December 22, 2008

merry merry

The excitement around here is at an all-time high!

For our family, we start celebrating monthly birthdays in July :: so by the time December arrives, and we've wrapped up our son's birthday...we're more than ready to celebrate the coming of Christ to earth! Josiah has been walking around this week singing 'Happy Birthday to Jesus' numerous times--very sweet.

While we know it's not the exact day or even season of Christ's actual birth, we stand in awe that He came. And that we are the recipients of such a gift!

Well, this December has certainly been different :: while we're excited about the new babe to be in our family, sickness has also changed plans. So, how do you enjoy the season anyway? Go to Plan B~

:: let the children decorate the house! They're old enough right? So, I have to hold my tongue when about 30 random items {holiday decor and other} line my mantel after our 5 year-old finishes her contribution. She even asked for a picture to be taken of it. Gotta do that. Really, I will.

:: let hubby do our Christmas cards. Okay, that's a joke. He always does our cards to close family, friends and our church family. What a guy.

:: accept help from others. This used to be really hard for me, but I've learned that we were created to be interdependent, created to give and to receive. In humility, we've welcomed the offers to take our children out for a bit or to bring over a meal.

:: let the rest go! We can eventually make treats for the birds, finish some crafts, and pick up our other subjects in schoolwork outside of language arts and math {what I like to call bare-bones homeschooling}.

Right now is a time for celebrating His coming, gathering close as a family & enjoying the togetherness, and for giving thanks for all that we've enjoyed through the year. We've been blessed. I'd like to remember this season not as one that was frenzied, but one that was joyful.

Merry Christmas!

December 16, 2008

still here...

A quick hello to everyone!

I'm still here though not posting as often :: thanks for the words of encouragement and of prayers, what a blessing! Just to answer a question or two about my pregnancies--yes, I usually do become very sick in the first 16 or so weeks. It's a challenge, but this round has already been different. I'm not dehydrating and am able to hold down some food and small amounts of liquids at a time. Ginger tea is a dear friend of mine, and life has just taken on a slower pace to accommodate.

I hope your December is moving along and that whatever preparations for Christmas and celebrating you've planned are coming to pass with ease. I'll be back here in this space soon, probably every other day or something. We'll see. And, I need to make some blog stops and see what you all are up to. Enjoy your Tuesday!

December 11, 2008


Thank you so much for the congratulations and blessings!

In the spirit of the psalm that continually repeats the phrase 'his love endures forever', with a different expression, I offer my reflections on this week:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!
O Come, let us adore Him.
Lord, even when morning {um, all day!} sickness seems to be taking over my days
O Come, let us adore Him.
When my newly turned 3-yr old decided this week to throw all toothbrushes into the toilet and ransack his sister's room just a little
O Come, let us adore Him.
As I await with my oldest the results of her first college semester efforts and continue to offer direction and vision
O Come, let us adore Him.
As I explain to our 10-yr old again and again how to convert an improper fraction into a mixed number, and she says she understands, but we begin afresh the next day {and I work at keeping patience as a close friend}
O Come, let us adore Him.
When the offended sister of little brother's ransacking decides to retaliate in like manner
O Come, let us adore Him!

In all situations, where ever I find myself at the moment...Lord, teach me to see You. To adore You in the midst of it all. Isn't this too a part of the Christmas account?
A smelly and untidy stable, which in reality was more a cave-like dwelling than the fancy barn depicted in our nativity scenes...strange men, full of exuberance & motivated by angelic visitation, invading the privacy of a newlywed couple adjusting to the early hours of parenting...maybe all wasn't as silent as we sing about and yet...

They all worshipped you. Recognized you in the midst of the chaos and the random events of that day...the shepherds sought you out until they found you. They came to adore you.

May I respond likewise.

O Come, let me adore Him!


December 9, 2008

blueberry baby

Well, that's about the size of our little one right now...

Our family will welcome a new family member this July! Mom and Dad are happy, the can't-wait-until-the-baby-comes siblings are ecstatic, and friends and family celebrate with us.

As I reflect on this season, I personally cannot imagine a visitation from an angelic being to announce my pregnancy :: seeing the two lines on that stick was enough of a celestial experience. And the news would have crushed Mary's world and dreams, brought on doubts and serious concerns, and surely, surely...made her afraid. My experience is so radically different and there is really no comparison.

Except for one possibly.

