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3rd Quarter Art

Here is our family artwork created with ARTistic Pursuits K-3 book 1, quarter 3. We love this curriculum! I put it here so that the kids can feel like they are showing their artwork, and so that I can keep it organized for myself!

Baird, age 4, I also included a few samples of his other drawing and writing as he is growing in leaps and bounds right now!

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Liesel, age 6, I can usually tell which is hers by the princesses and castles ๐Ÿ™‚

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Shiloh, age 8

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Aslan, age 9

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And me. I always enjoy our quiet, focused time of art.

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Our camping has been sort of hit and miss since the first time we went as a family in 2011. In 2011, we decided to go last minute in mid-September. We bought an 8 person red tent. (Normally I hate the color red, but it was the only one that was the right size. Now that I’ve woken up in that tent with the sun shining through for so many years…the color is actually starting to grow on me!) In 2012 and 2013, the only camp-outs we went on were the planned Gillette family reunion camps at Fort Ebey in September. We always had so much fun that we wanted to camp again, but we found ourselves at the end of camping season! Last year, 2014, it would have been the same, except that we had the wrong dates for the Gillette family campout, and upon arriving on Friday evening with a packed Suburban, we decided to just grab the few things we needed for ‘lone’ camping and head out east to Wagon Wheels Campground in Marblemount. James set the tent up in the dark while I tended to Evolet who was 1 year old and very upset. We had a wonderful time and discovered our favorite camping spot so far on the second night of that trip, walk-in sites at the Newhalem Visitor’s Center. We also still got to go to the Gillette camp out two weeks later.

This year I wanted to make sure that we camped BEFORE September so that we could get a few trips in. Our biggest failure in the past had been lack of planning, so a month or so ago I wrote it on the calendar and started planning food and camping ‘investments’ for the year (this year it was chairs for everyone!). Then, everything started to go wrong… we were sick with a couple of different things at the beginning of this month, and James took 2 days off of work because of that. We decided that he better not take another Friday off for camping. Then, I got bad news about my fasting blood sugar test for pregnancy. My fasting number was high, and I need to monitor at home while keeping a log of my diet and exercise. This has been super stressful and made me wonder if I could camp. Then, when James got home from work on Friday, we found out that less than 2 hours before, camp fires had been banned in all Washington State Parks. We cook over the fire, and consider it at least half of our camping experience! We had planned to camp less than 10 minutes away from our home, making two trips to transport our stuff. We hastily did our research and found that in the National Park we’d camped in last year we could still have camp fires. James expertly packed the Suburban absolutely full with cots, chairs, and firewood on top, and we struck out for a two hour drive, knowing that were racing the sun again. Even though it was a bit stressful, I’m so glad for planning and making it happen despite the obstacles.

We got to camp and picked out a walk-in site. It’s a bit more work to get set up that way, but once we are set up we enjoy the privacy and being separated from our vehicle. We also have some strong, hard-working kids who do an amazing job helping to carry all the stuff! We did all of our unpacking and got our tent up before dusk, but James built the fire and cooked dinner in the dark. We were exhausted and it was late before we got to sleep!

First thing in the morning, no idea how early, Liesel was awake and putting on her coat. She woke me up, and then Evolet woke up.

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Evolet and I talked about the river and bird sounds.

Slowly everyone woke up and somehow I fell back to sleep and James and the kids sneaked out to build a fire and start breakfast. My husband is amazing! He does all the camp cooking, and I just take care of serving and fixing the cold meals. The kids had a blast exploring the campground.

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We took a hike to the Visitor’s Center. Ah, air conditioned! There we were able to get some real (though not toxic) mosquito repellent. We explored and then ate a snack and headed back to camp. When we were in the trees, it was fine, but in the direct sunlight was HOT! Compared to the campsites up on the asphalt, ours down by the river was much cooler!

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We needed some ice and more firewood, and I wanted to explore Newhalem a bit. We saw the beginning of The Trail of Cedars and the train for kids to explore, but it was too hot. We took a quick excursion to play on a swing set, but then decided that we needed to leave. Everyone was overheating.

