Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011

I know, I know, it's been a pathetically long time since I've posted. Actually, I've written several times, but haven't posted the results. Most of the times, it just didn't "feel" like the timing was right to post what was spilling from my heart to my fingers on this faithful old laptop. Other times, I'd written, rewritten and then as I hit "publish post" the document was forever lost in cyber-space. Needless to say, I didn't have the heart or the time to start over. So here we are. I do so love to blog, but the phase of life I'm in right now, just doesn't allow for a lot of it. Someday, when my guys are a little bigger and need me a little less in the educational process, I'll be faithfully blogging. Until then, duty call. :)

I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas. We certainly did. Our family and friends spoil us with good gifts that are unnecessary, but certainly appreciated. The Christmas photos and letters are always such a joy to receive as well. This has been my favorite Christmas so far with our boys. While Christmas is always a joy, especially with children, it also affords some pretty intensive training days as a parent. My children did not come into the world thankful, gracious beings. In fact, as "cute" as they were, they were pretty selfish, greedy, and ungrateful. So the last 8 Christmases have been spent in training them to say thank you. Not to open one gift, heave it in a pile and say, "What's next?". To think about the sacrifice someone has made, the hours they have worked and the thoughtfulness they have shown in choosing and then purchasing a gift just for them. We've worked hard to help them experience the joy of giving. The joy of being excited for someone else. You get the picture. So this year was the first year that both of the boys were just thankful, without our prodding. The first year that they both showed as much joy watching the other open a gift as they experienced opening their own gift. The first year that we didn't have to say, but we heard them say things like, "That was so thoughtful of get that for us." It truly is a joy to see your children walk in truth. Don't get me wrong, I know we've got a LONG way to go. Our training years have just begun, but it's nice to sit back occasionally and enjoy the fruit of past efforts before you dive back into the job again.

I will confess there was a little disturbance Christmas day at our house after one particular gift was opened. We now have one Confederate soldier and one Union soldier in our home and never the twain shall meet. Pray for reunification in the Thomas household. :)

One last little tidbit I will leave with you before I rush off to clean my house. I've just recently been exploring the world of Pinterest and I saw an idea that has worked beautifully, well for the last two nights anyway. My dear hubby and I have found ourselves really frustrated with trying to instill in the boys table manners. We feel like most meals we spend saying things like, "Lean over your plate, don't take such big bites, one elbow on the table, don't talk with your mouth full." At the end of a meal we feel as if all we've done is criticize. Well, three days ago on Pinterest I saw an idea I thought worthy of trying. So I went out and bought a pig....a plastic pig that is. We set "Wilber" (terribly original, I know) on the table. If anyone is not using his/her table manners any member of the family is allowed to award that individual the "Wilbur Award". Then the "winner" can watch to see an opportunity to pass the award on to the next "piggy". Whoever has Wilbur at the end of the meal has to clear the table. We have had two evenings with Wilbur as a guest and I will have you know he has yet to be awarded to anyone. It has even been a motivator for Matt and I to be more careful. So Wilbur seems to have brought a solution to our messy mouth issues. Napkins are used, elbows are limited, bites are reasonably sized, and criticism is gone. Wilbur certainly is, SOME PIG!!

New Year's Blessings to you all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stationery card

Very Merry Moments Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, November 14, 2011

2011 Fall Recital

Saturday was the boys Fall Recital. I promised grandparents that I'd post the videos, so here is Josiah's:

And Micah's:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Busy Summer

Well, it's been next door to forever since I've posted. Summer is always a busy time, but this one seemed especially busy. It was a good kind of busy mostly, but still busy enough to keep me away from any blogging.

One job I enjoy in the summer is mowing. I mow close to 4 hours a week when the weather is prime for grass growing. While I mow I listen to audio-books, a luxury of which most mothers only dream. I started out the summer listening to A Brave New World, but soon found myself, quite unintentionally, listening to book after book with the French Revolution being a big part of the story. The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Count of Monte Cristo, and now Les Miserables. It only seems like a few books, but the unabridged reading of Monte Cristo alone is over 47 hours of listening. I've so enjoyed all these books. Monte Cristo was fascinating with it's theme of revenge veiled in "righteousness". In the end, however, the lead character realizes that even those who feel they are on a mission from God, must guard against pride. Human beings are subject to error and if they become so self-righteous that they forget they are fallible, they can easily wreak havoc in their world. Of course Les Mis is a story of redemption and self-sacrifice. As Lewis said through Lucy in Narnia, "a good story is a story which reminds her of the forgotten story in the Magician's Book." All "good" stories are the stories that remind us of the great story of Christ and his redemption. Not only have the books I've "read" this summer pointed me to the "Great Story", they also have prepared me for this school year. This year the boys will be studying the 19th Century so I will be thoroughly Napoleoned out before the year is up. :)

