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


October 21, 2008

focus & balance :: homeschooling

Being cooped up in the hospital gave me plenty of time to think :: well, after my hyper-from-the-meds two year-old settled down for a nap!

Each year of homeschooling I ask God to give me a focus, a word of encouragement that would be tucked away and be a rallying point throughout the year. In the past there have been encouragements to 'love them lavishly' or 'explore more of who they are' or even specifics on certain subjects. So this year I was a tiny bit unsettled starting our year without a fresh & new focus, but I simply waited on Him. Okay, a tad impatiently, but I did wait.

Homeschooling was really the last thing on my mind while waiting for my little guy's lungs to settle, so when the encouragement came during prayer to 'teach the basics well', I almost missed it! Now I know that doesn't sound profound, however I've also learned that the hardest thing for a homeschooling Mama to do is...well...

....to stay home.

There are so many great activities & exciting classes to participate in, and we do a little of those since they provide for a variety of needs that we deem important. Oh, but it's too easy to become distracted! And each year or even each semester, I feel the tug. So I am grateful for the 'holy reminder' to make the basics the highlight, the big deal. As I think through this more, you may hear additional thoughts on the topic!

photo credit: stock.xchnge


the gratitude tree

{thank you for the prayers on Josiah's behalf :: he continues to improve}

It's nothing much really :: a few twigs and branches from outdoors, gathered by the children, an old jar, some river rocks & torn scraps of paper.

And yet, there's so much more represented than the materials used for creating.

For my husband's birthday recently, we opted out of traditional card giving and the children and I made this gratitude tree instead. All five of us sprawled out across my bed with paper and markers thinking of ways we're blessed and grateful :: for him. Daddy. My gift from God.

The activity had us reminiscing about ways he's made us laugh or stories that we'll never forget. Older children shared with the younger of happenings long before their time and we all shared in celebration. That evening we enjoyed a dinner of some of his favorites, and gratitude was expressed as he read the scraps of paper ::

"You're the ROCK of the family, Dad!"

"I love you, Daddy. I like when we go on walks together."

"Thank you for taking me on a business trip with you."

"You are an exceptional father."

"I like when you throw me up in the air--thank you!"

No, no...not just bits of paper, but messages from the heart.


October 18, 2008

quick update & prayer request

I'll be missing a few more days as we try and regroup from my youngest being hospitalized the last several days. Again. Three times in fifteen months and the physicians are labeling asthma as the culprit :: hesitant because they normally wait until a child is over the age of five to make a final diagnosis.

Given our son's issues and the severity of the out-of-the-blue and no warning major attacks that he's experienced, we've received a mini-class on asthma from the respiratory therapist and a boatload of information and thoughts about meds. He's on a few now because it's necessary, but I've already started researching how to combat this a bit more naturally as much as possible. I am grateful for modern medicine and yet also want to allow our son's little body to heal without so many side effects. Daunting indeed given his condition....

Be back soon. Please pray for grace, healing for Josiah, strength, and wisdom.

{by the way, any information is appreciated!}


October 15, 2008

sibling conversations

big sister, age 5 sharing with little brother, age 2 :: Mama listening in ::

brother: 'I like Mary!' {Mama is unsure as to how this thought came about}

sister: 'Do you even know who Mary is?? There are two Marys and it's important to know who they are!!' {again, Mama is unsure as to why the need to speak so emphatically}

'Two Marys?" {holding up two fingers}

'Yes. One is Jesus' mother Mary and the other is from Mary & Martha. That's what I mean by two Marys'.

{pause, pause....more pause from little brother}

'I like MARTHA!!'

Disappointed look and shaking of the head from big sister, who also exhales loudly.

Conversation over.

October 14, 2008

animals, animals!

About two weeks ago, a zoo one state over had free admission for the day and another homeschooling friend and I packed kiddos, drinks, food, map & excitement into one van and made the 40 minute trip down. What fun we had!


mouse paint

When I taught pre-school, it was always a bit amusing when we had a focus on colors and parents would start in a little tentatively: "But, my son already knows his colors!" or "If they can identify the colors, will you be able to do anymore with that topic?...I mean, they are just pre-schoolers."

Well, I was always glad they asked!
Josiah is enjoying colors right now, and yes, he could identify them quite a while ago. This particular day we mixed colors and used the adorable book Mouse Paint to read & work with. Using white muffin liners {as the 'mice'}, white paper and food coloring, we mixed away to form new colors as we read through the book.
And, here are a few other options of questions to explore with pre-schoolers:

what happens when we mix {red,blue}, {red, yellow}, etc?

do you see the color_____ in this room? on your clothes? {play I Spy}

what do we eat that is yellow? green? purple? {or take them to the fridge or grocery store to explore this one}

what colors can we find outside? this nature box idea is a great one for this :: try using nature items to make colors to paint with.

share about how God created colors :: read the story of Creation in Genesis and think about the colors that God saw {I've used a pile of different color construction paper & let the child choose which colors match as I read--black for darkness covering the earth, white for stars, yellow for sun, etc.}

share about how colors help us {makes things beautiful, helps to enjoy our world}. inform that some people cannot see colors and everything is shades of black & white.

talk about rainbows

share how our world changes colors :: seasonal changes {ex: leaves, snow blanketing everything in white} or also talk about animals that change color and do a mini-study on camouflage

have your child sort colors :: using pom-poms, buttons, skittles! or other items, have them pile all of the same colors together

use the above items to make either two-color patterns or if your child is ready, three-color patterns {ex: red, blue, red, blue or yellow, red, green...yellow, red, green...}. have them guess which color is next in the pattern

Oh, the list is endless! Have fun and enjoy colors all around.


