Monday, April 23, 2018

Library Sales

I love library sales. I remember going to them when I was a kid. What could be better than getting books that you want to read at garage sale prices?

My local library had a book sale this week, Thursday through Sunday. I went with Elli, Sophia, Heidi, and Bethany on Thursday and basically let the older three roam the kids section and pick out whatever books they wanted. I ended up with two big paper grocery bags full of books and it was about $20.  Some of my great finds were several R.C. Sproul books (including the Holiness of God), several C. S. Lewis books, a book by Timothy Keller, a brand new copy of The Peacemaker by Ken Sande (Chris is teaching a Sunday School class on this book so I picked it up for him to give out to someone in the class who may want it) and others. They had lots of readers as well, so I got Sophia stocked up on some new books since she was getting worn out with the ones we had. Elli found a book about caring for Cheetahs, Heidi managed to find two Pooh Bear books, and Bethany found a Boynton book. All in all, great finds.

The library sale day on Sunday was a bag sale, all that could fit in a bag for $3... so I went back. Just to check everything over again when I could take a little more time with Chris watching the girls. I found The Reason for God (Keller), a few more Sproul books, a book containing two Bible studies by Bonhoeffer, a biography about D.L. Moody... and several more that I'm not remembering at the moment. Since I had a few in my bag, I decided to try to fill it up. Lots more readers for Sophia, another Pooh Bear book for Heidi, and then I found several classic kids books that I am really excited about (for Sophia in a few years), including a Betsy-Tacy book, Where the Red Fern Grows (to torture me), a Madeleine L'Engle book, several Roald Dahl books... I had a blast.

I will be going to the library book sale every time they have one. Highly Recommend. Five Stars.

Sophia lately has taken to writing out some of her prayers, and songs, in a Precious Moments Bible story book. It's just too sweet. Some pictures below.

Also yesterday, Heidi apparently found my camera, There were about 80 pictures that I deleted (some several more that I kept) of nothing, blurs, the table, Sophia's body (no head pictured)...

And what a contrast for Minnesota from last Sunday to this Sunday. Church was canceled last Sunday due to weather, which I think has maybe happened once or twice in the past almost 10 years. The snow fall was crazy. But then yesterday, it was a beautiful 60 degree day outside. I think they are all happy to see the snow melting (especially since last week Bethany gave Pooh Bear a little bit of a white washing in the snow right in front of Heidi, who was not amused). The girls spent a lot of time outside making mud pies and playing with each other; Heidi finally got the hang of "pumping" down for the swing. I sat outside on the deck and watched them while I was reading my Space Trilogy (C.S. Lewis). Chris, being a good and faithful man, was downstairs painting the room in the basement (we used the paint sprayer; I ended up taping off the ceiling, which involved taping plastic to the edge and then out about a foot or two into the room and taping again so there was a nice border around the ceiling... kind of a pain but the sprayer works so well). That room is now finished with wall repairs and paint; we'll be able to get the ceiling fan in this week and start on tiling too.

We did run into a problem with the drain in our basement; under the laundry sink our drain outside is apparently running very slowly. We may have to call over Roto Rooter to get it fixed soon, and I'm hoping it is nothing too big and expensive. When we saw water all over the laundry room floor I may or may not have been secretly, a tiny bit, hoping it was time to replace the washer. (Not that I want to spend the monies... but... you know.)

This week is the week I travel to Utah with Erica. I am going to be saying "Goodbye" to my Utah, because who knows if I will make it out there again, but I am really looking forward to visiting the old spots and seeing my parents! We leave Wednesday night and are gone for a couple of days, some good daddy-daughter bonding time!

Sophia's song

And prayer, Thanks for Mom and Dad and lakes Amen

Bethany in church on Sunday, sitting in a rocker, reading to a dolly and feeding it her drink

This picture, and the ones below, are a smattering of example of the pictures Heidi took

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Understanding the Holiness of God

I have been confronted more and more recently with the all-encompassing idea of God's holiness, and truly the chasm of difference between God and his creation. I have decided to spend more time focusing on this particular aspect of God, understanding more deeply the richness and fullness of the creator, and how truly as a creature any salvation is not deserved, or a right, but the most radical of gifts.

