Monday, January 17, 2011

"i was playing with my sand castle, and i was afraid of the javelinas..."

     The past two days were mild. Warm, even! Sparrow and I were out in the back yard this afternoon. I on my laptop and she playing with the net in the fish pond. When she saw the hose she thought she'd like to water something (everything in the yard looks like it is dying right now...oops!) and pretty soon she thought she'd like to play in the mud. well, who doesn't wanna play in the mud sometimes, right? So after we had put on appropriate mud-playing clothes and gathered Golden, newly nap-woken, I put the hose on low on one of the crackly plants and gave them some buckets and shovels. they were up on a rise held in by a stone wall on the east side of the house. I decided to run in and clean out the bathtub so it would be ready for them when they were done! The bathtub normally houses my mop/mop bucket, and Silas' dirty diaper bucket. It's been ages since they took a bath in it; I've just been getting them clean in the shower lately, with me! I decided to soak the dirty diapers while I was at it, and then Thomas called. When i went out to check on them, I got startled by a group of javelina running off; they had been eating the moldy remains of the old pumpkin that Uncle Rick had thrown out into the "desert" for me (read: the front yard). A second later, I heard bloodcurdling screams coming from around the corner. Oh no; had one of them fallen? I ran to the east side of the house, and there were both of my girls screaming at the tops of their lungs, hysterical tears streaming down their faces. "MAAAMAAAA!" "I'll call you back!" I shouted to Thomas, running over. The gathering of my mud-stained, tear-streaked, shaking little bundles was the most precious moment of my day.

     Yes, the hysteria was on account of the wild pigs, which have no interest in humans, besides the fact that they can generate some tasty trash. sparrow, later: "where WERE you?" wow. true. i have never left them alone outside before. they are usually within earshot at least. i can't believe i didn't hear them screaming like that, from in the house! Golden, later :"i was playing with my sand castle, pecause i was playing with my shovel, and i was afraid of the javelinas." she said it again and again! poor babies! well that is the last time that happens until they are older and more trained in desert savvy! Time to be more of a sheep mother again. Goat mothers leave their children on a hill while they go off to do stuff goat mothers do. Sheep mothers keep their babies within earshot.

Review of Two Children's Bibles

I realized that in my Christmas blog I forgot to mention the Bibles my little ones received! And they were my favorite gift to give! Sparrow's is called "The Bible for Children" and is the entire Bible in Simplified Living Bible Text. The art work is riveting, realistic, and just well-done. Golden's is "The Jesus Storybook Bible," deluxe edition. I had been looking for a good children's Bible for some time. I have no stomach for most normal children's "Bibles," which should not really be allowed to call themselves Bibles at all, but should rather be called "Sparse Collection of Bible-Based Stories," wouldn't you agree? It's a shame, really, nothing like the Bible! I would rather read to my children a good Dr. Seuss book or Laura Ingalls Wilder than most any children's Bible.

The quest: a children's Bible that
1) Contains the whole of scripture, not just "stories," in simpler language for children
2) Has beautiful, inspiring, engaging art work

How hard can it be? Harder than you think! Apparently the whole of scripture is not appropriate for children, or children are not expected to be able to benefit from reading it. As for art work? If i see another 2-dimensional pudgy Noah that looks like a cutesy Fisher Price figurine...I guess I'll have to commission my husband to do the art work himself! 

I began asking other mothers for suggestions. Passed up a few, but then my lovely "Mama Joy," the mother of one of my best friends, emailed me about a children's Bible she LOVED: it was called "The Bible for Children" in Simplified Living. She told me that it was out of print, but there were currently a few used ones on Amazon. Sure enough, I looked at it and loved the art work, too! So I snagged one for about $20--though they were also available for $400! Must be a rare find. Turns out it was just what I was looking for, and then I found out that my friend next door had been searching for a copy of this Bible for YEARS! She had had one when she was young and lost it, and now could not seem to locate one anywhere! I was able to find another one for only a few dollars more the next week. Of course she must have her childhood Bible!

