He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9

Water!!

Poor baby boy. I got home form teaching tonight and he’s cranky. David said he thought he was hungry. Caiden was outside with daddy watering the flowers with the hose. I took a few pretzels out to Caiden to hold him over until supper. He let out the most pathetic wails you ever heard….a pretzel was NOT what he had in mind to fill the void within. But then he discovered the puddles of water Daddy was creating. He lay down and started slurping it up from the ground!! The poor kid is so thirsty he’s drinking water from a puddle like a horse!! So I got him a sippy cup of goat milk and he’s happy now. Please don’t turn us in. We usually don’t starve our children. Only on Mondays.





By the way…my baby boy will be 11 months old tomorrow.




He gives good kisses and hugs....gets it from 'is daddy, 'e does!
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Big Mouth Mom


You didn’t really think I could keep my cybermouth shut all week, did you?

Okay. I should have known I couldn’t stay away from my blogging hobby. I had a very productive day, so I’m allowing myself to tell a few stories tonight while I toot around the kitchen listening to jazz and fixing supper. (My desk is right beside the fridge.)
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Laying Down the Rails


Oh! Before I go, I've got to tell you about a new resource I just got that I'm TOTALLY excited about. It's called "Laying Down the Rails." It is a huge book from the awsome site Simply Charlotte Mason on habits-training for children. It is a compilation of Charlotte Mason's thoughts and advice on habits-training. It's pricey, and a little overwhelming at first. But an incredible resource. It has already brought fresh ideas and clarity to my parenting. (Goodness knows I need all of that I can get!!)

There is a wonderful categorized checklist at the back for each habit. Even if I don't actually check things off as I go, it helps to organize my wandering thoughts and gives me courage to expect more of my kids - and myself. Ouch.

See what you think: Laying Down the Rails
The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.—Charlotte Mason
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The promise of my silence

Things will probably be pretty quiet on my end this week (if I can stand it). I need to wrap up most of the packing and get my studio recital out of the way. Moving day is 3 weeks from tomorrow, but there's a scary amount happening between now and then. If you're absolutely DESPERATE for reading material, :) you can catch some of my old entries on the website blog.
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My Amazing Mother




I can tell my mom has been here. Kayla just asked me how to spell An TAB ee un (amphibian). This is, I'm sure, in reference to one of my mother's training sessions.


Kayla often asks questions like....."Mommy, can we talk about lying? (or the beginning of the world or some other obscure thought that passes through her 4-year-old brain).


So this time she got the blessing of getting the creation talk from my brilliant mother. She taught her about dinasaurs and amphibians who grow limitlessly larger with age and the firmament and the flood and sickness and how it all ties together. If my mom had access to all the kids in America this world would turn on its head.


My mom made a big sacrifice and came to help me pack for a few days. I'm so spoiled! She can work circles around just about anybody. She caught up all of my special laundry (spots, dry-clean, handwashing), spread about 40 cubic feet of decorative mulch, worked on the gardening, bought me some new flowers, shampooed carpet, took care of a gaggle of kids while I sorted and packed, organized and packed the dreaded storage room, cooked meals, cleaned up poop, gave spankings, read stories, hung blinds and a host of other things.


She flew home Wednesday and had to face her own world and teaching the next morning, but it was such a blessing. Here are some pics.
























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Idiosyncrasies

Strange children. My 4-year-old bugged me into starting her schoolwork at 7:20 in the morning on SATURDAY! And my 2-year-old is begging for coffee. Kayla doesn't even have to do schoolwork - much less on Saturday -- and she's sitting there happily doing her phonics and writing. As for the coffee...don't know how Karissa got such an affinity for coffee. I love it, but don't make it very often. It must be because I always add sugar....she'd eat grasshoppers if you covered them in sugar or chocolate. Caiden is my only normal child this morning.
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Home Date

I'd love to stay and chat...but I'm off to curl up by my man with a good movie. (At least we HOPE it'll be good.) This has been quite a frustrating day, so we splurged on some cookies-and-cream icecream after we tucked all the little people away. We finished our bowls off over a deep discussion about Greek tenses and theology - most of which completely baffled me. But the ice cream and the company were both delicious. Can't complain.
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Body Image

Wow. If you're raising girls, you may want to listen to these awesome Focus on the Family broadcasts. They talk about starting to create the right mindset with your girls when they're as young as 5 years old - or younger. I'm thinking about getting the book, too!

