Birthday Party

You know, I had a whole post typed out and ready to go for Silje’s birthday yesterday. All it needed was some pictures. The day turned out a bit different than what I expected, so I never got to press the publish button.

I woke up in the morning with pain shooting all across my back. I was pretty sure it had to do with how I had slept, and not the pregnancy. I’m about at 15 weeks now, so most of the fatigue and nausea has passed, but I was feeling pretty nauseous as well.

Knut wanted to give Silje her present first thing in the morning. So before work, he brought it in to show her and she was just so excited! She doesn’t know how to ride yet, but has been practicing a lot in the evenings with Knut on David’s bike, and was just asking the night before if she could have a bike of her own. So needless to say, this went over very well!!

Knut headed off to work, but I found the back pain preventing me from getting most things ready that morning. I can’t take Advil since I’m pregnant, but I’ve found that Tylenol rapid release has a similar effect on me with other things. (Tylenol rarely works with me, but I found this one kind will actually helps with headaches!) However, Tylenol rapid release was doing nothing for my back, and after an hour I did what any self-respecting mother would do: I put the kids in front of the t.v. and took a warm bath to try to soothe my back.

My back did feel better. However, I think the back pain was distracting me from the nausea, and when my back was soothed, I found myself running to a bucket where I spent the next 2 hours being sick. First time this pregnancy…in the second trimester of all things!

I called Knut mid morning, not knowing what to do. I didn’t know how long I’d be feeling like this, but I needed to take care of the kids and get ready for Silje’s pajama party, but even simple things like walking upright seemed tough. I hesitated canceling the party, because I knew I wasn’t “sick” sick, but “pregnant” sick. However, I had no idea how I’d be doing later in the day, and I needed some help.

So Knut came home at lunch and stayed home the rest of the day to help. I don’t think the party would have gone on if he hadn’t! Around 1 or 2 I started feeling more like myself again, and got the cake decorated, and got around to setting up the party and cleaning up here and there, though not to the extent I had originally intended!


Silje had a “Hello Kitty” pajama party this year.


Her girlfriends came over in their p.j.s and there was much giggling and running and having fun!


Elias is old enough to get the point of opening up presents, and was really excited for this part!


Knut and I put up a huge “sheet tent” in the basement for the girls to play under, and Silje had one friend sleep over and they got to sleep inside the tent. Everyone liked it! Especially David and Elias too! David wasn’t allowed to sleep downstairs with the girls, but Knut let him sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor in his room, and he settled for that.

Happy Birthday, Silje! I’m sorry this didn’t get posted yesterday on your birthday! I can’t believe you’re already 6 years old. Other days I can’t believe you’re only 6 years old because you are one of those people with wisdom far beyond your years. It seems only yesterday you were a chubby, bald baby sitting in my lap. Now you are a beautiful girl, with compassion for others that blows me away, intelligence that keeps us on our toes, and I don’t know how our family would function without you. We love you so much!

Work and Sabbath

Before I start typing away at this blog post, I want to thank those who have been keeping my grandpa in your prayers. He’s been moved out of the hospital and into a nursing home, for occupational therapy. Since Grandma and some others worry that the move was a bit soon, my family down there is still trying to have someone with him 24/7, which I think is a blessing to him.

He was able to walk a few steps with a walker and spotters, which is huge! Still, his perception is not fully regained, and he cannot chew his food or drink liquids, and the left side of his body is still not working properly. (My mom was saying they put some powder in his morning coffee to “gel” it so he can swallow it, because liquids are too fast for his current swallowing reflex.) He keeps wanting to go home, which is now next door to his nursing home, but I’m sure being so close many of his friends will be able to visit him. I thank God so much for his vast improvements, though, and so many people who love him who are praying for him.

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Knut and I love to listen to sermons. Whether it’s on the ipod or radio, or a c.d. we put in, we are, I suppose, turning into old people in our love of listing to sermons. I think for me the love started in Bible school. I was fortunate enough to hear some of the greatest preachers of our time on a daily basis there, and would often go to the back of the chapel and purchase the sermon I just heard so I could play it again in my dorm room. One from back then that I still listen to is a sermon on Hosea given by a big black preacher on God’s redeeming love. it brings me to tears every time I hear it.

Knut loves to listen to sermons on the radio, as he often will spend his day either in the semi-truck or tractor and the sermons enrich his day. We’ve found that listening to sermons is more and more necessary as we have children. You see, sometimes, when you have 3 children crawling over you during church, it’s difficult to hear a sermon in its completion.

Our small church doesn’t have a children’s church, and to be honest, if they did we probably wouldn’t use it. I don’t think there’s a single thing wrong with having or using a children’s church, it’s just a matter of our preference. We have a system down that has worked so far with us. However, listening to the entirety of sermons is something we often miss in church, and so we try to supplement that teaching through the week.

