Daytime entertainment

It takes very little.

Pie and Art

This is our friend, Rachel.  She is the kind of friend who shows up and just becomes a part of things.  If you're washing dishes, she grabs a towel.  If you are tending to one kid, she tends to another.  If you are laying on the couch watching movies about Galileo, she pulls a kid on her lap and watches too.  She also teaches art!

 On one of the busiest days of our year, she painted with the children for several hours while I baked pies.  One day I will be better at delegating in the kitchen and the kids will be more a part of the baking, but I am not that mature yet.  I still micro-manage and obsess over waste and mess.

On a side note: I used to (and by "used to" I mean until about 10 minutes ago when I really thought about it) feel such guilt over not baking with my children more.  Good mothers bake with their children.  It's in all the books and blogs.  If they are going to be well rounded and if you call yourself a home schooling mother...  Well, I don't remember baking with my mother much at all.  In fact, we mostly fought in the kitchen when I was older because I didn't like being told what to do (I know, hard to imagine.).  She taught me to follow the instructions on the Nestles Tollhouse package when I was about 10 and I solo baked about 10 thousand dozen chocolate chip cookies over the years.

The result: I love, LOVE to cook and bake.  Love it!  So, I will relinquish my fears of ruining my children because I do not bake with them enough.  Who knows, maybe I will hit a maturing streak and we'll be baking up a storm come next year.  In the meantime, I will try to do other things well.

Anyway, after painting with them all day, Rachel helped make our annual Pie Stop By happen.  I could not have finished without her.  Greta helped her make pie labels.
 Our neighbor Lili has come over the past two years to help me make her favorite pie.  She now makes it every time her family gets together for holidays.

 One of my favorite pies on one of my favorite nights of the year.  Sliced sweet potato.
We didn't get any pictures of our guests this year.  The house was packed with the regulars and some new faces as well.  Looking forward already to next fall.

Just in case

You never know what you might need if you wake up in the middle of the night.

The public celebration

Check out this crowd.  This is why our life is so rich!  Young and old, boy and girl.  Olivia loves well and is loved well.  Sweet Faith.  This is one gal I wish we lived closer to so she and Olivia could hang out more.

One of Faith's brothers, Dean.
 I'll tell you more about these little ones later.

 Lor, picking her teeth. (She doesn't read the blog.  She won't mind I posted that.)

Of course, with a bunch of boys this age, it turns into a slam dung contest. August.

Did you know he could drive in reverse?

She could not be happier.

I like to look at this picture and think maybe Faith is praying for her friend.  :)

 The after party.  These two are nuts.  I can't remember if I have introduced Jonathan on here yet.  Somehow all the pictures I take of him are blurry so I may not have posted any.  But it is time for you to meet him as he and his brother, David, are pretty special to our family.

The obligatory soccer post

I have mixed feelings about our family soccer experience.  Personally, I love to play the sport.  The kids love to play it as well.  I was completely impressed with Olivia's interest to do something she had never done before.  "Who knows.  I may like it," she says.  She spent the first four practices with either her hair or her fingers in her mouth, insecurity.  Then, come to find out goalie is her favorite position.  Granted, she swatted at the ball from about 3 feet away initially, but look at her by the end of the season!  This is not an aggressive girl...well, not athletically aggressive.  I was proud to see her put some umph into it.

That's Coach Kelly walking in behind.  She made it a great season.

Soccer parents and coaches can indeed be as crazy as the rumors attest.  Sadly, I must include myself.  Now, I'm not bad mouthing other players or demeaning the kids when they make mistakes.  However, I am a bit excitable and, "Run. Run!  RUN, JOSEPH! YOU HAVE TO RUN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!" might have come out of my mouth.  Maybe.  And I may have once (or twice) bemoaned (out loud) the fact that the coach never pulled his own kid.  Everyone sat on the bench but him and I thought that was unfair.  But, like my patient husband, I should have kept my mouth shut and waited for a truly important issue to open my mouth about - like the coaches harassing the teenage umpires...umpires, that's not right...refs! during the tournament.  A patient, private, but extraordinarily firm word changed behavior and maintained a friendship.  The unbelievable Providence is that that coach's son is now on our baseball team - and Mike is coaching!

I was reading an article recently that bemoaned the fact that all kids get trophies nowadays and I have to say I agree.  Due to our out of balance fear of damaging their self-esteem, we choose to lie to them instead and damage their trust of us.  Everyone, believe it or not, is not the best.  We just watched a herd of Olympic cross country skiers ski for about 100 miles (exaggeration mine) and the guy who led almost the entire race did not win.  Not first, not second, not third.  He got no trophy.  He got an Olympic experience for which I hope he is profoundly grateful.  And he got our family's (and hopefully hundreds of others') profound admiration...I cannot even walk 100 miles.  But he did not get a trophy.  I am okay with my kids not always getting a trophy.  Especially if it is their first year and they actually sorta stink at the sport.  For what do they have to strive now?  Already got the trophy.

However, they were awfully cute waiting in line and cheering for one another.

The fan

"But, the child that Is born on restful Sunday... happy and cheerful and loves to play."
I've never known a girl to love her birthday so much.  Except maybe me.  It's barely daylight.  A candle still gives obvious light.  Her eyes are still swollen with sleep.  But the day is here and she has been living for it since last October 23rd.  

I sometimes think it is unfair for kids to be the recipient of all their parents' parental failures.  Should they not have been born to experts, or semi-pros at least?  They did not request their birth.   Yet, they were given birth...and to sinners no less.  We are all recipients of one another's failures I suppose.  It has how God has provided for our strengthening, learning.  I pray often that God would use our failings to teach our children.  To strengthen their faith, not scar it.

I have these thoughts the most over this child right here.  I used to assume we were just alike and treat her that way.  Then I had the insight to back off of those presumptions for a while and try to get to know her.  I am still working on that.  In pretty significant ways I am still learning to live fueled by God's grace to me and not my own efforts.  I am a strive-er and often feel like I am raising my children to strive.  "You have to practice self control," I say.  "You just have to be disciplined and do it," I teach.  "You just have to....have to...have to..."

Jesus did, Olivia Frances.  He did it and it was enough.  And I will try to remind you (and myself) of this as often as I can.  HB, Sister.

 Icing cupcakes for anyone who happens to stop by on her birthday.  (That's our friend, Rachel, not me.  Sweet friend who just had her own little boy.)

The birthday support team:

Maybe these flowers display Olivia just about right. Bright, and strong and friendly.