Monday, August 31, 2009

Grandma arrived

Grandma Vineta, Kent's mom, is here for the week! This is the first time since we've been married that she has been able to stay for longer than a couple days! We're very happy to have her here. Tomorrow it's off to the we went to the park and processed gobs of wild grapes. I love this picture below and thought I'd share!

Happy Anniversary!

Tomorrow is my parent's 34th anniversary of sharing each other's lives. Here are a few tidbits you might find interesting. (hopefully I won't get in trouble!)

They used to send cassette tapes back and forth when they were dating...kind of like a one-way phone call!

While they were dating, Dad peeked in mom's room at her parents' house just because he wanted to make sure it wasn't a huge mess. He didn't want to marry a slob! :)

They were at a Christian camp and dad asked mom to go for a walk. The story goes that he claimed he had never gotten lost before, so they took off...and they got lost in a rainstorm.

My mom remembers dates for pretty much every slightly momentous occasion in life...and likes to ask dad regularly if he remembers "What happened today, 20 years ago?" I love his smile, laugh, and random guess. He really has no idea! :)

As a kid, I used to think that parents just didn't have much of a life apart from us, their children. I think it's just a kid mentality as everything revolves around yourself (at least it feels like it should be that way!) But I've found that my parents enjoy being together! They don't do anything majorly fancy, but they like to take trips to the lake together, go for walks, sit in a bookstore and read together, and enjoy a picnic now and then.

I've heard them both say many, many times how much the other one complements them. They are very aware of their own weaknesses and find great joy in realizing that the other one completes this lack in their own life. I find that to be inspiring...because so often we can look negatively on someone else's different strengths and weaknesses.

They are a team and they work together through whatever may arise be it health issues, caring for an elderly parent, getting through busy times, moving from time to time, and serving the needs of people in their lives.

They pray together often. I can remember this even as a child, occasionally hearing them praying together after I had gone to bed.

I've learned from them that time and the person you marry changes you. I've seen how they've both become just a little more like the enjoys browsing at a garage sale now and then; mom can get out the door faster than dad sometimes.

They both have a lot of "kid" in them still. I think that makes marriage more fun for well as grandparenting. Have I mentioned what awesome grandparents they are?

So, happy anniversary, mom and dad. Your marriage continues to be a blessing to me and your children's children! Thank you for committing to God's way and truly living life as an adventure together!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Boy Fun

They can play a duet (on two strings)... wear the sister's shoes...

enjoy a picnic at Lake Elmo (mom was the only girl that day)

show-off the bluest eyes for mom's camera to catch...

and take over the job of pulling every tupperware out of this cupboard...

just like brother Levi did here in this picture back in Feb. 2008!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Food Fun

I was choosing a few pictures to have printed and remembered making these pancakes for breakfast out of a Taste of Home Kids Cookbook that Grandma Alice gave Malia this year. Our family seems to be thoroughly fascinated by food that "looks like something." I was amazed at some of the other fun food in this cookbook. Maybe we'll try some honeybees tomorrow! Or that volcano cake for someone's birthday. Taste of Home always seems to have recipes that are actually doable with ingredients that I actually have around the house!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Question to self: Why do I home school?

As another school year approaches and my mind starts dwelling mostly on school material, schedules, and new ideas, I find myself asking again...why do I do this? Not because I don't want to, but because I feel that it's imperative to hold on to concrete reasons for why we devote our lives to something. I hesitate to write about matters that are potentially controversial, especially when there's not "one perfect way" to educate our children, and I'm certainly not looking back on years of personal success (I've only home schooled 4 years and our children have yet to be grown completely)...but then I remember, "Oh, yeah. This is my blog!" and so it should reflect the author's own personal feelings, opinions, and beliefs...and that would be ME! :)

I do home school my children but I don't do it because:

1. It's less expensive than public school

2. I can't imagine EVER having quiet mornings to my self

3. All home schooled children turn out to be Godly, well-educated, and socially balanced.

4. There are no temptations for our children to live apart from God's will.

5. I am never stressed out about having to balance all these schedules and ages

6. We never, ever get tired of being around each other

7. I absolutely love dabbling in all academic subjects while my house sits messy

8. I find myself somehow so much better at teaching than any other teacher

9. My children think it's always so awesome to be home schooled

But I will say I do home school my children because I do believe it is the best choice for them overall. Here's why...

1. We are their parents. Do I say this because I somehow think teachers are not capable, talented people, dedicated to being the best teachers they can be? Absolutely not! I personally know quite a few teachers in the public schools who are incredible people. They are trustworthy, Godly, and have the highest regard for the children they teach. But they are still not the parents! By nature, we will go above and beyond our own strength to invest in the lives of our children. We are given the responsibility to see that they are trained, loved, and taught to walk in truth. I don't want to hand the majority of that over to someone else.

