Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Steps

My sweet little son has reached another milestone in his young life.  Yesterday afternoon, his took his first steps.  He'd been dancing around it (as it were) for awhile now.  He can walk quite well while holding onto something by only one hand and can stand for short periods of time before plopping down and crawling over to whatever it is he wants.  My parents are here for a short visit before heading back to the Frozen Tundra and he took his first step to get to Grandpa.  At least I wasn't completely left out because a few moments later, he took a step (it was almost two) to get to me.  Oh how the days and weeks and months have flown by.  It seems like just yesterday that my phone buzzed with the text message that our birth mom was headed to the hospital.  A few days later, a tiny baby boy was placed in our arms.  And now he's on the verge of running around the house.

Josiah is such a sweet child.  He loves kids and kitties.  He has boundless energy.  He's curious about everything and is incredibly smart.  He watches everything we do and copies us as much as he can.  He's very mellow and doesn't get upset about things, even when we leave him with strangers (to him) in the nursery.  He's content to spend hours playing with his toys, books, and any kitties that have the courage to venture near him.  He's very independent and doesn't spend much time cuddling or sitting in my lap but I've gotten used to it and take whatever hugs I can get from him.  He's a happy child and smiles all the time but doesn't laugh a lot so when I hear his belly laugh (he's usually playing with the kitties), I try to get a video of it so I can watch it again and again. 

I'm sure this summer will be crammed with trips to the zoo, the park, the water fountains, and any other places that interest little children.  He wants to explore and conquer the world... so we shall!     

Friday, January 24, 2014

Books Of All Kinds

After finishing "Education of a Wandering Man" and yesterday's blog post, I started another book.  It was a book about westerns (books and movies), how westerns have helped shape our culture today, and interpreting the things that are in westerns.  Even before the end of the introduction, I saw that this was not a book I'd enjoy.  The author is a psycho-feminist and is basically just using the book to bash men, talk about how women are marginalized in westerns, and whine about how horrible westerns are because they include killing and exclude God.  I don't want to be one of those people who only reads things they agree with though so last night I started reading the first chapter.  By the time I got three quarters of the way through it, I was steaming.  It is so full of mindless drivel, ridiculous assumptions, and man-bashing that I've decided it's not worth my time to read it.  I think it's important to read and listen to differing points of view but there are times you'll encounter a book or an article or a sermon where you know there'll be little to no benefit (thus, a complete waste of time) and could even do some damage emotionally or psychologically.  This particular book falls into that category. 

And so the book was tossed onto the pile of books that I'm going to try to sell to Book-A-Holic next time I'm there (I seriously considered just throwing it out because I don't think anyone could benefit from it but if I can get a few dollars from it, it won't be a complete loss) and I've already started my next book.  The two I have on my desk right now are "Bringing Up Boys" by James Dobson and "Driven" by Donald Driver.  My mom gave me "Driven" when they came for a visit a few weeks ago and I'm very interested in reading it but I have a young son who's growing up way too fast and I think I'll benefit more from the parenting book than the autobiography by the Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver.  And the quest for knowledge goes on...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Louis L'Amour

I just finished a book that has challenged me in a way no other book has before (excepting the Bibe of course).  "Education of a Wandering Man" A Memoir by Louis L'Amour.  Louis L'Amour has been one of my favorite authors since I discoverd him many, many years ago.  I've read most of his books and own a number of them.  But up until now, I had not read his memoir.  Oh if only I had read it years ago.  L'Amour spends about half the book telling about places he's been and things he's done and the other half telling about books he's read.  He starts out his book by telling how, at 15 years old, he left school for two reasons.  To get a job because he needed to make some money and because public education was holding him back from learning.  And with that, he traveled around the United States and parts of the world, working on ships, in saw mills, boxing, hoboing, working any jobs he could find and reading, always reading.  He kept lists of the books he read and through most of the 1930's, he was averaging over 100 books a year.  And these weren't kids books either.  He was reading histories (of the U.S. and the world), philosophy, archeology, ecology, anthropology; everything from Aristotle to Luke Short to Nietzsche to Dostoyevsky to foreign authors who's names I can't even pronounce.  He read everything he could get his hands on... and then he started writing.  He started out with short stories, getting many rejections before a few newspapers and magazines started printing them.  As his work became more popular, he started writing full-length novels.  He got married, had kids, bought his own place and started a personal library which grew to over 10,000 books.  Before his death in 1988, he won the Congressional Gold Medal (the first time an author had been awarded it) and President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  To date, more than 200 million copies of his works have been sold.   

