Sunday, March 31, 2013

See What A Morning!

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
And they remembered his words,
And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

Previous Resurrection Sunday posts:
Arise, My Love
My Redeemer Lives (with I've Just Seen Jesus)
Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weekend Links - March 30, 2013

This is another week I'm glad to see go. I wonder how often I'm going to say that in the near future? I'm guessing that once Baby Boy comes (six weeks to go!), I'd be happy for time to slow down. (And then it will probably speed up. Time is a contrary creature.)

On to the links!

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Homeschooling / Education
Homekeeping / Personal
  • I thought this was a fun concept: Ugly Vintage Pattern Party. Some talented seamstresses took some decidedly dated patterns and made some fabulous clothes. My barely existent sewing skills are in awe of these folks.
  • How to Burn a Lot of Calories Without Exercising. Turns out my exercise plan of sleeping a lot, watching almost no TV or movies, and chasing around a toddler is probably not such a bad idea.
  • Breaking, Entering, and Learning by Natalie at Hello Little House. I can tell you: going through something like this is an awful experience. I hope none of you ever need this advice, but it seems like it's sadly more common than we think.
  • Renter's Solutions: My Life Without a Dishwasher from Apartment Therapy.
  • Really appreciated the balance in this one: Is Wheat Making Us All Fat and Unhealthy? from Heavenly Homemakers. Balance, people. Balance is beautiful.
  • Apartment Therapy: Creating Nurseries Out of Closets. Love that first one with the bright butterflies. I so hope I get to create some kind of space for our baby, even a closet would be better than nothing.
Pins of the Week:
Loved this colorful room:


Made me laugh:

That's all for this week.
Wishing you a very joyous day tomorrow. He is Risen! May we all spend some time just reflecting on how amazing and life changing that truth is.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Poor and Disappointed. Or Not.

I love our life. I do. I love the flexibility we have in our schedules. I love that we get to spend so much time together and that Philip doesn't have a job that takes him away from us all the time. I love each of our daughters and the baby on the way. I wouldn't trade anything - ANYTHING - for them.

We are blessed and we know that. God provides for us on what looks like a meager income (my husband is incredibly smart, talented, and creative. It just hasn't translated to money rolling in). We don't lack anything - we never wonder if we'll have food in the fridge, if we can pay the bills, or handle those pesky not-quite emergencies that pop up. (Dishwasher dies! Car needs fixed! Is that a leak? And where, exactly, is that smell coming from and how much to MAKE IT GO AWAY ALREADY?!)

Our life is a fairly peaceful, easy-going, happy one. And then there is another reality of our life: we do not have unlimited money.

I know, you're shocked.

But nothing has been pounding that in to us more than this house selling / wishing to buy a bigger house experience.

To sell our house costs money. We had to pay money to fix it up to be "sell able". The current contract offered (which could still fall through) is less than we owe. We'll have to go to the closing (assuming it happens) with a check to cover the difference. And to cover the closing costs because the buyer can't afford them.

To buy a house will cost money. We're approved for a certain amount. Right now there aren't any places we'd care to live for that amount. I check the listings every day and it's a demoralizing experience.

We looked at a fixer-upper. We don't have the money to pay cash for it and fix it up. Mortgages on fixer-uppers are kind of tricky, when you can get one at all. Then the aforesaid fixer-upper goes off the market before we can finish up the sale of our current house.

We looked at a house that I loved last fall. I loved it. Philip loved it. It had some features that I've dreamed about and only ever told Philip and God that I wanted. Best of all: it was in our price range. When I say it's my dream house, I'm only exaggerating a little bit. Because, while it wasn't perfect, I've already mentally redecorated and moved in to that house. I have had actual dreams about it.

But our house didn't sell last fall and we couldn't put an offer on it then. So an investor bought it.

Our realtor found out that it's going on the market again soon for double what we could pay. Needless to say, we will not be getting that house. It's not even close. Which is, in a way, better. Because if it was just slightly out of range and someone snapped it up that would be seriously annoying. Better to be in a different ballpark altogether.

I feel like a church mouse. I feel trapped. I feel like I am fighting a constant spiritual battle against doubt and discontent and envy. (And have I mentioned the toxic cocktail of fighting those battles along with the usual pregnancy hormones? 'Cause I have those too.)

