildren. I know he will watch my kids like his own, and yet, I begin to worry.
This increasing fear has gotten me thinking. As a child, I was nearly paralyzed by my fear. And now, fear comes in again, threatening to overshadow the joy that comes with having a family. I have a choice though; I don't have to let that happen. I don't have to allow the fearful thoughts to settle in; I don't have to serve them tea and cookies. They're not welcome guests, and I need to tell them to go. And they're not just harmless thoughts; they're sin, and as God's child I am not to wallow in worry. Fear is not what God has given me; He offers peace. He doesn't promise that nothing bad will ever happen to my children, but I can trust Him, because they are His children, and because He will never leave us. My Mom read me the words of Isaiah 43:1-4 over and over again as a frightened little girl. She read them again to me as I lay in the ER a few weeks ago, weak and pale, unable to stand, and full of sorrow that our baby had died. These words have comforted me through my life; they are written on my heart. They are true, and the fear is not.
"But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life." Isaiah 43:1-4

Monday, September 25, 2006

Eight Hours in Taiwan

Six years ago on this day I was on an overnight bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I slept on and off on that bus and woke long enough to watch terrific flashes of lightning illuminate the sky. As part of the Prodigal Project, I'd embarked on an adventure that would take us from San Francisco to the opposite side of the world where we would spend the next nine months traveling around Thailand, Nepal and India. SouthEast Asia is a destination for travelers from the North America, Europe, Israel, and Australia. Many go seeking spiritual experience and enlightenment in the religions of the East, chiefly Buddhism and Hinduism. And while many seek, few find the Truth. Our desire was to form relationships with these travelers as we lived and traveled alongside them in the hopes of introducing them to the One who didn't merely tell us the truth but who is the Truth. And so we set out, eight in number, not knowing where the Wind would blow us from one day to the next.
Over the next several months I want to share some of the experiences we had during our time there. Once a week (more or less) I'll post an excerpt from my journal that coincides with where I was six years ago. This was a life-changing trip for me, and it was also the time when I discovered how much I enjoy writing. I love traveling and reading stories of adventures in far-off lands. I have a crazy dream of someday writing a travel memoir type book. I like to read those books, but it seems they're usually written by single people; mine will be the adventures of a family who travels and homeschools in the far-flung corners of the world. Someday! But for today, here I am in Oregon, with a house and a mini-van and a handsome husband and two kids . And memories.....
20 September 2000 Sleepy reflections from the airport in Taipei, Taiwan. We left San Francisco at 1AM and after 12 hours in the air we're 6 hours into our layover in Taipei. I'm tired, and still have 2 hours before we board our flight for Bangkok. I just laid down in a patch of sunlight and rested for a while....
Classical music plays over the loudspeaker, interrupted by boarding calls and gate change announcements. The "moving sidewalk" rattles and people speak in languages strange to my ears. It's cool in here, but my bit of sunshine is warm; heat waves outside show themselves moving across my paper. I feel drowsy, hungry. The parking lot looks like any in America except for the Chinese characters on the signs and busses. A new section of the airport is being built and a woman shovels mortar out of a wheelbarrow. The men come in and out of view; I imagine they are laying brick.
Inside people walk by; mostly Asian, a few Indians, very few Caucasians. Business men in suits, young people casually dressed, older women, stylish flight attendants. Many look at us with curiosity and a few smile. The rattling stopped; the "moving sidewalk" is still. The Chinese characters on the bright signs are strange to my eyes, strange, but beautiful. The English translations are often humorous. Advertisements sponsored by the government speak out against drugs and pornography. Other advertisements nearby use naked women to sell their products. Another sign proclaims that possession of drugs in the Republic of China is punishable by death.
We wait, anticipating two more hours here, then three more on the flight to Bangkok. Then customs, taking a train into the city, catching a bus, walking, finding a place to stay, finding food, hopefully finding rest.....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Q is for Question

We've taken a bit of a break from doing our letter-of-the-week, but I'm wanting to ease back into it this week. We're on Q, and I'm sure there are lots of things we could do but I can't seem to think of many. So, here's my Question: what ideas do you have to teach the letter Q to an almost four-year-old?
Thanks for your help!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Fall!

