Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lady Beautiful

Mrs. U from Making a House a Home has introduced us to her friend Melissa's new blog Lady Beautiful "A place where Christian ladies can trade tips and talks about health and beauty with other Christian women. You are the contributor!"
I think this is a great idea and I will be checking back often for tips! I can use all the help I can get! Sometimes I get so focused on striving toward that inward beauty that I forget that the outside could use a little work too!

My worst struggle is with extremely dry skin - both on my feet and on my hands. My hands are especially rough during the winter months and during gardening and canning season! I just realized that the only season my hands are nice is fall - and that's not even accurate since the cooler weather chaps my hands when I'm hanging out washing!

My homemade solution works to smooth both my hands and my feet, so I thought I'd share it with you! I think I have mentioned it during a post I did about my Saturday Night routine here, but that was ages ago!

Heather's Smooth Hands

sweet almond oil ( or some other pure oil)


liquid hand soap

thick hand lotion

Remove jewelery. Line up all your 'ingredients' and set aside 5 minutes for your self. Place a few drops of oil on each hand and rub all over. Place 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in the palm of one hand and rub all over both hands - this can be messy so I do it over the sink. Don't rub too hard - you'll want some skin left! Squeeze a few drops of liquid hand soap into your palm and rub all over - again - be gentle! Rinse your hands in warm water - pat dry. Apply lotion to your baby smooth hands. I do this Saturday night when I know I'll be shaking hands at church Sunday Morning and don't want to rub folks the wrong way!
If you have a helpful husband, like I do, you can probably request his help with your feet - strong hands seem to make a great difference in removing the rough dry skin on my feet, and it just feels so good to relax while he pampers my piggies!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sweet Dilly Dip!

Today we had a wonderful family for a morning play date and lunch. At the last minute I made my Dilly Dip to accompany the veggie platter and plain potato chips! It was a big hit, so I thought I would share it here. I used herbs that I have dried from my herb garden and onions that I have dehydrated, but grocery store jars work just as well and are what I use when I run out of my own!

Sweet Dilly Dip

16 ounces of regular sour cream (we really like Horizon organic sour cream)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 scant tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried chopped onions

1 tsp. dried dill weed

1 tsp. dried chives

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Stir to combine. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving, or overnight for fuller flavor.

It also makes a great marinade for chicken for grilling, and in a pinch works as salad dressing. It keeps about 1 week, but will need to be stirred well before serving.

Image from Antique Clipart

Show & Tell Friday

I have been wanting to participate in Kelli's Show and Tell Friday but didn't get around to it until today! Thank you for being a our Hostess, Kelli!
My Show and Tell pictures are stamped cross stitch embroideries that I have recently completed. They were begun many years by my mother in law. When she lived in Northern Ontario, the winter evenings were long and quiet and she began many stamped cross stitch kits. Her days were filled with work, chopping firewood, hauling water, repairing tools, cooking, hunting and ice fishing, so she really enjoyed stitching as a quieter past time. Many of the kits were gifts she received from her mother, and some were from friends.

This was all finished except for the vining stitches - I love it!

After she passed away we found many of her unfinished works tucked here and there throughout her home - and I could not part with them. Since I have been occupied with my own unfinished projects, hers took a back burner for a long while, but at last I am trying to finish them up.

Only the wheat and leaves were left to be finished on this one!

Framing is expensive and our wall space is limited, so I picked my two favorite to finish first and have framed. I just hung them last week! I have finished three more, but I am planning to make one into a table runner and another, a pillow front. The third lends it's self to a bread basket cover, and just needs to be lined for that purpose.

I am not skilled at embroidery, but I am learning with each completed piece. I will lay them aside again until cooler days, since my evenings now are most often spent in the garden. Since they have waited 45 years to be finished, I'm guessing another few months won't hurt!

Thank you for coming to take a look! Come again soon!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Always In God's Hands

The Historian and I feel that our Dreamer, at almost 10, is ready to experience some responsibility and freedom in a safe and controlled environment. We have no thought of allowing her to leave the umbrella of our family’s protection without a great deal of prayer and planning for her good - even for just a week. We prayed that a reputable Christian Summer Camp would be a wonderful encounter for her, and a place where she could make some friends and enjoy God’s creation. Last year was a great experience for her, and so our decision to allow her to return this year was much easier. We felt good about finding a safe place for our sweet girl.

It often seems to me like there aren’t many ‘safe places’ for our kids. My sister and I wandered our neighborhood at will and ran to the candy store by our selves. We hung out at the outdoor ice rink and played at the park. We slid down Mickey Mouse Hill and spent long afternoons at our friends homes. Our parents knew where we were and we were safe. Now, we need to go with our kids to the park, to the hill, to the candy store, to the rink. There are too many people who are looking for children who are left to their own devices, and their intent is to harm. It’s sad, but true. We have friends who we trust, and family. We go almost everywhere our children go and we sometimes try to stay in the background, but we are always watching.

