December 31, 2010

The flashback episode...

If you watch TV during this holiday week, and especially on this last day of the year, you’ll find many programs that are either reruns, flashback episodes, or countdowns of favorite moments.  Think of this post as some combination of all of those.  And just as those TV people are simply trying to enjoy a holiday break and rely on previous work to get them out of doing it now, so am I.
Today I’ll share which of the posts on this little blog have been my personal favorites.  Realizing that nobody is truly able to judge their own work neutrally and critically, I don’t list these based on some measure of their quality.  They’re just ones that have special meaning to me.
This was a year in my life of both joy and sorrow, as I’m sure it has been for many of you.  Few years go by in life without a little of each.  But my Lord has led me through it, just as He does every year.  He has also blessed me with a wonderful family and life, and this year has given me an opportunity to share all of that with all of you.
So without further ado, I give you my favorite posts of 2010:

Happy new year to all of you from all of us here at home in the Wilburness!

December 30, 2010

Cut it out...

As you may have noticed, I like to include photographs with each post.  It adds something to the little tidbit I write, and helps distract you if the writing should happen to be dull and lifeless.  But before I add the photos, I take a few minutes to crop them in order to suit my purposes.
It may be a matter of cropping off the laundry pile to the right of the houseplant, if the plant is to be the focus, or cropping off the plant, if the laundry needs to take center stage.  Or perhaps it’s a group shot where only one person looked good, and they’re the one I needed to highlight to go with a blog post.  Off with the other people, and there we have it.  Sometime it’s simply a matter of getting rid of the background and focusing in on the person or object.  Since I’m no photographer, our 20,000 or so pictures are all mediocre.  But with basic cropping tools found in almost any photograph editing program on the computer, I can make the most of my photos and draw attention to the subject at hand.
For example:
Before: a nice picture, but the time stamp, the balled socks, the salt and pepper,
the red stepstool, and the junk on the chest all draw your eye away from Zach

After: His Royal Cuteness gets the attention he deserves
Throughout my life I have often been accused of being too much of an optimist.  There is undoubtedly some validity to that label, and as proof I’ll say that even my optimism is a good thing.  Much like the cropping of the photographs, I try to concentrate my attention on the good that I see and not dwell on that which is unpleasant or unnecessary.  I just use a simple editing tool.  It’s a pleasant way to look at life.

December 29, 2010

Our covert operation: 2 days, 12 relatives, 700 miles

 
Zach showing his little cousin Jayden
how he builds with Legos

Nana with one of her granddaughters,
our cute little niece Giuliana

We completed a whirlwind tour of the northeastern United States over the past couple days, visiting my husband’s mom and family in Pennsylvania as well as his dad in New Jersey.  Traveling around the holidays isn’t easy, but was well worth the time spent with loved ones.  We’ve returned home to plenty of Christmas chaos still left to be tidied up in our house, so in the interest of time, I’ll simply share two things with you today, the first being a glimpse of the visit with our family from the past couple days, seen in pictures throughout today’s post.
Zach, Daniel, and Grandpa

And secondly, I’ll draw your attention to something else about that trip: unless you are one of the people in those pictures, or are another close relative or friend, you had no idea our house was empty for two days.  Part of our effort to be secure and safe around here is to not publicize those rare times that we are away from our house.  It makes me cringe when I see Facebook posts or bold messages in other public arenas telling the world  (especially those fond of breaking-and-entering-and-looting) that there is a perfect target available.  If you are one who shares that sort of thing publicly, I urge you to reconsider.  It’s not just your friends and family you’re telling your news to – it’s every creepy lurker too.

