Saturday, June 30, 2007


Well, drat. Seems my moonrise was a bust. So were the popcorn and s'mores, too, for that matter. No flickering flames graced our fire pit tonight, either. Wouldn't it just figure that a heavy cloud cover would obscure the entire show? Oh, well. On the upside, we did get to witness a spectacular sunset.

And the cutest little hummingbird perched sweetly on a bush just beyond our wall long enough for me to snap a couple of pictures.

And... we identified yet another butterfly while out playing in the yard this evening! It was one I'd not yet seen before, but tonight there were several hanging around the Oregano (along with numerous honeybees).

They were so mild mannered, hopping happily onto flowers that Dylan held out to them. So cute! (Darren helped me identify them as Gray Hairstreaks.)

And guess what? The kids' bunk beds were delivered today! We spent this afternoon and evening assembling them and now, Dylan and Caitlyn are both tucked happily into the bottom bunk. I think they'll sleep that way for a while, at least until the end of this year, at which point I plan to move Meghan from the crib to the full size bottom with Caitlyn. She'll be two in December...old enough, I think, to share a bed with her big sister. And Dylan will be six in September, so I think that by then I'll feel better about him sleeping up on top. (Plus, I'm hoping that it won't be far into the new year before we'll be needing the crib for another baby! But no, this is not an announcement of any kind. I wish. I'm just saying...)

I'll try to post pictures of their new room tomorrow. It's looking so cute! Tonight, however, we had no sooner finished putting all the bedding in place when they, totally of their own accord, turned it right back down and crawled under the sheets. They were asleep within minutes! I guess it's been a long day. Fun, but long!

Summer Sky

I love this time of year here in southern New Mexico. Our rainy season makes for such spectacularly beautiful skies that I don't even mind the high 90's or 100+ degree temperatures. (Well, okay, so I mind a little, but my irritation at the sweltering heat is tempered by the enormous love I have for our gorgeous storms.) Here are just a few sky scenes I captured from our backyard last night.

Oh...and speaking about the sky, are you planning to watch the moonrise tonight? I can't wait! I think the occasion just might even call for some popcorn and s' be enjoyed, of course, around our lovely patio fire pit!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fun with Fingerprints

Remember Ed Emberley? I quite liked this book when I was a girl, and obviously, he's still got a knack for delighting young artists! I was so pleased to find a selection of his work while browsing through the children's section of Hasting's a few nights ago, and I just couldn't resist bringing home Ed Emberley's Fingerprint Drawing Book. I picked up an inexpensive, non-toxic, washable multicolor ink pad today to accompany it (as I recall, I only had boring red when I was little) and my kids and I passed the most enjoyable hour this afternoon creating fingerprint masterpieces. I had forgotten just how much fun this could be!

Here is just a small sampling of our finished work:

Dylan's Santa and Reindeer

Caitlyn's Caterpillars, Butterfly, and Flower

Mommy's Lion

Fun Stuff!

Yesterday was unbearably hot, so hot that I didn't even want to send my kids out to play. But while they were all sitting at the dining room table waiting for me to finish fixing their lunches, I couldn't help noticing the extraordinary amount of butterfly activity occurring just outside our large bay window. Finally, I just couldn't help myself. I grabbed my camera and told the kids to come on out with me. This was not to be missed! It was so incredible. Caitlyn was actually a little bothered by the number of flying friends swooping down and around our flower and vegetable garden, but Dylan and I were absolutely mesmerized. "Look, there's another! And another! Ohmygosh, LOOK! Just look at all these butterflies!!!" Swallowtails gracefully dipped and dove, gliding above us and around us, so close we wanted to just reach out and grab them.I was so excited to notice a particularly colorful butterfly land on our Butterflybush. "Look, Dylan, we've never seen this one before! Hurry, come closer! See?!" Many little white butterflies were fluttering throughout the mix, too, and yesterday, I assumed they were all the same Cabbage Whites we've been seeing for so long. But just now, as I'm writing this, I decided to take a closer look and realized that these are distinctly different. A little investigation determined that these are actually Checkered Whites!
Eventually we made our way back inside, unhurriedly finishing our abandoned lunch while happily watching the show continue through the window. After we ate, Dylan and I checked the Internet to see if we could identify the beautiful butterfly we had seen. This was so much fun! (Hmmmm, do you think he looked like this one? No? How about this one? Oh, look at the marks on this ones wings! That looks sort of like the one we saw! Wait, no! Look! This is it!) We can now add Red Admiral to our list of positively identified backyard butterflies! I know there are others that we just haven't gotten a good enough look at yet, but I have high hopes of identifying each visitor before the end of summer. I'm learning just as much as my kids!