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Back at camp… more signs of the beginning of overheating. Wow it was a hot day!ย  James kept us drinking water and cooling off by the river. So many things to do… and we just couldn’t do them in that heat! I handed the camera to Liesel to take some pictures, and then Baird got a turn. I’m so impressed with how some of the pictures turned out! She directed the staging of the photos with my baby belly and James. You can also see Evolet having a too-tired, too-hot, don’t-want-to-wear-any-of-the-clothes-Mama-packed fit. I couldn’t have taken those pictures, but Liesel sure did a great job capturing it!

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Here is where the camera was handed off to Baird. He struggled to push the button hard enough to take the picture, and to keep his hands steady. Still he got some nice ones!

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After dinner came s’mores! Even though I couldn’t eat any, I clumsily assisted James in making them, and the kids gobbled them up!

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James took care of washing all the dishes and set up a little kitchen for us.

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In the evening, there was a sudden rush of warm wind. It was the beginning of a weather change! We put the kids to bed before dark and went to bed shortly afterward. Hot day, but still a great day!

On the last morning, we had another delicious breakfast and started taking down camp. We got our traditional family pictures on a timer. James had the idea to line us all up in our new camping chairs, but poor Shiloh got a bit covered by a branch! We were on the only camera batteries we had, so we didn’t inspect the picture well until we got home.

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All packed up and headed out! What are we going to do next year when Boots is in the 6th seat? Just one last stop for ice cream at Cascadian Farm! I went without the processed sugar and ate some delicious raspberries for Boots’ sake!

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Then, the long trip home… So glad we planned and camped despite the obstacles! Can’t wait to do it again next month!

…Slings to Pants and Babies to Men

Today I took the first two slings that I made nearly 10 years ago and I turned them into ‘lounge’ pants for my two oldest sons. I now have a collection of slings, and I haven’t used these for at least two babies. And we totally fit the stereotype of always doing our homeschool in pajamas. And my boys are rough and quickly get holes in all their pants….

So I took a ring sling that James mostly used with Aslan I and made a pair of pants for Aslan out of the fabric. I never could quite get the hang of wearing a ring sling of this style.

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Aslan, 6 days old

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Aslan, 2 weeks old, with James.

I took my first favorite sling, just a 15 foot long piece of fabric tied around me, which I’d used for Aslan, Shiloh, and Liesel, and I made a pair of pants for Shiloh. Now I use a Moby, which I prefer because of the stretchiness and the tapered ends. I still have enough fabric left to make a nice receiving blanket for Boots (the name we’ve given to our baby still in utero).

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Aslan, 1 month old, and me.

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Aslan, about a month old, and me.

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Shiloh, 1 1/2 weeks old in the sling, Aslan 13 months old, and me.

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Liesel, 3 weeks old. I ate Chinese take out at home with my husband for our 4th anniversary because she would cry if I tried to put her down. I had to pick rice out of her hair when I was done!

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Shiloh and Liesel on top of the sling.

Working with that fabric brought back so many memories of when my big kids were babies! It used to be that I would cling to things to remind me of times in the past. I still do that to some extent, but I’ve been getting better. I’ve been decluttering my house and getting rid of a lot of stuff because we need to live in and enjoy our limited space! “People are more important than things,” I tell myself. It feels good have less stuff weighing me down… though I still have a long way to go. I’m happy to be re-purposing my old slings for a new stage in our life, that of having boys growing into men and needing lots of clothes in the process!

Here are my goofy young warriors now:

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Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Lyon Family Butcher Day!

The day really started with James, Aslan, and Shiloh going to our friend’s house to slaughter her hog. It’s a good thing James brought those strapping young men, he says that without them he wouldn’t have been able to get it in the truck! Once they got home the family butchering adventure began!

Touching the hog.

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She’s really questioning the sanity of our family.

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“Mama come save me!”

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I love Liesel’s face in this one! “Yuck!”

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Anatomy lessons.

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I can still smell it!

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Lard making… we should have cut the pieces much smaller.

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The little $4.00 used grinder was the best purchase James could have made!

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Grind, grind, grind…

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Labeling the packages of meat.

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Still going… this is exhausting, all day kind of work!

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Everybody participating! The kids were so good all day. The only thing lacking was that when getting the intestines out, James didn’t blow up the bladder like a balloon for the kids to play with like Pa did in Little House in the Big Woods!