Developing a Healthy Body Image - Part 1

Developing a Healthy Body Image - Part 2

Comfortable in Your Own Skin by Dr. Deborah Newman
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Sack Races

My poor deprived kids (bless their Generation Z hearts) had their very first sack race today! What fun.
Be thankful there was no other adult here to take the pics of yours truly in a sack race....




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It's almost over...and only just begun

Today my brilliant and mystifying husband defends his thesis.

To me, it's a big step. One of the last landmarks before putting the final touches on his work and walking down the aisle in a ridiculous black hat.

But David? Cool as a cucumber. Calm as a mountain lake. Happily and noisily crunching away at his sugared cereal as if he isn't hours away from being hammered with technical theological questions.

He handles constructive criticism unspeakably more maturely than I. Looking at the red-scrawled comments of a mentor on the thick pages representing months (years!) of work and writing....he is able to focus on the compliments and fix the criticisms. It's that simple! I, on the other hand, would have to spend an exhausting amount of energy trying to tell myself that I'm not a total failure and complete idiot for having room for improvement in my work.

Anyway....he's amazing. And today is the last big step. I'm excited. But around the corner lies a monster we have yet to face. I fear we're stepping from preschool into Harvard. I don't doubt for one moment David's ability to rise to the challenges of a PhD with poise and calm. I do, however, sometimes doubt my own ability to hold body and mind and household and budget together as a "seminary widow." (I think you have to experience that term to fully understand it.)

But I'm excited. And a little jealous.

Why is it, though, that the hats get more ridiculous as the degrees progress? Another mystery.
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More on Oswald Chambers

I'm not sure what the date is today, but I read 4/23 and 4/24 in My Utmost. I struggle to put into words how much his writing speaks to me. It's as if he is from the past and through his pages what my dear friend Wingrove Taylor is to me today. Spiritual mentors. Examples of holiness in its intended application. Voices who challenge and clarify and soothe because their message rings so incredibly true to the Spirit in me. They just get it.

Today's reading has so many meals in it I even hesitate to try to do them justice. But it's just too good not to comment.

April 23...the Worship of the Work.
"Beware of any work for God which enables you to evade concentration on Him."

and "A great many Christian workers worship their work."

and....the joy of having margin in your spiritual life! (Long before the wonderful book Margin was written...highly recommended by me for shaping your whole life philosophy.)

and ...the freedom!

Of living a life turned full-faced to God in worship, not in work. The work will, of course, follow. But God does not need my work. He wants my affection. I could go on and on, but it must speak to everyone in their own way. I fear I will wax obnoxious.

Then at the bottom was a little word of correction and caution for me concerning my future. I forget at times that having degrees or experience or children does not give me the "right" to dictate my future. Much of my future -- both near and long-term -- is a great mystery. I have been feeling His gentle hands chipping and shaping at my contentment level. I think that's a subject for another post, but I am reminded that I will be happiest when I roll down the windows and enjoy the ride.
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The Bible, Indians, Onion Breath & Discipleship

The baby was a stinker from about 4:00am on, so I was looking forward to some quiet time in the dark living room with the sound of the rain and the blue almost-morning.



But I'm a mom.



Kayla joined me as I was having devotions. She couldn't find her own Bible so she borrowed Karissa's. Then Karissa wanted hers back, so she borrowed mine. As she flipped through the 12-year-old pages of my Bible, she said: "The Bible sure says a lot!" I responded,

"Yeah...it tells us everything we need to know about life."

And the wonder of it hit me as my mind flew over the truth of that fact.



His Word has the wisdom I need for today. In principles that define me. In the way it tells me to live. In practical application.



By the way...you moms know how challenging it is to get that closet door closed with early bird kids. Try to meditate with two girls on the couch making indian noises. Smelling mysterious 2-year-old onion breath....Hearing the baby stir.



Oswald Chambers was piercing this morning, and as always, relevant to the moment. He talked about our responsiblity to make disciples. And it hits me again...my first responsibility of discipleship is not first to those people in my second ring of influence, but to the two little sour-cream-and-onion breath indians sitting beside me on the couch.



Kayla asks me what page a certain scripture she memorized is on....and with new clarity my day begins.
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My Favorite Things

Just Some of My Favorite Things.....




Tulips









Curling up with a Good Book









Coloring with a brand new box of Crayons




Fresh White Sheets












The sound of the sea






A Good Belly Laugh










warmin' up my feet (NOT my husband's favorite!)












Rain










Walks - any kind
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My Honey's Home!

It's been a l-o-n-g week. It was so good to see him walk in today as I was teaching. I just had to jump up and kiss his handsome face. It's just not the same without him around here. We get to go on a date in the morning!!


