Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Learning Chain

Savannah wants to make bird feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter, and bird seed.
We go on a pine cone hunt. We discuss which parks might have good pine cones.
Pine trees are dying due to bugs. She starts to problem solve about how to fix this....Send them to Mexico? Put spiders in all the trees so we can get rid of the bugs?
We spot a brown (dead) pine tree on the way to the park. "I thought pine trees were evergreens".
"They are, only when they are alive."
Not all evergreens are pine trees. Not all evergreens are dying.
Pine trees have needles and pine cones.
At last, a bag of pine cones for the bird feeders. Our quest is over, but much more was accomplished.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


She looks like my mother-in-law,
Understands math better when she's in character.... using accents,
is in the Middle,
is a Most enthusiastic chef,
Entertains effortlessly,
Radiates with charm.

After all, she is my child. All of them are my their own special way. She is no exception.

Happy Birthday, my love.

Friday, August 26, 2011


From "Primary Language Lessons" by Emma Serl:

If I Knew

If I knew a box where the smiles are kept,
No matter how large the key
Or strong the bolt, I would try so hard
'Twould open, I know, for me;
Then over the land and sea broadcast,
I'd scatter the smiles to play,
That the children's faces might hold them fast
For many and many a day.

If I knew a box that was large enough
To hold all the frowns I meet,
I would like to gather them every one,
From nursery, school, and street;
Then folding and holding, I'd pack them in,
And turning the monster key,
I'd hire a giant to drop the box
To the depths of the deep, deep sea.

-Maud Wyman

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I believe, is a lost art. I work in the "service" world and quite frankly, the people I've watched suck at it. How do you TEACH adults to serve? It's darn hard, almost impossible, when all we think of is ourselves.

Some people have a gift, like my niece. She has in mind every one's favorite foods, colors, TV shows, songs, birthdays, and anniversaries and gets a thrill out of doing something to make those she loves smile. I hope she never loses this.

I have to be reminded that my inconvenience is not really that big of a deal. I can work five minutes longer to clean off a table, or put on a smile to make someone more comfortable, or just "forget" to complain about some one's lack of graces.

And, (my conviction) if I'm a serving mama, my kids will more likely pick it up too. If I'm a lazy self seeking mama.... lazy kids (unless you are really good at "making" your kids do something they don't want to and then when they don't have you looking over their shoulder...lazy kids.)  I believe that the character we teach our children is more valuable than the information we teach them. I'm NOT there yet, but I do believe serving is a worthy goal for any family to have.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nature Day


Every permitting.

Plenty of bugs..dragonflies, water bugs, spiders, butterflies...

Savannah spotted a gorgeous orb weaver spider web and examined it very carefully.

Photo op! Brooke by a brook.

There's so much to learn from a single tree...

Throwing sticks in the water...
Bowling with walnuts...
Collecting acorns....

Leaves and sticks washed up. I love the sound of running water.

Beautiful scenery. Too bad they were fighting...

Later, we found a frog, dragonflies, honeybees, and had to break for deer.

I love nature day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Greatest Joy

Disclaimer: In writing this, I am NOT saying my children are perfect, always do the right thing, or never make me want to pull my hair out. But there are times they make my heart grow too big for my chest because there is evidence of walking in truth...

3 John 1:4 says: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

This afternoon Brooke came in and showed me an ouchie, declaring she can't play because she was so hurt. My two year old son, Max, looked at it and said, "Band-aid?"

"Max, go get one of your band-aids for Brooke", I said.

He ran down the hall as fast as his little legs could carry him. A few seconds later, he was back with a Hot Wheels Band-Aid, happy to share.

"You OK, Brooke?" He asked her as he watched her put it on. Of course, she was able to play once again.



I asked the girls to clean up the basement before they played outside. A few minutes later one came up, declaring it was done. A few minutes more and another said that it looked pretty good.

Several minutes later, Savannah comes up and says, "I think it's done now. The other two left me but I kept on cleaning. I'm trying to be a meek child."

We had just discussed meekness the week before.



Lately, we have had to tell the children we can't do everything they want because of our variable income. They are well aware that we are watching what we spend money on, but they know there is nothing to worry about.

