Halloween revisited

Well, here's an article for you. What do you think? Has anyone heard this before? Parts of it are familiar to me, but a lot of it is new.


The best Fall ever!

The love just keeps coming around here! Fall in a Box arrived yesterday from our Kingdom Group in St. Louis. Felt bags, fall candles, paper plates, acorns, pumpkins seeds for planting...Here I thought this was going to be a sad season of home sickness. Not at all. I really feel like I have experienced this season in a deeper way than I ever have. I have had to look harder for it and create it here, but I have also been reminded of the love of our family (blood related and not) who have served us in such sweet ways the past month. Thank you!!I had more pictures of the fun opening - but we are potty training and you could see the bottom half of Joseph's birthday suit in the other pictures.

Current influences

No matter where you have your children - in public, private, charter, or at home - these books are helpful. Like every other source of influence, you have to drag it through the skimmer of your worldview (which in our case has been informed by Scripture) and simply the needs and personality of your family. But even once all those have been considered, I have found these to be very helpful. Another source I discovered yesterday is from that blog I referred you to a few weeks ago - the October's Burnt Offerings post. Clearly, they homeschool. I really appreciate how they have thoughtfully expressed their decisions. It isn't the...well, I have just come to a conclusion that home school is not valuable just because it is at home. You can have a crappy home school. So here is the link - you may need to cut and paste it.

Thank you, Mama

for being a granola maker. It is so fulfilling to see that jar full and to know I don't have to worry about what to have for breakfast tomorrow. Plus the house smells like toasted almonds and coconut (better than the time I burned the stuff).

In the School of Zoo

Most of you know that we moved out to California late this past summer. And most of you also know that we had an eventful first couple of weeks. Needless to say we did not have time to put much thought into preschool for Olivia. Honestly, that was a relief for me because we really had not come to a comfortable decision about what we wanted to do for school. Though the way is growing clearer by the day, we are still doing a lot of research and asking a lot of questions. In the meantime, we have decided to have Zoo School. Essentially, it involves spending a lot of time at the zoo (which we all love) and using that as our jumping pad for learning. Over the past couple of months I have filled a box full of puzzles, games, magazines, animals, etc. An animal Go Fish game as been the instigator of Olivia being able to recognize the entire alphabet in uppercase and about 1/3 of it in lower case. She also recognizes the sound most letters make and is asking how to spell things. I'm not sure how much of the alphabet she can write, but letters are showing up daily around here. Now, I have now idea how that compares to other kids her age - but I don't really care because she is loving to learn and asking a lot of questions. That is far more important to us at this stage in the game.

Here is another example of how this is working. Olivia and Joseph both insist on carrying a map around the zoo. At first I would say no, they didn't both need one, blah, blah, blah. Then, duh, I realized they were learning how to read it. As you know my struggle with patience, I was getting frustrated with the time it was taking for them to fold and unfold the maps and put them in and out of their bags, and Joseph running into people because he had a map bigger than he is in front of his face. It wasn't efficient! Aaaggh! I kill myself sometimes! So we were walking the other day and Olivia says, "Mommy, we are right here (pointing to the picture of the animal we were by), because that (pointing to another animal) is on our left." What?! She knew her left!! and so she knew which side we were on and where we were headed!

So that is how we are learning right now. And there are a million other things playing into it. And there are a million other things I am reading about. And I would love it if any of you want to discuss this at all. I think I will probably start posting some Educational Installments on here - including the different things I am reading, asking questions, etc. I don't know who still reads this blog, but in the past I know it has been people from many different kinds of schooling approaches. I would covet your feedback.
But for now here we are - zebra gazing. And sometimes we stop and draw pictures, or eat our lunch, or pick up trash (Joseph). But now to the animal fun facts we (me) all love. This is a harpy eagle. He kind of looks like a mix between an owl and an eagle. Blow up the pictures - it is beautiful. They eat monkeys...that they catch as they (the monkeys) are swinging in the trees! Incredible.

Joseph's trash


We had a great time celebrating this little girl this past week. It is so much fun as she gets older and is able to appreciate different aspects of a birthday. We have purposefully kept things kind of low key the first few years - celebrating with family or close friends. As I (nervously, because I am not terribly creative) considered the option of having parties those first few years I concluded that those parties would be more about me than her because she was really too young to understand. Sure she would get that all the attention was about her and she was getting lots of presents, but I really felt like there were other things I wanted her to understand first. (And please, if you have thrown those parties, know that these are decisions we came to for our family. We have enjoyed every part we have been invited to. Who am I to judge friends who invite me and my daughter over and feed us cake?! Party on.) We received packages and envelopes of one kind or another almost every day this week. We piled them in the corner of the dining room and her anticipation grew each day. She referred to her calender more often this week than any other, counting sleeps. I love that this year she began to learn the feeling of anticipation, waiting on something, looking for it, longing for it. These first few pictures are of our community group. We had them over for supper the night before Olivia's birthday. (I didn't cook for all of them. We eat together every week and everyone brings part of the meal.)