Two recent events have stuck out in my mind as I consider God's holiness.

One, the ugliness of our sin.

A couple of nights ago, as we were leaving my in-laws house, Bethany was holding a container of hand soap that my mother-in-law had given to us. Knowing that Bethany is now the age and ability where she is perfectly capable of opening a screw-top lid, I removed the soap from her hands before I buckled her in the car. Especially because she is rear-facing, and I am about 100% positive that entire container of soap would have been covering her person and carseat had I let it stay in her hot little hands.

You can imagine that Bethany does not like being told "no." None of us do, really, but for my almost 20-month old Bethany this was an indescribable injustice. She was wrestled into her carseat and on the drive home seemed to forget the soap dilemma.

Until we pulled into the garage, that is. As I approached the carseat to unbuckle Bethany, the sight of me seemed to bring back to mind the terrible oppression of soap removal. She took one look at me, and screamed.

I don't mean like, typical-kid-scream. I mean, ugly, other-worldly, scary-loud, red-faced, vein-sticking-out-of-neck scream. And it went on for like 10 minutes. While I was changing her diaper, putting her in pajamas, she is still screaming at me. I firmly told her no, she was disciplined, didn't matter.

Now, I do know that she was tired. It was after 9 p.m. But still, it was ugly scary. Chris and I were just staring at her, at each other, jaws agape... I suggested exorcism. (JOKING. I WAS JOKING!)

After I finally got her in pajamas, wrestling her angry little self, I grabbed her favorite blanket and kitty lovey, and book, and just rocked and rocked with her in her bedroom. It did not take her long to fall asleep, but I wanted to make sure she was really asleep. Past waking-up-when-she-is-set-down-in-her-crib asleep.

As I sat there in the rocking chair, relieved that she was sleeping and no longer angry with me, I thought how much this ugly sin must look like our sin against a holy God. I mean, it was ugly.  She was angry, and angry because I was protecting her from drinking soap. How often do we get angry at God because we don't get the whole picture? How often do we feel as though we have been oppressed when really God is working in a different way for our good and His glory?

 The other idea is that of my own self-righteousness.

I love to think that I am completely and totally independent, capable, and in control. I can handle things. I've got this. I admit, I am incredibly prideful in this area.

This is a much shorter story, but I was at work preparing a hearing evaluation for a patient. We have stickers that print out at work with the patient's name and other identifying information on them. We attach these stickers to their documents so they can be scanned into the medical record and all of their information can stay together.

On the top of the form, there is a small, rectangular box outline that serves as the placeholder for the sticker.

I had grabbed a patient's stickers, grabbed the form, and I managed to put the sticker in the box, exactly within the lines. Perfect line-up. It was beautiful. It is rare that this happens, usually it's a little crooked or off in some way. Then, when I was patting myself on the back for my perfect sticker placement, I stopped and starting chuckling.

This, this placing a sticker in a box, is an example of my good deeds. "Here, God, I placed a sticker exactly in the lines!" I act as though my good deeds, whatever those may be and however tainted they are by sin, are somehow going to earn me favor or grace to an infinite and holy God. No, they are not. God is infinitely other, infinitely holy, infinitely good beyond what I can understand. His salvation and saving grace is more than I could ever deserve, and to live my life in a way that I can earn back His graces is insulting and truly diminishes the power and beauty of what God has done.

In my pursuit of better understanding God's holiness, there are two books I plan to read. The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges and The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. I would love to have you join me in this venture. I believe I will start reading these books in late May, when I have finished working my way through a current reading list.

(Almost) Done with Kindergarten!

Yesterday was our last day of Classical Conversations for Sophia's kindergarten year. This year flew by. Already, my oldest darling girl is done with Kindergarten. Well, almost. We still have a little bit of reading and phonics curriculum to cover, about 12 lessons, but otherwise she is done.

The last day of class was enjoyable, as were all of the classes, really. The girls finished up the school year by learning the Bill of Rights, and practicing mean, median, and mode with statistics.

During presentation time, the topic was: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Heidi went first between the two girls, and said that she wanted to be a police officer. Specifically, she wants to protect people and animals. We brought up being a K9 officer - she liked the idea of that. It was so sweet to see my bold, brave, and serious 3 year old declaring she wanted to be a cop.

