31 March 2008

Soccer Game and Zoo Trip

The last 48 hours have bee full of activity, and I am supposed to go to bed early tonight. So without much explaining, I'll post the best shots of the last 48 hours, and we'll see about posting any explanations.

29 March 2008

Well Stated

On my sidebar, you'll find a link to free podcasts of messages by Dr. John MacArthur. I have greatly appreciated his teaching ministry in the last couple of years, and have been listening to the free podcasts while doing housework (a multitasking habit I highly recommend, along with listening to the Bible on tape). Lately the topic has been on speech and taming the tongue, and I liked this quote so much, I wanted to share it with you all. He was teaching from Ephesians 6:18-20 and commenting on the topic of preaching the gospel:

Listen beloved, God wants you to proclaim Christ but He wants you to proclaim Christ as it ought to be done. (...) I'm afraid sometimes that a good message proclaimed in a bad way will do just about as much as a bad message.

It's important for people to hear the truth about their position before God apart from Christ. That message must come first before the message about His love for them. Otherwise, it's not really the gospel, it's more like a "warm fuzzy from Jesus," which falls on empty ears. So what if Jesus loves me? I'm doing pretty well without him, thank you!

We all need that boldness to speak as we ought, as Paul says.

(For more information and resources on Dr. MacArthur's ministry, visit gty.org.)

26 March 2008

25 March 2008

Only A Moment To Spare

It's the first official day back from Spring Break. The soup is simmering, the dinner rolls are in the oven, and the husband has taken the kids out to play. So I have only a moment. And I have so much to write! So many fun things and interesting things happened during Spring Break, I'm afraid I won't be able to record it all. This, for at least one person I know, isn't a major problem, since he only really wants to look at pictures of his grandchildren anyway. So, since a picture is supposedly worth a thousand words, I'll try to post a few thousand right now while I have only a few more precious minutes.

Happy Easter Everyone! (Enjoy your light reading, Dad!)

19 March 2008

Spring Break?

OK. For those of you who have been housewives and mothers for more years than I, you might look at me and say, "You poor, young thing! You have so much to learn." Well, first, I thank you for calling me young. I enjoy that adjective more and more each year.

Anyway, this is what I'm getting at. Today is Wednesday. The middle of the week, some would say. But this is no ordinary week. This is what has come to be known as "Spring Break." In our area of the country, it is the week before Easter, almost without exception. We not only have this week off, but the Monday after Easter as well. That's ten whole days. Since my husband is a teacher and is also off this week (except for a few meetings and things), we were looking forward to Spring Break do do all sorts of things. By things, I mean projects, as well as fun activities with the kids. So we made lists of things to do at home, and things to do away from home, for variety. Since we haven't gone hiking in a long time, we decided to plan to do that on Thursday, as a motivation and reward for accomplishing other tasks earlier in the week. So here's a rough idea of what we had planned:

Saturday--make brownies, bake bread, make pizza
Sunday--church in the morning, naps, soccer in the afternoon, start 1,000 piece puzzle
Monday--begin process of "Dirty Laundry Liberation Week" (cleaning and purging clothes),
sand/primer bathroom, strip doors of paint, study Greek (Enoch, in the p.m.)
Tuesday--take kids to visit widows and old friends while Enoch had meetings at school
Wednesday--work on painting projects (bathroom, boys' room, painting trimwork)
Thursday--go hiking (probably canceled due to thunder storms expected)
Friday--continue to work on/complete projects
Saturday--who knows, make pizza
Sunday--Easter, celebrate somehow
Monday-- (dot, dot, dot)

It was all going pretty well as planned. Enoch and I foolishly stayed up too late on Sunday working on the puzzle, and then again on Monday night visiting with his fellow Greek study partner until after 10 pm. In case you were wondering, 10pm is late. I like to be in bed by 9pm or 9:30 at the latest.

