Monday, October 30, 2006

Long Distance Love

When The Dreamer was very young, I heard a speaker on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast encouraging grandparents with tips for fostering close relationships with grandchildren who lived at a distance. One suggestion was to read stories to their far away grandchildren on tape so that they could listen to the voices of their grandparents and feel the love and warmth of that special relationship. I told my mom about this plan and she got right to work - even roping Poppa into the fun sometimes!
We have lived 4 to 12 hours by car away from my family for all of our children's young lives, so these tapes have been absolutely precious to our children! My parents have selected Bible stories, animal tales, hero's of the faith, biographies, silly stories, seasonal stories and many others to read to the children, and quite often they give the book along with the tape. The children have many tapes that include special messages from their far away cousins, musical selections on the harmonica from Poppa and special stories that Grammy shares with her Awana Club kids.
I can honestly say our children adore their Poppa and Grammy. They talk about them, pray for them, pine for them and smother them with hugs when we are together. They love to listen to their tapes during play, at rest and often as they go to sleep at night, though A Visit with Mrs. G Bible stories are the top favorite for bedtime! I don't know how many afternoons I have been busy around the house during quiet time and wandered into the hall between bedrooms only to hear my mom reading one story to one child and another to the other! It is very special to me too!
The only time we cannot have Poppa and Grammy stories are for the few days immediately following a visit, when the longing to be together is just too fresh and the miles apart too real. Often we have come to The Dreamer's room and watched as tears flowed freely down her face as she listened to Grammy's voice and wrapped herself tightly in her soft knitted Grammy blanket. That's when we have a good cuddle and get on the telephone for some first hand 'hugs and kisses over the phone', and everything is right once again.
With Christmas coming, I just thought that I'd encourage you! If you are a long distance Grammy, or have a long distance relationship with any special child - read on tape, digital recorder, or cd, I guess, now that many have the technology for that sort of thing! It's certainly not an expensive gift, but what a treasure it will be to the children who hear the voice of someone who loves them!

A Recipe

The double batch of snickerdoodles are gone! Vanished! The Historian delclared them ' perfect', but he really didn't get very many! Good thing tomorrow is baking day! I was thinking about apple recipes and trying to decide between two favorites! Since I have not made crisp for quite a while, I think tomorrow might be the day! Here is the recipe in case you'd like to try our favorite - though I am sure there are many other great recipes in your recipe boxes! I will say, this crisp is really crisp - certain children who will remain nameless, have loosened a baby tooth or two on this family treat.

Rich Apple Crisp

Base:
8 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples (best for firm apples - we'll be using winesaps)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Combine fruit, sugar, spices and flour and place in a greased 9x13 pan.

Topping:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
2/3 cup softened butter
Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apple base. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with ice cream! Enjoy!

Variations & Hints
1. I often half this recipe and make it in a greased pie plate just for our family of 4.
2. Substitute 8 cups of mixed berries and eliminate the spices. Frozen berries work wonderfully too.
3. I like to lightly toast the nuts beforehand, if I have time.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Humility

My parents always said that children will keep you humble, and I am finding this to be too true. I was out alone for the evening at a children's book party, doing a bit of Christmas shopping. The Historian took over after dinner and put the children to bed alone. At some point during the wee hours of the night, The Storyteller felt compelled to venture into our room to check on my safe return home. In the morning I was greeted with, "Mommy, I checked on you in the night and saw your bottom side in bed under the covers and when I saw the round plumpness of it, I knew you were home safe and I was glad."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Home Woman

'Along with her dresses for wear each day, it is essential that the home woman supply an outfit or two for her duties and pleasures outside the home. Among many women, there is a tendency to overlook such needs, and as a result they gradually slip away from social activities with the much used excuse "I have nothing to wear." This should be entirely unneccessary, for the proper enjoyment of one's friends and neighbors is not necessarily dependent on a supply of new clothes, but rather an intelligent use of what in on hand and the proper foresight in adding to the wardrobe in the future. Such a list as the following will provide a guide that need not be followed in it's entirety but that can readily be adjusted to the requirements of the home woman no matter what her circumstances.'


From Woman's Institute Library of Dressmaking 1924 on Planning Wardrobes Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Timely Tip

On Sunday, we end Daylight Savings Time here in our neck of the woods. Turning the clocks back an hour in Fall, or forward an hour in Spring has always been a big adjustment for the children and I. We found a simple way to make the seasonal time changes without quite so much difficulty. We begin changing our daily routine by 15 minutes each day for 4 days before the actual time change. This means going to bed, meal times and rest times are all changed gradually, instead of expecting everyone adjust in one day. It works well for our family so I thought perhaps I would share my tip for you to try! The trick to remembering this tip is to write it on the calander 4 days before the aforementioned change occurs - and it really doesn't help to write it in the wrong week as I have done this time! I really am a bear of very little brain sometimes!

