Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

I find television to be very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.  
~Groucho Marx
As parents I think it is natural for most of us to make mental lists of valuable lessons that we hope to instill in our children.  Lessons that will take root in their character and flourish in the the world around them as they grow from childhood into adulthood.  Some of them are simple - yet incredibly valuable:

Be kind to others,

Recognize the needs of those around you and lend a hand,

Comfort those who are hurt or sad,

Put others first,

Master the art of cooking, cleaning, laundry and babysitting so that mom can take a nap....OK, maybe that's on the fantasy list, and not the practical/important/character-building one, but one can dream can't they????

Then one day, your kids go beyond walking and chewing gum at the same time and they surprise you with all of their goodness sprinkled with brilliance. And then you feel guilty for being surprised by their goodness (and brilliance), because you've been hyper-focused on catching the naughty stuff and correcting, teaching, correcting some more, all the while missing the goodness.

Goodness as in your six year old recognizes one day that you are frantically trying to conquer a mountain of laundry, clip coupons and transform a pound of hamburger into a feast for 7, while your little newborn refuses to accept the pacifier for just five more minutes. Goodness as in your six year old decides to demonstrate perfect possession of your mental list of virtues and gives you those five minutes, by abandoning the pacifier idea and reverting to story time.

Ahhh, story time.  Of course!  Story time brings calm!...
Story time brings peace!  Story time restores patience!  Story time makes us happy!
And, sometimes, story time puts us to SLEEP!!!
Thank you, George, for reading "Big Max" to Charles.  Thanks to your quick-thinking, noble effort and love-motivated rescue success, tonight we will have BBQ meatballs and tomorrow you will have clean underwear!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Benedict - My First Guest Writer!

A year ago, last spring, four eager little boys ran into the house out of breath, wildly delighted to announce that they had just found this little treasure tucked away in a spruce tree in our back yard:
It was as if someone had given them the moon!  They were completely fascinated by the carefully crafted nest that encompassed the three gloriously hued Robin eggs.  With great anticipation, they inspected the nest several times a day, hoping to witness the tiny little beaks  cracking open their "cocoons", ready to enter the bright shining world.  Their hopes were realized, and sneaking out while the mama sailed off in search of worms, they quietly observed the weak little creatures freshly born.
They remained small and still for such a short time, for in just a few short weeks, they were courageously perched on the edge of their nest ready for first flight. Though the birds were only able to flutter out a few feet, they managed to land safely in the grass. 
The boys loved inching in closer on hands and knees, the curiosity in their new found friends peaked.  For me, it was such a special time, because I had so much fun watching the boys soak in the glory of nature. Our approach to science, when it comes to homeschooling, has been to get the boys out in nature in hopes that they will develop a deep appreciation and curiosity of their environment and begin to ask questions about it.  That method lends itself well to many teachable moments and naturally propels the kids into the classroom for deeper study - study that has its roots in a lively and tangible experience of the material.
Our fascination with birds continues... in fact, our oldest son, Benedict has taken a great interest this semester.  So, I have invited him to be my first guest to write on my blog.  I know you will enjoy his report!

~  Ben's Birds  ~
My name is Benedict Husband, and I like birds a lot.  I have two bird feeders in my backyard.  I fill the feeders with two different kinds of food, black sunflower seeds and thistle plus sunflower chips. Some of the birds that the feeders attract are House Finches (female also),
White Throated Sparrows,
Cardinals (no picture yet), Blue Jays
and Rose Breasted Grosbeaks.
I do a lot of research, drawings etc. These are some of the reference books I use.
When I see a new bird, I look up the bird in the books.  The books tell me facts about the bird such as what they eat, where they nest and what region they are found in. I found out that the female birds are not very colorful, but the male birds are the opposite, they are usually the most colorful.
Now you have an idea of what I enjoy, but I would like to share how my hobby of bird watching got started.
About two months ago, I went to visit my grandparents at their home in Belleville, Kansas.  There, they have a sunroom, which is a great place to watch the birds on my grandpa's bird feeders.  I woke up in the morning and walked into the sunroom and looked at the birds.  I knew that I wanted to have bird feeders at my house too.  I found some binoculars and looked closer at the birds.  It amazed me how smart God is to make such beautiful winged creatures eating on the many bird feeders near the window.  My grandpa likes birds a lot too.  He seems to know every bird in the country!