Scott, Grandpa, and Audra

In the two days we were away, I wrote of how my husband and I divide up the work at home as well as a little something about laundry baskets.  I posted no advertisements announcing our absence to those who would like to break into our house and steal our stuff.  Then again, I don’t even tell you exactly where we live, now do I?  You may call it paranoia, but I call it prudent precaution.  We live in an age in which we feel compelled to share personal things publicly, myself included, but it ought to be done with thought and care.  We love our families and homes so much that we choose to inform the whole world about them; they must also be worth protecting.
Daniel and Zach playing with their dad on his new phone
just before bed at Nana's house

Audra, on the right, gets artsy-craftsy
with her young aunt Dina, left,
and her cousin Isabella, center

December 28, 2010

A basket case...

For some reason that is somewhat of a mystery to me, the post in which I shared information about how our moderately large family accomplishes efficient laundering of our clothes seems to have struck a chord with some who read this little blog, since it is the most frequently read post.  As you may have noticed in my detailed description, laundry baskets play no part in the system.  That isn’t to say we have an aversion to them; they just aren’t necessary because our laundry area is located so close to where we sort and fold the clean clothing.  We just scoop the clothes out of the dryer and bring them to the sofa in our arms.
Since that has only been the case in our current house, we do own a few baskets from other laundry arrangements in our previous homes.  We’ve just learned to re-purpose them.  In fact, even before we lived here we found uses for them  beyond just laundry.  They’re perfectly designed for carrying more than that.  Below are a few examples:
A safe and sturdy container for baby toys

Ready for takeoff
  
A temporary home for things during our big clean-up

Bringing food outside for an impromptu picnic with Grandpa Wilbur
Besides the above, we’ve used them when we travel to carry all those little odds and ends bigger families have to drag along, for bringing in groceries from Aldi (the bagless bargain-lovers store), and even carting Christmas presents to and from celebrations.  The list goes on.  Certainly many of you have found your own unconventional uses for these handy-dandy haulers, but for those who’ve never considered their use beyond the laundry room, this post is for you, my friends. 
Besides, I know how much you all love to read about the topic of laundry…

December 27, 2010

Division of labor...

Throughout the sixteen years that my husband Joe and I have been married we have slowly determined which of us is best suited to each of the many tasks in managing a household.  Some things were defined from the beginning, such as the agreement between us that I would stay home with our children and he would work outside the home.  I’m the chief cook, maid, laundress, and every other stereotypical, traditional role for women.  He is the chief bread-winner.  I haven’t earned a cent of income since the mid-nineties: it is Joe’s responsibility to earn it all.  He doesn’t do indoor housework, other than picking up after himself; it’s my responsibility, with the kids as my helpers.  This may sound old-fashioned, but we believe it works the best for our family, and we believe there is a biblical foundation for our choice.
As anyone knows, household management isn’t limited to the big stuff.  There are lots of little items that need to be accomplished, and determining the right person for the job sometimes requires trial and error.  No newlywed couple I’ve ever known had an exhaustive, itemized list of all the household jobs neatly divided into his and hers.  Even if they did, within the first week of marriage there’d be frustration, bickering, and crying over the whole thing.  Perhaps some jobs have obvious candidates for them from the beginning, but often the to-do list only gets well-divided through time and experience, accompanied with a measure of humility on each person’s part to be able to admit their spouse is better at something.
In our home, money management was one of those jobs that took time to assign to the right person best suited to the task.  We each tried to handle the bill-paying and checkbook-keeping in the early years, but Joe always did a better job of it.  As a general rule he’s better at taking care of details without procrastination, and I’m better at procrastination.  Good financial management doesn’t allow much room for putting things off until later, so for the past decade or so it has been in Joe’s capable hands to take care of all our financial matters.
On the other hand, through experience we learned that I am better suited than Joe is to filling out or organizing paperwork.  I’m not necessarily good at, but I am the right one to deal with that unavoidable and tedious part of life.  He doesn’t have the patience for it, whereas I do.
Wise division of labor comes about only through open communication, an appreciation for the skills your spouse has, humility, and a willingness to do your fair share of the labor.  We learned this the hard way in the early years with a lot of that aforementioned bickering, but in recent years have found it easier and easier to know whose inbox something belongs to when it comes our way.  When we keep in mind that we have the common goal of a happy and well-functioning household, and push our selfish tendencies aside, we more easily divide the labor and share the rewards.