We had the joy of hosting some friends this summer as well. Harold, Kayla and their boys came in for a few days while on their deputation. What a blast we all had together. What a joy it was to have a good chat with my dear friend again. Just like old times, with the exception of 6 boys playing in the background. :) Charity and her kiddos also came for a long weekend visit. The kiddos got along splendidly and Charity and I solved the world's problems and laughed quite a bit while we did it. I'm counting on the rest of you to follow Kayla's and Charity's examples and make a visit to the mid-west soon.

We have added another student to our little school this year. She only attends two days a week, but she shows great potential. :) Kenlee is a big hit around here with the boys. I wasn't sure how homeschooling and babysitting would mesh, but with "Little Miss" it's going great. We all enjoy her so much.

That pretty much updates you on our little world. Since I last posted we've lived a lot of life. We've had our share of pain and more than our share of joy. In joy and in sorrow we trust our dear Abba and say to him a clear resounding, "Yes, Daddy!" to all He wills in our lives. I look forward to catching up on all your lives in the next few weeks. What an encouragement reading your blogs is to me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Excellent Daddy!

I wanted to dedicate this blog to my good hubby Matt. I knew when I chose to marry Matt that he was a good man of godly character. I knew he would lead our family to Christ, but I had no idea what an amazing daddy he would end up being.

“Why is the sky blue?” I looked in the rear view mirror at the little one strapped in a car seat, the one who asked a million questions that day already. I was about to give the standard answer, “Because God made it that way”, when my husband says, “Well Bub it’s blue because of the earth’s atmosphere.” Then he continued to explain light and color and all things blue. I laughed inwardly. He looked at me when the science lesson was over, “what?” I smiled coyly and said, “Do you think he got that?” He wisely said, “Maybe not, but he will.” That has always been my husband’s approach with our boys. I read Bible story books to the boys, but he pulls out the Bible and they read together and exegete the scriptures. And yes, they do enjoy it. Not so much because they are understanding every word, but because Daddy is amazing. Daddy is on the floor explaining real life stuff to them. Daddy doesn’t have a life of his own and then occasionally joins our world for a few hours before bed, but our world is Daddy’s world and they know it.

As the boys grow older, I am amazed at how much they do understand. Over the years I’ve seen the wisdom of my husband’s approach and now use it myself. You see when you are shaping a little life, there is no down time. Even the common things of life are opportunities to shape their worldview. Is it easy? No. Sometimes we’d rather just say, “Who had it first?” and end the silly spat. But there are much deeper issues in seemingly simple everyday occurrences . Hearts are being molded. One selfishly snatching the toy and the other selfishly demanding to keep it. If we don’t help them to see what the real issues of life are, when will they learn it? Maybe they won’t. Maybe they will be the ones to split the church because someone sat in their pew or maybe they'll just grow up content with not thinking at all, floating through life like an amoeba that simple reacts to what it bumps into.

Teaching them diligently is not a task that comes naturally for most of us human beings. Our flesh wants to be comfortable and getting off the couch at the end of a hard day to answer a lot of questions or deal with disobedience isn’t what comes natural for us. It is a choice that we make with God’s help. For Matt and I it has been and still is a process. We are still learning to choose daily to teach in the moment, but the more we do it the more it becomes as natural as breathing. I thank God for a husband who challenges me to be a better mother and that my boys have a daddy who is willing to be here in body and spirit moment by moment teaching, loving, and pointing us all to Jesus.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Advice for Abigail....and Julia

In a letter to his dear wife, John Adams encourages her to parent their oldest two sons in his absence in this way....

"Take care that they don't go astray. Cultivate their minds, inspire their little hearts, raise their wishes. Fix their attention upon great and glorious objects, root out every little thing, weed out every meanness, make them great and manly. Teach them to scorn injustice, ingratitude, cowardice, and falsehood. Let them revere nothing but religion, morality and liberty."

What a challenge this is for me. It goes far beyond the ideals we as a culture have for our children today. A reckless abandon pursuit of "fun", Sponge Bob, and Grossology are what we offer our young boys. Then we wonder why we end up with "kidadults, as opposed to "great and manly" men. I'm not interested in putting 40 year old heads on my 6 and 8 year old's shoulders, fun is a staple at our house and an occasional game of Super Mario isn't forbidden. However, I think I stand to gain a lot if I reject the commonly accepted standards of our culture for our boys and seek the wisdom of the likes of the original "Adams Family".

