Friday, September 29, 2006

The Cleaning Lady

Today I played the cleaning lady! I read Anna's advice about cleaning at Pleasant View Schoolhouse, and I normally would do just as she suggested, dividing our home into zones and attacking each, one at a time, but today was a full assault! After all my time in the kitchen yesterday (and I am a messy cook!) my kitchen floor needed a scrub! I decided to play cleaning lady and after I calculated what I would save by doing an all house cleaning myself, I was really motivated!

In my effort to absorb the lingering ordors of the chili sauce, I sprinkled baking soda on our carpeted surfaces and left it to be vacuumed in the afternoon. The children have regular chores - when Grammy isn't here to do them before they can! They each tidied their rooms as well because I wanted to do their floors, while I was at it! The mop comes out almost every day, but today all of my floors have just had a good going over, the bathrooms sparkle, the woodwork is dusted and the furniture has a fresh coat of lemon oil and fresh doilies. I even did a few windows and the mirrors! I feel really good about getting most of the house clean at once, but I am tired! I want to attack the kitchen when I'm fresh tomorrow morning, but I don't need to do the oven since it had a good cleaning on Monday! There is nothing quite like the discovery of a stiff mouse beneith your oven drawer to instigate a thorough stove cleaning! It sparkles!

The reason for all this cleaning - why a birthday party of course! Our Dreamer will turn 9 on Sunday! So exciting! If her little friend is well, and she is well - they are both struggling with seasonal colds and asthma I think, we shall have a party!

I am thankful for the energy to accomplish this much - two days of good productivity in a row! I hope to relax and enjoy tomorrow. We always sit down the day before a birthday and look through the scrapbook and marvel at God's rich blessings in our family!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Productive Kitchen Day

Today was a kitchen day for me! Our children had a bit of a break from school work, since they have been very productive and busy lately, and I needed a day in the kitchen. I started early by blanching and chopping a bushel of tomatoes and assembling all of the ingredients for my Nanny's Chili Sauce - in fact it was still simmering away sending warm, spicy, vinegary smells through the house at supper time, and is now jared and pressure canned. When my mom and dad come for a visit they will take the jars and distribute them to our family members. I have been entrusted with my grandmother's recipe, so it is up to me to make a big batch every other year for the family - it's a good thing we have a small family! I don't care for this condiment at all, but it is served with meatloaf, Tortiere (French Canadian Meat Pie), and, of course, roast beef. Some like it with eggs or pork, but I think it is rather overwhelming for those delicate flavours! One year I didn't make enough and my parents ran out of chili sauce. My mom bought a bottle of Heinz and told me it really was quite good and much like Nanny's recipe! After 14 hours in the kitchen today, I really hope this is a good batch!
Natural chicken was a great price locally this week so I baked up a bunch this morning and made a large pot of Chicken Noodle Soup. I love the Swanson Organic broth for soups and I find that they are not at all salty, like their regular broth is. The children enjoyed this for lunch today, and The Storyteller actually had a second bowl. Since he has not had a great appitite with his cold, I was pleased.
I also made a bushel of early mac apples, ' falls' that we got for $2, into sweet spicy apple sauce and froze it. The children have already sampled 2 bowls each and declare it the best they have ever tasted. Of course they say that every time I make it! They also enjoyed thick slices of wheat bread warm from the oven at snack time. I gave a loaf to my friend who comes to iron for me once a week, since her family likes wheat bread too.
As my dear Historian says ' my dogs are barking' (my feet are sore), and my hands and fingernails are stained and dry, but it feels good to sit here for a bit and reflect on what has been accomplished today. My heart is filled with praise to God! He gave me the strength to prepare the bounty He has blessed us with to bless my family and to 'put a little by' for the winter months. I know there are many other women who can work rings around me in the kitchen - including my mom, but when I think of how unwell I felt at this time last year, I am just feeling so blessed to be getting back to the things I love. Posted by Picasa