Forgiveness


Psalm 51
selected
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight,
that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest,
and be clear when Thou judgest.
Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, Thou desirest truth in my inward parts;
in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation,
and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.
O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.
For Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it;
Thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
The first part of this Psalm is so desperately hard to read - it is the really bad news. God sees my sin. We don't like to look that hard at our own sin, do we? It makes me really, really uncomfortable. Like David, the Psalmist, I need to look at my sin truthfully, confess it openly to God, and turn from it. That is when I see clearly the utter beauty of my God, and the amazing blessing of His love and forgiveness. The hard looking produces something more wonderful than I can imagine - re-creation, a thorough washing, a clean heart, a renewed spirit, and joy! joy! joy! so much joy that my heart overflows with praise for The One Who has forgiven me. God doesn't love me any more or any less when I acknowledge my sin - He just loves me. Facing my sin head on, and seeking His forgiveness is for my heart's blessing. This week I have been very blessed!

Chasing Away The Doldrums


We have awakened to another dreary, wet day here in the Midwest, just when I was hoping for a crisp, sunny day to get out and plant my bargain perennials from Lowe’s. Fiddlesticks!

I was on the verge of discouragement when I decided to count my blessings and make my home a place of refuge on such an uninspiring day. Here is my plan for chasing away the doldrums:

1. Set some cider simmering for steaming mugs of comfort against the chilly afternoon
2. Light my favorite candles, turn on some soft lights and count my blessings!
3. Play ‘Autumn in New England’ and other instrumental favorites continuously on the c.d. shuffle mode
4. Sit down and write an encouraging note to a friend – after all if I’m feeling the dreary day blues perhaps someone else is too!
5. Get going on some tidying up – set the children to work in their rooms and give the house a ‘lick and a promise’ vacuum and cleaning
6. Cuddle up with a favourite book, my two favourite kids and a bunch of blankets on the couch for a good read!
7. Have the children help me bake Daddy’s favorite cookies – snicker doodles
8. Make some cheerful ‘ we appreciate you notes’ for The Historian


Well, I best get started! So often I find that my emotions are fickle. I don’t always feel like being loving, cheerful, patient or kind, but I can always make a choice to do what I know I should do, and happily God supplies the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control!

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Snippets

I hate to leave you hanging, so I’ve decided this is a good place to tie up some loose ends.

Concerning the lovely 175 year old farmhouse offered for sale in our community; the Historian and I have prayed about this and have come to the conclusion that we are not to place an offer at this time. It’s funny because I thought I would be so disappointed to come to this conclusion, and I’m only relieved. We were so excited about the possibility of living in an unspoiled historic home on almost 7 acres with an old barn, spring, old apple trees, and a babbling brook. The reality is that restoring this home and property would take an enormous amount of energy, effort, time, and money. We had to weigh the facts carefully before we came to the conclusion that God’s timing is perfect and He will supply this kind of home when and if it is right, or He will remove our desire. For this season we are enmeshed in the joys of parenting the two gifts we have been given. It is such a short season, and we don’t want to miss it, stressed out by renovations! Right now we are working on improving my health and the many small projects involved in rejuvenating this 1950’s ranch and making it a place to call home for our family, and that is enough. For now. Isn’t life much simpler when we wait for God’s perfect time?

For those of you who are wondering, my injured nose is much better. It has been two weeks since the disastrous connection my nose suddenly made with the handle of our big shovel, thanks to our sometimes disobedient Storyteller. That it is so much better is an answer to prayer. After going through the lovely shades of healing and feeling a bit like I was applying cover up with a trowel, I can now say the bruising is gone, the swelling has vanished and my sense of smell has returned. The only things that still hurt are sneezing and The Storyteller’s rather arduous smooches! I feel so blessed that the accident wasn’t worse, especially since, like Anne Shirley ‘I have always been rather fond of my nose’.

