Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Five Months!

I can't believe that Piper is five months old already! It sounds so cliche but the time really has flown by. She is still my chunky monkey and her hair is coming in thicker---looks like it will definitely be dark! And her eye color is changing. This is a first for me because all of my other children have the blue eyes they were born with. Piper's eyes are looking hazel or brown; I can't wait to find out! She doesn't want to lay down hardly at all but prefers sitting up and checking out everything. Her favorite activity is chewing on her mama's fingers although she really loves her taggie blanket, too. Piper is grabbing for everything within her reach and has rolled over once. I know it won't be long before she's on the move!

I like to think she's a mama's girl but the truth is she adores her entire family. She pretty much dives for her daddy when he gets near and lights up when Keeleigh talks to her. Jathan and Ryland are becoming experts at entertaining her, too. I think she's going to be our little darling!

In the footsteps of Lewis and Clark

Last week we started a new unit study as part of our KONOS curriculum. We are learning about frontiersmen, specifically Lewis and Clark first of all. We've barely gotten our feet wet but it's already been so much fun following in the footsteps of these famous explorers.

We are reading through several books one of which I really love; it's entitled The Men of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and is "a detailed biographical roster and a composite diary of the expedition that highlights the roles and actions of the expedition's members." It's so interesting reading the story from the viewpoint of the people who were there!

One of the first activities that Keeleigh completed was making moccasins. Turns out that even with a pre-cut kit that moccasin making is a little tough! 

Keeleigh figured it out, though, and pretty soon...

she had some comfy new shoes.

Later that week Keeleigh got to try the moccasins out on a little expedition of our own. Since we'd been reading others journals, we decided to get outdoors and journal about the things we saw in much the same way that Lewis and Clark did.

We went to Barataria Preserve--a place we've been to several times--but we were still walking incredibly slowly down the trails trying to take in as much as possible. I can't imagine what it would have been like for frontiersmen, how slowly they might have wanted to go in order to study all the new plants and animals they were coming upon!

I doubt that Lewis and Clark saw any of these (PLASTIC!) leaves, however!

We walked and examined and talked foot by foot.

It was great fun!

And, yes, we got to see an alligator--really close up! It swam right up to us so we suspect that people might have been feeding it.

Even Piper enjoyed her time out of doors especially since she had entertainment at every stop.

I totally love learning as a family! 

The next day we took some of the leaves we'd found and did leaf rubbings to include in our journal.

Keeleigh brought a little fall color to New Orleans!

The next project that we started working on was a sort of topographical map made out of clay. When the clay hardens completely, Keeleigh is going to paint it. Then we're going to use it to trace Lewis and Clark's journey across the U.S.

Yesterday Keeleigh made a "possible" bag similar to one that frontiersmen would carry survival tools in. Of course, theirs would have been made from buckskin and ours was made from synthetic fabric from Hobby Lobby but, you know, they're pretty similar. = )

And seeing as how we just made up the pattern, I thought Keeleigh did a great job of putting it all together for herself!

Much like our walk through Barataria, we're going to make our way through this great unit slowly!

Friday, October 21, 2011

When I Grow Up...

I've honestly wanted to be a million things "when I grow up." I remember wanting to be an obstetrician before I could even spell the word because I loved babies and was intrigued by the miracle of birth. When I was little I would often "adopt" babies of every color (one of my favorites was Susan, an Asian baby with beautiful black hair) and play school with them. I made worksheets for them and read them books at their school--my playhouse in the backyard. My brother and I also turned the playhouse into a restaurant from time to time with crayon menus and grass salads; I've always envisioned how much fun it would be to have an Italian restaurant! At one point I thought it would be great to be a lawyer--not sure why but I think it had something to do with my belief that lawyers make big bucks!

In high school economics we had to plan a business and I chose to open a girl's clothing store called Sugar and Spice. One side would be the "sugar" side--decorated sweetly in frilly, girly designs and house clothing of the same style. The other side would be the "spice" side with wilder, bolder decor and clothing. I can still see the whole thing in my head. It would be awesome.

I also developed a love for writing in high school and even was voted Most Talented for it--probably a result of my bid for votes rather than the widespread idea that I was truly that talented. = P I did truly love it though. I joined the staff of our school newspaper and was so happy the semester that I served as editor. One of my close friends and I dreamt of moving to the big city (Manhattan!) and starting a magazine. I still believe that if I could do anything in the world, I'd be a journalist.

