May 23, 2008

A Bit of Embroidery

Remember I was trying to figure out what to do with the scraps of fabric I couldn't resist at Joanne's? Well, I'm still not sure exactly, but have begun snipping and placing fabric here and there and doing a bit of embroidery.

In the search for some tutorials on the subject, I came across some sweet sites. Embroidery fans may already know these well, but here we go anyway:

I really like these designs from Homeberries. Definitely am going to try a few of these animals on a shirt of Josiah's.

Needle n' Thread has a large video library of how to sew all kinds of stitches!

And Pattern Bee contains many, many vintage patterns.

While still enjoying papercrafting and scrapbooking {though I'm sooo very far behind}, the pleasure of embroidery is found in the fact that I can take it anywhere. No hauling of lots of supplies or other items, just a little bag. Very nice.

In other news, gratitude expressed in so many ways:

87. anticipating a full and fun weekend with my husband's extended family

88. for ample finances to meet our needs

89. and finances to dip into our 'wants'

90. having wrapped up another year of homeschooling

91. and feeling very good about it! {can I hear an amen from the homeschooling mamas!?}

92. for a greater understanding that success in that area is not solely measured by achievement testing, grades and the like. while helpful, it's not our only standard.

have a blessed and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.


We're Done

{Huge exhale from Mom}.

Our school year is officially done today. In our state, the law requires that we record having had school for 180 days....

Welcome Day 180, you're finally here!

Shouldn't there be a special gift for the teacher? :o)

over the next few weeks, we'll review some of the highlights besides the ones we've posted about and also share what's in store for next yr as far as curriculum plans & such. for now, we're off this weekend to visit extended family at our huge family reunion! have a great weekend.

But, why not?

Yeah! I can run around outside in my pajamas! So what if the footsies are getting muddy because it's wet outside? This is the life...adventure all the way! Now that I can open the back door, everyone watch out.

Awww, bummer. Mommy caught me. Gotta go inside.


May 22, 2008

Prayers for the Chapmans

Very sad news for the Steven Curtis Chapman family. Please keep them in your prayers.
The picture link or other may not work at first probably due to high traffic on their site. Their youngest daughter died yesterday at the hospital after being struck in the driveway of their home.


May 21, 2008

They're Blooming!

The rhododendron bushes in the front of our home are making their blooms known. I've been enjoying taking pictures of the flowers around us or in the neighborhood. Beauty everywhere.


Lists, Lists, Lists!

I'd like to think I'm the queen of lists. But, after today I realize that's not true. Simply because I've discovered a site that houses many, many for the using!

Getting ready for a garage sale checklist, moving lists, grocery lists, health and healthcare checklists, bill paying checklist...

...and on and on! I found it by looking for a list of the US states and capitals (yep, that's on there also).

Check it out and get organized! :: Printable checklists


May 16, 2008

Bittersweet Moments

Pitter, patter...

Pitter, patter...of little feet running across the floor, when he should be in his crib?

{Sigh}. He's growing up and this Mama trying to accept the excitement and sadness at the same time. Can I sigh again? Because I love the baby and infant days. Sure, sure, not the wakeful nights :: but the smallness & utter dependence, infant yawns, nursing that precious little body, sweet baby bathtimes...all of it.

And after four rounds, it's come to a close.

Oh, so bittersweet.

82. the privilege of rocking

83. feeding and nursing

84. bathing and playing with

85. and staring for endless hours into the eyes of

86. four precious, beautiful children

Have a blessed weekend.


Sugar & Spice

Our church has a girls' club entitled GEMS where part of the purpose is for women in the congregation to interact and teach girls 4th-6th grade. Once a month everyone comes together and a few women share practical skills. There is also time for devotionals, games, creative movement & worship and lots of laughter!

The end of the year activity was a tea party! Very special as the girls learned etiquette and table manners appropriate for such an event.

After a summer break, it will all begin again in September! Janelle really enjoyed this new ministry focused on younger girls. Jackie assisted each month with teaching the creative movement dance to a smaller group of the girls, who presented the song "Come, Now is the Time to Worship" in church on Mother's Day. Worshipful and Beautiful!


I'm a BIG BOY!

So, I've been trying to tell everyone that I'm growing up. Josiah is no longer a baby. Hmmmm, not too sure that they have been listening, so I felt the need to demonstrate my maturity.
I climbed out of the crib.
I can't fully describe the exhilarating feeling of escape! The look on Mommy's face after she heard little feet running around and finding me sitting at the top of the stairs Mastercard would say....priceless. I kinda was aiming for the shock effect.
I simply said "Hi Mommy!! I'm a big boy!!"
So off went the crib. At 2.5 yrs old, I think Mommy needs to let go and release me into full-blown toddlerhood. I got to help Daddy take the crib down:

And now, my big boy bed is on the floor. I am SO happy!!

the red, white & blue blanket is one Janelle made for me before I was born. Thank you Janelle.