She celebrated God's work, and gave thanks to Him. My heart and thoughts echo those voiced so long ago--"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior"!

December 5, 2008


I'm feeling random and a bit scattered this morning, as has been pretty much my week. I think it was the Thanksgiving holiday, enjoying time with Nana (grandma) who came to visit for several days, birthday celebrations and just other that has the last two weeks turned upside down. We need to get back on track with our schooling as my children currently believe we're on an eternal break! But, it has been a very fun two weeks as well.

Let's see....

:: I've updated the sidebar lists of books we're enjoying!

:: I've been cooking up a storm {southern terminology} this week freezing meals so that the rest of the month feels lighter--casseroles, enchiladas, quiche are a few--yum! Today I'll make some soups and breads.

:: sometime today I plan to sit and enjoy a cup of tea in my favorite mug.

:: laundry needs to be caught up, but I'm really not looking forward to that as it's my least favorite chore. I'd rather be cooking!

:: though my weekend has several plans already--a baby shower, cantata practice at church & a performance Sunday--I will squeeze in quiet moments around it all. Somehow!

hopefully, you will enjoy some peace in this season as well. a peace-filled weekend to you....

December 4, 2008

december crafting

Decision, decisions! I certainly need to make some. There are way too many craft ideas in my head right about now :: definitely time to get a little realistic. But until then {smile!}, aren't those birdy stamps above so sweet? They're from Martha Stewart's line at Michael's art stores, simply lovely. They should be a priority this month don't you think?
And, here's a project I'm a little behind on as this was meant to be finished in time for Josiah's birthday....two days ago, oops! Fortunately, he won't mind or a Christmas gift it shall be.

A wooden block puzzle! I took books that we've read so much the pages we're worn & then cut and pasted those pages onto wooden cubes. Mod Podge was used as an adhesive and I also put another layer of that on top of the pictures. I have four sides done, so only two more! This idea came from somewhere on the web, but I can't remember exactly where I first saw it.
And then there are crafts I would like to do with the I said, time to prioritize!


advent musings

The advent season is finally in full swing over here! After a bumpy start {a.k.a. we didn't start on time and had to catch up}, our family will continue enjoying The Glorious Coming as a daily reading. Personally, I'm appreciating this Advent devotional as it ties the Christmas story into other biblical narratives from the beginning of time. The story of Christ's coming does start in Genesis, right? So, I'm happy we're focusing on this perspective.

On that note, let me mention a new Bible in our home and one that I'm very pleased with. The Big Picture Story Bible has a super thumbs up from our family and is an excellent resource! It paints a picture of the Bible as one unified story focused on the fulfilment of God's promises to his people, and the relationship between the people and their God. Though separated into some chapters, it reads like one big story. We love it! The book has mainly pictures, but is over 400 pages; my younger children begged me to keep reading :: we did almost the whole book in one sitting! This would be an excellent Advent resource as well.

I'd love to hear any ideas of thoughts of what other families are doing to focus on Christ this season!

{photo of our Jesse Tree}

December 2, 2008

happy birthday to the king!

No, it's not the Messiah's birth that the title is referring to, but King Josiah's {as we are all fond of calling him}!

Many people told me that boys would be different. I wasn't convinced that would be true so early, but my son has set the record straight! Oh, how I love this boy. Because he is a snuggler and cuddler still at age 3, his rambunctious ways are quickly forgiven by this Mama.

Oh sure, I'm ready for him to let go of the idea that he can fly and to accept the limitations that gravity places on all of us...but he is precious.

Happy 3rd birthday son.


December 1, 2008


Welcome December....

The calendar releases yet one more month in anticipation of the last for this year. And here I sit with pen poised above square boxes all lined in rows, ready to write in family events, social activities, appointments and the like. Ready to fill the containers that mark our time, this calendar.

But I pause today and ask....
What do you want to write in, Master? I anticipate duties & tasks, celebration as well. Yet I come to ask for the agenda that my planning has not considered. The invisible to my eye, but felt by my heart script that your hand is writing, impressing upon me.

Show me Lord, so that this month is prioritized according to your will for us. Marking time is not the goal, perfect scheduling and planning not the most important....

I want to anticipate Emmanuel, God with me.

As we celebrate your coming to this earth, let my life welcome you each moment and allow you to come :: to speak & write your script into my days.
As I go about the necessary tasks of organizing our home life, fill me with an awareness of Emmanuel, so that my steps mirror yours for me.
It's Advent. I anticipate and welcome your coming. Not just then, but now.