December 26, 2010

"It looks like a sleigh exploded..."

Your house likely looks much like mine does today if you have children and celebrated Christmas yesterday.  To quote my dad's observation from a few Christmases ago, "It looks like a sleigh exploded."  If you’re a mom, you also likely worked as hard as I did in the days leading up to it.  And if you’re mortal like me, you were too tired by the end of yesterday to do very much about the mess that comes with sleigh explosions.  Today is a new day, and hopefully we moms will have the energy to restore order to the scene and figure out where all the new stuff is going to go.  With a to-do-list today that is almost as long as those of pre-Christmas, I will get started on it and leave you with a look at pictures from yesterday of our smiling children.  Some of the gifts that brought those smiles are masking them from view, but I know they're there, and that makes it all worth it.

Zach and his Lego motorcycle from Grandma and Grandpa

Audra, whose love for elephants in unparalleled
  
Scott setting up XBox 360

Our Clone Trooper Daniel

December 25, 2010

The best gift I ever received...

The best gift I ever received was one my parents had told me all about ahead of time.  From the time I was born they went on and on to me about it.  My older brother had heard all about it from them too, and had received the same gift two years before me.  It was something that each of my parents had received when they were young, my father at age seven and my mother at age nine, so they knew just what it was like to get it and had enjoyed it all the years of their life.  It was for that reason that they could go into such detail describing this special gift to me.  They never failed to tell me that it was the most wonderful thing there ever was.
The only problem was that they couldn’t give it to me.  They could tell me all about it, but it wasn’t going to be coming from them.  I couldn’t inherit theirs, and my big brother couldn’t give me his as a hand-me down.  I had to get my own from the only One who could give it to me.

And so at the age of five, I finally understood that though I was a sinner from birth like everyone else, and though I had done nothing to deserve the gift of eternal life, the Lord Jesus Christ was offering it to me freely.  I had heard this gift described all of my little life, but was finally receiving it simply through faith.  I believed He was sinless, that He died on the cross in my place and rose again, and that through faith in Him I would be forgiven of my sins and would live forever with Him.  I gratefully received it.  It was a gift that didn’t just have eternal value, though that would be more than enough.    When I sin, He continues to forgive me, and He teaches me things from His Word that help me change my ways and follow Him more closely.  By receiving the gift of salvation from the Lord I became His child, and have been safe in His care through every circumstance of life ever since.
Of our seven children, three died too young to understand they were sinners who needed a Savior, and in His mercy, the Lord brought them to Himself because He is just and righteous and loving.  Of the four here with us, three have already chosen for themselves to receive the precious gift He offers.  We continue to pray for our daughter Audra; although she hasn’t trusted in Him yet, she is listening with great interest as we all describe this gift to her and tell her how to receive it for herself.
It truly is the most wonderful thing there ever was, and is the very reason for our existence.  I’m so grateful to have it.

December 24, 2010

Cookie Day...


