Monday, January 30, 2012

The Monday Report

It was a busy weekend. Steve worked on his math and built a shed for my parents. I helped throw a shower for my friend and watched the kids by myself for the rest of the time. It's no wonder that last night, around 8:30 pm I felt I could not move! Lucky for me, I didn't have to.

We've really been into watching Downton Abbey lately. We watched the first season quite awhile ago and have just started the second. Since Steve is gone a lot at night, I watch it without him and then when he's around, I watch it again so he can catch up. I call that a win, win. I love Downton Abbey, and those types of British dramas, so much that it doesn't matter to me how many times I watch them.

I made a major blunder today in my bread making. Anyone who knows me well has to laugh at me right now because I bake bread all the time and know better. I also like to document these things so that I can show you all that I'm not perfect and laugh at myself. Anyhow though, I am a very regular bread maker. I am definitely not a novice but I wouldn't call myself a professional. I am somewhere in that vast area in between. This is a bread recipe I make every Monday (and have forever) as it supplies our bread for the week. Utter fail. I forgot to add the yeast. And then, when I noticed it, I tried to knead it in which never works very well. That did work okay but the bread dough had already cooled down so the yeast was slow to rise. My second attempt to fix it was putting it in a 200 degree oven (which I then turned off) to try and help it along. It did. But then one of the times that I turned the oven on (I had been doing so at intervals to keep it warm in there), I left it on by accident and the bread had its final say...a puddle of nothingness disaster. Ha ha ha! Try again tomorrow.

Normally in the afternoons little Caleby and I get some time to ourselves to read. He reads to me and then I read to him. Then off he goes to his rest time. But today, he discovered his KNEX lego set and I haven't seen him since. I know I've said this before but he is our little builder. I love to watch him work and create. I caught him on camera at the beginning so I'll just have to wait and see what he comes up with.

Now, I've just got piles of laundry to fold and dinner to make. Good thing I'll get to redeem myself tonight with dinner rolls. I've got to do something after messing up the sandwich bread so badly:)!!

Well, that's the Monday Report friends. Have a great week!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Playing Catch Up

This last week has been quite busy for me here...hence my lack of blogging. I've tried to get on the computer numerous times but it just hasn't happened!! Steve started back up at Texas A & M last week and this semester we took the plunge and signed him on to two classes. So far things have gone well. The only downside is that he's studying nearly every night. This is not something our family can maintain for any extended length of time. But for a semester or two, we can put our heads down and do it. I keep keeping the end goal in mind. If we can do this for two semesters (this one and summer), then he will only have two classes left. "I think I can, I think I can...."

One of the things that has changed, with him gone, is the general flow of the evening since he's no longer here to help me field/manage the masses. I've simply had to maneuver things and in some instances lower the standard to still have all of us (myself definitely included) end the evening loving the standard and cheerful. This is hard for me to do but after a few nights of me being snippy, I knew something had to change. Before I would put the kids to bed by myself a couple of nights a week when Steve would study. But now that it's most nights, I find that it's a different kind of tiring. Letting go of "my standards" is a pretty difficult thing for me. Luckily, my husband loves me, listened to my concerns and was able to offer some pretty helpful suggestions that have worked well. And this whole deal is what I signed up for...I knew it would be like this if we decided to do two classes. So no tears for me. I'm just trying to learn how to navigate it well.

Another thing that has caused quite a stir over the last week is some major car trouble we've been having. I still maintain that our Pilot is the best (I'm a loyal fan) and has never broken down on us of its own accord. We keep it well maintained. But twice now, in the past six months a rodent of some kind has caused MAJOR wiring damage to our engine. You might remember me writing about it the first time. This time the price tag was over double what it cost last time and I was in tears. It's one thing for a car to need fixing when a part goes bad but when a mouse/rat wrecks perfectly good wiring just because it's hungry, that can be tiresome. We live in the country and do not have a garage. What are we to do?