{photo credit to stock.xchng}

November 27, 2008

a blessed day!

Happy Thanksgiving to all today~

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!

I pray that today and each day we will pause to thank Him for all of our blessings, for He is truly, exceedingly good to us!


November 25, 2008


It's morning, precious Lord.

Thy mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day,
Vain will be its gift unless I
grow in grace,
increase in knowledge,
ripen for spiritual harvest.

Let me this day know thee as thou art,
love thee supremely,
serve thee wholly,
admire thee fully.

Through grace let my will respond to thee......
{excerpt from Valley of Vision}

November 24, 2008

my turkeys


simple fun

Today I let the preschooler and kindergartner make their own Thanksgiving dinner.
My recipe:
cut out some pictures of food from a magazine, offer some paper plates and a glue stick!


November 22, 2008

the pillow, part 2

{continuing thoughts from our church's women's retreat :: part one is here}

As I had mentioned before, I want to introduce that in the middle of this situation, Jesus had learned to juggle. Why relate it to juggling? And what does this have to do with our Lord?

To understand and accomplish the art {with balls, bowling pins or in living life}, one has to accept three realities:

Juggling Reality #1 :: there is always a ball up in the air--a.k.a.--things that are not ours to do. I want to believe that Christ was able to find a pillow of rest because he embraced the fact that He couldn't be everything to everyone and do everything all at once. So, someone else was going to have to steer the boat, manage the voyage, feed the crew, whatever. At that time, it wasn't his responsibility or task to take on. The priority was for his physical rest.

Juggling Reality #2 :: you are always releasing a ball--a.k.a.--letting something go. Jesus had been teaching all day Scripture tells us, and in the Mark passage it specifically states that he 'left the crowd behind'. He released the task of instructing the masses, even though it was very good and worthwhile. The time had come to let it go. What if they wanted to hear more? Couldn't He share another parable, how difficult or time-consuming would that be? But, the answer was no, it was time to move on.

Juggling Reality #3 :: you are always taking hold of a ball--a.k.a.--what you need to be doing at the time. Our Savior obviously took hold of the next thing he needed to do after leaving the crowd, which was to rest--upon a pillow {I just love that!}. But also after a time of respite, when his friends had brought him from a state of REM to wakefulness, Jesus arose and did the next task He set out for him :: calming the storm. He didn't ask for more sleep or curl back up to rest on....he woke up and fulfilled his purpose for that moment. Wow, the truth of that is simple powerful!

So what of us? Well, the same principles apply in life I believe. For myself, it's a daily journey of releasing and also realizing what is not in my control or sphere of influence at a particular time; and then taking hold of what I am to be about that day. Other times I step back and look at the bigger picture, let's say a season of my life, to see what God may be saying about the three realities:

'Daniele, my child, here is what you need to release right now; not forever, but right now...'
'My daughter, this season, here is your purpose--take hold of it and run!'
And He whispers often to me {or shouts since I've demonstrated spiritual stubbornness more than once}--'There are some areas you must realize are under my Spirit's control, not yours.' or another one--'You're going to allow someone else do this'.

Lessons in juggling. Life lessons, hard lessons at times.
But our Savior demonstrated it well :: and in that He found rest.

On a pillow no less!

November 21, 2008

the first snow

there's always something quite special about the first snow of the season :: and while this one today is not large-scale, it's enough....


peace, power and a pillow

I did say I would write a bit about our women's retreat last weekend, right?'s a little difficult to take an entire weekend and sum it up into one post! A few highlights on the topic itself~~

Mark 4: 35-41

Right away I noticed three aspects in the story

Jesus brought peace to the situation
He demonstrated power and authority
He was sleeping on a cushion (some versions say a pillow)

It was the last one that really caught my attention though the story has been read and heard on numerous occasions. In fact, I found that fact quite comical! Before you think me sacrilegious, I should explain that my mind works in pictures :: so when I read something--anything--pictures or even a full scale movie of the text is immediately formed in my head. Sound, lights, action! Yep, I know you're thinking it's odd. Weird even. I fully agree with you.

So, here are the disciples and Jesus on this boat. The Master slips off and his chosen friends take care of readying themselves for travel and other necessary preparations for voyage across the lake. And then a serious storm arises.