Mr. Peppermint, our adopted cat, is fully at home in our home! Goodness, just how did that happen you may wonder, since he was supposed to be an outdoor cat? Despite my mild allergy to cat dander, we were compelled to bring Peppermint in after his neutering surgery since he was unable to defend himself in his delicate condition. He was the model patient and houseguest, but when we finally allowed him out, he was off like a shot! Since that time however, when the door opens, he is finding his way in to the sunroom/mudroom and placing his person contentedly on our oversized wicker chair. Hmmmm. It seems he doesn’t care for cold, wet weather! He still spends plenty of time outside, but our sunroom is no longer our own! When he attempts to sneak into the kitchen or to cozy up in the other chair under the plethora of pillows he finds himself OUT! Aren’t I mean?

P.S. I would love to know how to link back to my old posts to make it easier for you to find what I am refering to, but I still have not figured it out! I would be happy for any hints! Isn't learning something new frustratingly fun?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Cookie Path

There is a small opening in the cedar hedge between our property and our neighbours. We call it the Cookie Path. Our neighbour is a very spry and independant 89 year old widower who greatly misses his dear wife. His companion is a rescued black lab named Molly, and she is a fine defender of this gentleman! Mr. Neighbour has wonderful daughters who come regularly to check on him, help him with his home and garden, and bring him, as he says 'leftovers'. He is very active and busy, still driving on his own, so he is out a great deal.
Today as The Storyteller sniffed the wonderful aroma of Anna's Schoolhouse Brownies from Pleasant View Schoolhouse and Kelli's Butternut Tea Bread from Kelli's Blog he asked if he could be the one to take Mr. Neighbour his treats through the Cookie Path. When everything was cool and ready to take he slipped through the Cookie Path to share with Mr. Neighbour. When he came home from his little visit with Mr. Neighbour, his eyes were shining "Oh Mommy, it just feels so good to share God's love with Mr. Neighbour". In his hand he was holding two little packets of store bought cookies from Mr. Neighbour, for he and his sister. He shared willingly, then off to playing he went!
I was talking with a new friend about how she feels about some of her new neighbours. They are in many ways on opposite ends of the spectrum in almost every arena, and her neighbours have taken to ribbing her and her husband about the differences they see. My friend is determined to make every effort to continue to offer friendship. I'm sure it will be trying at times, but I really admire her desire to be a good neighbour. My sister has also had recent difficulties with her neighbours which have caused a real strain in their relationship, so I guess I'm thinking a great deal about neighbourliness. We have had some real challenges in the past with our former neighbours, so we do understand.
We are trying to teach the children that as much as it is up to them to 'live at peace with all men' (from Romans 12:18) and to be the kinds of neighbours that Jesus asks us to be. Little moments like today when we see how our children are grasping the satisfaction of doing what we are called to do really encourage me! I pray that our friendship with Mr. Neighbour will soon give us the opportunity to share much more than cookies with him - that we might help him know a real and lasting relationship with Jesus Christ.

Psalm 100


Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing!
Know ye that the LORD, He is God; it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise!
Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name!
For the LORD is good, His mercy is everlasting;
and His truth endureth to all generations.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Saturday Night Routine & Shoe Care

In an effort to make Sunday mornings as smooth and enjoyable as possible, we have attempted to establish a 'Saturday Evening Routine' that works for our family ... when we do it! If we know we are having company or will be out for the day on Saturday, we often do as much of the routine beforehand as possible - even Friday afternoon when necessary! This is how it goes:

The Children:

  • Early supper - no later than 5:30pm - often it is something quick and easy
  • Bath Night - thorough washing, finger and toe nail clipping and ear wax removal, hair trimmed if necessary ( I don't do a great job, but I have a haircut kit on hand and I'm not too dangerous!)
  • Deciding on clothing - making sure everything is washed and ironed - we lay out everything - from the underwear out! Don't forget to pair up the shoes and make sure there are clean jackets for everyone!
  • Finding matching hair barrettes, ribbons, ties, etc.
  • Bibles laid out - memory verses reviewed
  • Children to bed early - usually listening to Mrs. G's Bible stories on tape or quiet music.

My Routine:

  • Preparing or planning a simple Sunday lunch, unless we have company which is a bit more elaborate and requires a bit more preparation!
  • Shoe Shining *
  • Ironing, mending and preparing my clothes, a shirt for The Historian, laying out my Bible and Sunday School Materials
  • Laying out Breakfast - often just muffins or toast, cereal and fruit - and in a pinch, organic toaster pastries, homemade frozen waffles or quick scrambled eggs, but that is rare!
  • My Saturday Beauty Routine - a facial ( I love Kiss My Face), removing any unwanted hair (ouch!), a soothing hot bubble bath, smooth hands treatment and foot treatment (necessary for not ripping those pantihose!)
  • Quiet evening reading or sewing and early to bed - no later than 10pm!

