Wynelle 12.14.12.

Wynelle Dove, born December 14, 2:30 a.m., 8 lbs 8  oz, 22 in. Wynelle (pronounced like win) is an embellished version of an Old English word meaning “joy and delight” while Dove is a symbol for peace. (Noah’s dove came back with the olive branch after God judged the earth and it is often used on Christmas cards.) Read more »

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Recent Celebrations

Our facebook announcement of the arrival of Wynelle Dove Culbertson came out yesterday, but before I rush to put those pictures up, here are a few of our other most recent celebrations. After all, tis the season!

Going back to…Thanksgiving, the pumpkins the boys decorated was the extent of our craftiness this year. We have yet to try actually carving them.

Enjoyed some turkey and games with our world-traveling friends Dustin and Katie and had some more pumpkin pie.

Soon after pumpkin pie, was chocolate pie for Jed’s birthday. It’s so fun to have celebrations with kids. They just naturally have party hearts and are always excited to have special treat days. All the planning and preparations that go into it are worth it! And since food at the dinner table is a key part in almost every celebration, I’ve been trying to learn how to make it more festive. I’ve mainly focused on getting the cooking part down, but now that the kids are getting a little bigger and we have a little girl to enjoy kitchen time with me, I want to move into the decorative realm of table presentation. Not necessarily going for Martha Stewart at every meal, but I just want them to appreciate the beauty in any form and leave home with fond memories around the table.

Another table activity, Daddy’s new Tetris game!

Of course, every party has a pooper. He just couldn’t wait for his turn.

Since, I was two weeks away from my due date…

we went ahead a decorated for Christmas.

It was Quincy’s year to put on the star.

And now most recently, snow! Jed was eager to build an igloo this year, something he hadn’t done in 15 years. My parents had flown in by then to help us with the baby, but since she hadn’t arrived the men set to work on this project. It was actually quite some effort.

Even Reuben carried bricks.

A happy little Eskimo!

Next up, baby pictures!

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Not Ashamed

There are just some days when things stink, like when the baby wakes up cranky from his nap and cries for an hour non-stop, having to change a 3-year old’s poopy pants…again, having no clean clothes in drawers, finding a trail of blueberry muffin crumbs leading downstairs, and so on. “Everything is terrible,” I texted to Jed whose phone was on silent, “Please come home.” The whole situation was shameful.

But then, I got the answer from the Lord I needed as we were loading up with the kids tonight to vote. We were giving them a heads up that they’d need to wait patiently and quietly for us while we filled in the boxes in the booth. And Kaelem asked, “Can I bring my Bible?” Why, yes you may. That dear little boy brought his Bible in with him to the government school and sat down to read it while we voted for marriage, life, and liberty.

And that was when the familiar words of Psalm 127 came to mind:

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.

How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;

They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.

So, I’m trusting the Lord to fulfill his promise, that although right now while they’re little the house can be messy, there will be a day of victory.

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September’s Only Post

Hmm, I see that the last thing I posted was a month ago to the day. This means that life is either very boring or very busy. It’s interesting that I feel I’ve always had a busy life, but when I remember back to life before kids, or even just back to one kid, I wonder what I filled my days. And now I’ll probably be wondering the same thing about today in just a few short months with the arrival of little girl Culbertson.

Today is the first week with all our school year activities up and running. To start the week, Kaelem just started Sunday morning children’s choir at church, followed by the worship service that we attend as a family (minus Reuben for now until the older boys are adjusted to the place of worship in the chapel). On Mondays the boys and I go to Classical Conversations (our homeschool co-op) for three hours. Tuesday mornings are my one day a week with other women at the women’s Bible study. Quincy and Reuben are part of “Super Bible Club” during that time where they have stories, songs, and crafts, plus snack and games, of course. Kaelem spends that time in Jed’s office doing schoolwork and helping Daddy. On Wednesday evenings, Quincy goes to Cubbies, the smallest level of AWANA, which is a scripture-memory based program for kids. For various reasons, we opted against enrolling Kaelem in Sparks (the level above Cubbies), but appreciated the memorization primer that Cubbies was for Kaelem the last two years. Thursdays are a much needed stay at home day. And Friday is overhaul housework day since Jed is off work as well as family p.e. which has either been swimming, basketball, or baseball. Wrapping up Fridays, typically, is a school-board meeting. Saturdays are special project days and usually the day we’ll make a fancier dinner and occasionally have friends over.

