Friday, December 28, 2007

Matthew's First Ten Years

Matthew turns ten years old this week! I've updated and improved his photo montage as part of celebrating his birthday. I am so thankful to God for His many blessings to our family over the years!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Notes

Christmas Reading:

Evan finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy in short order. Matthew received some Redwall books for Christmas which enticed him away from Middle Earth. I told him that he did not have to finish the trilogy, but he pointed out that since he's already read 600 pages, he might as well finish. He just needed a break. In fact, I spotted him reading The Adventures of Bobby Racoon by Thornton Burgess and Evan sped through four books from the Sugar Creek Gang. They have wide-ranging tastes!

Christmas Toys:

My dad commissioned Aunt Beth to play Mrs. Claus and procur a toy vacuum for Logan. We put batteries in the toy, but took them out again after Logan cried, "No, no, no, no, no!" every time it got switched on. He can make his own, non-threatening vacuum noises, thank you very much.

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James and I gave Evan and Matthew the joint gift of a programmable robot to their delight and to Logan's fright. The poor kid thinks that the bot is out to get him.

Christmas seemed anticlimactic to Sophie due to her parents' absentmindedness. James bought Sophie a bike which we meant to take out of the back of the van and hide. When I got in the van to ride to church Sunday morning, Sophie sweetly asked me, "Is that my purple bike with butterflies on the wheels?" Sigh. And Merry Christmas.

Christmas-Time Play:

The day after Christmas, the boys stormed the neighborhood, shoveling even the neighbors' driveways. Their motives were purely mercenary as they dumped the snow into our yard to build another fort. Last week, we watched on in disgust as someone in a white Toyota truck intentionally drove repeatedly over the previous fort that the kids had built in the center of the cul-de-sac. We decided that, as the driver didn't exactly check to see whether any children inhabited the fort before he worked his destruction, the kids should build all future forts in our yard... Even Logan enjoyed dragging a shovel around, while Sophie rode her bike in the snow.

Kids In Cupboards: 1970, 1999, 2006

Jam0001 Matthew 18
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fa la la la Loo

Friday evening, our family and nine other friends braved the cold to go caroling in our neighborhood. After singing at eight or nine houses, we sat by the fire, warming up with hot cider and popcorn.

Logan apparently liked the idea of caroling. We caught him the next day singing in a rather unorthodox setting...


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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Marvelous Milestones

Please indulge me while I muse over Logan's latest milestones. I'm his mom and this is my blog.

What baby book?!

Logan is 17 months now and a delight to our whole family. He is saying many understandable words, not strung together, but plenty of them. He calls James "Daddy" and calls me "Mom." Just this past week he started saying "Matthew" quite clearly. Today he examined the, um, shiny things on my shirt design --I have no idea what exactly they are-- and said " 'parkle." He likes to poke people in the face, saying "no'e" and "eye." Today he said "water." When he wants something, he knows now to say "P'ease." For awhile "no" meant yes and no, but he switched to saying " 'kay" for yes.

He certainly warmed my heart this week when he began giving us kisses. Real kisses, not just slobbers!

He climbs up on chairs, benches, couches, testing me to see if I'll let him stand on the furniture, then sitting tall as if he's thinking, "I'm such a big boy!"

The piano teacher even noticed Logan's singing recently, remarking that he bobs in time to the piano music, but also sometimes softly cooing along with his baby voice.

A week ago, James took the day off to run the gauntlet get family portraits (yeah, yeah ~ the first time since Sophie was 6 months old) and to take the family to the zoo. We arrived at the zoo in late afternoon and had the place mostly to ourselves, speaking of humans, of course. Logan rode in the Ergo on my back and stared open-eyed at animals that he had only been introduced to in books. In the feline house, a tiger paced back and forth next to the glass. I matched the big cat's pacing in front of the cage with Logan growling on my back. I like to watch the baby watching the animals! We spent the most time with the giraffes, observing the feeding time and laughing at the baby giraffes cavorting about the the cage. Finally, when evening deepened into night, we strolled through the zoo admiring the thousands of twinkling Christmas lights decorating the park. Frosty, but fun.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Please Give My New Recipe a Name Tuscan Country Dinner

...or I'll just call it Roasted Vegetables with Sausage.

