Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Maman

There's a word that evokes a lot of emotions for me these days.
And that word is maman.

Ma maman...so patient, so generous, so constant.
Ma maman...so practical, so devout, so intentional.
Ma maman...so difficult to pertube, so easy to love.

Ma maman...who's always taught us mostly by example.
Ma maman...who's always had a servant's heart.
Ma maman...who's not let a grand-scale visionary for a husband become her undoing.

Ma maman...who's the woman behind the man.
Ma maman...who's raised 10 children and cared for so many grandchildren.
Ma maman...who loves the Lord with heart, soul, and mind.
Ma maman...who's now turned 74.
Ma maman.

Comme je t'aime, maman cherie!
Ta fille au loin,
Anne-Marie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brielle's Kindergarten Graduation

We know God placed Brielle in our lives for many reasons, one of which is to give us an appreciation for all the little steps she takes in the right direction. We can't help but celebrate and give thanks for God's faithfulness in the life of our Little Miss Sunshine!

 

When she was asked what she liked best about kindergarten, she said, "Recess!"

Andrew was proud of his custom-made double cheeseburger.

Brielle's Kindergarten Class under the balloon arch Kara and I made.
Brielle is excited about becoming a first grade, except for the part about no longer Mrs. A as a teacher!!



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our First Week of Summer

Our summer---all 5 days of it so far, depending on how you look at it (Isaiah says summer started on Monday)----has been a hodgepodge of pretty random activities.

1. Marathons

Sew Easy...or Go Easy on the Sewing?
There's the sewing frenzy of the last couple of days in which I pounded out 2 pillow cases and three zippered bags while the sewing machine was 'out' on the kitchen table. The sewing machine has been put away now...and everyone can take a sigh of relief. *sigh*






Bill Nye
But, we're still in the middle of a Bill-Nye-the-Science-Guy marathon and need to watch at least one video each day to make it through our selections before having to return them to the library on Friday. We've all got the theme song stuck in our heads, "Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill Nye the Science Guy. Bill, Bill, Bill". Catchy, right? Actually, the videos are quite informative and pretty well-made...and Bill is quirky funny. Some of his humor reminds me of another 'science guy' I know....

2. Encounters with Nature

Robin's Egg
Our neighbor found an occupied robin's egg in her lawn and, after a couple of days of warming it with a towel on top of the dryer...and really worrying over it, has passed her little burden onto us. Isaiah couldn't have been more willing to take on the challenge! He quickly got on the phone with Mrs. Chupp, asking if he could borrow her incubator. We have no clue if this will work...and we're actually pretty certain it will fail if it depends on us, but we're giving it a try.  If anything, we now know for sure that Isaiah would be in 7th heaven if we decided to hatch chicken eggs. We just need Papa's roost to peck each other to death and then we can raise him a whole new batch (j/k, lol, csg...better get your book out for that last one, Lou).


Baby Spiders
We also came across a bunch of teenie tiny spiders that kept the kids fascinated for quite a while. I eventually had to 'take care' of them because my neighbor absolutely detests spiders and these were on their property line. Poor Brielle! She's on the other side of the spectrum where I'd say she actually loves spiders...and more so lately because we've been reading Charlotte's Web to her at night.


Mr. Frog
Isaiah caught a pretty good-sized frog with his new net today...



Chickadee
And our cat brought in a live chickadee, who survived the ordeal and eventually managed to get out of the house before I got a snapshot of it. I'm just glad it got out alive! Laura Chupp and I were concerned the cat had more than toyed with it. She and I first stumbled on a mess of feathers on the family room carpet and didn't think the bird in question had lived to 'tell the tale'. I did finally hear the chickadee struggling in our skylight an hour later. I couldn't really miss it because it was dropping feathers all over the kitchen floor as it struggled to break through the glass. I think by mistake it swooped down and landed on the counter with a thud. I managed to throw a towel over it (thanks for the tip, Kara) and whisked it away before Kiwi had a chance to pounce on it. Surprisingly, it flew off the deck with no trouble. I now know that birds can spare quite a few feathers if they must...if they happen to get cornered by our prowling, villainous cat.


3. House Projects

 Door Handle
After several weeks of having a hole in our front door where the handle once was, we decided we really needed to replace the handle. Although the package the new handle came in says it's brushed nickel, it's not really..or at least doesn't quite match...but I honestly don't care. Andrew saved us a good chunk of money by going with that one..so I'm okay with it.
Now here's the really funny thing. Andrew and I both thought that not having a door handle meant we couldn't get in the house if we locked it from the inside (using what we thought was the dead bolt). We both avoided the front door and used the garage door opener to get in the house so we wouldn't run into this 'problem'. I even thought I had locked myself out over the weekend because I had locked up the house, completely forgetting that Andrew had left with our garage opener. When I realized I had supposedly locked myself out, I went over to the Chupps and borrowed Laura for a half-hour so she could try to fit her hand through the hole to open the lock from the inside. She couldn't squeeze her hand through so we had to resort to me propping her up through our garage window so she could let me in, All along, I could have simply let myself in my slipping my key in the keyhole that was on a separate piece above where the handle normally is. I could have unlocked the door with the key and simply pushed it open! Wow...now that's dense! We were all so blinded by our misconceptions that we couldn't see the keyhole before our very own eyes! We thought we were locked out and we simply couldn't see it any other way.
Well, it's still a good thing to have put in a new door handle cuz it's much better than having a hole in our door...and now our minds can no longer trick us to think that we are locked out. ;)

Wall Shelves
Thanks to this great find at a garage sale, and thanks to Andrew's patience with my home decor changes, there's no longer a blank wall over our leather couch in the living room...