*Shoe Shining:

Does anyone bother to do this any more? I hope so! In my family growing up, it was my dad who always shined up the shoes on Saturday night and he always did a great job! As children we would place our shoes on dad's workbench Saturday night and they would appear on the back stairs ready to put on Sunday morning! Come to think of it, I don't remember ever thanking my dad for this! Sorry dad!I cringe when I see a really nice outfit spoiled by dirty shoes! I know it is just one of my oddities, but I really like presentable shoes! In my opinion, good quality shoes are too expensive not to take good care of. When I went off to Bible School, my dad taught me how to polish shoes and my mom bought me 'the essentials' of a shoe kit. I still have the same basic kit, but have added a couple of things.

The Kit:

  • Polish - I like the small round tins - I keep, tan, brown, black, blue, neutral, and white on hand - follow the directions on the back - the 'let it dry' before polishing part is pretty essential
  • Rags - old towels cut in 10 inch squares work great
  • Gloves - my hands are dry and easily stained - I dislike shaking hands on Sunday with black polish under my nails!
  • Polish Cloths - old diapers or well washed flannel is perfect (no lint!)
  • Extra Shoe Laces in every colour and length
  • Newspaper to cover the counter and wrap the rags in for disposal - please don't try to wash it!
  • Clear nail polish - to cover scuffs on the toes of little shoes after the polish has dried or to rescue a frayed shoe lace
  • A small screw driver - to get into crevises to get rid of dirt which is hard with gloves on!
  • Fantastic! I use very few strong commercial cleaners, but this is what works for running shoes!

Since we wear our 'dress shoes' on Sunday, I always wash our runners Saturday night, knowing that they will be dry by the time we need them for walks Sunday afternoon. I grab the door mat and all the running shoes - yes, even the leather trimmed ones. I spray Fantastic! on the kids shoes and our shoes - I don't bother scrubbing unless they are really bad, but just throw everything into the washing machine - the rug muffles the sound of 'wrestling' in my washer.They do not go into the dryer!!!

They all come out looking wonderful - in fact when I was a pastor's wife I had one dear lady who thought they were paying my husband way too much since our children always had 'new' shoes! Ahem! I never put shoes in the dryer, but loosen the laces and open the tongues as much as possible and leave them in a warm place to dry. I have found that cheap running shoes don't stand up to this treatment each week, but they are not good for our feet anyway! I have never 'worn out' shoes this way, but I do have to remember to take out my orthodics!

That's our little routine. We certainly don't judge others who come to church in everyday or soiled clothing, and we don't put on our best to 'show off' to others - it really isn't a fashion show for our family, we just want to be pleasing to the Lord and give Him honor. Going to God's house to worship Him with other Believers is a blessing. After years of the Sunday morning rush, this routine of preparing our phycial needs ahead of time makes it easier to prepare our hearts for worship. We know of many families who look at each other on Sunday morning and decide then if they are going to church or not. That's not an option for our family! We are not in ministry any more, but we need the ministry of hearing God's Word proclaimed, singing songs of praise and worship, and fellowshipping with likeminded Believers for encouragement and support!

See you in the pew tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Fall Treat


Seeing Anna's lovely apples at Pleasant View Schoolhouse reminded me that I wanted to post our children's favorite fall recipe. We love honeycrisp apples, or any crisp apple dipped in this sauce. Commercial tubs of caramel contain preservatives and colourings that don't do well for our family, and traditonal caramel apples are hard for our currently front - toothless Storyteller to eat and have too much caramel for little appetites anyway, so this is our delicious alternative.

Caramel Dip for Apples

1 cup light cream – half and half works well
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
1/8 tsp. sea salt

Measure all ingredients into a heavy saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring continually. When mixture comes to a boil that cannot be stirred down, keep on stirring and set timer for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, remove from heat and add:

1tsp. of vanilla

Stir. Cool and store in covered jar in refrigerator for about two weeks – if it lasts that long. It makes about 2 generous cups and is thick enough to dip.

I have tiny 1 oz. ramekins that are just the right size for little portions of this sweet treat! With a big bowl of washed and wedged apples, everyone likes this fall time pleasure! Enjoy!

