Monday, March 28, 2011

Opera and Beauty

Kevin recently bought tickets for us to see an adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen, called The Tragedy of Carmen. He was originally under the impression that it was the full version of Carmen and was therefore disappointed a little bit. I was also not originally sure about it all because of the cost of the tickets! I knew Kevin, who is really musical, would love it and I would love a night out, so I went along with it.

After the opera began, I was instantly swept away into the beauty and emotion of it all. The music, the voices, the acting—it was all so captivating. I can’t believe I ever balked at the cost of the tickets. It was definitely an experience worth every cent.

It made me further contemplate the importance of art and beauty in the human life. It is incredibly refreshing to get completely lost in something beautiful now and then. I need art and music in my life.

In their free time ...

Here is Clara's caterpillar, which I thought was the cutest ever!

Meredith drew a happy birthday card for my grandpa's 90th and I thought it looked remarkably like him!

Meredith also drew this cute little book about a rabbit. Here is what it says, in case you can't read five-year-old spelling: "The rabbit was hopping a long time, for hours and hours until he came to a garden with vegetables and fruit. 200 fruits. A lot of it. The End"

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Yogurt Experiments

I've been using the yogurt maker I got for my birthday. Here are strawberry, plain, and coffee flavored yogurt. Easy! Yum!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Pure Pleasure

I just finished reading Pure Pleasure: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad About Feeling Good? and it was a book that truly made me delight more in God and worship him.

The premise of the book is that we honor God when we take delight in the blessings he has given us. God is akin to an earthly father who enjoys seeing his children take pleasure in the gifts he has given. When we truly delight in God and “build lives of true, lasting pleasure” we “fortify ourselves against evil because evil has lost much of its allure.”

The author, Gary Thomas, challenges us that, if we are not reserving time each week for restorative pleasure, then we are likely running on deprivation and are susceptible to any number of spiritual ills. “One of the ways we can fight sin is to build restorative pleasure.”

“Here’s the great irony: Most people outside the church (and some inside it) think of holiness and pleasure as opposites. They see holiness as the main threat to their pleasure. What a lie! Holiness is pleasure’s truest friend.”

This book has impacted the way I want to parent my children. I want my children to see the connection between godliness and enjoying life. My relationship with Christ is the reason WHY my life is so full and joyful. I see all the blessings in my life as coming directly from his hand. It is easy to equate Christianity with duty and obligation, and think of the world as the source of “pleasure.” Is this why so many young Christian adults leave the church? The world has nothing to offer compared to Christ. What would happen if more Christian young people saw their parents living out the principles in this book?

Thomas also talks about being a servant of other people’s pleasure, and experiencing pleasure together as a family. I was convicted when I read about his regrets over not taking more time for family pleasures: “We can make frugality a god when we sacrifice family at its altar. In one sense, I had put principles over people. I doubt my choice pleased God.”

I also really appreciated this statement, concerning truly enjoying your “sinful” family: “Here’s the stark reality: If you can’t love, celebrate, and enjoy raising a sinful kid, then you can’t love, celebrate, and enjoy any child. If you can’t love and play with a sinful spouse, then you’ll never be able to take pleasure in any spouse, for the simple reason that you can’t find any sinless kids or spouses.” How often do we get caught up in discipline issues, or the fact that our spouse isn’t doing what we think he should, and this robs us of all joy in our family?

Thomas also balances out his message by encouraging a life of service and stating that we should live in pleasure and not for pleasure. I also appreciated his remarks that we should accept and embrace what our Heavenly Father gives us, even if it is a cross to bear.

The author also insightfully pointed out how we often look down on other people’s particular pleasures, while blindly and unwaveringly adhering to our own particular pleasures, and had some funny anecdotes to share.

Thomas rebutted the argument of people who say, “Shouldn’t Christ be enough? You don’t need ‘things’ if you have Jesus.” When Adam was in the garden, he was lonely. Instead of berating Adam for not finding a relationship with God to be sufficient for meeting all his needs, God gave him Eve. Obviously God is the highest source of our pleasure, but he also gives us good gifts to enjoy here on earth and we all have a need for pleasure in this life.

Throughout this book, I kept thinking, “Thank you God that you love me and you delight in me and that you give me good things to enjoy.” My faith was strengthened.

Shamrock Shakes!

