Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Toybrary

Josh and I have been having so many conversations lately about living simply and quietly, about having margin and space to sprawl and play and thrive in and out of our home...Recently he pointed out to me that our children didn't seem to be benefiting from the toys in our home...they fill up a big chest and are crammed into baskets...but what are the kids doing to really engage in play with more than a handful of these that they always pull out again and again? Should we purge most of our playthings in our upcoming move?

Our decision has been a resounding yes.

What will play with? What will we do to love on our kids and stimulate their little minds and hearts? We want to fill our home with toys that are rich and lively and fun...those that implement excellent design and intelligent play.

...Enter the Will-n-Essie's Toybrary...a lending library for toys, all in immaculate conditon and ready for you to take home. My old friend Marcia Murray developed the implementation of this idea in the States after benefiting from toybrarys overseas and she has done a smashing job! Toys are donated directly from toy manufacturers like KNEX, Lincoln Logs, Schilling and others or donated or purchased from local businesses.

One of the perks of being on the local toybrary committee is getting to fill in at our local toybrary from time to time and enjoy my community. What a peaceful and sweet time I had today, signing up memebers, welcoming little ones and helping moms and grandparents pick out toys that would be just the right fit for their families to check out. My own children enjoy the chance to check out something new at each visit and to play with something different and special. They are going to learn how to share in a whole new way...with our community! They are going to learn how to take care of what they play with in new ways as well, thinking of others and stewarding well. We are beginning to live out simplicity in such a practical way through one small change...I love this place...

Check out the website to read about the Toybrarys in Wenatchee and Philadelphia and about how to bring a Toybrary to your town!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rappin' with Lael

This might seem increbily immature, but we are trying to make up rap songs for each one of our far, Lael is the only one who has been able to benefit from all the fun. We absolutely love hearing the kids bust out the beat box for this one and I can't get enough of Jones making an upside down "w" at the end when we all say "word".... I lost my camera, but a video may much better to hear rap you know... name's Lael Harue-
And I'm here to rap for you (chicka wow, chicka wow wow)
I'm gonna tell you a little story-
and give my God some glory...yeah 1 -2 -3 -4
Oh!... three others came before me-
Who all love and adore me...they adore me, adore me...(this is best when hands wave in the air)
Halle, Maia and Jones, that's the way it goes...yeah.
I...was... b-lessed with a really big family,
And they were sure happy to have me,
We trust the God who made me,
And I'm a really cool bab-y.

Open House

So, we've been busy lately....

-We sold our home after only three weeks on the market and we feel so blessed! We are moving on the 5th of next month and currently wondering what it will take to pack up this place...its good work though, just lots of it!

-Homeschooling four kiddos has been a tremendous blessing to me as a mom and to our family as a whole. There are days when I am exhausted (shocker?) but our days are purposeful and are simply just heart is near bursting when I think of the time we have each day to read, explore God's word, study language and art and just be together. Its pretty great.

-The older girls are involved in a children's Bible study one night a week and are ablsolutely loving it! I am so encouraged to see them searching out and applying God's word with their friends. Halle is currently growing her hair out with some other gals in this group so they can donate to Locks of Love. She is so excited to comfort hurting kids this way, its precious to me.

-The older girls are also in full swing at dance class, Halle is studying classical ballet will be in the Nutcracker as an angel in December and Maia is studying ballet and tap in a combo class and working on several skills to prepare for The Little Mermaid next Spring. Can you even imagine how cute they are in leotards with buns in their to follow after class this week, I promise!

-Jones is no longer a regular boy: he is SUPERMAN! Gramma Shelly found some Superman pjs for him at Costco and I can not get them off my little guy. They are complete with a cape and as I write this he is "flying" complete with arms flapping around the living room.

-Lael is talking like wild...giggling and gurgling and screeching with delight at any solid food she encounters and at her toys, her siblings and her parents. She is such a joy to everyone of us...we are enjoying her even more each day as her personality as it develops.