The second Bible was also suggested by Mama Joy, and I felt even better about it when I noticed it was approved by my favorite mama blogger. It is called "The Jesus Storybook Bible," and even though it is, yes, a collection of stories, it surpasses other children's Bible story books for these reasons:
A) It shows how each of the stories in the selection point to Christ, from the very beginning, and going on throughout scripture.
B) The writing is more interesting/riveting than most. It might as well be excitingly written, if it is going to be reworded at all!
C) The art is done by a renowned professional. It is modern and cool. I still prefer the realistic-looking artwork to anything stylized, but at least it is interesting.
D) It comes with audio CDs! (the "deluxe" version does, anyway.) These are read by a most delifghtful and talented professional actor, excellent storytelling. (It was also only about $16, with CD's and everything.)

     We have all been thoroughly enjoying both of these Bibles this year. The girls frequently sit and look at the pictures in  the BFC, and we are reading it morning and evening, chapter by chapter. (With minor skipping--sparrow is only four, after all!) It also contains some recap and thinking questions to make it easier for the parent to check in with how the children are understanding it. It is not quite as literal as I prefer, for example, it uses the word "contract" instead of "covenant," and the two are actually quite different concepts. However, that is what you get with "Simplified," and at least it contains the whole of scripture. We will not be using it for memorization. Sparrow listens to the JSB every spare minute. She has figured out the "play" and "pause" buttons on the stereo and just listens to it throughout the day whenever she is in her room! She is listening to it right now, in fact. Their favorite story is called "the Young Hero and the Horrible Giant." They laugh at it, quote it, etc. I am also noticing that Sparrow is absorbing information from it. She will act out certain stories or start telling me a bit of theology every now and then. I am loving seeing the scripture becoming something they love! Last night we came home late and I sat down to pray with them as I tucked them into my bed (hard day and daddy's gone so long...)  Sparrow, suddenly alarmed: "Oh no! ...We forgot to read the Bible!"
"I will read it to you right after prayer." ...but she was dreaming about it before I got to "Amen." 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

strange boat

Thomas had the privilege, today, to perform in Santa Barbara Dance Theatre's 20th anniversary show at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara. Or should I say, they had the privilege of having him shine onstage. Have I ever mentioned he is an amazing dancer? For two weeks now we've been missing him, thinking of him, praying for him, dreaming of him, and it was for this. I pray the audience was inspired by the dance! He got to perform two pieces, called "artifice" and "strange boat," my personal favorite. Here is the SBDT website, which has the Strange Boat video on it from a few years ago. (you have to look for the video under the "videos" tab... sorry, the website is set up so i can't link directly to  the specific vid.) The year I fell in love. Is it any wonder? (Look for Thomas with the knee pad.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

100 days

I am joining my favorite blogger, ann voskamp, in a small undertaking called a "100 days calendar." you take three goals, and write them down every day for 100 days. if you have worked on that goal by the end of the day, you get to cross it off! isn't it beautiful and simple? my three goals:

read the Bible/pray
work on home business

the first one is obvious. sometimes this gets shoved aside, and because it is my conviction that time with the Lord is the most valuable time, I want to prioritize it in such a way that I will get into the habit of actually living that conviction. even when tired. even when distracted by children's needs.

the second one has to do with challenge/change. i am good at making novels of my opinions. can i write a blog post every day, make it interesting, and learn how to be less wordy/more concise? see, there i go again! more words and more slashes! is also a challenge to get back into the swing of journalling. my children do and say so many interesting things, and little things happen so quickly, then are oft quickly forgotten. sitting down to reflect every day will help me to remember.

the third one is something that is just taking shape. we have a heart to start a home business, but the exact nature of it is not yet decided upon. there will be prayer, collaboration, and a refining of the "hidden arts" of home. for now, i have started looking up feldenkrais in the news to try to see what sort of public feedback i could use to put into a brochure. thomas is almost certified!

for now, i'd like to say...aren't babies relaxing? third babies, i mean. whenever i look into my baby's eyes or go to feed him or something, i get a recharge of relaxants. so innocent!so cute! so peaceful! and i can go on into the wiles of the day with more relaxed vigor and beauty of soul.