So, on paper anyway, that’s what it looks like for us these days. It is the Lord who provides the energy and functioning vehicle! I enjoy having a consistent schedule, but am usually ok when plans change.

And since that long paragraph took a bit to spit out, here now I’ll resort to bullet points of anything interesting going on:

  • I posted pictures here on Facebook of Hannah’s visit at the end of August. Quincy called Jed’s mom “Annie” instead of “Nanny” and when Hannah came the next weekend, he dubbed her “Nannah.”
  • Made our last big road trip for the year to Alabama. This is what the boys looked like after driving at night, sleeping in the van at a campground, and waking up with the sun. Can you tell who had the best sleep?

  • Celebrated my sister’s Emily’s marriage to Patrick on September 15 in Birmingham, Alabama. I will write more about this when she gets her pictures back. I’m regretting now that I let the photographer take all the pictures for me. :(   This one is poached from Facebook.

  • Reuben is saying about five new words daily now. I think he’s going to have lots to say. It’s been shocking with each child each time they say something new for the first time. Wha…? Did you say that?
  • Kaelem is having a blast riding his bike with no training wheels. We sometimes take the bikes to the church parking lot and ride around. Just a little more practice in the neighborhood and he’ll be able to ride beside my bike.
  • Quincy is the most excited about a little sister on the way and surprises me at how tender he can be with babies, considering how he frequently likes to annoy his brothers.
  • We stacked the bunk beds in preparation for moving Reuben out of his crib. I haven’t found a new bed for Reuben yet, so will probably just move him to a mattress on the floor for a few months. Kaelem and Quincy like the novelty of the arrangement. Reuben got stuck half-way up the ladder today, and I hope scared him enough that he won’t try climbing it again right away.
  • Jed and I started reading some of the curriculum that we plan to have at Agape Christi for the secondary school called Omnibus. It’s an integrated course in Literature, Theology, and History. We read a good bit on the road trip and should finish The Odyssey this week. I’ve enjoyed the time together reading and discussing.

And that should do it for September. Hope you’ll check in next month!

 

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First Week of Homeschool

We made it through our first week of school at home! I’ve been doing school work with Kaelem for a couple years now, but this was the first week of hardcore school, for lack of a better word. Kaelem did great. He’s very excited about learning new things and checks his schedule in the mornings right away to see what he gets to do that day. His only trouble right now is being able to process loads of work. That is, he gets overwhelmed by seeing it all stacked together (“I can’t do all these math problems!”) We talk a lot, even in other areas like cleaning his room, about how to work steadily, one step at a time, start with the biggest thing, work is from the Lord, etc. Which, most of the time I’m preaching to myself because I feel overwhelmed like that too when I think about the work on my plate.

We spend about an hour on composition (which is handwriting, spelling, and later grammar), an hour on math, an hour on literature, and half and hour on music each day. When we start Classical Conversations next month we’ll add another 15-20 minutes of review for that each day. Kaelem is really enjoying math and the manipulative blocks, so much so that when I told him he didn’t have to do a particular sheet (because he’d already mastered the concept) he said, “Oh, but I’d love to do that.”

I have Quincy sitting in for some of the time. He is working hard to learn letter sounds and hold a crayon properly. We haven’t tried writing any letters yet because he still has a ways to go with proper form, but today I saw him drawing “t’s” and “k’s” in the dirt at the park. So, maybe we’ll try writing in the sand next week (I have some from the craft store specifically for that.)

