The First Week of August


The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.
― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

Welcome, July

On the Grasshopper and Cricket

John Keats

The Poetry of earth is never dead:
  When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
  And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
  In summer luxury,—he has never done
  With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
  On a lone winter evening, when the frost
    Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
  And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
    The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

Violet Tulip Olympia Beijing

Your brothers wanted to call you Violet Tulip.  They thought two flowers for a girl’s name was beautiful.

Since you came during the opening ceremonies to the 2008 Olympics, on the luckiest day in China, 8/8/08, I thought we might call you Olympia Beijing.

Despite all these great ideas, Maddie fits you better.  Happy 4th Birthday to our most favorite daughter.  We love you!

Stars and Stripes Forever

This will probably come as a great shock to all of you, but in my opinion the number one Independence Day celebration in the country is in Boston.  I have only attended one time, but that’s enough to cross it off my bucket list.  I’d love to take the kids sometime when they’re older.

After an entire day in the sun, everyone’s brains were a little fried, so by the time Keith Lockhart wrapped up the 1812 Overture (with real cannons over the Charles River — yea, and verily the same river that was there for the first battles of the Revolution!) and the first strains of Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” echoed over the Esplanade, the entire crowd went ballistic.

Here’s a taste:

It’s probably the best day of the year for piccolo players.

(Here are the original lyrics)

And here’s a fun version from a supermarket on the Cape last year (don’t miss the trombones over the balcony at the end):
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
I Peter 2:16 ESV 

…But Trust Me On the Sunscreen

This song came out in the summer of 1999, the year that I graduated from college and got married.  Does anyone else remember it?  It was a phenomenon for a few months.

I still love it.  David reminded me of it this morning, and seeing that it’s graduation season once more, I thought I’d pass it on.  We know of one family that celebrated their oldest’s graduation from Chapel Hill Saturday and the dad’s graduation from law school on Sunday.  Crazy!
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as 

effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing 


Goodnight Irene

Hurricane update from Charlotte:  it’s sunny and a little breezy here, and all we expect to get from Hurricane Irene — besides an assault of news coverage from crazy reporters standing in the water on Nags Head — is more humidity…because we need more of that.


Sorry for my absence these last weeks.  This is why I have doubts about my ability to be a “professional” blogger…I like the freedom to just disappear for a couple weeks and not feel guilty about it.

Anyway, we had VBS and my mom came to visit.  We celebrated quite a few milestones in the last few weeks.

One little girl turned three…

 Here is the birthday girl in the middle of her two buddies, Alexa (l) and Elisabetta (r).

 Last weekend David and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary with a dinner cruise on Lake Norman.

Yesterday we started school.  It’s my fifth year officially homeschooling.
More to come…

Sneaky Summer School

Some homeschoolers school year-round.  I do not.  I embrace a long summer break with enthusiasm.  It gives me time to “put away” the last year, literally (bookcase reorganization and paper cleanouts) and figuratively (measuring goals, evaluating progress).  Then I can move on and plan, dream, and shop for the next year.  This summer we were able to repaint the schoolroom in a nice cheery green.  It is easily the brightest room in the house, which I hope makes us all excited to be in there.

But I do have my ways of sneaking in learning all summer long.  We’ve been doing a summer reading program, and we’ve enjoyed a few documentaries from the History Channel about people we studied last year.

Right now the kids are LOVING the BBC’s Planet Earth.  When I say “loving,” I mean begging to watch the next episode, talking about it in their spare time, and staying glued to the TV when it’s on.  I read many online exhortations to avoid the Americanized version, which features Oprah Winfrey as narrator, and opt for the British version with David Attenborough instead.  Attenborough does a noble job of accompanying the mind-boggling HD cinematography only when necessary and allowing the film to speak for itself a good bit of the time.

We are renting the series from Netflix but it’s been so popular around here that we’re thinking about buying it.

HELPFUL SIDENOTE:  David Attenborough is not to be confused with his brother, Richard Attenborough, the well-known British actor.

NOT DAVID ATTENBOROUGH.  Not that anyone around here made that mistake.  No.


 It is the chief of this world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat. It was not a Southern watermelon that Eve took; we know it because she repented.
– Mark Twain, in Pudd’nHead Wilson

One Thousand Gifts 7.25.11

138. I just looked at my calendar for last week to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  It was quite full last week, and I would like to first of all express my gratitude that I was able to meet my heavy load of commitments without losing it.  Not a joke.  Thank you, Lord.
139. a houseful of men praying
140. quiet prayer times with my journal
141. the Word — living, active, sharper than any two-edged sword
142. renewed commitment to staying accountable, striving towards self-control and discipline
143. a great week at camp for the boys — Ben went down the zipline even though he was terrified
144. Cameron’s steady progress in piano, and a wonderful teacher who is worth the drive
145. Cam’s striving to understand the sermon better. On his own. Without me pushing him.  (when will I learn to just calm down and stop freaking out about things?!)
146. Air conditioning in the ugly-hot days of July
147. a new trampoline
148. our pumpkin is turning orange
149. enough basil for bi-weekly pesto
150. time playing with little Haddon…he is so sweet 🙂
151. watching Maddie go out of her way to get a laugh out of Ella…it doesn’t take much
152. the gift of time…right on time, never late, and learning to trust God to provide it