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spring Recital 2011

Today was the boys Spring Recital. This was Micah's first recital. He played two songs since the songs were so short. Josiah played Minuet #3.
Hope you enjoy this Papa & Nanny(and Rach). :)

Micah playing Au Claire de la Lune with his teacher.

Micah playing Lightly Row with his teacher.

Josiah playing Minute #3 by Bach

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Confessions of a Wimp.

My name is Julia and I am an approval junkie. From as long as I can remember I have liked to be liked. I love waves in the ocean, but not in my life. I will go to great measures to avoid offending people unnecessarily. There I’ve said it. I’m a wimp by nature. Enter public school. Public school can be pretty tough on a girl who looks so completely different from her peers and all the while she’s craving their approval. Now this could be the sad end to my story, but my parents did something right. I have no idea what it was specifically, but no matter how much of an approval junkie I was I had no thought of compromising my values. I wanted approval, but God’s approval seemed to trump that of my peers. Thank God for that. However, I am a pretty creative little creature and so I figured out a way to have the best of both worlds. I was nice. And guess what? If you are nice to people, with only a few exceptions, they don’t really care how you look. And so public school went pretty smoothly for me. I had a few antagonists, but for the most part I was liked. I even won end of the year awards for being “cheery” and “funny” and all kinds of things that made me feel warm and fuzzy.

I was trucking along through life pretty well, but there were a few bumps on my smooth road of being liked. For instance, a few years after college a friend told me that she knew of a few people who “hated” me during college. Imagine my shock and dismay. Who? Me? Hated? Unbearable!! What had a I done? I knew there were a few who seemed a little cold toward me and I promptly ate lunch with them and started my quest of being entered onto their approval lists. She said(and I’ll modify the words here for public consumption), “You were so self absorbed that you didn’t even notice they didn’t like you.” OUCH! The wounds of a friend are faithful. She helped me open my eyes that day. I determined to be more aware of how I affected people, not just so they would like me, but because people matter.

Enter my babies. I didn’t understand the danger of my desire to be liked until one day my kiddos came along. I don’t even remember the specifics of the moment, to be honest I don’t even remember where I was. I just remember somebody wanted me to do or wanted me to let my kiddos go somewhere or do something that in my heart I knew wouldn’t be good for them. I’m not talking danger here folks I just mean, that little part of your brain that kicks in when you know this activity or whatever won’t kill your kid, but it wouldn’t be best. Anyway, the moment came and I felt this incredible pressure to send my kiddo into a situation I didn’t think best. Why, you may ask? Well, I didn’t want to offend the person who was asking. I didn’t want them to think badly of me. All of that went through my brain in a second and with my heart pounding and my stomach churning I smiled kindly and said, “No thanks.” I’m sure I did my dead-level best to smooth it over….that’s what we approval junkies do. But something changed in me that day. I knew that liking to be liked isn’t all bad, but when gaining self approval puts others at risk, well now that gets into the realm of evil. LIGHT BULB MOMENT!!

And so here I am up the road a few years, some time and experience under my belt. I’ve come to the sad conclusion that if you do end up standing up for what is right, some people won’t like you. And guess what? I still hate that feeling. I know it’s just a feeling and trust me I’ve prayed that this thorn in my flesh(being a wimp) would be taken from me. I long to be the kind of person who speaks boldly, one who does the right thing and walks away with shoulders squared and confident step, letting the chips fall where they may. But the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” And so I muster all my courage and do what I think is the right thing and limp away with heart pounding, stomach churning knowing full well I won’t sleep that night due to my worrying where the chips are going to fall. I guess my point is, wimp or not I’m accountable to God. Ultimately, it is His approval that I must seek. And whether it’s ever comfortable for me or not, I must love as He loved. That means my love for Julia and approval and all things warm and fuzzy has to be crucified.

Do I go out looking for confrontational situations now? NOPE! Do I seek to be abrasive? Not on your life. I still find myself diplomatically sharing opinions. I read people’s body language like a book to be sure that what is being said is being understood. I like being nice and friendly. I enjoy having lots of friends and knowing they like me too. But I have to keep that all in perspective. And you can just bet if I do or say something that causes waves, that it was done with much thought and prayer and to be honest, an agonizing wrestling match between my flesh and spirit. It’s not easy being a wimp, but by God’s grace I’ll be a wimpy tool in his hands to do with what He wills…no matter how uncomfortable.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Great Family Read Aloud Books!!