Reuben really wants to be involved. It’s just extremely difficult with him at this stage. For the first two days he whined and cried A LOT. By Thursday he seemed to come around to the idea of playing by himself while I was occupied. He found there’s so much to explore…for instance…

I was in the middle of a lesson with Kaelem when I noticed the lights flickering and some electronics turn off. Oh no, I thought, with the power off we can’t do our math video. And then I heard a little switch sound flipping on and off. I knew instantly what it was. They had finally found the power control box located in their bedroom. I rushed downstairs to see Reuben standing on the window ledge (how did he get up there?!) in front of the open box. I don’t know if he was strong enough to actually flip the switches or if he had help from Quincy, either way, not good. I’m happy that Quincy and Reuben are now able to spend time together, on the other hand, they can be quite the troublesome duo.

As I kissed them goodnight on Monday, reminding them to get their rest for school the next day, I was thinking to myself, “Just 179 days left.” In all seriousness though, I do love the job of teaching my kids, but boy, we are in for an adventure.

 

 

 

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The End of August

My dear Jedidiah has always been one to thrill me with surprises. One of the most memorable (and embarrassing) of these surprises happened during our long-distance dating stage while I was attending school in Mobile and he in Virginia. At that time, I was living with mom and dad in the white house or may have just been there for the weekend. I cannot recall. In any event, it was late at night and I was in my pajamas ready for bed when Mom called me downstairs. I remember stopping short in my frizzed hair and pig-print pajama shorts (I got rid those things shortly thereafter) to find a strange, yet familiar, person sitting on our couch grinning at me.

After eight years of marriage, he has perfected his skill all the more. I suppose I would have been suspicious had it been our tenth, and so was caught quite off guard for number eight. Anyway, the date fell on a Tuesday. As usual, I was busy with the boys for most of the day and was feeling bummed I had not put some more effort into celebrating the occasion. My only plan was to have dinner as a family and watch our wedding video together. I wished I had gotten to the store to pick up ingredients for my favorite cherry cream cheese pie.

We watched the video with the boys less than enthralled, but attuned simply because they knew the alternative was bedtime. Reuben was more honest and cried for bed. After the older two went down, my sweet husband, grinning again, pulled out my favorite dessert. He had made the pie at work in order to surprise me that night. He hoped that I wouldn’t miss my blender that day.

So, I thought that was sufficient surprise and celebration. However, there was more to come.

We had been pushing all through the week to prepare the upstairs room for guests to come when the baby was born. We had let years go by without sorting papers, so it was quite the task. I was pleased and thought it noble that Jed worked so diligently with me to finish the job.

As it turns out, he knew a guest was coming much sooner than December.

He explained later that his plan was to surprise me with a night out, courtesy of the Johnsons. He intended to pretend to drop the boys at their house and then come back for me. The surprise would come when he would come back with the boys and his mom instead. But Jan’s plane was delayed until midnight, leaving that ploy unusable. So, he finally just told me that his mom was coming that night. This news of course set me into ultra-cleaning mode.

He had me pack an evening dress and travel clothes and said we’d be back on Monday after doing some driving. Ok! I was excited, but also nervous about having left any loose ends on the home front, given such short notice (did the kids have enough milk and clean underwear?)

We left Saturday morning, not in our van, but in a surprise get-away car waiting for us in the driveway. I looked for identification right away and was both relieved and slightly disappointed to see it was only a rental. After an hour of riding clueless, I wanted to gauge how much further we’d be going, “Just tell me, are we going to Canada?” because I knew that Canada was as north as we could go. At which I was shocked he said, “Well, I can’t lie. Yes.” Oh Canada!

The border patrol attendant asked all the questions for me, “Where are you traveling? What is the purpose of your trip? Where are you staying…” He didn’t know it was supposed to be a surprise. As I learned, we were headed to Winnipeg to stay in the Place Louis Riel.

It was a nice hotel, a suite one, in fact. As we unpacked our things, however, we couldn’t help but overhear commotion from a bunch of guys in the room next door, “Ok everybody up, this one’s a stand-up game!” And away they went with the rounds of drinks. As it wasn’t even dark yet, we figured they’d be at it awhile and so called the front desk to ask for another room, which they thankfully obliged.