(If my dad were to name this dish, he would list all the ingredients in the title, just to warn folks. I'm sure that I would veto that idea.)

I'm not generally creative with food. I cook from recipes, though I am adventurous enough to modify them. However, tonight I put together a new recipe on my own that I will definitely be cooking again:

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg. chicken apple sausage (I like Applegate Farms brand the best.)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 pkg. bacon or turkey bacon (I used Hormel bacon that says gluten free on the label. Jennie-O turkey bacon which is also gluten free, would be another option if you have to concern yourself with such things.)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard or green chard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 yam
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-4 red peppers
  • olive oil
  • dried rosemary
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Peel the yam and cut into bite-sized pieces. Fill a saucepan partway with water and bring to a boil with the yam. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 10-15 minutes until yam is tender but not mushy, then drain.
  3. While the yam is cooking, break the cauliflower into florets, discarding the large stem, and cut the peppers into bite-sized chunks.
  4. Combine the yam, cauliflower, and pepper pieces in a large shallow roasting pan without the rack. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with spices to taste. (I did not measure spice amounts; just sprinked.)
  5. Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. The vegetables will brown nicely. Don't be afraid of some blackened spots here and there. :)
  6. Wash and tear the chard, setting aside.
  7. While the veggies are roasting, dice the onion and bacon and fry in a large skillet over medium heat until browned. Cut the sausage into rounds while the bacon and onions cook, adding the sausage when the bacon is just about done to brown it slightly.
  8. Add the chard to the skillet and toss with the meat mixture. Add the water. Cover and simmer for ~10 minutes.
  9. When the veggies are roasted, add them to the skillet. Mix well and serve. If your skillet is not large enough, add the sausage and chard to the roasting pan instead to serve.

This served our family of six. Let me know if you try this! :)

Christmas Program: Ukrainian Bell Carol

Sophie and Kristin:


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The boys did not play specifically Christmas music, but they performed their current piano pieces. Click on the thumbnails to watch the videos:

Mattpiano Evpiano

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Program: Lucy's Debut

Five-year old Lucy, daughter of Max and Nancy, played publicly for the first time last evening at our church Christmas program. I enjoyed her playing so much that I asked her mom for permission to post this video:


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Friday, December 07, 2007

Photo of the Day

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One afternoon this week, during Logan' nap, I read Shadow Hawk to Evan, Matthew and Sophie for two hours while they strung popcorn and cranberries for our tree garland. I usually feel humbuggy about Christmas goings-on, but we have decorated more than usual this year. We once again borrowed a pre-lit tree from my aunt which the kids decorated all by themselves. Their popberry garland added just the right finishing touch. After a short period of coaching, Logan learned to admire the tree with his eyes only.

Dropshots seems to be working again now. New video clips can be found in the sidebar ~ not stellar quality, but they do capture some entertaining toddler personality.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

German Ingenuity

James alerted me to this video, and I'm posting it especially for the enjoyment of my nephews among others.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Johanna's Wedding

Two Handsome Men:

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Relative Row:

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The Dashing Dad and Beautiful Bride:

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Fine Art Friday

The kids asked me to post the artwork that they did this week on their blogs. Please visit them at The Far Side of the Mountain and at Sophie's Side. I'm sure they would be thrilled to get any comments! Thanks!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Please Read Very Carefully

Just to clarify, I am not pregnant this time. Julie gets to do the "morning" sickness thing etc. all on her own, but I am cheering her on.

On Sunday, Patrick announced, "James and Melissa are not joining us this time, but Julie and I are expecting next June." (Or something to that effect.)

After the service, a sweet lady patted me and said, "Congratulations."

I think I scared her when I exclaimed, "For what?!" (I was taken aback, folks!)

She quickly said, "I don't know!" then went off to question her son (whose response was "Duh Mom!") She came back apologizing, saying that she had her facts straight now, and we had a good laugh together.