So, we began to pack for Camp. Last year I made a list of all we had sent with her to camp and when she got home we went over the list and made a few changes - added another pair of shoes and pants to the list and reduced the number of shorts. I also made a big note to myself to shop at Goodwill and not send ANYTHING remotely light colored or special to her. I typed said lists and reminders, printed it on cardstock and laminated it. I ASKED the Dreamer to put it in her sock drawer with the What To Pack for Grammy’s House Winter and Summer lists. I like lists, can you tell?

When we went to find the all important list, it was no where to be found! Hmmm. I did what any other Mommy in a bind would do, I panicked than Google-ed ‘What to pack for summer camp’. I came up with some pretty interesting lists - some helpful. I also came up with an article about getting your kids vaccinated for Meningitis before camp and an article relating to camp born infections. Naturally, I became concerned. I even did some worrying. Then an article appeared in our local paper raising the same concerns again. Hmmm.

We prayed, packed her up and took her to Camp in peace.

I know we are over protective, and I am prone to worry. All week long we prayed for her and kept on leaving her in the safety of our Heavenly Father’s hands. As we do every week. I am not crazy enough to think that just because she is in our care, she is perfectly safe from harm. We know bad stuff happens to kids of really responsible parents too. We have the Storyteller's x-rays to prove our point.

We breathed more easily when we got her home - safe and sound. We didn’t know she was packing more than just her suitcase! She has a bug - a pretty nasty bug. Her tummy hurts. She is tired. She is really tired of going to the bathroom. We’ve been to the Doctor and are on our way to finding out just which bad bug she brought home form camp, but most likely it is Giardia, from the pond or creek at Camp. With lots of liquids, healthy foods, medicine and rest she will be just fine.

Our lives are in God’s hands - there is no safer place. The Storyteller started to ask me if maybe God had forgotten to protect Sister from the bad bugs at Camp, but he stopped himself and said, “No, wait a minute. All of our days are numbered by God, Mommy, and He allowed Sister to get sick so that He can be praised more and more. We have to thank God for the bugs Sister got.” And so we did.

The Window

Just another view of the bathroom - our new window! It's so nice to have a window that opens and lets in fresh air and sunshine! I plan on a hot bubble bath with candles on the first full moonlit night ...

A Sinking Feeling

I really didn't think I could get so very excited about a pair of sinks, but here I am almost giddy with glee - I have two pedestal sinks, properly installed on either side of the tower, and fully functional. We are so close to 'complete'!!! We can almost move back in to our bathroom and vacate the kid's hall bathroom, which will be lovely for all involved!

I had a bit of a sinking feeling when the plumber called me in to see a minor flaw. I decided it was not worth waiting for 3 more weeks for another sink, and he took a magical cloth and applied some elbow grease, and now it really isn't noticeable at all.

The last big piece of the puzzle is our shower door and glass wall - and it could be any day, so they say! I also need to choose mirrors, but can't make up my mind! I think I really like just a simple beveled rectangle best, but there are so many choices! Mirrors can be a real accent, but many of them are made much larger than our space allows.
This project began March 24th, so I am well on my way to winning the Patience Prize for Bathroom Renovation! Of course, if we had to do the work ourselves .... it would never be done! I can also begin to decorate and accessorize - the fun part!
Today we had The Dreamer at the Doctor. She has had a tummy upset accompanied by frequent bathroom visits and fatigue since returning from Camp and we have become concerned. We need to take in a sample to the hospital lab for examination - she could have picked up something in the pond or creek at Camp. I pray that she is feeling more like herself sooner rather than later! We should have some answers soon, and hopefully the appropriate medication will be effective for her. For the most part, she is well, just a little more short with her brother than usual, and really cuddly with her Daddy and I.
I'm off to supervise bubble blowing! Blessings!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Salad Supper

We have visited a number of restaurants lately that have wonderful salads - with equally fabulous price tags and portions that are rather, um, disproportionate! Who really needs that much salad? Many of the salads are made with very few ingredients and can be made relatively inexpensively at home. If you have a favorite restaurant salad, try copying the recipe and see what you come up with!

I enjoy making salad at home, especially on these warm nights. I never thought much of it, but a new acquaintance recently asked me for the recipe for our favorite lettuce salad, so I told her I'd post it here and she could take it from there! There is nothing especially difficult about making salad if you have a well stocked veggie drawer or a handy garden. Even a simple salad (just before that grocery or farm market run when the drawer is almost empty) is refreshing.

Salad for Supper

In the morning, I decide what my 'protein' will be - often I marinate chicken breasts in salad dressing, a nice London broil steak or pick up some fresh fish - usually salmon. My Historian takes care of the grilling when he gets home from work. Bacon also is a nice addition, but overwhelms other flavors, so use sparingly; sliced boiled eggs are good too! The possibilities are endless! Obviously, we are not vegetarian, but since I put the meat on a plate for each one to take as they please, it suits each one's personal preferences - we have two big meat eaters and two who can 'take it or leave it'!