More fun stuff going on around here:

My new camera. Darren surprised me with this one for my birthday, and I love it! It's much different from my old one, which was okay but was beginning to show signs of its age (not to mention my continual abuse...I mean use!) I really, really like my new camera. I still have much to learn about its many functions, but I'm enjoying it immensely!

Picket Fences - Season 1 on DVD! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about this thoughtful birthday gift from my brother. My family and I loved this series when it aired back in the early nineties, and watching it now evokes such warm feelings of nostalgia, of living at home with my mom and dad and brothers. I'm rationing myself to one episode per night. Darren and I are enjoying these so much!

Melissa and Doug wood blocks. Providing pleasurable play for every one of my kids, these classic, timeless toys are among some of my very favorites. Pure and simple, they are just plain old fashioned fun!
I am also tremendously enjoying all of the organizing and planning that's been going on around here! I spent all day Wednesday switching out closets in the kids' rooms, so now the vast majority of their toys are in the closet of their school/playroom. I moved Dylan's dresser into his closet (a perfect fit!) and moved the girls' chest of drawers into Dylan's room in anticipation of the bunk beds actually being delivered sometime in the near future. I'm also still working on finalizing curriculum selections, but I have this overwhelming feeling of wonder and awe at all the amazing and beautiful choices out there. I feel like a kid in a candy store--I just can't decide! But it must be done. And soon! All in good, time, I know. And this is a very good time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Making Room for School!

When Darren and I moved into our three bedroom, 1400 sq.ft. house five years ago, it was with only one baby and from a two bedroom, 700 sq.ft. duplex. This place felt HUGE! Funny, then, how it has become smaller and smaller as more years have passed and more children have entered the picture. We still love this house, though, and I don't foresee leaving it any time in the near future. So we have become quite creative in the ways we make use of our limited space. Our master bedroom closet doubles as a linen closet, and holds half of our book collection. A tall, wide, deep ledge above the doorway of our bedroom held an awkward array of odds and ends until I discovered that by simply installing an inexpensive tension rod between the two walls at the ceiling and hanging from it a neutral pair of curtain panels, I could easily gain a large amount of instant hidden storage. That space is packed now with tubs of clothes the kids have outgrown, boxes of Dylan's artwork, and my childhood doll collection which was, at one time, displayed in a glass cabinet (that is, until my children decided that the porcelain faces freaked them out...and truthfully, in their defense, I was sort of scared of them when I was little, too.)

Anyway. Having one large living area and an equally large master bedroom means that the two other bedrooms in our home are really quite small. They have both gone through numerous transformations and reconfigurations during our time here, each functioning at various stages as study, guest room, nursery...the front bedroom was shared by Dylan and Caitlyn after she was born, then they both moved to the second bedroom, then Caitlyn moved back into the front room, which was shared by that time with Meghan, and Dylan kept his own room. Truthfully, I've sort of lost track of how many changes we've made! I thought I had thought of everything. But then, last month, Celeste wrote about rearranging her children's rooms and I realized that one wonderful option had never even occurred to me: all three kids in one room! I had been really, really wishing for a dedicated "homeschool room". I know it's true that homeschooling can, and does, happen in any room of the house, but I longed for a place where we could keep all of our books, toys, and games, a place where I could hang maps and posters and bulletin boards and all of our seasonal crafts. So, after a thinking about it for a while, I proposed an idea to Darren and the kids: What if, I suggested, we put bunk beds and the crib in Dylan's room for all three kids to share, and converted the girls room into a school/play room? I was delighted to find that they were all very receptive, an in fact enthusiastic, about my idea. So, we went out a couple of weeks ago and ordered a beautiful set of bunk beds for their new bedroom (which, unfortunately, may not be in for another two weeks.) We found the cutest sets of matching bedding (one of my biggest worries in this whole process!) and, for the past two days, have been busily working on establishing the school/play room.

