Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Walk in the Providence of God

During the two years that I taught at a middle school, I had the privilege of spending two summers with my grandparents who lived in Colorado at the time. Grandpa and Grandma owned a big blue Dodge van which they used for hospitality on wheels. They loaned the van out for church use frequently and also loved to take visitors up into the glorious Rocky Mountains.

As a frequent recipient of blue van hospitality, I wanted to reciprocate and take Grandma to the mountains during her visit last week. At first, she said that she did not want to go, that she had seen the mountains enough, but Aunt Beth whet her appetite with a short jaunt to Boulder Canyon. When we brought up the idea again to take a trip to Sprague Lake, Grandma was game.

We prepared our gear the night before to be ready to hit the road at 8 a.m. Our departure was delayed first by trying to figure out Grandma's medication and then by troubleshooting malfunctioning oxygen cannisters. Thankfully, James had the day off, and being blessed with "The Knack", he was able to fix the regulator. We left about an hour and half "late".

Driving into Estes Park, we realized that it would be better to eat lunch before going on into Rocky Mountain National Park. We parked near Lake Estes and had a picnic while watching rainstorms surrounding us. Lighting flashed in the dark clouds hovering over the surrounding mountains, but we lunched in the one bright spot of the landscape.

Aunt Beth questioned whether it would even be worth it to venture into Rocky Mountain National with the rain. I pointed out that we could still take a short scenic drive in the park, and she agreed. I silently asked the Lord for good weather so that Grandma would be able to get out and enjoy the mountains. We pulled into the parking lot near Sprague Lake and helped Grandma into her wheelchair while she donned a rainhat, jacket and grabbed her umbrella. As we started walking, the sun broke out of its cloud covering and spread its rays over the lake.

We enjoyed strolling with Grandma around the lakeside path, while the kids climbed boulders and chucked stones in the water. Baby ducks, seemingly without parental supervision, entertained us by darting in and out of the grass at the water's edge. Grandma got out of her wheelchair and walked a third of the way while holding on to her chair. We all soaked in the sun and the beauty of the scenery.

After circling the lake, Grandma said that she thought we should head home. As we walked to the van and the car, the clouds rolled in and started sprinkling. We drove out of the park in a downpour. Aunt Beth and I both said, "Thank you Lord!" as we realized how he had timed our trip. From our perspective, it had seemed like hassles arose which made us "late" in starting our trip, but God, as always, by His Providential care brought us to the lake at just the right time to bless us with a lovely lakeside walk. (Click here for yet another example which I blogged about. Why don't I recognize and praise God for His Sovereign Providence every minute of every day?!)
For I know that the LORD is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the LORD pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Ps. 135: 5-7

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Grandma Jennie

We had important visitors to our side of the mountain last week. My Grandma Jennie, accompanied by my parents, flew to Denver to visit her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We were thankful that, at 93 years old, Grandma was healthy enough to make the trip and to enjoy it!


While talking with Grandma, she told me some stories from her life that I had not heard before. As she watched Elijah (2 weeks older than Logan) looking at a book, she commented that she had not had so many books as a young girl. She remembered aloud that she had come down with Scarlet Fever at the tender age of five, and that, sadly, one of the possessions that was burned to rid the house of germs was her family's Bible storybook.

I asked Grandma specifically to tell some stories from her days as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. She recalled riding on horseback to school and the time her father admonished her not to ride so fast after the neighbors reported that they feared for her life. She slowed down.

After she agreed to teach, she heard the tale of the previous teacher whom the eighth graders locked in the coat closet all afternoon one day. She had to be strict from day one with her students. One eighth grade boy decided to challenge her when she told him to stop misbehaving. "Are you big enough to make me?" he sassed.

She replied, "No, but I think you are big enough to do the right thing."

He stopped.

Grandma mused on the fact that she had a limited time each day to work with each grade. It impressed me to realize how much independent work her students were expected and able to do.

Please visit Sophie's Side and The Far Side to read the kids' posts about their week with family.

I'll post more pictures and stories later...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tangy Chicken and Rice with Peas

When I roast chicken, this recipe is one way I make use of leftover chicken. It is adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe. It has a tangy zip to it that keeps it from being a "Plain Jane" chicken & rice dish.


2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups long-grain brown basmati rice
3 1/2 cups chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon chicken base which is gluten-free and msg-free.)
1 pound leftover shredded chicken (or just put leftover chicken in until it looks right :)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
Juice of 1 lime

  1. Pulse the onions and parsley in a food processor until finely chopped. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the rice and broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  2. Add the shredded chicken to the rice along with the peas. Cover the rice and cook until heated through. Stir in the lime juice and half of the almonds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowls and top with the remaining almonds.

Nature Journal Entry

I finally scanned in Matthew's journal entry about the Ruddy Duck and posted it on the Far Side of the Mountain. Would someone please let me know if you are able to click on the picture of his journal entry and make it larger? If you want to make his day, leave a comment. :) Thanks!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Matter of Perspective

After the recital, we went out to eat as a family to a restaurant (with a gluten free menu). As we ordered our food, waited, and began eating, I noticed two older couples at two different tables across the aisle watching our family with interest. I also realized that Logan had already used up most of his content baby reserves at the recital. Probably not the best time to eat out.

James and I kept swapping out items to hold Logan's interest and entertain him as he sat in the wooden high chair. In short order, things started to irritate him, and he began to merely fling the objects to the floor and rev up to fuss. I took something from him which he was winding up to throw and in the process of tossing his head in a fit, he bumped his mouth on the table in front of him. Of course wailing ensued as I wrangled him out of the chair straps and onto my lap, popping the paci into his mouth as fast as possible. Thankfully the paci and my lap quieted him, though I noticed one of our observers shaking her head out of the corner of my eye.