Toast 1/2 cup of mixed nuts, almond slivers, chopped pecans, walnuts etc. and 1/4 to 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, sunflower nutmeats, sesame seeds, pine nuts or cashews. Be creative here or just use what you have on hand. We put these in a dish to sprinkle at will and there are never any toasted nuts leftover - we all like them!

We also like plump raisins, dried cherries or dried cranberries at different times with different meats - again, just get creative!

Be sure to put your salad plates in the freezer for an hour or so - there's nothing like a cold plate to keep your salad crisp!

The Basic Salad

one large head of romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces

iceberg lettuce, spring garden mixed greens, mesculan or spinach washed and torn

1/2 of a cucumber cut in strips

2 large fresh carrots, sliced thinly or coarsely grated

sugar snap peas, washed and cut into 1/2" slices

red cabbage, thinly shaved or grated

2 stalks fresh celery, sliced (optional)

red or orange pepper cut into nice shapes

cherry tomatoes or sliced tomato (on the side please, I'm allergic!)

*** add or take away any veggie you like in a salad - my Historian likes the addition of red onions, but they stay on the side around here!

Other Add-On's

1 can of mandarin oranges drained and chilled

1 cup of crunchy Chinese noodles

1 can of sliced water chestnuts, drained

Cheese of choice - we like fresh grated Parmesan, or Romano with chicken. We prefer crumbled feta with salmon and we like sharp cheddar with bacon. Often we skip the cheese and just add a few more nutmeats!

Our salad tonight was The Basic + Grilled Marinated Chicken + Grated Parmesan + Mandarin Oranges + Toasted Slivered Almonds

Kelsey's Sonoma Valley Salad starts with The Basic + Feta Cheese + Raisins + Toasted Pumpkin Seeds + Toasted Pecans + Grilled Salmon

Uno's Oriental Salad begins with The Basic + Grilled Lemon Garlic Chicken + Mandarin Oranges + Chinese Noodles

Applebee's Chicken Caesar is even simpler - Romaine + Grilled Chicken + Croutons + Parmesan Cheese

Bob Evan's Frisco is The Basic + Fried Chicken Tenders + Cheddar Cheese + Bacon + Tomatoes + Red Onions

Cracker Barrel had a great salad - The Basic + Grilled Chicken Tenders + Dried Cranberries + Toasted Pecans

I'm sure you can see just how simple this is! You don't really need a recipe - just raid the crisper and come up with your own refreshing salad supper! It's never the same salad twice at our house!

I don't use dressing, but I keep a few nice dressing choices on hand for the rest of the family! I used to make them all from scratch, but that is one of the things that I just don't do anymore - we find organic dressings in the cold section of the veggie department and that just works fine!


Addition: Donatos Pizza just sent an add with a tasty looking salad combination that we'll have to try too!

Romaine + Grilled Chicken Breast + Red Apples + Blue Cheese Crumbles + Honey Roasted Pecans + Dried Cranberries + Bacon

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stuck with pink....

I thought I was going to be stuck with pink forever! I have been trying to make minor changes to my template for a few weeks - on and off in quiet moments, but for some reason I could never save my changes and it always reverted back to pink. I do like pink very much, but thought it was time for a change. I found some help with Blogging Basics 101 and Color Schemer and even made a list of hex codes for the colors I was looking for, but could not seem to make changes until today!

Ta-da! I don't know why it is working now or even when I made these particular color choices, but at least it is a change!'s green hue choices are pretty bright and yellowish, and I am definitely a creamy and sage kind of gal, so I hope it meets with your approval! I'm still looking at foolproof photo editing software that is inexpensive so that I can play around with my header a bit too, but that is on the 'one of these days' list, pushed back by the imperatives!

I hope you are having a blessed day! The Dreamer is still very tired from her camp experience, but she and her brother are having the best of time playing Playmobil with each other! Absence makes the heart grow fonder ... for a time!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dreamer's Return!

Our sweet Dreamer is home from camp and she is exausted! She had a wonderful time and made friends more easily this summer than last - her counsellor from last summer was impressed with the maturity she noted. The Dreamer learned a number of great new songs, and an overview of the New Testament in hand motions. She made some really interesting crafts and spent a lot of time exploring the creek. She stayed up really late and got up really early and she thinks she needs to sleep for a week, but we are off to church this morning instead! She can have a nap later!

It is really good to have her home - we all missed her! We prayed for her daily, and often the Lord would bring her to mind. I spent 5 hours deep cleaning her room on Thursday - washing walls, scouring her bathroom, finding the floor in her closet, sorting her clothing and ironing her starched curtains. She has some toys she needs to sort and go through - way too many toys!

Our hope in sending her to our church camp was that her time away from our family would allow her to have some freedom in a safe envoirnment, to learn some responsibility, and give her the opportunity to see a bit about how other children are growing up. Our prayer is that these experiences will help her to see God as her own personal Father, and to help make her faith real to her in different circumstances. I look forward to seeing how God has used her camp experience to draw her closer to Himself!

And now, as much as I'd rather not .... it is time to delve into the mysteries of the laundry bag!!! Strange and suspicious odors none the less, I must see what can be salvaged and cut up the rest for the rag bag! Thank goodness for the sanitize cycle and Mrs. Meyer's lavender laundry soap!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

An Answer

Ask the LORD for rain

In the time of the latter rain.