Now my clouded memory is fuzzy, but one of those nights, either Sunday or Monday, both Tristan and Rosalind woke at least 2 times each with their own separate "issues." I remember being up between 1am and 2am, again at 3am, and again at 4am, alternating between the kids. I think I made Enoch get up with Rosalind the third time, because I finally insisted that it was his turn. Then a little before 5:30, Rosalind woke a fourth time, and I was ready to give up and just start my day, because I was just not expecting her or myself to get back to sleep.

So by Tuesday, I was ready to have a day away from home! Unfortunately, the one opportunity to visit a friend's mother in a nursing home had to be canceled that morning, and I was unable to get hold of the other person we were going to visit. There was a moment before we left to take Enoch to school for his meeting when I thought I was going to have to stay home and just keep on working on the house with these rambunctious kids. As sleep-deprived as I was, I just didn't think I was going to survive. So even though we had no where to go and no one to actually visit, we all got in the car and went. But it was this day, this experience, that made me look at "Spring Break" with a whole new set of (slightly bloodshot) eyes.

You see, up to this point, Spring Break has always had connotations of vacation, fun, relaxation, and perhaps a bit of hard work for good measure to keep us from going insane. As a child, we would occasionally actually go on a vacation during Spring Break. As a college student, I went on mission trips where we traveled, but worked, and had fun by default. "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." (I Chorinthians 13:11)

So what my new (more "manly") eyes have revealed to me is that Spring Break, as a grown-up, is actually more work than an average span of 10 days in the life of Merrilee Stevenson. I still have to get up at the crack of dawn to start my day off on the right foot (a.k.a. shower, drink coffee, and read my Bible.) I still have to do laundry and dishes and plan meals and discipline children and pay bills, along with anything else that I plan to do, whether work projects or play projects. Now, thankfully, my husband is around a great deal this week, and he is sharing the load with me. But I'm also learning to ask God not only for the strength of will to do what I need to do, but also for the physical energy to do it for His glory.

And, I'm also thinking that the I need a vacation, because "Summer Break" will be here next, and it's much longer than ten days. Not to mention that I plan to give birth sometime in early August. (Subliminal message: pray for me!)

17 March 2008

And Thus It Begins

Julien and Tristan warming up and practicing throwing the ball overhead.

Yesterday was the first day of soccer, the beginning of a new aspect of our lives that we have mixed feelings about. While I grew up in a home that greatly encouraged participation in sports (one extreme), Enoch was raised with a much stronger emphasis on academics (the other extreme). We are striving to have a balanced mindset when it comes to sports. We consider it a beneficial opportunity to meet and befriend people in the community who may have never heard the gospel. And we trust that it is fun for the boys, and a good learning experience, and may prepare them for opportunities down the road, if they excel athletically. At the same time, we will not allow sports to have priority over our family life, our responsibilities to God, nor their education and academic pursuits. That's the goal. That's our desire. And for those of you who do pray for us, you can pray for our wisdom and discernment as we pursue this new thing with excitement and caution.

So here's the photo gallery of yesterday's activities. They practiced for one half hour, and then played another team for the second half hour. Besides the goalie, each team played 4 players at a time, and rotated kids in.

Julien was the first to volunteer to be goalie, and did quite well. He had to be careful not to hit his head on the goal post. The other team's coach's son was the only one who scored, and he kicked a beautiful shot over Julien's head as he was crouching down in anticipation.

Here's Tristan, #16, trying to beat the aforementioned coach's son to the the ball. Our coach's son is the one coming behind with the determined look on his face.

Here's a candid photo of Rosalind exploring the field with Daddy close behind.

Another encounter between Tristan and the other coach's son. (The other coach is the serious-looking one in the background with the sunglasses and referee's whistle.)

Here's Enoch giving the boys a few pointers on the sidelines as they both were waiting to be rotated back in.

Shaking hands with the other team after the game. Julien, #3, was told by his coach (right behind him in the gray shirt), "You're almost as tall as me!" Enoch told everyone that the boys get their height from their mother, which got a few chuckles from people.

