Blogs I Love

I’ve been blogging (on and ((a lot)) off) for a really long time! This has been such a great period of my life. In addition to writing on my blog, I’ve always had a playlist of other, excellent blogs I read. I got to tell the very first blogger I followed how much I appreciated her, recently via email. I’m sure she felt a cross between creeped out and flattered when I told her all these things I remember her blogging about, from meal planning to her micro preemie son’s birth. But I loved reading. I haven’t shared who I’m reading these days, so here are my favorites, with some commentary. I thought about linking to each one, but that might not be good for my blog or theirs, in some cases. So, you might have to translate my dots and slashes.

Smittenkitchendotcom- I not only love cooking shows and blogs, but I really love the ones who have a story to tell for each recipe they share. I’ve been reading this one for years.

Fountainavenuekitchendotcom- this is a new read, and I like her stories, too.

16blessingsmomdotblogspotdotcom- she has 16 kids, and faithfully writes every day! So inspiring to me.

Likemotherlikedaughterdotorg- I love the book recommendations here, and her thoughts on politics, life, homeschooling, and cooking.

Dailyconnoisseurdotblogspotdotcom- she’s so uplifting and fun. These are videos, though, which I cannot watch easily on my phone, so I am glad when she gives a written synopsis of the video. I discovered the book Amy Snow when she recommended it. Good stuff.

Thepioneerwomandotcombackslashconfessionsbackslash- this is one of the oldest blogs for me. I was reading when she was a mere pup, before Food Network, before Walmart. And her blog seems like it has not changed. She is still as goofy and poetic as she always has been. Love it.

Mychildiloveyoudotblogspotdotcom- I wish this lady were still blogging, and I check faithfully for a new post. But her archives are a treasure. Click on any month of the year, and find encouragement. Nights with these last few newborns have been spent with her whispering in my ear that this will all turn out beautifully.

So there’s my perfect seven right now. If you are looking for something good to read online, here’s where to start.

Why I Love The Greatest Showman

You shall teach these things to your children, when you lie down and when you get up and when you walk by the way…

We traveled home from the zoo last night, and Sam put on the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman. The kids love the songs and know each by heart; even Julia could be seen mouthing the words from her car seat. Luke, who has only skimmed through the movie, marveled at their attraction to it. It is a story about some circus freaks, right? What’s the big deal?

On the surface, that could be assumed. But there is still beauty, and even truth, to be recognized there. The second time I saw it, the more I loved it and thought this was so.

I love the way the characters are tested throughout the story. Some are aware that they are not like everyone else, the freaks. But through the course of the story, they grow close in community, and celebrate their differences (in a good way, not just what our society pushes in the way of gender and sexuality differences). These people become a family.

I love how a character is challenged in his own beliefs about race. He falls for a girl who is of a different race, and at first, he can’t seem to make it public, acting rather like a hypocrite, wanting to please others. But eventually all that matters is his love for her, and her love for him, and he doesn’t care who sees.

I love how marriage is upheld, even atop someone’s biggest dreams. In one of my favorite books, Phil Vischer spoke of how his dream had to die because it was replacing God in his life. In the end, he says, it is just you and God. Not your car, your house, your dream, and God, just you and God. Sometimes God lets our dreams come true, but sometimes He wants us to give them back to Him, because His dream for us is better. The greatest showman has to choose what dreams he wants, because he can’t ‘have it all’. And we see him choose, something rare in Hollywood, his wife and children. Just fabulous.

So, yeah, I’m a big fan of this movie, because I get to watch it with my children and point to those great truths and say, look at the beauty in choosing to love, to look past appearances, to be true to your marriage, and ultimately, be true to yourself. These things are what I hope my children think of when we belt out,

THIS IS ME.

My bedroom always smells like a restaurant when I go in there after dinner. I don’t know why; the door is always closed and the room is a mite cooler than the rest of the house. Does the smell come through the vents? As I lay Kenan on our bed to change his diaper (this is where the changing table is, as he sleeps next to our bed in a bassinet), I decided to give him a bath first. This would be only his second bath where he is actually immersed in water. He is an interesting sort when it comes to being cold. Whenever we take him outside in his carrier, he starts breathing quickly and freaks out, no matter how much he is bundled or how cold it is outside. Sometimes it hasn’t even been cold outside, only the breeze will hit his face and he doesn’t know what to do with that. Anyway, when I put him in the baby tub tonight and a drop of water landed on his head from the faucet, he did that same hyperventilating thing. It is kinda funny, since I know he really isn’t in any danger, but he thinks he is. Each baby I have bathed less and less. I wash their hair every other day and wipe here and there, but for the most part they stay dry their first few months out of the womb. It makes it an event when that bath comes around.