Kissin' on the Golden Gate




Celebrating our anniversary at San Francisco Bay



Packing the kids on a hike


Biking the Mono Trail
What a Man!!



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Wisdom for the Moments



Dear Father,

It's been a rough parenting week. My nerves are fraying. My spirit is tense. My thoughts are jumbled. My body is weary. My emotions are flat.

Sickness has worn us down. My children have tested me relentlessly. I have responded firmly, but it hasn't seemed to make a difference....

I feel such a desperate need for your quiet, steady guidance this morning.

Please help my children today to sense that sweet calm that all is well at home. Help them not only to know that their Mamma loves them, but that I like them, approve of them and enjoy being with them in the kid stuff.

Lord, I'm trying so hard to follow your plan for training children in Godliness. But today I'm overwhelmingly aware of my insufficiency without You guiding each step.

I realize that beyond the scriptures and habits and chores and creeds they're learning - the biggest thing they're learning from me is the aroma that comes from my inner life. The by-product of my life in You which surrounds me and touches them each moment they're with me.

God, forgive me. Grow me up. And make up the difference in what I haven't learned yet.

Please give me wisdom for the moments. Joy for my children. Rest in what I cannot accomplish.

And quiet in my spirit.

Amen




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Creative Correction

Buuut -Ieee -waaaant -aaaa-PEANUT BUTTER SAAANDWICH - for - breakfaaaaast!!! She wailed.

Kayla had made her request for breakfast, but when I went to the breadbox I found that the loaf was nearing the end of its goodness. So I offered to make French Toast instead. Kayla went ballistic. I stuck with my decision and sent the whining wailer to her room.

By the time I finished the bubbling french toast, I let Kayla come back to the kitchen and join us for breakfast. In her place was a simple, folded peanut butter sandwich. On our plates, Karissa and I had thick slices of french toast. I explained that in our house we don't complain and throw fits about what it being served, but are grateful for what we have. (In my best mommy voice, I'm sure.)

Karissa and I made a big deal of slathering our slices with maple syrup and sprinkling on a little powdered sugar. We oohed and aahed over our delicious french toast.

"Mommy, I think I decided that I WOULD like some french toast."
"No, babe - you already made your decision about what you wanted."

Kayla sat quietly and somberly and ate half of her peanut butter sandwich.....



By the way....there is an awesome book by this title - one of my absolute favorites.
Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel
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Hymn-Singing


Holy Holy HOLY Dear Dad al-ighty....holy-ous!! (long note with vibrato)

This, Karissa's 2-year-old version of Holy Holy Holy that she's been belting out this morning. What a character with her fuzzy pink purse slung over her arm.
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Just Another Mommy Morning


Just made my coffee....listening to some coffee house tunes.........fixing breakfast....putting an exciting new "growing lobster" in a jar of water....changing diapers.......finding a discarded diaper dumped in the water of the trashcans soaking in the tub (yuck!!)....finding a bowl of goat milk pudding spilled all over the living room....giving spankings...answering a million questions....
and praying that God will remind me how precious and valuable and holy it is, this thing I do.
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To See and Hear Like He Does

From the Website....

Want to get into the brain of a missionary? A heart-touching article by my friend Melodie Sankey, missionary to Mexico.

"To See and Hear Like He Does"
Read the Article >>


(Every once in a while, I'll link to some neat stuff on our website. This is the first "From the Website.")
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Live Streaming of IHC

Hey! Those of you who would love to be at IHC, but are at home blogging instead.....

Great News! I just found out that you can listen to online live streaming of the services. GBS is playing tonight...you know I'm listening!

Here's the link: www.ihconvention.com
Caiden's been sitting here dancing and directing as the GBS ensemble plays. I've been singing and praying along as I cry and clean the kitchen.
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Bottoms Up

Newsflash: I changed 16 (oops - now make that 17) diapers in about 13 hours today. (That's a lot, by the way!)


But on the brighter side: Caiden is some better. He had some energy and some appetite today. I'm sure he'll be well just about the time David gets home to help. hee hee.

I realize that this most certainly is NOT brilliant blog material. But it is sooo where I am.... As I've said before, I don't think I'm even capable of a brilliant thought today. So dullsville is what you get.
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Need a Laugh?

Check out the video at the bottom of the page....
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Wholly Sacred

I spoke tonght in church about a habit it is easy to be guilty of - splitting our lives into the "sacred" and the "secular." Then tonight I found an entry in a beautiful website (soon to expire) about a seamless life - "A One Piece Life."

