Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Corbins!

You might get a card in the mail too. But if you do, it'll be late. I think I mailed about 7 cards on time...then I ran out of stamps. Christmas day is just 14 minutes away from being over. Hope your day was full of Love.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I don't know how...

....but I'm going to make the most of this opportunity.

I just made the payment for my three credits at Grand Valley. MingHuan Xu has agreed to take me as a violin student for this Winter. Did you read about her?

I'm already nervous..but mostly excited.

It's a one hour lesson per week, but I receive three credits towards my Masters at MSU. So that means, I practice...a lot. Maybe during nap time? In the basement?

I haven't really 'studied' violin in six years. And my playing has painfully regressed. I better go practice now. And I'll have to take a trip here soon to get my bow re-haired and maybe repaired.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Something I love from today's advent prayer...

Lord, let us seek harmony in our lives as the angels did when they announced the Christ Child's birth in perfect praise. Amen.

My new favorite advent 'calendar'...our Jesse Tree. Each day, we add a new piece of The Story to our Jesse Tree, another story of God's Rescue Plan. We start with the explanation of 'the Root of Jesse'....and the story of Jesse and his son David, and then going all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden, Noah, Abraham,....all leading up to The Rescuer.

This is the unfinished version... a picture I took last week. (Now it's hanging up on our wall)

Monday, December 08, 2008

A fun discovery.

Someone in my house loves putting little things in unexpected little places.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Lord, let my life be an unceasing prayer to you
despite its labors and losses;
grant me a gracious heart
that overflows with a gratitude to overcome
and wash away all my worries.

-a prayer of Henri J. M. Nouwen

I don't actually have many real worries. At this point in my life, I have no practical needs to be anxious over, no physical burdens to bear, not even many of my own personal sorrows. So, I often make them up or take on those of others. I think I might look for things upon which to center my anxiety. And there is a lot of darkness in the world, so much heaviness to bear. I take the "bear one another's burdens" command very seriously. The danger in this for me, is that I tend to create something very ugly and self-centered out of a beautiful scriptural teaching.

Madeleine L'Engle (my favorite author, who would, of course, have something perfect to say 'to me' about this) wrote...

Compassion means to suffer with, but it doesn't mean to get lost in the suffering so that it becomes exclusively one's own. I tend to do this, to replace the person for whom I am feeling compassion with myself. --A Circle of Quiet

And this prayer from yesterday's advent reading so simply (and far more clearly and concisely than I could articulate) reminded me that my response to worry, my response to life, my response to Christ...should be unceasing prayer...and a heart of gratitude.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gingerbread Men

I've always wanted to try making them. And lately, Maya has been quite enamored with the story of The Gingerbread Man. We have two versions of the story right is from the library, and one was mine when I was a little girl.
Maya loves to "read" it...and all books. (No, not like one of those genius babies who can actually read, she just has them memorized). In fact, this morning, the first thing she said to me was "Momma. I Love You Forever isn't dood for me. It''s..too hard. I tant...I don't know how to read da words. It's not dood for me." She is so serious sometimes.

So last week, we had a fun afternoon baking, decorating, eating, ....and of course, acting out the story of The Gingerbread Man again and again and again....

Just after we finished our gingerbread men, I caught her with the book, but only managed to
sneak the camera in at the end of the story (when the fox has convinced the gingerbread man to stand on his nose). Most of the time, she is too aware of the camera to capture moments like this....

(Part of the video is hard to understand...when she gets quiet, she says..."Oh no. I'm a quarter gone!" Said the..."gingerbread man.")

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sophie's crawling footage was removed...

...from the earlier post.

However, I recently managed to capture some more crawling well as a Bengal Tiger. While you admire the skillful crawling of Sophia, you can also observe the beautiful tiger enjoying her captivity in the background.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

" wash our Sin away..."

Today, while reading one of our favorite library books about Kindergarten, we read about Music time at school. The teacher in the story told the class that she was going to teach them a very old song for Latin. The music for Dona Nobis Pacem was on the next page. As I started singing it, Maya excitedly joined me "Do-na ---(hey! we know diss one!!! Huh! Hm. Yeah. We know it!) -----No-Peace Pah-chem Pah-chem."

