February 21, 2013


On President's Day we took advantage of Ted's day off to join with other homeschooling families headed to the Greek ruins in Paestum (city named for Poseidon, who, being the god of the sea, obviously helped the Greeks make the crossing to Italy!).  These are the best preserved Greek ruins outside of Greece, and we were eager to explore after hearing so many good things...among others, that this was the place to let the kids run and climb and enjoy!

Well...either the park officials didn't have much else to occupy them, or else the people who told us the kids were allowed to climb around visited on days when there were too many tourists for the officials to hover over, because we ended up with our own personal "vulture" who anxiously followed us from site to site, indicating that the kids were NOT, in fact, to do any climbing.  We still aren't sure if this is because they were simply afraid that someone would get hurt or if they were more concerned about the ruins getting, well, ruined!

At any rate, it was indeed a very cool place to explore.  One of the dads took it upon himself to prepare ahead of time and gave us a wonderful tour, involving the kids in imagining themselves in an ancient Greek city.  It was a sunny day, which was a blessing, as the air was a bit nippy, and rain was expected later in the day, so we managed to plan the tour at the perfect time.

The tour ended with a picnic lunch on the grass next to a ginormous temple built to Poseidon (Neptune), with Chaplain Arreguin leading the kids through some passages of Scripture about God's temple and how now, as believers, WE are the temple.  Very cool!

It took well over an hour and a half to get to the ruins, so it's not someplace we would pop in and out of as easily as we might like--so we were glad for the opportunity to set aside most of a day to visit.  We did hustle home, as our friend Salvatore came for his English lesson/play time with the boys, but we did delay our start time to give us adequate time for the tour.

All in all, the kids seemed to enjoy the excursion as much as we did!  Lucan was really dragging by the time it was over--it was a lot of walking for short little legs!  Ted had Zaden in the backpack, as the trails weren't exactly stroller friendly, and he was also relieved to be able to sit down and relax after it was all over.  A bonus of the long drive was that Ted and I were able to discuss ideas for this year's Commission study as we were driving to Paestum, the result of which was a working outline to send to the director.  Having a framework will make it so much easier when I finally am able to set aside some time to write!  And now I'm extra excited, having just spent the time praying over the ideas and finally putting some things on paper!

February 16, 2013

Caserta Palace

Today we finally had a chance to do a little bit of exploring, our first day trip since early January!  We chose to see the palace in Caserta, about a 45-minute drive from our house.  Apparently everyone agrees: as far as splendor, size, beauty, etc., this is second only to the palace of Versailles as far as European palaces go!  We interested the boys by telling them that a scene from Episode 1 of Star Wars was filmed there...although we didn't actually get to see the location, heh!

Only one wing is available for public viewing, but it was huge enough that we felt more than satisfied with our tour.  Honestly, I can't imagine walking the entire thing, LOL.  It was amazing to see room after palatial room, all with different styles of paintings and decor.  The paintings, particularly on the ceilings, were mostly Baroque/Renaissance style, but some of the portraits especially would have been modern at the time--straight from the pages of our history books!

It was chilly outside, and parts of the palace were quite breezy, also.  We opted to skip touring the gardens this time and come back when it's warmer so we can maybe ride bikes to see the famous waterfall and fountains.  It's definitely a place we would enjoy seeing again!

Lucan and Kenna by a coronation statue

The Royal Staircase

Outside the front entrance; somehow our camera didn't save the wide, sweeping shot Ted took of the whole thing. :-(

Ceiling detail

Rawr!  I think this is my favorite pic from the day.

The palace chapel

Baby cradle!

February 14, 2013


I have so much on my mind and in my heart these days!  I've been wanting to journal some spiritual things God has been leading me through over the past 8 months or so.  But I feel the (self-pressured) expectation to keep up-to-date with our family events, so in order to assuage the guilt, here we go...

13 weeks along.  Feeling reasonably well, aside from utter dismay at the way my uterus has declared a free-for-all.  I look like I did when I was 6 months pregnant with my first few babies!

Finally walking consistently!  (Although he still does an astonishingly fast sideways crawl up on his knees--hilarious.)  Delighted with life; a joy to all.  Callouses on his thumbs from sucking.  Permanent curls in the hair from twisting while sucking thumb.  A-DOR-able.  Loves tickles and even tries to tickle himself while he gets diaper changes, poking his belly and saying what sounds like "tickle" with giggles.

