Monday, March 28, 2011

O, The Wonderful Things That a Girl Can Do...

...with some spools of thread... 

...and paints and things too!

Grandma sent us a tin of wooden spools of thread, so we spent the afternoon making wee people for the Twinkles' doll house! Aren't they too cute? :)

Meet Lucy and Polly! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Gracie!

Hard to believe this girlie is 12! She's just
- hilarious
- dramatic
- crazy (in the kindest, most loving sense of the word)

On the other hand, it's hard to believe she's only 12! She's
- good with taking care of kids
- creative
- crafty
- able to converse with any age on a variety of subjects
- fun to be around!

I love my li'l sis! This afternoon we fixed her hair and put on a leetle bit of makeup (shhh...don't tell dad! :) and did a photo shoot. I was really happy with how they turned out - 'course, it would be hard for them to turn out badly with such a great model, dontcha think?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blessings - What's On the List Today

A few weeks ago, a friend and I started keeping a “blessings” list for two primary reasons: we wanted to cultivate grateful hearts, and we wanted to ‘force’ ourselves to see the blessings in daily challenges. I am still working on the habit of writing down every-day blessings, and as a result my list is still shamefully short – but today I have been blessed multiple times, and remembered to write them down!

1.       Sunrises, music, and siblings (specifically those who make up the string quartet with me)!
This morning three of us got up early – well, it felt like ‘early’ since we’d stayed up so late – in order to practice quartet for an hour before Ben had to leave for work. We set up the chairs, stands, and music.

And waited for our sleepy other member.

We tuned our instruments.

And waited for the now-showering sleepy member.

We practiced some pieces as a trio.

And finally welcomed our now-awake, freshly-showered member.

After making *ahem* him pay penance by running through Pachelbel’s Canon (evil laugh), Rachel and I were struck with a brilliant idea: Who cares about the frost? The sun is rising – we should go play “You Raise Me Up” on the sport court! Emily was not enchanted by this idea, but Ben obligingly lugged his stand outside with us and we played the sun up (I do hope our neighbors didn’t mind!) It was freezing – I couldn’t feel my fingers when we finished – but so fun and beautiful! Music and the outdoors… ahhh

2.       Pretty things 
   I’m so grateful I can afford pretty things, not merely the practical! My hope chest is filled with lovely items, and I got to go through it this morning while getting out my teapot and a couple cups for tea with my friend. Is that incredibly weird to use things in my hope chest before the hoped-for happens? I…hope…not. If, in fifty years, I die a shriveled-up old maid, I’ll be glad I used at least some of the things, rather than letting them sit as dust-bunny dens that whole time.

3.       Tea, Sharpening Friends, and Scripture
As mentioned above, a friend came over today (this is the same blessings-list friend) for Bible study and tea. We’ve been memorizing and studying our way through the book of James (MAJOR conviction!!) and are almost done!  I am so blessed to have friends who challenge, learn, and pray with me!

4.       These Little Twinkles
…who popped into my room while I was writing this, saw the teapot and cup on the table, and rushed to get their teacups and join me for the “tea party”. J

 5. Fun Siblings!
Today we-the-kids are going to see “Tangled” together. Only the littles and I have seen it, and we had long-established that we would all go together during Spring Break (now that it’s finally in the Three-Dollar Theater)!J

Have a blessed day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break Has Begun!

Rachel, in her...interesting...outfit. :)

It really began about a year ago. No, not Spring Break - I mean that what I'm about to tell you about began a year ago. To be completely honest, I don't remember all the particulars. Was it that Emily had been looking at joining a Christian flimmakers group, or that Ben had just completed the soundtrack for a friend's movie? Maybe it was simply that we were being, as always, incredibly over-ambitious in the discussion of creating a full-length film (have you noticed that ignorance can often appear as arrogance?).

Either way, Daddy overheard our conversations at one point, and came up with a challenge: Project Spring Break. At 6 am one morning during our week off school, we were handed an envelope containing a theme-word, a deadline (6pm the same day), and a $26 budget. Our goal? Plan, film, and edit a 5-minute music video.

We. Had. A. Blast.

So much so, in fact, that we decided to hold a 'Family Film Festival' that summer, with remarkably similar guidelines. All participants were given a 12-hour time frame, beginning when I posted the word and ending when they were required to show up at our front door, DVDs in hand. It adventure. Each family had their unique story of catastrophe, and no one made the deadline exactly (in fact, two of us holed up in the bonus room for the final minutes of burning). Actually, I take that back. One family had impeccable timing, but that doesn't make quite as good of a story. Anyway, adventures are rarely anything but fun, and we decided a repeat of the experience was definitely in order.

