Airport Extreme

We finally got a decent router that is reliable, fast and of this decade. The implication of this is that our computer that contains our photos is actually compatible with our router and this means I just might begin posting photos. I also just installed photoshop on our desktop which means that at some point the photos will be cleaned up and a bit prettier. For now, be content with these pretty faces!

Here are some of the latest of our kiddos:

I am guilty of taking a curling iron to my daughter's hair. It's an inherited sickness, but don't worry, you won't see us on Toddlers and Tiaras anytime soon!

I love this age and especially Mr. O's sweet smile!

Mr. J is four and so much fun. I absolutely love having a four year old!

Also, after a marvelous vacation and the jubilant consumption of carbs, sugar and I-know-not-while in FL I am back on the low carbohydrate bandwagon. The results have been so encouraging and I am at this sort of milepost that I really want to cross. I am eating a few more carbs just for liveability's (not a real word) sake and while I love the results of this, I truly despise not having certain carbs. It is funny because Tuan and I are sort of opposite in what we miss. But enough of that. I have found a few consolations and one is this weird combination of things in my coffee!

Coconut Milk
Heavy Cream
a wee bit of Palm Sugar

It's almost a meal and is so amazingly good! I am allowing myself Palm Sugar in coffee because coffee without sugar doesn't seem worth the drinking. Coffee with fake sugar is worse than no coffee and life with no coffee is terrible with three under four. Anyway, I highly recommend this combo!


The Dining Room

I took these photos right before Mr. O was born and things have changed a bit, but the Dining Room is my favorite room in the house! In this room we eat, create, school, play music, make messes . . . The photos are dreadful and all had very reddish tints which I tried to fix, but really should have just re-taken them! Our Dining Room is the design jumping off point for the rest of the downstairs which has yet to be reconciled. Enjoy the tour!

This is looking into the dining room from our living room. Our table was rescued from a dumpster! We re-painted it several times (it had a butcher block top) and settled on black. I really like it because it is so sturdy and indestructible!
The chairs we found after quite a search--they are rental/ballroom chairs and we bought them second-hand from a rental company. I love the style and small scale--we can fit more folks around the table! We ended up buying ten chairs for when we have crowds and in case one breaks. The extras are hanging in our storage room. Eventually I'd like to re-cover the cushions. Our piano came from a junk store located between Lookout Mountain and Mentone. We somehow fit it into our LandCruiser! It was maple-ish until we painted it. The "art pieces" are vintage record albums that we switch out occasionally.

This corner borders the living room and kitchen. I am not crazy about the cabinet as it is, but is super useful for storage. Tuan built this out of some louvered doors my dad had leftover from a job and some scrap plywood. Art stuff, sewing supplies, gift wrap and I know not what fill this cabinet. This corner is the only part of the room I am not sure about. I think I'd rather have a desk or something--any suggestions?

My favorite wall! Our other house had so much white in it that we were just craving color! This is a bit more florescent than intended but I LOVE the cheeriness of this wall. We do have a solemn rule that you DO NOT TURN ON THE FLORESCENT light fixture unless a dire need exists because this green does not do well under such scrutiny! The lovely pink (and it is pink) buffett/sideboard was formerly our changing table. Tuan built it (recognize a trend, here?). I keep our homeschooling stuff in here and underneath are three bins (theoretically one for each kid's toys, but that's not always the reality!). My lamps came from Dirt Cheap.

The curtains! We were on a desperate hunt for something affordable to make colorful curtains and ended up in the shower curtain aisle at Target and fell in love with these shower curtains. I lined them and added a white border to the bottom. (Ha! Something I did instead of Tuan) They are hanging on flimsy hardware until Dirt Cheap produces something appropriate.

And last, the inside of the craft cabinet. It's usually more junky than this. Hope you enjoyed our Dining Room tour! I am terrible about photo posting so I hope this makes [Elizabeth] happy!

ps. I hope it is just my monitor, but these photos are ghastly! What better excuse to come by in person!


Puttin' on the [denim] Jumper

Figuratively speaking, of course! Miss A actually has one which I suppose makes us qualify as authentic homeschoolers!

We have begun our home school-preschool this fall. ("Home-school-pre-school has the same syllables as Miley Cyrus' song, "Hoe-down Throw-down" . . . I sense a parody and disclaimer: I only know this song because it is played fifteen times a day at camp)

Did I digress? Oh, yes.

So we began our home schooling journey this year. Although J is only four and A two-and-a-half, I thought that perhaps beginning on a small scale this year would be easier than jumping into it head over heels for Kindergarten or (augh) 1st grade! Three to four mornings a week J, A, and I gather at the table for about an hour's worth of "school." They are loving it and so am I!

I had no expectations--high or low--and am glad we are taking baby-steps, but they come running when I say it is time for school and we have a good time of it.

I polled several folks about their curriculum choices and ended up choosing a mostly free program that my mom already had on hand. It is called Sing, Spell, Read and Write. We are loving SSRW. They like the repetition of it and it has been amazing to see J's progress and ability to absorb things! Ideally, after twenty-six lessons we'll beginning pairing phonics sounds and be on our way to reading. It will be interesting to see if J is ready for that next step or just ready to go back through the alphabet.

We start our time with catechism review, then move onto our A-Z Theology (only word I can think of) book that goes through the different attributes of God. We do whatever letter we are studying that day. The kids are very funny with the catechism. Miss A frequently grabs the book and asks us the "questions" and praises us heartily and in a cheerily chirpy voice when we answer.