Several weeks ago Matt and I attended the Mid-West Homeschool Convention. While we enjoyed the speakers and all the challenging things that we learned, our favorite part of the convention is browsing the vendor hall. After we make all the necessary curriculum purchases we spend hours scouring book shelf after book shelf finding books we want to read, we want our boys to read and books we want to read to our boys. Children are NEVER too old to be read aloud fact, I can just bet you still enjoy hearing a book read aloud.

At convention we ran across a series of books that we thought looked like good books to read aloud as a family. Sadly we only bought one in the series because we wanted to see what they were about before we took the plunge and bought the whole set. Needless to say, half-way through the first book we went to Amazon and ordered the next two books in the series. The author Chuck Black weaves the story of Christ into this allegorical retelling of biblical history from Genesis to Revelations. There are discussion questions in the back for each chapter which make for a wonderful catalysis for conversation. If you use these books as a tool in family devotional times, I guarantee your kids will beg you for just one more chapter.

I just love running across great resources like the Kingdom Series by Chuck Black and I thought I'd pass the word on to you. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do I wake them? I know, if they went to "school" they would have been up and gone hours ago. I do this mind arguing often. Fighting the mind battle between what I grew up with and think of as "normal" and being the lead apologist for alternative education. I know the discipline of routine and schedule will have to be established, but when they are young don't they sleep because they need it? Then of course enter my flesh to compound the argument. It's kinda nice to be a homeschooling Mom and find yourself in a quiet house with devotions done, mile walked, and a quiet breakfast shared with hubby all before 9:25am. So I I wake them? I will confess it is RARE that my boys sleep this late(and yes I checked to make sure they are breathing). So for now, I'm going to let the worry go and enjoy these few moments of quiet.
I've read/am reading two really great books lately that have been perspective changers for me(I love a book that does that). One is a parenting book by Matt Friedeman entitled Discipleship in the Home. This book is unlike any other parenting book I've read because it is so forward thinking. Most of the books I've read would fit into one of two categories. 1. Practical. The how-to kind of books. How to get your baby to sleep through the night. How to train your child to first time obedience. 2. Philosophical. The worldview kind of books. Why you want your child to obey the first time. Why it is important that your motive be right when you are disciplining. What are you thinking and how are you going to teach them to think. Every book I've ever read in either category has helped me to be a better mommy. I need both kinds. But "Discipleship in the Home" has helped me to be more goal oriented. Matt and I know what goals we are shooting for in general, but we've never really sat down and written those goals out. And not only written them out, but then written a plan to implement them. We are in the process of making our "Age 18 List" and it's been a good thought provoking task for us.

Probably the greatest help this book has been for us is in being more positive. I've always thought of myself as a glass half-full kind of gal, but not so when it has come to my kiddos. Because Matt and I are so serious about the task of training our boys(as we should be), we often fail to see the progress made. I so quickly hear and see attitudes and actions that fall short, but days of great attitudes and actions go by and I hardly notice, because that's how it is "supposed to be". Mind you this is wrong, I'm not condoning my actions here, I'm just being honest about my own "falling short". And so this book helped me to recognize that. And just as we address issues of wrong attitudes and actions in our boys, we are addressing them in ourselves. This book has helped me to see that I need to praise more. I need to notice the days of sweet obedience and kindness in play. I need to praise the hard work and good effort and ignore some mistakes. As I do, I see my boys open like flowers in the sunshine, basking in the warmth of our smiles. And so this book is one of my new favorites. As with any book I read, I don't agree with every jot and tittle, but overall this book has changed me and I love a book that helps me to conform into the image of my Abba.

I'll wait for another post to share how the book I am currently reading is changing me. My oldest is up and is reading his latest issue of Ranger Rick and he must share the fascinating facts about 'possums with his Mommy. Did you know a "Mommy possum actually eats snakes, insects, earthworms and slugs"? :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 Ice Storm

We kept hearing threats of debilitating ice and snow. To be honest, I wasn't worried, we don't normally get anything too scary around here(Ok, so we have had an occasional tornado and just one or two earth quakes in the 12+ years I've lived here). Our boys were pumped though. The idea of "roughing it" with the electricity off would be a real adventure. So everything became exciting...even making bread.
Monday night Josiah said, "Don't you think we ought to get candles and flashlights ready?" We were impressed with his forward thinking....a skill he clearly did not inherit from his parents(as we sat around reading and such on a cold evening). With permission and a pat on the head he and his brother were off to scour the house for all artificial lighting and they had serious discussions on the best placement for each candle and flashlight.
You can only imagine the disappoint when on Tuesday morning they awoke to a warm lighted house. I think the exact words were, WHAT? Why are the lights still on?" :) I assured them that freezing rain was forecasted for the whole day.