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Yummy snack of peaches after lots of work on no food!

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More grinding. Did I mention that we love the grinder?

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The cracklings. Only Evolet loves them. We burned some and we should have had all the lard pieces cut smaller.

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Our freezer, about a foot deep with just the pork…

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…But the biggest reward was over 2 gallons of healthy lard!

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This adventure was so different than the butchering we did 3 years ago with all little kids who couldn’t really help. We all had a terrific family day and we really enjoyed working together. Now I’d better go help the others with the clean up that we’re still working on this morning…

Quarter 2 Art

We are now halfway through our art curriculum for this school year. While I don’t generally like to be super structured with a homeschool curriculum that tells us what to do every single day, I am loving the structure of a weekly art curriculum. We are using ARTistic Pursuits K-3 Book 1. I’m using the blog to store the art for our enjoyment and as an opportunity for the kids to share their work with others as a sort of art show. Each of the kids chose the pieces that they wanted me to include in the blog, and dictated to me any comments or title that they wanted.

Aslan, 9 years old

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Papa, Me and Shiloh fishing

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Our yard

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Evolet picking berries

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Hogwarts

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The sunset

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The Bear

Shiloh, 8 years old

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This is a dragon that woke up from his hibernation and is burning the landscape.

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This is my house

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This is my baby sister, Evolet, eating ice cream.

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This is Papa, me and Aslan fishing.

Liesel, 6 years old

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Winged unicorn

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Panda in the mirror

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The neighbor’s house

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Fishing

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The Advent wreath

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Me watching a car

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Flower in the sun

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Evolet camping

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Me feeding the birds

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A wine glass and cups

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Me in the morning light

Baird, age 3. It’s funny that right after the last time I posted a blog with Baird’s work, he quit using only orange! He’s been experimenting with a lot more colors now!

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Flying Unicorn Dog

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A treehouse

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Alligator

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A rainbow-y game

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A dark, dark morning

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An orange day

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A thing

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A blue day

And, myself. I love taking some time to be creative with the kids!

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Our church, with a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new memories.

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Since I was a little girl, I’ve hated the color red. In 2011 when we went tent shopping, the right tent for our family just happened to be red. Now, with all the wonderful memories we have of camping as a family and the sun streaming through the red fabric of our tent first thing in the morning, I think the color is beginning to grow on me ๐Ÿ™‚

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Special Boxes

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Date night walk on the marina

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A huge green canvas tent that we own also brings back great memories of time in that tent, and the color of the room that I gave birth to Shiloh in.

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It’s such a blessing to spend quality time with my kids. For each family that looks different, but for us Friday afternoon art is something that we all look forward to! We’ve grown a lot too. Art wasn’t always a fun and peaceful time. For a long time, one of my kids would fight any planning that I’d put in to art. It was a long road to the cooperative son that I do art with now, including times when I had to warn him ahead of time of what an appropriate attitude is, and then send him away from the family during art when he resisted any project that I tried to lead. There was a time when I cried about that problem and would shy away from projects because of his resistance, and leading the other kids to resist also. I’m not sure exactly what to attribute the change to, time & maturity, consequences to bad attitudes, using structure and authority outside of myself for a while (art lessons on video or read from a book) or what, but I sure am glad that we are past that time of tears and arguing when it comes to art! I’m glad that we didn’t give up, and he is too. It encourages me to look back on that when thinking about other areas of family life that we are struggling with. It’s a journey! Keep plugging away!

Thankful for…

It’s been more than a month since the miscarriage now. Thanksgiving Day was the day we had planned to announce the pregnancy (if we’d have made it that long!) I have been doing well most of the time, but I’m still having a good cry every so often. I know life isn’t easy, and I’ve experienced hardship to some extent in circumstances, relationships, and frustrations with myself. I have not experienced it as much as many people that I know or learn about. This is the closest I’ve come to dealing with the death of a person I deeply love. While it is hard for me, I have found so much to be thankful for in the process. I wanted to write out those things before I forget them, as I feel I may already be forgetting! It is so comforting to see bits of God’s grace and care in the little things while I am dealing with a big thing, death, the result of sin on this earth. It gives me hope that in other circumstances in the future, I will still be able to look and see Him and have hope, even as I grieve or struggle.