It's the first day of Fall, my favorite season. Outside the sky is blue, the vibrant blue that is a sure sign of autumn. The days have been cooler and the air feels clean and has a crispness to it, but the sun still shines warm. The leaves are just beginning to turn here in Oregon's Willamette valley, and the days are noticeably shorter. Fall is delicious. And cozy. I want to burn candles and sip cider and go for walks and pick pumpkins. I'm glad for Fall, and can't wait to be able to get ouside and enjoy it!
Here are a few updates on how things are going:
  • I'm feeling a little more strength, but still need to spend most of my time on the couch or sitting in a chair. It's hard not to feel discouraged, but I know that this time will pass. It's good to be able to rest and heal, physically and otherwise. The grief is not as intense now, but it's still there under the surface, waiting to spill over at any moment. We're being wonderfully taken care of by our families and friends. The hardest part for me is how it's affecting the kids, especially Peregrine. Please continue to pray for healing for me and grace and peace for all of us. We are so thankful for your prayers.
  • My friend Paula is now 21 weeks pregnant and went in for an ultrasound yesterday. The baby is doing well, but in spite of the surgery her cervix is still trying to open. In three more weeks she will go in again and they will discuss admitting her to the hospital and beginning steroid treatment that would develop the baby's lungs in the likely case that it will be born prematurely. She would have to spend the rest of her pregnancy in the hospital. Please pray that God would allow that baby to stay in as long as it needs to, and that she will be able to remain at home where her family can care for her. Also, that their home would sell soon, as that would alleviate some of the financial stress.
  • We're going to get started on Building Thinking Skills with Peregrine. We just got our package yesterday and are quite excited! We also got some new books, including the Adventures from Around the World Devotional Series, which are "chapter books" written by missionaries who have worked in differnent countries. Each chapter is a story that ends with an object lesson and Scripture verse. We are going to use these books, alongside some of the Christian Heroes Then and Now and Heroes of History books. Using them as a springboard we will learn about geography and different cultures in the context of world missions. We will also resume our Letter-of-the-Week fun and "play" with basic math concepts using manipulatives. We're not starting anything too officially yet, but these are some of the things I plan to do with him during this school year. He also just started swimming lessons this week and is loving it!
  • Finally, a shameless plug for The Timberdoodle Company. It's a company run by a homeschooling family. They choose their products carefully and only sell things they believe are good quality in both content and construction. I've ordered from them a few times and have been amazed at how quickly they've packed and shipped my orders. For example, I placed my recent order on a Wednesday morning and it showed up on my doorstep Thursday evening! Granted, they're only one state away, but that's still fast! They're also very friendly and helpful, happy to answer questions to help you find products that will be a good fit for your family. I always feel like I learn and get ideas just from looking through their catalog!
I thank you again for your prayers and the many encouraging words you've left for me. I hope you all have a great weekend with your families.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


When I was in India with the Prodigal Project our team had it's very own beatitude. It was "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken." We often said it jokingly, but it was a good motto, for one of the few things you can count on there is that nothing will go as planned. Seriously, a train ride that should take 8 hours might take 19, the electricity might go out just as you're finishing up a long email, getting your visa renewed might take the better part of 6 days, and trying to find a bank that can help you in a city of two million people could prove futile. But, if you plan to live in such a place for any amount of time you learn to flow with it; either that, or you spend your days in a state of extreme frustration.
When I was single it was a lot easier for me to "flow with it", but now that I have a home and family to care for I find myself clinging more tightly to "my" plans and being less flexible than I used to. A lot of this is for practical reasons; my kids do better when they have their meals and naps and bedtime at roughly the same time each day and I save time and energy by planning and shopping for meals in advance. While we're not strictly scheduled in our days, we do have somewhat of a rhythm and all do better when we don't get too "off-beat". There was a time, many years ago, when God was teaching me to submit my plans to Him and I was more aware- and more welcoming- of the interruptions that inevitably happened. Instead of getting annoyed when unexpected things popped up I was learning to see God's hand in them and more joyfully cooperated with His schedule for my days.
The events of the last few months have shown me that I've forgotten that important lesson God taught me then and when I was in India- I need to be more flexible or else I'm going to break. Back in July I was so excited as I was finally tackling some big organizing projects and working on menu planning, etc. I felt like I was getting on top of things in an attempt to run my household more efficiently and peaceably. Then I had a month of morning sickness. There went any extra energy- it was all I could do to barely stay on top of things, let alone get anything extra done! Just as I was feeling better and thought I could get back to my plans we learned that our baby had died. I was floored and understood that old saying "I felt like the carpet was ripped out from under me." After a week-and-a-half of waiting the miscarriage happened and I hemorrhaged, leaving me weak and couch-bound for at least a week. Well, on Saturday my week was up and I was feeling a lot better- not normal by any means, but like I could be up and around a bit. By yesterday my heart was pounding anytime I got up and my chest was tight. I talked with my friend Paula, a nurse, who's on strict bed-rest right now for complications with her first pregnancy. I told her how I was feeling and she gave me a long lecture, as only a best friend/nurse can do! She said, like the doctor had told me, that if my heart is pounding when I stand up I'm overdoing it and need to stop. She also said that if I don't then it will take me twice as long to recover and I'm not doing anyone a favor by trying do more than I should right now. And so on and so forth, et-cetera, et-cetera, et-cetera!
So it's back to the couch for me. (And the computer chair!) But, for now, no more getting up to get things, getting the kids dressed, loading the dishwasher, etc. I need to rest! Which means that on top of just the normal everyday things I can't do, I have to lay my other plans aside for now, and probably for a good while. I've been thinking a lot about Proverbs 16:9 which says "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." It's okay for me to make plans and schedules for myself and my household, but they need to be submitted to the Lord, and I need to acknowledge His right to direct us differently. Then I need to keep my eyes and heart open to see what He has for me when things just don't go the way I thought they should.
His ways are so much higher than ours. I thought it would be good for me to try to get my home in better order and my kids into more of a routine; He thought it would be better for me to lay on the couch and be cared for by others. I thought it would be great when I was really on top of things; He wanted to bring me to a place of being unable to do anything. Could He be trying to show me how much I need Him and His strength by causing me for a time to be completely dependent on others? Wouldn't it be better for my kids if their Mama was the one to clothe and bathe and feed and play with them? I would think so, but maybe through this their Mama will learn something more valuable, something that will make me more like Jesus, and therefore a better, more loving Mama to them. There's something going on that's so much bigger than my plans and ideas, and I need to have my heart open to what that is. It's a hard lesson to learn, but I hope that God's purposes for us right now will be accomplished. And I hope that in the future I will remember this and remain a lot more flexible.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Just Laying Around

