27 February 2010

Great Date #1

Morgan and I always look forward to date night but last night's date had a new little twist. Our church started a new Married Life Ministry and one of the resources for married couples is called The Big 6 Great Date Experiment.

Here's the premise...

What would happen if you and your spouse tried a little experiment? What if for 6 months, you went out on 6 really Great Dates? What would happen if you took part in... The Big 6 Great Date Experiment? Each Great Date revolves around one of our Big 6 essentials: Nurture Romance, Cultivate Communication, Hurry Home, Celebrate Differences, Finish Together, and Trust God.

We pretty much followed the guidelines to a tee. It was so much fun! It gave us specific topics and questions to ask each other and of course by doing so, it encouraged plenty of communication about our past, our current season of life together, and our dreams for the future. We even stopped by CVS on the way home and bought little gifts for each other, just like the guidelines suggested. What a great night with my beloved! Can't wait for Great Date #2!

26 February 2010

Pizzette

Working the dough.

Gracie stops for a pose.

Assembling their pizzette.

All done!

Kids really do eat more when they cook it themselves.

Faith dries and puts away the utensils while daddy washes the dishes.

Pizzette: (Italian) meaning small pizzas.

I enlisted the girls' help in making dinner the other night. They love to help me in the kitchen and this was a fun way for them to feel like they made dinner.
I simply used store bought pizza dough to make it easy. I prepared toppings like italian cheese, sauteed mushrooms and turkey sausage. We used a 3 inch cookie round to make the pizzas, just their size. They loved it and they were so proud of themselves for making dinner that night. They were smiling and eating the whole time. Sweet memories!

25 February 2010

Moments

I'm realizing that little moments throughout the day are what make a lifetime of precious memories. Even though at times, my days may seem mundane or ordinary, these are some of my favorite treasured moments.

Waking up to my alone/quiet time, early in the morning.

Having my first sip of hot coffee with hazelnut creamer.

Seeing two smiling faces about an hour or so later.

Getting my morning hugs and kisses.

After breakfast when the girls and I are all cleaned up and ready to do whatever is on our schedule for the day.

Hearing sweet little voices sing worship songs throughout the day.

When out of the blue, one of the girls says, "I love you, mom."

When I get an unexpected hug or when my girls ask if they can hug me because they are happy.

When the girls ask interesting or funny questions.

Without prompting, hearing, "Thank you for the nice breakfast, lunch or dinner, mom!"

Hearing the girls play together with kindness. Using their manners.

When I hear, "Mama, can you help me with this?" And I actually want to.

When the 3 of us read books together before nap time on the bedroom floor.

1:00, when the house is picked up, the girls are napping, and I can hear Morgan working in his office.

Afternoon walks or rides around the block on big wheels (made even better when Daddy can come).

That time right before dinner when Morgan is officially done working for the day and the girls know it. We are all happy.

Getting a second wind and savoring a glass of red wine.

Dinner time when we pray together, eat together, and have interesting conversations around the kitchen table.

When the girls ask us if they can help clean up after dinner.

Playing a game, dancing, or chasing after the girls and hearing them scream and giggle with laughter.

After bath time when the girls are squeaky clean and they smell divine.

Reading more books and bible stories as a family.

Tucking each one in, kissing them all over, smelling the goodness, and whispering how much I love them and what a gift they are to us in their ears.

Getting a big tight hug from Gracie.

Hearing the whisper, "I love you too, mom."

8:00, when I can sit down next to my husband and relax. Sometimes words are not necessary. His presence calms me and makes me feel like I am not alone.

I know these days are numbered.

I pray that each ordinary moment will also be an extraordinary opportunity to worship God.

23 February 2010

Live Like You Were Dying

Morgan and I are really excited about doing our church's annual, 30 day spiritual growth campaign. It's called Live Like you Were Dying and it's inspired by the Grammy award-winning song recorded by Tim McGraw about four years ago. Listeners were confronted about their mortality and challenged to get out of their mundane routines so they could live a life with no regrets.