At the end of the song, she was upset when I started to turn the page. She didn't think we had sung the "Christmas song" yet. So she began singing HER Christmas song from her class at church... (to the tune of Jingle Bells) "Christmas bells, Christmas bells, ring dem all a day....Ring dah news dat Jesus tame to wash our sins away." She turned to me and corrected my singing, "SinSSSS, Momma. You say SINN. I say SinSSS." I think she was trying to make a theological point? I still say Sin (with a big S) though I think it's both.

We talked a little bit about what sinsss are...disobeying, not being kind, and she added with a very serious face, her mouth twisted and eyes big "...and taughting (talking) lite a mean dirl." Yes, Maya. Talking like a mean girl. That is sin. And we have lots of messy sin.
She looked down at her hands, inspecting them...and nodded. "Yup. I dot sin on-nair. Hm. But...oh well." Lately she's picked up this frightening teenager-like flippant tone. Occasionally she even says "Whatever."

No Maya, it's in your heart. There is sin in your heart.
"OH???!" she said, sounding surprised and casually interested. After a moment she added with disapointment, "But I tant open it up. I tant see inn-nair."

Her unique....and limited? way of understanding big and small concepts about life is always humbling and clarifying for me....and often pretty funny.

But I'm realizing more and more how little she...or I can do about her heart. It isn't mine, and in many ways, I can't really help her with it.
Every day...hour...I pray that her little heart will stay soft. And that she will know more and more how deeply and completely she is loved by Him.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sophie really crawls!

This was minutes ago. And now she's EVERYWHERE.

This may not be a good thing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I've retreated...

...somewhat from blogging my innermost feelings, thoughts, worries. It hasn't been on purpose.

It's just easier....and satisfying and fun to simply post warm, happy pictures and recollections from my best moments. To 'carefully construct' my reality into a nostalgic and beautiful scene to portray 'my world' to you....and maybe my children who may look back on these posts one day. Of course, I do want to remember those exquisite moments in all their vivid, euphoric, 'perfection'.

But Ryan sometimes teases me that he'll post about the messy kitchen, the laundry piles, the loud, chaotic evenings that seem to race towards BEDTIME in a frantic, exhausting blur....
I suppose I do need a frequent dose of reality in my blogging/archiving. :)

So tonight, I'm not just posting pictures or cute stories. I'm writing again, and attempting for the moment, to be more transparent. (If you know me, you might laugh at that aim..."to be MORE transparent" if I should really aspire to that end.)

Within my real world, I'm feeling worried, conflicted, frustrated. Small circumstances, relatively insignificant things said, or not said, can take so much of my joy. Even as I sit and count all the new (and old) life-giving friendships I've been given, the family that I adore, the obscenely rich lifestyle I have been allowed to lead, my fulfilling work that I enjoy, the people all over the world that I love...I can become completely overwhelmed by, immersed in such trivial worries.

But instead of just 'journaling' or venting.....or even silently worrying, I'll try to rediscover Peace.

My 'conversation' would be better directed in prayer.

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ryan's half day Friday...

Sweet Potato Leaves

  1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4" slices.
  2. Using cookie cutters, make leaves, pumpkins, and acorns. (We used mini-cookie cutters)
  3. Spread pieces onto baking sheet sprayed with vegetable oil.
  4. Lightly sprinkle 'cookies' with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and brown sugar.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes... until leaves begin to look slightly crispy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

An evening of organ music and homemade apple pie

I made apple pie this week....

Some of it was shared with Grandma & Grandpa...

(Maya LOVED Grandma Marge's organ)

...and some of it, was enjoyed later at home.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Three Brothers

A fitting title for my currently Children's Literature-filled life. "The Three...." always seems to work as a title (You know, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, The Three Little pigs, etc....). I probably do say "Once upon a time...." at least five times a day.


"Once upon a time, there was a little girl with three big brothers.....

....There were very few places that she felt happier, safer, or more loved than when she was surrounded by these three big brothers.

The end."

I think that first picture clearly shows that my four-year-old-self is thinking..."Wow. I'm really lucky. Just look, I have three big brothers holding me."

So many pieces of who I am and what I value have been acquired through years of watching and listening to them. They have, in ways that I'm sure I don't even recognize, shaped understanding of family, of love, of friendship, trust, parenthood, faith. In unique ways, they each continue to challenge and sharpen my understanding of who I am, how I perceive and think about the world, and how I know and love my Creator.