Too Much Stuff?

As part of Spring cleaning, I've been evaluating our children's 'stuff' lately. Their toys, their clothing, books, educational materials, etc. It has been a good process and also necessary. The question has not only been whether or not we have too much stuff, but how much is what we have getting used? Or sometimes, we simply have too many of the same kind of thing!

I do enjoy offering a variety of playthings though. The pursuit now is to offer primarily open-ended toys. The others have a place in our life too :: we like the computer games and other techno stuff that adds some spice. And of course things such as puzzles and certain games are great.

The children have been involved in the process and yes, we've carted off some boxes and bags to give away. Now, the temptation will be to replace some of the missing items, but we're learning to be content with a bit of simplicity.

If you haven't seen it already, this video about stuff is food for thought.


May 15, 2008

Approaching 100...

76. because of the new harp {scroll down for a picture}, a feeling that's overcome me, to be only described as giddiness!

77. the decision to not garden this year; not necessarily grateful for that, but simply because we've reached a decision. make sense?

78. anticipation of Tuesday farmer's market days...

79. ...local and fresh produce :: supporting the farmers who work diligently to grow our food

80. flowers to plant this weekend. no veggies, so abundant flora will have to suffice

81. the almost-there appearance of our rhododendron bushes {got to capture of pic of that}


Green Living

I can't say I live the fully green life, whatever that looks like. But, we've made a couple of changes over time. One habit tackled before another began.

I enjoy looking through Lehman's catalog and dreaming of living the partially non-electric life. My dear husband would probably only join me to a point, so my imagination must fill in the blanks!


May 14, 2008

Breathing Again

This is not in reference to any physical ailment or struggle.

But of a more intimate and personal struggle of my heart. It's taken a few reminders and other voices besides my own to bring along the recognition. I've been holding my breath so to speak. Waiting to exhale, if I can borrow that term without any of the theatrical or Hollywood implications.

There is a bit of an awakening occuring in realizing and resurfacing some of the passions placed on my heart. Some of the gifts breathed into my life by the only One who can accomplish such a task.

When did I stop believing the message I so often share with my children? That there will be some things the Holy One places on your mind to ponder, your heart to delight in, and your hands to do....that you must accomplish. It will be like breathing, it must happen, despite the odds.

Without food, a person can survive several days. Without water, a little less. And some pursuits are understandably in these catagories :: on the sidelines anticipating their return into my life. It's not the time or season, and I willingly accept this. But there are one or two that are like taking a breath. It's necessary or suffocation is soon to occur.

So, when exactly did I start holding my breath waiting for a new season, after this or that, to move forward? I'm not sure. And, I should write what these passions are, and in due time, after it simmers in my heart a bit more, I will. But, more importantly now is the pursuit of coming back. Revisiting. Breathing again.

I have been shaped by Him to do, to give, to live, to pursue :: "It is He who made us and not we ourselves" the psalmist writes. I must pause and remember.

pictures taken Mother's Day :: from my favorite cottage location, a quick respite gift from my family


May 8, 2008

Wonderful Gifts!

I believe a cup of water can be much more appreciated in the desert place, than if we live next to a river. So, in the midst of this place and some trying experiences {and a bit ongoing} concerns with our young son's health, I am soaking in the gifts all around. In fact, it's becoming more of a habit to slow down and notice them each day.

68. sweet potatoe pie making, just because

69. new monthly arrivals in the next year! a surprise, free gift
70. the opportunity to attend our state's upcoming homeschool convention, for the first time

On that note, I am happy that in past years I've postponed attending. Usually the reason has been because our curriculum was already chosen and the need to look through new books, etc. didn't present itself as important. This year however, there is much more focus for me on the 'why' behind our homeschool journey. A fine-tuning of what types of books, curriculum, or even{gulp!} lack of curriculum closely relates to our vision. With fresh eyes I approach the vendors and look forward to being renewed and refreshed by speakers who have walked this road a bit longer.
71. new fabric colors to play with and manipulate into something,
not yet sure what
72. the gift of humor and laughter, abundant in our home
73. recording moments and pieces of our lives on new camera equipment

74. shared vision and oneness with my spouse :: in commune with one another, humbly attempting to build this home into a picture of what Christ intends

75. yes! a long-ago wish come to pass :: a new instrument in our home, on borrowed time from a friend, but enough to figure out if the enjoyment is to last. I am plucking away already.


May 6, 2008

Time with God

After skimming through this book recently, I've been wondering & thinking on the idea of 'spending time with God' and the expectations of how this is to take shape in our lives. I'll say first that I truly do believe that time set apart and specifically dedicated to pausing life and listening for His voice has a place in our lives.