Another Garden View

This is a photo of the hanging basket beside the back patio door. Earlier in the season there were deep varigated pink wave petunias as well as the purple, but I guess I didn't count on the sweet potatoe vine taking up so much room. If I had taken a closer picture you might see pale pink bacopa too! I always garden in pinks, purples, blues and whites, I think because that is what my Nanny often chose, and I sometimes got to help plant up her hanging basket and front porch baskets. Perhaps someday I will go bold and plant reds, yellows and oranges, but at this point, they just don't make my heart sing like the softer shades! I think I'll do this combo again, perhaps without the sweet potato vine since it really got carried away! Maybe that would work better in a larger area. Of course all of this 'planning' assumes that I'll actually be able to find my garden journal and read it before the frenzy of planting in May! Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 25, 2006

Still beauty in the garden ... and the orchard

Last summer our flower garden was pretty, but this summer it was really nice! There is still alot of beauty in my garden thanks to the wonderful rainy nights and sunny days we have been enjoying. My hanging baskets were nicer this year than ever before and for once I have written the combination down in my garden journal so that I can remember what worked so well, and what didn't work at all! Soon I will bring in all of the ivy, vinca and wire vine etc. to overwinter in pots in the sunroom! If I don't kill them they will enjoy a long life, and help with my spring plant budget.
It is almost cold enough to plant bulbs, but since I see the squirrels still digging up last years bulbs from our neighbours yard, I'll put it off as long as possible. The first fall we were here in the Midwest I planted at the end of November buying 700 bulbs at low low prices - everyone was frantically decorating for Christmas and I was just trying to find floor space amid the boxes! Planting bulbs was an avoidence tactic - I just couldn't face another box! Last year I was more organized, but it was fruitless! I got the bulbs in mid -September and the squirrels unplanted them by mid-November! A happy medium is in order! I have found with Peppermint around the squirrels have moved to safer ground - his natural instinct has increased as his health has improved, and I must say he is quite taken with chasing moles and squirrels! Perhaps my bulbs have a chance this year!
On Sunday afternoon we went for a country drive to a 'pick your own' apple orchard. We had a wonderful and educational time learning how to choose, pick and enjoy different varieties of apples! My extra fridge is supplied with Mac's, Jonathans, Empires, and Jonagolds! We are blessed with the bounty of fall! We were not long - about a 1/2 hour in all, but we have 3 bushels of apples to enjoy. Apple sauce, apple kuchen, apple pies, canned pie filling, down east apple pudding, apple crisp ... mmmmm! We'd best get busy inviting some folks over to enjoy the bounty with us or I'll be finding a few more extra pounds!

Psalm 50: 14

"Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High"

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Just call me Murphy!

My sister has often said that if it were not for bad luck I'd have no luck at all! I know she is just teasing, but there are weeks when I wonder if she might just be right- and this was one of them!
I actually don't believe in luck - I believe in a personal, powerful God who has plans and purposes for my life that are good! I believe in the sin nature of man, and in the problems our sin is affecting in all of creation. This week, I believe that lots of silly, frustrating things have happened to me and my family - but that God is still in control. In the grand scheme of things, my problems are very small, and compared to the real life changing struggles many are facing, I feel almost like the children of Isreal complaning about the manna in the desert. Still, does this type of thing happen to everyone, I wonder?
This week, my doctors office left my bloodwork out and it spoiled and could not be tested, so I had to go back to be re-drawn. They overcharged my debit card and I had to authorize a credit, which may take days to go through, so I'm out of balance for the week! I ordered some Mary Kay products to help a young lady who is just getting started in the business, and my $18 box was empty! How odd is that? My relatively new iron which is a great rowenta professional iron suddenly started sparking and shorted out burning a hole in my ironing board cover - while my wonderful friend who comes weekly to do my ironing was using it! After 10 days on antibiotics for his infection, this morning my husband suddenly developed an all over rash! I could name 6 other frustrating and odd things that happened, but really, I am begining to feel a bit dicouraged!
My mom has decided that maybe she should have called my Murphy - you know the Law "If anything can go wrong, it will ". I'm glad she didn't since I'm afraid it's a terribly sad view of life, and I would have been a very defeated sort of woman.
I think my best bet is to just keep on counting my blessings, knowing that God has good plans for my life, He loves me and will guide me through these little trials. Count it all joy!