head over to 'a holy experience' to get your own 100 days calendar. Look under the "free gifts for you" tab.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

december delightfuls

golden "reading" a book:
"once in a time, der was a jesus on a cross." (she said this for every page!) -dec. 1st

me: "when you get baptized, it's telling the world that you belong to Jesus."
sp: "we belong to Jesus!"
me: "you do! i'm so happy you invited him into your heart!"
sp: "no, i invited him OUT yesterday when i prayed!" (said excitedly and cheerfully!) -dec. 2

"it's amazing that God is three pieces!" -sp. dec. 3

(while listening to me read a dr. seuss book)
sp: "why do they say 'whom'? i think it's from the Bible." -dec. 9

sp: "God can't see silas cause he's too little. he's like a tiny salt!" -dec. 8

sp: "i saw a cowboy! i haven't seen one my whole entire life, but just now i saw one!" -dec. 11

sp: "silas just told me that there was a whole world in your belly and he had a bigger world for babies, and they went to the baby fair, and there was a carousel for babies and a ferris wheel for babies." -dec. 18

golden these days, instead of saying "inside out," she says "open side." she is convinced this is the correct term.

"he's looking on your naked bones." -G. dec. 18

(while showing me the big plastic bubbles to pop)
G: "it's really soundy." -dec. 26

sp: "i want some pop corn."
G: "maybe tomorrow." -dec. 26

G: "mommy put some beans in my rice and then i got some throw up." -dec. 27

sp: "mommy, smell my doll!"
me: "mmm! smells like strawberries and cream!"
G: "mom, smell my dolly! ...smells like bicycle!" -dec. 30

Saturday, January 8, 2011

the full week

we have had a FULL week!

monday--thomas gone, 6 am, for a month away! what will we do without him?! rick was kind enough to drive him to the airport at 4 am, so i could stay with the children!
later that day, a road trip for us! the children and rick and i left for phoenix at 11:30. liz koppa greene was there visiting her brother! it was actually surprise, az. which is the wrong side of phoenix, as we found out. didn't arrive til 3-ish! there were potty breaks and coffee breaks and nursing breaks and unmarked roads and construction and, well, a heck of a distance to drive. but worth it! hurrah for old friends! hung out with liz at a park and at dinner til 6:30-ish. she is so loving, so lovely. funny times, too, because there weren't enought seats in the car for all of us with liz, so we had to stuff tall rick in the back and tell him to get down lest he were glimpsed by an immigration officer! after such good times and "set" and sweet tea at chick-fil-a, then: all the way home! rick and i are suckers for mcdonald's coffee. =) well... not really. it's just that mcdonald's does a LOT better job of putting visible locations near the freeways. i love that whenever i want to stop for coffee, my brother wants to, too. even though he can't have caffeine at night. we call it decaf.

tuesday--we all launched out again at 7:30 am to take sparrow to the dentist for the first of 2 appointments. she needed several partial root canals. (yikes! what have i done?) they had given us the option of 2 work sessions under partial sedation, or one session under full sedation. now the reason that i chose this particular route of treatment was that i thought i could come in to the procedure with her under the partial sedation option. now that i think about it, they had never expressly TOLD me that i could, but they certainly had NOT told me that they separate the parents from the children for all of their procedures except cleanings/consultations. i had gotten the impression that i could not go in with her if she was going completely under, but nothing like that crossed my mind for the partial one! so it was a complete shock when the assistant lady said, "now we will take her to the back. see you in 45 minutes!" what?! i let her know how bummed i was and that this was not what i was expecting, but she was equally flustered that i didn't know the policy and the dentist mentioned that it was on all his forms. well hello?! who reads all the legal jargon!? sad, because they were so thorough about explaining everything else in clear terms, and they neglected that one, which you'd think would be important to most parents! anyhow, the nurse assured me that she would be with her at all times, and so what could i do? they had already administered the sedative, and besides, the other kind of appointment would not have been made until march. well, once i resigned myself to it, i got happy again and waited out in the lobby with rick, golden, and silas. time flew by and before we knew it they said they were done. they said sparrow had been exceptionally good. she was funny all loopy from the meds, and said she wanted to stay at the dentist! i wish my dentist could make me feel so pampered and at-home! but truly, they are wonderful with children and go above and beyond to make them feel special and comfortable. in fact, it was a little over the top. they told sparrow she could pick a tv channel "if it's ok with mom" (i should have said no. i HATE how tv infects their minds with toxic commercials.) and the nurse suggested to me (in front of sparrow!) that we go out and buy her a slushie or an ice cream when it was over to make her numb mouth feel better. well of course we weren't getting away without it! sparrow actually did not beg for it or anything; it was later that night that she said sheepishly, "i shink dat i heard  de doctor shay i was sh'posed to have some ice cream..." oh of course i had to! so.... so far my darling has two stainless steel teeth. She is really proud of them! and more to come later this month. they allowed her to pick a prize, and after the nurse had listed off her options, sparrow said, "i want a sleeping beauty and a cinderella dress!" but a pink hot wheels car would have to do for now. golden was jealous of both the teeth and the car.