We also know our children better than any other adult can know them...especially when a teacher has multiple children in her room. There's no humanly way possible for a teacher to address all the issues that a parent can deal with in their own home. I know my child's areas of weakness, the bad attitudes that need to be weeded out, the "games" they play, and I know no teacher can take the time to address these things. I personally can admit to overlooking a behavior in someone else's child, but I wouldn't put up with it one minute in my own child. I will put everything else aside, lose sleep, and sacrifice many personal desires for the sake of my children (and I know every other parent feels the same way). Home schooling is so much more than just being educated academically. The child's heart is at stake...and I believe a parent is the most qualified to spend the majority of those hours of education with their own children.

2. Spiritually better. Why? Home schooling provides a parent the ideal opportunity to instruct in God's Word daily with Scripture memory, Bible stories, and curriculum that honors God as our Creator. Little children, especially, are sponges, and I don't merely want to avoid a classroom empty of God, but I want to fill my children's lives and minds with God's presence in each thing we study and read as well as in times of conflict. Some have argued that a child needs to hear the "other side" so that they can stand against it. I totally agree. But I believe this is best taught in the home. Young children are very vulnerable and at times unable to discern truth from falsehood, especially when it comes from a teacher whom they love and respect (even though that teacher may only be teaching the curriculum and not what he/she believes.)

3. Socially better. I've heard so many arguments against home schooling based upon this issue. It was a popular one even when I was growing up. I have to say that I have seen children from home schooled families who were socially awkward, but it happens with public educated children as well. We've all seen social problems arise out of public and home school education. I believe much of this is up to the parents providing opportunities for their children to be with other children and families and modeling healthy relationships with others. The best part about this though, is that the parent has more control over WHO their children's primary friends are. How can we really do this when our child is at public school for a majority of their day with many children we will never get to know? Even if the teacher is someone I could totally love having my child spend time around, what about the other children? Yes, eventually, our children will have to grow up and face those whose lives are not in any way a reflection of Christ, but should we place our young children in those relationships of influence before they've had a chance to build a strong foundation and gradually dealt with peer pressure, and negative and ungodly influences? There are plenty of opportunities to face opposition to our lifestyle without going to public school.

Also, I believe the majority of time spent with a peer group is not preparing children for real life. As adults we know that real life is about many different kinds of people at all different ages and stages. A socially healthy child should not feel totally weird to have to spend time with an older adult or a younger child. But too often, it seems to me anyway, that the public school environment only encourages children to feel like it's only normal and comfortable to be with peers. At home, we interact with each other, the older helping the younger, the younger learning from the older (even though that certainly doesn't happen perfectly in our house!) God's family should not be about dividing into peer groups and I don't think public education (or our present culture) nurtures relationships across the age gaps. Good social behavior is learned best from adults...not other children. Does that mean we avoid other children? Absolutely NOT! But...I believe that the majority of their time should be spent learning social behavior from adults...parents who love them more than anyone else in the world.

4. Academically better. We are blessed to have a myriad of home schooling aids today. For any kind of learning style, any kind of budget, any kind of parent/child can find curriculum that fits the needs of your child and your family. What's can customize it to not only your family, but to each individual child. The one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work, and it only promotes unhealthy comparisons among children when their attention should be on the joy of learning rather than on either being smarter than everyone or being dumber than everyone. I mean, we don't do that to our children when they're learning to crawl, walk, and talk. "You're 10 months and you have to be doing what all the other 10 month olds are doing." No...we all learn at different rates and in different ways. Just because you're a 2nd grader doesn't mean you're ready for everything another 2nd grader is. But unfortunately, that is the dilemma of public education.

Less time is wasted sitting on buses, standing in line, and waiting for a teacher's explanation. More time to get down to the nitty gritty...which means more time later for family fun, downtime, vacations, and field trips, jobs, learning new skills, etc.

I've seen and read of it time and time again. Home schooled children generally excel academically. Not because they're inherently smarter than their public school friends, but because they are in an environment that enhances and promotes learning and excelling.

5. Morally better. This is an area that disturbs me greatly in regard to our culture. Again, I recognize that many, many teachers are morally upright people (and anyone who teaches school or wants to teach public school has my highest respect and support...I think a Christian teacher would be an absolute blessing!) However, I do not want to risk putting my children (especially young children) in an environment where their peers (some of them, not all of them) know things and say things and do things that are so far above what any elementary aged child can adequately process or handle. We're talking about things that can affect a child's entire life. And how do I know that I'm going to hear about it? Do I want to shelter and protect my children forever? No. That would be failure. But to think that an elementary aged child can handle the things that are out there right now would be as silly as to think they could drive a car safely at 6. Some examples...a "vote" in a public school 3rd grade classroom concerning the right of a gay couple to marry (this happened in a state nearby ours), drugs in 5th grade, a group of 6th graders at a park near our house talking very loudly about bisexuals, gays, and other stuff I wouldn't want to mention, and the list could go on and on. Do I feel like I know how to teach my children Godly morality and yet prepare them to stand against evil without being completely shocked? No, I don't claim this. I'm still searching, struggling, wanting to be taught, feeling rather uncertain at times. But I don't think I'd be doing my children a service by immersing them in that environment for the majority of their daytime hours.