James 1:2-3
Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations;
Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mama, I've got a case of the sniffles!

First thing this morning this little Storyteller’s face got close and personal with my face and announced with conviction “Mama, I’ve definitely got a case of the sniffles”.

Oh dear, here we go! Last night as we put The Storyteller to bed, I sensed a bit of sourness to his breath, and his disposition before bed was less than sweet, which is unusual. I am not surprised that he has a cold – the transition between seasons is always a challenge – and especially for a wee lad who hates socks and closed in shoes with a passion! Thankfully, he is hale and hearty and will be right as rain in a day or two at most.

The problem is our sweet Dreamer – she is asthmatic and this is allergy season. After 5 weeks of bronchitis this summer, I was so hoping that she would sail through fall without illness and enjoy some time of feeling well enough to concentrate on her studies and enjoy this wonderful season. She always picks up brother’s germs though, and for her, it is not just a matter of a day or two. Her 9th birthday falls on October 1st, and I am praying she is well enough to enjoy it!

I thought I would share The Storyteller’s plan for getting better quick so that he doesn’t share his germs with sister:
1. Pray – after all God is the GREAT Physician you know Mommy
2. Wash my hands 1000 times a day with soap and water
3. Warm Welch’s grape juice – the warmer the better! (I dilute it with water, but it really makes those sniffles loosen up for him)
4. A long hot bath with Kiss My Face Cold & Flu Bath – he was in so long tonight he lost a layer of skin on his toes!
5. Baby (creamy) Vicks on his chest under his soft flannel p.j.’s (I hate petroleum products but haven’t found anything similar in a non-petroleum base)
6. Kiss My Face Cold and Flu room spray – he can feel the good smells clearing the air pipes in his nose
7. Mommy’s organic chicken noodle soup with thick homemade noodles ‘breakfast, lunch and supper please – you might just leave it in the pot Mommy’

He says since 7 is the perfect number this must be the perfect plan! I’m praying this works for our little guy - I’ll keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Finish Line

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.

There is something intensely satisfying each year as we see the Finish Line approaching as we come off the Mackinaw Bridge on Labour Day. It must be so for the 30,000 plus other folks who walk the Bridge each year too - or else we all wouldn't do it I guess! We really enjoyed the walk again this year, and I think that next year, the 50th anniversary of the Bridgewalk, will be really extra special too.

There are blessings and cursings when your 8 year old can read very well - some quite literally! We saw t-shirts this year with 'h--- NO, I didn't walk the d--- bridge', and that was one of the more mild sentiments! I guess those who wore those shirts haven't quite grasped the satisfaction of a job well done! I only wish they had kept those thoughts to themselves instead of spending $12 to promote it on a shirt - there would have been much less explaining to do for us!

I hope we are teaching our children that keeping steadily on, despite the pressures and problems we face, will bring it's reward - and that they are applying it to the Christian walk. The blessings of this life are many, but the Ultimate Finish Line is ahead, and though heaven is primarily a wonderful mystery, what we do know is that we shall see the Father, and sit at the feet of Jesus. I pray that we will hear' well done' and that our hearts will know 'I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.'
 Posted by Picasa

What are we thinking?

Phillipians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.
I have a love affair with fall! Every year my heart sings as I watch the maples turn to orange and yellow and the air becomes fresh and cool. I see the hand of God at work in His creation and it brings peace to my soul. It seems like my flowers have an extra burst of energy and though the blooms are small, they are bright. I love oven suppers and simmering stew -fluffy tea biscuits just out of the oven and steaming bowls of chili. It brings me great joy to pull hot muffins out of the oven each morning and I pour over recipe books to find new meals to delight my family now that 'grilling season' is winding down. My dear husband and I wed in the fall on the most beautiful day I can ever remember.
I think this love affair with fall is part of the reason that I find Hallow'een such a blight on the season. I love for my children to have wholesome fun, but I don't see anything fun about the way folks in North America are celebrating this day. Quite honestly, I hate taking my children shopping because of all of the dark and evil images they are exposed to right now. I find the gruesome scenes and horrors very disturbing. What are we thinking? How did we let this go so far? Why are we setting these images before our eyes - all in the name of childish 'fun'? How did it become a multi-million dollar occasion?
When our children are asked what they want to be for Begger's Night, they answer ' we don't celebrate Hallow'een, but we do have fun and play dress up almost every day! We don't want to fill our hearts and minds with scary stuff because it doesn't honor God'. Many people take me to task, but there are a few who give us the opportuntiy to speak to them further about God, so it is worth the effort.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,
if there be any virtue and if there be any praise,
think on these things.
It is a challenge to keep our minds focused on what God has for us each day, but it is so important. I found Brenda's post on 'Coffee, Tea Books and Me' so encouraging today!
'We need to know there are others who are holding on to values for dear life, who are meeting hurricane force resistance in living the life we have chosen. It doesn't matter if we have children or we don't, if we homeschool or send our children to public schools, it doesn't matter if we work outside the home or not. What knits us together is our choice to live a life of faith and values.'
Let's encourage one another toward virtuous thinking!