So here we are, at Spring Break one year later, and the second Family Film Festival has just concluded. We tweaked a couple of the rules this year, just for fun. Instead of a "skin-of-the-teeth" twelve hours, we were given nearly 60 (that is to say, the weekend) for this film! In addition, 'music video' was not the required format, though it maintained the 'format of choice' status for most entries.

Despite these o-so-cushy guidelines, however, we the Coders managed to still not finish our DVD until the last minute (*ahem*, that is to say, after guests had arrived). 'How could you be so negligent?' you may ask. Well, I blame it entirely on circumstances "beyond my control" (does anyone know that movie quote?? :). You see, we diligently planned, costumed, stage-propped, and filmed all day Saturday and all afternoon Sunday - we were, bluntly, done with all but editing (and one scene, but that hardly counts, you know).

Then, the unthinkable happened.

And all the filming was worth...

Worth nothing, strictly speaking.

You see, at 12:30 last night - or this morning, or, something - I had just finished uploading all our footage and was doing a quick play-through to make sure it had transferred correctly, when I noticed the most curious lack of sound on the footage! O dear, our in-camera mic had decided to take a holiday - or move away, or, something - and all we had to show for the last two days of work was a silent movie, minus the black-and-white and o-so-dramatic music. So, I roused the house (after going to bed for a couple hours, of course), borrowed a friend's video camera, and the movie you now see before you was filmed, uploaded, transferred between computers, edited, and burned between 9:45am and today. Enjoy! - or cringe, or, something - :)

I hope to have the other entries posted on Shutterfly by the weekend. Happy Spring Break!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A New Tradition

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

This is a day that just makes me all happy-skippy inside, and a day that makes me want to cry. A day where I can’t help smiling and feeling a bubbly excitement (that often turns into a laugh and a twirl), and a day that makes me sad in some deep-down place. Why? Well, the reasons are numerous.

 I love this day because I’m part Irish, and, in case it wasn’t obvious from the blog title, "Irish word of the day" widget, and profile ramblings, I’m proud of it!
I love this day because my family goes a little over-board, and has fun with celebrating! Green waffles, Ireland shirts, Celtic fiddle music, "Poor Paddy Works on the Railway," corned beef with cole-cannon for dinner - yes, it’s a true day of celebration!
I love this day because, at some point (I think we’re doing it tonight), I get to sit down with the Littles and watch St. Patrick's story with ‘Lutfie’s Fanciful Flannel Graph’ from whichever-veggie-tales-episode-it-is, and laugh at the quote "no soccer balls in church!"

But this day makes me sad because, on this day, we remember the reason anyone knows of a ‘St. Patrick’. We remember one man’s burden for the spiritual depravity so prevalent in the people of the Emerald Isle. I was doing some research this morning on Ireland's spiritual state and the results were quite sobering. *Did you know that 87.4% of the Irish peoples are Roman Catholic? Of the puny 12.6% left, 2.9% is the Church of Ireland (essentially Anglican) and only 1.9% is "other Christian" - an ambiguous title I find disheartening.

Join me in beginning a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Among your green d├ęcor and clothing, amidst your Celtic songs and tunes, between your meals of unique coloring or culture, will you pray for Ireland?

*Information taken from the CIA world factbook, 2006 survey.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Imitators as Dear Children

Yesterday, at the baby shower mentioned in the previous post, I was asked to do the devotional. It was an interesting thing to prepare for, as I was among the younger set invited, and not even a mother! However, I was really glad I did it - most lessons to be learned as parents are more than applicable to older sisters as well! This is what I ended up saying (though not word-for-word, thank goodness! I was able to survive without reading notes!)


As my only titles right now are “sister” and “daughter”, I obviously can’t give any deep insight into the concept of being a “mother.” But as I was preparing for this devotional, I began to wonder how our relationship to God – as His adopted children – plays in to the relationship parents, or even older sisters, have with those under their authority. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” This one verse has several ramifications for how parents (or sisters!) ought to interact with their children (read: siblings).

In the first place, we, as imitators of Christ, ought to strive to treat and train our children in the way our heavenly Father treats and trains us: in love. We all know Ephesians 6:1-3 and Colossians 3:20, where children are instructed to obey and honor their parents, but both of these sections of Scripture are immediately followed by an exhortation to the parents: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21) The Greek word for “provoke” means “to stimulate,” and seems to imply the parent attempting to force a certain emotion upon his child. I recently read an article which discussed the methods used by parents to discipline and train their children. In this piece, the author observed that many parents try to make their children obey, or be sorry for wrongs done, by emotional manipulation. Over-dramatized sorrow for an “offense”, over-powering anger for a disrespectful attitude – and “best-actor-of-the-year” award for the mom who forced her child into the “correct” emotion by provoking him to guilt or fear.

