Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bittersweet Milestones

I love milestones. I'm not the overly sentimental type, and probably don't make a big deal over the BIG milestones, like most people may. Birthdays aren't huge events, first steps were captured with a few photos, first lost tooth was cute but without much hoopla.
However, it's the little ones that just do my momma heart in! Like, the ability to bake brownies without any help at all from Mommy. Cait just did this a month ago. Read the recipe, got the ingredients, CRACKED THE EGGS with no shells!, poured into the pan, and put it into a PREHEATED OVEN! All without needing me! It was wonderful and terrible all at the same time. My baby is growing up.

Cait is really maturing into a very pretty young lady. We've let her start growing her hair long (as she as been begging for the past few years) and it's probably 2 inches past her shoulders. She is brushing it and fixing it on her own,which was the deal! She has a simple beauty, not glamorous, but that natural kind of glow that each woman wishes she had! I don't like to dwell on external beauty, because honestly aside from a few enhancements, there's not much you can do to change your look. And really, it's not what matters anyway, right! The heart is the key. She is growing hugely in that area too, but that's not what I wanted to write about here!

This past month has brought a new milestone to the forefront.
First, you must understand, Cait (along with Brent and Grant and Jake) take Karate. And, they are NOT wallflowers. They all get into it and and work out hard. She has the biceps and quads to prove it. She is one fit 9year old! But, with the hard work has come "the glistening". You know what I mean, the shine on a proper lady's face after physical exhertion! I mentioned to Cait that ladies glisten. To which, she, in her tomboyish way retorted, "I don't know about you, mom, but I SWEAT!"
So, to help her in her new maturing, we took a trip to Target for some deodorant. Not an antiperspirant, but merely deodorant! Would you believe it is virtually impossible to find!! Finally, I spotted an all natural brand with no harmful chemicals and we got that. I think she was a little bit nervous about the whole thing, but refused to let on that she was. I tried to downplay the momentous occasion, but inside I was Screaming, "NOT YET! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! SHE'S ONLY 9! MY BABY!"
Well, I guess I need to just deal with the changes. I know they are going to come, but I sure wish it wasn't such a slap in the face when they did! Thankfully, that's the only "body change" going on right now. I need to get myself prepared before I face the future ones!

Baltimore Aquarium

This past week, Brent had 3 days off in a row. So, we decided to do an impromptu visit to the Baltimore Aquarium where we have a membership. What a day! I wish every outing was so much fun. When we arrived, we quickly hurried upstairs to watch the volunteers feed the fish. No one else was there and one very nice volunteer (who, it turns out, Brent knows from work) gave the kids (and me!) a container of peas to feed the fish! Nothing like hands on! While some of the divers went under water, a very sweet lady diver(Nikki)who wasn't diving that day, started chatting with us and walked around with us showing us MANY different kinds of fish. She stuck with us for almost an hour! She pointed out tons of different kinds of fish and told of their personalities and markings.
And, she had us get front row seats to see the divers pole feeding an eel that was new to the tank. That was very cool! Apparantly it has a very dirty mouth, so a bite could actually be deadly because of the icky bacteria in it's mouth. The eel was beautiful and reminded me of a ribbon twirler in gymastics! The divers had to feed it at arms length with a pole so they didn't get too close.
The most impressive part of this whole time was the barrage of inteligent questions from Cait, Grant, and Jake. They were 100% engaged in Nikki's information and asked so many questions she couldn't keep up- and didn't know the answers to some! I was so proud of their thoughtfullness and interest. And, they were very respectful in the way they asked, too! I was a very happy momma!
We saw the dolphin show after that, and had the kids pull out their nature journals. We don't do too good keeping up with them, but the Aquarium was perfect for adding lots of new entries.
On the way out of the show we stopped for a few minutes at the frog exhibit, but actually got to see and touch a horseshoe crab and some kind of creature inside a conch shell... wish I could remember.... (come on Apologia Elem Swimming Creatures book!!!LOL!) Then they all were given a mussel shell to take home.
Off to lunch- unfortunately the closest place to eat was Hard Rock Cafe- which I hate. Icky atmosphere and WAY expensive menu! Oh well, it was cold and we weren't walking far!