Clapping hands at the post-game team huddle with the coach and his wife.

12 March 2008

10 March 2008

Catching Up in the Kitchen

I only have a few minutes to write a little something, but wanted to share my small victory today, that for the first time in a very long time, I have in fact planned a week's worth of meals. (gasp!) Believe me, this is no small victory.

But along with that (everyone hold your breath), after having met with my husband on Saturday to discuss our finances, I sat down today and made a lot of phone calls and paid a lot of bills and feel like a huge assignment has been completed. Well, the main part anyway. The coming weeks and months will consist of the revisions and corrections, etc., including the necessary lifestyle habits that will need to be edited and/or deleted. And although we managed to use nearly all of our tax refund towards paying bills and such, it is a great feeling to have some of that burden lifted!

So beyond that, I'm a little shy about writing any more detail about that subject, but in terms of the meal planning and menu-making, I wanted to ask my readers (a.k.a. family and friends and anyone who wanders onto this blog who wishes to comment) these questions about their domestic habits:

1. How regularly do you plan a menu? (never, weekly, monthly, etc.)
2. How strictly do you stick to the plan?
3. What's for dinner this week?

Here's my menu, which is flexible enough to not have to be on the day listed, but listing the days is quite helpful, so I've heard. I'm listing the main course, and perhaps a side dish, but at this point, a main dish is what I've got to start with. :)

Monday: Cranberry Chicken with rice and yellow corn
Tuesday: Chicken Enszhiladas, probably with rice
Wednesday: Green soup over baked potatoes
Thursday: Chili
Friday: Falafel or Leftovers or Husband's Surprise
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Leftovers or Falafel or Husband's Surprise

07 March 2008

Catching Up with Photos

As promised, here's a little smörgåsbord of photos to catch you up on what's going on in our neck of the woods:

We finally got the chance to use our snow shovels, although it wasn't more than a couple of inches and didn't last long. Rosalind surprised me with how adaptable she was in the snow. She headed right into it, and didn't mind getting her feet all snowy in her new shoes (see below). She lasted longer outside than I thought she would, and even though she was cold, she still complained about going in.

Okay, so you all thought that Rosalind was always beautiful and sweet and photogenic, even with a messy face. Well, here's a little sample of when she's not. This is her reaction to wearing shoes for the first time. She was so terrified that she just stood still with her hands out and screamed. She even tried to stomp her feet, but she wouldn't dare walk. She cruised the furniture for a while, and eventually would walk, but only on the carpet. She screamed when I tried putting the shoes on a second time. Eventually, after a couple of days she got the hang of it. Now she always wants to wear her shoes, and lately she's been spotted tap-dancing on the wooden floor just because she seems to love the sound it makes.

Oh yes, we also had a birthday, didn’t we? Julien turned 6 last month, and I’ve been promising photos for some time now. Here’s a couple. Because it was on a Sunday, we didn’t have anyone over for a party, but we spent the afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art looking at arms and armor (a favorite of the boys), American art, giant tapestries and some other paintings. They brought their clipboards and pencils to “sketch” some of what they saw, which they think is pretty neat. We saw a lot of paintings involving ships and big waves, which seems to be a theme in Julien’s coloring these days. I made a layered banana spice cake with buttercream frosting, as Julien requested. It looked more like a lava cake. The bananas in the middle were oozing out brown juices and we were having landslide issues. But it tasted pretty okay.

Dressed up and ready for spring soccer! (Starting March 16th!)

The next household project is in the middle of the living room. This will be a post all it's own some day, but for now, it's a work in progress. I'm very much looking forward to the after photos, when the project is done, and the cloth curtain "door" to the bathroom is replaced with a spiffy, freshly painted door.

And, finally, going all the way back to Valentine’s Day, here’s some sweet photos of sweet Rosalind enjoying a sweet cupcake we brought home from school.