Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Glimpse Of Our Week...

First Cross-Country Meet

(it was way too hot!)

Science Project- Atom Density

Field Hockey Game Saturday-

Our girls were totally outnumbered and we had no goalie. We won 3-1!!!

Daddy took Samuel and Emma fishing to a perfect little spot just big enough for them to be certain to catch something and they caught plenty!

We met them there for lunch and enjoyed an semi-autumn day. It was still warm but so much more pleasant than the rest of the week.

And upon sight of this little visiting snake we promptly ended our little fishing excursion.

I know you have to look hard, but his body was in the water and he was not a baby.

By the end of the summer, our kids always end up in bed together. Usually it is Hannah's bed because it's the biggest. Sometimes Emma & Hannah will sleep together or Hannah with Sam...sometimes all three.

It isn't something that we do every night, but maybe once or twice a week.

I came in to make sure they were still covered up and that Samuel was not too close to the edge and I found them in this peculiar position.

Both of them fast asleep....with Samuel clinging to Hannah's nose.

Fall is busy for us and I am while I enjoy watching them at their games, it will be nice when things slow down.

Hannah runs cross-country and has practice every day from 2-4 p.m. with meets on Wednesday afternoons. She also plays field hockey with practice once a week and a game on Saturday mornings. We try to keep the "one sport per child rule" but since XC is such a short season we decided to go ahead and let her try it this year.

Emma is still a very dedicated little gymnast. She is at the gym 4 days a week but she doesn't have her first "serious" meet until January.

Samuel is playing soccer with the homeschool group. The coaches are extremely talented and we are very lucky to have them. You can read more about them here.

Take all that and throw it in the pot with music lessons on Tuesday afternoons (Hannah-violin & piano, Emma-guitar), Homeschool Co-op on Wednesday afternoons, a full day of school each day, and with fingers-crossed... a bath, you can see that this pot might boil over any minute.

Busy but blessed :)

****As a housekeeping side note I feel compelled to share this tidbit with you. I know very very VERY little about computers, the Internet, or blogging but I do know this. If you are using Internet Explorer as your browser you will have some trouble viewing my blog. I have tried (and wasted countless hours) to make my blog coherent with both browsers and it just ain't happening. Please download Mozilla as your browser. It is a better browser (from the little bit that I understand) and it's free!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Homeschooling Thoughts

I have begun this post countless times and without fail I have either been interrupted or I have been unable to collect my thoughts in a way that would give Glory to God for a decision that ultimately came as a direct call from Him.

I am going to begin by giving a little back story from my first days of parenting. You all know what days I'm talking about. Remember when we knew everything?

Well, one of the "furshur" things I knew was that I would be continuing to work full-time and with hard work and determination I had plans to expand my career and make oodles of money.

Forget the glaring fact that I cried all the way home each and every Friday afternoon during my 1 1/2 hour commute (one way) OR that I ate lunch alone everyday in my high rise Dallas office because I could not relate to the power-hungry career women that I worked with. These things would work themselves out. The idea that my salary could be eliminated and we would be able to survive on one income was completely out of the question.

Enter....God's Providence (again).

February 20, 1995 the Lord saw fit to bless us with a daughter.

My life was never the same.

Why would I trust her with *anyone* else? I spent every day of my six-week maternity leave weeping over our baby girl. On the eve of my return to work, I looked Chris in the eye and told him.

"It does not matter to me what the cost. I do not care what we have to do. I cannot.....I will not trust the care of this child to someone else."

So there began my journey.

Money? Oh, we did not have money. We did not have *any* money. Beans & cornbread was a staple. We survived on about $200 per week and God's grace. A LOT of God's grace. I won't bore you with the sordid details of how Goodwill was my friend or how to drive a hooptie car all the way to San Antonio with smoke billowing out of the engine.

The point? Sacrifice was required in order for His plan to unfold. A plan that involved all of our children and their upbringing. A divine order of events that has led us to where we are today with all of our children being homeschooled.

I have written about the why's in previous posts and I can still rattle off a jillion-two reasons why this decision is right and best but I often find myself at a loss for words when I am caught off guard or short for time.

It is not just best or better or more convenient. It does not just free up family time and allow for our family relationship to be stronger than it has ever been. Certainly the aspect of a biblical education and a central focus on the Word of God requires an intentional decision in regard to how we teach and structure our day. But I truly believe it is about accountability and doing things....His way.