The day went as usual and we got our freezing rain. I know it damages so many things. I know it's dangerous. I know it is inconvenient for commerce. But oh it is so pretty to look out on our woods covered in a layer of sparkling ice. Pictures just do not do it justice. Even our dead ugly landscape looked prettier.
Around 8pm we were all snuggled in our bed watching a movie on Netflix when the power went out. Pure delight, mixed with the realization that without power we can't watch the end of Jack in the beanstalk, filled our boys . :) So they camped out in our room and we piled on the blankets, we were sure we'd be warm enough til morning. And we were.
All Wednesday and a good deal of Thursday(power was restored around 4:30pm on Thursday) we stayed at our dear friends/neighbors who have a generator so we didn't freeze or rough it too long. We were able to get school done and enjoyed visiting with Keith and Rachel. Even school seems more exciting when you change locations and have an in-house accompanist for violin practice.
The snow came after the ice and made the pretty woods, absolutely breath-takingly beautiful. Thursday night the boys started feeling badly(perhaps all the excitement?) and Friday we actually took a day off of school so they could recover. Fortunately, Saturday they were much better, so we took the opportunity to get out and enjoy the very slick hills. There are no photos of me, but I want it to go on record that I did go down the hill several times and on my last time down, I tried out the snow ramp we built at the bottom of the hill! Note to self: sledding down an ice covered hill and hitting a snow obstacle at a high rate of speed at your age is not the wisest plan of action....even if your kids are impressed and giggle heartily at your flailing limbs and screams of terror.

A brave man...I did not go head first!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Happily Ever After

As a wife and mother sometimes Christian radio is helpful and sometimes not. I don't listen nearly as much as I used to, when home educating having the radio on in the background can be distracting. This morning though, Matt and the boys left early to do chores for friends who are on vacation and as I was preparing the house for the day I was listening to a show on communication in marriage. The show was really geared toward newlyweds or even engaged couples. Being an "old married woman" with 10 + years of marriage experience under my matrimonial belt, there were parts of the show to which I was shaking my head and saying an inward "amen". Other parts I felt like gave me permission to be moody or cantankerous due to my "God given personality". Fortunately, I learned before I got married(through repeated head smashing against the brick wall of life)that I would never be truly happy or fulfilled in any relationship outside of Jesus. I know we all know that in our heads. I know we all say it at church. But do we live it? I certainly didn't. I sought fulfillment in relationships outside of God. I placed on the shoulders of so many of my friends the responsibility of making me happy. I have a "chipper" enough personality and gracious enough friends that the long term damage to relationships was minimal...but inwardly, I often dealt with disappointment and moodiness because another human being failed to make me feel whole.

Then one day I moved to Salem, IL. For the first time in my adult life I wasn't surrounded by the safety net of close was me and God. I had relationships here, but they were new, almost foreign. I remember the day so well. I was on my morning walk and the lyrics to a song were running through my mind...the song was entitled "God Spot". I realized that the emptiness and loneliness I was facing in this new place was not anyone's fault. The reason I was unfulfilled "by myself" was because I had inadvertently placed the expectation of fulfillment on my friends. Jesus alone wasn't enough to fulfill....I was a relationship junky. Once I saw it, I realized how wrong that was...I also realized that it was totally unfair to place that kind of expectation on another human being. Relationships are only ever whole and truly loving if an individual finds fulfilment in Christ alone. That frees us to really love another without a self fulfillment agenda getting in the way.

The talk show expressed the need for all married couples to find their fulfillment in Christ first. AMEN to that! However, then they went on to express ways of dealing with conflict...most of the conflict examples they gave, were conflicts stemming from expectations placed on another for one's own validation. I know as humans we are never totally free of the flesh until we are dead. We will feel forces of it until the day Jesus takes us home. We will have moments of unguarded words with insecurities leaking out. Yet, I've found in my marriage that the more I truly believe that my worth is based in Jesus, the less often I fall to attacking Matt when I feel needy. It doesn't mean all conflict disappears, we still have days where we don't see eye to eye or I'm overly emotional and sensitive. But it does mean that once "reason comes riding in on a white horse" I can see what I'm doing and LET IT GO. That, I believe, is the second secret to a good marriage. I don't have to win. There are no winners. I don't have to be validated, I am valuable because Jesus says so.