So..what are YOU up to?

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Political Meme

Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama

UPDATE: The comments section has been disabled because I am a weenie. I am so thankful for the comments I have received, both those in agreement and disagreement, but I don't think I was ready to put this post out there. I really do enjoy keeping controversial things to myself. If you have comments about this particular post that you feel you need to share with me, please use my regular email and I will be happy to respond personally. Thanks everyone!

I have had this meme sitting in my notebook for over two weeks as I have mulled over whether or not I would post it on my blog. I have been divided because of two reasons: I have a very passionate conviction that conversations that cause division are not worth my time or the time of others...there are certain things on which we will certainly never agree with everyone, even those we love deeply. That's perfectly okay with me, but to enter into a conversation with someone about our cemented differences of opinion, I believe it must be with a heart of love and gentleness and hold some benefit.

Secondly, I live in a very conservative community and whether my situation is common I don't know, but here... being a confessional christian is equated with being a Repbublican. So, thus far, the Obama mama widget to the right is as far as I have come to deliver any political opinion. This has been,to be quite honest,purely out of fear. I don't want to rock the boat...I really like quiet and peaceful waters and writing about politics is sure to make a few waves.

What tipped the scale for my indecision? Today, the McCain campaign started to robo-call undecided voters in battleground states accusing Obama of terrorism by association. I think it served to confuse potential voters and infuse fear and as I listened to the recording, I decided that I don't want fear to control my voice. I believe fear tactics are dangerous, have the potential to produce varying degrees of facism and divide our nation's people irrepairably after this election, regardless of the outcome.
I haven't responded to the 20 plus emails I have received from well-meaning friends that claim Barack is a terriorist,muslim etremist,"messaiah" for the "leftist anti-Americans", and my personal favorite, "the anti-christ" and I feel that through the barrage of opinions I have taken in, I have lost my own voice, or at least silenced it.

If my writing about this bothers you, that's fine... this is my blog, after all... I'd really love to see your own meme's and if you support McCain, jut change the meme aroud to show this. Also, please know that constucive comments of varying opinions are abslolutely welcome, but comments that dishonor others will be removed promptly.

So, here is the political meme...compliments of my friend, Dawn that I hope gives you an understanding of why I support this particular candidate for president.I write this as a human being, a christian deeply committed to living out the gospel and knowing Christ and as an American. It is a bit long...but its important.

What is your name, nickname, whatever you're comfortable sharing, your age (range),gender, occupation, income (range)? Married/Single/Divorced? Kids (How many)?
Kristen, age 29, female, married,homeschooling mom of 4 kids,some-time freelance writer, living contentedly in my income bracket.

What are the most important issues to you in this presidential election and why?
-The strengthening involvement of Americans in the national landscape, working together to solve problems from the bottom up. I believe this is important for the health of our communities and our nation as a whole in all areas.
-Energy Independence
-The overall stretching of American resources at home and abroad, which limits our ability to maintain effective national security and put our troops and money to use where they/it could be most,Afghanistan, other crises at home and abroad and humanitarian relief

Why do you think voters should vote for Obama/Biden, what differentiates this ticket from McCain/Palin?
Based on my comments above, I think that one of the main differences apparent to me is integrity in the campaigning process. My thoughts echo those of Colin Powell today, as he grieved what has happened in the Republican campaign, and endorsed Barack Obama for President.

I think that Obama has a unique ability to communicate well and to motivate people, as evidenced from the tremendous grass-roots efforts of his campaign and the incentives for service offered in his education and economic plans. Americans have been apathetic for so long and I see this man as someone who can rally citizens to serve in their communities, to engage in the political process and to personally make a difference. I think that by motivating Americans to think of their neighbor actually has the potential to lesson the need of government as the people serve one another.

I am impressed with Obama's attitude toward diplomacy with foreign nations and his desire to restore our standing in the global community by strengthening our relationships with our allies. I think the president should get his hands dirty hammering out problems with other nations...talking! Of course, hard work must also be done before these meetings and preliminary argreements made, but I feel the president needs to be a part of talking through solutions, even face to face.