Beautiful.
Thought provoking.
Probing.
Inspiring.



Read it for yourself.


Special thanks to Dixie's Blog for leading me to the Sacred Everyday website.
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Poopy Diaper Day

Oh Girls. I don't want to sound negative. But I'm having a poopy diaper day. I know you've all been there.

I'm home alone for the week with sick kids. David's gone to GBS and IHC on a recruitment trip for the seminary. Caiden has been very sick all week - since we got back from the wedding. He's very weak, and is losing fluids constantly. My aunt is a pediatrics ask-a-nurse, and so I have plenty of information for taking care of him at home. But it requires very frequent, small fluid doses. I've also started him on Lactobacillus to restore balance to his system and the BRAT diet. But he doesn't want to be put down. He's usually a very jolly, belly laughing baby but he can barely muster a smile when I do one of about 30 diaper changes a day. He's usually right on the heels of the girls - tearing things up with vigor. But the only play he can muster now is lightly tapping some pens together.

I'm leading the services this week for David while he's gone. Which usually isn't a big deal to me...unless you've got a baby that is sick at both ends, a 2-year old with the croup and a 4-year old in an asthma episode! HELP!!!

The cup-half-empty side of me is envisioning myself at dragging my 3 kids alone to the ER for Kayla's asthma, Karssa's pheumonia, Caiden's dehydration, and my own ear infection. (Way to think positive, sis!)

My home - which brings me joy and comfort in its peaceful state - is now half-packed. Stacks of packed and unpacked boxes are making my stress level stay unusually high. I feel the pressure of getting some packing done every day, as well as keeping up with the "sick" laundry, normal household tasks and teaching 3 days a week.

Teaching my lessons with 3 munchkins in the house when David is gone is challenging enough even when they're not sick! If these kids don't get well, I don't see how in the world I'm going to give my students their money's worth this week.

Everyone got together today at Mom and Dad's and De and Mark opened their wedding gifts. Without me.

It was pretty hard handing David his lunch and watching him drive away the spiffy red PT Cruiser the seminary rented for him. But I made my decision and I'll live with it, right!? Yes.

I've already sat on the kitchen floor and cried and prayed over Caiden. Now I'd better get something planned for this evening's service. (Oh yeah and do the dishes....)

Thank you for listening. It's great to have girlfriends who just listen. I'm resisting the temptation to only blog the "I'm-so-happy-and-my-life-is-perfect" stuff.

(As I published this, I just realzed the irony of my post title. It's actually a phrase I got from my favorite violin teacher....but it's rather fitting in more than one way today. hee hee.)
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More on De's Wedding

A lot of you were at the wedding, but some of you probably don't even know my sister. So here's the scoop.

About Deanna: She is my older sister. She is a happy, brilliant and energetic person. Her name means "bubbling over." (Those of you who know her are probably smiling.) She has a BA in Elementary Ed from GBS and a MA in Violin Performance from Miami University, Oxford. She is my Dad's right hand man in the GBS music division. She is an amazing teacher, sister and friend.

About Mark: He is British. His immediate family lives in Northern Ireland. His grandmother lives in Oxford, England. He is incredibly intense, just like Deanna. (We think their kids will be born with their hair standing on end, reading Tolstoy.) He is also very intelligent, and is finishing his master's degree in Church History from Cincinnati Christian University. He graduates in a few weeks. He was a professional auctioneer back in Europe before he moved to the states to get a couple more degrees and a wife. He is also a preacher and has traveled several years in Public Relations for GBS.

The Wedding: The music was incredible. All of the prelude and ceremony music was classical or sacred. Some of Deanna's previous violin students provided some wonderful solo and string quartet music with Rachelle. Our aunt Nancy sang beautifully. Martha Miller - our teacher, mentor and dear friend - completely outdid herself on the music. Phillip Bishop played the organ like a master. The Craters sang beautifully. It was exquisite. Larry Smith (our cousin), Dr. Alan Brown, and Mark's father officiated the wedding. A group of friends and family flew in from Europe to celebrate the day. We shared many happy memories with them, exchanging customs and trying to figure out what in the world they were saying under those accents. The dresses were black, the roses red. Very fitting for De and Mark's love for art and culture. But Deanna's color is blue. Everyone who knows her knows that. So there were navy accents at the wedding and reception. They left the wedding surrounded by happy bubbles and had a picture of the couple and the guests around the "fish pond" - now a fountain - in the center of GBS.