Summer has lost 2 teeth recently so she is proudly carrying around two dollar bills, waiting for the perfect time to spend them. Today I asked her to go to the store with me to pick up a few things.

As we arrive at the store she asks, "Do you want my money now or do you want me to pay for it later?" It was then I realized that she thought I had asked her to come along so she would pay for my items. She would have given me her money with no regrets.


Daddy has been taking the girls out on dates this week. Brooke is aware that her turn is next. Sook and I were sitting on the couch with Max when Brookie comes up, gives Max a hug, and says, "Daddy, when you take me on a date I want Max to come along too. He needs to have a date too! I want to share my date with Max."


In my study group today, we were reminded that training our children is our job... it's not their job to make it easy for us. And it definitely is not easy. However, I believe the effort made now will produce more and more joys for my lifetime!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


We have enjoyed our "pops" this summer. Savannah was the first to make them after reading about them in a magazine.

1. Make juice. (Or just buy it already made) Any juice you want to try will do, but apple juice or lemonade won't stain clothes.

2. Pour juice in ice cube trays. Use a smaller container with a pour spout for less mess.

3. Freeze solid. This may take several hours (patience :)

4.When you are ready to eat, set out for a few minutes, poke with a toothpick or short bamboo skewer.

5. Eat!

We don't typically drink juice at meals and each of these are fairly small, so we can have a few of these a day and won't over-eat them! If you use a juice with "no sugar added" you can limit sugar intake.

This is a great example of two different properties of water: liquid and solid. You can ask the children, "Do you like your juice as a liquid or a solid?"

The Popsicle was an accidental invention of an 11 year old boy, Frank Epperson. It's original name was "epsicle". Mr. Epperson's children re-named it to "Popsicle", after their "pop". You can read more of this story here.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Our cirriculum gave me the task of writing a letter to each of my children about their names. I thought about that for a while... My pastor growing up at Ebenfeld is so creative and makes baby dedications very special by researching name meanings and giving a bible verse based on the names. Ellie was dedicated at this church and still loves to read the print out given to her at her dedication.

I did some searches online but my children's name meanings are fairly straightforward- Savannah, Summer, Brooke...I love nature. I saw one person asked about a christian meaning of Savannah and the responses were sarcastic- "It's not a biblical name! Purely geographical." I wasn't satisfied. So I thought looking at this from a different angle? What is a savanna? What is summer? What is a brook? What to they provide? Why are they necessary? What drew me to these names?

This is what I came up with:

Dear Savannah,

      You are a blessing to us! You sere a very tiny baby when you were born. The nurse at the hospital said you had a very big name for such a tiny baby!
      Before you were born, we had to decide on a name. I have always liked Anna, which is the name of your great-great grandmother. Your daddy's name is Souksavay. I thought that I would take the first part of Savay and Anna which makes Savannah. Savannah in Laos means "rice field". Savan means "heaven".
     Your daddy chose Davone as your middle name because he thought Savannah Davone sounded like a movie star's name. Davone is a beautiful name that is common in Laos.
     As you know, a savanna is a treeless plain, which is a home for many animals. The savanna has grass for food and shelter, and large spaces for the cheetah to run fast. (Cheetahs are Savannah's favorite animal) You also can provide many good things to people and you don't need to worry. God will always help you! I can't wait to see how you will bless other people!

Matthew 6:25-34

Dear Summer,

     The day you were born, my friends Karlye and Michelle were with me in the operating room. They were great friends and helped me so much that day. After you were delivered, they went with the nurse to clean you up. the nurse asked what your name was and Michelle said "Hannah".
     But that wasn't your name!! Your name is Summer. I named you that because I thought it was a fun name and I had a hunch you would be fun... and I was right!
     Daddy chose your middle name to be Maleena, which is a beautiful name from Laos.
     Summertime is warm and sunny, and it is a time to play, swim, catch fireflies, als watch the flowers bloom. You can also be warm and loving to other people, making their day happier. God gives you the love and joy to make you happy, and even gives you enough to give to others as well! You are a blessing to us and we love you so much!