Our dinner that night was at a place called Bellissimo. Winnipeg, in general, isn’t a particularly beautiful city and this restaurant fit in, at least the exterior of it. It was set-up in an old strip-mall with a front dining porch, giving the place the feel of a fish camp. When we walked inside however, the hostess was dressed in a skirt with heels, the lighting was low, and there were real cloth napkins on the tables. I could smell seafood and pizza. It was quite the oddity of combinations, but nothing compared to what was coming next.

I typically tend to order things that are new to me or that I can’t easily make at home. Most of the menu was written in English with Italian thrown in to make it fancy. When I saw “beef tips” I thought it would be savory grilled tips with horseradish sauce for dipping. When it came out however, to say the meat was undercooked would be understatement. Apparently the word carpaccione was an important Italian word to know, meaning, “raw.” We choked down a bite each out of politeness and then doggy-bagged the rest. It fried up nicely for breakfast, just like a philly cheesesteak. That was the appetizer.

For my entrée, I ordered a seafood salad with prawns, calamari, and crab with a creamy cucumber dressing. It sounded like summer to me. I must have overlooked another important Italian word, however, because when I saw the platter it seemed more appropriate for Halloween. Mixed in with the normal seafood was about a dozen purple-squishy-thingies about each about an inch wide with eight spirally legs. “Squidgits” is what we ended up calling them. It was then that I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for ever forcing Kaelem to eat something he didn’t like. And so I dared Jed to eat one. And he did, with no repercussions. The pressure was on then. I’d already eaten raw meat while pregnant, why not a squidgit? So, I wrapped the tiniest one I could find in lettuce so as not to see it and popped it down. We went somewhere else for dessert. (Really good gelato from a little shop nearby.)

It was Jed’s goal to pamper and spoil me, which he did well. He showered me with gifts, which he had shopped secretly for weeks in advance, a long red dress, strappy heels, jewelry, and hair accessories. It was quite fun opening each gift and thinking of all the work he had put into making a wonderful time for me.

Sunday evening was the time to dress up in my new attire. We drove to dinner at 523 Wellington. Now this was a nice section of town. As we first passed by the restaurant I thought, wow what a beautiful place. When we came back to it, I was thrilled that we actually were going to go inside. We shared a steak, potatoes, asparagus, and for dessert, chocolate raspberry cheesecake. I don’t know how eating can get much better than that.

Finally, it came time for the big event- the reason for driving eight hours to Winnipeg. I had been trying to spot any advertising for concerts or shows, but only saw something about gargoyles. He had joked already about coming to see The Dark Knight. Anyway, as we came up to the theater that evening and saw the billboard for Yanni, I was excited again.

I remembered back to our first years of dating long-distance, wishing we could be together while passing the time with “Yanni, Live at the Acropolis.” I envisioned myself in a long red dress, dancing in the aisles with my lover. I suppose I had shared this with him at some point along the way, because that is what he set out to do. It was so fun. Yanni was a great performer and the audience had a blast. Jed said it was up to me if we danced or not…which I thought better of, given the tight quarters of the balcony and that other people don’t usually show up in daydreams.

The only bit of sadness I felt during the weekend was hearing Yanni’s worldview of hope in humanity. I too share hope for humanity, but through Christ, the only savior of the world. We’ve been shown so much grace in our eight years of marriage that I can’t imagine a life of hopeless hope in humanity. A humanity that will never rise from the grave. I am learning too just how marriage is a picture of the relationship between God and man. It can either end in glory, or in disaster. I want the earthly marriage between Jedidiah and me to tell the story of glory, passion, sweet service, and love. The third and possibly worst option would be the lukewarm story, one that Jesus wants to spit out of his mouth. So husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church. Spoil her, adorn her, serve her, make her know she is loved. How could she not respond in respect?

I know not to expect such grandeur of this type every anniversary, but will always remember this one as “The End of August.”