Sophia answered that she wanted to be a missionary. And she doesn't have a specific country in mind but said that she would go everywhere God sends to her. My heart melted. This sweet, loving child. I pray that the desire never changes for her. I pray that she always has a desire to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and that she does so boldly.

Heidi asked Sophia during the question time, "Why do you want to be a missionary?" Sophia answered, "Because I love God." Heidi said, in agreement, "Yeah, I love God, too. That's why I want to be a police officer!"

These girls. I just love them.

Last night was their school-year-ending program. All three of the classes got up and said John 1:1-7 in English and sang it together in Latin. Then each class did a separate presentation. Sophia and Heidi's class did the "Geometry Song" - they sing the formulas for an area of a rectangle, square, triangle, circle, and circumference of a circle. Mrs. Howe presented each of them with an award for their attitudes. Sophia was given the "Kindness" award, and Heidi the "Inquisitive" award. This was in large part because Heidi would almost always ask at the end of somebody's presentation, "Where did you got that?" (The "got" is not a spelling error). It was adorable. Heidi also got to meet a real-life police officer, since that is what Mrs. Howe's husband does.

Hard to believe how quickly this year has come and gone. Just like that, we're done with the bulk of Kindergarten. Just like it seemed it couldn't be here already. I love how much both girls (all three girls!) have grown over the last year, and have truly enjoyed teaching and having such a big part in the education. God is so good, and I desire above all to teach Him and more about His world to the girls through education.

Friday, April 13, 2018

In the Trenches

There are times when motherhood is hard. Really hard. Like, "I don't know if I can make it through this day" hard. And it's true. On my own strength, I can't make it through the day. I would give up. Throw in the towel.

God provides sustaining grace. God gives of it freely. I am so reminded of my need for the gospel in those hard moments. There are new mercies with every hard moment.

Chris left for the Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference Tuesday early morning. He messaged me Tuesday night saying he wasn't feeling well after dinner, and then Wednesday morning he ended up getting sick. He stayed in the hotel room and missed some sessions. We had both assumed food poisoning because it seemed to strike him right after eating dinner. But then...

Heidi got sick on Wednesday night. We had dinner at Sherri's house. Right away I thought it was strange that when I came over to her house after work, Heidi didn't greet me. She just kind of sat in the chair in their front room. Then at the dinner table, she didn't even pretend to touch her food. She laid her head on my leg at the table. I asked her if her tummy was hurting and she paused, thought, and shook her head no. Perhaps acknowledging it makes it harder? I don't know. When we were walking out to the car, Heidi with Sophia, me following behind carrying Bethany, I see Sophia turn around from getting in the car with a deer-in-headlights look in her eyes. "Go get in the car!" I say to her, but then she breaks down bawling, "HEIDI JUST THREW UP!!!" and she runs into Sherri's garage, crying, panicking. She is very much my child. My friend Katie was there with her two little ones, and everyone was outside to see the commotion, poor Heidi just getting sick. I am not sure what Katie said to Sophia, but she calmed her down, Sophia prayed, and then got in the car. Sherri, being an absolute saint and help, cleaned the spot in my car. I tried to get Heidi cleaned as best as I could, and then we went home. Heidi changed into pajamas, I set up the couch and a bucket, and stuffed all the things they were wearing into the washing machine with a little bit of bleach and ran it with hot water.

I got the other girls into bed. Heidi and I were up until 2:30 to 3:00 a.m. with Heidi getting sick with some consistency until it stopped mercifully and allowed to her sleep. Then Bethany woke up at 4:30 with diarrhea and was wide awake. On Thursday I didn't do much of anything, and neither did all three girls. We kind of had a lounging day. I think Sophia was bored. Sherri brought us BRAT diet goodies, again, so very mercifully, because I didn't have any in the house, and Heidi was finally feeling like drinking in the late morning to afternoon. She didn't eat all day yesterday, but I'm confident her body will let her know when she can eat. Oma came by as well, and allowed me to take a nap since I had about an hour and a half of sleep the night before.