Different seasons of my life have particular memories of times spent with each one of them.
Even though Andy moved out of our house when I was in second grade, I always felt that we had a lot in common. I think he must have been a pretty generous high-schooler to make me think that we had so many 'shared interests'. He came home from college and took me on dates. He asked about my friends and listened, he challenged me to dream and to think beyond my small, comfortable world. And he still does. He is one of those people that, though he is intimidatingly brilliant, accomplished, creative...his presence and his conversation never make you feel less valid or articulate. Somehow his loving way of listening and affirming makes you feel smarter and better, energized and inspired. I really miss you, Andy. The long stretches between summer visits and winter holidays are too long.

Some of the only times in my life that I've felt physically strong, athletic, fast, were the hours I spent practicing basketball in our driveway, learning to dribble and shoot with David, or attempting to copy his jump-rope routine to become a higher jumper. I fondly remember sitting in his classroom as a high-schooler, feeling proud, happy, and actually challenged to think (too often a rarity in high school); and in more recent years...I smile when I think about running back and forth between our houses to borrow a vaccuum, an egg, a spare key, a lawn mower, dinner, to share cookies, to use a shower, to return a run-away dog, to ask a question. He always seems to be close when I'm locked out of my house, my car won't start, or I've run out of gas. David has rescued me a lot. Only, it was way easier when we were neighbors. I do miss Forest Hills.

Daniel and I were siblings together (at home) the longest. Since he could drive and I couldn't, we spent a lot of time in the car together. Back and forth to church, school, home. We talked a lot, and listened to a lot of music. Once on our way to church, we witnessed an accident together. An awful, nauseating, unforgettable car-hitting-a-little-girl-with-her-bike accident. She was okay. But we weren't for a while.

When we were littler, we spent hours together at the cabin. Mostly because I wouldn't stop following him around as he built forts in the woods. I was 'in his army.'
I guess, maybe I still am. Probably not. He's threatened to fire me about a thousand times. Being in his army was really cool because.... I got to hold nails for him, and go get water for him, and hand him tools, and listen to him talk about how great his next idea was going to be...
No, really.... it WAS really cool. Because I got to be with him. And I always got to be part of his 'next great idea.'

One Christmas break, when I was in college, I stayed with him on the way home from school. We decided to go play our instruments in the mall to earn some cash. It turned out to be illegal. Regardless of the fact that our music delighted countless children, parents, grandparents, made people smile, sing, laugh, and cry; some insecure and self-important Mall Security guy came and felt it was his duty to escort us out. Even though we were leaving, he wanted to 'write us up' or something. Since I didn't have an i.d. on me, he told us he'd have to take me 'in.' Daniel just laughed as he said "um, you're not going to take my little sister anywhere" and told me to get in the car. We ended up playing outside a little bookstore (with permission) on the UofM campus. It was really cold. And unforgettably fun. Lucrative too, if I remember correctly.

Then, several years later, we became really really good friends again. As adults. And we turned out to be even more alike than we ever knew before. He gave Ryan and I a bunch of new friends when we moved back to MI, who are now some of our best friends. He invited us to be part of a church that revived my love of The Church.
In recent years, some of the most decadent time I've had with him have been hours spent in a cedar lined, warm studio making music together, drinking too much coffee, eating apple slices and whole wheat english muffins with natural peanut butter, and solving all the problems of the world. (I almost bought a cello this weekend, brother. I really do want to record again soon.)

And today, he's old. We share our birthday month. (September might be the best month, I'm beginning to think.) And I am grateful beyond words (though I have seemingly been able to be rather verbose) to have him as my big brother.

I love you.
Happy Birthday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Check. Check.


...we enjoyed Chicken Tiki Masala for dinner.

I love completed list items.

Another nap-time has begun.
Now on to the messy house, ironing, ...and boxes of books.

Or maybe pumpkin pie??

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What to do with nap time... always one of my decisions of the day (on the days I am at home).

Some days, I end up cuddling, soothing, playing with one of the girls when the big afternoon nap doesn't align quite as I'd imagined. But alone time with Sophie, or occasionally Maya is precious too.

Today though, I'm really hoping to accomplish something 'practical.' A list item to be crossed off.

But what will it be....

...a pumpkin pie?
....Chicken Tiki Masala for dinner?
...a 2nd coat of paint in the red bathroom (now a year overdue)?
...the mountain of shirts needing to be ironed?
...organizing books in the basement to be donated?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today felt good.