Although, I think it was easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking “what’s the point of going to church?” and it still is. One of my favorite parts of going to church is being with the people, and talking to the people after the service. I used to feel very bad about this. How awful to go to worship God, but in all reality look forward to seeing someone, or some people.

I don’t feel bad admitting anymore that I go to the church to see people. I love the worship too, and I don’t think one is in competition with the other. You see, I no longer think of going to church to visit God. God is in my heart and with me always. I don’t visit him on Sundays, I visit others with God in their hearts, and the presence of God in each of us accumulates to this amazing experience of worship where God is so evident that our hearts are lifted and encouraged. The songs, the teaching, and the talking afterward, are all exercises in making the God in our hearts more evident in our lives. As Scripture says “When 2 or 3 gather together in my name, I am there with them.” Sorry, that’s from memory and that is not always the most accurate!

Knut came home from work the other day and said he heard the best sermon that day on the Sabbath. I don’t know if I’d ever heard a sermon on the Sabbath, and was actually intending to to a Bible study on it because it’s a Biblical concept I don’t feel I have a firm grasp on. He just went on and on about it, and got me so excited that we decided on a whim to order the whole series of sermons this pastor had done on the 10 commandments. Each sermon deals with a struggle in our lives that one of the 10 commandments directly addresses. This sermon is his sermon on our struggle with time.

For those who wonder what series I’m talking about, you can click here.

As for myself, I think out of all of the 10 commandments, the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy is the one I understand the least. I know that Knut never works on Sunday, and we are so blessed for that. However, we still feel like there is too much to do, there is not enough time, and we too often feel ragged. The principle of the Sabbath is following God’s pattern laid out for us with the proper balance of work and rest. It’s almost like God’s handbook for our bodies that he designed. Things addressed in the sermon is so vast, and so applicable! From manual laborers, executives, stay at home moms, the retired, and those who are unemployed, God has a work plan and rest plan laid out.

The pastor (Colin Smith) talks about the dignity of work, taking time to enjoy when work is complete, instead of just feeling more exhausted at the thought of work still left to be done (something we struggle with in our house.) How often do we finish the chores of one day, and instead of going to bed with the sense of accomplishment for the day, we either feel we did not get enough done, or we are overwhelmed with the work of the next day, which consumes our thoughts as we try to sleep.

Pastor Smith brings up that God created a model of work for us in creation. God made the world in 6 days. Have we ever thought why didn’t he just do it in an instant? Why on earth did it take him 6 days? He is God, you know. It’s because he was modeling for us how we should work. When God created something, he saw that it was good. he didn’t after the sun had set, think to himself, “Well, I’ve finished separating the land and water, but I haven’t even begun to make animals yet…O there’s so much to do!” No, he stopped, and said his work was good, and began the next job the next day.

We tend to get distracted from our work so easily, and then are so upset with ourselves at the end of the day that our work went unfinished, and then our rest at night and on the Sabbath has no joy. He suggests we ask ourselves on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to write down what it is that we need to do that day/week/month/year to fulfill the calling God has given us. If we are still alive, God still has called us to work on this earth.

I love how he talks about how keeping the Sabbath holy is a community operation. The Sabbath is rest from your work, and sometimes requires that someone else takes your work for that day. This is the very reason I try not to schedule mothers of babies in our church nursery. There has to be a way to get those mothers rest while that work may not be “work” but be a “rest” for others in the church. That is one of my examples of what he was trying to say in the sermon. If everyone in our community is to have a Sabbath, we must serve one another this way.

The Sabbath is not a list of can and cannots on a particular day, but a day of rest and joy followed by a week of hard work. The joy is not there without the work, and the rest sometimes requires the presence of a community. In our “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” society, it’s easy to forget that God created us for community. It is not good for us to be alone, and in my opinion, nothing exhausts someone faster than the feeling of loneliness. I think if you run across someone who is exhausted, that person is lonely. Maybe she’s a single mom covered with children and works with people all day, but has no spouse, no family to rely on. She needs someone to share her burden. Someone to routinely give her a Sabbath. We are to be a people of God, not a person of God. A people set apart.

Well, I won’t give you the whole sermon here, because I’ve only heard it once, and I just wanted to share the tidbits that are still floating around in my head. I’d encourage all of you to listen to the sermon that I linked above, because it is so good! Who in this day in age doesn’t struggle with time in some way! For now, I’m going to pop it in the c.d. player one more time and listen to it while I do some dishes and get lunch set up. The day isn’t over yet.

On My Refrigerator

Last year in my birthday card from my grandparents was this picture. It’s been on my fridge since then.
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On the back, in my grandpa’s highly distinguishable elegant handwriting is written:
“July – 1989 – Denver
Grandpa and Gretchen;
All packed up and ready to go to the ranch in Oregon and set things up for a family vacation.”