Here's an excerpt from our study book.... Death is the most inevitable event that we are least prepared for. There is a great irony in this that there is, for each of us, a 100% chance of dying and a next to a 100% chance we aren't anywhere near ready for it. Our whole culture is in a state of denial when it comes to death. The bible clearly states that we have an appointment with death- "It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment." -Hebrews 9:27. But instead of running from that appointment, as so much of our culture encourages us to do, we are going to run right for it. We are going to fearlessly stare down death and find out what changes when we do. We are going to ride right up to the precipice and let the winds from the valley of death blow back over our lives and stir us to something new.

The study has one goal: Change. May we discover that one thing that will alter the course of our lives that we wouldn't find any other way, unless we lived like we were dying.

Some questions we will be asking ourselves...

What If I Only Had 30 days To Live?

-How would my life change?

-Would I reevaluate my values, priorities, and dreams?

-How would God want me to spend my last month?

-What might I be emboldened to do that I've never done before?

-What would become important and what would suddenly not matter at all?

-How would it impact my relationships?

-How would I prepare for eternity?

For each person, the journey will be different but that's the beauty of it. I am looking forward to being inspired, challenged, and yes, even doing something that puts me out of my comfort zone. There is no time like today to start living like you were dying.

22 February 2010

Almost 4

Every week, I see signs of the girls getting older but this past week, there were a couple of things that really stood out. One of the things they love to do is take their big wheels out for a ride around our neighborhood. They've met a few of the neighborhood kids as well as some dogs that they like to pet and play with. There is one 10 year-old girl in particular named Claudia that moved into our development a few months ago. She is incredibly sweet with the girls and loves to play with them at the park and help them explore. For the first time ever, the girls wanted to go to Claudia's house and ask if she could play. Morgan was with them on this trip and helped them go up to her front door, talk with her parents, and ask if she could play. They spent over an hour riding around the neighborhood and playing as kids do. They even brought her home so they could show her their room! It was too cute. Finally, it was getting dark and her dad showed up at our front door. Oops! Our bad. We should have known to get her back home before dark. Obviously, we're new at this. Her dad was actually very gracious and kind.
On this same afternoon, Morgan also told me that the girls knocked on another neighbor's door and asked if the two dogs that lived there (Diesel & Otis) could come out to play. And yes, that's exactly what the dogs did, too!
I have two very social butterflies.

The other thing the girls did on Friday night was to tell us where they wanted to go for dinner. We had just finished making a family trip to our local nursery and Morgan and I were talking about where we should grab a bite to eat. The girls then chimed in by saying, "How about we go to Panera?" "Yeah, Panera!" We've only been there a few times for lunch so we didn't really think of it as a dinner spot. We love the creamy tomato soup and we order the soup for a group. We like to dip the crusty bread in the soup and enjoy every bite. The garlic croutons are yummy, too. Soup--it's about the only thing I'm going to miss about winter! Well, that and the snow. It seems as though I've been ready for Spring since the new year! Anyway, I'm so happy to have two little soup lovers, like myself. The days seem to be flying by recently. It's been fun to see the girls maturing in both conversation and understanding. Faith has been testing boundaries a little but that's pretty typical for her. She likes to see just how far she can go and how much she can get away with-- which is not much in our house. Often, we say she's just too smart for her own good. We're working on that.

The countdown has officially begun to their birthday! I can't believe in just a month, our little girls will be 4! Seems like not so long ago, we were just home from Korea and they were crawling babies. I'm very excited for them and all that they will be learning and experiencing in their 4's!

16 February 2010

planet push-ups

Planet push-ups. What are these you might ask? A couple of days ago, Faith lined up her dolls and informed me that they were all doing "planet push-ups." I remembered that one of their lessons in school last week was learning about astronauts. They got to eat astronaut food and apparently do a variety of astronaut related exercises. Sure enough, I asked Miss Shannon about it today (she taught school last week) and planet push-ups were indeed a part of the lesson! The only thing I'm wondering... why are all the dolls in their underwear? Haha!

Handy Mandy

Fixing the vacuum for me last week.