However, God NEVER fails to care for us. The car dealership hooked us up with a sweet rental for the last week that they've paid for (for some reason), they suggested I call our car insurance to help cover the damage (turns out it was covered) and our bill went from $1300 down to our $500 deductible without any residual damage to our monthly premiums. Ummm...what? So even though it's been a flurry of phone calls, it has still ended as well as it can and I'm forever in awe of how God cares for all of our needs. Now we just need to figure out how to keep those pesky creatures out of our engine. Any ideas would be MUCH appreciated.

I'm also helping prepare for a dear friend's baby shower this Saturday which I am SO excited about, fielding the normal banter of children (which I do adore), directing school work for all three boys-day work for two and math practice at night for Isaac, madly trying to keep up with my chores, playing dolls with my best girl and at times dealing with a puking Joshua. That poor kid. He got the stomach flu really badly three weeks ago-as in, the worst I've ever seen and I've seen much puke. Then he got another full round of it ten days later. Then this morning, exactly ten days after the last episode, he threw up again. He was okay for the rest of the day this time, but it has just taken his body so long to recover from that bug. I finally emailed the doc to make sure I wasn't missing something. He wrote back that his little belly probably just took a big hit and was still recovering. He prescribed the BRAT diet and probiotics for a few weeks. He doesn't think he's still actually sick just recovering. Wow. The things you learn as a parent. I never knew something like that could even happen.

Earlier in the week, one of my best friends from Cal Poly came to visit with her two boys. I treasure the time I get with my best buddies from Cal Poly and this day was no exception. She drove two hours here and two hours home just to see me. Seeing her beautiful face, hearing her laugh, and watching her with her kids just lifted my spirits so much. I love all my girls from know who you are...such an incredibly meaningful and amazing time in my life. I'm so glad I joined LSM (AGO)-it literally changed my life. And thanks for coming Jilly. Seeing you encouraged me so much!

As you can all imagine, our house was definitely in mourning after last Sunday night's NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park. I had to console the boys, all clad in their 49er jerseys after Kyle Williams fumbled the punt in overtime putting the Giants well within field goal range (which they did kick) and on their way to the Superbowl. Their Dad was at that game. And when he came home hours later, I had to console him too. Those were some sad times but, there's always next season. And as a whole, the 49ers far surpassed expectations. We're still faithfuls. Go Niners!!

So there you go. It's a whole bunch of nothing but, still enough to keep me on my toes at all times. May God be praised for it is Him who keeps me, and really all of us, going.

I'm going to go pass out now :). Ha ha!! Nigh-night!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Defense of Religion-Part 2

First of all, I started writing about this BEFORE the Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus video hit the Facebook "fan" so to speak, so this is not written in response. Just wanted to clarify-it's just a funny coincidence. That video has caused quite a stir and since I've not sat down to personally watch it myself (I've only read through the lyrics), I can't really comment too much on it. I think the young man's intentions were good but, I think he may have made some sweeping generalizations about "religion" that missed the point. God doesn't hate religion. He hates false religion-hearts that are fake. But anyhow, I said I wasn't going to comment too much. Secondly, it's nice to be back online. We had a bout of malware on our computer over the last week that took forever to get cleared up. However, after scanning our computer for two hours today, we are in the clear. I'm super thankful for accessible, downloadable software that can easily fix the problem. Yeah!!

And now back to our story...

One of the major things that came out of us learning about Reformed theology was a linking of our faith to the past. I love that non-denominational churches preach the Gospel and really emphasize God's love-this teaching led me to Christ as a child; but in general (yes, I'm speaking generally here), they don't focus much on church history. To me, it was like our faith existed in a vacuum. But that's just not true! The church has been around for centuries. And for good and bad, we began to feel convicted that there were really important things to learn about that history because it's part of where we come from.