The author went on to say that we ought, instead, to strive to show only genuine emotion to our children. If we are truly desirous that they learn obedience – rather than being simply put out because our instructions were not followed – then our authentic, quiet disappointment will be more effective in encouraging a spirit of repentance than the all-too-obviously fake weeping because they tried, in the midst of a temper tantrum, to smack us. One of these methods achieves obedience by guilt, fear and, later on, resentment, while the other results in children obeying and honoring out of a love and concern for the parent. One exposes a priority of getting “my to-do list done now, the way I say,” and the other reveals a genuine concern and desire for the well-being and character of the child. One is empty selfishness, the other, selflessness. Selflessness which imitates the character of a Father who “emptied Himself of all but love.”

In addition, according to this verse in Ephesians, children are imitators. This being the case, there is a second thing we, as those in authority over children, can glean from this passage. We have not only physical parents, but also a spiritual Father, and we are under the same commandments as our children to honor and obey Him. Our heartfelt devotion, love, and dedication to His instructions – or lack thereof – will be seen and imitated by the littles we are training. If we exemplify for them true repentance at wrong done, and true humility in admitting our faults; if we proclaim to them – by our actions – the joy and true freedom found in obedience; if we tell them of, and let them see, the Son we are imitating, they too will imitate that obedience.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Training requires example as much as – if not more than – discipline.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another Car Story: I Saw Blue Lights

Yes. Blue lights.

No. I haven’t gone crazy (yet).

Excuse me for a moment while I collapse on this fainting couch. Don’t you roll your eyes at me! You have no respect for my poor nerves – no idea how much I suffer! Though it’s been nearly an hour, my insides are still all tremble-y and pudding-like, and my hands feel shaky. This has definitely been the most adventurous, craziest, car story to date. There have been others which I have, bluntly, been too lazy to record, but this surpasses them all – even this one. What is a towed car to an experience such as the one I just lived through? Nothing!

We, the older girls, were on our way home from a baby shower. The wind was really a-blowing, so much so that the rain was hitting our windshield at quite the horizontal angle. Mama took the driving slowly, maneuvering our little car around the branches, twigs, and mysterious colored plastic sheets that littered the roads. Turning onto the road-before-the-road-we-turn-off-of-for-our-road, she bemoaned the tall trees standing in such proximity to where we were driving, shedding their branches. We had just about made it past them when smack! one branch slammed into our windshield, immediately followed by a louder THUD! as another, larger branch banged down onto our roof. Mama made us laugh by immediately placing her hand protectively on her head, and we drove on, a little giddy from the taste of adventure we were having.

We had no idea of adventure.

We were just about home when the real excitement happened. As we approached the top of our hill, a little branch caught our eyes. A little branch stuck to a sagging electrical wire and smoldering in the rain. The moment we pulled up level with it, the soggy stick and pine needles burst into flame and blew off, landing right on top of us! Daddy thinks the electrical wire must have fallen too, because as we felt the impact of the branch on the car, the car shook twice, accompanied by a loud “BUZZZ-BUZZ” sound, and glowing, blue-flashing lights on the windshield wipers.

Rachel went into “Diana scream” mode (you know, when Anne fell into the well in the haunted woods).

Emily had cataplexy.

Gracie shrieked over and over again that “We’re going to DIE!!”

Mama gave one scream, and fell silent.

I screamed I-hardly-knew-what. Except for that after all the buzzing, and flashing, and banging was over, mama asked, “What are you saying?” and I had to stop and analyze my words…apparently I was screaming “Lord, help us!” – something  I genuinely meant even if I didn’t know I was saying it.

After the drama, all of us girls burst in to frenzied tears and uncontrollable laughter (one way to cope with adrenaline, I suppose), and mama was completely quiet as we coasted down the hill and pulled in to the driveway. “Um, is it safe for us to get out of the car?” I queried. “I don’t know, I don’t know what we should do!” was her reply as she parked the car.

We almost gave daddy a heart-attack, calling him in our hysterical state on the cell phone – from the drive way, mind you – to see if we could get safely out of the car. Apparently that’s a question only girls would ask (for you girl readers, it is completely safe to get out of the car, even after being hit by lightening) but the fact that he couldn’t understand us gave him quite a scare.

So out we piled, crying and stressing, giddy and shaking. After our exclamations and dramatic tale-telling to the family members at home, we put on cozy sweats and made some tea, but even with these relaxations, we have not yet been able to completely shake off the crazy emotions and tingly-backbone feelings our adventure gave us. It was a rather traumatic experience, don’t you think?

Giving it a Go

My first post on a google blog! I've kept a blog on my shutterfly site for about two years now, but after watching how easy it was for mama to post on her blog, I decided to give this a go! :) I attempt to write every Monday, so stay tuned (or, get tuned, since no one knows about this blog yet... :) as I experiment with this format!