Sunday, March 30, 2014

Our brutal winter is . . . almost over!

It was in the 50's this afternoon and I ventured out for a 20-minute walk that turned into a 60-minute hike because I simply could NOT go inside on such a gorgeous day as this! How LONG have I waited to see … bare ground??!! 
It's been a Narnia-type of winter in West Michigan this year where it has threatened to be "always winter and NEVER Christmas" … but I think the severity of our winter will just make spring all the sweeter this year.

"And now the snow was really melting in earnest and patches of green grass were beginning to appear in every direction. Unless you had looked at a world of snow as long as Edmund had been looking at it, you will hardly be able to imagine what a relief those green patches were after the endless white." ("The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," by CS Lewis).
And the sounds this evening were as intoxicating as the sights! 

"Then came a sound even more delicious than the sound of water. Close beside the path they were following a bird suddenly chirped from the branch of a tree. It was answered by the chuckle of another bird a little further off. And then, as if that had been a signal, there was chattering and chirruping in every direction, and then a moment of full song, and within five minutes the whole wood was ringing with birds' music . . . " ("The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," by CS Lewis). 

That paragraph describes this evening exactly! Thank you so much, Mr. Lewis! It was truly wonderful. I'm so thankful that every single year, spring WINS out over winter, aren't you?!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

May the Lord bless you ...

"Don't repay evil for evil.
Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you.
Instead, pay them back with a blessing.
That is what God wants you to do,
and he will bless you for it."

After a very busy week, Friday was upon us once again! Our weekends are always busy, busy, busy; but the last few weekends I found particularly challenging. I think it's because the kiddos have really struggled with being kind to each other … so there are lots of little spats and … hard feelings.

So, I had prayed all week about HOW to perhaps curb these petty arguments and encourage the kiddos NOT to pick on each other so much. We had a small meeting about it and I told them that instead of retaliating when someone says something unkind, instead, pronounce a blessing on them from the Lord! (see Scripture above) AND Jesus says to do this very thing: "Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." (Luke 6:28 NLT) And I will tell you, with JOY, that our weekend was a much happier one because we actually put this into practice! 
I also tried having the kiddos play separately during some segments of our weekend, wondering perhaps if they were just a little tired of being with each other. Matthew made himself an entire ZOO in the playroom ...

The other kiddos added some various buildings to the zoo ... 
Matthew worked on several more of his homemade books . . . 
Our Bible story Friday night was The Last Supper, which included the story of Jesus being anointed in the home of Simon the Leper a few days prior to that and also Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.

We had such a nice time talking about many details of this last dinner Jesus had with his friends: about Jesus being the "bread of life," the "true bread of heaven," of Judas's betrayal, of Jesus being the Servant of all ~ and what does all of this stuff mean for US? It's times like these that I feel like I have my very own schoolroom. I love teaching the children!

The children were sleeping by 11:30 Friday night and slept in until 8:45 Saturday morning! We had our usual movie time, viewing "Groundhog Day," which the kids enjoyed. It was a little bit silly, but for the most part, it was an OK film for them to see.

Saturday, we began our day … playing, what else? And enjoying good food together too! This is the salad we enjoyed for lunch!

After lunch, we had to drive over to Arnie's Bakery to pick up a cake that I am taking to church tomorrow for a friend's farewell. I certainly couldn't take the children over to a wonderful-smelling bakery, pick up a delicious looking cake and NOT offer them any goodies. So, they each picked out a very yummy donut and enjoyed it hugely. They had eaten such a healthy lunch, so this was OK! 

 The weather is still quite COLD, so we played outside for only a short time once we returned to The Beach House. But the kids had fun digging up more ice … and finding sticks and climbing ice hills, etc.
Christopher, conqueror of the world!
Emma breaking up the ice on the driveway ...
 When we went back inside, we played a few games of "Memory" so that I could get some good mental exercise!
 I lost every single Memory game I played today … but this particular Memory game is faces of children from around the world ~ I loved watching the kids try to figure out which child was from which country.

We also read a lot of good children's books this weekend. Two of our favorites were about Helen Keller! One told of her love for her pet dog, Belle; the other gave us more history and information about the life of this remarkable woman. The books also had a great sign language chart as well as one for Braille … we spent some time learning a few of the letters together!

AND … we began reading "The Magician's Nephew" in the Narnia Series. I'm excited to actually begin reading Narnia … at the beginning! 

Our day zoomed on by. The "blessing" thing worked very well this weekend. The children really tried to be kinder, and little spats cleared up much more quickly when the offending person was being blessed instead of engaged in a fight! So thankful!
Kaity always greets us very enthusiastically when we return "home" with the kiddos … I was happy to snap these few pictures of their reunion.

"If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil." James 3:10-12  Thank you for these powerful truths, Lord! Help us to live them out in our daily lives!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Growing SO big … and sweeter with every day ...