To some people, it's just March 17. To other people (me), it's a great way to have a little fun and focus on something other than the March blahs! We always love meeting Kevin for lunch and walking along the canal, which they dye green. We also always play a "hide the shamrock" game, where the kids take turns finding the hidden shamrock. It keeps them entertained all day!

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Sophia--the emerging toddler!

Here are some pictures of my little Sophia, who is getting feistier and more determined every day. Why did God give me so many assertive females? Did he really think I was up for this job?!

She had been taking 2-3 steps here and there but started walking as her primary method of transportation on St. Patrick's Day. Overnight, she became a toddler! She is constantly walking around like a drunken sailor seeking something new to explore.

Let me tell you what is NOT a great combination. A toddler who loves to play in the toilet and older children who are always forgetting to close the toilet lid AND also forgetting to FLUSH the toilet!!!! I cannot tell you how many times a day I hear a spish-splash sound emanating from the bathroom, only to find Sophia playing to her heart's content!

Sophia is always saying "yeah" whenever we ask her a question. We have a lot of fun with this. "Sophia, are you the emperor of Japan?" She replies: "Yeah."

She loves getting her shoes on and going for rides in the car. She loves to camp out on the first step of the stairs (her absolute favorite place in the whole house, as you can see in the latter photos)! She also still really loves all stuffed animals. They make her smile. Her favorite thing to do is try to copy her big sisters and keep up with them. She thinks she is EQUAL to them. Her hair is getting thicker and curlier/frizzier every day.

How we love her!









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Kids at Play

We do a lot of playing at our house ...




And this isn't the kind of play we usually encourage indoors, but I thought it was cute that Meredith was trying to teach Clara how to play soccer, and was acting as her coach.


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Valentines 2011

I have been a lazy woman, not blogging these yearly highlights in a timely fashion. ;-) But I couldn't miss this year's Valentine's Day. It felt like Christmas because (as you can see in the last picture), Meredith (and Clara) made like 1,000 cards with personalized messages and illustrations for each member of the family. It was crazy fun! We spent like 30 minutes on Valentine's Day evening opening all these cards. My cheeks hurt from smiling. I love my children so much. They bring so much laughter and amusement into our home.




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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sorting Clothes

Here are my silly children. They added a little humor to my least favorite job!


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An Orange Bookshelf

An Orange Bookshelf sitting in our basement has been a constant reminder of my own failure for about a year now. After I found it sitting next to someone’s trash and brought it home, Kevin, my very proper and dignified husband, said, “Oh no! My wife is a dumpster diver!”

The reason I have felt like such a failure is that I had planned to paint the blasted thing white and convert it into a lovely and utilitarian piece of furniture for the girls’ bedroom and had seriously not found the spare time to do so, for over a year. Keeping up with trying to feed and clothe my family, homeschool Meredith, and nurture and discipline three small souls has been the extent of what I could handle for a long while now. After typing that, it sounds like a lot and I guess I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself. I wish I wasn’t so performance-oriented. It has been hard on me, not to feel like I can ever accomplish extra things. It has been difficult to remind myself that this is just a season.

It was with great triumph that I recently painted the last coat of paint on that bookshelf and there is no longer a pile of children’s books sitting on the floor of Meredith and Clara’s room.

That bookshelf is a symbol to me of a slow but sure transformation in the life of my mommyhood. Things do eventually get better. Things are busy, but not so desperate these days. My brain no longer feels like it is in a constant fog. Meredith has become truly helpful. Clara is no longer at the all-consuming peak of toddlerhood.

My prayer is that I will never forget how hard these past several years have been. Right now I pray for all the women who are currently going through it too. I write these words so that, someday a long time from now when the memory starts to fade, I won’t forget how truly hard it is to have three kids under the age of five!


Yesterday was one of those days when I couldn’t help but feel happy. I really enjoyed my children yesterday. I have found that I enjoy my children the most when I set aside at least two full days a week to NOT go anywhere. I need to intentionally create space in my life and schedule in order to stop and enjoy small, precious moments with my girls.

Meredith is currently reading American Girl magazines and yesterday we took a survey, “How Well Do You Know Your Parent/Child?” One of the questions was, “What is the favorite part of your day?” I can honestly say that, other than seeing Kevin walk through the door, the best part of my day is cuddling on the couch and reading to my kids. If we are too busy to spend at least an hour reading out loud, I hate it. This must be one of the reasons I love homeschooling!

It was one of those days where I gave the girls baths, cuddled with them, played with them, and read out loud to them a lot. It was a very, very good day.

I am a very happy and content woman.