That is not a great place to be. I do not want to be there. I want to be trusting God and content with the wonderful things He's already given us (and they are many!) and happy for other people who have more, better, nicer, newer, or bigger things than us or for people whose situations work out easily, where everything just comes together without a hiccup.

But I have to admit to you: I'm not there yet.

So, I am disappointed. I am disappointed by experiences we're going through. I am disappointed by my own reaction to those experiences, to the doubt and fear and envy that bubble up so easily and have to be fought back.

I was reading my Bible this morning and trying to refocus on the great things God has done. And it wasn't hard. After all, Resurrection Sunday is just around the corner. And as I prayed and asked forgiveness for my own sinful reactions to my life and the challenges in it, I thought of another group of people who were disappointed on a Friday a long time ago.

See, I don't believe in a Friday crucifixion, or, therefore, "Good Friday". Pastors and teachers in my life have always taught that the timeline works better with a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion. (I won't get into all the reasons for that, but you can read some evidence for Thursday here and for Wednesday here.)

If these teachers are accurate, there was nothing good about that Friday. It was a miserable day. The disciples had lost their leader, their friend, their hope. They were hiding. They were afraid the soldiers would come for them next.

Disappointed? It doesn't get much more disappointing than that. My disappointment is trivial, ridiculous even, in comparison.

Do you realize that the only people who took Jesus's words about rising again seriously were his enemies? They put a Roman guard squad - these are not wimpy, amateur security guard guys we're talking about - at the tomb because they took the prediction seriously. They thought Peter and John and the others might try to steal the body.

As if.

The disciples, the eleven left after Judas killed himself, were disappointed. Ashamed. Afraid. They had dreamed great dreams of what Jesus was going to do - overthrow the Romans, set up His kingdom, and, while He was at it, really put all those self-righteous Pharisee types in their place for good. Then maybe He'd hand out rewards like being His second in command or material blessings that had eluded them in their lives so far.

So, yeah, disappointed is probably a mild way of describing what they must have felt.

But see, they have a better excuse than I do. They were living in the dark days before Sunday morning.

I live after that Sunday morning. I live in the knowledge and assurance of the Resurrected Lord. I live with the humbling, inexpressibly amazing knowledge that He loves me, He has saved me, and in Him I am forgiven, freed from fear of death, freed from the enslaving power of sin, including those sins I've already confessed to you in this post.

So, the earthly issues are real. It still takes money to buy a house (or sell one). Really, it takes money to do pretty much anything. And there are children to raise up. Meanwhile our country seems ever more determined to follow a path of sinful selfishness. I know that I will continue to fight against doubt and discontent and envy at times. I will face challenges, challenges that I hope never quite rise to the level of trials or tribulation, although those may come as well. But that's not the end of my story.

I live after that Sunday morning and before the day when Jesus comes again (or the day when I die and am taken immediately to His presence). And living in that space, as His child, makes all the difference. 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Booking Through Thursday - Rating

Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate kinds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?
 Yes, sort of.

I like the descriptive type of rating system better than the "G, PG, PG-13, R" type. I, as a general rule, do not watch certain types of movies. But my choices usually have less to do with the letter rating and more to do with the content, my own sense of humor, my propensity for vivid bad dreams, and so forth.

Similarly, for our kids, we've never said, "Thou shalt not watch a PG-13 movie until thou reachest the age of 13."

Some of our children might be ready before that for certain movies (I'm not sure if we'll make Polly wait that long to watch Lord of the Rings, for instance) and some PG-13 movies are a colossal waste of viewing time even if you've already reached the magic age of 13.

All that to say, I care more about the content and why something is rated a certain way. Is there graphic violence? Bad language (and what kind)? Intimate scenes? Is it portraying something that is historically accurate but violent?

You see: lots of questions and movie ratings don't always help with those. (And, P.S. so called "kids' movies" are not always the safe bets that parents think. My worst nightmares as a young child came after watching The Wizard of Oz. We weren't going to show it to our girls until they got older. Someone else -without checking with us first- did. That's not really how I would have preferred that to happen. And yes, at least one of my children has inherited my vivid imagination / prone to bad dreams combo. We are very careful about what she / they watch.)