You see Matt and I have settled into our relationship. We rarely fuss over issues anymore. We've learned to place an issue on the table and emotionally detach ourselves from it. Then we tackle the issue based on truth and what is real. We almost always come to an agreement based on what we both believe to be truth. We don't even think in terms of whose argument or idea won. But, there are the little rubs that come from living with another person and those are a whole different topic. It is those little rubs that can make relationships difficult. For example, last Wednesday night the boys and I got into town, after a long day in St. Louis. We normally meet Matt in town for supper before church. We got to the restaurant and I set the boy's drinks down. Matt starts to move them. I say, "why?" He explains that friends are eating with us and we need to make room for them. It's important to note here that Matt is the Tortoise and I am the Hare. He often thinks, responds, and moves very slowly. I often think, respond, and move at the speed of light(which has led to MANY apologies in my life). I argue, "There's room if we add this chair". He continues to move drinks, think and think and think...(tick tick tick). I think, "What is the big deal?" However, after 10 years of marriage(and due to the public location) I've learned to keep that thought to myself. However, I don't do a good job of hiding the annoyance in my body language. So I grab a plate and head to the salad bar before I say any more. On the way, I'm still annoyed...."why does it take this man 20 years to find a seat? What is the big deal?"...and then I realize what I'm doing. He's questioned my great plan. How dare he? Do I think I'm God? I realize that I'm being silly...after all what is the big deal? Who cares if he wants to deliberate on the seating for another 10 minutes? Further more, I've not seen him all day and when I do, he is greeted with a scowl and annoyance. This is really silly. "Jesus, I'm sorry. Help me." Then with HIS help, I let it go. Not stuff it. See there is a world of difference between washing something away down the drain and keeping it stuffed in your cupboard to mold and fester until another day. I let it go, because he is a good man. Because my way isn't always right. Because there are a million little things about me that he let's go all the time(ie like my rabbit speed way of running through life). Because I'm a child of God and He isn't pleased with this little "tude" of mine. And so I walk back to the table with a genuine smile for him. I've let it go. It's only a table and some chairs after all. He smiles back and humbly says, "You were right, we needed to just add a chair." I honestly answer, "No big deal." It doesn't even occur to me to feel good about being "right". Not because I'm Super-Wife, but because I let it go...and my value is in Jesus, not in whether I'm right or not.

So I talked to the radio this morning and let the good experts know that conflict resolution goes deeper into oneself than a "conflict resolution" card that you carry in your wallet. But it flows from a heart that is willing to let the unimportant things go. A heart that promises to find it's fulfillment in Christ. A heart that is humble enough to say, "I'm wrong". And to be honest, from the hard work of disciplining our tongues to not respond too quickly(I'm learning this skill better everyday from the example of my Tortoise).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Any mother who has suffered through the first year of violin lessons knows what a joy it is when the songs start sounding more like music and less like a cat screeching after it's tail has been stepped on. The casual listener won't know the difference, but Mommy does and she's filled with admiration at his hard work.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 24, 2011


Today I'm helping my eldest with violin practice. He's learning to play the hymn, "What Wondrous Love is This". So I'm trying to explain what the writer was communicating in this song. I said, "Bub, the person who wrote this song is amazed that God, who is perfect and made everything would love us so much that he would leave heaven to come be our example...even when we were sinful and ugly." His eyes are wide, I think I'm making some progress so I wax eloquent. "Do you think when you communicate this song it should sound like this(here I start singing staccato)what. won.drous. love. is. this. o. my. soul. o. my. soul. what. won.derous. love. is. this. o. my. soul." His face is creased with lines of distaste. I'm sure he's getting my point, so I go on. "Or do you think it should sound more like this(here I burst into my attempt at a beautiful legato version of the song). His face brightens, he's impressed, I can tell. "So bub, which do you think would best communicate the words? His face seems a little perplexed again, but he answers, "I think the second way would be best...but Mommy, I think you have a little boogie in your nose."

Well so much for my attempt to teach the beauty of artistically communicating a message through song. He's a 7 year old boy who is easily distracted...especially by boogies. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Decorating on a Dime Part 2

I didn't get as much done as I had hoped today. School went longer than expected. Some days we are done by 2pm and other days....well, let's just say we got our learning in for sure. :) I will post a few photos of what we did get done, with more to come later. Hope you enjoy.

This is my dresser. In it's past life it was stained a light brown and had a 1960's style shiny varnish on it. We sanded it down...not all the way down to the wood(there's just so much my poor arms can take), but enough to get the varnish off. After that we painted it with two coats of regular latex paint, after that dried we painted one coat of oil-based paint. I think if we had to do it again, we may have used a primer first and then just painted with the oil-based black. We are learning as we go. The art work is supper simple. Buy canvas(I got mine at Hobby Lobby when they were 50% off), then buy a stencil (Hobby Lobby $8) and twallah, you've got art. I rolled two canvas with white paint and two with black. Then after much trial and error we found that spray paint works best for the stencil.

