Catching up...

It seems that life is rushing by lately and I'm belated in posting some things, so here's my effort to catch up a bit in documenting it.

*Exactly one week ago today I had the privilege of being present at the birth of my dear friend Amy's fifth child, Justus. Head on over to their family blog to see pictures of their handsome boy!

*This past weekend Mark and I celebrated twelve years of marriage. And- can I just say?- I love this man more and more as each year passes. I am daily thankful for this husband God has given me. In a culture full of faithlessness and divorce, I do not take this man or the strength of our marriage for granted.

*We spent Father's Day with Mark's side of the family at his parents' place near the river.

Mark's dad is the best grandpa to our kids

Isaac making little sand trees with his cousin

Mark, with our oldest and youngest

Me with Audra, chatting with Mark's mom and sister (holding Adelia). Ella and her cousin are in the background.

*This week (and next) we're in the midst of swimming lessons. Ella, Isaac and Isaias are in the pool and Mark and I, each holding a little one, are keeping our eyes on them so as not to miss that brave jump or successful dive or face-into-the-water.

It cracks me up how true to their personalities our children are in this environment. Isaac is not too keen on getting his face wet, and half the time I'm pretty sure he has completely forgotten that he's in class because he's either trying to carry on a conversation with us (as we do our best to ignore him because we'd actually prefer he pay attention to what's going on in his class) or is sort of off in his own little world, having a grand time of it. Isaias is determined to do well, feels like such a big boy and is quite proud of himself for each achievement. Ella is completely focused. At every available opportunity, she is practicing holding her breath or the proper diving position. [Our ottoman has been used as a diving board several times this week. I'm sure you can all guess who has appointed herself "teacher" in her game of let's-play-swimming-lessons! :)]

*Lastly, I'd like to ask you to pray for some dear friends of ours who are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. They are waiting for their little boy, Samuel, who is now 16 months old. They have been waiting for several months and have had nine court dates come and go, and each time have not "passed" court because of various paperwork issues. While we know God is in control, even in these delays, our hearts are heavy for them as we know how much they yearn to bring their son home. Will you join us in praying- even a quick prayer, before you click away?- for favor upon Samuel's file and case? (((Thank you!)))

Rhubarb pound cake

In an effort to use up some of our rhubarb, I've been baking a lot. I tried two different pound cake recipes and morphed the two recipes with my own ideas to come up with this one. It's delicious. So get yourself some rhubarb and make this cake!

Rhubarb Pound Cake


1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

8 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

the zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream

3 cups rhubarb


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. (Don't skip the flouring part, here. This cake is a bit sticky due to the fruit and sour cream, so butter and flour well and you won't have a problem.)

First, slice the rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces until you have 3 cups worth. Place rhubarb into a sauce pan over medium heat. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over the top and cover, stirring frequently. Cook until the rhubarb begins to be softened- you don't want it mushy and saucy, but you do want it soft. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the lemon zest and then the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and then add the flour in two additions, alternating with the sour cream. Stir in the rhubarb.

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean, about 50-55 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack, and then unmold it.

You can glaze this with a mixture of powdered sugar and lemon juice, or eat it as is!

Odds and ends and links

After two failed department store purchases for a swimsuit for Ella this year, I finally conceded to paying a little extra money and buying this one from Lands End. The perks? This swimsuit comes in a slim size and it's modest. I'm glad we bought it.

I think this is the cutest blanket I've ever laid eyes on. [Click on that link and then scroll all the way down to see the finished product.]

I've been itching to make one of these tea towel aprons ever since Cutzi made some.

Also on my list of things to make:
Randi's laundry sack, for the girls' room.

Little match-y dresses for my girls made from this pattern by Sandi Henderson of Portabellopixie.

But since I don't have time to sew all of those things, I'll bookmark those for a later date and choose something even better to do: nurse and cuddle my sweet nearly four-month old Audra (and kiss those smooshy cheeks again and again!), tickle Adelia and giggle at all of her antics, be silly with my boys and encourage them to do right, and pull Ella into my arms just as often as I can before she gets any bigger.