A Quiet Day


Today was an unexpected blessing … a quiet day at home. Wednesdays are generally busy – we begin with a visit to the chiropractor, piano lessons and errands, a quick lunch at home and out again to speech therapy for The Storyteller, home for dinner and a last minute brush up on our AWANA verses before heading out the door to church. Whew! I purposely planned Wednesdays to be our ‘out of the house’ day, but sometimes it is a little taxing. I am trying to economize fuel and energy, so though it makes for a busy day, there are fewer interruptions the rest of the week.
Today, however, our Storyteller awakened with a stuffy nose and hacking cough. Again. We rescheduled everything but piano for The Dreamer since The Historian was able to take care of that on his morning off. We won’t be going to AWANA since we never appreciate the spreading of germs when other sick children are sent, and The Historian works late tonight. Thankfully we were not overly committed for tonight, so we will not be much missed.
Grammy blames herself for The Storyteller’s colds because she had so many as a child, and The Storyteller seems to ‘take after’ her in other ways. I don’t think she should worry - statistically, he is well within the ’normal’ schedule for childhood colds. It doesn’t help that he is the most impulsive little fellow in our clan, and often runs outside barefoot and without a coat, no matter the weather. The chicken and rice soup is simmering and we are doing all we can to keep his germs contained, fearing that The Dreamer, who struggles with asthma, will catch his bug. I’m sure he will be well in jiffy!
At last, I have had a quiet day. A bit of washing, 6 jars of apple pie filling canned for quick Apple Kuchen in the winter, two loaves of whole wheat bread, a bit of cuddling, and toy washing, some school work for The Dreamer, a bit of folding and picking up and a story or two – dozen! I had unexpected time to do some planning for the weeks ahead, some reading of favorite blogs, and some extra praying for friends who are really going through hard trails. I do so love a quiet fall day - I enjoy spending time in our little nest!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Delighting in Details


Today our family took some time to delight in the details of some very fine old items. We visited an antique mall that we had never been to before and were overwhelmed with the variety and abundance of items for sale. Generally we 'shop' at smaller local stores, and since we enjoy their existance in our small town, if we are to make a purchase, it is there. This establishment was overwhelming! We really enjoyed looking at the fine craftsmanship of beautiful solid old furniture and lovely glassware. I am a little reluctant now to use our favorite cookie plate, knowing it's value at an antique store, but as it brings my family joy, I will use it - perhaps washing it more carefully! The same is true of our salt and pepper shakers - who knew they could be worth so much today?

The Dreamer and I spent the much time in the linens booths and we were quite taken with handsewn petticoats, chemises, day dresses, fabulous millinery and all of the beautiful handwork on various linens for the home. We were especially thrilled with the aprons, and one in particular. Completely handsewn of fine dotted swiss, it was a work of art. Tiny tucks and pleats, 1/8 " french seams throughout and yards of gathers. Ruffles and entredeux, fine white on white embroideries, all handsewn with the tiniest stitches I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Unlike many of the items in that booth, the price reflected the workmanship, and so it remains tucked away in a corner of the huge antiques store. I was quite certain that the seller priced the apron high so that she would not have to part with it! We couldn't help but think of the woman who laboured to produce such a fine item. We wondered if she made it for her hope chest, if it was her 'company' apron, or perhaps a wonderful gift from a mother to her precious daughter. I wondered if she worked on the apron on cold winter nights by lamplight, or if she sat out under a tree in the heat of summer stitching with her sisters and sipping cool lemonade. Our daughter is just learning to sew, but even she recognized the specialness of this apron.

It made me think of my own workmanship. Years ago, when I was struggling with sloppy penmanship, my mother asked me to memorize a verse in Colossians 3:23-24

Do your work willingly, as though you were serving the Lord himself, and not just your earthly master.
In fact, the Lord Christ is the one you are really serving, and you know that he will reward you.
She made me understand that I wasn't working just to please my teacher, but the Lord. It is a verse I have encouraged our children to learn. These days I find that we don't always have time for excellence or doing things well - we are too in a hurry to get things done so we can move on to something else. An apron is just an apron until it is done beauifully, and with care. Any chore can be done 'as though I were serving the Lord himself', or not. The memory of that apron will encourage me to slow down and do things well, not just because I am serving my family, but because in doing so I am serving my Lord.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fresh linens but no nose to smell them


This morning as I hung out the washing my hands tingled with cold and I could almost smell that wonderful intoxicating scent of washing dried in the sunshine of a cold fall morning. By midmorning we were watching flurries scuttle across the ominous grey sky on winds too gusty for kite flying. After lunch we all scooted outdoors to soak up some sunshine in warm coats, mitts and gloves against the very fresh air. I was hoping to rescue more of my herbs and ivy, and the children were piling huge stacks of leaves for jumping and composting.