Grandma and Grandpa were actually leaving Denver (this was in front of our house) to go to my Grandpa’s ranch. I didn’t go until it was ready for our camping trip/vacation up there.

It’s 1989…ya think? I don’t even know if you can tell how “80s” my outfit is. My grandpa has a way of making each of us grandkids feel like we were his favorite. Only I know it was true.

I think my favorite birthday card was back when my grandma still had her eyesight. They are so different! Grandpa is poetic and romantic. Grandma is so matter of fact and to the point. In this particular birthday card, Grandpa’s writing with his signature fountain pen took up the whole blank side of the card…quoting verses he thought of when he thinks of me…telling me how much they pray for me…telling me how much they’re proud of me. Then in small delicate handwriting, in whatever space was left, Grandma wrote: “You know I love you. -Grandma” It always makes me laugh because I can see her eyes rolling after reading Grandpa’s and them laughing together.

My grandpa suffered a stroke on Knut’s birthday…last Thursday. He woke up to go to the bathroom and found his legs didn’t work. He woke up Grandma, and she called the nurse at their assisted living apartment, and the nurse called 911. Grandpa was transferred to a ICU.

He did not get a clot in his brain as we traditionally think of when we hear the word “stroke” but his brain is bleeding. I’m told through family that the good news is this type of stroke can often have a full recovery. The bad news is there isn’t an awful lot they can do besides wait for the bleeding to stop on it’s own. After my mom visited them today, I’m told that his brain has not stopped bleeding, and the brain scans yesterday showed something like 12 segments of the brain bleeding and today the brain scans showed something like 15 segments of the brain bleeding…whatever that means.

The day of the stoke his speech was slower, his legs and the left side of his body didn’t work so well, but he was in good spirits. Today he was moved out of ICU and into a regular hospital room as long as a family member was with him 24/7, which has been arranged. He seemed a bit more disoriented and kept asking to go home, or to go to the bathroom, which of course, he couldn’t do either. He tried to get up on his own, which forced the hospital staff to tie him to the bed. This, I’m told is frustrating him to no end. This is not good, because the frustration can increase his blood pressure and increased blood pressure can mean increased bleeding.

The hope is that the bleeding will stop, and Grandpa can move into the nursing home next to their assisted living apartment for occupational therapy. I don’t think they’ll move him though, until his brain is more stable.

My grandpa is so precious to me. When my parents divorced, my grandparents moved in and helped out my mom while she went back to work and back to college. I’ll never forget those 2 years. Then, when my family moved and we didn’t go to a Lutheran Brethren church in Phoenix, my mom still wanted me to study confirmation. So many many weekends throughout jr. high I spent at my grandparent’s house, studying theology with my grandpa one on one. I could talk to him about anything–nothing was ever off the table. He’s a retired LB pastor and missionary, church planting both in Japan and stateside. He officiated over Knut and my wedding. We named our son David after him.

So I guess I’m asking for continued prayer for him as he’s in the hospital. Pray the bleeding will stop, and that he can regain some orientation of what is going on. Pray that he’ll become stable enough…down the road, to move closer to Grandma. Pray for my Grandma too. My mom says this is all starting to sink in with her, and it’s hard. Grandpa turned 87 last week. It’s so very hard to live apart from my family at times like this.

It’s all In

First, some housekeeping. Knut and Silje had their family party last night with all of the grandparents and great-grandparents and siblings. It was fun as always! I just so barely had enough cheesecake, so something to expand on next year. I’m glad I made cupcakes too or I would have been in trouble!

The kids finished up VBS today with their AWESOME program, and sadly…I left my camera at home. This picture was from the first day. We did get the c.d. of VBS music on it to take home, though, so if we’re lucky maybe the kids will re-enact it sometime.

However, the most exciting thing going on at our house has been the last of the homeschool curriculums are here! It’s all in!

From our first impressions:
Chinese…haven’t popped it in the computer yet. So no big impression 😉

Apologia Science “Exploring Creation Through Astronomy” —

Seems pretty good for the age level we’re dealing with, and none of the projects seem to difficult. Silje and David have both “stolen” this book off of the shelf and ran to another room and hid with it so that they could look at all the pictures in it. There are some great ones! David has now made a big announcement that he will no longer be a race car driver when he grows up. He now wants to be an astronaut. For him, that’s a pretty big change! He was surprised that this was a book for Silje’s school next year because “this is a boyish book!” Silje doesn’t seem to think so, but I think we won’t need to do an awful lot of convincing to get him involved in our science lessons next year.