In our home this day of the year is no longer referred to as Christmas Eve.  In fact, our younger kids only know it by its Wilbur name: Cookie Day.  Today is the 6th Annual Wilbur Cookie Day, a day devoted to our sloppy and somewhat unconventional process of rolling, shaping, baking, frosting, and decorating sugar cookies with full participation from all six of us.  I make the dough on my own the night before, since that’s the boring part.
Then we work together every December 24th to roll it out, followed by shaping it with cookie cutters or just by hand into whatever form our imaginations dictate.  We’ve seen fish, butterflies, snakes, hot dogs, French fries, hands, and yes, even a butt or two.
Until this tradition began I really didn’t enjoy baking for Christmas.  The thought of having yet another chore to handle all on my own seemed wrong somehow, considering how much we moms do to put the Christmas experience together for everybody.  Most years before Cookie Day began I simply didn’t bother with baking anything.
That all changed with the dawn of this wonderful Wilbur event.  Now I look forward to baking cookies at Christmas, because it is no longer a holiday task like so many others we moms do, working on something alone for hours that could be demolished in minutes.  (Making the dough by myself is a small sacrifice.  After all, I’m still the mom.)  It’s done in a way that lets me spend time with my favorite people.  We enjoy each other’s company and admire each other’s silliness and creativity, then dig in and sample our rather unusual results.  I’m not worried about how the cookies turn out.  I’m more interested in how the kids turn out.
Sprinkled about the page you’ll see glimpses of the Cookie Days of yore, including the picture below of the contestants in a highlight from last year, a friendly contest for the best Gary (SpongeBob SquarePants’ pet snail, for those of you not in the loop.)

Baking with the kids is a messy endeavor, but worth every sticky-and-crumby moment.  Happy Cookie Day, everyone!

December 23, 2010

If a plant dies, do you bury it in the ground?

I have never been able to keep houseplants alive for long.  Before we get too far into this, let me be clear: that doesn’t bother me, and I’m not seeking advice on how to develop my horticultural skills.  I’m simply reporting the facts.  The fact is that I am not good at taking care of plants.  Observe the only one in our home:
I don’t know what went wrong, but I suppose if I did, I would have detected it long ago and this poor thing’s life could have been spared.  Maybe it’s not even dead, but just in a coma or something.  Either way, I lit a candle in its honor and have accepted its demise.  I’ve found a much better use for that cute little fern-covered plant container, one that suits my needs and interests far better:
I’m all for learning, growing, and trying one’s best to overcome obstacles in life.  But I also recognize defeat when I see it, and it was staring at me in the face, albeit in a droopy and lifeless form.  So I’ll stick with keeping our fish alive (after all, they’re somewhat self-watering) and move on.  My Sharpies look like they are begging to be used now that they have such a chic new home.  Maybe I'll draw a pretty picture of a healthy houseplant...

December 22, 2010

Sacrifice...

Gift-giving and receiving is on nearly everyone’s mind during this season.  Some of the presents passed from hand to hand among family and friends will be small, some big, some sentimental, some practical, but all meant to bring joy to the recipient.  It’s not surprising at this time of year to see people give sacrificially to those around them.  There’s an element of obligation involved, but it’s generally infused with a sincere desire to please someone and show them you thought of them.  Generosity and kindness flow freely at Christmas.
Our family was on the receiving end of that sort of generosity and kindness that is befitting a good Christmas story.  But it wasn’t Christmas.  It was an average weekday in February, and the kids and I had school just like we do on any average weekday.  Their dad was doing what he did on average weekdays,  sitting in his office at work.  The only difference was that work was hundreds of miles away.  We were in the process of trying to sell our house in New York while he worked at a new job down south.  He came home every other weekend, and I held down the fort in between.  It was a challenging time, and if we had it to do over again we would handle it entirely differently.  But we did what we did, and it was difficult on all of us.
Friends of ours came by on that average day in February and gave us a gift that excited our kids beyond description.  They brought their Wii game system, set it up, and turned it over to us.  They knew the kids needed a distraction and diversion through this time, and shared with us in a way that left me speechless (which is not easy.)  It wasn’t something they were planning to get rid of and decided to just dump off at the Wilburs’ house; it was something they had been enjoying as a family themselves, but had determined that the Lord wanted them to give it to us.  They gave sacrificially.
The foundation for their generosity and kindness is the reason why you won’t see their names here.  They didn’t give us a Wii system so that someday I’d write in a blog about how generous they were.  They didn’t do it because of anything we had done or could do for them, nor out of obligation.  They gave sacrificially to us because of the One who sacrificially gave an unspeakable gift.  This family believes and follows the same Lord that we do, Jesus Christ, who gave everything by dying for us on the cross, and was raised again the third day, the One through Whom we have eternal life.  Our friends are who they are because of Him.
We were grateful to these special people for a gift that eased the difficulty of that time of our life, and grateful to the Lord for providing through them just what our children needed.  If you aren’t familiar with Wii, one of the unique features is being able to create a character for yourself with which to play the games and make it resemble you.  Then the system integrates all these characters into the background of the games, even the characters of people not playing at the time.  They’ll be on your team in a baseball game, or cheering you on when you’re doing step aerobics.  They’re in the orchestra when you’re the conductor in a music game, and so on.  We kept these cartoonish versions of our friends in the system they gave us.  It seemed right to have them there waving and cheering us all on with their friendly smiles.  That is the sort of people they are.
But they wouldn’t want me to end with that.  They would rightfully want me to remind you just one more time that it’s not them, it’s the Lord.