Our dear cat Peppermint has taken to bringing us 'gifts' - moles, fieldmice and grey squirrels to be specific. Today's gift was a small field mouse discovered by the children and thus requiring a decent burial. Out came the big shovel, a hole was dug and a few words of thanks to The Creator of the mouse and the cat who caught it were said. It was an impulsive act of disobedience on the part of The Storyteller that caused the handle of that shovel to make firm and abrupt contact with my nose. The pain was instant and blood and the tears flowed freely.

It is evening now. The wash is in from the line, folded and put in it's appropriate places, but for now I cannot smell it. The Storyteller is so very sorry, and hopefuly he has learned a valuable lesson about first time obedience. I am finding it hard to be thankful for a nose red as can be, twice it's normal size and two darkened eyes, but I'm sure a good night's sleep will help me see the humor in this!

The worst of it is that today is our 15th wedding anniversary. The Historian and I had arranged for a rare dinner out together and we had been looking forward to it all week. With a swollen face and massive headache for me, and a little boy who lost his priveledges for today, our evening out was cancelled. I am so disappointed, but hopefully we will get a chance to do something fun together on the weekend. I have so much to be thankful for in our marriage relationship - my Historian is a wonderful husband and we have been through so much together. God is good! Even when I cannot smell the linens!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's delightful to dream!

You just never know what is around the bend at times! This is a road close to home last week just before the leaves really began to turn and fall. It always makes my heart sing when I come to this bend in the road, knowing we are safely home again.

On Monday of this week we celebrated our 29th Thanksgiving! We have always had so very much to be thankful to God for that we have celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving each year, no matter where we were living! It really helps to keep our focus on the blessing God has lavishly brought into our lives. We all enjoyed a simple turkey dinner and pumpkin pie. I was wishing I had the energy to invite some friends to join us as we have in other years, but it was nice to contemplate quitely. These special days are the hardest times to be so far from family. I know my parents were lonely, since they were not able to get together with my sister and her family - they were closing up their trailer for the season.

As we were cleaning up and getting the children tucked into bed, the phone rang and it was my Uncle and his lovely bride of two years. Heading home to Canada from a lovely tour of the Eastern States, they chose to place us on their busy itinerary and stop for a visit. We were so happy to see them and they enjoyed the rest in our Grammy Flat, the inlaw suite. Tuesday is baking day for us and so we had beef stew in the crock pot, homemade bread, a green salad and Down East Apple Pudding for dessert. This morning I made both carrot and 'muffins that taste like donuts' muffins and a big bowl of mixed fruit. With short notice, I wasn't able to fuss, but everything turned out fine. We see them so rarely, it was the time together that was most enjoyed. The children hoped they would stay longer, but they were off early this morning! We had an early appointment too - farm shopping!

An exciting possiblily has presented itself. Today we looked at a farmhouse, built in 1831, that is being offered for sale. It has 6 fireplaces and a swing arm and dutch oven in the old kitchen. There has been very little done to this home in 175 years - layers and layers of paint, but no major alterations. It is situated on 6 wonderful rolling acres surrounded by cornfields with a natural spring and a large old barn. There are apple trees and a creek. There is so much to be done though - crumbling plaster, no heat to speak of, ancient windows and 1 toilet - the 'shower' is in the unfinished basement, the kitchen is an old addition - a very bad old addition, and there isn't 5 square feet of counterspace total.

The possibilities are exciting, but overwhelming. After all of the renovations and additions we have experienced here in the last two years, I have learned two important things - it NEVER goes as smoothly as planned, and it ALWAYS costs 25-50% more than you expected and takes at least twice as long! The upside to this situation is that we would probably stay in our present home until the major renovations were complete and not have to live in the midst of the chaos, and in the end of all the work we would have 6 acres, established apple trees and room for chickens! We would be right around the corner from a godly Christian family who are good friends and dairy farmers, as my Poppa would say 'salt of the earth' kind of folks.

The thought of living in a historical home just really excites us, and having a piece of ground large enough for small animals and a big garden is thrilling, but we wonder if this is God's plan for our family. We hesitate to use so many of the resources of time and money that God has provided for our own comfort and enjoyment. We have a lot to pray about! The neat thing is that after all we have been through, we know that God's knows His plan for our lives, and He has it all taken care of. We are going to be content with knowing that though the bend in the road hides our future from view, it is not hidden from our Heavenly Father. We don't have to worry or fret, just trust, and listen for a clear answer from the Lord.

So, we'll be spending much time in prayer! What a lovely bend in the road we face!