Shurley English–

I made the mistake of opening up the student workbook before the teacher’s manual, and got totally freaked out. It looked so hard that my jaw dropped and said to myself “what have I done? Silje’s advanced but not advanced enough for THIS!!!” Fortunately, I got to the teacher’s manual, and spent an entire evening reading through the first 10 weeks of lessons. Much to my relief, I think it will be as awesome as I originally thought it would. It is deep grammar stuff, but it’s presented through arts and crafts, and imaginative stories and songs and raps. Silje is going to love it.

However, they could put a little more effort into organizing the children’s workbook, and dare I say, put something fun looking in it? I mean when I was in Advanced Grammar in college at least my teacher gave us a dragon mascot to cheer on when things got boring. I mean, there’s not a cartoon, doodle, nothing. Not only that, but the word finds in there don’t even look like word finds. It’s like someone put a word find into an excel spreadsheet and printed it off…lines and long rectangle cubes and all. Plus, it’s confusing that you don’t go through the workbook front to back. The first time you crack it open is to turn to page 86 to do an exercise. I just think it’s not organized terribly well, though I do see what they were trying to do.

I’m not sure yet that I would recommend the program yet, though. I think it will be great for Silje because she’s a solid reader. I know not all 1st graders are reading the books she is. This does not have phonics, and assumes that the student has a firm grasp on reading. This makes me want to be sure that David is reading, and reading well before we attempt this program with him in 2 years. If he’s not by then, we may pick something else. He’s already sounding out words though, and this program is 2 years down the road for him.

It does not have spelling either (vocabulary words, but I think those are too difficult to start spelling.) So I’ve found a great teacher’s website with spelling lists, and I think I’ll start Silje on the 2nd grade lists this fall. The first grade lists were primarily 2 letter words with a few 3 letter ones sprinkled in, and I think she’d get bored with that.

What else? Saxon Math–

I have not gone through the huge box of manipulatives out of fear that the kids will get to them and little blocks will be scattered across the house. So for now, they are sealed in their box and will probably stay that way for awhile. I need to get a 3 ring binder for the math workbook, and haven’t dared open it until I have one for her. However, the teacher workbook has each workbook page on a small scale, and goes into extreme detail as far as scripts to use when teaching the math. I think that level 1 was the right one to get for her, and I think she’ll do well in it.

Sonlight Core 1–

As you can see, Silje was eager to jump right in. She grabbed a book on archeology when we opened them up and was telling me all about it already.

This came in a big box! (The other box was the Saxon math from them.) The inside of the box had lines drawn to show how to turn the box into a castle for the kids to play in. Can we say they understand families? Knut and I got a good laugh out of that. The part of the core 1 that we got is divided into 3 sections: History, Read-Alouds, and Readers. It comes with a big wipe-able map to mark whenever we come across a place in one of the books, and a big timeline book with stickers to mark major events in. Core 1 covers creation to the fall of Rome…so quite a span.

I’ve heard from several sources that core 1 can easily cover 2 years of schooling, but after we saw all of the books lined up, we thought “Silje’s going to read through these 4 times this year.” So we’ll have to see how it goes. People said that there’s no way you can do every single thing in the curriculum, and after going through the teacher’s manual, I think it might be easy. No that’s a totally newbie talking, so we’ll see how far we get by the end of the year. My goal for this curriculum is to get at least half way through by the end of the year. Knut’s goal is to make it “make it” to Christmas! The good thing about it is it does give “optional” discussion questions for each chapter of each book, and I think that Silje will really benefit from doing those with us. She tends to speed through books, and we’re pretty sure her comprehension doesn’t always match her reading ability. This will help her slow down and think about what she’s reading more, and help her notice those little details in books.

The books are fabulous. There’s no better word for it. The read alouds look fun, and rotate from girl to boy heroines/heros so that boys and girls enjoy them equally. Even for David there will be things that are “boyish”. The sheer number of cultures talked about and touched on surprises me. When they say “World History” they really mean the whole world! I can tell that this curriculum is supposed to be a jumping point for the kids to do related projects and searches in the library.

We were surprised, though when everything we ordered from a variety of places all fit on one shelf that I cleared off.

Well, more liked shoved everything on that shelf onto the one below, so I’ll need to do a bit more rearranging. Knut took this as a big hint that he’ll need to finish the bookshelves in the den one of these days. I didn’t intend it that way, but I’ll take that as an added bonus.

Now that everything is in I’ve read through at least the first half of the year in each of the teacher’s handbooks, and read at least the back of every book that we’ll read together, and read little snippets of each one. I’m coming up with a list of goals and a list of school supplies for the upcoming school year, and trying to assemble a basic time line. I’m probably doing too much, but this is my first time attempting this, and I don’t want to miss anything. Making these lists and more lists help me sort through my thoughts, and hopefully by this fall I’ll be feeling more confident!