My life didn't seem conducive to moving away, seeking a degree, and becoming a big time writer, however. Keeleigh was two years old when I graduated high school and I was in love with a musician who was headed to Nashville. I was absolutely convinced that we were going to get married so I researched what the highest paying, shortest degree program job was. That's how I decided I was going to be a paralegal. Was I crazy? Yes! Did God use it in a way I never imagined? Yes! It turned out that guy that I was head over heels for wasn't "the one." We broke up before we'd even been out of high school a full year. But I was already in the paralegal program and ended up doing an internship at the District Attorney's office then a job at a local attorney's office. It was through the people that I met there that I got involved in church and met Jackie (whom I'd lived 5 minutes from my entire life without ever meeting!). There's more to that story that I'd love to do another post on sometime but for now, back to my career aspirations.

After Jackie and I married, he worked on finishing his bachelor's at Tennessee Temple so I worked and Keeleigh went to school. After he finished there, we knew that God was calling us to New Orleans and I have been very blessed to be able to be a stay-at-home mom and home-school our kids. In a way I've become everything I ever wanted to be. After four babies I found out a lot about obstetrics, I'm still making worksheets and reading to my little ones, I can bake a great pizza, and advocate for the things I believe in every day. I've learned to knit and crochet and am learning to sew clothes; crafts are my number one favorite thing EVER! As for writing, well, I've got this blog (And ideas. Lots and lots of ideas.). Maybe not many people read it but it's a great outlet for me and there have been a few people tell me they enjoy it. I never did (and probably won't ever) make big bucks but I love that my life is so full of diverse activities and that I'm learning to just go for it when there's something new I want to try. How many people get to say that they have everything they've ever wanted?

That leads to me to the next big idea I've had. Earlier this week we visited a sort of dude ranch geared towards kids. They had a corn maze, a petting zoo, and other great activities. They lived and worked on an absolutely gorgeous piece of land. Cattle, horses, and other animals grazed on acres of green pastures. Chickens ran free, the sound of laughter and the sweet smell of hay straw was never far off, and big ponds reflected blue skies. Something inside me sighed. I could totally do this, I thought. Jackie wasn't quite as enthralled with the idea as I was and I'm not sure that we'll have anything as large-scale as the place that we visited but I definitely see a goat in our future. = )

Wide open spaces! That's what I'm longing for right now!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Iron Mommy

Back when we had satellite TV, Jackie and I used to enjoy watching Iron Chef (and anything else on the Food Network!). Today as I cooked supper I couldn't help but think, they ain't got NOTHING on me. Why? Do you seriously think Morimoto could cook with a baby wailing in the background, a toddler at his feet pulling all the spare pots and pans from the cabinet, and a preschooler saying, "Can I help you?" over and over. Even if he could, would the whole family (even the picky preteen) eat what he cooked? I think not.

Consider this a challenge Morimoto. And if you're reading this Bobby Flay, I'm up for a throw down.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We Went Out Walking (Slightly Before Midnight)

At dinner tonight Jathan asked no fewer than 100 times if we could take a walk. So as soon as we finished up, I buckled Piper into the stroller and we set off, leaving Ryland behind getting a bath from Daddy. (Keeleigh had gone to church with a friend.) It was dark already and Jathan loved it. "Which way do you want to go?" I asked him.

"That way!" he decided.

We walked down the street towards the back of campus. All of a sudden he did something new..."Look at me, Mama, I'm a horse!" Jathan said, galloping. It was so cute! I wasn't sure if they'd taught him that at PE or if he'd just picked it up on his own but for some reason at that moment, I was one proud mommy as if calculus comes right after acquiring the ability to gallop or something. = )

We meandered slowly, as four-year old's often do, taking note of the stars. "How many stars do you think are out in space, Jathan?"

"I don't know. How many SPACESHIPS do you think are out there?" 'Cause, you know, thinking about aliens is so much cooler than regular ole' stars.

And of course he had to stop and examine each and every tree for "treasures." He found two good pine cones, one baby and one mama (we learned how to ID the "male" and "female" cones last year). He found some cool mushrooms growing around a tree. One tree that we stopped at had a ton of sea shells around it.

We waved at friends and random joggers. We imagined what the train whistle was saying--"Looooook out! Coooooming throoooooough!"

When we got to the corner where we'd ordinarily turn to go back home, Jathan said, "Let's go that way," pointing straight ahead. So we did. In that direction were cypress nuts and acorns and then, discovery of all discoveries--a lizard. It was tiny and brown and I don't even know how he spotted it but he really wanted to catch it and take it home. "I don't have a pet, Mama!" So he made a grab for it and got it. Well, he got it's tail anyway. The rest of the lizard ran away leaving the tiny little tail still wriggling in between his fingers! Then we talked about why it wouldn't be a great idea to take the tail home (because body parts tend to stink after a while) which reinforced what we'd been studying about our senses (that God gave us a sense of smell in part to warn us of potential danger--detached body parts stink!).