My brother gave us his old dining room table, which we greatly appreciated, and to give the chairs a fun, fresh look, I went shopping with my kids and one of my best friends yesterday to find some fabric with which I could recover the seat cushions. This was my first attempt ever at anything like this, and I am so glad I had her along to help me. I was so completely smitten by all the beautiful fabric selections that I could have easily come away with much more than I needed! I finally decided on a whimsical Classic Pooh pattern, a favorite of mine for the sheer sweetness of the beloved character. We also found some really cute gingham lined wicker baskets at Hobby Lobby, which perfectly complimented the print I found for the chairs. I couldn't wait to get to work on them as soon as I got home, and I love the way they turned out!

Last night Darren helped me hang several posters we bought at that amazing yard sale, and I filled the baskets I bought with loose items I knew I'd want to keep close at hand: flash cards, math manipulatives and tangrams, building blocks, and toy food and dishes. I spent most of today moving books; all of my children's story books are now on their bookshelf in the living room, and everything else (poetry, classic read-alouds, religion, literature, nature, history, and science) can be found on the new bookcases in the school room. Meghan also has her own small shelf, which holds a basket of small board books and a wide assortment of puzzles. I just love how it has all come together! One thing I've always loved about this particular room is how much natural sun light floods in during the day, and I am already imagining happy afternoons in there with my children this fall. It makes me feel cozy just to think about it!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007


With all the ups and downs my life has had lately it feels so nice to be really and truly happy. And I am! Last week was so wonderfully refreshing and eye opening for me, an excellent way, if I may say, to conclude my twenties! I think this feeling of happiness and overall contentment can be attributed, in large part, to the highly successful experience of Dylan's first Vacation Bible School. It seems like such a simple thing, but really, it was so very momentous for me and him. Seeing how much he actually enjoyed going every day, and hearing him relate all the wonderful things he did and learned each day helped me realize, from a slightly different perspective, just how much he really is growing up! But witnessing his emerging independence, rather than fueling a nagging desire for him to have a "real school" experience, only strengthened my conviction that homeschooling is definitely the way for us to go. Make no mistake, I did have a great time with my girls while he was gone each morning. In fact, it was quite nice to have some sweet time to ourselves! We played in the park. We visited with grandparents. We stopped by the library, and an amazing educational resource center that I only just discovered. We played dolls and puzzles and read stories. But I missed Dylan while he was gone. I wondered what new things he was learning and I was sad that I couldn't be a part of it. I'm so thankful that he had the opportunity to experience learning and having fun apart from me, but there is no doubt now that I want to be the one to teach him in the context of his day to day education. (Though it also made me see how important it is for him to be involved in periodic classes such as VBS). I can't believe how big he's already getting. I still see so much little boy in him, but I know that before too much longer he'll be all big boy. I don't want to waste a single minute of these precious days with him, or my girls! And time just goes by so fast. So I'm more committed than ever now to providing a happy, educationally rich home environment for my children, one in which they can learn and grow and have fun! I'm afraid that for a while there, I was so focused on the details of curriculum and how-to's of homeschooling that I lost sight of the big picture of what I was hoping all along to provide for my family. But I have full confidence and faith that, having chosen this lifestyle...or, more accurately, having answered this call...the details will gracefully work themselves out. I'll continue to browse through curriculum providers. But it will be now without the anxiety and stress I felt before. It will be, instead, with the vision of what Dylan and I will most enjoy.