I’m thankful that when I found out I was going to miscarry, some people knew that I was pregnant. We hadn’t planned on telling anyone, but God placed certain people in our life who specifically asked, and so we told. We were so thankful for those people on that day. Plus, most of them had experienced miscarriage themselves and knew exactly what we were going through.

I’m thankful that it didn’t take long for the miscarriage to start after we knew it was pending. It wasn’t painful or complicated or long. The person who gives birth to 10+ lb babies at home, was terrified of what it would be like. With all the kids home and no desire to send them away or scare them, I’m thankful that they didn’t have to deal with the physical aspect of it as much as many. I’m also thankful that we did not have to wait long with the questions in our minds, โ€œCould the lab tests have been wrong? Could there have been a mistake somewhere?โ€

I’m thankful for all the tears that my husband and kids shed. They love baby Juniper just like me. I’m so blessed to have them as part of my family. I’m thankful for the little ones’ silliness, since they didn’t understand.

I’m thankful for the blog I had read 2 days prior to the miscarriage. It helped prepare me, and gave me the idea to wrap the little sack I would find for burial.

I’m thankful that my fabric was at home and easily accessible. It had spent months up high in the garage and then at our storage unit. The week before, I had an itch to make a dress for Liesel so I brought it home. I’m thankful that I could easily grab the fabric I wanted to make the burial pouch out of without any hassle while I waited for the miscarriage to start.

I’m thankful that James could come home and be with me on Friday, and that we had the weekend together.

I’m thankful for Facebook and my blog so that I could share with people. Come Saturday evening, I wanted to share before Sunday morning when I would either find myself surround by people at church, or I would isolate myself by staying home.

I’m so thankful that I had to get a blog post done on Saturday so that I would be able to make myself go to church on Sunday. If I had waited an extra day or two, I’m not sure that I would have posted. So often I over-think things and end up not sharing out of fear of judgment. It felt nice to just be vulnerable at a moment when I didn’t have the strength to do anything else.

I’m thankful for comforting words. For the words of the song โ€œAll My Tears,โ€ Scriptures that were sent to me, and kind words from family & friends.

I’m thankful for the outpouring of support from our family and church. I did not expect so many people to care so deeply. It’s made me want to be more active in community, and specifically to move closer to our church!

I’m thankful for my 5 kids that I get to be with and cherish.

I’m thankful for my husband who holds me and cries with me still.

I’m thankful that I didn’t become pregnant immediately following the miscarriage so that I could have more time to process everything. I had a rough week of hoping for an early positive pregnancy test but had negatives instead. If/when I am pregnant again I know that I’ll have to work through some new fears. It’s all quite exhausting and I’m glad for a break, knowing where things stand right now! Now we might make moving closer to town a priority before we have another baby… we’re not completely sure.

I’m thankful that in the future I am more equipped to offer support to a person in a similar situation.

I’m thankful to have had the joy of knowing of baby #6, Juniper, even though it was a last minute decision to have another baby so soon. I’d rather be sitting here thinking of the fact that we were excited to be having another, than to not have been pregnant at all.

I’m thankful for new music which marks this season for me. Though I thought it would mean pregnancy to me instead of loss, it hasn’t ruined the music for me. In the future it will remind me of different sorts of changes in my life, as music has a way of reminding me of the past.

I’m thankful for a continued spirit of more vulnerability in me. I can tell in conversations and in how I write that I’m not nearly as fearful as I was. I want to keep growing in that direction, as it’s always a struggle for me. I haven’t had much time to put together a blog with the constant interruptions of kids, but I have started several. (James and I hope to arrange some evenings to give me time to work on that.) I just sense a difference in me that I want to keep working on.

And last, but not least, I’m thankful for Jesus’ death and resurrection which makes the hope of heaven real. Without that, it would be impossible for me to look at death and still find so much to be thankful for.

This list includes so much that I am thankful for. I didn’t write my questions, fears, pain, shortcomings, insecurities, etc, but I’m feeling them very much every day. It is nice (and biblical) to take the time to dwell on those things I am thankful for. There is so much!

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:2-3

This week I found an old post saved as a draft that I’d never published! I wrote it last December.

