15 Glimpses of 2015… so far

I know it’s been a long time.  I haven’t written a thing since LAST YEAR!  So here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to in 2015, including a few of the days leading up to it.

1. We celebrated Ti’s B-day with Aebelskivers for breakfast and blueberry cobbler with all the neighbors for dessert.  He and I also went to see Handel’s Messiah together.  Just the two of us.  I was so proud of my handsome date.

Titus turns 11

Titus turns 11

2. All the boys paddled down Alii Drive in their racing outrigger for the Light Parade and won a 2nd place trophy for their efforts.  It was way longer than their usual regattas but I didn’t have to worry about them huli-ing (tipping over) the whole time.

Joel paddling the Keauhou Canoe Club into Light Parade history

Joel paddling the Keauhou Canoe Club into Light Parade history

3. After living in it’s shadow for 3 1/2 years we finally made the hike to the top of Hualalai.  We’d heard rumors of volcanic craters with parrots in them.  No parrots.  But plenty of seemingly bottomless craters to tumble to your death in.

My guys on top of Hualalai with the Kohala coast line behind

My guys on top of Hualalai with the Kohala coast line behind

4. Tom took Nate out for his first night-time snorkel with the manta rays and they were both thrilled to have a friend visiting from Hartland join them for their adventure.  I was just thrilled to have my little boy back safe and sound.

Vince, Nate, and Tom heading out for a night swim with the manta rays

Vince, Nate, and Tom heading out for a night swim with the manta rays

5.  Then came the glorious 2-week visit from Oma and Opa.  You have no idea the thrill it is to have family around.

Opa, Oma, and the stars of the "Grandparents Recital"

Opa, Oma, and the stars of the “Grandparents Recital”

6. The boys’ dear, sweet piano teacher hosted a recital just for the grandparents.  Of course, we had to invite all the neighbors, too.  What a long-suffering crowd we are surrounded by here.

Sam and Linda's duet

Sam and Linda’s duet

6.  Gideon.  He makes every minute an event.  As soon as all his older brothers had finished playing he climbed right up on the piano bench like his name was next in the program and pounded away like he’d been practicing all week.

Gideon's turn

Gideon’s turn

7.  New Year’s Eve in Hawaii.   Every year we walk down to our beach when it gets dark and watch a bunch of old guys light stuff on fire.  Then by 9:00 all our neighbors go to bed but we suffer through another 3 hours playing games until midnight at which time we go outside and light louder stuff on fire in order to wake them all up for the New Year.

Old guys light stuff on fire

Old guys lighting stuff on fire

8. I got my first pedicure.  It was a gift from the dear lady downstairs I help take care of.  A lot of wisdom comes with 90 years and the successful raising of 7 children.  Getting this mama into a day-spa for the first time in her life was certainly evidence of that 🙂

I went in a tired mom and came out a movie star.  The  boys all wanted me to get red but I had to go with pink just to be rebellious.

I went in a tired mom and came out a movie star. The boys all wanted me to get red but I had to go with pink just to be rebellious.

9.  Tom and I celebrated our 16th anniversary by utilizing a sweet Cyber Monday deal at the local Hilton.  This could only happen because Tom’s folks were here.  For 3 days and 2 nights we got to live like the wealthy kid-less crowd.  Except we ate peanut butter sandwiches in our room and talked about our kids a lot.

Living like the other set

Showing off my toes again and a very relaxed husband.  Paradise indeed.

10. After our anniversary trip we gathered everyone up and headed over to Volcano National Park where I got to enjoy some solitary hikes on rain forested trails like this one.

That bench through there clearly had my name on it

That bench through there clearly had my name on it

11. We also had a chance to visit the new lava flow in Pahoa.  This is where it crossed the road and took out a house but skirted neatly around the garage.  Even lava has it’s priorities.

That's the newest rock on Earth folks!

That’s the newest rock on Earth folks!

12.  In the winter we do a lot of whale watching but with the recent epic surf we’ve been doing a lot of wave watching as well.  This particular swell lasted several days and just pounded our coastline.  It was like having constant thunder over head and our condo shook like an earthquake every time the waves hit the shore.  Today all was calm and placid again and the whales and dolphins were back out in force.

"The seas have lifted up their pounding waves" Psalm 93:3

“The seas have lifted up their pounding waves” Psalm 93:3

13. We’re still enjoying our monthly service with the folks at the nursing home and love seeing our boys grow in their own capacity to encourage others.  This time even Gideon made sure to give everyone a cheery personal greeting right before throwing a fit over not being able to accompany the hymn singing on the piano.

Our brothers and sisters at the nursing home

The boys enjoy turning pages for our service at the nursing home and the older ladies enjoy letting them whether they need the help or not 🙂

14. Hockey season is in full swing which means heaps of stinky gear to keep organized.  Congratulations to Dad who helped lead his own men’s team to 1st place!

No gear for Gid yet but he makes good use of his cubby anyway

No gear for Gid yet but he makes good use of his cubby anyway

15.  School’s been back in session for a couple weeks now and bag-pipe lessons start back up tomorrow, so with piano and ukulele and sports and friends and the general rough and tumble activity that comes with boys, it’s just a whirl of noise and mess and motion around here.  That’s life in a manger.  And the year has  only.  just.  begun.

From the oldest to the youngest we love to fill our days with music and laughter

From the oldest to the youngest we’ll be filling 2015 with music and laughter.