The birthday morning. All the fun I have made of Karen is coming back to me now - we have entered the world of the princess dress. A neighbor that we met recently (more about her later) gave Olivia this dress and she has worn it everyday since last Friday. A friend from church gave her the shoes you can't see. Let's just say I wish we had carpet. We had the sweetest morning with her. Joseph happened to sleep in and so just the three of us shared the present opening. I know that might sound bad, but Joseph is at the age where he really doesn't get that it is her birthday and the presents aren't for him. I was thankful not to have to fight that battle the whole time but really be able to enjoy Olivia's excitement. We did plenty of celebrating with Joseph. In fact, he kept wanting to sing Happy Birthday to her over an over.
The addition to the birthday crown. We now have four buttons. Blue is her favorite color right now, so she got a blue button and I stitched her name in blue.
Now, notice the evolution of the outfit.
She loved the Crocs! Everyone will be happy to know that she no longer has to wear dog chewed crocs any more.

She was requesting her next present.
Crown ditched for the Strawberry Shortcake headband
and piggy.
Back pack! She wears it everywhere but to bed.
We could not love her more and yet some how as I get to know her I love her more every day. And we really do have a lot to learn about her. I can't wait to tell you about the neighborhood party we had the night of her birthday. We are so excited about the work the Lord is doing here and thanks to Olivia we were able to open our door open wide for that work in our home last night.

I had no idea!

Did you know that deer grow antlers every year?! Olivia got My Big Backyard magazine from her Uncle Doug for her birthday and the feature this month is antlers/horns. Every spring the antlers start to grow and they are covered in something called velvet that actually looks like velvet that eventually dries up and sheds. Then they fall off in the winter I guess. I had no idea.

Animal fact for you.


Happy Birthday, Friends!

Halloween costume revision:

She's going as a Bible thumper. A singing one.

(This singing was spontaneous today. She has been reciting it for a week or so now, but today it was put to this lovely tune.)

Supper tonight

I am afraid I will forget to take a picture of the actual meal, so here is the magazine page. For those of you who have peanut allergies in your family! We love Thai food, but I never cook it because of the peanut sauce. Here is a recipe using almond butter and it is really tasty.

Cook your pork tenderloin with s/p however you like - the recipe says to cook it at 425 for 10 minutes on each side. Cook fettuccine. Mix a tablespoon of the pasta water with almond butter, soy sauce, chili sauce, rice vinegar. Shred pork and mix it all together and top with chopped green onions.

Oh dear

She wants to be a zebra for halloween. What do I do?

(By the way, if you are interested in the halloween discussion - a friend from college commented on my wall in Facebook about it and I found his comments (though really heady) extremely helpful. You'll have to read it about 3 times, but it is good.)

Leaf hunt

Lately Olivia has started saying she wishes she could "climb in" the books we are reading. I know the feeling - since every book we have from the library right now has to do with Autumn. So, when we were reading Ox-Cart Man (by Donald Hall) this morning on the back porch...in between airplane fly overs...and Olivia said she wanted to climb in, I suggested maybe we just go on a leaf hunt. There are a couple of trees on A Street that I have had my eye on - some sweet gums I think. Sure enough they were dropping a few leaves.
Olivia begged to bring our rake (we don't have one). We just did the raking with our feet and they "jumped" in.
And we ate leaf shaped (Maple) cookies for a treat. (They are from Trader Joe's and I think I have gained about 5 pounds because of them.)
I know, Karl, he needs another haircut.
This is a view down the park toward the playground that we spend an awful lot of time at. To the right would be the neighborhood - we are two blocks over. And do the left is the public golf course.

A little DABS will do ya

(I am in a corny mood.) DABS is the acronym I have given God's latest answer to prayer here. Click on our Harborlinks blog (to the right) and read about it. Very exciting.

To celebrate or not to celebrate

That is my question. Halloween. I have been down every logical and illogical road in this argument and I am honestly still without much of a good reason to partake...or not partake. And I am interested to know your thoughts.

Those of you who know Mike and me, know that hiding from culture is not an issue here. So, please don't say, "We must be salt and light! We can't live in a Christian ghetto and expect to share the love of Christ!" We understand our call to engage the world as winsomely and relevantly as possible. I knew a girl once that had a ministry to strippers - she went in the clubs and had an extremely valuable and effective ministry with those women. Not many of us are "called into the clubs." Is Halloween one of those "clubs"?