4. Learning New skills

Throwing Skills with Mr. Jeff
Mr. Jeff, our neighbor, took it upon himself to teach our daughter how to throw a ball. He worked with her for a good 40 minutes. Here's a video clip of their efforts:
video



Ironing and sewing with Mom...
Isaiah asked if I could teach him how to sew at bedtime one night and I gladly agreed. It was fun to get him all excited about it!

I know all this randomness could make some heads reel...but I've learned to embrace it. I even find it invigorating! I naturally want to be organized and purposeful and usually dislike being 'last minute' on things, but I've learned that I need to be super flexible in the summers with Andrew off. And so, these last five days capture rather well how summers roll around here: spontaneous activities, work done in spurts, and teachable moments taking precedence over anything else on my so-called agenda.
Not to say that we do not have plans to have any kind of routine...because we do, Andrew as much as myself. BIG plans. Just how much we'll stick to them is an entirely different matter. And we're okay with that...because whether or not the sun will shine, it's SUMMERTIME!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Seeing and Praying Like A Child

Brielle recently borrowed my camera while we were babysitting her cousins at their house. The following are some of the pictures she took. They remind me of one of Ann Voskamp's chapters in One Thousand Gifts where her daughter goes around the house and takes snapshots of this and that. Like Voskamp, I was struck by the angles of the camera and by how things look different from 3 ft high. It reminded me of Voskamp's point...that is, that we should see life through a child's eyes...so that God and the gifts He so freely gives can be magnified in our sight.








I also just read Andree Seu's essay Daddy's Girl from this month's issue of World...and again felt admonished to be like a child before Him, not only in the matter of perception...but also in the way I approach Him. To be childlike as I bring my requests to Him. Not to worry about appearances or eloquence...but to be true and honest with what's in my heart. All of it! The silly desires, the shameful passions, the heartaches, the bothers. He knows them all, anyway...and He cares.

Seu also pointed out that children are often in tune with what their parent is doing... and can usually respond quickly to his or her bidding. I immediately thought of my 2-year-old nephew Adam and his constant desire to know what the closest grown-up in his life is doing, "What you're doing, Auntie?" came out of his mouth many times throughout the day this last week when we had him for a couple of days...and I know his mom's days are peppered with that inquiry.  Am I like that with my Father? Am I on the lookout for what the Holy Spirit is doing around me?  Do I strive to be 'in tune' with Him?

This summer, with my kids up close and personal, I want to watch them carefully so I can learn to see from a child's pespective, pray with a child's honesty, and look for what God is doing the way Adam does.

Brielle and Renee. Oh, to have such bright eyes to see God's world!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Parable of the Sower According to Lou

 Back when I was teaching 5th grade at West Hills Christian School, I asked my father-in-law Lou to come and give a gardening talk to my students. I knew he loved to garden and I had been told of his excellent teaching methods. I was not disappointed. Lou had my students 'hooked' from the get-go and held their attention all the way through! And, besides learning a thing or two about gardening, I also learned a few teaching tricks along the way.

Fastforward 10 years...and a couple of grandkids later...and Lou finds himself saying 'yes' again to his rather demanding daughter-in-law. This time, she's asked him to give a gardening talk to a little troupe of home-schooled kids ranging 2-10 years of age, and composed of his two eldest grandkids and their buddies. Oh...um...and three camera-trigger happy moms to further widen the range. 

Although I knew he'd do excellent, I didn't expect Lou to pull all the stops for us. He truly had us all engaged, no matter our age.  I am positive that none of us left his garage having learned absolutely nothing. Even Lydia, the almost-2-year-old, had her eyes glued on him for a good part of the lecture! Surely, she walked away having learned something...even if it's just that Mr. Wachsmuth Sr. can be pretty funny.

So, if you need to learn a thing or two about..oh, let's say...

...grafting...



 
 ...or scions...                



...or seeds...a.k.a. God's computer seeds...
  

 





...or fertilizers...





...or the periodic table of elements...


...or the meaning behind the weeds in the parable of the sower...

video

...you're in luck!

There are a few of us, big and small, who could give you pretty reasonable answers to your questions on any one of those topics, thanks to Lou.



Lou's 'greenhouse'.


Checking out the tadpoles and Lou's fly-catching contraption.



Frankenstein Tree