So we began reading more about church reformers, early church fathers, later Puritans who were influential in America (like Jonathan Edwards) and various church practices/liturgies passed through the centuries. There is so much out there that we could never process through it all. But we did start to notice that there were many things present in historical Christian worship that we didn't know a thing about. One of these things was the basic creed. Creeds? I didn't even know what a creed was really. I had only heard of the Apostle's Creed because I had gone to Greek School as a little girl (and the Orthodox Church says this creed during their service) and the Nicean Creed, *crickets*. My best guess was that it was somehow connected to the Council of Nicea (which I had only vaguely heard about-it was a lucky guess though).

Intrigued, we started exploring why these things might be important to know about. And this is what we found. Various creeds written after different councils, like the Council of Nicea, iron out the concrete basics of our faith and they were written to defend and define the faith not distract from it. They were written that way for a reason. The early church repeated them in worship to remind themselves regularly of the basics of the Gospel. Creeds were meant to ground us in the basics-to bring us back to square one on a regular basis. For we are wayward creatures and need to be reminded-often. This began to make sense.

One thing that was particularly interesting to discover was that the earliest creeds are in the New Testament themselves. A few are Philippians 2:6-11, 1 Tim. 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. Here is one of the shorter ones-you can see how it succinctly reminds us of the basics of our faith:

"Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: 'He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.' " 1 Tim. 3:16

One of the ways we instruct our children is in the 3 D's for the Dauphins (we stole these from Doug Wilson's parenting books). "Don't disobey. Don't deceive. Don't disrespect." There's just three rules. We want it to be easy for them to remember and not be so burdensome. Those D's are their roadmap. In the same way, just as we instructs our children with easily digested instructions, these creeds point us in the way we should go...grounding us in the basics. And repeated regularly in worship, they bring us back to the heart of the Gospel again and again.

Now here's the caveat. Repeating the creeds don't save anyone or make anyone more holy. They are a means to an end. Our hearts are the issue. We want our hearts to be sincere. However, strangely enough, often I find that even when I'm most distracted by the children surrounding me in the pew or the worries of life, etc...that when I do still "go through the motions" and repeat the creeds in service or sing "The Lord's Prayer", the act of doing so still blesses me and brings me back to square one. They are an aid. They are instructive. And I believe they were meant to "help" our hearts focus on our reason for being at church-worship. I don't believe they are necessary to worship God, as in you must do it this way or you're wrong...they're simply helpful.

All of this is just my experience. And I truly respect those Christians who choose to keep these sorts of traditions out of their worship. I have just found them to be deeply meaningful and helpful to my faith in ways I never thought possible and thought I'd share.

More next time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Invoking My "Mediterranean-ness"

How can I not be thankful that he "cleaned" my mirrors for me with hand soap after using the bathroom this afternoon?

Those grubby, darling, little hands even scrubbed into the corners.

So diligently, so carefully.

Never mind I just cleaned the bathroom this morning.

I'm a Greek. There's nothing a little Windex can't fix.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Littles

When the big kids go to school, there's much more time for this....

A couple of mornings a week, Isaac and Caleb are both in school. Next year, it will be every morning. Something I have really come to cherish is the special time I get with my littles. Sometimes we play silly games or I let them do more messy things. (I also tend to get a lot of work done too!!)

The older two boys got much more of this when they were small because I had less children so, naturally, it was simpler.

Now, it's the littles turn. Playdough and paint seem much more doable when there's just two of them. It makes it easier for me to say, "Yes!!"

When there are a lot of children running around there are many benefits. There's always something to do, someone to play with, learning to share is natural, and working as a part of a team is reinforced without really trying (plus many other benefits). And personally, I think it's easier for parents to avoid the trap of partiality because there's just a lot of kids to love (not that parents of less can't avoid it, I just think it's probably harder to).

However, there can be drawbacks too. Sometimes the littler ones don't get to do as many things as the older ones did when they were little. Some of that is okay and can be let go. And then some of that has to be remedied somehow. As in, I feel strongly that I need to do something about it.