This is Matt's dresser and we did the same thing to his as we did mine.

The mirror above Matt's dresser serves as wall art. I got it for $5 at Walmart(it's actually an over the door full length mirror). I used a wall rub on it to make it more interesting. The box on Matt's dresser is from Walmart as well. It serves as storage for all the strange things that come out of his pockets after work, but I'm not allowed to throw away. It's one of those male mysteries. :)
We put the tiles up on our headboard tonight. The 12X12 tiles we purchased at Menard's for around $6 a piece. We cut luon(sp? It's very thin wood) into squares slightly smaller than the tiles. We painted the front of the luon white and trimmed the sides in black. Once they were dry we used construction adhesive to glue the tiles onto the luon. We set heavy books on them to make sure the tiles and the luon became one. We let them set for a little over 24 hours to make sure they were dry(nobody wants a tile on their head in the middle of the night).
Then we measured on the headboard where we wanted the tiles and marked it with chalk. Now the tricky part comes. We spread construction adhesive pretty thick on the back of the luon/tiles and I held them to the wall while Matt double checked the tiles with the level.
Then Matt used pretty small nails(about 4 each tile) to hold the tiles up until the adhesive dries. The nails have to be pounded in only to the tile then a nail punch must be used to drive the nail all the way into the wall so that the glass tiles are not damaged. WARNING: The construction adhesive will most likely damage the dry wall when we take it down. Therefore, be prepared to do some mudding and sanding in the future if you plan to use this method

If the headboard looks a little high that's because it is. Matt plans to build a base for the bed to sit on that will be 6" higher than the bed currently is. The higher frame will allow for storage under the bed. There is one last touch we plan to add to the headboard. I have a friend who is very handy with woodworking. She is making me two wood boxes that will hang between the tiles, a candle will be in each box...hard to explain, I'll post photos when they're done. Matt also plans to build side tables for the bed. Those photos are to come, but probably much later. :)

A friend bought me these curtains, but I'm pretty sure they are from Hobby Lobby and if you sign up for their newsletter, you'll get a 40% off coupon every other week, so you can get nice curtains inexpensively. The walls on either side of the window still need some attention, but I'm just not sure what to do on them yet. Do you have any ideas? I was thinking perhaps a few B/W photos of Matt and I, but not sure.
It's been fun trying to decorate economically and in a modern motif. While I love the room thus far, I think the room is on the verge of being a little masculine looking, but I've always felt a little sorry for men stuck in flowered bedrooms for 50 years, so I guess all is fair. :) Seriously, do you think if I add a flower arrangement or something, it might bring a bit of femininity to soften it a bit? Calla Lilies? I'm totally open to suggestions, so feel free to send them my way. I always love hearing from you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Decorating on a Dime Part 1

Where do I begin? I guess I first need to figure out who to blame for my crazy weekend of redecorating. I could blame my mother. She started quilting a few years ago and she's really good at it. So she decided to make each of my sister-in-laws and myself a quilt for our beds. Well the time came for me to pick out material for my quilt. That was tough. I love all kinds of color combinations and all kinds of decorative styles. I think a quilt made by your mother is as close to an heirloom as one can get and so I wanted to pick colors that would be classic, timeless. I went with black and white. You can't get anymore simple than that, right? However, our current bedroom isn't decorated in black and white...although, it's not really decorated in anything.
I could blame Carma and Dorinda, my two "old roomies". These girls taught me to jump in and just do it - who cares if you've never done it before? I still remember the day I arrived in Salem. I drove up to the new home I was to be sharing with Carma, Dorinda, and Rachel. I was a little nervous. They greeted me, showed me my room, helped me unload my things and then said, "So did you bring work clothes?" I replied yes and they officially invited me to help them "redo the basement". I welcomed the chance to do something and not just sit around and be awkward with my new friends. I changed clothes went down stairs to do what I thought would be something like cleaning or painting...before I knew it I had operated a hammer-drill to bust up some old concrete, went to the saw mill and planed lumber for a wooden wall and used a shop vac to suck up old coal dust from a coal bin where we would later put that wall for which we had planed lumber.
I could blame Charity. I remember years ago, my long time friend Nate brought this sweet girl around and told us he was going to marry her. So like any good friend I tried to become friends with Charity as well. When girls are becoming friends they talk girl stuff until they find something of substance that they have in common. Charity and I were talking about her future home and how she planned to decorate. She said something like, "One thing I do not want is for our bedroom to be the hang out spot in the house. A place where the laundry gets dumped and the kids run in and out." Several years later, as I looked at my bedroom with piles of things we never know where else to put and baskets of laundry and trim that has never been put up and dry wall mud that's never been painted, I can hear Charity's voice in my head. :)
So dear reader I'll let you decide who is to blame. All I know is that I've been dreaming of a bedroom retreat for quite sometime and so when Mom said she was quilting and Dori and Carma said they'd come help paint, the project began.
At the end of last week Matt and I completely emptied our bedroom into our living room, this is what it looked like.....