James and I juggled Logan between us and the high chair again as we ate. Our dinner conversation also included phrases such as, "Eat like you are in public and not like you are in a barn," and "Leave your sister alone."

One of the observing couples left and then the other got up to leave. They walked over to us and with smiles on their faces, they repeatedly congratulated us on our "beautiful and well-behaved children." I beamed back at them and thanked them with relief in my heart.

I was tempted to let the praise of the couple go to my head and be self-congratulatory, but the conviction over my own lack of peace and my own temper earlier while trying to get everyone to the recital on time nipped that in the bud. I thanked God then...

...and now as I type this for the blessings of family which spilled over to others at that restaurant.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Piano Recital

The kids had a piano recital on Saturday and in the stress of getting everyone out the door in time, I forgot the camera. The children played well over all, but each one got a little more flustered than in previous recitals.

Sophie played well and even emoted more at the keys with the awareness of the audience. I had to smile to myself, though, when she played her second piece an octave higher than written. When she returned to her seat, I asked her in a whisper if she realized that she had played it higher. She smiled, saying no, explaining that she felt soooo nervous when she played.

Matthew walked swiftly up front, sliding onto the bench, his hand starting the piece before his body came to a halt! Of course, his head was not "in the game" and the piece unraveled. He just started over again and then played fine.

Evan became dismayed when he got up to the piano and realized that he could not back the bench to his preferred distance from the instrument due to a step in the way. He did look rather cramped, and the close quarters appeared to cramp his style as well. He was shaky in his playing at first, but then settled in to the performance and finished well. He played the pieces that he performed in the recent competition and added the second movement to the Kuhlau Sonatina as well. He just began practicing the second movement after the competition, and I was impressed with how quickly he learned the movement and even memorized it!

While each child struggled somewhat with the performance, it still was a good and positive experience.

Before the recital, I debated whether to attend bringing Logan. Usually babies and recitals do not mix well. I decided to try it, even if it meant standing in the hallway the whole time. Logan weathered the hour and a half recital beautifully, and I only stepped out into the hallway with him for the last two performers (and still could listen through the open doorway while he crawled around.) It was cute how he was able to pick Evan's pieces out of the line-up after hearing them for so long. He started smiling with the familiar music and rocking in time.

Since I forgot the camera, I recorded the kids performing their pieces today. Evan just played the second movement of the Kuhlau Sonatina for this session. It became a game of concentration. Hear who won: Evan or Logan?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Notes from Our House


Reporting from Fort Logan... The dining room table is just the right height for a baby-sized hide-out. Logan thinks it is funny when I peer down at him through the glass.

Look at me holding up a tree!

This kid can crawl fast.

The older three have been wanting to learn how to sew, which is something I don't have a handle on myself. My cousin Julie has agreed to get us started on sewing using the book Buckles and Bobbins for the boys and Stitches and Pins for Sophie. We have James' Grandma's old sewing machine which I need to take in to get fixed. Years ago I tried to use it, but the bobbin thread got snarled inside the machine every time, even after I had it adjusted. It did the same thing for Julie when she tried to use it. For the kids' first lesson, Julie showed them the tools we will be using and explained their use, demonstrated how to thread the machine, and had each of them practice that much. After the machine is repaired, we will continue...


Logan enjoyed the sewing lesson in his own way.

One evening this past week, Evan announced "I just finished Redwall."

I asked, "How many times have you read that book?!"

"Six" he replied, "but I skip over some parts that I know really well like sword hunting."

"What!" interjected Matthew, "That is the best part!"

Fake Food

In my recent egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free culinary adventures I have been pleasantly surprised by a food that at first glance did not seem fit for human consumption.

Fake cheese.

As a child, I detested imitation cheeses such as "American" or "Velveeta" which I sometimes had to eat anyway, because they were cheaper than the real thing. (I know! Poor me.)

Anyway, my longing for pizza led me to consume soy "cheese" in spite of its unappealing, clammy, gelatinous texture. Admittedly, I won't eat it cold, but melted on top of a gluten-free pizza, it is a reasonable facsimile.

On the other hand, my hopes for "Rice Dream" or "Soy Dream" ice cream standing in for the real dairy treat were dashed by the aftertaste. Yuck. Just yuck. But maybe what is bad for the tastebuds will be good for the waistline. ;-)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dress for All Seasons

These two pictures show some long-sleeved dresses that my daughter wore during cool weather. (Admittedly, the lavender dress was a bit big on her at the time of the first picture, but it was spring, and she wore the dress throughout the following winter.)


And below are the same dresses altered for warmer weather! My daughter will grow out of the dresses by this coming fall, but the short sleeves add to the time that she can wear them.


The light colors and knit fabrics allow these dresses to span the seasons. Works for me!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Here is a hilarious video that I saw over at Smockity Frocks and just have to share:

Friday, June 01, 2007

If You Were a Fly On Our Wall...

"Pillow Talk"

James: "I'm glad that I married you."

Me: "I'm glad that I married someone who lives in Colorado." (...Cracking myself up.)

James: Good-natured laughter

(I'm so glad that I married someone who enjoys my teasing.)

"Pillow-Talk" Part Two

Me: "I don't ask for much. Just get me something gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free."

James: "'Nothing' is easy!"

During the Televised National Spelling Bee

Matthew impersonating a judge: "Spell 'nonsense'"

Matthew impersonating a contestant answering: "Khwoihtksdtl"

(Get it? He made me laugh!)

Overheard on a Daily Basis

Any given member of this family: "Evan would you please stop singing Christmas songs?"