Then we rounded the corner and headed down the sidewalk to home. I almost didn't want to go because I was having such a good time and Piper had drifted off to dreamland in the stroller. What's better than a stroll under the stars--a gentle breeze blowing--with a sweetly curious little boy? I love him so much that sometimes I have to just stop and blink back the tears. I'm so grateful for the precious time I have with him. He helps me walk a little slower, look in places I'd never think to look, and smile deep down in my soul. Thank You, God, for giving me one of the best titles a woman could hope to get: Mama.

Monday, October 3, 2011

If You Can't Be a Good Example...

There's this saying that I love, and it goes, "If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning." I was thinking about it yesterday sitting in church listening to the sermon. Our pastor has been "sitting down with the patriarchs" (Matthew 8:11) and although Joseph isn't mentioned in that NT verse, he is including him in our studies. Listen to the sermon by clicking here. Or read the notes by clicking here.

One of the things that stands out as you study these patriarchs--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and Joseph) is that they've got troubles! Bro. David went so far as to say that they are messed up. It's true. They were jealous, deceptive liars who allowed their families to be terribly effected by their disobedience to God. By the time we get to Joseph in the story, the tale is riddled with the tender pain of jealousy along with outright hatred; Joseph's brothers are murderous. They didn't get there by themselves; they had their reasons and in the end Joseph gets to say, "God meant it for good." But why, why, why do these "godly" people act this way? Why did God choose to include story after story of blatant failure in the Bible?

I've heard more than one atheist/agnostic throw up the fact that the men and women of the Bible did this or that and ask how we (Christians) can call them sinners. I can see their point.

Lately, Keeleigh and I have been working our way through the character trait "Attentiveness" in our KONOS studies. We've learned how the ears and eyes function and KONOS also gives us a spiritual connection by directing us to specific Bible verses and Biblical accounts such as the one we read today--Saul's conversion. I've been fascinated by the way our eyes see and God has highlighted verse after verse for me about eyes, seeing, light, and blindness. I've been reading through the book of John and it's been one of those times when it's something that you've read or heard many times before but it just seems to take on a whole new meaning all of a sudden. Last night I read chapter 9 about Jesus healing a man born blind and verse 39 jumped off the page at me. It says, "Jesus said, 'For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind." Verses 40 and 41 continue, "Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, 'Are we also blind?' Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but not that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains.'"

I fear more of us claim we see though we're blind than we even know.

So I'm trying to process all this and I know I don't want to be like the Pharisees who missed the whole point altogether. I don't really particularly want to be like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all that much either because, c'mon, who wants to be messed up?! But you know what? I am. I am not perfect; I've made lots of mistakes and probably have a lot more to make. My family is not perfect; sometimes we do things that hurt each other. But I see that God recorded these Old Testament to serve as the horrible warning that we can never measure up. We'll never be good much less good enough. The purpose of the Law was to point that out.

Thank You, God, that You didn't leave it at that! We do have a good example to follow: Jesus. And more than anything that's Who I want to look to, to never shift my gaze from. I want to be a REAL Christian. I want to embody true love and servant-hood. I don't want to get so hung up on myself that all I can do is pick at everyone else's specks (Matthew 7:1-5) which I'm so prone to doing. I want to open my eyes and let all the Light in.

"...'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sleepyheads in my Bed

I love it when we get the opportunity to all wake up slowly on a Saturday morning. One by one little smiling faces still rubbing sleepy eyes find their way to my bed. Sometimes we curl up together and doze back off. Sometimes we talk about the last night's dreams. Sometimes we just tickle and giggle. Always I wish I could remember forever the way these little warm bodies feel, the way their little fingers curl around mine, and the way their smiles light up the morning.

Last night Piper slept well after a couple of rough nights and I was so, so thankful! It was the first night I'd put "winter" pajamas on her. I left her un-swaddled for the first time and it was adorable the way she threw her arms up over her head in her sleep.

Piper woke up first this morning. Then Jathan crept in. "Can I hold her?" he asked. I could not resist grabbing the camera! He shared his toy with her. Yes, when you have brothers sometimes you teethe on Destroyers!

"She can slobber on my toys. I really don't mind," he said very matter-of-factly.

Now, Jathan knew how to say, "Cheese," before he could say much at all. He's a great poser but he also enjoys a silly shot!

As much as Piper enjoyed slobbering on Destroyer, I think she prefers her doll, Tallulah, more!

Mama is her favorite playmate, though!

Ryland, my biggest sleepyhead, finally decided to join us after 9 a.m.!

Keeleigh had spent the night with a friend or I'm sure she'd been right there with them all! Maybe next time I can get a shot of everyone!