Back inside, we parked ourselves on the floor next to the shark exhibit and drew sketches of different sharks. Even I got a chance to do one!
Then, we went downstairs and saw the sting rays get fed. Right up to the glass! We spent a long time making drawings, writing information and loving all of it! I really enjoyed marveling over the immense diversity of God's creation throughout the whole aquarium. He has such creativity and imagination!
By the time we left, we were happily exhausted! It was a full day but so full of learning and exploration. I wish I could homeschool like this every day! This was learning at it's best.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

While I was Away

This past weekend I (tiff) went to the Women's Retreat up at Blackrock Retreat Center. This was the 10th one we've had and I think I've only missed one!

We watched a Beth Moore Video Series called Loving Well. Oh, it was awesome!
She based the study off of 1John 4.
One thing that really convicted me was that our spiritual maturity can be measured by how much we love people- and not just easy to love people either!

She gave us 4 points for us to memorize and recall when we are facing a difficult to love person.
1. God is perfect love. 1Jn 4:18
2. Nothing can separate me from God's perfect love. Rom 8: 38-39
3. God pours his perfect love into our imperfect hearts. Rom 5:5
4. ACCESSED, I can love anyone through anything. Phil 4:13

I am realizing that my love (apart from reliance on Christ) is only manipulative and self seeking at best. In order for me to love others honestly, I need to drink my fill of the truth that God first loved me when I was so undeserving. The only way that I can show love to others is to learn to love with the self sacrificing love that God gives us through the Holy Spirit.
The people in my life that give me the most difficulty loving have been lovingly placed in my life by a wonderful Father God who has chosen them to complete and perfect something that is lacking in me. I need to constantly remind myself of this. It allows me to be grateful for that difficult person.
We are not, however, to be doormats. Phil 9: 10 says "that love may abound more and more in knowledge and DEPTH OF INSIGHT, so that you may be able to discern what is BEST and my be pure and blameless until the day of Christ." We are to love with insight! Since I am not getting hung up on my rights in the relationship, I am freed to discover and understand how the other person is broken in some way.
Finally, we are called to love even when we are being unloved. We are able to offer our love to that difficult person as a sacrifice on the alter of God. He finds it a sweet and altogether lovely offering from us. We look so much more like Christ when we are able to love sacrificially and forgivingly. This is so hard but the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do it.

She said so much more, but these were the points that God had picked out for me to meditate and reflect on. He is so good!

I had such sweet fellowship with so many ladies over the weekend and I feel uplifted and refreshed in the spirit of the Lord.

When I got home, I was in for a wonderful surprise. Brent was busy and productive with lots of little projects that I had been wanting done. He replaced the faucet in the bathroom so it runs consistently. He hung hooks to hang the bar stool at the top of the steps. He replaced the bath light above the mirror with a pretty wrought iron light that Cait and I had picked out at Home Depot.
And, to my GREAT SURPRISE- he painted and had the kids decorate Growth Chart sticks. He took long thin strips of wood, painted them white, and had the kids decorate them with thumb print lady bugs and drawings. Then we can transfer our measurements that we've had on the wall onto the wood strips so if we move (or I ever want to wash the wall- nah!) I can take it with us!!! This is something I've wanted to do for so long but it always got pushed out of my mind because it was so low on the priority list! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful hubby! And kiddies! They were so excited to show me all their accomplishments!
God is so good. He spoils me! I love enjoying HIM!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


In history, we are studying the Middle Ages. Yesterday the kids and I started making a homemade castle out of a cardboard box. We cut the parapets out of the top and used two oatmeal canisters for towers. I cut a drawbridge and Cait used bamboo skewers to make the metal gate that lowers in the entryway (I can't remember what it's called!) Then, we all had a blast painting it. Each of us took a side of the box to paint grey. I think Quinn and Jake painted more on ME than on the box! All in all, it was messy but lots of fun. The kids are getting to an age where these projects are more independent and easier on Mommy. They have their own ideas and can physically do most of the work themselves. (Although we all banned Caitlin from painting. She just doesn't have the talent! Just kidding!) Cait got very ambitious with a needle and thread and sewed a bed and sofa and made a little tablecloth for a toothpick-legged table she made. She's very ingenious! Grant and Jake decided to make a peasant's house with a thatched roof. I didn't get a chance to explain that they would have used bundled straw so they just glued a bunch of hay from the hayfield onto the roof very haphazardly. Oh well. They are engaged and motivated. Good enough for me!
I wasn't going to do this project because it seemed messy and complicated, but on a whim, I decided to, and I'm so glad I did! They are so proud of their work of art! And I'm so proud of them! At least we'll have something to display for the table at Presentation Night!