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.