I had to correct another friend's mistaken idea before we left as well. I wonder how many other people at church will be silently examining my waistline with interest over the next months. Should I eat more chocolate (if that's possible ;-) to keep it interesting?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Questioning Authority

As I have mentioned here in the past, Logan is quite pigeon-toed. Though the pediatrician had told us more than once in the past that Logan would grow out of it, I pressed the issue at a recent appointment. The doctor then said that Logan's legs were not aligned and that it was more drastic than what he usually sees. He referred me to a pediatric orthopedic specialist.

On Friday, I took Logan to his orthopedic appointment. Contrary to what the pediatrician thought, Logan's legs are completely normal. The specialist explained to me that the problem lies only with his feet. He has metatarsus adductus which just means that the metatarsals, or bones of the front part of the feet, turn inwards. Thankfully, Logan's feet are flexible and can be straightened to normal with correction. The specialist also said that he has some great toe atavism which means that the big toe flexes outwards. That may improve with correction as well, though it may always be a minor issue.

Thankfully, Logan doesn't need a cast, he just needs inserts to put inside his shoes to align his feet so that they will grow normally. Of course, this will make his feet look even longer, as his shoes will have to accommodate the extra length of the insert!

The specialist told me that it was a good thing that I brought Logan in so that his feet can be corrected. I'm glad that I listened to my "mother's instinct" instead of just going along with the pediatrician's diagnosis this time.

I have also needed to consult other sources of help aside from the pediatrician in the area of nutrition. The diminished appetite of toddlerhood plus "long and lean" genes plus allergy issues plus the uncharted territory of extended breastfeeding (past a year) have caused me to wonder if Logan is getting all the nutrition that he needs. While the pediatrician helped us to discover Logan's allergies, he is not knowledgeable concerning extending nursing and certainly not encouraging. I read the following book on Saturday which helped me to relax:




Good, good book! I wish I had read it when Evan was an infant! I appreciated reading some history of supplementation and gaining perspective on what types of food would be most beneficial to a nursing toddler (partly by inference).

Logan, by the way, has some adventurous food preferences. One of his favorite foods is hummus. I have tried giving him hummus on cracker, but he just sucks the hummus off and spits out the cracker. Now, I just skip the cracker and feed him bites off of a spoon. He also loves black olives (Which actually isn't too surprising for this family. Stop gagging Aunt Beth and Colleen.) And whoever heard of a baby who won't eat Cheerios? Logan won't touch them, but he does like Wheat Chex.

And here are two pictures thrown in for good measure:

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Busy Baby

Edited: I removed the links to Dropshots. The site is not working properly. I think that the company is going down.

video

New Skills

Tonight at the supper table, we spent a lot of time laughing at Logan's cuteness. We joked that he was the entertainment for the entertainment (Sophie). Part of the time, he shrugged his shoulder to his chin, looking down with a little smile, then looking up as slowly as he could to fix his eyes on someone with a twinkle in his eye.

There is nothing more sweet than hearing the little guy sing. And he is now starting to enjoy pretending. When he brings me an empty container, we both dip our fingers in to "sample its contents" while "chewing" noisily.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Our Car Is Sick Too

James drove to work on Friday, but decided to come home when the stomach bug hit him. On the way home, the Mazda died. He called to tell me that he was going to catch a bus home, barf bag in hand. I wanted to pick him up, but not with pukey kids in tow. I called his mom who graciously rescued him. He got the car towed to our mechanic.

Though it wasn't fun for James to deal with car problems when sick, it was probably a good thing that the car trouble occurred during the middle of the day rather than during rush hour traffic.

The shop called to give us the cost of repairs, which would exceed the worth of the car.

We've been thinking about what vehicle to purchase in replacement of the Mazda (which served us well for many years and was used in the first place). We are leaning towards buying a used 12-passenger van for hospitality purposes. We have often thought it would be nice to convey people other than just our immediate family. I would drive the big van, especially since I drive infrequently, and the mini-van would become James' commuter vehicle. We have been thinking this way for a while, and now the death of the Mazda will force us to act. (If you think our idea is foolhardy, feel free to try to talk us out of it in the comment section. ;-)

Matthew is convinced that this is the vehicle for us (click on the link, Loey). While the sign warning cars to stay back 500 feet, the intimidating presence, and the lights and sirens to clear our path are appealing (Logan: "Konk, konk, woooooo"), we might have too much trouble fitting it into our garage. Too bad, Matthew.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Barfday to Me (Sorry)

Yesterday James gave me a card reading "16 1/2 million people are celebrating their birthdays today and you are the only one getting a card from me!" I'm starting to realize that calling a certain day "My birthday" does not mean that the day actually "belongs" to me! Hey, at least I'm starting to get it before I turn 40.