For now, this is my answer. The morning times are for them to learn, count, get their hands dirty, read with me and play. It's their turn to have these fun times with me. I can't act like I've been there and done that or like I'm too busy.

They're only little once.

Monday, January 9, 2012

In Defense of Religion-Part 1

First off, I want to say that I am no theologian. That is not my aim here. This is only my experience, my story. But lately, I've been thinking about my faith journey that started as a child and how God has led me to this point in my life. I'm sure we have many more mountains to climb together but for all it's worth, this is where I've come from.

I grew up non-denominational. I do not regret my upbringing whatsoever. In fact, I have many fond memories of Sunday School, church musicals, Awana, Vacation Bible School, becoming a Christian when I was 5 and being baptized at 7. Even though the church I grew up in was non-denominational, it was pretty much Baptist without the title. I didn't know that until I was older. It was a Bible believing church that sang praise music and even hymns at times. It was contemporary and conservative all at the same time. It was home for me and it is where I learned what it meant to be a Christian.

My Junior High years were spent at another church just like it and those years were a bit more difficult for me. I waned, wandered and questioned who I was quite a bit. But one thing I always knew was that I loved God. I didn't always do the right thing (in fact I often made poor choices), but I knew I was wrong and I knew I needed to repent. By the time I got into my high school years, I returned to the church of my youth and my faith was strengthened greatly.

When I went off to Cal Poly, I knew what I wanted (besides getting a degree). I wanted to marry a Christian. Not just any nominal Christian. I wanted to marry a man who loved the Lord more than he loved me. I wanted him to be passionate about his faith and solid in his beliefs. When I met Steve, he blew the lid off of my expectations. He was even more than I had hoped for...he was the real deal and I couldn't believe he wanted me!!

His background was quite similar to mine. Yet, as the months went on in our relationship, he began learning things about Reformed theology that were difficult for me to understand at first. That's when our first conversations in this area began. And let me tell you, they weren't pretty. For some of the first times in my life, I was challenged to look at how we are saved. Are we saved because we made a decision to be saved or saved because God chose us? Who is the one or God? If we are dead in our sins, how can a dead person make themselves alive again? Only God can raise the dead. How can we choose God when the Bible clearly states that even our most righteous actions are like filthy rags in comparison to God's glory? These were conversations that we would have, both of us grappling with the implications the answers would have on our faith and our future. Often these conversations took place, in the car, at the end of a date night. They were hard for me to process but still, something kept my heart open to the ideas. And as time went on, I learned to trust Steve's leading as well.

John Calvin himself

Steve went a lot more willingly than I did to the reformed side for he is way less emotional and much more logical. He looked at the evidence and thought it was overwhelmingly in favor of God's sovereignty over man's choice (some of the very basics of Calvinism-Reformed Theology...Luther was a major Reformer as well and there were many others). I just didn't want to believe that maybe it was that way because if that were the case, it would change all that I had grown-up believing in. Not that it would totally undermine it but, it would just spin things in a completely different direction.

And a different direction it that I could not foresee at all but would bless my life beyond measure.

Until next time.

PS: I am not attempting to start a huge argument about theology here. Sometimes these issues can cause people to get a bit huffy (I know, for I've been there). This is simply my story and I hope it blesses you for that is my intent.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And the winner is...


We've been pretty fortunate over the years to avoid the ER. You would think, with the three monkeys (boys) we have, that it would be our home away from home. But alas, we had never made an ER trip with one of our kids until last night.

It all started when I sent the boys to go brush their teeth. Seems harmless, no? A few minutes later Elliana came out of her bedroom with a tube of toothpaste in her mouth. In a few moments she had quickly figured out how to squeeze and suck that sparkly, bubble gum flavored goo down into her gullet and by the time I snatched it away from her, I had no idea how much she had gotten. I knew it was a fairly new tube of toothpaste (although not full) and that there was at least half left in there still. But that was all I could figure out.