December 21, 2010

The gift of encouragement...

Over the past week or so I have worked with some intensity on the few handmade Christmas gifts I had planned for this year.  If you’re seeing fireworks in the sky accompanied by shouts of jubilation, it’s me celebrating that I’m finally done.  With those checked off my list, today I’ll tackle cleaning the house that has suffered both decay and growth during this time of craftiness: decay because it smells like something died, and growth because of the junk that has accumulated on every available surface.  I wish I could say it was all the kids’ stuff, but alas, it’s mine.
There’s the normal mess that accumulates when I’m extremely busy, like school books, papers, and supplies, laundry, and dirty dishes, not to mention the dust and grime that grows on these when they’re left untouched for days.  But when what you’re busy with is working on three different crafts at once, and you’re a bit of a slob like me, bits and pieces of each project can be found from room to room amongst the normal mess.  One of my projects involved embroidery thread, and next to where I sit each morning  with my laptop, I have a little pile of the leftovers that brought an idea to mind.  Just when I thought I was done, I am adding another crafty task to my to-do list, but one I’ll happily place there.  I am making just one more thing, but not a Christmas gift.  It’s a friendship gift for one very special little friend.
Through this busy week in Arts-and-crafts-land, those sweet kids of mine have been a great help to me by doing whatever housework they could and encouraging me with compliments on the projects as they began to take shape.  Every one of them was a help in one way or another, but my little Audra contributed in an extra special way.  Every so often as I’d sit working on the gifts, murmuring to myself that I should have started earlier, or that I had made a mistake that was going to cost me four hours, a little folded card would appear next to me.  There’d be a heart, or a simple drawing of a little stick figure girl and her stick figure mom, or perhaps something covered in glitter glue, googly eyes, and pom-poms.  It would say “I love you” or something equally sweet.  Whatever form it took, it happened often, and they were all notes of encouragement and love from my crafty and compassionate daughter.
Meanwhile, she has followed my lead and spent her free time over the past week not just making me cards, but creating some handmade presents to give to her favorite people on Christmas.  So now it’s my turn to encourage her.  I am turning the afore-mentioned little pile of embroidery thread into a good ol’ 1980’s friendship bracelet.  When I was in junior high I’d sit for hours making these for my friends.  Though I'm hopeful it won’t take me hours now, since that messy house still awaits my attention, I’m happily making a little bracelet for one of my favorite friends.  I hope it will tell her how special she is to me and encourage her in her efforts to make things for people she loves, just like she did for me.

December 20, 2010

The best friend a girl could have...