"My" birthday began in the wee hours of the morning with the gift that just keeps giving. I lay in bed near Logan so that I could try to contain the waves of...well, you can guess...caused by his stomach virus. Poor Logan, you say? Yeah, well at least he could sleep through a lot of that. Did you know that is is possible for a toddler to retch and be held upright yet still stay asleep?

In the morning, Logan stopped throwing up and Evan started. At least he's old enough to know how to contain the mess himself!

I enjoyed the cards that the kids made for me and was happy not to receive any sentiments like this!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Must-See Movie

Children of Heaven

James and I watched the movie Children of Heaven and then had our children watch it in segments. If you would like a refreshing break from typical, emotionally-manipulative Hollywood fare but yet would enjoy watching an uplifting story, simply told, please watch this movie! The movie is Iranian with subtitles, telling the tale of a boy who loses his little sister's shoes and the trials that follow. The movie tells a story of love and self-sacrifice while realistically portraying the pangs of childhood struggle. Please tell me if you watch it!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Twizzlers and Twinkle, Twinkle

Interesting Illustration of the Day:

In the course of some discussion with the kids today, I pointed out that sin can be very pleasurable for a period of time, but that the end result is always destructive. Evan interjected, "It is like eating an apple-flavored Twizzler. At first it tastes good, but pretty soon the taste turns nasty in your mouth."

What Will Our Relatives Do Next?

Apparently my nephew Conner will play his violin in public...for the right price! Recently he informed his parents that he wanted to dress in western wear and perform at an outdoor mall. Here is a picture that his dad emailed us:

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Conner earned $11!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Slice of Life

We spent a quiet evening at home last night in spite of the ringing doorbell and chorus of trick-or-treaters. We ate supper by candlelight. James let the kids carve two of the pumpkins that Matthew grew. Logan sat drowsily on my lap in the family room, holding my fingers while he looked around at the flickering candles and listened to me quietly sing Psalms.

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The Toddler Pumpkin

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Musical Masquerade

We were a little concerned when the Saturday piano recital did not start on time and the program was two pages long. James didn't want to miss seeing the Rockies getting defeated by the Red Socks! He clapped very enthusiastically, though, when the pieces didn't take very long. :)

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Recital Finery

Sophie played Cleopatra's Lament. Matthew played Arabesque by Burgmuller. Evan played Toccatina by Kabalevsky. The video of their recital performances are linked in the sidebar (along with a video of Evan playing harmonica.)

Matthew's costume is open to interpretation. Some say "Soggy Bottom Boy" (a man of constant sorrow). Some say "ZZ Top" (a sharp-dressed man). Some say "Grandpa Bruce" (needing a trim). Matthew himself says "A Spy". Think what you like!

And Logan?
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Note the feet. Logan was a Hobbit Baby. (Though someone asked if he belonged to Jonathan and Marty.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October Update

This week is dominated by the Super Bowl World Series (like I care) and an upcoming church costume party and costume piano recital (to make it more complicated to make it more fun!)

Logan has added some new words to his repertoire: "go", "shoe", "ladder", "a-puw" (apple), "boy". Sometimes we find him standing in the corner behind the rocking chair. (The older children don't exactly think it is fun when they have to stand in the corner.) He likes to try to jump, but doesn't quite get airborne. Often after supper, Logan likes to walk a circuit waving his arms straight behind him. At times he nearly runs. He doesn't complain about getting wiped up after eating. In fact, he doesn't like being messy and presents his hand to get wiped if he gets food on it. The desire to be clean doesn't extend to his diaper, however. He cries pretty much every change.

I stumbled across this today...

Babies Don't Keep

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

-- Author Unknown

...which choked me up for a minute. That poor moth.