But I do wish kids' books came with some type of content warning. I'd like to know, for example, if the main characters swear, lie to their parents, smoke or do drugs with no consequences, or other things like that. And it's not just kids' books. I sometimes wish that books for adults were a little more clear on what type of content you might encounter inside. Just so I could make a reasoned guess as to whether it would be worth it or how much skimming I might have to do. (Example: my husband ordered a fan written sequel to North and South for me for Christmas. It turned out to be your basic romance novel - complete with heaving bosoms and what not - just with the characters I love inserted. I couldn't even read the whole thing so I sent it back. This has happened with Austen fan sequels as well. Some are fantastic and some are written by people just trying to make a buck off Jane's name.)

Now that Polly & Tigger are older and reading voraciously on their own, I rely on reviews I've read online and books I've read myself (or that my husband has read). They are not allowed to check out books that I know nothing about. They don't necessarily like this rule. If there's something they really want to read and I know nothing about it, they can ask me to check it out and pre-read it for them. I'm a quick reader and this would not be a major hardship. Neither one has availed herself of this option yet.

I do ask them questions about what they're reading. Everyone in this family loves books and reading (even the two who can't read independently yet) so books, plots, characters, and writing styles are common topic of conversation around here.

My other problem with a rating system would be: who, exactly, is doing the rating? 'Cause that would matter.

What about you? Have you ever wished for a book rating system?
This post is linked to Booking Through Thursday.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homeschool Science: Volcano

The girls (well, the oldest 2 plus Sweet Pea on occasion) recently did a week's worth of Volcano study for Science.

I think it was one of our favorite Science weeks.

We used lapbook printables from Homeschool Share: Volcanoes Unit Study and Lapbook. We also used a few printables from their unit study: Hill of Fire. (Note: we did not read the Hill of Fire book, so I can't speak to its content.)

You can also find a lot of Volcano activities at Enchanted Learning.

These are the books we use every week during our Earth Science Unit (some homeschoolers would call these our "spines" for our studies):
How the Earth Works by John Farndon.

Planet Earth from Usborne Books

Kingfisher Visual Encyclopedia of Science

Usborne Internet Linked First Encyclopedia of Our World. (This one is primarily for Tigger and Sweet Pea since it is quite simple.)

Then we supplemented with these nine books specifically about Volcanoes:
Probably our favorite: Look Inside Volcano. I mean, who wouldn't love a book with pop-ups and flaps? Highly recommend this one. Even the six year old liked this one and her sisters willingly read sections of it to her.
DK Eye Wonder: Volcano
DK Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Rivers of Fire by Monica Halpern for National Geographic
Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St Helens by Patricia Lauber
Tigger is a huge fan of the Magic Tree House books. She also read the non-fiction companion book:
Which isn't just about volcanoes, of course but also Ancient Rome and all kinds of useful information.
Volcanoes by Elaine Landau.
This last one was an easier book to read aloud to Sweet Pea:
Landforms: Volcanoes by Cassie Mayer

One thing we didn't do: make a model volcano. The reason we didn't do this experiment is because we already did one earlier in the year when were on our astronomy unit. (Earth is not the only planet with Volcanoes) Here's what that volcano looked like (we got the directions from our Apologia Astronomy textbook, which we used for the first half of the school year):
So, have you studied volcanoes? What were your favorite resources?
This post is linked to Trivium Tuesdays at Living and Learning at Home. And:
TGIF Linky Party hosted by 123Homeschool4Me

Book covers are Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekend Links - March 23, 2013

I have not felt like myself this week - not sick, just not...well, not much of anything. Our life feels like a holding pattern right now. Waiting for baby, waiting to see what happens with the house, waiting to see where we'll end up next and whether we can find something that fits us in our price range, waiting...well, pretty much everything is waiting right now.

I think I've mentioned I'm not the most patient person in the universe. I'm just going to be honest here: my nerves are kind of raw. Every new thing is just One More Thing Too Many. But somehow my kids haven't got that message and they are jumping on my nerves like they're trampolines for death defying tricks.