The day after James got home from his hunting trip in Eastern Washington in below freezing temperatures, we piled into our Suburban to get a Christmas tree out of the mountains. So that we could combine it with a bit of road grouse hunting, we went back to the area where we had had our only successful hunt of the year. Not very far in, a bobcat bounded across the road in front of us. Only James and I got to see it. It was fun driving with the snow on the ground because we could see all sorts of animal tracks in the snow. James pointed out rabbit tracks, deer tracks, and some sort of large cat track.

When we got up really high and could see the sun shining, everything glittered white. We got out to find our tree in a big clear area with an assortment of small trees. What a biting cold wind! Wow, it was cold, there were tears, kids were clambering to get back in the vehicle. Quickly, we picked a tree just so we could be on our way again. It was basically a twin, two trees growing from the same spot, but it was small enough and easy enough to get to. My fingers about froze off trying to help James secure it to the roof of the Suburban, while trying to protect a baby in the sling and keep myself from slipping on the ice. Yikes! I should have put on the gloves that James offered me. The views were breathtaking, but it was good to get the heater blowing on us again!

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The way back home was an adventure! For the grouse hunt, we went further up the mountain first. At a place where a logging road goes off the the left, there was an obvious drainage problem which left the main road below it a sheet of ice. Our Suburban climbed it but we were left wondering how we would fair on the way back down.

We were headed back home as the sun was going down. When arrived at the sheet of ice, we were a bit nervous. After the sheet, the road turned to the right, with a drop down straight ahead. James started onto the ice but then moved two of our tires off the road to the right so that we could have the traction of the grass and sticks. One would have thought that if the road was a sheet of ice, the ground immediately to the right of it would be solid too, right? Wrong. It was muddy and the passenger side of our vehicle sunk. We made our way near the bottom of the sheet of ice but suddenly the right side was no longer passable and we got stuck trying to get out of the ditch up on to the road again. By now it was rapidly becoming dark. By the light of our headlights and a headlamp on James’ head, James got out with the little saw that he had used to cut down our tree. He started cutting down saplings and throwing saplings, branches, grasses, and rocks under our front passenger wheel. We were both calculating what we had to spend the night in our vehicle, keeping 4 kids and and a 9 month old warm. With a family prayer and nervous hearts, James lurched us out of the ditch, onto the ice, off the ice, and around the corner of solid road. We all breathed a sigh of relief and James stopped the vehicle so we could offer a prayer of thanks. What an adventure! We won’t be going up any more sheets of ice!

 

Quarter 1 Art

Homeschooling is messy. It’s loud. It’s harder than I expected, especially with so many kids. It’s so different than the classroom I grew up in, but even on those bad days when I look into the prices of the local Christian school, I know that I want to continue to homeschool. I want my kids to be with the family, to have time to relax and pursue their own interests, to feel like they can be themselves, and to learn how to learn in a way and at a pace that suits them best.

Well, I guess I could go on, but this is not a post about the reasons I homeschool. It’s about our art curriculum. We just hit 9 weeks, which means we’re a quarter of the way through the year! Sitting down and doing art with my kids is one of the highlights of our week. On Friday afternoon, if the baby goes down well for her nap, we read through the lesson and we sit down together to have quiet creating time. The quiet part took a bit of practice since I have talkers, but after making it a rule, everyone agrees that they enjoy having quiet time while they work (well, maybe not the 3 year old, but he gets his own art time too). The best part for me is that I create something too! It’s so refreshing to me! I wanted a place to put all of the art we’ve created together this school year before it became a task too overwhelming for me to tackle, and I thought my blog would be just right. Later maybe I can put it in a photobook.

So, here we start with Aslan’s (9) work. The comments I put after a work of art come from him.

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“Our 9th Year at Festival of Family Farms”

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“Bunny in the Farmer’s Garden”

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“Owl Moon”

Here is Shiloh’s (8) work:

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“Hunting for Bear”

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“Bird of Prey”

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“Dragon Meeting”

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“Fly, Fly, Fly”

Now on to Liesel’s (5-6):

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“Liesel and Beep-boo swimming in the pool in summer.”

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“Liesel’s penguin, and ladybug, and pumpkin.”

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“Liesel and her family in the mountains picking berries.”

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“Birds of Prey Flying, or on Stumps, or on Branches.”