And while I believe He was aware of the situation, Jesus was physically at rest. Sleeping--on a soft pillow or cushion no less! Everyone is fretting and concerned, which was completely the appropriate response as they knew their lives were in danger, and our Savior is sleeping :: resting :: pausing.

While there are many applications to be drawn from this account, I shared what struck me the most. Christ made it a priority to rest, even in the middle of this situation. Somehow, he was able to find a pillow and take a nap :: and to continue His rest while the storm carried on {remember, they had to wake Him up}.

How could He do that? What was His secret?

I'd like to present the idea that Jesus had learned to juggle.
Uh, huh. Juggle.

{to be continued later today....}


November 20, 2008

nature study :: milkweed

One exciting aspect of homeschooling is that I can learn alongside of my children! I am quite content with the fact that I don't have to know everything, and the information is out there as we need it. So when we recently acquired another treasure for our nature table, I was a little stumped in explaining the new beauty to the children.

"So, you guys, it's milkweed."
Said in a tentative tone.
"Is it dead?"

"Does it make milk like a cow? Can I drink it?"
"Why is this one empty and this one full...what's in here by the way!?"
"Where can we find it? Is it in our backyard?"

After a few questions, it was obvious that Mama didn't know enough. Promising to have more answers in 15 minutes, I hopped online while they played. Score!

:: videos on YouTube--an excellent three part series all on the milkweed plant in various seasons {each one is around 5 minutes}. My 10-yr old thought it too funny that each one begins with 'hey guys...'.

:: a great explanation of the relationship between monarch butterflies and the milkweed plant. Scroll to page 3 for info specifically on milkweed.

:: we found a page in our Fun With Nature book that offered info on milkweed bugs, which are now hibernating, so we'll look for them in Spring {click on the picture for a larger view}.

:: then we shared our own observations--
What does the outside feel like? {coconut shells--Jordyn, age 5}
How about the seeds inside? {my soft bear and blue blanket--Josiah, almost 3}

Josiah was quite fascinated with the fact that the seeds can fly and proceeded to take a handful and throw them 'HIGH UP IN THE AIR MOMMY!'. A soft landing:
which of course led to a quick discussion on how seeds get around :: dandelion and milkweed seeds have the common factor of the wind aiding their travels.

Whew. Hooray for the Internet!

And while I didn't know the ins and outs concerning the biology of the milkweed plant, I do have a fabulous craft idea brewing for those dried out pods. Now that I have no problem figuring out!


November 18, 2008

blogging thoughts

I was in a recent conversation with some women about blogging, which has had me thinking about why I come here to jot down thoughts and record life.

First, let me say that I didn't understand the blog world before :: why would you want to journal to the world?--and seriously, why are we taking pictures of a plate of food or children's antics or a corner of our homes? What is so fascinating about all of that!?

I was more perplexed than judgemental. Intrigued to say the least.

So I began like many other bloggers--to share pictures of my children with family far away. Grandparents, aunts, and other relatives enjoyed the insight to our daily life and connections were strengthened. But then something strange began to happen--an almost metamorphosis kind of experience--

I was liking this blogging world.

In fact, I was soon taking pictures of random items around our home and of the events that touched our lives to share in this online space. I was becoming one of them! And it has been a wonderful & rewarding experience. Here's why~

:: I'm a scrapbooker, but do not have hours a day to put together albums. I wait for the all day scrapping events with friends that are just too few and far between. That said, it's been fulfilling to record our lives here on the blog at a much faster rate {and with more information} than I would have placed in an album anyway! Voila--scrapbook guilt vanished!

:: I enjoy the creative process. Writing, pondering what to write, taking photos to share, learning hotmail & trying new layouts, etc. It's all good.

:: I've met some incredible like-minded women! Yes, I did first think it odd, this online connection & friendship so to speak. But in my everyday life, I don't know many pastor's wives who homeschool and those who would understand the dynamics of that life. Or other Christian African-American homeschoolers...or women who understand this inner need of mine to create, create, create---but now I do, how cool is that!?

But this journal is only a snippet of my life, a snapshot. Reading here will help you to know me more, but it's not the full picture. Just what I choose to share. It's very sad, and a bit unnerving, when I read comments on other blogs blaming women for trying to be super perfect, super Mom, or holier-than-thou elitist. That is certainly not my intent here in this space. I am broken, human and my dishes and laundry do not always get done on time.