While I don't consider myself a Martha Stewert, this kind of mess drives me batty. This is real motivation for me to get the bedroom done. I do not want to look at this disaster all next week. Not to mention, I promised myself nothing would go back in the bedroom unless it had a there is sorting to be done and a van load will be heading to the local thrift store next week.

Once the room was empty, I was able to sand the drywall mud that Matt had finished spreading. On Friday night and Saturday morning my Super Roomies came to help me paint.

Matt and I rarely buy anything til we have cash for it. Therefore after over 10 years of marriage the only brand new furniture we own is our living room furniture. We don't have any official bedroom furniture. But recently, Matt's grandma moved out of her apartment and gave us a queen sized bed and MATCHING dressers!! OK, so the dressers belonged to Matt's dad and uncle when they were high the 60s, but they match. So I decided to update them by sanding them down and painting them. We have no headboard for our bed. However, I got the bright idea of painting one on the wall(like they do in hotel rooms) and so we girls put our heads together to come up with a design for the head board of the bed. This photo shows the beginnings of a headboard, a rectangle painted on the wall with $4.28 worth of wood trim around it. The black and white art you see on the floor is a canvas we painted and then spray painted a stencil on it. Cheap art is good.

Hopefully tomorrow we can get the headboard finished and our clothes back in our dressers and at least a semblance of order restored. So far I love how the room is coming together. The three nights of sleeping on the floor of the school room and the tornado like disaster in the rest of the house were worth it. I'll post the almost final photos tomorrow night....I hope. :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!!

I just bought myself the unabridged audio version of C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy for my birthday!! ALL THREE!! It's so fun to be grown up. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

2010 Cast of The Weston Family Christmas

Happy New Year!! It's been awhile since I have posted. I direct the Christmas drama for our church youth and we start our practices in October. However things don't really start getting busy with the drama until November...notice my last post was in November. :) The drama went very well, I am so honored to work with such talented young people. Our Christmas season tends to be dominated by the drama...don't get me wrong, this isn't a complaint, we LOVE doing it. Our boys participate in the children's drama and I've learned over the last few years how to manage my time in December. This year was busy, but I had all my Christmas shopping done, house decorated and even hosted the Thomas family Christmas BEFORE the drama's opening night. Lots of costumes and props were already purchased or made way before the crunch time and everyone in the church is so willing to help in anyway possible to make the drama a success. So at the end of the day it's a busy time, but it certainly doesn't drain us of the joy of the season.

For Christmas this year I got the new book by Mary Beth Chapman entitled Choosing to See. Reading about the intense grief of a family who has lost a child in such tragic circumstances gives one cause to pause and reflect on priorities. I'm not really big on New Year's resolutions. My history has been one of miserable failure when it comes to resolutions. There was a period of about 10 years that I resolved every year to weigh 115 lbs. Reality set in about 8 years ago and I realized 115 lbs is NEVER going to happen for me. :) So my resolutions have grown up with me. This year though I was struck while reading Mary Beth Chapman's 2008 Christmas letter. She writes, "How would I have lived differently if I knew that my time with Maria was going to be this short?....I would have purposely hugged and kissed more. I would have tried to memorize and lock away in my heart certain smells and smiles. I would have colored more and worked less. I would have laughed more and fussed less. Bedtime wouldn't have become a chore to check off the list of things to get done. Instead it would have been more of an opportunity to listen about the day and offer whatever words were needed. The swimming pool wouldn't have been too cold to swim in. The flowers in the garden would have all been picked, and definitely more ice cream would have been consumed!" Those words have inspired and convicted me. I look at all my relationships differently through that lense. But since my boys are my top priority calling from God, I look at them so differently now. Even if God grants us the gift of enjoying them for a life time, our time is so short. They already are growing up so fast.

And so I resolve in 2011 to hug and kiss more. To memorize and lock in my heart the golden sweet mundane moments. I will sword fight more and be on the computer less. I will laugh more and fuss less. Bedtime will be earlier so that it is not a rushed chore to be checked off, but a time where I do have time to sit and listen to one more story or answer one more question. The pool won't be too cold to swim in. The black berries in the woods will be picked, and definitely more ice cream will be consumed!