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“Liesel’s Bedroom”

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“Liesel’s birthday with her friends”

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“Snowy Owl in the Mountains”

And Baird (3), my orange boy ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Yeah, me made dat.”

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“Me made dat. Me did not make dat dis day.”

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“It is Too-yes (Toothless) in da hatar (water) and me gonna make Hiccup in da hatarโ€

Love that three year old! Once upon a time, I had another son who would only color with yellow. I wanted him to use other colors so badly! Fortunately, I (mostly) kept my mouth shut back then. Now I’m doing a lot better job of actually enjoying the season of the mon0-color. I know he’ll start using other colors soon enough.

Last but not least, my work:

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“Family and Photos”

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“Date Night at Home”

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“Our View After a Special Day with Friends”

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“Wolf” I painted this while my friend was having her fertilized eggs put in to her for a successful in-vitro fertilization. I was thinking of her and praying for her as I worked. Just over a week later I found out I was pregnant, she also became pregnant with the same due date. Now our little baby Juniper is in heaven.

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“Packed with Memories” This special toy, made by my husband in 2008, is part of a set of two. Though quirky, our kids have loved and played with these for years, to practice using a screwdriver, as a bed, as a house, a cave, and as a base of block buildings. The red table orange background remind me of the house we lived in back then.

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“Festival of Family Farms ’14”

Artistic Pursuits Q1-9

“Fall”

As lovely as all this looks, and as excited as I sound, I haven’t always enjoyed art with my kids. I already touched on that when I wrote about how I am no longer disturbed by a mono-color 3 year old. That used to bother me! I’ve heard before that for young kids, art is a process, not a result. I’ve soooo grown in my acceptance of that! I remember many years ago when one of my boys drew a beautiful picture, and then decided that it flooded. The whole thing turned blue. I was devastated! I do a lot better with situations like that now. I have plenty of saved artwork, whatever happens to the piece of paper in front of us is fine. I’ve grown to be more accepting of how child decides to express themselves. Not every lesson is a favorite with every one.That’s okay. Sometimes a project takes on a life of it’s own and turns out completely differently than I anticipated. That’s okay too. My peace makes a big difference! Also, because of my experiences I know that some projects are simply too messy or too difficult, or need better instructions from the get-go so I am better able to avoid some bad combinations. Experience is the best teacher, right?

Before we had the ‘quiet’ rule, art usually became overwhelming for me! “Mama look at this!” “Mama, do you know what this is?” “I’m going to use a different green.” It was too much! I couldn’t relax and be creative because the noise level was through the roof! Now we have a no-talking rule. All who can’t abide by this are napping. Whispers to ask for help or to show me a finished picture are allowed. I give out lots of friendly reminders. Everyone agrees that they can focus better when it’s quiet.

The last situation which used to make art unpleasant was that one of my kids had a problem with accepting instructions of any kind. He rebelled and wanted to change the supplies we used, the goal we had, anything, just to remain in control. Trying new things made him uncomfortable. It made any sort of family project miserable. I learned that I had to come to him beforehand and let him know that while he was free to do what he liked the rest of the day, we were about to do art and if he didn’t want to participate in an appropriate way, he could rest in his bed until we were done. It was heartbreaking for me when he got sent away, but it only happened a couple of times before he learned to cooperate with what we were doing and try some new things. The next step for him, I believe, was doing a video art curriculum a couple of years ago. It seemed that an authority coming from outside of me was easier for him to take. He cooperated and grew to love structured projects more at that time. And lastly, he is maturing. I’m so proud of how he has handled art this year. We’ve had no problems. He tries his best. He uses the tools we have at hand. He follows instructions. He still has complete freedom to draw and use art supplies on his own whenever he would like to, and he does a lot of that too. I’m so happy for how he’s grown!

Each family has to discover their own rhythm to having some enriching activities together. This year I am very happy with the art curriculum we are using, and even happier with the group of young people that I get to do art with!

So I know that this is silly. I am silly. I’m doing okay in my ups and downs and surprise bursts of tears. It helps to laugh with my best friend and husband. Here’s a little something that made us both cry and laugh.