wednesday--road trip to mount lemmon! left at 11:30 again, drove 2 hours up. one hour there, half of which was spent gettting clothes on and then off for going pee and then on again, then off because soaking and freezing! but we did get to slide down some snowy hills on our makeshift sleds (baking sheets and cardboard covered with trash bags) and the children saw their first "real" snow--snow that sticks. (it snowed at our house the day before new years eve and was very magical, but we made only a tiny snow man, and it was all gone the next day) actually, golden had found her mittens in my bag after i had packed all the stuff to leave, and she had played with them in the house and then left them there! so her poor hands were frozen and she could only handle about 15 mins. of the snow play. she spent the rest of the time sitting in the volvo sucking her thumb! (we stayed right by the car.) sparrow was elated and hilarious. we have no snow pants, so her bum was wet and freezing in 10 minutes, but did she complain? no! she was elated! the first thing she did after getting out of the car was throw herself down and try to make a snow angel on that packed, old snow! hahahaha! love her! anyhow, after all that fun, we drove 2 hours back home. plus a starbucks run. (there goes kreikebaum collaboration again!) later that night i watched "iron man" with rick.

thursday--to silas' pediatrician appt. in the morning with the girls. just a checkup! and then to take sparrow to her first dance class of the year, which daddy wasn't teaching that day! =( then cleaning and preparing for a small party at my house at 7; lauren was leaving again for phoenix the next day. chris came too, and the schmidts. but omi was sick, or at least threatening to! her children were not feeling well. we sat around and drank mulled wine and played "set" and talked. lauren is so sweet, she told me she was SO jazzed about our nightly family devotions, which she participated in the other night when she was here for dinner. i love that girl, and i love that a simple thing like family devotions can inspire and refresh like that. that is what it is meant to do!

friday--supposed to be a home day, after that crazy week. i usually only go out once a week, and that's for shopping, sheesh! but then i wanted to read with the girls and told them we could do a quick run to the library. well. uncle decided to come with us, so i thought i'd stop at the community center for a quick minute and see about maybe finding some shoes for golden. i left rush limbaugh on the car radio for rick, and then of course it took waaaaaaay longer than anticipated. when i reemerged, i noticed my car headlights were on too, and when i tried to start the car, wouldn't! horrid thoughts went through my brain: electrical problem! no money to fix it! and i don't even have AAA anymore, so how are we going to get this thing out of here?!?! well, at least we could attempt a jump start...if anyone was willing to help us! i asked about three people, all of which had a different excuse, and was feeling a bit hopeless. my brother was finally able to recruit a lady who said she could wait til the guy next to us moved out of the spot--one of the unhelpful naysayers. and sure enough, that started the car! i was so humbled to be completely at the mercy of this hardened, down-and-out older woman with few teeth and a raggedy pony tail. the only one willing to help. she shrugged off my hug and "God bless you," but i am praying her a blessing anyways! praise God it was NOT an electrical problem. just rush limbaugh. OH i am SO thankful for my car!!!