But this is also my 'happy place'---where I come to record joy, fullness, and goodness. It's a reminder to me that I am doing some things right and of the truly wonderful life that we enjoy, even with its challenges {which yes, I sometimes do journal about}. This blogging experience has grown much gratitude in my heart. It's not meant to compare or contrast with anyone else, so please don't take it that way! Agreed?

And yes, I have to pull myself away from the computer at times to do my work! The blogsphere is endless and enticing, and there is only so much time in my day for this pursuit. Like right now.....,'s time to go. See ya!

November 17, 2008

simple abundance

Mom, age--well, do I really need to say?--is currently enjoying~

:: that our women's retreat I mentioned in the last post went so very well! We were blessed with a spiritually uplifting time and I was amazed at how each detail came together, since some were unplanned. God is so very exact like that, you know? I'll blog more later, still need to soak it in.

:: a new way to drink tea! My children 'oohed' and aahed' as I opened this recent gift~given along with new loose teas to try and a deliciously yummy cranberry scone {thanks Shirley!}. I had to give them the unfortunate news that these treasures were mine alone. I did wait until after their bedtime to warm up the scone and make caramel apple tea to savor. The saucer, along with it's own matching teacup, was a birthday gift from my eldest. Precious.

:: making preparations for celebrating Advent. My husband reminded me yesterday that the start date is only two weeks away! Our family has devoured these stories in the past {highly recommended for elementary age & up}, but with more little ones in our home, we need some hands-on activities. This one is nice & simple. And for the upcoming Advent, we will attempt making a Jesse Tree by using the resource The Glorious Coming.

:: the music of David Nevue. While spiritually strengthened, I was physically very tired at the retreat's end and after saying my hellos and giving hugs upon coming home, I promptly sat at the piano to enjoy a bit of this gifted artist's music. Simple, lovely & relaxing. Well, until my toddler son decided he needed to play along with me. Noisier, but still lovely.

:: apple pie! For some reason, I am not really looking forward to the winter and the thought came to me--if I made an apple pie every other week, all that we stored up would be enjoyed and winter would be over! An ingenious plan, don't you think?

:: a stack of new books! I rarely buy them, preferring to check books out of the library or borrow as needed. But when I received an Amazon gift card as a present, books were what I ordered. And I'm happy, happy, happy!

What are you enjoying today or looking forward to?


November 13, 2008


The December issue of Martha Stewart Living just arrived to my home and the cover alone has me wanting to go straight to the kitchen to start baking. This magazine subscription was a great gift and while I don't attempt too much, holiday creating is usually a fun pursuit. I will definitely be cooking and making some of the crafts.

But first, I have a women's retreat this weekend to finish packing up for :: and details to attend to for that and for home. It will be exciting to be away with these great ladies from our church!--our time together is always such fun and inspiring as well. The theme I planned for this year is 'Peace, Power and a Pillow' based on the account of Jesus calming the storm.

I won't say much more because there are some readers {and lurkers!} who I'll be with this weekend. So, I'll post a little next week.

Oh, I hope I can wait until Saturday to look at that magazine.....

{stop & notice beauty this weekend :: and give gratitude for it :: enjoy}

let's talk music, part 2

My own personal thoughts are that children should spend several years enjoying music, being exposed to a variety and when and if the spark strikes, to take on more formal music lessons. From my experience, don't rush it and start too early unless there is a strong interest.

When the child is ready {or you're ready to prod him forward!}, here are some thoughts on finding a match:

Traits of a Great Music Teacher:

:: your child will like him!

:: he will make clear what methods used and why

:: she will encourage regular practice

:: she will encourage your child to play music they like as well as other styles

:: he will give an opportunity for the children to display their efforts at a recital or some other format

:: for beginners, he will encourage the parent to sit in the lesson or may record the lesson for the parent to review at home.

:: she will give opportunity for the students to hear her play

I loved my piano and violin teachers! The same Japenese woman instructed me in violin from age 9 until age 17--she had a significant impact on my childhood years, wouldn't you think? It was at her home that I first ate octopus.

I did not know it was octopus.
She told me it tasted like chicken. Why do people always say that!?

It was also the last time I tried octopus.

But, anyway...back to musical thoughts! I appreciated her so much :: and our piano teacher as well. So when seeking out an instructor for your children--consider personality as well. They may be the best or the cheapest or whatever...but if your child doesn't click with him, it could ruin their appetite for music lessons for good.

Not worth it!