Yet in "Mom of many fashion", I deduced that if it were really a problem, she'd probably start throwing up. I was not let down in my assumptions. Within twenty minutes, as soon as we had tucked her in, she was heaving. The boys were yelling and she, being a novice at such things, was quite confused as to what was going on with her body. I quickly filled Steve in on the story, as he held her over the sink, since he had not been in the room when it happened. Plus, I kinda had already forgotten about it and hadn't mentioned it (Mom of the Year Award, I know).

We cleaned her up, changed everything and put her back down to bed. Within minutes the same scenario played out all over again. This time the watchmen were ready. It could be heard up and down the bunk bed. Sound the alarm! Sister is sick! When we were cleaning up round two, they were all analyzing it like announcers at a football game. "Did you see that play?" Quite a spectacle.

We got wiser at that point and pulled her out indefinitely so the boys could settle down to bed for it was way past bedtime at this point. When she was still sick an hour later, I decided to cancel my early morning run with my friend. This proved to be strategic. She is a Nurse Practitioner and she suggested I call Poison Control. Of course!! Why hadn't I thought of that?

Poison Control was on it. If you're ever worried about a poisoning, call them! They are amazing. After going through all the information, weighing what was left in the tube and checking her weight (all whilst she is still sick), we decided to wait it out for an hour. She fell asleep in Steve's arms while we watched a White Collar (great show by the way...except the 3rd season has been a bit racier than the first two). However, when we put her down once more, she was sick again.

Steve threw his jeans on, I called Poison Control back and within minutes, on their advice, Steve headed to the ER with her. Did I mention it was 10 pm? Aren't men amazing? My husband was truly a champ for she was sick on the way there and while he was checking her in. Poor husband...yet, still so composed. Unbelievable.

They observed her for awhile, gave her some medicine and then cleared her to come home around 1 am. They were certain she had been poisoned by tooth paste.

Who would've thought?

So now, 1st prize has been given to the little girl. Of all the peeps, I would have guessed it would be Joshua. She's just a sleeper I innocent looking yet devious. Ha!

We're thankful she's all right-God was merciful and hopeful that this early-in-the-year ER trip is not a premonition of things to come. Once every six and a half years is plenty for us!!

You never quite know what might happen around's never boring, that I promise!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Some Highlights

And...I'm back!

We've had a wonderful two weeks off but today, the hubby was back to work and the kids and I were back to our normal routine. Both Isaac and Caleb start school next week so, we're enjoying these last couple of days off doing stuff around the house and running errands.

Have I ever mentioned I love running errands with my kids? I do. All four of them-yes! Today was no exception even though we stopped at a zillion places. But I'm digressing.

We truly did have a wonderful vacation. In years past there were times when it was difficult for Steve and I to find our balance with him home during the day. But this time, for some reason, we just had a really good time. I think I relaxed and he really made an effort to be involved. Plus, after he finished up with A & M, the break was just so needed that we all soaked it up.

There were so many fun things we did on break that I just can't name them all but here's a little bit of the highlights.

Hiked in the local "forest" without direct parental supervision (the Dads pretty much stayed back and let them explore on their own).

Learned new games.

Visited with family (didn't get pictures of everyone...super bummed about that!).

Opened many presents.

Played with our new presents.

Got the opportunity to spend a night out with some of our best friends from Cal Poly. Although we love getting the kids together, a night of adult conversation was beyond precious to us!!

And just made merry.

All in all, it was an amazing time of rest...a calm before the storm of next semester, which starts in two weeks.

We didn't go anywhere special (besides seeing family for Christmas) or spend a ton of money, but we had a great time. We ate out a bit, watched movies, played games and feasted on Christmas cookies.

Not a bad way to spend two weeks!

Happy to be back friends. More to come later this week.