Last night we were tidying up because a friend was bringing over a meal, and James tackled that hardly-ever-cleaned area of our house: the desk. While everyone was distracted I slipped out to take a quick walk around the block, just to feel the fresh air and listen to a little bit of quiet. When I got back, I was bombarded with questions regarding whether or not I was storing something special on the desk, in that pile right in front of the printer. No, I was not, but that got me curious. My husband disappeared and reappeared with… my wedding ring! It had been stored and then went missing for several months.

I stopped wearing my wedding ring just before Evolet was born because it was in need of some serious repairs. There’s a crack in one of the fancy gold swirlies, one of the 6 little diamonds is missing, and (here’s the reason I finally took it off) one of the prongs to hold on the big diamond got wrenched upward and was catching on everything. I was afraid the diamond would fall out or the prong would scratch a baby!

When Evolet was a few weeks old, I went to have an estimate done on fixing the ring and my husband and I talked about fixing it verses just saving it for now and buying a simple band for me to wear while in the throws of raising children. Nothing really happened with either of those options for quite a while, but then James totally surprised me on Valentine’s Day with a ring! (It wasn’t quite as simple as that simple band we’d discussed ๐Ÿ™‚ but definitely sturdy enough for my lifestyle.) It was such a surprise because James is terrible at keeping anything a secret from me! The new band had 10 little diamonds embedded in the band.

Now I need to give a little back story… When we got married and I saw the six little diamonds and one big diamond, I envisioned James and me (the big diamond) having six kids (the little ones). When I had 4 kids and saw that a little diamond had fallen out, I had a weird feeling that that somehow represented our sixth child, but I thought that was a silly and superstitious thought that I didn’t need to have since God is in control, and I chose not to dwell on it.

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Back to last February, when I studied my new ring I told James about my thought of 6 kids (I did not say anything about the missing one) and asked him, does this new ring with ten little diamonds mean us and 8 kids, or does it mean 10 kids? Yes, he knows he is married to a crazy person! He says only six kids will fit in our huge Suburban and we’re not getting anything bigger! We’ll see. ๐Ÿ˜‰ God is in control, right?

Several months ago, though, we realized that we could not find my wedding ring, which was in a little paper pouch and hidden somewhere ‘safe’. Apparently that ‘safe’ place was in the cupboard above the computer desk. (Before that I do remember James telling me it was hidden in the fireplace, and in case he died and I wanted to have a fire or move away, take it out first. Yes, I know I’m married to a crazy person.) From that cupboard, it had fallen onto the desk. I happen to know of the only person in our marriage that puts special things in that cupboard, and the other person is the one who stuffs random tools and cords and papers belonging to her spouse in it, so that they are not lying around the house while he’s at work. Anyway…

Last week, after the miscarriage, I did tell James my thought about the sixth diamond in my wedding ring. Then I asked him, well, what about those 8 or 10 kids represented in my new ring?

Whatever our future holds, I feel blessed to have a wonderful husband, six children, a Sovereign God, and my wedding ring found! ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. James thought I should add that there was a reason for putting my ring in the fireplace: if a house burns down, usually the fireplace is left standing, so at least he’d know where to look for it. What a sweetie!

Little Juniper

Today we buried the little bit of flesh that was the earthly home for our 6th baby. Now our baby is with Jesus. Let me start at the beginning…

I did not expect to be having a baby next spring. I’d been encouraging myself to be content waiting longer and buying land or a house first as we’d discussed. I had wanted a June baby someday and thought maybe next year this time we’d be ready. James surprised me though. He was ready to have another.

On September 27 we took an early pregnancy test and got a very faint positive line. It took us a while to be sure, but yes, it was there. We were thrilled, and for the first time ever we kept the news to ourselves. That lasted for 2 days before we couldn’t take it any more and we told our kids!

On October 4, we were able to take our little baby to Festival of Family Farms, our ninth year participating in a very special family tradition. I’m so thankful to have memories of our baby there. It was there that we had the only family picture taken with the knowledge of our newest little one.

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Our kids did a terrific job keeping the secret. We told a couple of people who asked us a direct question that we were expecting. We made plans to announce our little one at Thanksgiving.

But then I started having some spotting. I’d had some with Liesel also so it didn’t worry me too much. From what I read, the type and amount I was having could have been within the realm of normal for a healthy pregnancy, but after several times of noticing it, I saw my midwife and we decided to check my hCG levels. After my appointment I was still very hopeful that everything was all right. I got a call on Tuesday from an assistant saying that the first levels were normal.