The Reception: It was classic, with white table cloths, silver tiered candleabras on each table and red roses arranged in blue glass vases. (From De's collection of blue glass.) The cake was amazing. Marianne Brown (Dr. Phil Brown's wife) made the cake. It was chocolate and white layered with raspberry filling. There were 4 square tiers, surrounded by blue ribbon and exquisite edible pearls. On the top was Deanna's pride and joy - a Hummel cake topper from Grandma and Grandpa Parsons (antique dealers). There was lots of fun music at the reception, including my Uncle John (a veterinarian and blues pianist) and my dad singing some of his classic Irish tunes. "Archie" - a hilarious Irishman with a very thick accent - was the emcee for the wedding. He told great stories. Our dad also gave a tear-jerker speach among others. Our mom catered the wedding - with cheesecakes and a chocolate fountain gracing the cake table, an all-white h'ourdourves table, another with marinated cheese and white punch. The dinner included a fresh-fruit table, roast and ham and all the trimmings. It beautiful and delicious. Linda Alexander led a team of helpers who carried it all out. Mom also catered the rehearsal dinner, held at their new home in Colerain.

The Car: It is a Parsons-family tradition. We have to trash the new couple's car. At my parents' wedding, they put a board in the accellerator & giant bullfrogs in the car. At my Aunt Lisa's, they kidnapped them and drove them around Kansas City in the back of a pickup truck. At mine, they completely wrapped our car in plastic wrap and purchased white rats (correction, mice...MOM!) for the inside. At Garen's, they had a filled swimming pool in the back of his truck with dozens of goldfish swimming away. Mark and De tried to trick their way out of it, but we got them anyway. Raw eggs mixed with flour and peanut butter adorned the top of the car, mixed with plenty of blue Easter Grass. The door handles were smeared with who knows what, and the car was platered with cheezy Irish sayings. Mark handled it well. He paced around and around the car in the freezing weather for awhile, trying to figure out what to do. But even when they did get into the car, there was a bigger prob lem. The car was completely jacked up on platforms!! My brother finally got his hydraulic jack out and rescued them right around the time my Aunt Lisa came for a visit dressed like the Easter Bunny. After all that is over, we jump into our cars and chase after the couple for miles, honking our horns and surrounding their hideous car. Don't try to understand why this is fun. It's just us. Our cousin Gabe was in heaven watching, or he would have been in the thick of it.

Honeymoon, Etc.: They went out west on their honeymoon last week. It was probably the first time either one of them sat down for more than 5 minutes in months. Next week they hit the ground running with IHC, grad school classes, and their regular hectic schedule. After Mark graduates and school finishes at GBS, they will be moving back to Northern Ireland. They will be pastoring, traveling, and they both are interested in pursuing doctoral work (as time and money allows).

Visit Mark and Deanna's Website GO>>

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That's My Girl!

Oh, Karissa.......
Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do - even if she is in front of 400 people, holding the hand of a handsome British fellow wearing his Scottish colors! Mamma's proud of you, Baby!
Click the picture for a great view of the nose-picking.
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Deanna's Wedding

It was WOW. Of course, I'm the very faithful and biased sister. But it really was a very beautiful day. Nelda Sturgill, our long-time friend, adopted sister, resident midwife and family photographer has provided links of the entire event for the picture junkies. For those of you with a less voracious photograph appetite, I'll try to add a few of the best pics to the blog later.

Mander Pre-Wedding Shoot

Mander Wedding

Mander post-Wedding Shoot

Mander Wedding Reception

Mander Wedding Clean-up


De called me yesterday from their honeymoon about something and they sounded V-E-R-Y happy buzzing along through Nevada in their white Mustang convertable. {smiles}
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Prayer of St. Francis

This song has been with me since early last week. I've hesitated to post it because I'm paranoid about copyright laws. I think since it's St. Francis it's public domain. Please let me know if I'm wrong.
Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury..pardon.
Where there is doubt...faith
Where there is despair...hope
Where there is darkness...light
Where there is sadness...joy!

O, Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek.
To be consoled, as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to Love

For it is in giving that we recieve
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in dying that we are born
to Eternal Life!

If you've never heard this sung, you need to go online and find it. This song gives me courage to react to life the way I should, not the way I feel.
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Switching


I have decided to switch my "just thinking" blog from the website back to our old blogging format. This is an experiment. I am often not decisive decision-maker. So, I'll keep you posted if I decide to switch my blog back to the website.

Until then...welcome! Let's chat.
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