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....

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