I can honestly say that this was one of the hardest days of parenting I have had so far. I felt so weak and ineffectual. And it would have been a lot harder were it not for the blessings of family and friends that God has placed into my life. The girls were well taken care of by friends and family members, and God provided rest and mercy to me.

Oma had Sophia sleep over last night, which I think Sophia needed just to get away and have a break. I moved Bethany back into her own room and she slept, and Heidi wanted to still sleep on the couch. Around 3 a.m. she asked me to come down and sleep on the couch with her, so I did. Later in the morning, around 8, I took the girls to Oma's house and when we were about 2 minutes away Heidi says to me, "Mom, Bethany is throwing up I think. She might be sick like me." Very calm, very matter-of-fact. Had it been Sophia in the car, it would have been apocalypse now. I said, "Well, we are about to Oma's house, so let's get there and see about getting Bethany taken care of and changed there maybe." When we got there, I was happy to see that Beth had not been sick. Heidi doesn't have a great view of her with the headrest on the seat in front of her in the way so she must have just heard something. 

Anyway. I am in the stage of waiting now, where I wonder when it hits me, Bethany, and Sophia. Or perhaps it already did hit Bethany and she started it all, with the diapers she's been having since last week. I don't know. But I do know that were it not for the support that God has given me, and the help He provided, I don't think I would have survived the night on my own strength. I am surrounded by women who are much stronger than I am, and wonderful examples of compassion and love. I thank God for that, and that Heidi is healing, and that Chris is healing. Hopefully we can continue to mend this weekend and get back to 100%!


Well, after dropping off at Oma's house, I was hoping the day of relaxation would prove healing but Heidi's body was not having it. She ended up getting sick again. I had a work scheduled that ended earlier than normal and called my mother-in-law; all I could hear was Heidi crying miserably in the background, like someone who is in terrible agony. I raced home and took her to urgent care. She ended up throwing up both in the car and again at the urgent care place. Now it had been going on for 48 hours, which is just painfully long. They checked her temperature, which was normal, then ran a series of other tests to hopefully find an answer. Strep test was negative (apparently you can have strep without a sore throat, who knew?), X-rays, blood draw, urine sample... trying to figure out why she continue to get sick. All negative (which is good; though it is nice to have "answers).

They did give her Zofran, which immediately improved her disposition. As we were leaving the urgent care she was chatting away happily with me. We first went home and took a bath (as both of us were covered in vomit and diarrhea, not pleasant) and then I grabbed a smoothie for myself (hard to even have an appetite with everything going on) and we went back to Oma's house to spend the night. 

She mercifully slept the whole night; Bethany, however, was up and happy as a clam wanting to play between about midnight and 2:30 a.m. Chris, Pastor, Chris, and Thad were traveling back from T4G and stopped for the night somewhere in Wisconsin.  In the morning, Heidi was keeping fluids down and even had some crackers, the first solid food she had had since Wednesday afternoon. Chris came home in the early afternoon, safe and sound, and we went home to settle in during the great snow storm of mid-April. It seems that she is truly on the mend now. She has eaten meals with the family and is drinking fluids. They said diarrhea from a bug can last up to two weeks, so we'll see if that holds true, and if so we'll have to work on hydration, but otherwise she is much happier and more herself than she was for a lot of last week.

The snow ended up being around 16-18". Our almost snow-free backyard looks like it was transported back in time to January again. Sophia is having her struggles of anxiety; she has a fear of getting sick - we saw this back in February in the aftermath of the cruise - so she is hesitant to be around Heidi and has been nervous, particularly in the evenings, and I think it's because she is afraid of getting sick herself. We have had lots of discussion of Philippians 4:4-8, especially "do not be anxious about anything" and "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever, is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." We will be doing a lot of "truth talking" to her.

I have learned some valuable lessons myself during this time. I am not nearly as independent or self-sufficient as I would like to think or present myself. I am weak. I am easily shaken. I do not have the resources to do all that I need within myself. But my God provides, Jehovah Jireh! He provided ways for me to get rest; tangible, physical needs for food, family and friends to care for my family - especially with the absence of Chris - and most of all, spiritual rest. Confidence that even though I was helpless, and still feel helpless, God had Heidi in His hands. I'm still working on these lessons, and didn't live my faith as strong as I should have, but I reminded myself over and over again that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. My weaknesses are where God shows His strength.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

April Showers Bring May....? Or... Wait, What?