It was one of those days that was filled with moments of certainty... that what I'm doing is right. That I will survive, even grow, accomplish something...amidst the blurr and chaos that I sometimes feel exhausted by.

Today, all the daily things...the mundane tasks (dressing girls, changing diapers, washing dishes, making coffee, packing lunches, pushing my teaching cart, tuning violins, taking attendance, focusing students, starting dinner, cleaning dinner, washing dishes, changing diapers, clearing clutter), ...didn't feel quite as futile as they sometimes can.

Despite finding out 1 minute before my first class started that because of a funeral, I wouldn't have a classroom or a piano for my choir and despite having a second grader leave music class with a slightly bloody, fat a result of a new 'circle game' we tried (something like duck-duck-goose), my students seemed brilliant, charming, surprising, attentive (mostly) and sweet.

Most days, at least once, I find myself grumbling inwardly (or outwardly) about the piles of laundry that get cleared...for about an hour before piling up again; about the dishes that seem so sparkling clean and neatly stacked until the next meal time; or the crumb covered, yogurt smeared floor that sometimes gets swept 3 times a day or more and still looks messy.

Sometimes the joy, the gratitude that I have for my rich life gets clouded so easily, so quickly.
But today it was inexplicably easy to just enjoy the smiles, the silly laughter, the squeals to be chased, the focused and earnest but (honestly quite awful sounding) ensemble playing in strings today, the middle schoolers who 'wrote' and performed a five part improvisational round-song, the husband who entertained us all with "YOU MUST PAY THE RENT...." over our chile dinner, and who swept the corn bread crumbs and vacuumed the living room and the steps.

No particularly obvious reason for this day of clarity, contentment, and balance. But I'll take it.

And I'll try to remember it, because...

...tomorrow will probably be different. Things do fall apart.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Read a Island story!!"

...after a non-verbal look of correction from Mom: (in a sugary sweet voice) "T(c)ould you peas read a Island story??"

"Once there were two girls. One morning they woke up in their bunk beds to hear the sound of a crackling fire and a rocking chair. They were so excited when they remembered that they were at the cabin. The smell of coffee floated into their room, and they knew that Bampa was up, reading in the rocking chair. They tried to plan their adventures for the day...a canoe trip? a walk in the forest? building a fort? a trip to the library?..."

...The two girls always end up on an island. Rock Island. They are usually with lots of cousins. And they often encounter some ducks, swans, deer, or maybe even Charlie Chipmunk or Sammy Squirrel. They get very tired as they travel back to the cabin. Bampa reads them a story and tucks them into their very special bunk beds (where Momma used to sleep when she was a little girl).

I think everyone in this house is missing the cabin.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"Is it cold yet?"

Ryan keeps asking me this every morning.

I could hold on to summer forever...almost. I love the warm sun, warm wind, leaves on the trees, everything is green, the happy illusion of freedom, the beach, the cabin, summer.

But fall is coming. And I think I'm happy about that too.

School has begun. And even in the first day, there were many moments of musical delight. ..those beautiful sounds and happy faces filled with pride and awe that make me remember that what I do is really really fun.


I love the gentle singing and cooing I hear in the baby monitor and the imaginative chatter from across the breakfast table better than all the sweet voices I heard yesterday.

I think I'm going to love my abbreviated schedule.

Monday, August 18, 2008

On a boardwalk lined with sailboats...

...four friends walked towards the lighthouse. It was the summer of 1998. Two of the friends were obnoxiously oblivious to the others. Their eyes flirted as they talked...just as they had for years, but they both knew that tonight was not like all the others evenings they had spent together with friends. Earlier, over the phone, they had finally talked....about all that had been silently growing between them. And now as they walked, occasionally their fingers would 'accidentally' brush together, lingering but never intentionally touching. But as they all leaned against the lighthouse to watch the sun set, the college boy with blue eyes rather timidly grabbed the girl's hand. And she's been madly in love with him ever since.

Earlier this month (or was it last month?), we went back to the Grand Haven boardwalk for a very rare, peaceful, romantic date. It was even better this time, ten years later...dreaming about our future together, talking about our marriage, our children, our disappointments and greatest happinesses. Sometimes, my stomach still flips when he holds my hand.