We joke about how much scrutiny there is, now that I am the teacher. Their math skills, their reading skills and HAVE MERCY the all important social skills are all on display for the world to see and judge whether I have met the mark. Truth be told I am no more or less accountable now than before. The charge has always been mine and the responsibility has *always* fallen squarely on the shoulders of their father and I.

The only difference was I had allowed others to serve as their example and teach to their hearts things that we did not hold as truths.

No more.

Homeschooling is one of those sweet blessings that you can't fully embrace from the shore. Wading out in the depths beyond the crashing waves of possessive pronouns, algebraic phrases, and chemical weathering there lies a calm in the waters.

It has been there where I am grasping the burden and blessing of this decision....

Heavily weighted discussions about the fall of man, the promised seed, and the glorious gift of salvation.

How the squabbles between each of them can only be solved if there is a denial of their selfish nature and a surrender to a Christ-like response.

Being able to nurture and teach my daughters the blessings of homemaking and the opportunity to teach my sons how to grow into responsible young men who are capable and eager to serve their families.

Claiming time as a family....first.

So for all the sincere and genuine interest that my friends and family have shown, I hope I have shed light on how these first two weeks have gone. I will most certainly write about the ups and the downs and we are in no way exempt from the difficulties.


Grammar is basically kicking my rear-end. Good curriculum, but evidenced through my obvious love for run-on sentences, this subject might not be my strong suit. I spend ample time going over this booger before bedtime at night.

Scheduling is still in the "workin' out the kinks" mode right now. Trying to figure out a way for their outside time to coincide with one another is getting easier and making decisions to weed through the activities listed in each curriculum is helpful. It's hard to turn off the "public school" brain long enough to realize that I get to call the shots this time.

I'm tired. Like, really, really, really tired. Like if I curled up in a ball on the cement floor of my garage I could sleep for hours and hours. I think my brain is in shock mode.....Like, maybe it's thinking,

"uh.....message to haven't used this many cells since the 10th grade....uh.......we are about to shut down.....over and out."

Then there is the whole, "No Break" issue. Oh yes my friend. It can be an issue. Years of "me-time" gone by the wayside. It is a good thing. It is a God thing. But in this freckled flesh it still poses an issue. He is working it out of me...bit by bit.

Still, at the end of the day I am at peace. I am challenged, convicted and brought to my knees in a way that I have never been....and I am grateful.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Granddaddy's Thoughts by: John Piper

I didn’t know Felicity Margaret. My experience of her life was entirely through other people for nine months. And my experience of her death, even though it was physically immediate and touchable, has been emotionally experienced almost entirely through other people.

So at this moment, what it means for me to be Felicity’s grandfather is that I am living this loss almost entirely through other people’s experience of this loss. And because of my love for all these people, there is a powerful sweetness in this pain.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have tasted her loss through my daughters-in-law, her aunts Shelly, Melissa, and Lesley. The measure of her worth and the greatness of her loss have been written on your faces, and they are the more beautiful for it.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss in the shattered expectation of her aunt Talitha, my daughter. It was not easy to go to school on Monday. But you and Mommy made a good plan with the school counselor to inform the teachers and students. And now, in a way you never expected, your heart is knit together with Dasia whose little brother Zach was killed by the dog a month ago.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss through her uncles and my sons Karsten, Benjamin, and Barnabas. I broke the news to each of you and watched all your plans change. You are good brothers to each other. And I cannot tell you how much I love the tears and embraces of strong men.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss through her grandmother, my wife Noël. Strange and wonderful. Your tears came slowly and have increased. Mine came quickly and have decreased. Almost the story of our lives. Thank you for knitting Felicity’s blanket, and weeping as you decided to give it to her anyway.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her mother, my daughter-in-law Molly. For her entire life she depended on you more than anyone. You fed her, you cleansed her, you supported her, you protected her, you knew her better than anyone. The grace that God has given you to love her greatly and let her go is amazing. Christ is on display in your life.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her father, my son Abraham. The words from Saturday morning’s phone call are cut into my heart, “Daddy, we lost the baby.” Nothing, Abraham, has gone deeper inside of me than your loss.

Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her great grandfather, my father Bill Piper. And this experience is totally different from all the others. In this case, the loss is all gain. My father died six months and sixteen days before Felicity did. I believe the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ covers the sins of all who trust him and all who are not old enough to trust him here but will trust him later.