Could this outfit be Erik's subtle way of letting me know that things just don't get done quite the same way when I'm out of commision?

As a busy Mama of two small children, a day of lying around sounds like quite a luxury. When it's forced though, and when it's a lot longer than a day, it's not quite as nice as it sounds. It's been almost a week since my trip to the ER, and the doctor's strict orders were for at least a week of no activity. I've been allowed to sit at the computer the last few days, and have been sitting at the table for meals, and those things are pretty exciting! I feel like "my" life is being lived by someone else, having everything I normally do being done by others, or not done at all. I lie on the couch and tell people where to find things and ask for whatever little thing I need. Everyone is doing a great job and I'm incredibly thankful for all the wonderful help we've had, but I'm really looking forward to carrying my kids and playing with them, cooking our meals, and knowing what's in my own refrigerator. At this point I'm even looking forward to doing our dishes, sweeping our floors, and (I can hardly believe this one) cleaning our bathroom! Strength to do my work is a gift, not something to be taken for granted.
I'm getting stronger each day, and I thank you all for your prayers. I've been getting up a lot more, still not being active, but getting myself a drink or finding something I need. I think from this point the challenge is going to be not overdoing it and finding myself back on the couch. I anticipate some difficult days with the kids as we get back into our routine and reestablish some boundaries. Peregrine, especially, has been having a hard time with attitudes and obedience, and I know that it's going to take a lot of consistency and time spent together to work on those things. He's gotten to do lots of special things with other family members over the last week, but I think what he needs is for life to get back to normal, to have some days without people in and out all day, to know what to expect again. Alethea is feeling it too, but she's just acting more clingy, crying when she goes to bed, etc. Erik stayed home from work today and it was nice to have him around; I'm looking forward to being together this weekend. He took Peregrine to see a movie and out for ice cream this afternoon while my sister stayed with me.
I've realized that there's lots to be done though, even while lying around, so I've compiled a list of things for days when I may find myself wanting some "couch time" again:

1. Read books. And magazines, junk mail, catalogues, cards, etc.
2. Watch movies together. (This is nice, as usually when I let the kids watch a movie it's so that I can get some work done.)
3. Play a game or do a puzzle with Peregrine.
4. Have extra "milky" time with the little one who still nurses.
5. Read LOTS of board books to Alethea. She figures out pretty quickly that she can bring book after book to whoever will keep reading.
6. Clip the kids' nails. (I'll admit this sometimes gets neglected in "real" life!)
7. Work on quilting or other handwork projects.
8. Sing songs with the kids.
9. Eat. Drink. Snack. (Thanks to everyone who is bringing us wonderful food!)
10. Read"chapter books" to Peregrine.
11. Play Patty Cake and other little hand games with Alethea.
12. Talk on the phone to my friend Paula who's on bedrest. We get a kick out of asking what the other is doing!
13. Read. Did I mention that already?