However, I've been challenged in my thoughts.

The author asks the question: have we come to believe that God is only found in the isolated place? That His words of direction, of wisdom, or of comfort can only be heard when we've walked away from our daily rhythms and secluded ourselves?

I enjoy quiet. I find the most energy, emotional fuel and yes, spiritual renewal from being alone for a bit, and then I can more fully enjoy the company of others. So the time spent in quiet moments, I protect and relish {and they are sometimes few in a our full family life}.

But what about when this cannot always happen?

Should we feel guilty that we didn't have a 'quiet time' with the Lord? A secluded, set apart & daily practice? I cannot tell how many times I've led women's Bible studies and heard from numerous voices the shame, the guilt...the pain felt of not living up to a particular standard.

And my heart would shudder some at the possible ripple effects of this thinking. Thoughts I've battled with as well.

I've been pondering the past month. God speaks to me so much in the everyday :: His voice and presence are all around me as I accomplish the tasks of laundry, enriching little hearts and minds, and changing diapers. He's in my everyday practices and wants to meet me there as well. I believe his desire is for my eyes to see the 'living parables' as the author puts it, in my routines.

No separation of the sacred and the secular. No guilt. Only listening closely and watching carefully for Him :: in the everyday.

So, while I'm not up for debate, I'm open to your thoughts. Similar or otherwise. Or the thoughts of others if you think there's interest; feel free to link to this post.


May 2, 2008

A Do-Again Field Trip

Yes! We would do this field trip all over again. I'm (Janelle) going to report since I probably have the most to say {don't laugh those who know me!}.

The trip to the White House complex was a great experience! I felt so important and honored to be walking around where the offices of some very prestigious people are. Security is a really big deal! Here we are getting our badges to enter:

Well, yes. The whole briefing was a bit over my head, but I caught on to one major thing: not everyone finishes high school and there are more dropouts than ever!! I was really so shocked! I guess at nine-years old you don't know everything. Typical to my nature Mom says, I told my Dad that we needed to do something. Of course, that was the reason for him being there.

We had the opportunity to hear Alma Powell speak, wife of Colin Powell. She spoke on the fact that even though some kids are graduating, they may not be ready for college. I thought she was a great speaker & seemed to know what she was talking about. Yeah! Got to grab a picture with her:

And, we really were SO close to the White House, right on the same grounds. Here is a peek outside of the window on the floor where we were:

Overall, it was good to be there. I need to think a bit more about what I can do because I feel the need to DO something. My parents said I can start by graduating from high school. Ha! Ha!

I came home and wrote a mini report on all I saw and experienced and some of my ideas. Maybe I'll share them at some point!


It Wasn't Too Bad

The days in the hospital weren't too bad. I got lots of attention and really enjoyed talking to ALL of the nurses, doctors and other staff! I'm pretty sure I left my mark on the place.
I'm feeling better, breathing better and home on meds. Thanks for praying everyone!!


May 1, 2008

Time to Swap

swap blogpost

This time it's bars & cookies!

I posted w-a-y back in February about some delicious treats for my sweeties; is the recipe. I shaped mine into hearts, but the recipe is a slice & bake one.

Chai Shortbread

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
dash of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup powered sugar
10 TBsp butter, softened
1 TSP ice water

Spoon flour into measuring cups and combine with next 5 ingrediants (through pepper), stirring well with a whisk. In separate bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until just combined (will appear crumbly). Sprinkle dough with ice water; toss w/a fork. Divide dough in half; shape into two 6-inch logs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.

Oven at 375. Unwrap dough and slice each log into 18 slices. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Yields about 3 dozen.


The Wind is Blowing

Not the actual weather, but our family atmosphere and climate. It seems that at first a gust of busyness took over and then we've peacefully settled from that. But last week and this week, I'm simply unsettled by the blowing in of unplanned events!

Our youngest was hospitalized the last several days for difficulty breathing. It's trying to watch your children struggle and to wait patiently for their bodies to recuperate. Which it did, finally. Today I find myself tired (it's difficult to sleep on a hospital cot) and somewhat disoriented in trying to accomplish simple tasks. Such as remembering what day it is.

And yet, my heart swells up in gratitude:

61. for the exceptional beside manners of all of the hospital staff
62. for the quick response of our pediatrician and...
63. ...the availability and access to modern medicines

I have to pause here and say that I cannot imagine the plight of mothers around the globe who must sit, and with no hope of recovery, watch their child battle for physical strength. Their pain I do not pretend to understand, but my heart aches.

64. the prayers of the saints. we felt surrounded by a protective covering

65. the knowledge that I was not alone

66. the bold exclamations of His gentle scriptures

67. for several days this weekend in which there is no large agenda; we will use them to gather together and reconnect.

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