Life is turning into Survival Mode and I'm not a big fan of Survival Mode. I like Thriving and Well Planned Mode.

Oh, well. At the very least I know it's a limited time before we have our Baby Boy. The rest of the stuff may not be worked out perfectly, but at least babies come with due dates, right?

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. Now, on to the links!

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Homeschooling / Education
Tech / Google Reader
    My husband's newest game is still struggling on Kickstarter: Family Vacation Needs You. If you could check it out, he'd be grateful. (And so would I!)

    Pins of the Week:
    I could see these plans coming in handy in our near future:

    Could be useful:

    Thought this was beautiful (both picture and quote):

    That's all for this week. This post is linked to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife. Go on over and share your links posts and see what other folks are sharing. Or just take a peek at the pictures of Jessie's newest little guy. Spoiler alert: he's adorable.

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    Gratituesday - House

    You know how I've been asking you to pray that we can sell this house?

    Well, last Thursday we had an offer.

    It wasn't a very good offer but...

    An offer in hand is worth something.

    So we countered.

    And then they counter-countered.

    And, even though it's still a little disappointing, we've agreed.

    Apparently, the price point that was "as low as we could possibly go" is also the point that is "as much as they can possibly afford" but the buyer really likes the house.

    So we're trusting that it was God who helped that to happen (for both of us, sellers and buyers).

    Now we're signing papers and waiting for inspections and figuring out what happens to us next. And did I mention waiting? 'Cause there is a lot of waiting involved in selling a house. (If I've learned one thing in the past year, it's that.)

    Did I mention that our closing date is less than two weeks before our baby is due?

    Crazy times, folks.

    And God is working in them all the time.

    We've started looking for the next "new to us" house. We're praying that maybe there might just be a miracle and the house that we really wanted last year might become available again. (Stranger things have happened!) We're preparing the girls to live in an apartment or rental house for a while. ("But you said we would buy a new house!" One of our daughters felt we had pulled a bait-and-switch on her. Oops.)

    So, we don't exactly know what happens next. We hope things go smoothly and the offer goes through (although we're not taking that for granted). And most of all, we are grateful.

    Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    Weekend Links - March 16, 2013

    I don't think Jessie will be hosting a link up this week - we're hoping she's working on a much bigger and better project (that is: giving birth to her newest little guy).

    But I, as usual, have plenty of links to share so let's get on with 'em!

    Spiritual / Inner Life
    Marriage / Parenting
    Homeschooling / Education
    • Funny but true: Learning to Love Books (First Six Stages for Babies). Miss Lili is pretty much in Stage 4. While I read to her big sisters at night, her daddy reads to her. I hear this conversation: Miss Lili: "How 'bout 'Good Carl'?" Her daddy: "OK, we can read Good Dog, Carl." Miss Lili: "And 'Mouse Cookie'." Him: "OK, we'll read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie too." Her: "And 'Baby Dear'." Him: "Lili, no, we just read that one last night. Not Baby Dear." Her: "BABY DEAR!" Sometimes when we're driving home from church on Wednesday nights she starts telling us all the books Daddy is going to read to her when we get home. The list is never shorter than five books.
    • Why Can't Learning Look Like This? From FIMBY.
    • On the Introverted Mom Homeschooling Extroverted Children by Jamie Martin at Simple Homeschool.
    • Great round-up of posts dealing with homeschooling excuses: I Can't Homeschool Because... I need to write a post like this on the excuse "Because we don't have enough space." Shorter version of that hypothetical post: Trust me: you do. You do not need a dedicated school room, wall to wall bookshelves (although, wouldn't that be nice) or separate desks for each of your children.
    • Creative Blogging for Kids. Our oldest would like a blog. I'm thinking about setting her up with one (private, of course) because she could use the writing practice.
    • If you're a parent, whether homeschooling or not, you need to read Deb's post: On the Common Core.
    • Homeschooling and the Struggling Learner by Jessica at Molding Minds Homeschool.
    Homekeeping / Personal
    Pins of the Week:
    Sweet Pea still has trouble with this so I was grateful for these ideas:

    This looks like a great way to inspire more water drinking:

    And this t-shirt pictures my life pretty well right now. Baby Boy is a Wild Man, is all I can say.

