December 22, 2009

more advent fun

DSC_0007{painting & glittering wooden ornaments}


DSC_0022 {making a snack for the birds :: pipe cleaners & plain Cheerios, hung outside on the trees}

DSC_0027{making ornaments for decorating & giving :: glass ornaments w/tops removed, acrylic paint dropped in & swirled around}

We also continue with our advent calendar of activities; some of what we’ve done recently~

chosen items for families around the world through the gift catalogs of World Vision & Gospel for Asia

snuggled up in PJs and read a book together

given the gift of laughter by telling jokes

gone out to eat as a family (a treat!) and given an extra tip to our waitress

enjoyed a movie together as a family

given the gift of our time by making a ‘coupon’ to serve another

surprised a neighbor with flowers on their doorstep


Hope the Advent season has been an enjoyable one for your family!


December 17, 2009

gifts of the season

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A kitchen full of the season’s sights, sounds and smells…true gifts of Christmas ::

siblings exchanging decorating ideas

gingerbread filling our senses

just as much icing in mouths as on cookies

a new Christmas CD to enjoy (one of Mama’s birthday presents last month)

family togetherness, including our home-for-a-visit nineteen yr-old

full hearts celebrating His coming



December 15, 2009

to stir the soul

I am consistently amazed by the minds of young children :: the questions that arise from their understanding of whatever is being presented causes me to think, to reflect. I’m not only referring to my little ones, but also the many children I’ve had the privilege of teaching through the years. Truly a sight to behold.

Today in the midst of baking gingerbread cookies, pondering the Nativity story…a few of these questions stirred my soul.

“Mom, do you think Jesus missed heaven while he was here on earth?”

“Do you think he was really excited to go back after 33 years of being gone?”


Hands stop the mixer from stirring as this soul feels just as jumbled as the dough…

Oh, my.

I understand the feeling of longing for home, of being away from the place that represents comfort, peace, familiarity. Of wanting so much to return to the place where I belong. Home is dear to me; and while I enjoy travel and seeing new sites…home is often on my mind even then.

But that is not the story of our Christ. He wasn’t just here to visit and take in new surroundings, to collect snapshots. This was a mission He had been waiting to fulfill, one that involved much suffering, much pain. When all was complete, was He ready & excited for the journey home?

I answer my little one with a yes.

Yes…..I’m thinking he was ready to be home; and what a gift that He came.

photo credit


December 10, 2009


To you Jesus, the One and Only

explaining Your story to young minds and hearts pauses me, moves me to contemplation.

You left the glory of heaven.  You came to earth.

little ones ask ‘why?’ and I explain :: but this heart is stirred, watery-eyes accompany my mind’s race to understand such profound love.

You promised to come :: and You did.



I am amazed and stunned really.  The greatest story ever told still rocks my world, still leaves me speechless. Once again we pause to reflect on Your coming into obscure surroundings and situations.  A humble entrance into a world that would both embrace and reject You.

will both accept and deny You.

I simply respond with adoration :: not always consistent or fervent, this act of worship. And I have no words fitting for such sacrifice…

…but perhaps maybe just that I love you and that I thank you.

simple adoration.


December 9, 2009

peanut butter goodness


I am really enjoying the new ‘toy’ in my kitchen, the VitaMix high performance blender :: a long-awaited & saved for treat!   Daily we’re whipping up smoothies, soup has been cooked in it, and the children really wanted to make peanut butter…so we did!  Just roasted peanuts with a little extra canola oil added in. 

Jordyn, our 6-yr old, commented that ‘it tastes just like real peanut butter!’.

Um, sweetie…it is!


December 8, 2009

candy trees and other treats


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Candy Trees to give away!  As part of our Advent celebrations, we made these to share with those in our community who serve us, such as our grocery cashiers, the lady who delivers our mail, our church secretary, etc.  Very simple & easy ::

red & green chenille stems

holiday wrapped candy (these were Crunch chocolates, but could use Reese’s cups or other)

yellow cardstock or construction paper cut into little star shapes (could use a punch or even star shaped stickers?; I used my Cricut machine to cut ours)

Twist the chenille around a pencil or around a finger.  You could press one end into the candy, but we used hot glue.  Add the star with glue and voila!  A simple & fun craft.

We also found some fun little online activities ::  trim a tree or make a custom made e-card to send (you can even add music)!