Another laundry day has come and gone … AND … we might not have too many laundry days to come! Kelly has been shopping around for some machines of their own, and they are very close to purchasing, so … !! … we'll just have to figure out some OTHER excuse for a weekly visit, won't we?
 I know I take an inordinate number of photos of this little sweetie, but I can't get enough of him! He just gets sweeter all the time.
I see your belly peeking out
from your shirt, Brendan!
 We had so much fun together today. Kelly was with us the entire time, playing, visiting, enjoying our time together. 

 Little Fellow found plenty to busy himself with today. He is never fussy, but just enjoys himself wherever he is.
Because this little guy loves spinning objects so much, and due to the fact that our Matchbox helicopter was seeing better days, I purchased a brand NEW Matchbox helicopter for him a few days ago … he was SO delighted with it. He hardly put it down the entire day!

The prized helicopter ...
 Brendan watched my candlelight for a little while and was able to blow out the fire when I was ready for him to do that.

This red car is one of Brendan's favorites …
the little doors open and close ~ and
Brendan gets no end of delight doing just that.

Hey there, big boy! You are much loved, little sweetheart! So glad you and your mama came over today!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A struggling sort of weekend (!) ...

It's Monday night as I'm writing this blogpost looking back over this past weekend. I have been unusually exhausted the last few days … perhaps it's just the LONG wait for warmer weather, or access to outdoor activities ~ but I find myself struggling a little bit … I know the grandkids are too!
I snapped a few pictures of the kids painting our Bible lesson on "The Triumphal Entry", or in other words, Palm Sunday. Why did I do this lesson now when it is still a few weeks away from the actual date? Because! There is so much to teach the children when it comes to the whole Easter story, and especially the last week in the life of Jesus … I have so much to tell them about! It's such a great story, isn't it?

I brought out my scrapbooks from Israel and showed the children the "Hosannah Road" that I walked on, and I showed them the Mt. of Olives, and we talked and talked about how Jesus wept as he rode into Jerusalem on that little donkey ... 

We also did a LOT of other reading this weekend. I got quite a few fun book titles this week at the library. We read all kinds of "twisted" fairy tales, which were real enjoyable and cracked us up.
I checked "Tangled" out of the library as well … so THAT was our Friday night movie. We had only seen it once before, and we really enjoyed watching it again. 
Saturday, we did all of our usual indoor stuff with artwork, cars, reading, playing games … but we SO badly wanted to just be outside at a park or playground!

Grandpa Pahman invited us over to his apartment later in the day, so we brought pizzas over and visited with him for a little while.
The children were glad to visit with their
Mitzie cat … Grandpa Pahman has been taking care of her . . .
 Christopher talked sports with his grandpa for awhile, and the kiddos played with his guitar and looked at his massive library of wonderful books ...

But then our weekend was over once again before we knew it. We are very much looking forward to warmer weather that will free us up (hopefully) to be outside where we can explore and play and have a little more variety in our time together! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Busy Little Fellow ...

It was Laundry-Day Wednesday around the Beach House today! Yay! Brendan and Kelly came by early this morning … Kelly had a few appointments today, so Brendan and I kept ourselves busy and happy.
I didn't know until much later in our day that this Little Fellow was … sick! He really gave no indication that he was under the weather at all. We did all of our usual stuff … turned on and off all the lights and fans in the house, played with the boom box, sang to our music, played with toys ...
I was burning a few pretty candles up on the countertop for a little ambience (!). Brendan was very pleased with them! He is very used to candles around his house too. He knows how to blow them out and he knows that they are "hot". 
 Always serious about his playtime, Brendan set about to check all of my appliances to see if they were working properly … here he is checking to see if the potbelly stove will light up ...
Brendan had to check this multiple times, however, because every time he walked away I would push it back into the corner and act as if nothing at all had happened. So every now and again, he would walk by and notice it wasn't "lit" and set about to fix it.
Brendan! You don't look very pleased
with your Grandma in this picture!
Enjoying some cucumbers and apples ...
 Brendan always likes examining all of the Matchbox cars and Hotwheels. He is especially fond of THREE particular cars because their little doors open and close. He spends a lot of time opening and closing each door ...
 For some reason, the fly swatter was being used to help our racetrack ...

We played piano for awhile too … Brendan likes the headphones very much ~ not to wear, mind you, just to plug IN and then Unplug ... 
Since we are celebrating St. Patrick's Day this week, I made Kelly-O a special corned-beef and cabbage lunch with freshly snapped green beans, and cheesy garlic bread too! While I was fixing this meal, however, I put Brendan in his booster chair and he watched "Up" for the very first time. When the old guy's house went up with the balloons, Brendan shouted, "O Look!" He was very impressed with that flying house!

But after lunch, Brendan made his sickness known (sadly) … thankfully his dear mama was here to cuddle with him, bathe him, and make him feel better!