As I was growing up, I always had a best friend, a girl who I’d play with in the early years, shop with in the later ones, and a little of both in those middle school years.  It wasn't the same girl through the years, but there was always one at any given time who had that special place in my life.
First there was Kimmy, my neighbor up until I was five years old and we moved away.  At that age, being the same age is enough to make you best friends.  We played Mickey Mouse Club, pretended to be everything under the sun, and always had fun together.  We were inseparable, but moving half an hour away changed that.  Such is the nature of childhood friendships.
Kimmy and I on our first day of kindergarten

Then there was Shannon, who lived down the street at my new house.  We played dress-up, Nancy Drew, and sold door-to-door our fresh-picked bouquets of Queen Anne’s Lace from our woods.  She taught me how to sew by hand, and I taught her how to play some songs on her toy piano.  She was my best friend until she moved half an hour away a few years later, and life went on.
Playing dress-up with Shannon - I'm the one with the stylish red hat

Along came Kristin, my middle school buddy.  The picture below is from a school project on Egypt we did together when we were about ten or eleven, what I apparently thought was a great opportunity to put on bright red lipstick.  We had lots of fun together through those transitional years of life, from our love of Cabbage Patch dolls to our plans to each marry someone from Duran Duran.  We were good friends for a long while, and though like most childhood friendships it faded away with changes in circumstances, I'll always have fond memories of time spent with her.

Dawn and I, seen below in our decidedly awkward years, met when her family moved to Rochester, New York and started coming to Northgate Bible Chapel, where my family and I had been going every Sunday for my whole life.  I had other friends there too, but when Dawn came, she was the first girl in that small group of Christians who was exactly my age.  As kids, that is enough on which to build a new friendship.  We had our ups and downs, as girls often do, but were friends for years, especially in our teens, and were each other’s maid of honor at our weddings.  We live very far apart now and are only in touch once in a while, but she’ll always have a place all her own in my memories of my younger years.

My high school graduation,
my best friend by my side
Elizabeth was a special best friend I met in my high school art class in my senior year.  (It was reading her blog that I’ve mentioned before, Chandelierious, that first gave me the thought to try doing one myself.)  Elizabeth was a freshman, but that didn’t deter us from discovering we were two peas in a pod: music lovers and fashionistas with everything but age in common.  Her maiden name is West, and mine Westfall, so I’m guessing we were placed next to each other in that class for alphabetizing reasons.  However it began, we hit it off immediately and we were inseparable for my whole senior year.  I have nothing but great memories of time spent with this lovely girl, and was thankful to reconnect with her through Facebook recently.  But twenty years have passed, and we no longer sit in her basement rec room singing favorite selections from musicals or talking about the fabulous deals we got on our new shoes.


All these best friends came and went in my life, as I did in theirs.  But my best friend now is one who has held that spot in my heart since we met seventeen years ago, and will hold that place for as long as we both shall live.  This one knows nothing about fashion, whose outfit is the same on any given day: white shirt, black pants.  This friend can’t distinguish colors from each other, and is definitely no fan of musical theater, decorating, shopping, painting, chit-chatting for its own sake or anything else I like to spend my spare time doing.  We don’t even have gender in common.  He’s a stoic, strong, intelligent, and faithful man, who lately has spent his spare time building an airplane but wouldn’t dream of spending it scrapbooking like me.  On the surface we’re as different as can be, unlike all those best friends of my youth.  But my life would be empty and pointless without him.
I could write for days on end telling you what I love about him and why we’re so happy together, but I won’t.  He knows and I know, and you don’t need to.  I’m just grateful to the Lord for giving me the best friend I’ve ever had, and the only one I need.  I don’t deserve this special man, but I’m so thankful to be married to him, and to have the privilege of walking side-by side with him through life, raising our family, and doing our best to follow our Lord together.

December 19, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...