Last week we again had a storm of the century. We've had lots of those this year. Normally they would happen Sunday night into Monday, I'm sure there's some sort of Murphy's Law that explains that, but this year they have been occurring Monday night into Tuesday, and it's because now we are going to CC and it is on Tuesday mornings.

Because it was a guest day and we had already missed a day due to snow, school was held anyway. About half of the class made it so they combined Sophia's class with Elli's class. Elli and Sherri weren't there because Sherri wasn't feeling well after her trip last week to see family in Wisconsin. (Sometimes vacations are harder work than being home is... this isn't necessarily why, but it is my experience. I tend to get run down on or after vacations.) Anyway; Sophia enjoyed spending time with different students, and the class seemed to go really well.

It ended up snowing about 5-7 inches, quite a bit actually, so Chris came home and had to use the snow blower. In April. What? Isn't it March that's "in like a lion, out like a lamb"? I sure hope the out like a lamb part comes true.  And, this weekend is yet another snow-mageddon. MAKE IT STOP.

Because Sherri wasn't well, I took work off on Wednesday (I think perhaps only the second time I've had to do that for illness, it's awful to think of rescheduling) but the girls and I took advantage of the time and after school work, we hit up Crayola Experience (or, in Heidi's works, cra-yo-wa es-peer-enz). Probably my new favorite thing. And the girls. I think we've officially tried everything now, but their favorites are probably the modeling clay area and the indoor playground. And the crayon shapes.

Sophia is doing great in school. She is reading so well; I am going to be done with her reading/phonics material probably by the end of this month, and will probably work on math through the middle of May or so. I have had to picked up additional reading books, which they have back in at Costco, and will probably have to get some more (a good problem to have)!  One week of CC left, too; next week they are having an open house and a small program to show what they have learned. One week left in her Kindergarten year! That absolutely sped by.

The big news for us this week was that on Friday (April 6, 2018, recording for posterity), Sophia lost her first tooth. It has been slightly loose for a while, and over the past week or two it has really loosened up. A few days before she lost it she was complaining about eating ("I should only eat applesauce and pudding!") so on Friday when she was refusing to touch food, I wiggled it to see how loose it was and I could practically have pulled it out myself with very little difficulty. I sent Sophia into the bathroom to try to get it out on her own, and told her she could probably pull it out with little difficulty. I figured there would be less panic if she did it, than if I did it, because of the little bit of blood that usually comes. She was so thrilled. She carried her tooth around all weekend and didn't want us to take it away until she had showed it to friends at church. (She knows we are the tooth fairy, so she didn't have trouble requesting delay).

Heidi panicked for Sophia's sake. "SOOPHIEEE! You don't want big teeth because then you have to get that fing [thing] in your mouth!!" Elli has a spacer in her mouth on her top teeth, and Heidi has no desire to have something like that herself, so she was wondering why Sophia was so excited about adult teeth. Had to explain that that isn't necessarily the case for everyone!

Also in Heidi's world, on Thursday she came up to me at breakfast and said, "Mommy, my tooth hurts." This sent me into full-blown mom-panic mode. When she had her mouth stuff before, like, millions of cavities requiring crowns, she never once complained about her teeth hurting. I took it pretty seriously. We got into the dentist same day, who looked in her mouth, took an X-ray, etc. The tooth that was bothering Heidi was the only one without a previous filling or crown. But, fortunately, there was nothing noted. The dentist thought it was maybe just something she ate that wedged in there and caused momentary discomfort. I'm not so sure - we had waffles for breakfast, hard to imagine them "lodging" in anywhere, but I am glad for the good report. I did ask them to put sealant on that last tooth, which they did, and which poor Heidi freaked out for because she thought they were going to use "pinchers" (the shot for numbing). She JUMPED out of the chair and into my arms faster than I could catch her movements, and I coaxed her back down and convinced her to let them paint her tooth. My poor sweet girl. But she perked up when we were done, after she realized that was it and there was no pain. She picked out some flowers at Trader Joe's to hold onto.