We then move onto SSRW. A gets a hand-drawn copy of the main letter page and it's corresponding picture which she works at diligently, then cuts up and glues back together. Consequently at the end of the day when we proudly hang up their schoolwork, J's looks like a respectable first-born four year olds' school work, while A's is more like an abstract, mutilated, multi-coloured, exclamation. J gets a bit put out when she gets started and I just have to remind him that he is a scholar and she is an artist.

While A is creating, Mr. J and I work at our different lesson worksheets. We review the sound of the letter, then there is a page of practice lettering and a multiple-choice cutting/pasting elimination excercise and finally a connect-the-dots. Our last project is piling into the car to listen to the audio cassette of the alphabet song. They love the novelty of getting into the car to finish our day. I think it would be nice to have a tape player inside the house!

It is neat how Miss A is learning by osmosis and how much J can handle. I am so thankful God has given us a good start to our year(s) of school.


Family Date Night!

Every so often Tuan and I will be laying around the house between the hours of four and five. He, just returned from work, and I, zonked out from the day will collapse in the living room with zero motivation for supper or cooking. ( I am blessed to have a husband who cooks, too!) These are the sorts of evenings when we end up going into town for supper and often to run errands--with all the kids.

Dates with the two of us are few and far between, for various reasons, and we treasure them when they come. But, there is a terrific, wonderful refreshing time to be had out on the town with all the kids in tow. A change of pace, a breath of fresh air. Time to talk in the car and not cook or clean up supper. Sometimes it's Mexican and Wal-mart, other times Chik-fil-A and Target. Oh, and Bass Pro at Christmas!

We really enjoy our kids--'specially when we're together! I'm so glad we take them places and do things. It is usually pretty successful and fun. I hope this establishes a pattern of "family time" that continues through adolescence and adulthood.


A Very Great Struggle

We have frequently sung this wonderful hymn: "Father I Know that All my Life" at FPC. I have grown to love this song and one line that our pastor frequently points out is this:

A life of self-renouncing love
is one of liberty.

Yikes. Stab me in the heart there. From the first night we held little J in our arms and continuing onward, I have struggled so hard with selfishness, with giving up my wants, my desires. I remember being awake in the middle of the night--in our hospital room--trying to nurse J and wanting to go to sleep. I looked over at my husband who was peacefully snoring away and I wanted more than anything to KICK him. Yes, it took my all to not kick my sleeping husband.

It was something to grapple with before kids, but on a MUCH lesser scale. Sure, I often had to struggle to put my needs aside for Tuan's or during camp there would be times where I struggled with giving up my wants. On a daily basis, however, I was pretty much on my own and dwelling in comfortable solitude and self-indulgence. Now, hourly I am pulled in many directions. From the moment my eyes open until my head hits the pillow (and often many times after) someone, somewhere in this house is needing me, wanting me, calling me.

Life with three is not as hard as it could be. I am thankful for "schedules" and fairly content children. But it is hard. Housework is unending. Little souls need their love buckets filled, their needs met--and they don't observe the clock. Some days I desperately crave sleep and it doesn't happen. Yesterday was one of them. I had just fallen asleep for that Sacred Sunday nap and J came in our room and woke me up. I was ugly, impatient and sent him back to his room. At that point, sleep was over, but an ill spirit and sinful attitude were just beginning.

Do you ever just want to wallow in your self-pity, anger and sinfulness? I do.

By God's grace, I decided to get up and take J for a walk so Tuan could have some peace and quiet. We went over to camp and played and walked and explored for well over an hour. It was so much fun and refreshing--and he NEEDED that quality time.

A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty.

I think this is going to be a life-long lesson--one that constantly unfolds.

When I was a counselor we had one evening off a week. It lasted about four hours and that was our only off-time. When our activity ended and our campers were at the tree house we were free to go. I, however, worked at the ropes course--which never ended on time and I was a tractor driver. I remember one evening I was ferrying kids from the ropes course and literally seeing my off-time dwindle away with each trip. On the way back to ropes I was thinking about how much of MY time was diminishing and like a bolt of lightning it hit me: IT WAS NEVER "MY" TIME IN THE FIRST PLACE. All that I was, all that I possessed belonged to God (including my time). Realizing that was absolutely liberating. I couldn't be selfish with my time because it didn't belong to me to begin with. It belonged to Him.

It is easy to be free with someone else's possessions, money, time because it is not yours. The same thing applies to us. Our talents, time, things all belong to him and realizing that gives great liberty (and great responsibility). That moment changed me and really affected the rest of my summer--for the good.

I have to constantly re-learn these truths. It is not fun, nor easy, but good.

A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty . . .


Best $9.00 I "Ever" Spent

(this image courtesy of Macys.com . I do not go about pouring fancy bottled water upon my mattresses)

When we bought Miss A's new mattress, I went out and bought several bedding items and a cheap waterproof mattress cover was one of them. Many times over I am so thankful I purchased this! Every time a diaper overflows or sippy cup spills and I begin the arduous process of washing bed linens, I am so grateful that I don't have to spend more time deodorizing or cleaning a mattress. If you have wee ones and are upgrading from the conveniently waterproof crib mattress, don't hesitate to buy one! I use a mattress pad over the waterproof cover and it prevents things from being "sweaty", or, "glowy" if you are a southern female.