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Historian spent 31 hours in hospital this week.

As I write this, I am still astounded! My husband is rarely unwell, and while we have spent plenty of time at the hospital, it is always myself or our son who has been the one laying on the hospital bed wearing that ever so attractive and flattering hospital gown, and never, ever my big strong, well husband. I'll admit I was a bit frightened, and at the same time, I knew a sense of peace and God's presence. We came home from our vacation on Sunday, and my husband was fine, but a sudden strong infection took hold in his leg Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning he wisely felt he needed to have it looked at. He and I thought he would have it checked and get some antibiotics and he'd be back to work. We never dreamed a hospital stay would be required, but it was. We still don't know the source of the infection, but we do know that it is improving and though he is tired from the medicines, he is doing well.

We have much to be thankful for as I write tonight! One of the things I am most thankful for is the family of God. We are far from family here, but we have our church family and the families in our homeschool co-op. I sent out a quick e-mail and immediately they prayed, called, e-mailed back and offered to help! It was such a wonderful comfort to know we were loved in such a real and practical way!

Tonight we celebrated daddy's homecoming with family Pizza and Video night. My husband is having a really hard time finding rental videos that line up with our family values, or that are not too offensive, but tonight he found a heartwarming story called ' The Trial of Old Drum'. I think we all sat on the edge of our seats, and our sensitive Dreamer & Storyteller shed many tears, but the happy ending was wonderful, so it was all worth while! There were a lot of positive and negative 'teachable moments' in the movie, so I know it will spawn good food for thought and discussion with the children. The 1950's clothing was a joy to see, and there was one dress that made me think of my grandmother, simple yet elegant!

Life often feels like a series of trials and difficulties, and we are often streched beyond our comfortable places. I don't really know how I would handle the ups and downs we have faced without a real relationship with God. I'm finding the only place to find quiet rest in the trials of life is near to the heart of God.

Thus saith the LORD: "Stand ye in the highways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16

Introducing Peppermint!

Just before we went on our Mackinaw vacation, a sickly white kitty showed up at our door. Now, we live on a country road, not far from town, and I understand that there are some misguided folks who think that it is better to take unwanted kittens to 'the country' then to the humane society, because they feel that at least they will have 'a chance' in the country. We have discovered that this is just not so.
After a few days of meowing at our back door, this poor kitten was not doing very well at all. As each day passed he grew thinner and more lethargic, until finally we had to take compassion on him and feed him. Needless to say, he is still around. While we were away a dear friend came and fed him each day, and thankfully, he is steadily growing stronger. We are looking into differnt veterinary clinics to have him cared for - shots, deworming etc., and we will need to have him neutered as well. It is a costly undertaking, but he has firmly imbedded himself into the hearts of our children, so what choice do we have!
The children have called him Peppermint after a favorite little book from my childhood about a poor unwanted kitten who grew up in a candy shop, until one day a sweet little girl took him home and gave him a bath. The mother in the story dropped him in blueing by accident, but it all turned out just fine! The blue kitten won the hearts of the little girls classmates on show and tell day! Well, Peppermint has won our hearts as well! An unexpected blessing!
I have very little knowledge about raising kitties and am concerned that he must be an outdoor cat. We need to get to the library for a good book on the subject! The Historian is sure we are in for a painful loss, since there are many dangers in the woods and on the busy road on which we live, but for now we are just enjoying the blessing of our unexpected pet!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Happy Faces

These are the happy faces of our blessings! Just before The Storyteller's 6th birthday in July, The Dreamer recieved a new pair of roller blades. She decided to clean up her old blades and give them to her little brother. This is a picture of the two of them using broomsticks to steady themselves as they tackle rollerblading. Notice the extra safety equipment - their choice! They both know first hand how hard the ashphalt is!