And, if all of that alone was not enough to make me happy, there have been so many other things--some little, and some big--during the last week that I just can't help feeling perfectly happy and at peace with where I am right now in my life. The most incredible happened to me on Thursday night. While I was at work, I was thinking about all of these things that have been weighing heavily on my mind and heart--my anxiety over homeschooling, my impatience with the kids, irritation at the chores that always seem to pile up--and there was this moment when, standing at the nurses station, I felt this inner peace just wash through me, and heard in my mind, as real as if the words had been spoken, a message to just relax, and enjoy this time for what it is. It may not always be the perfectly orchestrated life I strive for, but it is my life, the only one I'll have here on earth, and it is up to me to make with it what I will. Sure, I could feel bitter and resentful when my children aren't as well behaved as I'd like, or I can instead delight in the miracles that they are, and treasure their curiosity and imaginative play. I could feel overwhelmed by the tedium of daily chores (laundry, dusting, vacuuming, shopping...), or I could get down on my knees and thank God for the abundance of clothes we have to wear, the comfortable (if not immaculately clean) house we have to live in, and the vast array of healthy food we have to choose from at any time we like. I can either feel anxious over choosing a curriculum for my son or tremendous pleasure in being able to teach him at home. I saw clearly how much I need to improve my attitude and outlook, but rather than feeling scared or ashamed, I felt just boundless optimism, and profound joy at having been given this insight into the things that matter most to me. I was astounded when, driving home from work that night at two in the morning, one of my all time favorite songs (10,000 Maniacs: These Are Days) came on the radio. I turned it up way loud (in part because I really love it, but also to help me stay awake), and, for what must have been the first time, I really listened to the lyrics and was struck by how appropriate they seemed for me. (These are days you'll remember. Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this. And as you feel it, you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky.) These words have been playing over and over again in my mind, as a sort of mantra. These are the days I'll remember. I'd really hate to someday look back, once my kids are grown and gone, and see only how short tempered and uptight I was during the best years of my life. I am blessed and lucky. So many people long for a child of their own and I've been blessed with three! I sometimes take for granted what an honor and a privilege that is, but I hope to never again forget.

And, though I didn't deserve it, two of my very favorite men surprised me on Saturday with the most amazing birthday party, and I never even saw it coming! Darren and my brother Robby worked together to plan a surprise party for me at my brother's house. I never expected that either of them could be so sneaky! (Well, maybe Robby, but certainly not Darren! He's just no good at keeping secrets...which is usually a good thing! But I'm so glad that this was one secret he did manage to keep from me!) We had grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, chips and dips, beer and soda, Red Vines and M&M's (two of my absolute favorite candies), and a selection of music my brother chose specifically with me in mind. We swam and splashed in the pool before having cake and ice cream, and the kids were so worn out by the time we got home that they went right to bed without complaint. Truly, it was such a perfect day. I had severe reservations about turning thirty, but when I woke up that morning it felt entirely right. I loved my twenties. They gave me this life that I love so much, and now in my thirties I can, with a certain maturity I never felt in my twenties, relax and enjoy the reward of my efforts. And it's so exciting to look ahead at all the good and wonderful things that this decade may hold for me: more children, God willing; a fun and successful beginning to our homeschooling adventure; enjoying my children as they grow beyond the exhausting baby stage into fun and independent children; and more time spent with Darren.

I do love this life. "Never before, and never since...will the whole world be warm as this".

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Today I am Thirty.

And guess what?

I feel great!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A farewell to Spring

I've always felt this sort of wistfulness about the change of seasons. A sense of nostalgia, perhaps, mingled with just a bit of regret. It's plagued me since I was a child, and I'm not entirely certain that I'll ever be completely free of this acute sensitivity. As each season ends, I always wonder, "Did I make the most of every moment? Was there something more I should have done? Were there opportunities I didn't take?" I've been making a very concerted effort since becoming a parent to be fully in the moment with my children, to see things as through their eyes and to experience the joy and wonder of the world around us. And it has helped, tremendously. But still, there remains this shred of melancholy. I was looking through some recent photos tonight and these struck me as a lovely illustration of our transition from spring to summer. They made me smile. I hope you like them, too.

I'm not sure which is worse...

that I actually considered this a noteworthy event, or that I documented it in photos:

Meghan's first Happy Meal.