I went home the next day and did my school work as usual.  I was studying a unit in my science book about birds, and it told me how to make a bird habitat.  It encouraged me to ask my mom if we could get a couple of bird feeders and some seed, so we did!
I have been watching birds for about a month now, taking pictures of them, and writing facts and recording observations of the birds.
Being in nature and watching the birds is relaxing and interesting.  It is a cool hobby you should try! That's my story!  ~ Benedict S.R. Husband

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Almost Missed It

I almost missed this...
 and this...
Before dashing off into the day this morning, my prayer was simple:  Lord, help me to recognize you in the "every day" today.  The night before, Steve and I stayed up late visiting about experiencing Christ in the ordinary moments of life, because He is ever-present in those moments, and longs to be with us throughout our days.

So, off I went - run to Mom's Group, run to the grocery store, run circles around the kids and kitchen to make lunch, run to the dentist, run home, run, run, run....isn't this so often the narrative of our lives??

Lucky for me, my son Andrew so kindly reminded me of the intention of my morning prayers: O Lord that I may see you today.

So maybe I will stop running a bit, slow it down to a jog, or maybe a walk....
And even if those dishes have to wait, the laundry must sit another hour before being folded, the pictures never end up in scrapbooks, or I pass up being plugged in to the happenings on Facebook or e-mail, at least I will know that I will not miss another moment like the one that almost slipped by today....

Thank you, Andrew, for seeing how beautiful your sleepy little brother was.  In all his sweetness, you couldn't resist holding him, kissing him.  Thank you for recognizing our Lord in the moment, and in doing so, rescuing me from running another lap around my life....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Here's to Family

You know the saying, "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family"?

Well, lucky for me, my friends are my family and my family are my friends!
The week preceeding Charles's baptism, my incredible sister Sara flew in from Switzerland to spend time with me (and 17 other people, but mostly me), to meet her new nephew and to help prepare for the celebration.
Words cannot describe how elated I was to have here here with me - to talk, to laugh, to cry, to understand and share in the mahem and magic that motherhood and marriage can bring.  Even in our silence there was communication - just to "be" begets a beauty in and of itself.  A beauty that satisfies the soul in a way that words cannot.  Because at times, there is so much you want to say, but know that words can so often come up short.
 Sometimes just being together is just right.

All of my family lives five or more hours away.  With work schedules and other commitments, getting us all together can be a bit like solving a rubics cube that has been in the hands of a toddler. Tricky stuff.  I just kept hoping and praying that all of my family would be able to reunite for the baptism.

As the week unfolded, it became clear that my eldest brother, Steve, and his family would not be able to come.  My heart ached for Sara, because I knew how desperately she missed them and longed to be together.  Then, to our great surprise, on Thursday evening, Benedict came running into the house and breathlessly announced that "Uncle Donut" was here.
Our children affectionately refer to my older brother, Steve, as Uncle Donut.  My relationship with Steve is pretty much based on deep sarcasm, relentless teasing and occasional elbows to the ribs.  He knows I'm strict about the amount of sugar the boys eat.  What better way to get under my skin that to give my boys donuts? Not donut, but donuts.  As in a bag of dunuts. Arrrr.  
I'm still formulating my plan for revenge.  Needless to say they love him.  Love, love love him. Who wouldn't love an Uncle who thinks chocolate glaze and powdered sugar are vital nutrients necessary for survival???
No, Steve, he is not on solids yet...now give me my baby you big corruptor!
Even though Steve was at our farm for less than 24 hours, we treasured the time we had with him - Sara especially.
With my parents and brother Scott and his family at the farm, we joined forces with Steve's family for a BBQ celebration after the baptism.  
The two wine experts - it takes one to know one!

