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Archive for December, 2009

News Flash: Jonah knows how to properly conjugate the subjunctive… something I did not teach him, and a feat with which this grammar-nazi mommy — who was hick-born and bred (and proud of it!) — still has difficulty.  Seriously, kid?

Meanwhile, already the clear front-runner for family comedian, our 2 1/2 year old son Bode (Bo-dee) has blessed our 2009 with quite a bit of (to us, at least) verbal hilarity.  A few highlights from the last month or so:

(holding a toy car, blanket, you fill in the blank) “MOOOOO-MYYYYYY!  Bubby tried to take this from me away!”

Related… his favorite game:  “Hey!  You try to take this from me away!”  (runs away screaming joyfully)

Daddy:  “Don’t eat your ice cream too quickly, kiddo.  You might get a brain freeze.”

Bode:  “You know why I wike a brain freeze?  Because I have a big head.”

Mommy:  “You know, Bode, Mommy can’t be everywhere at once.”

Bode (enthusiastically):  “But Daddy can be every day at wunch (lunch)!!”  What??

And some fun words:  “Moose-kit” (music); “Oran-gen” (orange); “Shoos” (juice); “Shees” (cheese); “Ward” (Lord); and last but definitely not least, “Breastest” (breakfast) … and yes, I know, there are many puns to be made on that one.  I think Hubby has already thought of 12.

Speaking of cute children, I cannot for the life of me figure out where 2009 went.  I have begun to realize — after three+ such periods in my life — that pregnancy and newborn-ness causes one to completely lose track of time… either that, or those conditions cause you to enter into a sort of sleep-deprived time warp wherein you don’t even care what day it is for days/weeks/months on end, and then when you finally wake up and determine to care about the day, you realize they’re all gone for the year.  Something like that, at least.

So I at last have woken up, and it’s about to be 2010… yippee!

Now, I’m not a huge resolution-maker by any means. If I want to make a change, I just do it… no waiting until the start of a new year.  Like this year, I resolved that once Annie was born, I would (by any means necessary and healthy) drop the 40-ish pounds of baby weight within 5 months.  Mission accomplished.  I can’t say I was the most pleasant person to be around during some of those days, but I got ‘er done.

I also FINALLY finished reading through the Bible.  It took three years.  I originally planned for it to take one year.  Better late than never!  But I loved being able to read through it all (even though it took forever!), and this year — starting tomorrow — I’m joining my new bloggy friend Andrea and reading through the Bible again, in ONE year this time, chronologically.  She will be posting each day’s reading, and/or you can download the reading chart from her blog.  I’m excited and nervous at the same time.  But the accountability will sure be helpful!  What do you say… anyone want to join our dive into the Word?

I’m also wondering who would be up for joining me in another quasi-intellectual pursuit.  For those of you familiar with classical Christian education (all two of you out there!), professor and author Susan Wise Bauer has a companion book to her well-known resource The Well Trained Mind called The Well Educated Mind.  It’s for all of us who didn’t have the benefit of a classical education, helping us to teach ourselves how to read and think critically by using some of the greatest books/works ever written.  I was contemplating starting a bloggy book club of sorts, reading through this book, then reading through all the works in the order she suggested.  There are five separate areas of focus: fiction, autobiography, history, drama, and poetry.  Each section’s selections are read in chronological order so as to see how each author built/expanded upon/deviated from the works that came before.  Over the course of a complete study of a genre of literature, you can see more clearly “historical continuities and innovations” and better understand literature that you may before have considered to be too challenging or complex.

For example, here’s the (ahem) fiction list:  Don Quixote, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Gulliver’s Travels, Pride and Prejudice (yippee!), Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Madame Bovary, Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, Huckleberrry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, Heart of Darkness, The House of Mirth, The Great Gatsby, Mrs. Dalloway, The Trial, Native Son, The Stranger, 1984, Invisible Man, Seize the Day, One Hundred Years of Solitude, If on a winter’s night a traveler, Song of Solomon, White Noise, and Possession.  Whew!  There are many in here I’ve never read; others I look forward to reading again with a more critical and enlightened eye.

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and finally will be doing so with at least one friend here in Denver (right, Eliza?), but I would love to work through it with as many of you as possible as well… if you’re willing!  I have absolutely no idea how long this will take, but I can’t wait to get started.  If you think you might be up for it, comment below and get Bauer’s book.  I’ll try to start this all a week from Monday, assigning reading for all of us to do each week, then talking about it the next. I think I’ll call it “Grow Your Mind Monday”.  Maybe I’ll even figure out how to make a blog button for it.  Now THAT would be an accomplishment.  🙂

And before you say it:  yes, I’m nuts.  I don’t plan to get a ton of sleep this year.  But I do plan on digging both into God’s great Word and into some great literature!  What do you say (other than you think I’m crazy)?  Anybody with me?

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God’s Timing

My new friend is leaving in a couple of days.

Leaving on the adventure of a lifetime… one that God started putting on her husband’s heart (and later hers) 16 years ago.