I love that Morgan takes the time to teach our girls how to be handy. I'll admit it- I'm no "Jill of all trades." Hey, maybe that's why I find crafts so intimidating? Anyway, Morgan used to joke and wonder how I've gotten by all these years without being handy at all. Yes, I can change batteries but that's about it. That's why I'm so thankful that the girls are learning a wide variety of life skills from their dad. They may be learning cooking and housekeeping from me but they've actually learned how to wash the dishes from Morgan (he takes the time to show them after dinner). He also calls them when he has anything to repair throughout the day. He patiently teaches them while letting them participate, hands on. They are getting to be pros at using a screwdriver and fixing the vacuum. I have a habit of getting it caught on something while vacuuming and then the belt needs to be adjusted in order for it to work properly. I think it's wonderful that they will eventually learn the basics about cars, sports, electronics, and anything else that dad is better at than mom!

It's moments throughout the day like this that Morgan gets to be an active teacher in homeschooling as well.

Loving Daughters


There is no doubt that raising daughters is quite different from raising sons. Daughters and sons have distinct gender roles. When cultivated, these roles are essential when it comes to producing a healthy, God designed family. I am passionate about teaching our girls to embrace their God-given femininity while also remaining modest, graceful, and strong. Modesty in today's world is a whole 'nuther topic that I'll have to get into some other day.

In my opinion, much of the feminist movement over the last 40 years, has not only been harmful to the basic foundation of the family unit but it has also been a catalyst for all kinds of human sin. On another note, women (and men) have been duped into thinking they they (women) should be "doing it all." Just because we can, doesn't mean that we should. Isn't that the truth on so many levels? Yes, I agree that some women's rights issues have been worthy and legitimate. Issues like voting, equal pay, sexual harassment and the like. Believe me, I was also caught up in the "women's lib" way of thinking in my early, single years. Although a prominent career can be exciting, challenging, and rewarding, it is not what God designed for us women- especially those that are married with a family. I realize that this may not sit well with some career-minded ladies. It also doesn't sit well with their husbands who are accustomed to thinking that they "need" those two-incomes to support that bigger mortgage, that luxury car, or those extra toys. I know, I know, I'm basically every women's rights organization's nightmare and I'm perfectly fine with that. Getting back to raising our little women...

The Bible tells us this about daughters in Psalm 144:12-13, “That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: that our garners may be full.”

As corner-stones, polished after the similitude of palace, God desires that our daughters grow up to become strong and beautiful ~ and adorned with all the ornaments belonging to their sex. What are the “ornaments” that the Bible teaches belong to the female sex? Titus 2:4-5 describes them as: soberness, love for family, discretion, purity, excellent housekeeping, goodness, and submission to authority.

That’s a tall order, isn’t it? And the reason that it is so important that our daughters be taught and trained in these areas is because (as the Treasury of David so wisely puts it), “Daughters unite families as corner stones join walls together, and at the same time, they adorn them as polished stones garnishing the structure into which they are builded.”

Daughters are an important part of every family, and it is our duty to teach them how to be a blessing to our families now so that they will understand how to be a blessing to the family they will marry into later on.

So, how are we to go about accomplishing so great a task?

First of all, we must remember that daughters have a great need for love and security.

1. Daughters need to be treated with kindness.

2. Daughters feel loved when we are patient with them.

3. A critical spirit is a destructive thing to a daughter’s spirit ~ it causes her to feel insecure about who she is and what she is able to do.

4. Comparison also causes daughters to feel insecure about themselves. Daughters are in desperate need of acceptance in order to become the polished corner stone of the family that God desires them to be.

5. It’s a mothers job to identify the special needs that her daughter has and help her to overcome or practically accommodate them.

6. Mothers must be careful not attribute motives, nor take offense, lose patience, or take the ridiculous things that daughters do too personally.

7. Mothers must remember that daughters need to be raised in a happy, loving home in order to feel totally secure. No amount of love, compliments or kindness will make up for the fear that is brought into a daughter’s heart by marital strife or divorce.

Secondly, daughters need to be taught to control their emotions.

1. Whining, gossiping and complaining should not be tolerated. Make every effort to train your daughter to be sensible by teaching her how to be thankful, patient and kind as she deals with her every day issues of life.

2. Emotions must be taught to follow and not allowed to lead. The best teacher is example. Make it your goal to be a good example of this so that your daughter can “see” how this is done.