Therefore, I believe Felicity and her great grandfather met each other early Sunday morning in the presence of Christ. And my father said, perhaps, “Hello, Felicity. I’m your great grandfather Piper. Come, there is somebody I want you to meet. His name is Jesus. He’s the reason you’re here. You don’t need to be afraid. Your Savior has led you all the way. And Jesus does all things well.”

Read more here and here.

From Hannah's Pathway Reader...

If All the Skies Were Sunshine

If all the skies were sunshine,
Our faces would be fain
To feel once more upon them
The cooling splash of rain.

If all the world were music,
Our hearts would often long
For one sweet strain of silence
To break the endless song.

If life were always merry,
Our souls would seek relief
And rest from weary laughter
In the quiet arms of grief.

-Henry Van Dyke

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Building Cathedrals

What a sweet reminder this served when I read it at Jill's blog, Simply My Thoughts.

I do not need accolades for surrendering to this call. I do not deserve affirmation or gratitude. The blessing found in obedience is my bounty and what a blessing it is.

Building Cathedrals

I'm invisible. It all began to make sense - the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone or cooking or sweeping the floor or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please.

"I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . My friend had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Danielle, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Danielle. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You a re building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become." At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there." As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Please Pray...

My heart is broken for a family that I have never met. Surely carrying life in my womb makes this loss even harder to imagine but it is a sober and constant reminder that God is the author.

Piper writes these words in closing.

This seems so preventable. By God and by man. Yes. So easy. But neither man nor God prevented this. Man, because he did not know it was happening. God, because he has his wise and loving reasons that we wait to learn with tears and trust.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A glimpse of our week....

Fire Station

The co-op that we have joined took a trip to our local fire station last Monday. In a show of appreciation and gratitude for their hard work and in honor of 9/11, all the families joined together and brought the fireman dinner.

First Day of our Co-op....

We meet on Wednesday afternoons from several hours. Right now, the classes rotate from Girl Scouts then Creative Writing and then First Aid.

The classes will change every six weeks but the Girl Scout group will continue to meet throughout the year.

Samuel's age group does a short lesson and story and then some art and music.

The girl in front of the white board is carrying baby #9 on her back. Her oldest child is 10 years old.

Do the math and then pick your chin up off the floor like I did.


Samuel plays soccer with the homeschool soccer group.

Jenn and I are their coaches.

If that didn't make you spew your coffee, then nothing will.

Hannah is playing field hockey and had a game that required us to leave the house by 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.

That should explain the roosterish mohawk hair-do that Samuel is sporting in these pictures.

I have grand plans to rise early in the morning and write about our first week of homeschooling. There is so much to say and I have yet to find adequate time or rest to collect my thoughts in a way that will reflect the joy and blessing this decision has been for our family. Hopefully the morning hours will prove productive for writing!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More news is good news...


The sonogram was Thursday and there was proof beyond the shadow of a doubt. I mean there was no shadow whatsoever. Just good ol' fashioned boy anatomy. Graphic stuff, I tell you so I'll only send those pics to family :)

Here are some precious first snapshots of our baby, who Samuel has affectionately dubbed, "Baby Donut".

Why "Baby Donut" you ask? Well, just look through the archives and study the posts labeled "Samuel".

You should find the answers smack dab on the face of my goofball son.

Everyone had pretty much guessed boy. Everyone but me. I have a proven track record of guessing the wrong sex and this pregnancy has proven no different. We are all thrilled and couldn't be more excited. Well, Samuel is a *tad* excited but has expressed concern over the "skeleton" being stuck in my stomach and he is a bit put out that he cannot play soccer with the baby or "fight him" when he is born. Patience son.

Both will come all too soon :)

One of our first purchases. The navy blue coverall set from Pottery Barn Kids was 75% off.


About that cake at the top of this post. I gave the spill to my girls about baby showers the other day and man, were they disappointed. After I gave it some thought I realized how completely and utterly unfair this whole process was and I have decided to start my own #4 Baby Shower Etiquette. Basically it goes something like this:

Baby Number #4 = Cake

No matter what. I don't really care about the shower or the gifts.

I really care about the cake and the sherbet punch.

So I can make the punch and Jenn, you can make the cake. Surely you can pull off fondant babies and a minimum of three layers, right? Come on girl, you know you want to!

Or maybe this one?

Of course I could make the cake, but it would likely turn out like this one....

Tasty, I'm sure but it just doesn't quite whet the appetite the same way, does it?

There shall be no more cake discrimination. Write it in your book, Emily Post.

