Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Apple Orchard Education

So we went to the apple orchard today and learned many things. First, that they charge an entrance fee (which we would have known without looking quite so clueless had we paid any attention to the huge sign we walked past on the way in). Next, that 6- year-olds should not be allowed by their mommies to cut their own sample of apple with a razor-sharp knife (which I also might have known if I'd paid any attention to the sign right in front of me stating that only parents were allowed to do the cutting). Third, that the first thing to do when attending to a deep cut is to stop the bleeding by applying pressure. Fourth, that the staff at the orchard does not know where the first aid kit is. Fifth, that Neosporin can actually separate into 2 substances that do not resemble Neosporin (as learned when said staff finally found the first aid kit).

And that was all before we even got out to pick apples (which was great). It's amazing what you can learn on one little fieldtrip to the apple orchard!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Where Have All the Earthworms Gone?

Today was "Exploration Day" in our homeschool curriculum. Thus, we explored. We nature walked, we read books about ants and moles and grasshoppers. We made a worm habitat. Then we waited with excitement for the grande finale: our worm hunt.

When I was little, my family--grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousins and all--would rent 2 little cabins up on Farm Island Lake. The old couple who owned the resort had a dirt pile like you wouldn't believe in their front yard (did I ever wonder why?). My four boy cousins and I would dig up all our fishing worms in that pile. And I kid you not, there was one time we found a nightcrawler that was 10 inches long and at least a quarter inch in diameter. He was the Godzilla of the worm species. We played with that thing for quite awhile, freak of nature that it was, and dreamed of how many sections we could make of it for bait. Then, when we finally lost interest and ran off to play, my cousin John ended up leaving it on the dock, surely to meet its demise in some sunfish who must have thought he'd died and gone to fish heaven. I think John may have feared for his life that night, we were so mad! Come to think of it, I think I'm still mad at him.

When I was an older kid, my dad and I used to put the sprinkler on in the front yard for about 12 hours. Then, late at night, we'd sneak out, flashlights in hand, ready to stalk subterranian life. I'm telling you, it would be hard to pay enough money for the free fun we had those nights! The lawn would be covered with the shiny worm bodies. A sweep of the flashlight would ignite a flash of excitement within me when a nightcrawler was spotted. Then, with quiet and stealthy footsteps, we would sneak up to the worm and prepare to grab it. This had to be done with great speed and skill. If you were too slow, the worm would disappear into his hole. If you pulled too hard, it would simply tear in half. They were slimy and fat and wonderful. I love that this was a part of my childhood.

So today I left the sprinkler on and dreamed of the fun we would have together tonight...

Unfortunately, I have never had to work so hard to find a few measly earthworms. Perhaps it's been too dry this summer and they've all gone deeper. Perhaps I didn't leave the sprinkler on long enough. Maybe we should have waited until later in the night (yeah, right, with 5 kids age 7 and under!). There were no shiny bodies laying on the lawn. Absolutely none. Instead, we had to dig. A lot. After probably a half hour of digging up various places in the lawn and next to the driveway, we had maybe 8 pathetic little worms. No 4-6 inch nightcrawlers. Just they're little lackey friends.

Oh well, we still had a good time. The kids were hyper beyond recognition, and my lawn needs to have some repair tomorrow. But at least each of the munchkids got to pull one of the slippery little guys from the earth and run around the yard like crazy homeschool kids.

Maybe next time we'll have more to show for our efforts.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gift Idea for Baby Porter

It's the perfect gift for Porter #3! If we all pitch in a dollar, we'll have it practically paid for. For $2 I bet we could even find a matching mouth guard! Who's in?

p.s. If you have no idea why this is funny (besides the ridiculous diaper-shaped helmet on this poor child's head--what did they give him to make him smile with that thing on?), go to and listen to Porter's August 20 sermon on "Courage".

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Poured Out

I have been captivated these past few days by a chapter in Desiring God--on Suffering. Sounds like a fun chapter, huh? Initially I think it's something we all shy away from--no one likes to actively think about being in pain, about sacrifice, or really anything that isn't about being happy. These are not popular topics. In reference to Paul's choice to suffer recorded in I Cor. 15:30-32, Piper comments, "this is not normal. Human beings flee suffering. We move to safer neighborhoods. We choose milder climates. We buy air conditioners. We take aspirin. We come in out of the rain. We avoid dark streets. We purify our water. We do not normally choose a way of life that would put us in 'peril every hour.' Paul's life is out of sync with ordinary human choices. Virtually no advertising slogans lure us into daily dying."

But God is using this chapter to give me greater joy in life. Me, the chronic complainer about mommy duties; the one who has struggled for years with all the sacrifices, inconveniences, and exhausting moments that happen every day in the course of caring for kids.

Yet God has not been content to leave me in this grumpy state, and this morning he caught my heart with Philippians 2:17: "but even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you." I love that phrase--poured out. It suits motherhood well. We give the best that we have every day in service to these little ones, and so often it feels as if we have poured ourselves empty. But Piper keeps reminding us of the joy. We can exchange lesser happiness--a carefree life, easy existence, uninterrupted phone calls and potty breaks, unlimited time with friends and spouse--for greater happiness--children who love Jesus, a heart submitted to his will for us, a content and quiet spirit that tells the world that Christ is "better by far", the hope of reward when all is finished.

One more Piper quote:

"The Calvary road with Jesus is not a joyless road. It is a painful one, but it is a profoundly happy one. When we choose the fleeting pleasures of comfort and security over the sacrifices and sufferings of missions and evangelism and ministry and love, we choose against joy. We reject the spring whose waters never fail (Isaiah 58:11). The happiest people in the world are the people who experience the mystery of 'Christ in them, the hope of glory' (Colossians 1:27), satisfying their deep longings and freeing them to extend the afflictions of Christ through their own sufferings to the world.

God is calling us to live for the sake of Christ and to do that through suffering. Christ chose suffering; it didn't just happen to him. He chose it as the way to create and perfect the church. Now he calls us to choose suffering. That is, he calls us to take up our cross and follow him on the Calvary road and deny ourselves and make sacrifices for the sake of ministering to the church
[and our children] and
presenting his sufferings to the world."

Wow! What a different perspective than I usually have on life! Lord, please help me to live each day and see every sacrifice and inconvenience--no matter how small or big--through these lenses. Help me to embrace whatever you send my way and allow myself to be poured out for your glory.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


It's been 2 weeks since I've gotten something posted on here. I've started a couple, but not finished them amongst all my preparation for school starting tomorrow. Which brings me to the conversation Jay and I had at lunch today...

We wound up talking about fruits and vegetables after I told the boys that if you eat too many carrots and similar veggies your skin will turn yellow. They thought that was cool, but I decided to continue the educational experience by quizzing Jay on whether certain foods were either fruits or vegetables, as determined by whether they contain seeds or not. We went through the obvious ones: apples, watermelon, celery, strawberries (not as obvious to Jay--he finally learned what those "dots" are on the outside!), cherries, grapes. Then, just to be funny, I said, "what about eggs?" He thought for a second and then we both grinned, catching the joke. "They're just eggs," he answered. Not wanting to miss the chance to inform him further, I corrected (in all seriousness, I'm embarrassed to say), "actually, they're dairy--they come from cows".

Probably 15 seconds went by in silence, myself being completely unaware of my mistake, before Jay said, "wait--don't eggs come from chickens?" The light flashed on inside my cranium and we both just laughed.

So as we head into our second year of homeschooling, isn't it reassuring to know that my kids are being taught by someone so competent?