Heidi has a couple of new favorite books. One is, "God Made the Animals" which has an animal mask on each page with eye cutouts, and the other is "Rosie's Walk," about a chicken that accidentally outsmarts a fox. She's loved "reading" these to me at night, when Sophia is doing her reading.

Bethany's new thing is sock puppets, because I showed her that you could put a sock on your hand and make it talk. It's probably contributing to the problem of her never keeping her socks on... She also has started saying "Owww!!!" every time I brush what little hair she has, even though it doesn't hurt, because that is what her sisters say when their hair is brushed. *Sigh*. Bethany has also discovered my collection of little school stickers. I use these to put on Sophia's paper to mark "favorite letters" or say good job, or to mark her reading calendar when she reads. Bethany likes to put them all over her face, and will come up to me, positively beaming, with multiple stickers attached to her face, completely amused with herself. She might also be my pickiest diaper kid. Lately, she will bring me a diaper and/or wipes when she wants to be changed. Sometimes she does this if her diaper just isn't sitting comfortably, which I know because there will be no pee or anything in the diaper. She just wants it changed.

I had jury duty this week and for next week. I ended up getting called in last Friday, so missed work on Monday. I basically sat there for 5-6 hours and read. So that was kind of nice. I was called onto a criminal case, but after the jury was questioned by the defending attorney the defendant decided to forego the right to a just present the case to a judge. I think his attorney encouraged him to do so because about 1/3 of the jury members stated that they thought someone was hiding something if they invoked their 5th amendment rights and didn't testify. This is unfortunate. Anyway, because I didn't serve technically, I am still on call. I have to call back in tonight to see if I go in tomorrow or Friday, and if no, then I have to call back in on Friday to see if I go next week.

This weekend, we moved Bethany into the "big girls" room. She is sleeping in her toddler bed in there. She was absolutely thrilled when she saw me setting up a bed for her and has so far slept well in it. She likes to do all things with her sisters; I figured it would be an easy win. I wanted to keep her in the crib as long as possible, but she did make it almost 4 months longer than Heidi! We moved her because we are using her bedroom as a temporary guest room while the basement is in disrepair. Eric and Erica brought over their air mattress (very cool, and tall!) and slept in there; all the people in one corner of the house. Bob is making amazing progress on the basement - we have a little sanding left to do, and then we'll be all set to paint, and then tile. There is a lot of electrical work that had to be done because the previous owners really almost caused lots of house fires for us. The wiring for the ceiling fan is all set (now it can work with a switch! Yay!) and the closet is finished (they had actually not dry-walled a part of the closet)... I am looking forward to getting it done!

I also finished Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas, on Sunday. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during WWII, and was convicted and put to death because of his role in a conspiracy to kill Hitler. He placed a great emphasis on the role of community in the church, and Christian living. Bonhoeffer was truly an example to be emulated, he believed in Christ's teachings and sacrificially worked to tell them to others, developing disciples all over the world. It is an amazing read, and I highly encourage you to pick it up for yourself.

Pray for Chris if you are reading this this week. He is at a conference in Kentucky, and is not feeling well. He may have food poisoning. I am praying he doesn't miss the whole of the conference, and is back to his normal self really soon here.

Such a cute book

Christopher snow blowing... in April.

Big sister reading to Beth!

Sock puppet

"Look, Mom, a bow and arrow!"

Tooth gone!

Reading "Rosie's Walk" to me

Diaper change, please!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Lent and Easter

It has been a little bit of time since I last wrote; longer than I typically try to go. Which only means that there will be more pictures on this blog post than there normally are.

Not much has changed over the past week. The previous homeowners, either the most recent ones or someone before, once again hit a homerun and created yet another fire hazard with the electrical boxes in the guest room. I am eternally grateful for Bob and his understanding of how this stuff works. Also my whole family is; our house should have probably burned down at least twice now due to their poor installation and unfortunate choices. God is good. Bob has spent today at my house changing out the electric boxes in the basement and ensuring we don't die.  Hoping to get the ceiling fan in soon, and after finishing the wall patches from that and the electric boxes we'll be painting, then tiling the floor.