The LORD will make flashing clouds;

He will give them showers of rain,

Grass in the field for everyone.

Zechariah 10:1

Just as my new plants are quietly setting their roots free from the pots that once bound them, and establishing themselves in our flower garden, gentle rains have fallen in our small corner of the Midwest.

Much needed rains, often prayed for.
My timing for planting was so very 'off' this year because of my lack of strength, and that frustrated me greatly at times. However, when I think of all of the laborious watering that I didn't have to do during the last month or so of agricultural drought, I can once again see the hand of God at work in my life in such a simple, abundantly blessed way. He cares for me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I think this is the latest I have ever 'finished' planting for spring - and just in time since summer is beginning! It has been more of a burden than a joy for the first time ever - mostly because it took more energy than I wanted to give. I am sure all the fresh air and exercise has been good for me though, and the quietness and tranquility have been good times for talking with God.
Because I have been so slow, I have been able to take advantage of the great sales, and selection has still been pretty good, so I am hoping that my lateness will turn out alright. Last year, we had wonderful blooms into October so I definitely got my money's worth from those annuals, and all but two of my perennials came through winter well.

I had a virtually empty southern exposure bed 3 1/2 feet wide and 65 feet long! We removed some big overgrown taxus that were ugly and smelled funny and transplanted a hosta to the shady end and moved the peony to the sunny end last summer. The hosta and peony thrived, but looked really lonely! This week my mission was to try to fill in the rest of the bed with a budget of $100. I wanted 80% perennials for longevity and 20% annuals for colour. I bought 30 4" pots and a flat of mixed annuals.

I calculated that I could cover more ground by buying three $3 perennials than one $9 one so that is what I did - now I just have to wait and watch them grow and hopefully spread! And water - we had 1/4 inch of rain but that was the first in 17 days and we need more desperately.

They are all in the ground - and my planting table is cleaned up! I just did my hanging baskets today too while The Storyteller played with Water Works at a table in the shade near me - he had a great time! I gave the hanging baskets a good shot of miracle grow, so hopefully they will fill out and flourish too!
Now, I can tinker and enjoy the garden - a bit of weeding to be sure, but I can move things around and add a plant here and there as I see something I want to try out. The veggie boxes are doing very well - strawberries, green beans, tomatoes, cukes, acorn squash, red peppers, and zucchini, and just a bit of each, so that I don't get overwhelmed at harvest! If I have extra energy we'll hit the farm markets!
And now to sleep, perchance to dream .... of flowers!

Beat The Timer

Yesterday I played 'Beat the Timer' all day. These are some of the things I can accomplish in 15 minutes:

  • fold and put away a load of wash

  • hang out a load of laundry

  • iron 7 men's short sleeved shirts

  • iron 5 logo tee shirts - without smearing the logo this time!

  • piece the top of a doll quilt

  • sort a stack of mail and papers

  • tidy one closet

  • tidy one shelf on the Dreamer's bookshelf

  • make a new 'mattress and pillow' for doll cradle

  • plant 6 perennials

  • weed a small patch of juga

  • stack and 'stitch in the ditch' one doll quilt

  • decorative stitch said doll quilt

  • bind and finish same doll quilt

  • finish 1 patio chair cushion by handsewing the seat and back together - 6 more to go (at last!)

  • iron 12 shirts and shorts for The Storyteller

  • download pictures from camera

  • clean off a small patch of countertop

  • read a Bernstein Bear book to our boy
  • race a remote control Hummer all over the driveway with our boy
  • pluck my eyebrows - ouch!

I also prepared a turkey breast and stuck it in the oven for dinner - we don't usually have Tuesday night turkey, but The Storyteller put the frozen on sale turkey breast in the Grammy Flat fridge instead of the freezer - thankfully I discovered it and it didn't go to waste! It will make for some easy lunches and luscious leftovers!

I gave myself the fun breaks of sewing between the other jobs, but it was fun to see just how much I can get done playing Beat the Timer! My house still looks like a whirlwind went through, but I am making progress! I am thanking God for more energy this week than I had last week! He gives strength to the weary!

Black Raspberries

While The Dreamer is at camp, we are 'in charge' of the black raspberry patch. This involves trying to keep the robins from eating all the berries before we get to them! They are just 'coming on', so it is a real treat to pick and eat them, as you can see from The Storyteller's face!

As we were popping sun warmed berries into our mouths, The Storyteller asked me to make Queen Schnoodle's Blackberry Pie recipe! We've been listening to Steve Green's The Adventures of Sir Bernard - The Good Knight and learning the 12 Chivalric Virtues. Queen Schnoodle was some fabulous pie maker - she had 1000 pies in her pie pantry - but we didn't get enough berries to make even one! Maybe another day!