You heard me right.  Sixteen years.

That’s a long time to wait for confirmation and the coming together of a call to serve Him.

I haven’t known the Vigils (Vee-hills) that long; I met Julie, along with some other wonderful ladies, through the homeschooling group at our new church last year.  What a blessing that group has been to me as we transition into this new church community and into homeschooling FOR REAL for the first time.   What impressed me about Julie from the very beginning was her frankness, her willingness to admit her weaknesses, and her astounding faith in God’s provision.  After all, she and her husband Jeff had been waiting to become overseas missionaries for many years at that point, and at times the move — the “beginning” of their service  abroad — was so far off to be seemingly unattainable.

But as Julie realized, the “beginning” isn’t the going… it’s the getting TO the going.  The “beginning” was when she and Jeff felt God moving in their hearts to serve Him halfway around the world, and they chose to respond accordingly.  Their transition won’t just be over the next few months as they adjust to lives in Kenya; it has been an ongoing process for the last sixteen years.  And God brought absolutely everything together at EXACTLY the right time: the financial support, the long-term renter for their townhome, the sale of most of their worldly goods, the healing of Jeff’s knee.  Even as an outside observer, it was amazing to see.  With the speed at which it all happened at the very end, it was evident that it was God bringing all the hopes, all the prayers, all the waiting, to fruition in His perfect timing.  It was all, 100%, God.  Wow.

When our pastor asked folks to come up and pray over the Vigil family this morning, our family went up front with several others.  With tears flowing in many eyes, including my own, we prayed for God to use them mightily.  And He will.

Since He has so obviously been with them this far, I am sure excited to see how He’s going to use them now.

-N

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Let it Snow!

“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we’ve no place to go:  let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

Massive grocery run with three children aged five and under in tow:  CHECK.

Homeschooling done for the day:  CHECK.

Christmas menu planned:  CHECK.

Baby laundry going:  CHECK.

Strudel cut and plated for neighborhood Christmas party tonight:  CHECK.

Dinner prepped before kids #2 and #3 wake from naps:  CHECK.

I officially have no where else to go, and nothing else that I must accomplish today.  Yep, let it snow!!!

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(a copy of our Christmas card and letter)


This truly is a blessed season, friends.

As many of you know, the Starr family welcomed our newest addition in April.  Our sweet baby Annalie, now 8 months old, is adored by her doting brothers — especially Bode, who runs to get her a toy whenever her hands are empty and gives her lots of kisses — and already has her daddy wrapped around her delicate little finger.

What about the rest of us?  Well, Bryan has a great job (thankfully!) as an associate-level structural engineer at a firm here in Denver, and soon will be starting a men’s group in our area through our new church (Deer Creek PCA in Littleton). Nikki is busy homeschooling the kiddos, and is now teaching some of the neighborhood kids American history as well!  Jonah (age 5) is adding, subtracting, and reading with ease, and Bode (age 2 1/2) is learning to draw circles and identify his letters and their sounds; both enjoy building (Jonah with Legos and Bode with his plastic tools), swimming, music, tee-ball, and “roughing in the house” with their daddy.  We have a busy life, but a full one:  full of joy, laughter, the occasional tantrum, and love… lots of it.

Life has been difficult for so many this year, and we have not been immune.  As we reflect on the past several months, we are extremely thankful.  Thankful for friends and family who have encouraged, prayed for, and walked with us through both good and difficult times, thankful for the well-lived lives of those we lost (and thankful for the promise that we will indeed see them again), thankful for the healing of many wounds, spiritual and otherwise.

Sometimes life’s troubles seem insurmountable.  But though they hurt — often horribly so — all the pain, the grief, and the sacrifices are small in the light of eternity for those who love our Lord Jesus.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith -— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – 1 Peter 1:6-7

In light of these promises, we feel moved to respond.  Do you?

We want to take this opportunity to ask you to think seriously about how you might use this coming year to go beyond yourself and affect positively the world around you.  No matter your situation, you have something to give:  your time, your love, your money, your gifting and talents, your service.  It can be as simple as opening your eyes and finding someone who needs a helping hand, and giving them one.  Use this season, and this year, to bless another’s life… and by doing so, you’re likely to change your own forever.

Are you up to the challenge?  What will you do this year to make a difference?

I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do. – Helen Keller

May God bless you and yours this Christmas!

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Enter the Story

I’ll get around to posting more thoughts and pics… at some point.  They are many and rampant, I assure you.

But something vastly more important has come up.

It’s called Advent.

You know, celebrating the birth of Christ.  Our Savior.  Yes, THAT one.

How will you celebrate this year?

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We’re still working on being five for five in the Starr family health department; hopefully it will only take a few more days for Bode and Annie to return to their normal jovial selves.