we have been playing bed chess at my house lately, and the moves are getting more and more complicated. the girls usually fall asleep in their room but usually end up in my bed before morning. which is fine, but lately they've added a few elements: for a few days we had their princess tent up and they were falling asleep in there together. then last night sparrow said she wanted to snuggle with golden in her bed, but golden said "no!" (not really the tpuchy-feely type.) i convinced her to let sparrow in, as a service to her sister since sparrow gets easily spooked. but before i had even gone to bed, golden was awake and transferred to my bed. now i had in my bed one silas and one golden, and though the bed is fairly large, i did not want to attempt to squeeze between them. so i took the monitor and went into the girls' room, where sparrow was still sleeping in golden's crib, and i fell asleep in sparrow's bed! the monitor woke me up several times to feed silas, but i was in her bed til morning, and of course, during the night, they both joined me after all! so i woke up in sparrow's bed with two little girls, and it turns out silas got my huge bed to himself all night long! haha!

saturday--a home day! at last! we didn't go anywhere except to drop off mail at the box in the morning, and a walk to check the mail in the evening. we did crafts today! and math! and i got to take a shower! and we ate leftovers! i love home days.

the bed chess is a little less complicated this evening. i put silas in his own bed next to mine, and while golden fell asleep on the couch and stayed there for hours, i did just now bring her to her bed, and sparrow is in hers! now i must go to bed, before all the places get rearranged again!

goodnight, sabbath! may next week be full of home adventures!


oh, christmas! it was more beautiful than ever this year. i know that many times people get depressed after christmas, but there was none of that with me and i know it's because i have found the secret joy of christmas: Him. i couldn't care less about getting gifts anymore, but i was still SO excited about christmas! His coming is whispered in the decorations, in the songs, in the candles and lights and in the love of family. and does my secret gift ever leave? no, it grows every day, every year. i have been talking to sparrow about this and i pray that she gets this true excitement about the only Gift we'll ever need...

the highlight of our activities this season was a christmas pageant that omi and i had decided to put together for the children at our house. ...the only problem was that we didn't really get started on it til november, and we had less than ideal amounts of time to get together and rehearse. result: a TERRIBLE dress rehearsal on the 22nd, (supposed to start late afternoon/evening, but actually didn't start til 10pm) and can you imagine it, with our little children?! and the show was the following evening! that night we stayed up collaborating til the wee hours: typing lists, notes, schedules, discussing changes and things to be done before tomorrow's performance. thinking: what have we done? and being somewhat thankful that we had NOT indeed invited the entire neighborhood as we originally intended to, but mostly family (omi's family. there are a lot of them). i was slipping into short dreams and almost off of my chair as we were cramming thus, and i stayed up til 3 am despite warnings to go to bed. emily stayed up til 1am painting the background to such a beautiful landscape that we could not thank her enough! and yet we still had our work cut out for us the following day...

the schedule said:
9:15--monty nudge omi awake to call julia
9:30--monty possibly drive to julia's to get recruits (we had discovered that we needed a couple of extra people for this show to work! (especially after golden decided she didn't like to have any part of this show except be in the ballet dance, which was written for sparrow and danielle...) enter the tucker family! whew!)
10:00--1st rehearsal
3:00--2nd rehearsal
6:30--show time

well, ALL of this happened, and more! we were AMAZING that day! elizabeth and bekah were indeed loaned to us for the day, and bekah was such a natural little actress that she really enhanced the show. elizabeth was my curtain pulling buddy. thomas had originally been on curtains with me, but the night before we'd realized we needed him backstage at a job where he could be free to get the baby or hold golden back from jumping onstage if need be. oh, what we did that day! the background went up, was touched up, the sheet for the stage went up, the music was fixed, the roman soldier costume finished, jewels glued on to treasure boxes, further notes and adjustments made, the apartment (where our audience would be seated) cleaned up, and all the while normal feeding and napping going on with the little ones. wow! we managed to start 1st dress rehearsal at 11 and the 2nd at 4:00. pretty good, for wycliffe time! and we were feeling soooooo much better. by the time guests began to arrive, we were feeling excited, ready, and confident.