Oh, I am *thankful* for the joy of being mama to these five. I am trying to cherish these moments; these days.

More than you ever wanted to know about our dry erase board

One of my favorite tools for this stage in our homeschooling is our dry erase board. It covers the wall directly behind our kitchen table, and we use it every day, if not several times a day. I happen to be a very visual learner, so usually when I'm explaining something I reach for a pen and paper- or, if it's handier- the dry erase marker.

Some things we've done on the dry erase board:

:: Play hangman!

:: Word lists
For the past few weeks, we've had two running lists on our board:

One list was for palindromes, which are words that read the same in both directions, such as madam, toot, Ava, pop and tot.

Our other list was for homophones, words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, such as:

, etc.

I am amazed at how many times our children, on their own, have added to our lists! They are constantly alert to words that could fit into one of those two lists. Isaias, at 4, even tries- but mostly he comes up with rhyming words ("Billy and silly, mama! Those can go on our list!"), so we're simply going to have to start a new list for rhyming words.

:: Geography quizzes (And this is where Mark comes in handy, since I would never, ever think of this as fun, but somehow he's tricked the kids into thinking this is really exciting stuff.)

:: The Where-Was-it-Made? game (A game that Mark made up but I have just-this-very-second named.)

A few days ago Mark picked something up and noted, aloud- where that particular object was made. Once our children discovered this fun fact (most items list where they are made on them!), they were off- running around, finding things, and asking (Isaac and Isaias) or reading (Ella) where it had come from. Mark began listing the countries on the dry erase board. A world map hangs on the opposite wall, so each time they have added a country, they find it on the map, too.

Other ways we've used our dry erase board:

:: Several times we have drawn a calendar on the board, especially when it's a particularly busy month or we are looking forward to something and want to count down the days (this month: swimming lessons!)

:: When I was pregnant with Audra, each time I read in my pregnancy book that the baby had grown (for example, "your baby is now 5 inches, from head to rump"), I would measure out five inches and draw a baby on the board. We kept sizing it up as the baby grew.

:: The morning after Mark and I had watched a documentary on Darfur, we were discussing it together at the table. The kids wanted to know what we were talking about, so we picked up the marker, and drew it out for them. We wrote up the names of the places involved, drew a map of the area, and showed where the people were fleeing from and to. They were completely intrigued, and still remember what we talked about that morning.

:: We have done math problems, drawn the face of a clock and talked about how to tell time, and colored goofy pictures (Like the morning we were eating muffins for breakfast and I was singing the "Oh, do you know the Muffin Man?" song. Isaac asked if there really WAS a Muffin Man. I replied, "Of course! Haven't you seen this guy?" And I promptly drew a muffin on the board with arms, legs and a face. The kids all still giggle about that silly picture.)

I think my favorite part is that it fully engages us all. We're all talking; adding thoughts, words and drawings. We can all see it and refer to it and use it.

Oh. Mark would like to add that he has also used the dry erase board to write up the NFL playoff bracket, so that -and I quote: "we could all see the glorious road taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Superbowl." Yes, sweetheart. That, too.

Verses 9, 10, 11 & 12!

It dawned on me today that I haven't been recording the verses I've been memorizing, so here they are. It helps to post them here because it's a form of accountability for me.

Also, you stopping by to read my blog and getting to read God's words instead of mine is just way better. [And wouldn't it be just like Him to use the verses I happen to be memorizing to encourage your own spirit?]

Verse 9
The wise in heart are called discerning,
and pleasant words promote instruction.

~Proverbs 16:21

Verse 10
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
~Deuteronomy 7:9

Verses 11 & 12 (for the month of June)
(11)Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

(12)Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

~Psalm 100

Adelia, 15 months

There's my girl, caught in a rare moment of sitting still.

{And could she possibly be any cuter?}