    So, what caught your eye this week? Feel free to share your links in the comments!

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    Five Question Friday

    1. What is one thing you wish you did not have to teach your children?
    I wish we didn't have to talk about "tricky people" (what people used to call stranger danger or just Child Abductors / Abusers in general) or things like s*xting. (The latter came up this week when Thriving Family magazine was discussing it. My 11 yr old daughter - who does not have a cell phone - brought the article to me and asked, "What does this even mean?")

    2. What are you going to use since Google Reader is going away?
    I've made the switch to Feedly. I don't love it...yet. But I think I will get used to it and maybe even like it better than Google Reader once I get used to it. (P.S. Google - you stink. This is why people hate you. Get people to use your stuff and then pull it out from under them. And no, I do not wish to switch to Chrome at this time. Give me a break. If I could get away without using any of your services I would. Maybe that switch from Blogger over to WordPress is not such a bad idea...)

    3. British comedy; Hilarious or strange?
    Both. Depends on what specific thing you're talking about. I love the quieter humor (or should that be "humour"?) of some British shows (Like "As Time Goes By") and I think things like Monty Python or Benny Hill are nearly incomprehensible and not worth my trouble.

    4. Do you prefer card games or board games?
    For a quick game, you can't beat a card game. But my husband is a board game designer (Shameless spousal advertisement: check out his latest which is doing a Kickstarter campaign right now.) so I feel nearly honor bound to say of course I love board games best. This one, my husband's first, is my favorite:

    I also love the games Settlers of Catan, Ticket To Ride, Dixit, Apples to Apples, and Catch Phrase. (And let me clear up any confusion: no, my husband did not design any of these. The games he's designed that are available to buy right now can be seen in my blog's left side bar. There are more to come but those are out now. And yes, I sure wish he had designed Settlers. We could happily have retired by now.)

    5. Will winter ever end?
    No. It will always be Winter and never Christmas.

    Just kidding.

    Of course it will end! The days are already getting longer. We're buying things like Easter dresses and planning for Spring. It will happen. (Just not soon enough to suit most of us, I guess.)

    So, how about you? Do you have a preferred alternative to Google Reader? Have you played a board game recently? This everlasting Winter is great for family board game nights...

    This post is linked to Five Question Friday at My Little Life.
    This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. And if you happen to buy one of my husband's games (see my left sidebar), he gets a small royalty from that too.

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    WWW Wednesday

    • What are you currently reading?
    Current bookmarks in these:
    What Women Want: The Life You Crave and How God Satisfies by Lisa T. Bergren & Rebecca Price. I'm almost finished with this one and it's really good.
    A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen. I'm almost finished with this one too but my interest has petered out and it keeps getting pushed down the stack.
    Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh. Just started this one but it seems like something I'll enjoy.

    • What did you recently finish reading?
    The Sea King's Daughter by Barbara Michaels. (Who also writes, as Elizabeth Peters, the Amelia Peabody mysteries). This one was one of those quick, easy, beachy kind of reads. Originally written in 1975, it's a little dated but that might add to the charm for some. Volcanoes, buried treasure, pagan cults, hidden former Nazis...a little bit of everything in this one.
    The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling. Loved this one. Continually read bits of it out loud to my husband. ("This is it - she's talking about me!" Or, "This sounds just like you!") Our culture defers to the extrovert and this book is a nice antidote to that bias. Recommended for introverts and extroverts so we can all learn to get along.

    I tried to read the latest Ian McEwan novel but it was definitely not my cup of tea. I skimmed a lot and then I ended up bailing.  I get sucked in by hype, sometimes. But there are too many other books to read for me to spend time with something that is a) boring, b) offensive in some way, or c) just not clicking with me. McEwan's book was all three for me.

    • What do you think you’ll read next?
    These three are calling me:
    Deconstructing Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. (And "Mr. Popper's Penguins" is our current read aloud so I really want to read this soon.)
    Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent. Mystery, funerals, and Victorian society. What could go wrong?
    Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily Freeman.

    So, what are you reading this week?

    This post is linked to WWW Wednesdays at Should Be Reading.
    Book covers in this post are Amazon Affiliate links.