Monday, June 30, 2008

I Can't Stop Now...

But this is it for today. I promise.

More Fun

(Did I mention it was not exactly warm outside?)

A Little Leif

A Little More

Just the Beginning

I'm still playing around with some of the photos, but this is the beginning of our afternoon at the beach.

We wanted to escape the heat, and I suppose we succeeded. It was 60 degrees (maybe), breezy, and fogged in on the Oregon coast yesterday.

No afternoon at the beach can be properly begun without dinner at our favorite restaurant. The waitress fell in love with the boys and let them help her feed a whole basket of bread to the birds out the window. She called the birds by name. Apparently, they are regulars!

Massive bridge construction is going on at the entrance to our usual beach. We had to walk through a dark tunnel (to keep things from falling on our heads?) to reach the sand.

I packed swim shorts and tank tops. It is a good thing I thought to throw in sweatshirts at the last minute.
The boys don't let a little cool weather stop them, though, and they had an absolute blast!
More later today...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sneak Peak


Levi's good friend, McKinnon, turned six yesterday with a dinosaur party!

We partied at the A.C. Gilbert Children's Museum. A.C. Gilbert was the creator of the Erector Set. His uncle's Victorian home is the setting for the children's museum.

The party was housed next to the dinosaur exhibit.
And, of course, the model train. Luke's favorite.
The girls began putting together a large dinosaur model.
It quickly became an all-party-goer affair.
After the kids spent some time in a dinosaur class, we braved the 100 degree weather for some outside fun.
The museum sports a large outdoor play area.
When the heat became too much to bear, we headed back inside for more exhibits. Luke loves the bubble room.

We spent the evening at McKinnon's grandparents' house for a BBQ. A massive squirt gun fight broke out and I wasn't brave enough to take my Nikon into the fray. There were some awfully large 'kids' participating.

The beach is our destination today as we attempt to escape the heat...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Visiting China

Maples in the Mist: Children's Poems from the Tang Dynasty is a lovely way to introduce children to the poetry of China. Each page holds a poem, a dreamy illustration, and Chinese characters. A section at the back of the book tells a bit about each of the poets.

Little Pine
My little pine tree is just a few feet tall.
It doesn't even have a trunk yet.
I keep measuring myself against it
But the more I watch it, the slower it grows.
~Wang Jian

The Magic Horse of Han Gan tells a legendary account of the ancient Chinese artist, Han Gan, who painted horses on silk in the ninth century. Beautiful!

Also reading Welcome to China (DK Reader), watching the Schlessinger Countries Around the World: China DVD, and adding landmarks of China to our Around the World cards.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Grace and Gaskell

Two months ago, my book club read What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey. I read very few books with a distinctly 'Christian' label and had, for some reason, a tough time sitting down to begin this one. That struggle ended with the first few pages. I read what seemed non-stop for a few days, unable to put it down. I was surprised, challenged, encouraged, distressed, and convicted.

This is a book every Christian and non-Christian should read, and I will be eternally grateful for the wonderful book club member who recommended it. I have felt a mighty shift in my perception and attitude towards myself and others. A number Christians have the notion that 'We're righteous and they are sinners.' Many non-Christians have the notion that 'We're all good. It's all good.' Philip Yancey sums up grace by saying 'We're all bastards, but God loves us anyway.'

It was completely a God thing that I randomly chose to place Ruth on the schedule the month following What's So Amazing About Grace, having not read either.

Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell embodies the ideas and questions so beautifully presented in What's So Amazing About Grace?, but in story form that engaged me emotionally in a way that I have not felt in a very long time. I read through many passages with tears streaming down my face. Gaskell created a variety of characters who, sometimes whispering--sometimes shouting, were the voices of grace and 'ungrace.'