6. It's rewarding! If all the above reasons were irrelevant, I think I'd still want to home school. There's nothing like hearing your child really read a book aloud for the first time...and know that you did it together. Yes, it was grueling (and they can be unbearably stubborn sometimes...but I feel like he learned a little more about obedience from the heart), and it was painstaking, but you did it together! It's fun having the girls each take a morning to make breakfast. I think they enjoy pleasing everyone else with their yummy recipes. And when the older ones can come running upstairs to see the littlest take his first steps...that's pretty special. When you see dad take a break from work to get someone through their infuriatingly difficult math, you see something you like. They're getting through it together! And when you're doing history and you decide you want to pick the project that involves making a lunch of Indian food, you can do it...together...and everyone gets to try it. When an older child comes up against a friendship crisis or question of the heart, it's nice to be available when the moment strikes them. And when you as a parent are in tears and they are in tears, and you really wish it wasn't this way, you're thankful later on that you got through it together...and your relationship is growing because of it. I am not personally the most creative person (even though I wish I was more so) but the options are endless. I've admired many families who've chosen some very unique ways that worked for their them to educate, learn, and live life together with home schooling as their chosen way.

So, to conclude a very long post, :) I am keeping in mind the very reasons I've chosen to do this...and I pray. Because I feel very inadequate. But HE is not! I face the future with hope...but also one with some trepidation. My first and foremost goal is that my children will walk in truth...apart from us as their parents. I realize that there is no magic formula (such as home schooling) and so I try to humbly ask God to help them overlook my many failings and faults and see Christ and His love! And hopefully, any who read this will realize the spirit in which it was written. I know that many parents have chosen differently, many parents whom I admire and from whom I've learned in regard to raising their children, (and I have many wonderful friends who weren't home schooled too) but I hope this post will encourage them to be very involved with their children's education/lives, and if they've ever considered home schooling, that this would provide some thoughts to ponder. If you're already home schooling this year, then maybe you'll have some more to add. And to me...get off the computer and get busy! :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And we roasted marshmallows

"What are going to do tonight?" That question is often asked at dinner, especially during the summer evenings. Too often, it's off to bath and bed for the younger ones, but I've been trying to have dinner a little earlier so we can do stuff like this!
Visit with our kids...
Get really sticky and full of sugar...

Give lots of reminders on fire "etiquette."

And admire those cute round bellies.

I suggested we try camping out in our backyard this summer and cooking our meals over our fire pit. DJ thought it was practically the best idea I'd ever had. I think it might be really know, I could still run in to have a shower and I wouldn't have to worry about packing all the "essentials." I'm really bad at that and keep thinking I'll remember "everything" the next time we go camping. HA! Still seriously contemplating this!
What do you roast over your campfires besides s'mores? Any neat ideas?

Block Party

One year it was rain, another it was a tornado watch. Our block parties have not always been so successful. But this year's was great! The street was closed off. Most of our near neighbors brought their chairs and dishes to share right out in the street (my poor Levi was quite confused the next day about not being able to play in the road again!) We had bubbles, rocketing balloons, water fights...and a bike parade. These are the attempts of a mom to make their bikes into "airplanes"...all while holding a squirmy 10 month old and trying to keep a 2 year old from drawing all over himself with permanent marker. :) It was fun!

I never realized we had sooo many young children on our street until I saw them all in one place. I'm hoping for a chance to reach out to some of these "fellow-mommy's" especially now that my life is becoming a little more settled (sort of)! It's amazing how close we live to our neighbors in proximity without actually being a part of one another's lives. Such is our modern culture with our busyness and capability of going everywhere else for friendships outside of our neighborhoods. I envision having a neighborhood Bible study or after-school kids' club someday...someday - if that's part of God's plan for our family.

Underwater World

"Mom, can we go there?" This is the question I get asked practically every time we go to the Mall of America (which isn't often). Grandma Carol called us Monday night to see if we were available for a last minute trip the next morning to Underwater World (located in Mall of America). She had come upon some free and half-price tickets.
Tana and Malia reluctantly posed for this picture...but then it turned out sooo adorable!

Touching areas.

These pictures DJ and Malia took. My camera was sabotaged. Whenever we're at a zoo or wildlife area, I suddenly have two photographers on my hands. They both LOVE to take pictures of every leaf, tree, and moving creature. DJ asked me yesterday, "Can I take a picture of every animal we see today?" Um, not really...PLEASE! What could I say? I take a million pictures of them all the time. So now I need to make a folder on my computer of all their photos.