November 12, 2008

let's talk music!

a gratitude note sent to my parents recently--

134. for the many years of transporting my sisters and I to music lessons

135. attending concerts, recitals, music competitions and numerous rehearsals

136. encouragement to practice and to keep trying

137. for the financial commitment

a rich investment of their time & resources that has reaped many rewards:

138. fun, fun!--music was the 'sport' in our household, there was always someone practicing

139. the ability to take what I learned and to teach piano, violin and voice for twelve years....

140. ....a great supplement to our household income without leaving my home! {I have fond memories of my children sleeping in a baby carrier by the piano or in my arms while I taught}

141. I appreciate most the opportunity and the skill to teach my own children

In our home are new instruments! We already own a piano, violin, flute, and guitar---and we added a cello and another two violins {all rented for now}. Of course, our voices are instruments as well. I'm a big advocate of music education for children and well, just about anybody who wants to learn! There are so many benefits and learning to sing or play can be a life-long hobby.

Teaching music can sometimes be an intimidating pursuit for homeschooling parents :: I can definitely sympathize as other subjects fit that description for me! I do believe though that the effort to make room for this area is a great gift to any child.

Long before formal music lessons, here are a few ways to encourage music awareness and education with your children:
  • listen to all varieties of music together including instrumentals, solo vocals, classical, jazz, music from various eras, or those from other cultures—I suggest Putumayo World Music for Kids CDs, which may be at your library.
  • train your child’s ear for music! Point out the differences in pitch (high/low sounds), tempo (fast/slow) and dynamics (loud/soft) in any kind of sounds or music you hear.

  • take your child to see real people playing real instruments. Find free concerts at local colleges & churches--check the newspaper. This is a great way to expose your child to uncommon instruments, such as the harp. You don’t have to stay for the whole concert!

  • read books about music and various instruments, the band or orchestra or listen to audio tapes on the lives of composers—I recommend the Classical Kids CDs and you can listen for free here which also has bios on each composer. Oh, try here too!

  • encourage your child to sing! Their voice is an instrument that you don’t have to pay for!

I'll post more on music lessons another day.....


November 10, 2008

birthday fullness

Another revolution around the sun!--the phrase I enjoy teasing my children with on their birthdays.

It's my birthday today and I have such a sense of being full. Up to the brim and running over a bit. The kind that spills into the various crevices of life and makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time :: joy, peace, and much more than I deserve.

I'm returning home from an absolutely great week of seeing old friends, celebrating & sharing with family {my children fully enjoyed their grandparents spoiling them!}, taking in the opportunity to hear my husband 'in action' as he spoke to educators in the Northeast, and savoring moments....

....and I feel full. And gratitude grows in my heart.

photo credit to stock.xchng

November 4, 2008

election day travels

For a visit to my in-laws!

Actually, my husband has a conference to speak at about 1/2 hr away from his parents. So, we're heading up further north and will leave the cherubs with them while we spend a few days surrounded by adult conversation, thought-provoking focus on education and uninterrupted meals! I do enjoy my children's company and I'm looking forward to allowing my in-laws to enjoy their company as well {grin, grin}.

And to be completely honest, their grandparents are quite happy to have me out of the picture :: a little more freedom for them as they love on & spoil a bit their 4 out of 5 grandchildren. I'm okay with that.

Happy Election Day! Consider a study on civics, government or presidents for your older ones:

The book D is for Democracy is excellent & covers many topics such as the election process, the constitution, the 3 branches of government, etc. A free study guide on this book can be found here.

Allow your child to vote today in the National Mock Election for Kids!
Track results tonight with this worksheet.

Compare & contrast some elements of the first inaugural address by Washington with the upcoming one this January. Use a Venn diagram to record observations. Use the same diagram to compare & contrast political parties.

Make your own election lapbook.

Browse and explore these sites: Ben's Guide to the US Government, Congress for Kids

Most importantly, share how God can direct the heart of a leader, any leader of a nation, for His purposes. Even difficult and obstinate ones such as the Pharaoh of Moses' day; and the ones who desired to do His will such as King Josiah or King David. So, we can trust in God more than we trust in man.

There are many more ideas and links out in cyber world I'm sure :: enjoy your week, I'll be back in this space this weekend.

November 3, 2008


Welcome November!

When recently cleaning through some files of photographs I've taken, the one below caught my attention and immediately thoughts spilled from my mind onto paper...allow me share just a bit:

These two trees :: one bleak & stripped bare, the other juxtaposed against it, full & green. If these trees represented lives, my life, with which one would I identify right now?