Speaking of occasional immersion, Luke is watching the Liberty-North Carolina game with the boys tonight online. This is the closest we get to watching tv, so they are absolutely riveted on the game and five commercials that play over and over. The girls keep on coming out, too, because it is such a rarity. I love the scarcity of tv at our house. For the second half of my childhood, I watched a lot of tv. I was telling the kids at dinner that I would watch shows from when I got home from school til it was time for bed, and all day on Saturday. Yikes! It used to give me headaches. I remember sometimes I would simply lay on the couch with my head hanging over the side upside down when it hurt, but I didn’t turn the box off! Going to Word of Life Bible Institute in Pottersville (read: Nowheresville), NY for a year is what I think broke me of this destructive habit. We didn’t have tv’s in our dorms, of course, but even if we did, there wouldn’t have been many channels to watch. This was the mid-nineties, right before the Internet explosion, so there wasn’t the option of watching anything online. I remember watching the Super Bowl, though- they showed it via a projector in our classroom/chapel hall. After WOLBI I went to Liberty, and was too busy to have much time for tv, and, again, they weren’t allowed in the dorms. I do remember having a tv most years after Luke and I married, but we never had cable except when we lived with his mom. Ever since we have lived here, we only have movies and tv shows we have purchased stored on our computer. Some tv series we enjoy watching are: 19 kids and counting, Andy Griffith, Little House on the Prairie, and Waltons. The latter two I am losing interest in- as Aliyah said the other day, they make me feel weird. Little House (I first typed Little Louse, how funny) is just so overdramatic to me in my adult perspective; when I was little I loved watching it. Waltons is kind of the same way, but I like it better than LH.

When I was away last fall at a women’s conference, I kept bugging Luke at home to get online and watch the conference so he and the kids could see Keith and Kristyn Getty, the worship leaders there. When he finally did, it was during a message from Janet Parshall. All weekend she had been wearing these pantsuits like Hillary Clinton, and Luke texted me, “What’s up with the suit?!” Anyway, he couldn’t keep it on long because the kids were making a lot of noise and the tv being on added to the chaos. I love that television is an occasional treat in our family, not the norm. It is much more appreciated, and used wisely, that way.

Oscar Nomination

One Sunday last May, we look out the window, only to see a cow in our yard, looking right back at us! There were five or six of them, running around the farmhouse across the road, and some even daring to cross the road into our yard. They are usually kept fenced in behind the farmhouse they were circling. The farmer apparently didn’t know they were loose (he actually lives down the road in a different farmhouse), and we knew it was only a matter of time before an unsuspecting vehicle came along and hit one of the cows. So, we did what anybody else would do- I grabbed the video camera and Luke hopped out the door to try to chase the cows back into their corral. Maybe it was his hulking figure, or his red sweatshirt, but the task turned out to be an easy one- he simply ran after them, waving his arms. They ran ahead of him and allowed him to herd them through their gate. They were plenty mad, though, when they realized he’d locked them in, and mooed to beat the band. They had gotten a taste of Carol’s landscaping, and wanted more. One left behind a cow patty as a thank you for the snack.

Carol says that everybody needs the unique experience of having cows in their yard; now our kids do.

Put ‘Em All Together And Whatta You Got?

A good homeschool curriculum, I imagine. On the way to the doctor’s office yesterday, I caught the last five minutes of Focus on the Family on which Phil Vischer (of VeggieTales fame) was featured. He was talking about God’s faithfulness through the many ups and downs of his VeggieTales career, and about the new things he is working on, like Jelly Telly and What’s In The Bible? I appreciate that Phil’s heart has always been to share the Bible with children, and how these latest ventures take that to the next level. How thrilling to have yet another resource that teaches children about God and His word. I haven’t been this excited about anything since Leigh Ann introduced me to Seeds Family Worship and 252 Basics.
I sure wish, though, that these guys who are putting out good material for children would combine forces and provide me, the average homeschooling parent, something that makes use of all. What happens now is I put a lot of effort in finding and gathering all their good stuff that pertains to the given topic. I’m sure I am missing tons of good stuff, too, but who has time to find it all? Let me show you what I mean using this month’s virtue, Initiative:

a) 252 Basics, or Orange, provides what is called a CueBox each month, filled with activities that reinforce the virtue. The Bible story for Initiative, week 1 is about Nehemiah, who ‘sees the need’ for Jerusalem’s walls to be rebuilt, and does something about it.
b) On Jelly Telly this morning, we see a cute song about Nehemiah, performed by The Fabulous Bentley Brothers, aka Rhett and Link.
c) Cook Publishing put out some virtue workbooks a while back, that have crosswords, games and crafts to learn the virtue. In the one on initiative, Nehemiah again takes center stage.
d) Last but not least, Bill Gothard has a ton of stuff on what he calls character qualities. Each showcases an animal that demonstrates a trait corresponding to the virtue. For instance, the whistling swan is an example of initiative when it flies as a group in v-formation- covering more distance than it would alone, and contributing to the needs of the team. Can’t you just see a little Nature-type video on the subject? “Observe the whistling swan in his natural habitat. He readies himself for the flight with his twenty companions…”

It is an amazing time in which we live- you can not only create, but share it with the world via the Internet. What a fantastic problem to have, to never be able to discover all of the resources and learning tools out there. No matter- just a few are more than we need.