We are learning the virtues of Friendliness, Thrift, Loyalty, Obedience, Courtesy, Trustworthiness, Cheerfulness, Bravery, Helpfulness, Kindness, Cleanliness and Reverence in a fun and memorable way. Every time we see one of the virtues in practice, we encourage with 'I think you just showed Courtesy ( or whatever virtue is appropriate) - that's wonderful, Son!' He is really making an effort to remember the virtues and put them into practice - we are not even fighting about toothbrushing anymore, since Cleanliness is one the the virtues. Thank you, Mr. Steve Green!

Did you notice the cape and the Little Dog under the Storyteller's arm - we have been 'playing' Sir Bernard all week!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Picnic

We have begun a new family tradition - a Father's Day picnic! The Dreamer's summer camp session begins with check in on Father's Day and it is a 3 1/2 hour drive to the camp. Last year we packed a picnic lunch and had our first Father's Day picnic at a quiet little park about halfway to camp. This year, we did the same!

Our menu included homemade lemonade, potato chips, pickles, mandarin orange jello salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, ham and cheese croissants, and New York style cheesecake and fudge brownies for dessert. I was supposed to make fried chicken to eat cold, but ran out of energy. I also made homemade caramels for The Historian since they are his favorite. It was warm and sunny with a 'saving grace' kind of breeze that made for a perfect picnic.

We spent a bit of time exploring the park, which we didn't get to do last year, since there was an incident on the monkey bars for The Storyteller. He was just recovering from surgery last year and should not have been on the monkey bars, but he was, and he slipped, and he was in such pain. He remembered it as soon as we pulled into the parking lot!
Things went much better this year and we got to watch the fish swimming in a limestone walled pond, and pet a real St. Bernard dog, who was really quite friendly. We had a lovely time!
'Daddy's Day' at our house is a celebration of the all year round wonderfulness of our Historian. He is a great Daddy in many ways, but in the most important way, he is a faithful Daddy because he is daily demonstrating Jesus Christ to our family. We couldn't love him more! My own Dad and I talk on the phone almost everyday - it is hard to be apart on these kinds of special days, but no matter how far apart we are, he's my Dad and I love him!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Teachable Moments

Tonight we took our family walk through an unfamiliar cemetery and enjoyed the fresh, cool, quietness of the evening together. We often walk through cemeteries, and in fact one of our first 'dates' was a walk through The Historian's favorite cemetery. Some think it is an odd past time, but we've always found it peaceful. I would recommend it as a way to dispel the natural fears some children have about cemeteries. Our children have never been afraid and it often makes for some wonderful teachable moments.

We enjoy reading the headstones and have challenged the children to find evidence of faithful Christian men and women who have left a testimony to their faith in God on their stone marker. They love to find the Christian fish symbol or icthus <>< , the IHS or In His Service symbol, Scripture references or whole passages, or the symbol of the Cross. This evening we found a headstone that said "MOTHER - Asleep in Jesus", and that lead to a discussion of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

As we were walking, it struck me how awful it would be to be an unbelieving cemetery caretaker, calming going about my business, tending the grounds on that Great Day when the trumpet of the Lord sounds and the dead in Christ are raised. I shared this with the children, and while I don't think they fully understood, they ran off holding hands talking to each other about sharing Christ with their friends so that they would never go through the fright of being left behind. A teachable moment and the time to make the most of it!
Thank you Lord!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Poolside Pondering

Today we got our hour of schoolwork and chores done and headed to the city pool for our first dip of the season. It was crowded, noisy, far too revealing and hot and it made me long for a quiet pool in our own back yard. Just for a minute though!

Many of the moms there had come prepared with large coolers on wheels and mammoth tote bags filled and overflowing. I wondered how long they planned to stay, since it looked like they had all but moved in. I could tell it wasn't their first afternoon poolside. They were deeply tanned and quite at home.

Their children were burned. Really burned. It made me very upset to see so many burnt children - I have seen skin cancer in all it's painful ugliness and I am on a mission to do what I can to help my children treat their largest organ with a lot of respect. I know there is nasty stuff in sun screen - we use one from Kiss My Face which has the least of the nasty stuff I have found - and we wear rash guards, t-shirts, and cover-ups. We did our best to be protected and I think even we got a bit too much sun!

I did get in to the icy pool with the children for a while, but sensing that I was slowing them down, I took to the lounge chair to warm up. They had a great time together and seemed to be getting along just fine without me.

Since God's been talking with Brenda in the Wal*Mart parking lot, I decided to use my time to listen for the still small voice of my heavenly Father. I really need some wisdom to find the balance, again.

It is really easy for me to loose sight of just how long we are here for.

Like the moms at the poolside I seem to feel like we need to surround ourselves with a lot of stuff that meets our needs and brings us comfort. I'm all for being prepared, and I am not being critical of their desire to meet the needs of their children, but lugging half the house out for an afternoon at the pool seems a bit excessive. They could make do with less.

I could make do with less. So could our children. We have so much - too much! And, I struggle with wanting even more - like that backyard pool, for example!