Today I felt so blessed to be a Mommy. I watched as our Dreamer tackled her schoolwork with zest, decided that she really does like her phonics book now that she knows it has helped her get so far ahead with her reading! The Storyteller actually stayed at his lessons for two twenty minute sessions and thus earned 20 pennies in his jar. He is such a bright and active boy, and I know he will learn to read, but for now, learning to sit is the big challenge! I was able to sit this afternoon and read books to my children and the big hugs I recieved afterwards were a 'blessing bonus'! The Storyteller made a remark at supper that still has me giggling 'Not to hurt your feelings or anything Mommy, but enchilada's sure aren't my favorite meal - they fill a fellows hollow leg up though, so I guess they're not so bad!'

After years of infertility and the painful struggles of an interupted adoption placement, we often wondered about God's plans for our family. Now we have two wonderful blessings and I strive each day to not take them for granted, and to enjoy the moments we share togather! There are days when I would like to just be alone and work on my own projects and get something finished for once. I long to have energy at the end of the day to sew or cook or read without falling asleep, but more and more I am realizing that these days pass all to quickly - we truly are like a 'vapour'. We are called to home school, and it is just for a season - the seasons pass, and one day we will have the time to be selfish. Right now, the blessings of spending my energy in the service of my family is my greatest joy.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Blogging on Vacation

We did it again! We walked the Mackinaw Bridge as a family. God blessed us with such a beautiful day to walk, and the strength and ability to do it! I must admit that having 44 less pounds to carry over the Bridge was helpful to me, as I didn't get as tired and achey at the crest of the Bridge this year! We also purchased a second hand jogging stroller for The Storyteller and that was so very helpful! He actually walked about half of the 5 miles, so we were proud of him! Our Dreamer tired out and grumbled a bit but the promise of Mooney's Blue Moon ice cream at the end of the walk really got her through the grumbles. In our family, only sweet spirited children and grownups are able to partake in the blessing of sweet treats!
We were so pleased to be able to carry on this family tradition - our ninth year! Next year is the the 50th anniversary of the Bridgewalk and we are expecting big crowds. This year seemed a trifle sparse, but there was a good crowd of walkers. With fuel prices being so high, and the media coverage of the 'threat' to the Bridge a few weeks ago, we were pleased to see as many folks as there were.
Now we are visiting my parents in Ontario, Canada! We had a beautiful drive around the north shore of Lake Huron and now were here to celebrate my Dad's 65th Birthday. We are a small family, so it is wonderful to get together for this celebration! The kids are having such a hard time keeping 'birthday secrets', but thankfully Poppa isn't 'pumping' them for information - they are both too forthcoming!
This is our first vacation in 9 months and after months and months of illness for me, and a difficult summer of surgery and poor health for the children, we are so in need of this respite. We should be getting started with our school year, but it is nice to just enjoy this time together. We will put our noses to the grindstone .... next week! We have learned that Lake Huron is very cold but fun to swim in, we have collected all sorts of intersting rocks to look up when we get home and we have fossils and shells to identify. We've learned a bit about the difference between miles per hour and km per hour, and have made a few quick calculations involving time and distance! We have studied maps of Michigan and Ontario and learned how the Straits we walked over connect two of the Great Lakes. We may not be schooling, but we are learning!
So many blesssings to count! I know that I will remember this vacation time as a 'golden moment' ... and when I get around to it, I'll have to put a page of blessings in our family scrapbook! I bought a framed quote at my favourite Mackinaw City store - Teyson's. It says "PRAYER - when life is too hard to stand, kneel". I know just where I'll hang it when we get home!