Just kidding :)

Looking at recent pictures reminded me of the care that Evan and Matthew took to make Sophie's birthday special. They holed up in the basement weeks ahead of time, making special presents, cards and decorations for their little sister. To top it all off, they arranged a "treasure hunt" with clues hidden around the house leading her to the birthday bounty. I am so thankful to God for the love that our children have for each other.

Here is a slideshow of some October fun and take a look at some new video clips in the sidebar if you like.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I'm Awake Now

Just a little bit ago, I went to lie down on the couch for a short "power nap" before starting some school planning. I picked up a folder labeled "Princess Stories" lying on the couch, and curious as to its contents, I opened it, hoping to read a good nap-time story. The story caught me off guard, sleepiness dissipating as I laughed to the point of tears. I must share with you the story of...

"The Very Horrible Girl Fairy"
by Sophie

There was once a very bad fairy who was turned into a plain girl for her punishment. Some people took her into their house for a party, but they got black eyes, so they decided not to be her friends. (Now, this is a very short story, so it is about to end.) The people took her and threw her into a lake, and that was the end of her. They were put in jail for doing that, and they so-called lived happily ever after, but they were so miserable that they died later.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Worlds Apart

If I hear the word "Rockies", I picture "The Rockies". James, on the other hand, is thinking "The Rockies".

Kid Pic

I took this picture of the kids last week before church. Logan didn't get the memo to smile. Of course, the whole picture thang was cramping his style. Sophie was actually whimpering about being cold with a fake smile plastered to her face. Editing to add: My brilliantly observant sister, Jen, emailed me to point out that Logan's shoes are on backwards in this picture. Yes, they are... on purpose. One of Logan's feet curves inward, because it grew around his leg when he was cramped up in utero. He is also pigeon-toed. The pediatrician reassured us that Logan's foot would straighten out when he started walking. I see absolutely no evidence of that yet. I need to take him in to see the ped. again and put my foot down about correcting Logan's!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Thurs./Fri. Homeschool Samples

I won't go into detail about our daily routine work, but share some of the "frosting".

On Thursday, I read aloud to the kids about Hammurabi from Story of the World and A Picturesque Tale. Mainly for Evan's sake, I read from The World in Ancient Times: Primary Sources and Reference Volume which used Hammurabi's Stele to discuss primary versus secondary sources and which used some of the laws and the epilogue to demonstrate how to draw conclusions about Hammurabi and his times.

In preparation for discussing Hammurabi, I had Googled "Code of Hammurabi and laws of Moses" and found these articles: #1, #2, #3 which I used to discuss the two sets of laws with the kids. (Since then I have found this article which is more succinct.) We also rehashed the discussion with James over our supper.

Here is Sophie's oral narration about Hammurabi which I wrote down and she copied today:

Ham. narration

Speaking of Sophie, she drew this donkey (without a model) on a whiteboard while I read aloud:

donkey


She also drew this foal (looking at a calendar picture) on Friday morning:

foal

But back to Hammurabi... I helped Evan to write down an outline for writing a narration about what we read and discussed and here is his summary:

Hammurabi and Moses

Hammurabi was the ruler of Babylon. He conquered southern Mesopotamia and called his empire Babylonia. He was known for being just. Sargon ruled with his army, but Hammurabi ruled with his army and with laws. He kept his power by saying that the gods appointed him, and would punish anyone who disobeyed him. He collected laws from all the city-states. His most famous law was “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Some penalties for disobeying were death, mutilation, or exile.

Many laws in Hammurabi’s code are very similar to the laws of Moses. In the 1800’s, some scholars thought that the authors of the Bible made up the laws of Moses. Then a pillar with the Code of Hammurabi was found. They noticed that many of the laws were the same. Then the scholars thought that Moses had copied the laws from Hammurabi.

A different explanation can be found in Genesis 26:5 in the Bible which says that Abraham kept God’s commands and laws. Hammurabi might have lived at the same time that Abraham lived and knew some of God’s laws which ended up in his code. Moses didn’t copy from Hammurabi. He copied from God.

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Matthew finished typing his letter today and told me that I could post part of it here:


letter