Isaiah 2:2-3
In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Prayer Mix

Made ya a mix tape- well, not really. But if I had the chance to do that for each of you today, my theme of choice would be prayer. We don’t pray enough. Here’s a look at what’s on my new prayer playlist:

Sweet Hour Of Prayer traditional
Prayer For A Friend Casting Crowns
What If His People Prayed Casting Crowns
Standin’ In The Need Of Prayer traditional
Whisper A Prayer traditional
Mama Prays Chris Rice
My Prayer Chris Rice
The Lord Listens When I Pray To Him Donut Man
Prayer For Home Fernando Ortega
Make My Life A Prayer To You Keith Green
Pray For Me Michael W. Smith
The Prayer Dion, Bocceli
Let Us Pray Steven Curtis Chapman
Say A Prayer Sara Groves
Bedtime Prayer Twila Paris
The Lord’s Prayer traditional

Reading Rainbow

As I was gathering materials for our first month of homeschooling, I noticed that many of the recommended books had been featured on Reading Rainbow. I remember watching it growing up; it was fun to see LeVar travel to different places, do fun things, and read all those neat stories to us. I always liked the kids at the end, too, recommending their favorite books. We’re accumulating favorite tv shows on dvd like Between The Lions and Sesame Street ‘Old School’, and I wondered if RR was on dvd. I assumed it was, but was shocked to find out how many episodes there were- the show ran from 1983 to 2006! Luke brought home some episodes from the library- If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Numeroff and Follow The Drinking Gourd by Winter, among others, and it is so fun watching this great show. There just happens to be an Underground Railroad Tour this weekend that we may visit, and the latter of those episodes will fit right in.
Sigh. I heart Reading Rainbow.

Birthdays and “Better Than”s

We celebrated Little S’s birthday yesterday. He likes the movie “The Black Stallion”, so I made a horse cake and the cousins came over to watch the movie. He already appears taller today. I can’t believe how fast time goes- he was never little, but it seems only a short time ago he fit better in my arms.
In other birthday news, we decided to schedule an induction on April 27 to deliver Micah and Micaiah. In light of all the circumstances surrounding this pregnancy, we think it would be best this time to exercise a bit more control over when the babies will come. Please mark your calendars and be praying for us on that day. We’ll need it.
On the way home from the doctor yesterday, I heard a new song by Amy Grant called “Better Than A Hallelujah”. There are numerous places to listen to it on the web, but this old laptop can’t get you to any of them. Look up the song and see what you think about it. I’ve been meditating on the ideas expressed in it since yesterday. The gist of the song, to me, is that sometimes God would prefer the heartbroken cry of some poor soul over the grand hallelujahs we typically think of as ‘praise’. I’m not sure how I feel about the thought He prefers it, but it is intriguing to think about how pain, sorrow, and even shame can praise His name, as much if not more than exclamations of joy. If this is the case, I can think of two reasons why this might be:
1. If, at a person’s lowest points, he chooses to direct his anguish to the LORD instead of wallowing by himself, this shows a faith of sorts. The person is acknowledging the only personal, loving God in this universe who sees, hears and knows all things.
2. God helps those who cry out to Him. He probably isn’t as motivated to intervene in the life of the soul who doesn’t think they need Him. What deeper needs can be expressed than through cries, groans, and tears?
I want to hear your take on this song. Amy Grant- we won’t go there, more than just to say I have enjoyed many of her songs and appreciate them being usually in a key that I can sing.

Psalm 22: 24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

A Bushel And A Peck

What does a husband get his wife and eighth child, “just because”? The complete collection of VeggieTale lullabies off of Amazon, of course! I list me before Micah, because this is really a gift that I have wanted for some time. I used to have the original cd, where Junior Asparagus sings about hugs around the neck and his mom sings him to sleep, when A Major and Big S were all there were. I remember taking a walk to the library, and coming home and putting that cd on to quiet ourselves down. This might have only happened once- aren’t memories funny that way- but there was always that ‘feel’ that accompanied Junior’s little voice, like this was something we always did. I was pregnant with Little S at the time, so just about every song would make me cry. At a certain point when we weren’t listening to it anymore, I gave the album away to a friend of mine whose daughter loved VeggieTales. I regretted doing that, and have often thought of calling her up and asking for it back. Now, it can be like old times. The deal is even sweeter because VeggieTales now has 2 lullaby cds that Luke combined for me with his super iTunes powers, so we can have all the memories, and make new ones, too. Have I sold you on these songs yet? Just one of those things I love having back in the family. I’m definitely talking in my sleep about you, Luke.

Old Friends, New Friends

I’ve added some links to my sidebar. Tammy’s and Maggie’s blogs have been on there before at different times, but Kimi’s and Amy’s are new. Check them out!
Luke brought home an old Mac from his work for me to use, and I have found a little more time to read blogs again.

Not too much time, however, as I was just reminded that one cannot toilet train a toddler and type up a blog post at the same time.
Gotta go!