3. Daughters must be taught that they may not use their “hormones” as an excuse for sin!

4. Teach your daughter how to manage her tears. There is a time for tears ~ when they are hurt, when someone they know or see is seriously injured or dies. But crying is not something that should continue on and on ~ they should be short and brief. Even in the case of death of a loved one: there is a time to cry, and there is a time to cease from crying.

5. The same goes for silliness. Giggling and acting giddy is fine at times, but too much of it makes a girl ridiculous.

Thirdly, daughters must be raised to embrace their femininity.

1. Daughters should be taught to be home-centered. They should be encouraged to love working with their hands ~ both in housework and handiwork.

2. Daughters should be encouraged to wear dresses, fix their hair and want to look pretty.

a. However, we must be diligent to encourage them to be MODEST and pretty. The female body is a beautiful creation of God and modesty teaches them that it is a precious thing that must be saved for their future husband (and not the whole world) to enjoy.

b. We also must be careful not to raise our daughters to be too prissy or “primadonas” who only a mother and father is able to tolerate and love :).

3. Daughters must be encouraged to play with toys that will encourage her to home-centered and not bedroom-centered. (Baby dolls rather than Barbie dolls)

4. Daughters must be taught and trained how to respond to the men around them.

a. Daughters have a God given need for male attention. Teach them when they are little how to love and serve Dad, so that Dad will enjoy being around them.

b. Teach your daughter how to respect her Dad and brothers. This is will prepare her to enjoy good success when she is married to her own man later on.

Mothers are the role models for their daughters, and it is important that we realize that we are teaching our daughters every day by the way we live. As Christian mothers, it is vital that we commit ourselves to living as the godly women that we would want our daughters to grow up to become. This is a tall order, but one which is certainly possible as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our loving God.

I thought this was a great article posted by Julie Fink @ Lessons for Ladies. Raising godly little women IS a tall order indeed and I am so thankful that I have God's blueprint. A few of the above mentioned points really convicted me but it's also been helping me to nurture, direct, and look ahead to the bigger picture of shepherding daughters who will become future corner stones for their families.

15 February 2010

Chris Botti

For Valentine's day, Morgan and I had plans to enjoy a leisurely lunch together, followed by the Christ Botti concert in the afternoon. Botti is a Grammy nominated contemporary jazz trumpeter and composer. I've always wanted to see him in concert so I was very excited to hear that he was coming to the McCallum. Well as we know, sometimes the best laid plans don't always work out.

This past weekend, Morgan ended up getting sick with strep throat and the girls were diagnosed with pink eye! By Sunday morning, my whole family was sick and it was apparent that Valentine's Day would have to be put on hold. At first, I was going to try and give the tickets away but it was all very last minute. Morgan insisted that I go to the concert anyway. After all, there was no use in seeing two tickets go to waste. As the afternoon came, I actually began looking forward to spending a couple of hours on my own. I rationalized that everyone in my house would be napping for most of the time I'd be gone anyway.

Well I'm so glad that I went! The concert was ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL. From the very first note of Ave Maria, I wished that my valentine was by my side but I have to say that I truly enjoyed my time alone-a rarity these days. I have always loved jazz from the time I studied it back in college. Botti is someone that I'd definitely see again and next time, Morgan will be able to share it with me.
As I sat in my balcony seat, I was just so thankful that the Lord blessed me with this little break. After being housebound for most of this beautiful, 80 degree weekend, the two hours that I got to steal away was a great treat and so very appreciated.

12 February 2010

Healing Horses

The kids get a lesson in brushing horses.

So cute.

Grace practicing her balance.

Faith is all smiles.

A lesson in hay.

Morgan throws over a flake of hay into the feeding bin.

What's a flake? Individual sheets/sections in a bail of hay.
Filling the wheelbarrow.

Feeding each horse in their stable.

Watching them run.

Feeding them carrots.

Our preschool class.

Friends!