Still no interest in self-motivated potty usage.  Praying this will change before Baby arrives.  Doof dog has  lost about 90% of his stuffing but is still the preferred sleeping buddy.  Plays with Kenna for hours on end; also builds with various toys by himself for hours on end.  Generally an agreeable, happy boy, though he does exert his will, usually at the most inopportune times (i.e. wailing in his car seat during a lengthy car ride).

Waiting on reading lessons paid off!  She is finding much success with Phonics Pathways, reading 3-letter words at this time (C-V-C) and able to write them from dictation exercises.  We both look forward to when she will have the tools to read sentences.  It won't be long now!  Her confidence is growing, and she surprises and delights herself and us by picking out words on signs or "big kid books."  Her dark side has shown itself, as she has proven to be a candy thief and subsequent liar. Prayers for a tender and responsive heart eventually work...the latest progression was as follows:

"Kenna, did you take the candy for my Bible study class?"
1.  Immediate response:  Vigorous denial while rubbing eyes.
2.  Later that day:  Changed the subject.
3.  At night when tucking into bed:  "I'm not ready to tell you yet."
4.  The next day I ask, "Are you ready to confess yet?"  She sweetly replies, "No, not yet."
5.  Finally, days later when she has been grounded from candy, she comes to me and tearfully confesses and asks forgiveness...while informing me that taking away her candy privileges "hurt my feelings and ruined my Valentine's party day."  Giggle!

We had a heart-to-heart talk today when he wrote "I hate school" as part of a LA assignment.  Sigh.  Gentle probing revealed that he doesn't think he's very good at anything.  Praise God for precious moments like this, when He uses me to point out all the ways my tough, tender guy shines.  We pray, hug, and he lets me kiss him on his kissable cheek.  Multiple times.  I don't know how long this permission will last, but I speak words of encouragement and steal hugs and kisses while I can.  The boy is way ahead in math, has made leaps and bounds progress in reading, hunts out books to read on his own that he wouldn't have touched with a 10-foot pole a year ago, and has progressed remarkably noticeably in his piano skills in just 6 weeks of lessons after a 6-month hiatus.  Satan, you may NOT have this young man's heart or mind, and you will NOT speak lies at him!  Father, protect Arden, and remind us as parents to speak truth over him to encourage him in the purpose YOU have for him.

Less enthused about piano than Arden, he still seems to enjoy finishing pieces and looks forward to the spring recital.  His preference is always an activity involving a screen, but Lego building and playtime are still a favorite pastime.  His face is well known at the base library.  I can see a career--or at least a side job--involving performance, as he loves to make up jokes and test them out on us.  He has begun crocheting and inspired Arden to take up the new hobby as well...I now have 3 children lusting after yarn!

Her Bears for Bricks project is drawing to an end as she wraps up the final 7 bears.  I'll have to get an exact count, but I do believe she made (or will have made) well over 40 knitted teddy bears, all with donated time, energy, and supplies!  I hope and pray that those who supported her in the project by requesting one or more bears are able to give generously toward the children's home in Uganda, knowing what a sacrifice this girl has made over the last 4-5 months!  Mostly, we are happy to have had the opportunity to share with others our new connection with Lahash International.  Charis continues to craft and is desperately working to finish a knitted doll with outfits for Kenna's birthday on the 27th and a complete set of 15 crocheted Star Wars figures for Tobin's birthday in April.  (The Star Wars figures may well be making an appearance in a business opportunity for her...but we need to check some things first!)  Charis has also taken up violin and has eagerly added that to her musical repertoire.

Last week Ted changed jobs!  Every few years the NATO nations bid for job positions.  His old job is now filled by a Canadian.  He got moved to a different office and now works for a Turkish colonel, having replaced a Norwegian, with I-can't-remember-what-nationality sergeant working for him.  Somewhere in there is an Italian.  (I can't keep all this straight.)  He may--or may not--attend a training course later in the spring. In the meantime, he's trying his darnedest to figure out what exactly this new job entails, having finally gotten a clue what his old one required!  Additionally, he has been asked to consider taking over as AWANA commander, as the current one is PSCing this summer.  After prayer and discussion, we have decided that this looks to be a role God indeed has in mind for Ted, and he is looking to meet with our chaplain, the current commander, and the youth program leader to plan the next steps.

As for me, the biggest thing going on for me other than usual family/household matters is that I have been privileged to lead one of the Bible study classes for PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) this semester.  It has been so humbling and yet exciting to be part of this!  In fact, this is one of the things I plan to delve more into in subsequent blog posts.  The book we are studying is The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision USA.  I read it last summer, and it sparked a huge flame in me that keeps growing!  So, more on that later...