There's nothing like good conversation,
 tasty food, 
 happy drinks,
and a tribe of children running around playing in the yard.
The boys loved hanging out with their beautiful cousin, Peyton for the evening.
On a serious note, when I consider the natural disasters that have occurred in our country over the past few weeks causing pain, suffering, loss and devastation to so many families, I am compelled to take a sincere pause, to give thanks for my family and friends.  Thanks for their lives, their place and purpose in my life and in this world and thanks for every moment that we have together - moments that are precious and not to be taken for granted.  We are fortunate indeed.
On a lighter note, I have to share this quote I came across last week.  I know my brothers, who are big Blue Collar Comedy fans will appreciate it!:
"If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'you know, we're alright. We are dang near royalty.'"Jeff Foxworthy

 September 2011 = Road Trip - State Fair
 Here's to Family!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Joy of Baptism

Through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit on the water, the baptized are “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). We die to this sin and are given new life in Christ (Rom 6:3-6). Sins are washed clean through faith in Christ and by His merit. All sin is forgiven (Acts 2:38), including personal sin and original sin, that sinful nature into which we are born. We are made to belong to the body of Christ. For babies, baptism means original sin is washed clean and they are imprinted with God’s gift of faith, with the mark of those who belong to Christ.


The element from which flowed the fruits of Christ's first miracle.

The platform upon which the steps of a faithful apostle were taken.

The substance through which our son, Charles, was blessed into the Christian life.

Baptism.  Beautiful, wonderful, holy, mysterious, joyful baptism.
Although this is the fifth baptism in our family, it always feels like the first.  It's extraordinary.
With family and friends in town, there was so much excitement in our home, in our hearts as we anticipated the baptism day.  Even the boys ran into the church, dressed in their best, ready to witness the sacrament.
For me, there is something so wonderful about dressing my babies in the church instead of at home.  
All of the ladies gathered around us.  It just seemed so natural for them as mothers to be there...
Most especially, the proud grandmothers.
Charles's Godmother, Elena, is studying to be a French teacher at K-State.  We loved listening to her converse with my sister, Sara, who also speaks French while wrestling Charles into his attire.  His first French immersion experience. Who needs Baby Einstein?
Though we are both sleep-deprived and running circles around our party of 5, we haven't stopped smiling since Charles has entered the world, entered our lives. That day we were beaming!  Our son was going to become a Christian, a saint!
Steve's sister snapped this pic.  I can only imagine what stories Steve is sharing with our beloved priest, Fr. Schawe.  Maybe it's best that I don't know...
Our Goddaughter, Brianna handed flowers and a prayer card to everyone who attended.  She often asks to hold Charles and embraces him carefully, patiently and lovingly...her sidekick George? Um, not so much.  
Father extends his blessing over the waters...
and joyfully washes Charles head in the sacramental.
Charles's head and chest are anointed with the Chrism oil.  All who join the Catholic Church are anointed with the same, fragrant oil. It smells wonderful. We all become devoted head-sniffers afterward, and no bath is given until the scent is sniffed away!  (Charles had a bath today, in case anyone was wondering...!)
Godparents light the baptismal candle from the flame of the Easter candle.  As Christians, we bring the light of Christ to the world.  The Godfather could not be present, so my dad was a fabulous stand-in. Yep, that's him, stage right, in suit. Thanks, Dad!
Even though Charles cried through most of the ceremony, Father was never distracted nor frustrated.  He carried on with a smile, and even hung around for a picture. 
"Hey Father, could you baptize us again, for real this time??  I think it would make mom real happy."
Just kiddin'!  The gangs all here, and we all be baptized!  Awesome!
We have secretly adopted Elena into our family.  Now she is a member for-real.  Godmother is family! There's no turnin' back, honey!
Speakin' of family, who's this cutie-tutti you ask?  This is my niece, Peyton and her older twin, I mean her dad, my brother, Scott (they look like trouble, don't they?  They are right at home with us!) The beautiful epitome of patience beside them is Scott's wife Stephanie.  We were so happy they could join us!

So, what happens after a baptism?  A Catholic baptism?  Well, a party of course! Stay tuned....