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Indentified with Christ


Some of the most important and wonderful life changing events for our family have occured in the fall, and today was another! Today, our 9 year old Dreamer, was baptized. As I sat close beside my wonderful Historian with The Storyteller on my lap, I watched as our sweet girl was immersed in the water, identifying herself with the death, burial and resurrection of her Saviour, Jesus Christ. I well know that much of the depth of the symbolism of baptism is beyond her understanding - truthfully it is beyond mine. Yet, it was her hearts desire to follow Christ's command to 'believe and be baptized', and we felt it was time to let her follow her heart.

As she came up from the waters of baptism and our Pastor prayed for her, The Storyteller hugged my fiercely and whispered loudly 'Now Sister has repented and been baptized - how wonderful - her sins are forgiven and she's playing on God's team!' Earlier in the service, in another loud whisper he said ' those churches that baptize babies Mummy - they have a point you know because even babies are born with the original sin - you can see their point, can't you Mummy?'. Aside from the fact that we need to work on being quite in church service, he is obviously doing some deep thinking here.

It is humbling to be a parent, and to be responsible for teaching our children the deep truths of Scripture. I am blessed to be married to The Historian, who takes his role as the spiritual head of our home reverantly and solomnly, for I don't bear the burden of teaching and modeling our faith alone, as so many women do.

The children are outside playing in the back yard now - enjoying a wonderful fall day and gathering pretty leaves as they fall from our wonderful trees. There are too many blessing for my heart to hold today ...

Praise be to God!

Galatians 2:20
I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.
And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Friday, October 6, 2006

On Being Content

I was going over our Storyteller's AWANA verses for Wednesday. He was reviewing a verse he had learned many months ago:

Hebrews 13:5
... be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
An easy verse to learn, not as easy to live day to day. I feel great when my home is clean, beautiful and in order, when my husband blesses me with a compliment and a hug, when my kids are healthy and well behaved, when I'm absorbed in a great book, embarking on a creative project or enjoying a recently aquired item, but though all these things are good and satisfying, knowing without any doubt that the God of all creation, Who made heaven and earth, will never leave me, never forsake me - that is the secret of true and lasting contentment.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Could there be a more perfect day?

This was taken at the Dairy I mentioned on The Dreamer's birthday on Sunday! The day was warm and the sky was so blue! A more perfect day to celebrate would be very hard to imagine! Everyone had fun playing on the old tractor, but only the Storyteller made all the appropriate noises - once he 'got that baby up and running'! I think he had to 'rewire the thing - a - ma- jiggy' more than once! He is his Poppa's boy! Friend, Birthday Girl, also known as The Dreamer, and The Storyteller! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Nanny's Chili Sauce

I finally got the pictures back and here it is! The result of 14 hours of kitchen time last week - my Nanny's Chili Sauce. It doesn't look like much on my counter, but as it is quite an intense condiment, a little goes a long way! I'm glad not everyone in the family likes it because I would have to make a whole lot more of it! The colour of this photo is very off - my walls are a rich sage green, and the counter is green and black granite with flecks of gold and ruby red - 'verde butterfly' I believe they call it. There is still a faint hint of simmering chili sauce scent as you walk into our home today ... time to get out my pumpkin candle again! Posted by Picasa

The Dreamer's 9th Birthday

At the end of a very long day - perhaps a bit 'too much birthday' if there is such a thing!
We have a tradition of taking a photo of each child with his or her gifts so that they can look back
and remember what they were given and usually by whom.
We call it ' counting our blessings'! You can't see everything she received here,
but she was very blessed indeed!

Peanut Butter Ribbons

I tweaked a Kraft Kitchens recipe a bit - eliminating cool whip (or as we call it, chemical whip!) and came up with this rich dessert. I'm not sure the Dream Whip is much better, but there are 12 less ingredients that I can't pronounce, so that's a good thing, right? We are having a lovely friend for lunch Friday so I pulled out this recipe to put together tomorrow. It is handy to have in the freezer for unexpected guests or a special family celebration, so I thought I would share it with you!

Peanut Butter Ribbons
Creamy, Crunchy and Cool!

Base:
1 ¼ cups coarsely crushed graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup melted natural creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
Combine ingredients well and press firmly into the bottom of a 9x5” loaf pan. Chill.

Top:
2 packages of dream whip
1 cup less 2 tbsp. of ice cold skim milk
1 tsp. real vanilla extract

Whip dream whip and milk together until stiff: add vanilla. Whip until combined. Set aside in fridge.