October 12, 2008

If you haven't seen it yet....


....you should consider it. The stories and heart cries of marriages being renewed are shared from around the United States. It's a movie that is impacting the box office and attracting attention when no one was sure it would.

And I find myself amazed at a church committed to impacting this form of media :: a venue that is so inundated with less desirable viewing material. My husband and I had the opportunity to attend a free preview of the film in August and then later went again with over 25 other couples from church. Here on the home front we're hearing stories of brokenness being redeemed and love igniting afresh.

And Kirk Cameron does a great job! At the preview we appreciated hearing behind-the-scenes stories, and I'll share one. Kirk play a fireman & husband whose marriage is failing and a volunteer actor from the church plays the part of his wife. At the end, when they begin to reconcile, he kisses her. Unknown to some, Kirk has a standard of not showering any other woman but his real wife with full-on-the-mouth kisses. And she was the one to play the double in that scene! That was my favorite tid bit of info among all the ones we heard.

I pray that marriages will continue to be impacted.

October 7, 2008

tired of apples

yep, I'm done with apples.

Many quarts of applesauce line our basement shelves. And this year I decided to try a freezer recipe for apple pie filling and made enough for ten pies. And we still held a few out for eating now.

Did I mention that the cherubs {a.k.a. my wonderful children} who didn't quite pick the apples I wanted them to also picked over 100 pounds!? Long story....somehow I thought our friends who joined us were taking a bit of the stash so it's not a complete case of me not keeping my children in line. And what can you say to the farm, 'can we put a few back please'? My 5 yr-old suggested that we tape them back on the tree.

I know we'll be grateful this winter, but for now, I don't want to see apples for a while.

link of the week

Type in your own spelling list or use one of theirs. The web site will teach the words, saying them audibly and using them in a sentence; will also provide games & puzzles and 'test' and grade your child if wanted. You can then print out a report of the test.

For now, we're not doing regular spelling lessons (word list, test at the end of the week, etc.), but I will use this site for words that seem to be missed often. Check it out, it's fun!

October 3, 2008

apple picking & preserving

If there was anything I really wanted to add to the recent food theme, it would have been a post on the joys of cooking with children. Fortunate for me, I do not mind my children joining me in preparing our food :: for a meal that day or to enjoy at a later date.

We share the labor, they learn skills, I practice patience {yes, it is easier to can applesauce by myself}, I share stories from my childhood & how I hosted 'cooking shows' in my mother's kitchen, and we in general have so much fun. I try to find ways for each child, even my 2.5 year old son, to participate in meal preparations. Not everyday, mind you, but often during the week. It's a memorable time.

Applesauce this year was interesting as I used whatever the children picked. Um, yeah. I tried to keep them in the Smokehouse and Honeycrisp rows {what we used last year}, but some Cortlands & McIntosh are in the mix as well. And maybe an Empire or two. It tasted great warm, we'll see what our opinion is in a few months!


October 2, 2008

the way home

We ride together in the darkness, returning after a time of dancer's muscles being stretched, ballet lessons, my girl and I.

This was a looming darkness, not as friendly as other nights and shadows played with our sight, creating images not truly there, but believable. We turned up the music and sang to hopefully deafen the rising fear in her heart, when suddenly light flashes, no crackling of thunder, but the illumination of the heavens with electrical charges is clearly observed by the both of us.

She gasps and cringes in the back seat. I offer words of encouragement and continue singing, hoping to distract and deter the fear.

"Is there a storm coming, Mom?" I hear the muffled question rising quietly above the music.

"Seems that way sweetheart."

"Are we headed towards it?" The voice is a bit more fearful and I quiet the music altogether.
"I think so, not sure."

"But Mom, why are we going towards the storm?" A question asked in earnest as it pierces my soul. My quick reply astonishes me even more as I comprehend the words:

"Because honey, this is the way home."

Oh Lord, do I hear the words? Am I understanding? Do I see the application for this servant's life?

Sometimes, sometimes, the way home is through the storm. There are no shortcuts, no other roads to take and the option of retreating or returning is not a possibility. Or will offer disappointing results.

How often do I remember that you warned of lightening and storms, of times of darkness? My life, this life though only a vapor, plays a part. I am at times overwhelmed by the news of darkness and shadows all around, of trials and concerns that seem unnecessary, of those who suffer needlessly.

And I too, in my own personal storms as well, want to retreat and remove myself from the picture evolving before me. To find a shortcut around the storm, to take a different road.

But Lord, you often ordain that through the storm is the way home. At times you do not circumvent our pain or remove the searing heat of our difficulties though we cry out in earnest.

But You are always working to get us home. Home to Spirit-controlled living :: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Home to a new character and a greater understanding that while we are weak {yes, we are}, YOU are so very strong. The darkness is not punishment, but the perfecting of mind and spirit :: not a cruel joke or judgement at all, albeit a turbulence allowed by a just and loving God.

And though the lightening dances and the storms rage, arriving home will birth rewards that far outweigh the storm.

Oh Lord, I've experienced this darkness and deliverance cycle several times and yet I often doubt my safe arrival. Help my unbelief...

photos credits to stock.xchng
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