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Sweet Things

I have a few minutes while the kids are occupied to share a few sweet things happening around Jed home lately.

My big three-year-old Quincy is having fun playing with his birthday gifts and rough-housing with his brothers. When not playing, he’s learning how to do chores around the house like folding his shirts, sweeping, and unloading the dishwasher. We still have a ways to go on the school-prep front learning letter sounds and identifying numbers. I’m planning to include him in lessons with Kaelem as much as possible. The task of teaching is always ongoing, and with multiple children repetitive, but I’m finding that even with all boys I can’t teach them all the exact same way.

Reuben has exploded in milestones this month. Since we’ve been back from our summer vacation trip, he’s taken off walking. That makes life for me so much easier, actually! I can get out the door with all our stuff in one trip instead of two now that I don’t have to carry Reuben. He does still enjoy being snuggled and rocked though, and I try to do that as often as we can.

As far as language, after weeks of showing Reuben how to sign “more” he finally did it on his own initiative when he saw his brothers eating chocolate-chip cookies in front of him. He is starting to understand and follow commands such as “put your diaper in the trash.” He recently realized he has messed his diaper and came to me with a new one before I noticed he needed changing. So, as soon Quincy is in the clear, we’ll start the next round of potty-training.

Another milestone for Reuben, his first tooth! I was beginning to think we’d have look into baby dentures, but one little point finally poked through. He’s been restless a lot at night lately and waking up before the sun. I suppose it’s due to his teeth.

This morning though, the Lord blessed us all with more morning sleep, a sweet gift given it is also our 8th anniversary!

Jed and I have been busy lately with more house projects, trying to get ready for the baby. The plan is to have them all in the downstairs room, so I’m working on clearing out space in the closet and trying to score a bigger dresser on craigslist. Pretty soon, we’ll stack the bunks again and look for a big-boy bed for Reuben.

Kaelem is loving swimming at the community center. He’s reached the age now that the outdoor splash pad with water sprinklers is “too shallow.” If it was just the two of us, we’d go to the pool everyday, but as it is, we try for once a week. Another joy he has right now is reading The Boxcar Children. I read the first one with him, reading every other page aloud. He’s just run off with them though and is now on book 4. Of course we’re thrilled that he’s enjoying reading, but it’s caused us to start discussing lately the concept of “priorities.”

Speaking of priorities, better wrap it up. I’m so thankful for cameras and blogs to help share these sweet things with you family and friends far away.

 

 

 

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What’s for School

I’ve just finished ordering our school books for the fall! While we had been diligently working toward starting Agape Christi Academy this fall in time for Kaelem’s first year of school, we’ve had to delay the opening for another year due mainly to the pressing need of an adequate location. So, we’ll be homeschooling this year! Essentially, I’ll be doing what I’ve been doing for the past two years with Kaelem, now with more intensity. If you want to know why in the world we would want to homeschool when we have five elementary schools in our town, I suggest you read our article The Story of Education in America, Dorothy Sayer’s article The Lost Tools of Learning and listen to Douglas Wilson’s talk The Paideia of God.

I’m usually over ambitious when it comes to books and have always been self-driven to read and study, even more so now that I’ve matured enough to realize how much I still don’t know. Thankfully, Kaelem appears to share similar traits (when the mood strikes) which will make it easier for me with a baby coming in December.

We’ve already done a good bit of work on reading and now will focus in on handwriting, spelling, grammar, and math. For anyone interested, here are some things I plan to do with him.