Honestly, as I have read about the origins of the holiday - they are far less offensive than what it has become...at least here in America. I mean we "honor the dead", right? We reread old letters and journals, we pass down wisdom and traditions, we tell stories and name children after our loved departed. Granted that isn't quite what the Celts had in mind. Their understanding of the after life is a bit different than ours, if you are a Christian. But the celebrations today have little to do with the origins of the holiday itself, so that doesn't seem like a good argument either - the "I don't celebrate it because it has evil origins" argument.

And the idea of going to church and doing all the same things that all the pagan kids in the neighborhood are doing, but calling it a Reformation Day celebration just doesn't sit well either. (Please don't be offended if you do that - I have done that for years, as a kid and adult. I don't think God frowns on it. I don't think. I am just trying to figure out what I think of it now.)
My real problem is with the wickedness that Halloween has become. I mean, it is like the love scenes in the old movies...they just aren't nearly as offensive (and some of them not offensive at all, but very sweet) as the sex scenes of today. It seems like maybe the old days of Halloween were far less evil than they are today. I don't know. But I do know that I don't even want to take my kids into the CVS. I can't stand all the dark, evil costumes. I am nervous about what costumes we will open our door to in a couple of weeks. Who is going to be standing there that I am going to have to explain to my children... "Mommy, who does he have blood all over his teeth and face?" " Oh, Olivia that is just a vampire. He sucks blood out of people's necks and kills them. But don't worry, it isn't real."

There are a lot of fun things going on in our neighborhood on Halloween and we are beginning to be recognized here. We want to be out and about. What would you do?

p.s. the picture has nothing to do with the post - I just thought it was funny. She woke up from a nap in the car looking like that.

Q Garden II

Olivia has taken to hot tea lately. It has become something that we do most afternoons together while Joseph is still sleeping. We need a miniature sized travel mug - that one is a little over kill for the amount of tea we put in there. They are standing in front of one of the types of bamboo - I don't remember which - and some beautiful orange bromeliads (sp?).Minna
The Giant Bamboo - I suppose for the Giant Panda, which really isn't all that giant if you have ever noticed.
A lizard.
A lizard watcher. (You may not be able to see the magnifying glass.)

Fair to compare?

We finally visited the Quail Botanical Garden about 20 minutes north of us in Encinitas. I think I had subconsciously put it off because I was afraid it would make me cry missing our friends and our Shaw Garden - that and it is only free once a month and last Tuesday was it. We were not disappointed, though it wasn't quite the same not having Annika and Lauren there begging for snacks :) I took a ton of pictures and I think I will just post them over the next week. I naively assumed that there was not as much variety here on the West Coast - so wrong. I am learning so much. So, here is a view of the ocean from the Garden.Any of you use Agave Nectar as a sweetener? (I recommend it for baking and on pancakes and in tea. I doesn't necessarily have less calories - it just isn't processed and it metabolizes more slowly in your body - good if you have diabetes or maybe don't want your kids to wig out so fast after Saturday morning pancakes.) This is an agave plant - the big, green, spiky one.
This is a...tree that I didn't think I would forget the name of...it was something that sounded like dragon. It has red sap and the sap is used to stain stradivarius violins. Interesting.
This is a little boy crunching leaves - he found some to crunch.
They even have a children's garden. It didn't quite compare to Shaw, but we aren't complaining.
And the most beautiful caterpillar.
More later...

Out of sight, not out of mind

Lydia and Rachel, thinking of you as we pull out our/(your old) warmer clothes. Thank you, again.

New favorite lunch

Sorry I don't have a picture of this - it disappears too quickly. But, honestly it isn't that hard to imagine. Apple, bacon, mushroom pizza. I made it up by accident this week when we invited a friend over for pizza and I realized I didn't have any pizza sauce.

You shred white cheddar on a pizza crust - we use the Trader Joe's dough. If you actually follow the directions it is a cinch. Problem is I thought I was too smart for the directions and goofed it up the first 2 times I used it.

Slice up granny smith apples, then layer on cooked bacon and sliced mushrooms. Top with shredded parm. (I abbreviate because I can never remember how to spell that.)

We've had it twice this week.

Happiness is...

...a box full of waxed fall leaves made and sent by a friend and her children who know me well enough to know how happy that box on our doorstep would make me.

Thank you Veermans!

Funny Fall Guy

Singing to his pumpkin cookie I suppose...I don't remember.