We read of a large home school family who just finished building the ultimate dream home - and we are happy for them, and glad to read what they were able to do for their children. It did make me wonder if their kids will grow up and ever leave home, or if they will be so comfortable in the environment they have grown accustomed to, they will stay for ever! Will they leave home some day and expect to have all they had growing up right away, or struggle with feelings of failure when they can't provide it for their own family? Will they grow so accustomed to comfort that they ignore God's call on their lives to the hardships of ministry or missions? I pray not.

I started thinking about a pool in our backyard again and decided it's not very likely. The price we would pay for a pool could perhaps support a missionary for several months or provide clean water for a remote small village - something more significant and of much more lasting value. For our family, we are seeking a balance - making our home a place of safety, comfort and warmth is good, but it can't take priority over teaching our children by example to keep an eternal perspective in mind.

We are here for such a short time - just passing through, really. As believers in Jesus Christ, our true home is in heaven and our efforts need to be less focused on getting really comfortable here, and more on living our lives for Christ. My Poppa David often said that our lives where just preparation for heaven.

I'm pretty sure we won't be wanting to take a pool!

Butterfly image from Antique Clipart

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Girls Time

For fun we:

  • slept in until 9 am
  • ate breakfast without making our beds first
  • made mini loaves of yeast bread for tea time
  • a little tidying up here and there
  • clean bathrooms and sparkling windows
  • read chapters and chapters
  • talked about our guys and the fun they would be having
  • had a tea party with mini cheese sandwiches, tiny sweets and raspberry tea
  • went for a long walk
  • long relaxing bubble baths and freshly washed hair
  • laid out clothes for Sunday
  • a little sewing for Mommy
  • sleep

I guess we are pretty relaxed gals now!

Our guys are home safe and sound and by the sounds of things, they had a terrific time! Since they are already making plans for next year, I'd say the weekend was a big hit! The Storyteller fell asleep the minute his head hit the pillow and my dear Historian was not far behind!

So many blessings!

Discovery Journals

I have been working on making some Summer Discovery Journals for the kids, and it is finally coming together.

I've included a few Bible verses to look up and a few to memorize, trying new foods, plants to press, games to play, toys to re-discover, insects to study, playgrounds to explore, road trip fun, vocabulary words and more. I plan to print them on cardstock and put them in duotangs for the kids to personalize. I was telling one mom about my idea and she is wanting her kids to join in the fun - they are already 'bored' with summer and it has just begun!

This is the format:

Date: ________________________________
Today I discovered that I can learn from God’s Word! I memorized this verse:

The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing!
Zephaniah 3:17

I said it to three people!

Date: ________________________________
Today I discovered that I can be a really big help to my mom by: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Date: ________________________________
Today I discovered just how long God has loved me! I found it in Jeremiah 31:3. This is what it says:

I have included some vintage clip art from Antique Clipart and am just finishing up. I was hoping to have about 10 more entries, but I'm running out of ideas. Do you have any suggestions? My target age group is 7-10 years old. I am aiming for it to be fun, safe, not costly, and hopefully, character building! Discovering new things about God's wonderful world is always fun, so I do hope the children enjoy this. As an incentive, I am offering my kids a $10 gift certificate to their favorite toy shop for completing their journals.

All of the 'Journal' entries begin with:

Date: ________________________________

Today I discovered ...

I appreciate your input very much and I would be happy to e-mail the file to anyone who is interested once I've got it completed. I am not an author nor a graphics artist, it is just simple and straightforward, so don't expect anything great!


Saturday, June 9, 2007

A 'Cushy' Job!

Do you ever get disgusted with our 'disposable' society? I know I do! I think I was about 10 when I declared 'I hate plastic', and I wasn't talking about credit cards back then!

It frustrates me that appliances are built to last only 5-7 years! For example, my mum and dad had a washer and drier for over 30 years which required only minor repairs. They dryer was still in good shape when they replaced it, wanting to switch to a natural gas dryer. My husband and I have had 3 washer and dryer sets in 15 years of marriage! We have friends who are using a deep freeze that was his grandparents - I'm sure it is not as energy efficient as the newer models, but it is 40+ years old and going strong!

I hate knowing that we are filling up landfills with stuff that could be recycled, re-used, repaired or re-purposed! Often it costs more to repair an item than to buy new! Crazy! It was precisely this attitude that landed me my 'cushy' job!

When we took out our patio cushions a month or so ago, I realized they were terribly faded and I went shopping for new cushions. Our inexpensive set is 4 1/2 years old, and survived a minor tornado in which it was picked up and deposited without much damage - the umbrella was mangled, but everything else was fine! Our inflatable kiddie pool is another story - making the headlines of our local newscast as it flew though the neighbourhood, never to be seen again. But I digress!

After quickly mentally adding up my prospective purchase - a mere $285, and quickly recovering from a minor case of sticker shock, I politely inquired if the cushions ever went 'on sale', and I was immediately directed to the new patio sets which were priced at $300 - about the same as 7 new cushions (for our 6 tall chairs and a chaise lounge). This happened at at least 3 stores! I balked.

"What would I do with our old set?" I wondered since I don't host yard sales and I wouldn't give away chairs and cushions that are too shabby for our family to another family.