  • The Writing Road to Reading, First Grade, Spalding  Covers handwriting, spelling, and phonics. We’ll work on the phonics with Quincy too.
  • Shurley English 1  Depending on the workload, we might wait until after Christmas to start this grammar program.
  • Math U See, Alpha  So excited for this!
  • The Kodaly Method This is a wonderful music program that several of the classical schools use. If done according to plan, the students are able to read and write music by the end of third grade. It’ll be Christmas for me when this comes in.
  • The ESV Illustrated Bible and Westminster Shorter Catechism. Jed has already started the nightly routine going over these with the boys. They think it’s fun. I also picked up First Catechism for something more on their level of comprehension.
  • Various literature such as Nate the Great, Encyclopedia Brown, The Boxcar Children, Winnie the Pooh, and Pinocchio.
  • For science, history, and art we’ll be joining a homeschool study group called Classical Conversations. They meet once a week for three hours to work for memory work, a science project, and art project.  I’m excited for this as well, mostly knowing how much Kaelem will love it.

So that’s the gist of it. I’m excited to homeschool this year, yes, but there’s still the longing to see Agape Christi become a help to our community. With all the load involved in starting a school, planning for homeschooling, growing a baby, disciplining kids, cleaning house, etc. my mantra of recent weeks has been, “my grace is sufficient for you.”  Feel free to copy and paste that to your heart. It’s a good one.

 

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Little Culbertdaughter

As you might have surmised by the title, our ultrasound today revealed a little girl! Or at least, we don’t think it’s a boy. It’s really more of an educated guess. Here’s a profile shot with what looks like her hand covering her ear. I’m afraid that coming into a home of three brothers she will have that pose quite often.

This shot looks like she’s getting a running start. After Reuben’s 9-plus poundage, I think she has some extra room to wiggle around. I actually haven’t felt as much movement though. I was concerned for awhile that I hadn’t felt much and only in the last week (I’m at 20 weeks) has she perked up a little, even enough for Jed to feel.

I’ve already made one dress. It actually wasn’t intended for our daughter, but when the project didn’t work out as planned, I thought I may as well hang on to it just in case.

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5000 Miles of Summer

We’d been talking to the boys about going on a trip for weeks before we left and while they were excited, I realized later that Quincy had something different in mind all together as days after we’d left home Quincy continued to ask, “When are we going on our trip?” Three weeks of being away from home must feel like years to such small children though because as we rolled in to our town Kaelem looked around and exclaimed, “Hey, I remember this place!”

I realize now that I underestimated the mileage we’d put on the van in the previous post by 1000 miles. Slight miscalculation. It reminds me of the time that we loaded up our moving van to head to Minnesota from Virginia and looked at the map for the first time for a mini freak-out when I saw how far away it was. So anyway, as always, good to go, good to be gone, and good to be back.

The picture above shows everything we loaded into the van for three weeks. We did without the pack-n-play for the first time since we were able to borrow them along most of the way. For the other couple nights, Reuben enjoyed some relative freedom that night on a pallet (mat) on the floor. The other thing I might make do with less of next time is toys. The only use the toys served was for giving Reuben a quick thrill of spilling them out of the box. We had plenty of books, snacks, and music though. Something Kaelem enjoyed listening to that we picked up at the Association of Classical and Christian School conference was Wise Words, a collection of fairy-tale style stories based around Proverbs.

The conference in Dallas was excellent. We came away with lots of practical ideas in educating our kids, developing a school, and recruiting more parents to come along with us. We especially enjoyed the more visionary topics by Douglas Wilson and George Grant. I also liked the historical talk on George Washington given by Peter Lillback author of George Washington’s Sacred Fire. We bought Punic Wars and Culture Wars from the author Ben House while we were there and started reading it on the road. It’s been great so far, but the point that sticks out the most to me as he shares stories of the quality of education children received back before the beginnings of the public school system and I am overwhelmed in emotions. Remorseful because of what was lost, and yet hopeful for the next generations and resolved to keep a steady pace at “repairing the ruins.

After Dallas (and several meals of Chick-fil-A) we drove around the south visiting Jed’s family in Virginia and mine in Alabama. Kaelem, being the more extroverted son, was especially thrilled to see all the aunts, uncles, and cousins. We also were able to meet my niece, Sydney, for the first time.

We took lots of pictures, although, not as many as I captured in my mind’s eye. It’s tough balancing living in the world and taking pictures of it. I’m working on posting the ones I do have to my Facebook album, which you may view here.

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