On the positive side, however (and I already know many of you baby mommies out there are going to think I’m absolutely nuts for not doing this before now), Annie took her FIRST bottle today.  Sort of.  She didn’t know what to make of it, but it was easier for her little congested self to drink away from the breast then at it, and since it’s the same stuff anyway, at this point I don’t really care how it gets in her just so long as it does.  She’s just so tiny, she doesn’t have much weight to sustain her when she gets sick… so we have to help her eat/drink as much as possible, even when she’s not into it.

Just so you know, my failure to use a bottle before now is NOT because I am a super-mommy who can wrangle two boys aged five and under while nursing a third at any and all times of the day.  My failure can be attributed to one, and only one, thing:

LAZINESS.

Why would I want to “waste” precious moments pumping, heating, cleaning, etc. when I can just use what God gave me… no preparation needed?  It may sometimes be inconvenient, especially with a child who refuses to nurse unless in a dark, quiet room with white noise in the background (seriously)… but I’ve made it through two wee ones already using this strategy (with two bouts of mastitis thrown in for good measure), and am now nearing the end of baby #3’s nursing year and have had few if any problems with it.  Each baby had to suffer through a pumped bottle for a couple of days when they were sick, but overall, I firmly believe that the hassle of all the prep and clean-up associated with regular pumping FAR outweighs the hassle of nursing in a bubble.  Feel free to disagree; I’m sure most of you do.  🙂

Anyway, my title promised some Christmas cheer, so in keeping with my lazy streak, I am copying my bloggy-friend Missy’s Christmas questions and answering them below.  We’re planning to finish up decorating tonight (we have had two bare trees in the house all week, since we were in sickness survival mode), and Hubby and I are determined to have it done by bedtime.   I’ll try to post some pics tomorrow if I have a chance.

Here we go!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate.  Which, by the way, would also be my answer if it were the middle of summer and the other choice was cool and fruity.  I know, I’m weird that way.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? HE doesn’t do a thing.  We don’t really “do” Santa, although we do read about St. Nicholas and how his generosity was spurred on by his love for Jesus.  The presents our kiddos get are in celebration of Jesus’ birthday.  Now, the presents on the day AFTER Christmas… they’re all for ME.  Because it’s my birthday.  Go ahead and mark your calendar now.  I’ll wait.  🙂

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Hubby (who loves tackiness… I mean, loves colored lights) and I have compromised on this.  We have white icicle lights outside and on the little tree in the living room, and flashy/colored/insert-gaudy-adjective-here lights on the big tree and on the mantle in the family room.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No.  We don’t need an excuse, thank you very much.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This year (assuming we get it done tonight), we are dealing with a one-week sick delay.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Anything my mom makes.  And turtles.  And pecan nut rolls.  Both of which, coincidentally, are things my mom makes.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Celebrating with the extended family at Grandma’s house down the street from us.  Thinking back, I’m not sure exactly how so many people fit into that tiny two-bedroom/one-bath house, but I never noticed it then.  Perhaps there’s a lesson in that…

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Don’t really remember.  I remember when I did, and I remember when I didn’t… but I don’t recall when the switch happened.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Sure, why not.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Happily?  Joyously?  With ornaments?

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it.

12. Can you ice skate? No thanks.  I broke my arm roller skating when I was four years old, and since then have never felt comfortable separating the soles of my feet from the floor that far.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Yes.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Um, Jesus.  Oh, and JESUS.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? See #6.  Plus anything pumpkin-related, if that’s allowed at Christmas.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Christmas Eve candlelight services at church.

17. What tops your tree? An angel (small tree) and a bow (big tree).  Someday I’d love to get a star for the big tree, because, well, that would be appropriate.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? That’s a toughie.  I’ve loved “O Come All Ye Faithful” ever since we first learned the sign language motions to it for the Christmas program in elementary school.  Wow, how many public elementary schools would perform that song now?  It’s amazing — and sad — how things change sometimes.

20. Candy Canes: I’m for them.

21. Favorite Christmas Show? It’s gotta be “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.  I always tear up when Linus recites the Christmas story from Luke.  It’s a small miracle — but a great one — that the networks still allow it.

22. Saddest Christmas Song? Hmmm… sad?  Can’t think of one… but maybe I just don’t like to think about sad songs at Christmas.

23.  Favorite Christmas Movie? “Elf.”  Hands down.

Feeling lazy?  You can throw out the pump… or just copy this post and fill it out on your blog.

-N

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It’s official: As of this morning, THREE out of FIVE members of the Starr family are, for the most part, WELL.  And everyone — this is no small feat — is treating each other, for the most part, with quite a bit of un-prodded kindness.  Hallelujah!!!

The two youngest are a bit behind the rest of us in their healing (and still cough-y, with Annie being the worst right now)… so prayer for their quick recovery would be much, much appreciated.

On a totally unrelated note to my Facebook friends: I am already seeing the fruits of your prayers with regard to my vague request from a few weeks ago.  And yep, I’m keeping it vague… at least for now.  And for those of you begging for a hint (you know who you are), we’re NOT moving.  So all you Colorado folks are still stuck with us (just in case you were getting your hopes up!).  🙂

Oh, and KEEP PRAYING!!!

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