the show went BEAUTIFULLY! sparrow and danielle danced their choreography better than they ever had before. curtains were opened and closed at the proper time. we had one glitch in one of our songs, and that was IT! everything else went better than expected. elation! afterward we had cookies and coffee and cider with our guests, in our kitchen that was crammed full of props: inn front, stable, donkey, and the floating ox head. hahaha! the children played and romped together for hours, people stayed and talked, and later, only the oldies but goodies were left: omi, monty, emi, jonathan, and hannah. at which point we grabbed the guitar and had a christmas song fest! we even sang the orchestra song in a round, which i have been wanting to do for ages but our children are too little to hold a part by themselves! thomas is such a good sport and sings "the horn, the horn, it sounds so forlorn" like a champ. however, when we do this at home, i have to let the tape recorder take one of the parts (i have sung it into the recorder in advance, of course...) haha! at any rate, our rendition with friends is up on you tube here. i think this was our first rendition! not bad! ...ok, not great. but soooooooo fun!

the following day was christmas eve. we had found out just a few days before that rick was going to drive out to see us after all, hurrah! and he was coming on christmas eve. the day was spent trying to clear the house out a bit of our props, etc. and put things in order again. and cooking, of course! my presents for people this year were mostly food items: nut mixes and cookies, etc. then we were roasting a chicken for our dinner that evening: an awesome recipe by ina garten, but halfway through cooking it i got grossed out by the bacon smell and took the bacon strips off of it. it was still super tasty without the bacon. i recommend putting a 1/4 cup of butter under the skin at the breast instead, and seasoning it under the skin as well, yummy, yummy! we put mushrooms, onions, and potatoes around the chicken in the pan. amazing.

we attended a candle light service at grace community church that evening, which was lovely. no family picture, though! i could kick myself for neglecting that, when it is so rare that we all are dressed up at the same time! even silas had on a christmas sweater, and golden was in this ridiculously puffy plaid dress and little black velvet jacket, courtesy of cousin teresa. we loved it! she was clacking her black hand-me-down sunday shoes like she was the luckiest princess in the world! which she is, of course. God has provided even suck luxuries as clacky sunday shoes. the newberg family was in attendance, and we sat right next to them. afterward, mrs. newberg said God had laid it on her heart to give us $20! what a gorgeous woman. God is so faithful.

then back home to our chicken--yes, we had left it in the oven to finish up, as we had run out of time to eat it before going to service! oooooooh was dinner delicious! uncle did not arrive in time, but never fear: he had gotten himself in-n-out on the way over here, which is just as good of a christmas eve dinner to him! he did finally make it at 11:00 or so; i was wrapping presents: ALL the presents, because i had been putting it off until after the show. oops! i will never do that again! i was up til 4:30! ...but i feel God may be changing the whole format of our christmases anyways, to phase out the present thing and be able to focus more on the glorious arrival of that holy babe! i just know that when i was growing up, the excitement over presents definitely trumped the whole Jesus thing, and i did experience some years of emptiness at christmas when i grew up, only to come around to finding true joy in Jesus later on. we shall see. i don't think presents in themselves are evil, obviously. I love giving presents to my little ones! i try not to go overboard: we usually do some art supplies, a toy, some dress-up stuff, and clothes. this year i did much better with not overdoing things. i really don't like the me, me, me attitude that comes up in the little ones when they are opening things hastily, and i could tell that thomas did not enjoy watching them fall upon the loot, either!

but christmas morning did come, bright and sunny beautiful, and we thanked the Lord for his abundant blessings, having our christmas morning at home, then off to graham central for a late breakfast with everybody. oh MY! there we were exceedingly spoiled with a huge bag of trader joe's goodies and marvelous gifts of clothes, cups, toys, candles, gift cards, etc. etc. i even got a pressure cooker from omi and monty! and that was AFTER they gave us a 2 month netflix subscription! sheesh! definitely, it will be hard to say no to doing presents in this neighborhood! but we shall see. either way, God is working on and transforming this family.

the children played, we had a typical holiday at grahams just relaxing and having FUN! we had a nap at home at mid-day (except sparrow who stayed to play) and then, though we had not planned to, were convinced to go back for christmas dinner and just spend the rest of the day! we had a walk, pie, etc. etc. what a lovely family they are. God, bless the Grahams for every way they have taken us in and treated us like their own.

i felt under such grace. Christ is come!