On Wednesday we celebrated Liesel’s birthday, and a blogger that I faithfully follow (Pray 4 Lilly) posted about her miscarriage experience from earlier this month for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I read and cried for her and, looking back, was being prepared for my own experience.

When I answered the phone on Friday at 8:30 and heard my midwife’s voice on the other end, I knew the news wasn’t good. She expected to see the numbers double and instead they decreased. She told me to expect a miscarriage within a week.

I immediately called James, but I was directed to his voice mail without it ever ringing every time I tried. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to get a hold of him and wondered if I should call the office at his work. I decided to call a friend instead. She’s had a miscarriage, she had known I was going in for blood testing, and her baby shares the same due date as mine did. She understood perfectly what I was going through and talked to me and prayed for me over the phone. Miraculously, my kids were all working hard and getting along in the house while I cried and talked on the front porch.

At 9:00, his break time, I tried James again. He finally answered and he left work to be with me and tell the kids with me. I later found out that he’d had no signal in the bottom of a ship where he was working.

When I came back in the house and was trying to hold myself together, Shiloh started following me around the house offering me hugs and asking me what was wrong. I told him just to wait.

What seemed like forever later, James pulled in and I met him in front of the house and we both cried for a few minutes before coming in. We gathered the kids and told them and then basically all cried in a big heap on the living room floor for about an hour. Only Baird and Evolet didn’t understand the grief and provided some innocent comfort and some light-hearted entertainment for the rest of us.

The concept of one of our family members, a child of James and myself, a brother or sister to our 5 children, in heaven with Jesus is stunning. We keep reminding ourselves and our kids that our baby is without pain or tears or sadness. It’s just us that we’re crying for.

In the afternoon I took the time to make a little pouch out of some special fabric to put in any remains of the baby’s body that we could find, so that we could have a little burial. The fabric was originally used back when I was just a little girl to put a ‘coat’ on my special blanket that was covered with holes. I’ve also used a little square of it in each of my 3 older kids’ quilts.

Yesterday we also felt a need to name the little one. We did have a boy name and a girl name already picked out for our baby, but we didn’t know which to use. Since our baby was due in June, I thought of the name Juniper. That’s what we’ve settled on, though I’m sad we never spoke it while our baby was growing in me.

I was relieved that the miscarriage began on Friday evening while James was home and we had a weekend ahead of us.

On Saturday morning I reread and cried through a friend’s blog that she wrote after she had a 2nd miscarriage. We discussed what to do with the little sack. We decided to bury it along our favorite forest road where we already have many special family memories. I’ve never cried on that road before. The spot we picked is very beautiful and peaceful. James felt a lot of closure from that. I think I’ll get more from the writing I’m doing.

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Multiple times I did my best to sing a song for my kids that we sing sometimes at church. I only remembered a few lines. I think I need to practice it a bit more:

When I go, don’t cry for me
In my Father’s arms I’ll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I’ll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus’ face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name.

It don’t matter where you bury me,
I’ll be home and I’ll be free.
It don’t matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven’s store,
Come and drink, and thirst no more

It don’t matter where you bury me
I’ll be home and I’ll be free
It don’t matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again.

It don’t matter where you bury me,
I’ll be home and I’ll be free.
It don’t matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Yesterday I was not sure that I wanted to share this with many people. Now I do, mostly because I do have to answer the question of how many kids I have. Right now I have 5 here with me, and 1 in heaven. I don’t want to habitually leave one out. Also, at this moment, it’s all I can do to process all this. So often, I’m way too worried about what other people think to write too many personal thoughts on my blog, and right now I simply don’t care. I feel opened up to write honestly about something important to me.

I’m not really sure what to expect next. I’m grieving and being comforted by the needs and antics of my other five kids. My kids are all grieving in their own way and I want to have patience with them and help them. I’m so in love with my husband who loves me and our kids and is grieving and taking care of all of us. I am even more joyful and excited for my friend to have her baby in June. I feel nearer to heaven than I did before; it is not far away at all. I suppose that that last one is a very good and true feeling to have.