The thing that has challenged me the most is how he went about his self-education.  I've never known anyone to read as much as he did or have the ability to retain that knowledge.  Some of the jobs he did as a young man weren't only to make some money but also to give him experiences that he would later write about.  When he wrote, he drew on many past experiences and knowledge from experts that he'd read because he didn't ever want factual or material errors in his books.  Not a day of his life went by where he wasn't learning something.  He has challenged me to be the same way.  You don't have to be in school to be learning (and in a lot of cases, school actually prevents or at least slows learning).  The world is at our fingertips, especially in our technology-saturated society.  If someone wants to learn about something, they need only open a book or fire up their computer.

This is one of the many reasons why my husband and I have decided to homeschool.  We don't want our children held back or forced ahead.  We want them to be able to learn at their own pace and learn about the things that interest them.  Of course they'll have to learn things they probably won't like as much, but I want to try to show them that all learning can be fun.  I want the freedom to call of school for the day, pack the kids into the car, and drive to Dodge City for a hands-on lesson about Wyatt Earp and the cattle drive days.  I want to show them how animals are born, not by watching a video or reading a book but by having them help with the birth of animals on our little farm.  I want to help them plant a garden and teach them science while watching the sun and watering the little seeds until green shoots appear.  And then I want to cross the prairies with them alongside Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I want to march to Lexington and Concord with them and listen as we hear, oh so faintly, the shot that was heard round the world.  We will sail with Columbus, conquer with Alexander the Great, travel with Ulysses, and, when our studies are done, solve mysteries with the Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.  I want my children to have an incredible education that will continue throughout their lives.  It will not be easy and I'm sure there'll be days when we will question our decision to homeschool.  But we will persevere for the sake of our children.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Roe v. Wade

Tomorrow, January 22nd, is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  The horror of that decision and the blood bath that followed is more than I can comprehend.  The numbers are staggering.  50 million.  50 million tiny babies, too young to voice their opposition, have been dissected, injected, suffocated, tortured, and murdered.  And we thought the Nazis were evil. 

Please spend some time grieving tomorrow.  Grieve for those chidren.  Grieve for the women who decided their only option was murder.  Grieve for a nation that would allow such a thing to take place. 

And then thank God that Jesus died to forgive even this.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Returning Soldiers

This past weekend, I went down to Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma to welcome back my brother from deployment.  This was his second 9 month deployment.  The first time, he was in Afghanistan.  This time, he was stationed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) along with other soldiers who were part of the "presence" that the US is keeping in the Middle East.  On their way home, they were flown into Maine and delayed a day because of cancelled flights from snow and ice.  But they finally landed around 10:30 on Sunday morning and the welcome back ceremony was at 11:30.  It was quite an event.  About a 1,000 soldiers from the base showed up and probably 300 family members.  My brother said there were 160 soldiers in his unit.  They marched into the building, an officer got up and spoke for a few minutes, and then they were dismissed.  There was lots of shouting and cheering, crying and laughing.  I was privileged to be a part of it.  Not only did I get to see my brother who I haven't seen in more than a year, but I was glad I could be there in support of the other soldiers who were coming home.  We met one lady who said her husband hadn't met their 3 month old son yet.  In fact, we saw probably 6 babies in the crowd that were born while the soldiers were gone. 

My parents raised me and my siblings to always give a great deal of respect to those in uniform.  My love and admiration for the military only deepened when my sister and then my brother enlisted (older sister in the Air Force, younger brother in the Army National Guard).  But it's not just the men and women in the military who deserve our respect.  Their families, the husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, siblings and children, they have lots of steel flowing in their veins.  The sacrifices that military families make is amazing. 