I went home and started the washer - washing them one by one, hoping to get one more season out of them. The fabric was more than faded though - it was rotten! I persisted, but was left with 3 out of 7 in tact.

I headed to JoAnn Fabrics, coupon in hand, and found that I could cover the 6 chair cushions for just under $90 and it would cost more to replace the stuffing for our lounge cushion than to buy a new complete cushion - go figure!

I debated for a few days - primarily because, while I like making one or two cushions, 6 was a bit much - and since each cushion has two parts - 12 was decidedly too much! Did I really want to buy a new lounge cushion just to tear off the new fabric and sew a matching cover for it? Then I realized that all that mildew proof polyester stuffing would end up in a landfill, so I bought the fabric and have been sewing it together with a 'jeans' needle and upholstery thread, neither of which my sewing machine is too fond of!

I'm almost done - thankfully, but you'll never guess what I've been thinking about while I have been sewing!

I've been thinking that I have a very cushy job compared to the men and women soldiers in Iraq who are giving their lives for our country. No comparison, really I know. I think that part of the reason that this war is so vital is that, we in North America, are so dependant upon the oil that region produces. I feel like it is my duty here at home to use as little of the products produced by that oil as I can - and polyester fiber fill may be only a drop in the bucket, but I'm doing what little I can. Or trying at least!

I read this recently on the message board at New Harvest Homestead:

Last week, Nancy Carter, from homesteadblogger wrote:

Did you know that Americans drain 2.5 million plastic bottles an hour?! In fact, more than 8 billion gallons of bottled water is consumed annually in the US and nearly 90% of those bottles wind up in landfills. My guess is most ladies on this homesteading list are VERY concerned about the millions of plastic bottles ending up in land fills as well as what a safe, economical and healthy alternative might be. In fact, the amount of oil consumed in the manufacture of
bottled water containers would power 100,000 cars for one year. THAT IS A LOT OF OIL???? Does in make sense to transport water all over the place (more oil consumption) when there are inexpensive and very effective water filters available? In fact, if an average family purchased bottled water in the handy containers for their family they would average spending $1000 or more a year.

Marilyn Moll at Urban Homemaker

I have not taken the time to verify these facts - I actually wouldn't know how to source that kind of information, but it is great motivation for me to
reduce our oil consumption and keep on being faithful with our recycling.

We use very little bottled water - we just keep filling up our own plastic water
bottles and never leave home without them! We have a Reverse Osmosis filter
system and our water is pretty good - especially with a squeeze of lemon. We
take fabric bags to the grocery store when we remember - we are trying to do
better there. We recycle those pesky plastic bags and ask for paper whenever we can. We wear cotton clothing. We run errands in groups so we don't have to fill
up as often. We try to be good stewards of the many gifts God has given our
family, and we do try hard to use our resources wisely.

I know it isn't much, but it's what we can do. Little enough. We are sending
men and women to fight a war to protect our country and preserve our quality of life - which includes (in my opinion) an inordinate dependence on the convenience of oil based products. I think I can be a little inconvenienced by sewing some cushions for our family rather than buying new - I know it's a stretch, but it's got me to thinking about other ways to save! What did homemakers do before zipper lock baggies and plastic ware food storage containers? What did grocery stores do before food came packaged in plastic? What did they put in soap and cosmetics before petroleum based products were produced? How can we lesson our dependance?

And now, you know I'm crazy - no need to wonder any longer!

I'll post a picture of my cushions when 'the boys' get back with the camera!

Friday, June 8, 2007

The End

Vacation Bible School is over for another year. Already? Wow! Today was by far the hottest day, but it wasn't really unbearable! Over all, we had great weather, a fun group of kids, enthusiastic crew leaders and excellent staff, so it was a very good Bible School. The truth of God's Word was shared repeatedly throughout the week. I am very tired, but grateful to have had enough energy to take part!

Our 'boys' are off to Camp for the weekend; it is The Storyteller's first real camp adventure, so I hope he has a great time. The Historian has mixed feelings about the whole summer camp experience, so he is there only because of his love for his son. Which, of course, makes me love The Historian all the more!

So, it is just 'us girls' for the weekend! Our first mission is to set this house to rights! It is a mess - a filthy, dusty, disorganized mess! Since my energies were spent at VBS when I normally would be doing my household chores, we are living in a pigsty! We've got to take drastic action!

If we have time and energy left after the house is cleaned up, we want to do 'something girlie', but at this point I have no ideas!!! Too fatigued for creative thought! Any thoughts or suggestions for a tired mommy and her 9 year old daughter? She's already squashed my idea that we to go to the garden center ....she said she has been there enough! I can't imagine .... humph! Can't fit much in the back of the little car anyway, I guess! The Dreamer has her nose in a book and won't be persuaded to 'go forth' unless it is something really fun!

My friend came over this afternoon to iron clothes for me - what a huge help! Thank you Michele! The mountain was large, but now it is a more manageable hill! I so appreciate her help!

So that's all for now, I guess! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend with your families!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Tower!