1 8 oz. package cream cheese softened
½ cup natural creamy peanut butter
¼ cup sugar

Beat cream cheese with peanut butter and sugar until smooth. Fold into dream whip mixture carefully. Set aside 1/3 of the mixture. Return to refrigerator.

Rich Chocolate Sauce:
1/3 whipping cream
½ cup milk chocolate (or dark chocolate for stronger chocolate flavor) coarsely chopped

Melt together for 1 minute in microwave. Stir until smooth. Place in ice water bath to cool. Continue stirring. Combine ½ of the chocolate with the 1/3 reserved peanut butter dream whip mixture. Set aside.

Layers:
Pour over base in order:
Peanut butter dream whip (½ of what you have left)
1/4 cup whole Spanish peanuts
Chocolate peanut butter dream whip
1/4 cup whole Spanish peanuts
Peanut butter dream whip (remaining ½)
Drizzle ½ of reserved chocolate sauce over top. Marble if desired.

Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. Seal tightly and keep in freezer for up to a month.
Cut frozen and place on plates. Decorate with melted peanut butter or reserved chocolate sauce. Let stand for 5 minutes to thaw slightly before serving! Enjoy!

Serves: 12 slices Preparation Time: 15 minutes Freezing Time: 6 hours
Calories: Definitely worth it!

Monday, October 2, 2006

The Birthday Weekend

What a weekend! Our Birthday Girl was well blessed with fun and lovely gifts! She has some memories to cherish and some thank-you's to write!

On Saturday we had a family come for supper! It was a bit last minute, and The Historian was required at work, so the children and I worked together most of the day to get ready! Since heavy rain was predicted, and I didn't want to ask The Historian to stand out in it to grill, we decided on an 'oven meal'. This is what the Birthday Girl chose - we were trying to keep things simple!

The Menu:
Mandarin Orange Dream Jellied Salad
Romaine Layered Salad & various dressings
Homemade Crescent Rolls & butter
Cheesy Whipped Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli & Baby Carrots
Harvard Beets
Rolled Chicken Washington
Apple Pie & Ice Cream
Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal which I served slowly in courses to give time for conversation. The Birthday Girl set the table with old pink china and flowered napkins! Our Dreamer's little girl friend spent the night. What giggling! I must say, 'sleep-over's' ought to be re-dubbed 'no- sleep-over's'! There was even a confiscated flashlight before the night was through, but I do believe they had a good time.
Sunday morning we enjoyed waffles - heart shaped of course, and fresh fruit salad. I added protein powder to the waffles since our young guest is a picky eater and had nothing of substance for dinner. We went to Sunday School and Church and our Birthday Girl was wished a very happy day by many new friends there.
We came home briefly to change into play clothes and headed to a favorite dairy and restuarant for lunch and to explore the barns there. I cut crunchy sweet apples and prepared water bottles for the journey, since we were already a bit hungry. This Dairy is famous throughout the Midwest, and is often busy, but as they were hosting a Fall Farm Festival, it was crazy! We waited more than an hour for a table, but thankfully we were outdoors and enjoying a georgous day. I carry learning cards in my purse and the girls ran about identifying trees by their bark and leaves, while our Storyteller played on a 1943 Case Tractor. Our meal was enjoyable but very slow, but we were patient and our kind waiter gave us free desserts for our trouble. The homemade ice cream there is wonderful, and I enjoy their dairy free gelato - mmmm! Our daughter wanted to have the staff sing to her - and there were many other birthdays celebrated yeasterday as well! After our meal we played a fun round of mini-golf and enjoyed petting the young goats, sheep and jersey cows.
After arriving home The Birthday Girl decided it was time to open her gifts! She called her Poppa and Grammy to open their gifts via speaker phone! She was excited and delighted with all she was given - a very blessed and thankful little girl! We ended the day with a healthy snack and taking our young guest home! The Birthday Girl was sure she was too excited to sleep, but once she was tucked into bed she fell right to sleep. I came in just after she turned out her light to pray with her and she was sound asleep, so I prayed over her, thanking God for the blessing of being her Mommy, and praying about some of the hopes and dreams we have for her 9th year!
The Dreamer's middle name is 'Autumn Joy' and we truly feel that way about her! She brings us so much joy each day - we are blessed to be watching her grow into the girl God wants her to be! I think so much of Our Dreamer's birthmom as each year passes and praise God that she chose life for this precious girl. I know it must be the hardest thing in the world to give up a baby, but adoption is such a wonderful and unselfish choice, and has been such a blessing to our family. Our daughter is a beautiful picture of our adoption into God's family through the work of Jesus on the cross. Praise be to God!