Galations 5:22-26

Dear Brooke,

      Before you were born, I dreamed of having a little girl named Brooke. A few minutes after you were born, I knew how special you were becasue yo quietly turned your head around, listening to the voices in the room. I could tell you were wanting to know what people were saying.
      Your heart is so tender and special because you care about other people. You ask great questions and are fun to talk to.
     Daddy named you Alysone becuse it is a Lao name but also an American name.
     Brooke means "sophisticated" and also a stream of running water. Animals love to be near a stream becuse it is cool and refreshing. Plants need water, so they love to be near a brook as well. People love to sit by a brook because it makes a lovely, calming sound. Your giving, helping, and beautiful sounds of talking and singing blesses people around you. We love you so much!

Psalm 150

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I have this theory....

If we enjoy God's blessings, not taking them for granted, He is blessed. When this happens, He is excited for the fact that we are excited about what He has given us. Then He shows us more of what is ours- joy, creation, mercy, grace, and so much more. It's like He says, "Do you like this? Well, let me show you this as well.."

It has occurred to me recently that I am blessing God by slowing down once and a while, sitting back, and basking in His gifts to us. It refreshes me immensely and gets me through the next challenge, but it also blesses God and opens the door for so much more.

Just this week my blessings are overflowing.

A boat ride on the Marion Reservoir at sunset...breathtaking.

Driving home with the windows open on a COOL summer's night. Lightening flashing inside the clouds far ahead while reflecting the brilliant colors of the sunset.

TWO zoo trips.



Observing a garter snake in the yard that had just had lunch with a huge bulge in it's long body.

My Brookie hard at work arranging flowers for me.

An injured moth the kids found and cared for.

A perfect evening in the friends and a picturesque sky. I do not believe these things were accidental. Thank you, God for showing me your blessings! Please continue to show me the wonders of your creation and the joys of your love!

Friday, August 5, 2011


So it's hot outside and money is tight. I'm running out of ideas and can't keep up with the housework and entertain our two extra guests.

Did I mention we don't own a TV? I remember the day my 13" TV blanked out when everything went HD and without the converter box we were left in the digital dust. No regrets. Not that owning a TV is bad! We simply didn't need the temptation and I couldn't figure out a way to position my furniture with a TV in the living room.

I went to get my tire fixed a few days ago and was forced to watch the designated channel on the television for an hour and a half. eh. It kept me entertained but I was wishing I had brought a good book instead.

I have met more than one school aged child that didn't even know how to put a puzzle together. That makes my blood boil- not towards the child but that our lives in general have come to this. So then I love TV even less. Especially the mindless cartoons that actually make the kids stupider, like the one that has a male "cow" with utters.

Boredom is not a bad thing! It is an opportunity to be creative. It opens the world to make believe and problem solving. It challenges the mind to explore new possibilities. Children should be bored from time to time.

Tonight I walked in on Savannah cracking up to her 101 Dalmatians book.
Two nights ago we took turns reading Shel Silverstien poems.
I have, more than once, caught Brooke playing make believe with her crayons, "Pinkie", "Orangeish", and "Greenest". Or anything else she can form a storyline with.
Monopoly, Checkers, Rumikub, and Solitaire are actually played.
Hundreds of masterpieces have graced my refrigerator.
Dozens of stories have been written.
Inventions are created.
Energy is expended, coordination is developed.
Puzzles have been conquered.
Memories are made.

Take heart. You can function without the latest technology or money to spare. They will amaze you.

Brookie was making "houses" all week by taking a stool, turning it on it's side, placing a blanket on top and a pillow underneath. She made one for all the small children, but told me she could not make one big enough for me.

Today, they put their heads together (with the help of my 12 year old niece) and made a 4 room house under the dining table:

It was fun. And they cleaned it up before supper!

Maybe, when they are older, we will go ahead and buy a new TV. Or maybe we will be so used to not having one we won't have the desire to.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh, Summertime

 Next week starts school. Thank you, summertime, for the memories. I coulda lived without your ridiculous heat.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Everyday Beauty

My house would be beautiful if we never did anything. But we do, all the time. It's messy somewhere, all the time.

It's too hot to work on my yard and to enjoy it. Everything is dried up. Except for the weeds.

At a glance, it's a wreck here. But sometimes it's the little things that can brighten up my day.