December 7, 2009

advent celebrations

DSC_0050This year we decided to do a countdown until Christmas Day as a part of Advent :: a string of envelopes marking the passing of time, each with a card explaining an activity we’ll do to keep focused on the ‘reason for the season’. What fun we’re having! This simple tool helped me to prioritize the many, many ideas I had floating through my head and to plan them out. All other thoughts were put to rest for another year.

Each day we open a card during morning basket time. There is a short focus on a theme of the season, such as sharing or giving, and then we have a craft or activity to complete. I opted for some quick & easy ideas some days and others have more time & effort required.

DSC_0051Practical and fun is what I was aiming for :: ideas that could work for a 4-yr old or an 11-yr old, and the 6-yr old in between! So far we’ve….

~prayed for those who may feel alone this season, may Jesus be near to them

~given the gift of a smile

~bought a gift for our Angel Tree sponsor child {our church is participating in this program}

~given the gift of a hug

~written notes of appreciation (or draw a picture) for someone in our family

~shared a special something with a family member

~shared the gift of a Christmas carol with someone—over the phone, at home or somewhere else

~made a treat for those in our community who serve us; example~the lady who delivers our mail

The activities or crafts that have been a part of our celebration (such as the treat mentioned in the last idea)?….well, I’ll share those in another post!


December 4, 2009

granola goodness


Oh yum

the nut & seed granola recipe from Feeding the Whole Family cookbook (available here from Google books; page 81) is SO delicious!  We’ve enjoyed it on ice cream, yogurt or simply plain.  This recipe is sure to be repeated often; fortunately my 11-yr old can handle doing this herself and I’ve dubbed her the ‘granola queen’.  The eight cups the recipes makes was gone fairly quickly so we’ll probably double it in the future.

A great snack!


November 24, 2009

feeding gratitude

As any parent knows, it’s an intentional act to foster the right attitudes and character traits in our children.  As we approach the celebration of Thanksgiving, encouraging a grateful spirit in my children has been a highlight the last week.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the resource A Child’s Book of Character Building which takes various traits such as honesty, diligence, or patience and with simple stories explains the importance from a biblical standpoint.  The easy-to-remember definitions are appreciated as well :: for example, thankfulness is defined as ‘being grateful and saying so’.  This book is one we’ll use again in future years.


We’ve also found some great Thanksgiving books to read!  A few of our favorites right now:

Give Thanks to the Lord

Thank You for Thanksgiving :: the fun rhyming text is great, also a wonderful way to tie together the holiday with the approach of Advent as the book emphasizes being grateful for the gift of Christ.

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving :: great family read-aloud or for older children

The Thanksgiving Bowl :: fun for preschoolers as well~Our almost 4-yr old and 1st grader loved this one!

Mary’s First Thanksgiving

The Legend of Squanto :: a Focus on the Family radio theatre CD that is excellent!  A story of triumph over tragedy that offers more of the Thanksgiving story.  This is our second year listening to this audio and it will probably be a tradition.


Hope you’re anticipating the week as we pause to give thanks!


photos :: some of the children’s crafting for the season



November 23, 2009

what we’ve been up to

DSC_0008DSC_0003 :: a bit of card making earlier in the season

DSC_0026 :: saying good-bye to the birds 

DSC_0048:: trying a new breakfast recipe, French Toast Cups 


DSC_0030  :: diligently working on academic skills

DSC_0037:: enjoying the natural world 

DSC_0230:: making faces


November 17, 2009

to sit a spell

We’re still here, I’m still around.  And here I am to sit a spell….whew.  To inhale & exhale deeply for a few minutes.

The past two weeks have been—wait—the past two months have been very full!  September and October are typically the busiest months of the year for our family and after a relaxing August, the pace of our life did indeed pick up a little speed, right into the start of November. 

I love this quote from John Wesley :: “Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry.  For I never take on more work than I can do with calmness of spirit.”


So, yes it’s been haste around here!  Place to go, people to see, things to plan, homeschooling, housework, church responsibilities and the list goes on…but I have not felt overly hurried.  Or rushed.  Without time to pause (though the ‘pausing’ was often shorter than I would have liked).  This season is over though and I am glad :: we anticipate the holidays, which for us is the most relaxing time of year. 

All that to say—I’m still here and hope to be posting more often!


photo credit


November 2, 2009

welcome november


October golds and reds are fading quickly from the trees, the air is frostier…

and we anticipate this new month. November, what do you bring and offer?