Last Friday (the 23rd, not the 30th, we're covering a lot of time here), Chris and I went on a date. It was lovely. My in-laws watched all three girls for the night. We went to grown-up night at the zoo (so named because no one under 18 is allowed and they serve alcohol) for about an hour or so, and then to dinner at Andiamo, a great little Italian restaurant in Eagan. We had not had dinner there before last night, but we will be eating there again. It is rare there are such great options at an Italian restaurant, and even better than the food was the staff. Everybody was so kind and attentive. I ordered a dish without sausage and he said, "Ok - we'll just put more pepperoni on there for you!" Prices were great, bread was delicious, I loved it.  There's a reason it's rated #1 in Eagan I guess!

The next morning was Saturday, March 24th. Just over a week before Easter, and the day before Palm Sunday. The 40 Days for Life campaign at the Planned Parenthood does what they call a Jericho March during Holy Week, where at 3 p.m. every day they gather and go around Planned Parenthood and pray together. I was not able to make it to that, but I did go in the morning to part of their 12 hour prayer vigil. They have people praying in front of Planned Parenthood, all day, every day, for all of lent. I was so glad I could be a part of it. I was out there about an hour and a half, in 25 degree weather, and there where people there much longer than I was. Men and women who are so dedicated to stopping abortion that they are out there in the freezing, colder than freezing, weather. One lady came prepared and gave me hand warmers, another gave me her scarf as she was leaving and yet another person gave me a winter hat. It is a loving, dedicated, kind group of people and I am glad to have spent that time with them. I pray that it has lasting consequences. Planned Parenthood had a street sign above their building that they had obviously used advertising dollars for in preparation for the 40 Days for Life Campaign that said, "Planned Parenthood is here for Good." Nice double entendre. I pray that America wakes up.

The following week was a Spring Break week for the Carpenter family, so Sherri went up to see her mother with her girls. It was a break week from Classical Conversations as well. The girls and I still did school work (Sophia, anyway!) but we took some fun time as well. On Tuesday we went to the Crayola Experience in the Mall of America for fun, and then on Thursday we hit the Minnesota Zoo. When we weren't having our family time together, the girls spent time at the VerWay's house; their absolute favorite thing there is Brenda's frog collection, but Heidi also told me that "Mrs. VerWay has Paw Patrol!!" which to her is just amazing and incredibly thrilling. She likes to tell me that she is Chase, the police dog. She could totally be a cop someday.

Bethany had her 18 month pictures taken on Thursday. I am super excited to see how they turn out. She rode her stick pony and we had the Spirit show playing in the background, basically adorable.

And speaking of Bethany, on Saturday I had my first call to Poison Control on her behalf. Her sister had put toothpaste on her toothbrush but left the cap off; Bethany snuck right into the bathroom and saw the tube and immediately put it into her mouth. I don't know how much was in there, not a lot, because I caught it fairly quickly, but enough to turn her tongue blue. I called Poison Control and they advised me that as long as it was less than two tablespoons (wow, that's a lot) she would be okay, at the worst an upset tummy, and that giving her milk would help counteract the effects. Whew!!

We had books and animals in their Easter baskets, and of course, lollipops. In particular, saf-t-pops. Because I figured Bethany would want them, and turns out, she not only wants them, she has managed to wrangle them out of her sister's baskets, causing some conflict. We are working through it. Sophia was pretty excited to get a book about "Pig Bears" (Gund Snuffles), and Heidi's book has cut-outs for eyes and different animal masks, so you can look like different animals ("God Made the Animals," I think). Bethany got a book about Belly Buttons by Boynton, since she loves Boynton books, and her belly button.

Sophia made me my own Easter basket (the thoughtfulness of this girl never ceases to amaze me). She constructed it out of paper and found green Easter grass for it (I still don't know where she found it) and put a mini Three Musketeer bar for me.

Next year, I want to start making a bigger deal out of Easter. Chris and I have been talking about doing a special lent devotion, and then the week of Easter going through the Bible and discussing what Christ was doing on each day.

Homemade salt dough! Later, Sophia stuffed this in her ear to make an "ear plug." *sigh*. Turns out is it pretty soft and hard to remove.

My Easter basket