What a gorgeous day for an outdoor field trip! This morning, our preschool class and some of our friends went to Healing Horses. Morgan and I first learned about Healing Horses through the Disney Give a Day, Get a Day program. We wanted to volunteer for something that was close to home and a little different. The center happens to be within walking distance of our home- a sweet bonus! I began talking with the director, Marcia Levine and we were able to set up a field trip for our kids. Healing Horses is a therapeutic riding center committed to improving the lives of special needs children, specializing in Autism, through the use of therapy horses. Today, the kids got to learn how to brush the horses and feed them hay and carrots. They even got to get on a pony and take a picture. Marcia was so gracious and great with the kids. Can't thank her enough. All the kids had a blast! Field trips don't get any better than this, at least not when you're 3.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 is our verse for the week. It's a good one, too.

Happy Valentine's Day!

11 February 2010

friendship blossoms

Grace cutting out the heart petals.

Carefully inserting the lollipop.

Ta-da!

Faith assembles her flower.

Ta-da!

flowers in bloom.

My sweetie.

Best buds.

funny valentines.

funny face #2.

The girls and I made these friendship blossoms for their classmates and teachers this week. I don't consider myself crafty by any means but when I saw this in my Disney Family Fun magazine, it looked like something that the girls and I could pull-off. They helped me cut out the hearts, tape the back, and insert the lollipop. I'm realizing that half the battle of "being crafty" is simply the willingness to give it a try. It turned out to be a cute little Valentine's Day craft, if I do say so myself!

08 February 2010

Idyllwild

The three stooges.

Grace throwing snowballs.

Faith getting beamed (I can't spell, I mean beaned) and loving it.

Us.

Wood carvings.

Eagles.

Faith about to enjoy her first ever hot chocolate.

Grace is warm and happy (notice her chocolate mustache).

The road to Humber Park.

We're here!

Time to go sledding!

Wee!

Double the fun!

Um, I think he's over the weight limit of 170 lbs.

Faith, my fearless snow bunny.

Family picture with frosty.

Hey, the snowman kinda looks like daddy.

Winter wonderland.

Yup, daddy got a workout.

Last run!

Morgan recently got these new inter tubes for the girls so we were anxious to try them out before all the snow melted away for the winter. Since we had some rain this past week, we decided that our best chance would be on Sunday. So, we happily went to church as a family on Saturday night and headed up to Idyllwild on Sunday morning. Our goal was to find some little hills where the girls could practice sledding and have some fun in the snow. Except this time, in order for us to see any snow at all, we had to go all the way into Idyllwild. It's really not all that far. It's only about an hour and 15 mins. away. When we got there, we asked around and were told that the best place for sledding would be Humber Park. Unfortunately, when we got to the park, it was closed due to icy roads. So, what to do now? We improvised by finding an open area of flat snow where the kids could play a little, but sadly, no sledding. After throwing snowballs and playing for a bit, we warmed up by heading to a local coffee shop and treating ourselves to a snack and a cup of hot chocolate. It was the first time the girls have ever had hot chocolate! Needless to say, they loved it.

After warming up a bit, we decided to try Humber Park again. This time, the roads were clear and we made it all the way up! It was the perfect spot for sledding and building a snowman. We had the best time! I think the girls could have stayed in the snow and played all day. It was the perfect amount of white powder and the hills were ideal for the girls' first sledding experience.

Faith is our fearless one so she took to sledding with ease and great joy. She always had a big smile on her face, all the way down. Grace did every run but usually she had a worried look on her face until about half way down, then she ended with a big smile. This was only the girls' second time in the snow but after this trip, we are seriously considering two things... The first is renting a cabin sometime next winter. Maybe Big Bear. We look forward to teaching the girls how to snowboard and ski next year and it would be so wonderful to return to a cozy cabin, start a warm fire, make some food, and take a nap- just to do it all over again. The second thing that we really have to consider is investing in some appropriate snow clothes. I think I might look online at craigslist or try to find some gently worn ski wear for the girls at local garage sales.

One of the great joys of parenting for Morgan and I is to experience new adventures with our kids. It's so awesome to teach them something new and to watch them enjoy and try new things. We also get to have fun by reliving our younger years, only this time, together as a family. We stayed in Idyllwild a bit longer than we had anticipated but it was so worth it! We got home around 2:00 and the girls were pooped. Thankfully, they managed to take a little nap. We watched the Super Bowl together as a family in the late afternoon, skipping over most of the commercials. It was a SUPER Sunday, for sure! Enjoy the short videos.






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