Our little Audra is a problem solver.  At just six years old, it’s not that she has a wealth of experience to help her in the challenges she faces in life.  What brings her to the solutions she comes up with is total commitment to finding them.
When playing in a creek on our vacation in the Smoky Mountains, she wanted to get her hair wet but keep her clothes dry:
One day recently she asked her older brother Scott to make her a CD of her favorite songs she could play on her CD player in her room, wanting to be able to hear them any time she liked.  When he told her we were out of the right kind of discs for the job, I told her we’d pick some up the next time we were out.  Then I let her borrow a CD of mine that has one of her favorite songs on it.  Grateful but apparently not satisfied, I found her in her room a short while later recording the song on the old PDA I had passed down to her.  She knew she’d be able to listen to it on that gizmo any time she wanted to.  She had figured out long ago how to record things on it, and was putting it to good use:

Her resourcefulness isn’t limited to logic in the mountains or unconventional use of gadgets.  Recently she decided to start a club of people who like to pull harmless pranks on other people, something the kids have been having fun doing with each other.  The only snag she ran into was membership.  I overheard her trying to persuade Zach and Daniel, both eight years old, that this would be a fun club to join, with meetings only once a week.  Zach gave her a weak maybe, and Daniel flat out said no.  She came to me pretty upset, and I pointed out that sometimes things don’t work out, and blah, blah, blah, insert parent talk here.  I hugged her, and off she went, still feeling pretty dejected.
Just when I think it’s over, she’s in teenage Scott’s room asking him to join her club.  With a soft spot in his heart for his sweet little sister, he quickly agreed, but let her know he may not be able to make it to all the meetings.  She thanked him, and ran back to Zach and Daniel to let them know Scott was in the prank club.  When they heard that news, their answer changed, just as she knew it would.  Undeterred by a couple negative responses, she knew just what carrot would tempt them, and she was right.
Audra’s commitment to try, try, and try again until she succeeds, coupled with her ability to think about the root of a problem and find a unique solution helps her live a fuller, more satisfying existence in her little world.  It has fringe benefits too: she inspires me.  I’m someone who too easily arrives at the conclusion that something is impossible or simply needs to put off until later.  Watching Audra deal with challenges in her life helps me to consider alternate approaches to my own problems and work at them, rather than just giving up.  I remind myself that if my six-year-old can do it, perhaps I can too.  It’s never too late to learn and grow.
Even though I think it’s unlikely I can completely change my natural tendency toward complacency when faced with problems after thirty-nine years of it, Audra has taught me that it’s at least worth trying.

December 18, 2010

The post of Christmas Past...

Like most of you, I will be spending this last Saturday before Christmas making the most of the time, finishing as many Christmasy tasks as I can.  On the agenda today:
-finishing off those handmade gifts (I hope)
-a quick trip to the post office to mail things to far-away loved ones we won’t see at Christmas
-wrapping the last few items
-cleaning the mess that has accumulated all week while preparing for Christmas
-laundry (that never takes a vacation)
- finally removing that lone Thanksgiving knick-knack I somehow overlooked when we decorated for Christmas; I’ve walked past it countless times for several days now, telling myself I’d take care of it later...
With all that and more to do, today on this little blog I am simply going use it to make my to-do list and to take a walk through Christmases past, those that have happened since we first got a digital camera.  No time for scanning older pictures today!  Though my intention in sharing these pictures is to inspire myself to do all I can to make this another nice holiday for my family, perhaps those who know us will enjoy a glance through as well.  Merry One-week-left-until-it-all-has-to-come-together-somehow!

2002
Scott and Daniel

2003
Expecting Audra, relaxing and enjoying time with my boys
at the end of a fun and busy Christmas Day

2004
Grandma and Audra reading her new butterfly book

2005
Audra and her daddy having a Christmas tea party
 
2006
Scott showing Grandma Waugh how to play Lego Star Wars on his Playstation 2
 
2007
Grandpa and Audra listening to a Bible story, one of our Christmas traditions

2008
Zach seems to like his present

2009
Four of my favorite gifts

December 17, 2010

"Whatsoever things are lovely..."