October 29, 2009

so many projects, too little time

Creating and making things for some people may be a stress inducer, but for me it has the opposite effect.  So after a very full schedule last week, I decided to pour through the need-to-finish crafting list that actually never gets fully completed.  What to do, what to do!?

I finally chose a project that would require little effort since I was really supposed to be lying in bed due to flu-like symptoms.  Seen here first, it was one of those projects that got me off the chair and roaming around the house to gather supplies already found in various rooms.  A quick trip to rummage through my sticker stash for rub-on letters and voila!  A new centerpiece for the dining room.  These “grow in gratitude” glass containers will be around for a bit.  And to think I went to the Dayspring website just to send an online card!

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I used to reward myself with crafting time, you know, after everything else gets done (or close to it).  It took me a few years to realize that everything rarely ever gets done and that it was frustrating me greatly to not take time for this avenue of creativity.  So, that mentality got changed big-time.  Creating and crafting is now a part of my life more and a part of my schedule as well.  It’s not a special reward, but just what needs to be done like the dishes, cooking or lesson planning.

Most projects are for the family or our home in some way, so I see it as part of homemaking—I budget both time and finances for it, however big or small.  I am a happier woman!  And you know what they say about Mama being happy….


October 26, 2009

soul cries

Oh Father, we miss her. We really do.

And while we do not sit with questions of ‘why’, our soul cries out to You in real pain.

To the One who understands our loss.

This grief is so very small compared to the man who called her wife and the children who’s mother is not there at night. We share in their own soul-cry journey from a distance.

And we miss her too, wishing for just one more trip out west…another opportunity to share with friends. It’s difficult for us to accept that those days are over, her passing to Your eternal glory leaves a void here on earth :: and the living grieve.

Comfort your people, O Lord.

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Gratitude today for ~

:: bread pudding. Our favorite ‘Annette recipe’ has not been made quite yet, but yesterday we enjoyed a local taste & recounted memories, with tears yes, but precious memories they remain.

:: early morning conversations~spouse to spouse. enjoyed today and reminding me of how our dear friend would never let us get by with a quick ‘fine’ to the question ‘so, how are things?’ We appreciated it!

:: the opportunity for friendships. deep, real friendships.

{photo ~ so completely Annette! At our last campfire together, May 2007, she says ‘Let’s take pictures at the same time!’ So we did.}


October 19, 2009

grace abounds

autumn leaves

At the start of a very busy week, one filled with many tasks…I first pause to give thanks ::

for sunshine and leaves, both bright and bold

laid-back Sunday afternoon and evening, a simple day

with a ‘funny dinner’ (my children’s words) of homemade bean dip, blue corn chips, popcorn and grapes

hot tea at the end and start of days

Sunday sermon reminder of His love being the foundation for His law, bringing us life

children’s voices, rising & falling :: more of the first than the second, but that’s okay too

for grace :: abundant, lavish, and available

photo credit


October 15, 2009

autumn food planning


There’s always a lot of planning happening around here, and organizing our lives is a major job in itself! One of my favorite parts is when there’s time to leisurely sit (okay, so it’s not all that relaxed) and make plans for our meals. Every once in while though, I feel that preparing & cooking has gotten into a rut :: or just survival mode as I’ve been in the last several weeks post-baby. I’m good with that, it was necessary.

Last week new cookbooks and magazines were taken out to peruse through and I became a little distracted by it all. Not much real meal planning got done. The grocery list remained short with just ‘mushrooms’ and ‘spinach’ as listed items. Ahem. But, it was loads of fun! Which of course makes it completely worthwhile in my book.


Some gems that came my way~

:: A magazine from this company had my attention for most of the hour. I had no idea there were so many cookie molds available, though I won’t be purchasing any in the near future. Beautiful…

:: Rustic Fruit Desserts ~ our local library had this one and what a great cookbook! I really enjoy baking though sweets are not my favorite foodstuff (I’m more a savory type of gal). Lots of information on each berry and fruit for baking cobblers, buckles, crisps and more.

So I was rather unfocused as my family cannot live by cookies and fruit desserts alone. I did look through Simply in Season ~ not new to my shelves, but one that’s not been used for a bit. Great soup ideas here; we can live on that.

This time of year provides for some enjoyable meal plans, all of that great comfort food…yum.


October 9, 2009

9 weeks




nine weeks ago ::

we didn’t know you yet

hadn’t enjoyed your smile

or gurgling newborn sounds

we couldn’t wait for such a long time and now you’re here

as if you’ve always been.


how can we not give thanks?

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