Tying in with national security, I think that energy independence for the United States is imperative. We have less than 2% of the world's oil reserve and use more than 25% of the world's oil, so drilling alone is not a permanent solution. I know that McCain has supported alternative energy sources, but it is my understanding that these sources would only be secondary to drilling. Obama does support offshore drilling, in combination with other alternative energy sources that would be able to sustain our nation for the long haul.

I think that Obama's medical plan makes sense. As someone whose family purchases their own insurance at a very high monthly premium, I understand first hand the value of being able to buy into insurance as part of a larger pool. His health plan has been accused of being "government run" healthcare, but all it truly does is provide a way for Americans to purchase health insurance if they otherwise couldn't afford it.

In contrast, McCain's plan will provide as a $5,000 tax credit that for my family, wouldn't even cover our deductible, not to mention the additional taxes we would incur that he uses to pay for this plan.

Taxes seem to be the other major difference between these two candidates. They represent some fundamental views about life and government that seem to define the differences in our nation's two political parties. McCain is proposing tax cuts, but only for the wealthy and for corporations,depending on the trickle-down effect of prosperity to strengthen the nation as a whole.
The increases Obama proposes are for Americans that earn more than 250K each year. Let's put that in perpective...if you make even 100K a year, thats $10,000 a month! 200K? $20,000 a month! At the risk of sounding socialist,if you are making that much each month, you can afford to pay taxes. You might not like to pay taxes, I certainly don't...but you can afford it. Families making 40-50K a year can barely afford to pay their mortages, feed their children, pay their utilities and save for college! And it is those making 40-50K a year that are presently paying 50-60% of our nation's taxes.

I am grieved by the fact that Americans are currently living big-booty lifestyles that they can't afford...we want to get rich and then hoard all we accumulate. I think this is part of the mess of having sinful natures.I'll be the first to admit that I am fallen and I am often discontent and wanting more.

I have spent extended time in third world countries and I am brought to tears by my memories of children without anything to eat...or any resources whatsoever. How did we become so gluttonous? How hve we become so separated from suffering? How have we become complacent about the hungry, the hurting? I am jived about a country that displays its values by defending the meek and the poor at home and abroad and whose wealthy citizens are honored by their responsibility to do this. The principle of tithing is very similar to what Obama pay taxes in proportion to what you me this seems pretty fair. I recognize that there are some Americans who make generous personal contributions that support the poor and our economy. I am concerned about how they will be able to continue their benevolent work, but I also know that they don't respresent the majority.

If McCain/Palin wins this election, where do you see our country going in the next four years?
I see our country continuing to stretch beyond its means, both with our troops and with our dollar. I see a potential for hodge-podge economic solutions that will continue to put a strain on the majority of Americans. I see tax relief continuing to benefit only the wealthiest of Americans and corporate interests.

Economically,where do you think this country is right now, and how do you think Obama/Biden can make positive impact?
Obviously, we are encountering an economic crises in proportions we haven't seen since the great depression. I think that Barack Obama has a strong sense of what Americans are encountering and an economic plan that can strengthen the dollar by reducing our government spending line by line and pursuing viabe alternative energy.

In the past 8 years, how do you think this country has changed under the Bush regime? Have you been affected by these changes? If so, in what way?
I think that Americans are cynical about government and have lost trust in national leadership. I think that the dishonesty that went into the beginning of the war in Iraq has also hurt our global repuation. The lifting of regulations on Wall Street have devistated our economy, effecting all Americans. After 9/11, we have also seen the possibilities of Americans coming together in spirit, nuturing those in need in our communities and supporting our troops fiercly. I want to see more of this!