Our six-year-old daughter Audra is in the midst of a stage we’ve seen her older brothers go through before her: the I-had-a-bad-dream-and-can’t-fall-asleep stage.  We were always able to reason with the boys about how unrealistic the dream was.  Once the events of the bad dream were proven to be improbable and irrational, the boys would be satisfied that everything was fine.  Then we would tell them to make a list of their favorite things, and fill their minds with those as they’d fall asleep.  We would encourage them to think about “lovely” things, advice based on Philippians 4:8 which says,
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Though each boy laughed at the word “lovely”, they’d make their list and feel calmer with the mention of each favorite item.  We’d pray with them, and off they’d go to a more pleasant dreamland.
It’s a whole different story with our sweet little girl.  Boys and girls are different when it comes to emotions and rational thought.  You cannot easily reason with a female who is overcome by emotions.  You may think that to be a sexist statement, but experience with raising both genders as well as being a female myself tells me I’m right.  We have tried to reason with Audra about her nightmares, but it has no impact.  What does work is the favorites list, especially when given its scriptural title of “whatsoever things are lovely.”  If there’s anything that appeals to Audra, a girly-girl after my own heart, it’s lovely things.  We consider together what is lovely to her, I pray with her, and her little heart is calm as she feels comforted and secure, ready to sleep.  It works every time, which is no surprise to me.  God’s Word never fails.
Of course, when it’s her dad trying to help her, he has his own approach, since thinking like a female is impossible for him.  He takes her downstairs in the middle of the night and watches an episode of “The Three Stooges” with her until she can’t keep her eyes open anymore.  He brings her back to her room, prays with her, and off she goes to sleep with quality slapstick humor on her mind.  I suppose that works in a pinch, too.  Either way, she knows she’s loved, and that everything is going to be all right.

December 16, 2010

Another blog prepared for take-off...

Workshop full of expensive tools all set up, first section ordered and delivered, there is no turning back now.  My husband is building our airplane.  The kids and I will all help, of course, but he is the head of the construction team.  He’ll direct us over the next few years as we save up for and build each new section of the plane, and thousands of rivets later, we’ll have our ticket to go anywhere we want to.  We are building a Van’s Aircraft RV-10.  I memorized that so that I can almost sound like I know what I’m talking about.  I also learned the spelling and meaning of a new word yesterday: empennage.
The first section arrived yesterday, and it is the empennage and tailcone kit.  I memorized that too.  For those of you who are like I was yesterday and have no idea what that is, it’s basically the back end of the airplane.  Like dressing a baby, we’re working from the bottom up.
I won’t be handling a riveter without supervision, but I will be Joe’s right-hand woman, just as I try to be in all other aspects of our life.  I’ll hold stuff in place while he rivets, hand him tools and so on, and perhaps on occasion try my hand at some of the big stuff (once I learn what the big stuff is and what to properly call it.)  And certainly I’ll be the one to bring him a good cup of coffee or a sandwich.  My role will be that of assistant, one which is familiar and comfortable for me.
However, Joe has entrusted me with a task where I’ll take the lead and he will assist, and it too is familiar and comfortable.  I will be tracking our progress on a new blog.  No cutesy pictures of the kids, no observations on life, parenthood, homeschooling, or anything of the sort.  It’ll just be a straightforward documentation of the building process.  Having resisted my inclination toward pink and flowers, or even the folksiness of our woods as a backdrop, it has a vastly different look and tone.  With no pun-laden post titles or wordy prose, you’d be hard-pressed to know it’s run by the same blog lady, other than my name being next to my husband's in the title at the top of the page.
At first I questioned Joe’s request to have both our names on the plane blog, since we all know who is really building this airplane, but I soon realized that he is right.  This whole project is a team effort, like everything else in the wonderful life we share together.
It’s doubtful that there will be much of a crossover of those who like to read here and those who will want to read the other blog, seeing as it has no good laundry tips, but for those who are interested, it can be found at:
And lest you think I came up with that catchy address name, it is Joe who deserves the credit.  Maybe he has a future in blogging.  For now, he’ll stick to building an airplane.