Monkeying Around

I figured you all might be getting a little tired of hearing my two-cents worth so I thought I would turn this post over to the boys.  This year I haven’t been requiring them to type up summaries like I did on our previous blog sites (click here and here) mainly because we’ve been doing a much better job of recording what they’re learning using the notebook method inspired by Shannon at ihavenogreaterjoy.  Anyway they are all eager to tell you about what we’ve been learning about some of God’s silliest creatures:  monkeys and apes.

Notebooking time

Notebooking time

My favorite monkey is Spider Monkeys.  We made spider monkeys out of modeling clay and Kix and wiggly eyes and pipe cleaners.  Then we had them hang on strings and branches and we played with them all day (Sam, 5).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We made monkey bread. You can make it too. Open 4 cans biscuit dough and  cut the biscuits into quarters.  Mix 1 cup brown sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a big ziplock bag.  Add the biscuit  pieces and shake it all up.  Put all the sugary pieces in a pan and then pour 1/2 cube of melted butter on top.  Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375  degrees.  Turn it upside down on a plate and eat it! (Nate, 7)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One thing I like about orangutans is that it’s the smartest ape in the jungle.  It eats fruit, nuts and bugs.  They swing around in trees like madmen looking for a nice place to sleep for the night.  As orangutans get older their cheek flaps grow bigger and bigger (Joel, 9).

Thank you Kristin C. for this Big Book of Animals which we have been pulling worksheets out of to supplement our studies.

Thank you Kristin C. for this Big Book of Animals which we have been pulling worksheets out of to supplement our studies.

My favorite primate is the orangutan. I like it best mostly because of it’s orange color and hairy body. Orangutans live on the two islands of Borneo and Sumatra in Southern Asia. They are very intelligent and their face has a close resemblance to humans at dusk. Orangutans build a small hut out of sticks and branches.  Orangutans are very curious animals and often sit up in trees and gaze intently at things for hours. Thus the name orangutan means ”man of the forest” (Titus, 10).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


and Self-Control….


This book is the boys favorite addition to our homeschool routine.  I use it to start all the days that I don’t have a poem for.  The next book is MY favorite addition to our homeschool routine.  I read  from it right after we pray and sing our hymn of the week.

photo 2Disclaimer:  This book is by NO means a substitution for the ACTUAL reading of the Word of God.  It throws in a couple of verses each day and includes some great Biblical principles to live by, but for the most part it’s just very interesting quips about the amazing creatures God has made.  For example:  Thursday’s reading shared how some scientists documented self-control in chimps and orangutans by offering them a bowl with a piece of chocolate in it.  If the monkeys ate the piece of chocolate that’s all they got, but if they left it in the bowl they got more.  Eventually they all learned to wait until their bowl was full of chocolate!

Of course I had to try that one out.  I set cups out in plain view with their names on them and put one giant M&M in each.

Now, as the Holy Spirit would have it, we all needed a much bigger lesson that day in Self-Control than just holding out for more chocolate.  My most impulse prone child chose that day to really display his true colors and my own nerves were entirely on edge as well. It seemed like everyone in the house was having a hard time controlling their volume and their bodies and their wills.  And there sat the cups with their one little old piece chocolate.

photo 3-2

You see, originally I had thought to keep adding more chocolates as little rewards throughout the day but I saw pretty quickly that Thursday was just not going to be a reward-earning-kind-of-day for any of us, myself included.  Then I remembered the words to a dear, old hymn we sang last week in choir.

“He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

chorus: His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and He giveth, and giveth again.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.”
(Annie Johnson Flint)

No, Thursday was not going to be a rewards kind of day. Thursday was going to be a
grace kind of day. You see, our God prepares a table for us even in the presence of our enemies, even when the enemy is our own sinful nature.  I knew no matter how badly we were all behaving, at the end of the day those little cups needed to overflow.  

photo 1

I don’t think any treat had ever tasted so sweet.

Oh, and on a related note.  That globe in the previous picture is a great illustration of holding out for the greater reward.  I’ve lived without a globe in our homeschool classroom for 3 years now and have been tempted many times to pull out the credit card and order one new (it’s hard to find used stuff like that around here).  I’ve even prayed for one knowing how the Lord has so faithfully provided the little things we’ve need in the past.   Wouldn’t you know it, He waited till the VERY WEEK we started our world geography lessons to provide one for FREE!  All along He had the whole world in His hands just waiting to hand us when we needed it most.  There are countless times that I would have missed out on seeing his rich and timely provision if I had rushed out and used my own resources to acquire what I thought I needed that very moment.  It really is so much sweeter to wait.


Who This Is

Hmmmm…full manger….Maybe such rustic terminology doesn’t exactly suit the resort-condo lifestyle we enjoy here on the Big Island of Hawaii.  But really no matter where you house five active little boys…it’s going to feel like living in a barn.  Or a zoo full of barn animals.  At least I’m sure that’s what it sounds like to the neighbors down stairs…bless their long-suffering souls.  So when I was searching for memory verses to go along with our study of zoology this year and stumbled across this gem in Proverbs 14, it hit me like a bail of hay.  “Where there are no oxen the manger is clean, but abundant crops come from the strength of the ox.”  Just think about it, Mamas, “Where there are no [children] the house is clean [and quiet], but ABUNDANT [living] comes by the strength of the [family].”  The mere presence of the noisy mess around me is a daily reminder of how rich I actually am.  As hard as I try, my manger is never quite clean, but praise the Lord, I am learning to delight in the fullness of it, to be thankful for the abundant life that is a condo full of boys…or a zoo full of barn animals…or a barn full of zoo animals.  Whatever.  This is my life.  My full, loud, messy manger.  And because I love it, I’m sharing it with you.
full manger