We had a blast watching the stingrays and sharks being fed. What an amazing place. I hope that we can always be reminded of God's majesty when seeing incredible creatures such as these. Wouldn't it be cool to have a science museum or zoo that had signs like, "And on the fifth day God created fish and birds."

Books to enjoy

We love books. They are hard for me to get rid we have lots of books! But I am a little picky and can be a little disappointed at some of the selections at the library. I want a book that is wholesome, something that doesn't promote bad attitudes (surprisingly, lots of kids books do just that), a book that is fun to read, and a book that is well-written with colorful words or rhymes (so I don't get sick of reading it over and over and over)! I don't agree with the idea that "Just so my kids are reading...I don't really care what it is." On the contrary, the written word is extremely powerful in creating our own ideas of right and wrong, strong character versus weak character, etc. I also believe that reading is incredibly beneficial for building a strong foundation in education. One book that really impressed this idea upon me is "The Read-Aloud Treasury" by Jim Trelease. I don't entirely agree with all of his book choices (he's not coming at it from a scriptural viewpoint) but his points about reading versus TV viewing and the benefit of reading aloud even to older children are very convincing.
This was a really fun find last week. Levi and DJ both enjoy it. The word choices and rhyming are so captivating.
This book sat on our shelves for quite awhile. I had forgotten about it. It holds the attention of Levi quite well. The illustrations are unique and extremely simple, but there's something about them that even I like...a lot! We've really enjoyed this Bible story book!Any good book finds recently?

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Some friends nearby had a garage sale and offered to let me sell some homemade bread. It was a lot of fun for some reason. I've always wanted to have a home business of some kind..especially having to do with food (although I'm not sure how profitable and time efficient it would be). I've thought about having a bridal veil business too. It's fun to dream and I think it'd be a great way to have children involved in learning about profit and cost, saving and giving, etc.


I don't want to get too attached to "things" in this life!! But I think there's a place for enjoying the beauty around us and giving God thanks for creativity, color, and variety. Here's our fire pit that Kent designed this summer. We've enjoyed it on several evenings...with friends...and marshmallows! Some simple scrapbooking pages from this week

The plate I found in Stillwater on our anniversary

My (almost) blue hydrangea!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

They were little...

Porch Dinner

I love an excuse to use my blue and white dishes that I've picked up here and there...garage sales, thrift stores, and antique shops. This was dad and mom's last night with us...after a wonderful visit. My blue hydrangea plant has bloomed beautifully this summer...with pink hydrangeas!
I love this garage sale find.

Malia took this picture. I think she liked the looks of the individual salads. That's not how we do salad usually!

A Barnyard Wedding

We were invited to a wedding and it took place in a beautiful grassy yard right by a white farmhouse and freshly painted red barn. So much fun! The reception was in the barn.
And here Kent and I are in the receiving line.


The favorite part of the wedding for the kids!

4 Years...and we celebrated!

It was time to celebrate. It was June, afterall, and our anniversary was in April. G'pa Wayne and G'ma Betty fed the children, cuddled them, and sang to them, and Kent and I made our way back to Stillwater...again. We like it. It's quaint and old and charming.
I found myself booking a room at this historic inn.

And I learned how profitable it can be to ask about last-minute booking deals!

Kent watched our stow-away baby (Kade came with us) and wandered the store while I did a little bit of shopping. I added another blue-and-white piece to my collection (we've done that on each anniversary).

Our room looked out on the St. Croix and even had a little balcony. (I also learned it pays to ask about switching rooms upon arriving. The guy gave me their best room for the same price as the room I had booked which had no view!)

The room happened to be named after the man who originally built the house we stayed in last year for our anniversary. Pretty cool!

Above the bed...a Norman Rockwell, one of my favorite artists! This piece shows the seasons of a girl's life.

We had seafood for dinner...and ended with this!
What flavors do you think we picked?

Mine was Maple Nut and Kent's was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Only...his had some mint on it from the previous scoop (and he can't stand mint), so I got to clean it up a bit for him. Yeah for me! I wonder who's looking on longingly. And no, I don't feed ice cream to my 8 month old. He has to wait! :)

So happy to be married to this man!
Now on a more serious note. I'm learning from marriage...
To appreciate the differences in one another
To not TELL ALL. He doesn't have to hear about every single thing. :)
To make every outing together fun...even if it has to be a "diaper date."
That what makes him happy can make me happy too
That I need to be more verbally encouraging
To leave the mess...and go for a walk or out for coffee
That it's fun to beat him in a game
That I need to put others first
To think before I speak (Kent is good at this)
That God must be first...only then can marriage journey towards what God planned in the first place.