I can smell the winds of change....and they smell like vanilla frosting.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A view from our backyard...

I have about 42 things to post about and since I have serious trouble organizing 42 of anything I think I will start with a random post about what took place in our neighborhood today. This is about 50 yards from our back fence!

Actually I'll just let the pictures tell the story on this one!

The horses were prancing and kickin' like crazy!

Monday, September 17, 2007

A New Day...

It is the *Official* First Day of School around here. The kids have been so excited about today and I have to say my heart is so full it is about to burst. What a sweet blessing God has bestowed on our lives. I am forever grateful for the revelation He has given through His Word. I am thankful for the Godly parents who have chosen this path and have been a wealth of wisdom and encouragement.

As the school bus pulled through the neighborhood this morning, my children were gathered around the kitchen table praying over our day.

Hannah said last night before bed, "I don't think I've ever been so excited about the first day of school in my whole life"......

My sentiments exactly :)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Disney Picture

I asked for a simple "smile".

Ya know? Just a regular ol' picture.

The animated cheeseball just seems to happen naturally as soon as the camera is turned on.

Addicted to Reading...

She loves to read. It borders on obsession, but I'm okay with that.

We ordered a group of books from the library a couple of weeks ago and they came in while we were on vacation, so we were not able to pick them up. When we returned home Emma was crushed....I mean all the way to tears.

Both girls are avid readers. I think Hannah needs a jump start after a summer of mostly *mush* reading.

I would love input on finding a resource for age-appropriate literature for my kids. We have relied on recommendations from school and friends, but we have reached a point where we need something more.

I have a small collection of Lamplighters and I could name a dozen or so books that I would love for them to work through this year, but I seem to remember a website (or something) that was a wonderful resource for solid reading references.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Disney Hangover...

We are home from our Disney World trip. (breath in)

We had a wonderful time. (breath out)

We are a bit tired. (breath in)

Prepare yourself for 6-12 weeks of Disney photographs.
I cannot allow 552 pictures to go to waste.

Here's a teaser :)

There was a fair amount of this kind of action going on....

We fell in love with the monorail. Our last trip was a couple of years ago and we stayed at a different resort where we relied on bus transportation. We are not above bus transportation.

O.K......I would like to be above bus transportation and at least for this trip we had options.....that's all I'm sayin'.

Samuel snuck a few of these (a precious few)

Character Pictures..... If you read my Disney posts, then you will endure an endless amount of character pictures. You have been warned....

We made use of our ponchos.....a few times.

Meet Cap'n Jack/Mickey/Samuel....He was in literal hog heaven for the entire week. He is living proof that you can have boundless energy fueled by little more than apple juice and 3 bites of waffles with gummy bears.... THE BOY WAS FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY.

LOOK! It's a Mom....and a Dad.....with all their hair!!!

Overall, we had an absolutely wonderful time. A true blessing of memories and time spent together. I'll share more later after I conquer the MOUND of stinky laundry!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Project....the homeschool bookcase

We took a very beat-up well-loved television armoire and after nearly taking it to the dump thoughtfully considering its value....we decided to make it work. Here she is before her makeover:

What I wanted was this lovely piece from Pottery Barn Kids. Of course it not only cost an arm, a leg and an ear lobe, it also cost 9-trillion bucks for shipping. It comes in every color of the rainbow but I love the white or red.

I needed a middle shelf, a paint job, some bead board and a magician.....


Chris did the carpentry and heavy lifting. Great job Daddy-O! He was a bit disturbed over the distressing part. That whole, "why'd ya have to go and mess it up?" mentality.

I painted it and I suppose because it was humid or because I am an idiot, something didn't go quite right. It looked a bit like I used Elmer's glue and Q-tips and I was in tears the first night.

Seriously. I had oversprayed the whole garage and our neighborhood and then nearly walked into the dentist office with white nose hair. I won't even visit that memory.

I had made such a horrific mess and spent the whole day doing it and now had nothing to show for it.

Insert crying jag and several bowls of Chocolate Lucky Charms.

I called our pastor's wife (aka: the pushy strong-arm who made me do this project) who sweetly surrendered the better part of the following day to come and counsel me through my ordeal......and she repainted the whole stinkin' thing.....and she distressed it.....cause she is some kind of woman.

She says she would do that for anybody, but I think I am extra-special.

Anyhoo, she did a superb job and I think it looks pretty darn good myself :)