I have read that Palin is considered the new voice of feminism, which is offensive in my opinion-of equal concern are her views on abortion and the removal of books from libraries. I'd like to know what you think about all that and how you feel about McCain choosing Palin as his running mate and what kind of message you think this sends to women?
I certainly don't classify myself as a feminist and I am guessing that many of my views would be offensive to women who identify with feminism. I am passionately pro-life, but I am passionate about ALL life. I think that being pro-choice and being for captial punishment are equally dangerous. I think that those who are pro-life need to consider how to love on mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy and also be willing to care for those orphans!I think we need to start living a pro-life position.
I also think that christians have been polarized by this issue for far too long, not taking into account a host of other important factors when choosing who to vote for. Although Obama is pro-choice and McCain is not, in this case, both candidates have said that they hate abortion and want to help reduce the number of abortions. Obama and McCain have made statements defending Roe vs.Wade because of the way the law deals with privacy rights between doctors and patients.

I agree with my friend Dawn, that Palin's removal of books from libraries shows that she is ignorant of the workings of the U.S. Constitution, a trait that was also visible in her debate with Joe Biden when she described her ideas about the role of the vice-president presiding over the U.S. Senate, a role that has no constitutional provision.
I also confer with Dawn in my belief that McCain's choice of Sarah Palin was a gimmick, intended to stir up attention for his campaign in the press by adding a relative unknown to his ticket and as a move to garner the support of women voters and the Republican base. The only message I think this sends to women is that McCain underestimates our ability to judge a candidate based on credenitals and thinks we can be wooed to vote simply because of like-gender.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Oh, Anne (with an "e")!

For those of you who know my oldest well, you know that she is a planner. She has a to-do list notebook by her bed that she writes on each evening and checks off throughout the next day, she organizes drawers and closests with great joy and she loves to plan a party! About two months ago she told Josh and I that she wanted to have a bookclub for her girlfriends and her fist choice for a good read: "Anne of Green Gables."

We jumped on board right away, and were thrilled to encourage her creativity, drive to put something together and her hospitality. We created study guides for our friends, made fun ivitations and set a date for a fancy tea luncheon. Halle came up with the menu, cooked, set the table and welcomed her guests with a giant smile. It was such a lovely time to kick off their reading of this girly classic!

This month we will be hosting a movie party to see our girl Anne in action. Halle can hardly wait and I am already stocking up on popcorn.

Halle poses for mom and dad before her guests arrive...

Here I am reading part of chapter one to a raptured audience...not a peep out of these girls!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Forever Friends

We are so blessed to have so many people in our lives that have had a substantial impact on us, on the way we love and live and dream about life...on the way we see God and ourselves and eachother. We happen to think community is pretty special.

Some of our best friends, the Archers, travelled with us to the beach this summer. We met Jamie and Jewel when we (and they!) were still dating. We dreamed of our futures and our weddings together and stood with one another as we said our vows. We found out we were having our first babies just 6 weeks apart, halfway through the first year of our marriages and now we have eight children between us! We have loved being together whenever we have had the chance. We live about 300 miles from the Archers now, but when our families are together there is a bit of a spark...I think its like time just stops and even if its been a year since we've been together, its just like it always was.

Our kids love each other and I can't get enough of their gigges when they are with their friends that they have just "always had." Its a special anchor in their lives. I appreciate that they feel a sense of belonging when our families connect and I see how strings like this, and those we forge in our extended family are so vital to the richness of our family and to their identity. Looking at the pictures from our time together is a reminder of this for me and a wonderfully shameless way for me to post vacation pictures! Love you Archers!

P.S. Sorry there are no pictures of baby Lael or baby Paisley...they sleep lots :)

Halle and Kade Enjoy the Shore
Beach Picnic
Trying to Wrangle the Older Six for a Picture with the Mamas...Kristen and the Kill Kids, Jewel and Kade, Gracie and Jaida
Halle, Maia and Jones Await the Arrival of Their Friends
Kade and Halle
Jones thinks Kade is prety funny...
Grace Bjorn
Jamie and Jewel Spotted at Captain Coffee...Yes, she is holding a pop gun...