Just for comparison's sake... I went down to For Sill by myself and left Josiah at home with the hubby.  I left early on Saturday morning and didn't get back until Sunday evening.  It was the longest I'd ever been away from my baby and the first time I'd ever been gone overnight.  I had a hard time leaving and was anxious to see him when I got home.  I was gone for 2 days and 1 night.  Our soldiers say good-bye to their families for 6 months, 9 months, 12 months at a time.  They miss births, birthdays, christmas, school events, teeth falling out, first prize at the science fair, picnics, swimming lessons, and parades.  They come home and meet their babies for the first time.  They come home and their children don't know them.  The freedoms we have are due to these men and women and the families who wait for them.  They are truly our heroes.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Football and Teeth

And with a field goal that we came close to blocking, the Packers season is done (23-20).  The game against the San Francisco 49ers was good (except that we lost).  It was the type of game that you want to see in the play offs.  Two good teams shooting it out to the very end.  The temperature was around 5 degrees with a wind chill of -10, one of the coldest games in the history of football.  Both teams were tough, both teams made good plays, but when it came down to it, the team that had the final possession of the game won.  The offseason will be kinda long for the Packers but it will give us a chance to heal, regroup, practice, and hopefully come out stronger next year.  During years like this, you always gotta wonder what it would've been like if we had had Aaron Rodgers the entire time.  But no matter what, I'm proud of my Green Bay Packers.  They're a one-of-a-kind team with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

But football season isn't over yet.  We have some good games coming up next weekend.  The Chiefs are out (THAT was a sad game to watch) but the Broncos are still in and I'm hoping they make it to the SuperBowl.  I've liked the Broncos ever since Tim Tebow was their quarterback.  I also like the Saints and the Panthers.  The Colts are still in it and so are the Patriots (the team I hate the most), the Seahawks and the Chargers. 

But on to other news.  Josiah's first two teeth have appeared (bottom).  It's funny to watch him put toys in his mouth because the first thing he always does is scrape the toy against his teeth.  There are times when I think his teeth are bothering him but he's been much better than I ever thought a teething baby would be.  He's also going through a separation anxiety/jealousy stage so sometimes it's hard to tell if he just wants Mommy or if he's fussy from his teeth, or both.  Anyway, I'm working on a project right now that I need to get back to.  I'll write about it when I'm done with it.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - It's Here!

With 20 degree temperatures and a wind that cuts to the bone, 2014 is upon us.  I always feel like the first day of the New Year should somehow be different from the 365 days that preceeded it and the 364 days that will follow it but it never is.  It's just another ordinary day.

I've spent the last few days thinking about some goals that I (we) have for 2014, some things I want to do, some areas of my life that I want to improve.  We have some big goals: we'd like to sell our house this spring and find a bigger place outside the city.  We'd also like to save enough money and start pursuing another adoption.  For myself, I want to read through the Bible this year.  I did it once before but I'm going to do it differently this time and read from the front to the back (most reading plans have you read both Old and New Testament at the same time). 

I also have some smaller goals: I want to put together a cookbook this year.  I'm working on taking the recipes that I like from my mom's cookbook and typing them into my computer but they're mostly dessert recipes and I want a complete cookbook when I'm done with it.  This leads into my next goal which is to make a minimum of two new dishes a month (I'm going to be shooting for one new dish each week but that doesn't always work out).  As for personal improvement, I'm working on a list of books I'd like to read in 2014.  I want to read through all of C.S. Lewis' most well-known works; I want to read at least six history/western nonfiction books (I'm currently reading "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp"); and two parenting books ("Bringing Up Boys" by James Dobson will be one of them).

I don't like the idea of New Year's resolutions because resolving to do something because it's a "special" day of the year rarely works.  But I do think it's a good time to think about the past year and the coming year and put some goals in place so you'll be, by God's grace and help, a better, smarter, wiser, more humble and godly person at the end of the coming year than you are now.