At times my circumstances leave me bare and exposed, cringing at my appearance. Do others see this weather-beaten season of my life, my austere existence? Do they judge and whisper about my lack? In this period of life, when the glory of externals have fallen and have left me seeing only the 'raw-ness', can I accept my position, my season :: or do I feel the need to hide and be ashamed?

Oh, but other junctures of life bring fullness, joy, exuberance! How I celebrate and await these opportunities! My voice wants to rise up from deep within me and shout :: do you see how well I am!? How green & lush my leaves!? This season brings no shame, no, but perhaps a smidgen of grandiose boasting without refrain.

The moral of these two trees, from my humble standpoint is this:

We will all experience these contrasting seasons in the course of life. As the Creator has taught us through nature, the leaves do eventually fall, and they will come again.

And we will all share an acquaintance with another whose circumstance places him or her on the opposite end the spectrum from our own.

How we respond makes all of the difference.

In my state of joy, do I still see and approach my sister in pain and share comfort from my bounty? Do I care about the welfare of the others close by, or do I rebuff without thinking their bleak and bare selves :: hoping & not wanting it to withdraw from the fullness I'm experiencing.

In my pain, do I allow for such sharing :: those who reach out to demonstrate care, are they received? Or have I convinced myself of the ridiculous notion of acting stronger than I really am, of not allowing anyone to see the raw, real me?

It's time out for all of that nonsense. As part of this big family, we were created for interdependence. Not co-dependent, but allowing for the weak to stand upright next to the strong :: together. And while our hands reach outward in relationship to one another, our hearts stretch upward in response to Him.

The one who understands both the joy and the pain :: because he experienced them both and knows. To God be the glory....


October 31, 2008

reformation day!

from my archives...last year's celebration which we're reviewing and adding upon today.

We wouldn't call ourselves Lutheran or Reformed, yet we desire to study and be encouraged by those in our history who walked & lived courageously for the faith.

Today, may you and I be challenged and reminded of the need to proclaim truth.

{do something fun & light this weekend...enjoy}

October 29, 2008

new books!

Along with ministry & service to our local church, my husband also serves as an educational consultant to private schools :: working with administrators, teachers & other staff. One of the blessings through the years is that we've often received free curriculum and other educational items. This time it was several boxes of books from a school that was closing. To say the children and I are excited is an understatement!

I will list titles in my sidebar of books we're enjoying so that you can check them out for the little ones in your life. And, here's a few of our favorite places online for books:

Big Universe :: full screen online books, hundreds of choices for when you may not have at home a title on a particular subject.

1000 Good Books List :: a great place to find wonderful titles for pre-schoolers to high schoolers, because there's nothing like cuddling up in bed or on the couch with an engaging book!

The Rosetta Project :: a sweet site of online & audio vintage children's books

Kids Learn Out Loud :: a few free audio books and many for purchase--on topics from literature to math to politics; we've found famous speeches here

Also, your favorite authors may have a site for activities that match their books. Ex: Jan Brett's site and her books.

Happy Reading!


October 28, 2008


Using the fading glory of this year's leaves to provide nutrients for next year's planting :: the girls enjoyed preparing the soil as we all worked outdoors to get our garden plot ready for Spring planting...a long way off, but preparations must be made! After paying higher prices for various produce this summer, I decided it was high time we got a bit more serious about planting at least some of the staples--lettuce, tomatoes, peppers & other salad fixings. We need to add more 'browns' to this bit of land in hopes to balance out the pH.

I had to chuckle some while posting these pictures :: my daughters are so very different! One was completely decked out with sparkly purple gloves {it really wasn't that cold}, tights and a headband. The other content to just put on the basics. But they both love the outdoors.

My firstborn? College-at-home-freshman? Not as much. But we forgive her, because she made us these:

With a bit of glaze, they were just right. And she double-batched and froze some for upcoming winter mornings. Her contribution to our preparation days!


October 26, 2008

great expectations

{back in early 2005, I did a retreat for the women of our congregation on simplicity in life :: this is an article I had written for our ministry newsletter to introduce the topic. As I was planning an impossible week of homeschooling recently, the Lord reminded me to adjust & I remembered these long-ago words}

For a week this past December, my husband and our eldest were gone on a trip to Texas, leaving the younger two girls and I home alone. For the first day or two we did wonderfully and then reality begin to hit a little. Jordyn {then 21 months} and Janelle {then age 6} thought life was getting a little too boring. I decided that we needed a change of pace and fast, so the decision was made to go to Pizza Hut to cash in a free pizza coupon.