pg. 119

In the Bensons' house there was the same unconsciousness of individual merit, the same absence of introspection and analysis of motive, as there had been in her mother; but it seemed that their lives were pure and good, not merely from a lovely and beautiful nature, but from some law, the obedience to which was, of itself, harmonious peace, and which governed them almost implicitly, and with as little questioning on their part, as the glorious stars which haste not, rest not, in their eternal obedience. This household had many failings: they were but human, and, with all their loving desire to bring their lives into harmony with the will of God, they often erred and fell short; but, somehow, the very errors and faults of one individual served to call out higher excellencies in another, and so they re-acted upon each other, and the result of short discords was exceeding harmony and peace...[I]f Mr. Benson did sometimes, in hours of sick incapacity for exertion, turn inwards, it was to cry aloud with almost morbid despair, 'God be merciful to me a sinner!' But he strove to leave his life in the hands of God, and to forget himself.

pg. 170

Miss Benson piqued herself upon being less carried away by her love for this child than any one else in the house; she talked severely, and had capital theories; but her severity ended in talk, and her theories would not work. However, she read several books on education, knitting socks for Leonard all the while; and, upon the whole, I think, the hands were more usefully employed than the head, and the good honest heart better than either.

There were moments of dry humor, romance, despair, and hope. The ending was tragic and beautiful.

Gaskell's writing is superb. Not being a literary critic myself, I wonder why Gaskell hasn't enjoyed posthumous popularity and success equal to her contemporary, Jane Austen. Apparently I am not the only one who thinks that Elizabeth Gaskell is a swirling blend of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. She captures the romantic conflicts of Austen and cries out in Dickens fashion against the injustices of the time.

A few years ago we read Wives and Daughters (also in a terrific film version). I enjoyed the book until the very end when, tragically, the author dies before completing the book (something I was completely unprepared for), and the editor speculates on the ending, quickly wrapping things up in a neat little package. I was devastated and longed for the emotional closure of a perfectly ended romance story.

We then read North and South last year, which was already a favorite in film version--one of my most favorite movies of all time--and I ran out of hours in the day, unable to complete my reading before the book club meeting. The writing was first class, but it is hard for me to read a book after being so familiar with the story through a movie, especially a excellent and lengthy movie version, and so the book was put aside for a rainy day.After reading Ruth, though, I am inspired anew to read North and South from beginning to end so that I might savor Gaskell's prose and add the book to my 50 favorite novels (which list I've been working on since December and have not yet posted).

Cranford is currently on my DVR, waiting to be viewed. I think I will bump it up on the priority list accordingly!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Friends!

We have new friends! Bella Art Girl and Travelin' Nan came to visit. They contacted me a short while ago wanting to know if I would be interested in meeting. After spending time reading each other's blogs, we felt like old friends and didn't stop chatting for hours. I'm sure we could have kept it up for much longer, but two little ones needed naps.

Travelin' Nan brought her son, Evander. Levi and he took off playing. Bella Art Girl brought her two adorable daughters, Lily (above) and Wilder. It doesn't get much cuter than this:

I am used to rough and tumble boys dressed in blues and greens. I felt like I had entered fairy land. Wilder is like cotton candy. The tiniest piece of beautiful pink fluff.
My boys were enthralled. Leif looked like a sumo wrestler next to her. Hard to believe he is only 4 months older! I don't know that they have ever seen a pink tutu before. Fascinating. Boy clothes are so boring.
We had a lovely picnic and talked homeschooling, decorating, blogging, Poet's Garden, photography, and family. Bella Art Girl threatened to post all her 'unedited' photos of myself and the house. We laughed about all the things around here you've never seen in pictures... Her blog will probably shout 'Mt. Hope ~ Exposed!'

Ladies (and kids!)~ Thank you for the wonderful visit. I'm so glad you came. We'll have to do it again soon.

The Grass is Gone

It is grass cutting time. Sigh. Russ appreciates any excuse to run heavy machinery. The boys appreciate any excuse to ride with Dad. Last year, Levi told us he would not forgive us for having the grass cut. I wondered what he would think this year.

It turns out that cut grass holds scope for the imagination almost as much as tall grass. The empty box shows up again, this time as a nest filled with straw:

Or for building blocks of grass (when you don't happen to have sand around for a sand castle):

I love relaxing outside at sunset. It is the boys' favorite time to play.
Twilight isn't bad either. Particularly when Dad is helping construct a huge grass nest:

An open box makes a wonderful tunnel or nest escape hatch. Hatch. Hmmm.
Stay tuned for next time when we build a tree fort using only recycled paper bags and twine. Just teasing.