However, when the assigned evening arrived, I had hesitations. Jordyn had not taken her customary nap and her sister had not slept well the night before—they were both very grumpy. I sifted through the mail while weighing the decision and noticed a note from a close relative. It read: “Thank you so much for allowing your daughters to come and visit us…they were the most well-behaved children…this speaks to the home training they are receiving and to the values you are instilling in them.” WOW! What further affirmation did I need? Throwing all caution to the wind, we packed up and left.
Big mistake #1.

The girls were jittery and jumpy as we tried to order and could not be still long enough to do any of the activities I had brought along. Trying to think quickly, I said, “Let’s sing a song, but softly.”
Mistake #2. Jordyn piped up from her booster and at the top of her lungs began serenading the entire restaurant with the song ‘Jesus Loves Me’, which sent Janelle into giggle mode. The jumpiness combined with the giggling caused a drink to spill, and Jordyn to stop mid-song and clap while loudly cheering “Yeah, ‘Nelle!!! Hoo-ray!!” I was beginning to wonder if it was a crime to run out without paying since we hadn’t eaten anything yet. Somehow, we managed to wait until the pizza arrived.

Later that night, I evaluated my mistake. I knew the girls were quite unprepared for the situation and yet I put them in it anyway. Why? It can be summed up in these words: unrealistic expectations. Webster describes expectation as a mental picture of, or a belief about the future. This is not a bad thing; we all must have an end in mind or goals that we work towards. The writer of Proverbs tells us that we can suffer without a sense of vision (29:18). What makes the expectation unrealistic, and sometimes detrimental, is that we can too often apply it in situations or to persons where there is not the capability for it to be fulfilled. Or we're just plain-old impatient & tired of waiting for the right timing.
Always a major mistake.

My situation with the girls was a piece of cake compared to the variety of times that I placed unrealistic expectations upon myself, my husband, my family…and the list could go on. Ever done the same thing? Perhaps you even did like me with the note from a relative and ‘claimed’ a scripture, a passage from a book, or someone’s advice as the ticket to success, but misapplied it to the situation at hand. I can very much relate.

I think as women, mothers, wives...we can learn to simplify life by dealing squarely with our expectations. If we choose not to, a sickening cycle of hurt, disappointment & then disillusionment will follow. It’s a trap that’s fairly easy to fall into, but not impossible to get out of. So, are there areas of your thoughts that need an ‘expectation adjustment’? Start today by releasing yourself or another, and then enjoy the freedom.

By the way, two nights later at a friend’s home, the girls had impeccable behavior at their dinner table. Prepared for anything, I was pleasantly shocked!

photo credits to stock.xchng


October 24, 2008

just a thought...

"When it snows, she has no fear
for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet."
Proverbs 31:21
No snow here yet, but this morning is quite chilly! While I know many will still have balmy weather for a while, this verse popped in my head as we preprare to head out to the library & classes. It speaks of being prepared. Hmmn...
{I hope for a joy-filled weekend for all}


October 22, 2008

her favorites

{thank you again for continued prayers for our son :: he struggles still with wheezing, but is steadily improving. we ask Him for grace in this journey...}

Jordyn, age 5, is currently enjoying:

1. Tea Time incorporated into her school days :: oh, the pleasure of watching this little one relish in the preparation--setting the table, laying out 'fancy dishes', and relaxing a moment with Mama. And sisters too if they dare join in the bubbling conversation:

'Welcome to my home Mrs. Featherbrush {we make up the names as they come to mind} Would you care for a cup of tea?

'Why, I'd be delighted Mrs. Poppyseed! It has been quite a long journey, for on the way here I happened across....' {and on the story continues as imagination takes over}

2. The Fancy Nancy books :: she has found a kindred spirit.

3. A video on homeschooling families that brings on fits of giggles and dancing. This is a favorite going strong for months now.

4. The Picnic Game. Check eBay, which of course is where Mama fills {with selling} & drains {purchases!} her Paypal account.

5. Cranium Cadoo and Zingo :: other games of great interest for this girl

6. drawing in her nature notebook....

7. cooking, seeking to be in the kitchen often :: making butter & biscuits

8. blocks!

9. her Daddy :: a bond that began in the womb I'm convinced

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