Just when I thought nothing was going to happen with the bathroom this week, the tower was delivered and installed! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! It is just what we ordered - and it is well made and practical - and I'm so pleased! It has top shelves, two drawers, and a cupboard space at the bottom! It will hold lots of extra toilet paper, linens and other bathroom gear. We should have a glass shower stall enclosure soon, and the tub is almost functional again - we opted to keep our old one since it is in pretty good shape!

Now, about the towels! I need advice here since I seem to have a terrible poor track record when it comes to selecting towels! They need to be absorbant and my husband likes the bath sheet size, but I don't want to pay $40 a towel! Any suggestions? The last few towels I have brought home we not absorbant and that just won't due!

Thank you for your help with my question Mrs. Pea! I now know how to strike out my words! Do you think I'll ever remember?

Tomorrow promises to be hot and humid, so I'm praying I won't wilt at Vacation Bible School! Today we ran an errand after VBS and tomorrow we will work to get Daddy and The Storyteller ready to go to kiddies camp for 2 days! Always so much to do!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Nagging Questions

I haven't much energy left even though I napped after VBS today, but I have a few nagging questions for you more experienced bloggers tonight! I hope you can help me!

First of all, how do you do the 'strike-out' line through words? I can italicize, underline and boldface, but I'm striking out at the 'strike-out' line! I'm working with Windows, if that makes a difference.

Second, what is involved in having an ETSY Shop, and how do you pronounce it? Can anyone at all sell homemade goods there?

Lastly, I would like to do some simple photo editing to make a more interesting heading for my blog. What program do I need for that type of thing - keeping in mind that I have very few computer skills?

That's it! Those were my burning questions! Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

On a more exciting note, my reason for fatigue today is pretty wonderful - I had the opportunity to present the Good News about Jesus to 5 groups of children today at Vacation Bible School because it was Salvation Day - presenting the way of salvation to children is always a blessing to me! I pray that I was clear!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Our Dreamy Ballerina

The Dreamer is still very unsure of herself in ballet and watches the other dancers for direction. She hasn't a good memory and so putting the steps with the music is somewhat of a challenge, but she has a wonderful, understanding teacher, and a dear friend to take class with and so she just loves ballet.

Mommy is no hairdresser, so this up-do was a bit of a challenge! Thankfully she was really pleased with it! I know many of the other girls had their hair done at a salon, but I think simplicity is best, and it just sets an expectation for the future that I am not wanting to begin just yet. We're still working on the inward beauty!

Daddy's gift - some sweetly scented carnations and baby's breath! He made his sweet girl one very proud and happy young lady! She whispered in my ear ' Mommy - I feel so blessed!'

We feel so blessed to have our Dreamer!

Cloud Bursts

Today was an odd day. When we lived in up north 'they' said, "If you don't like the weather, just wait ten minutes, it will change." That would just about describe today to a 't', I'd say. The good news is we have received some much needed rain and my gardens are quite happy. The weeds are thriving like I've never seen them thrive! Flowers are doing pretty well too!

This morning our church's Vacation Bible School began, and I was there as a craft helper. It was great fun, but I discovered that many children do not know how to tie knots - even the most basic knot! I blame it on Velcro running shoes and slip-on clogs! My kids have always driven me crazy tying knots in every imaginable place - for months on end my bathrobe belt was tied here and there around the house! They use ribbon, string, yarn, jute, and belts to tie up loose ends all over the house, so I was mildly shocked that this isn't a common skill. Many of the children were unable to string beads either, and these were grade 1 and 2 students, so that was a surprise. It was a fun morning, but tiring for me.

Our theme this morning was 'God is real', and when I asked the children about their understanding of our theme, many thought He is real, 'like Santa and the Easter Bunny'. Whoa, there! Many of these kids are regulars at Sunday School and AWANA, but obviously the teaching they are getting is inadequate, or it is not being re-enforced at home. It saddened my heart, but I wasn't surprised. This confusion is precisely the reason that we chose not to allow anything but the Truth of the Birth and Death of Jesus Christ, Son of God, be part of our family celebrations of Christmas and Resurrection Sunday.

On another note, we received some encouragement from The Storyteller's swim teacher tonight - he is making great improvement! This is his second session of Pollywogs at the YMCA, so we are happy that he is moving forward. Must be all that beach time with Poppa and Grammy!

Now you'll wonder what business I had taking the poor boy to swimming lessons at all when I tell you the shape he is in. He came home with a bit of the 'swimmers itch', most likely because he poured 'Seagull Soup' over himself the last day he was at the beach. His rash was fast fading and it really didn't faze him, but Saturday night he was awake with an ear ache for hours, and Sunday night he had a red spotty rash all over his back, was stuffed up and grumpy. Poor boy!

Hydro cortozone cream calmed the rash, which we are sure is the result of rolling wet on our grass after running through the sprinkler with sister, but he is still slightly spotty. He is not troubled with any ear pain now either, so that is good. He didn't go to VBS this morning, but hopes to go tomorrow.

So, why were we off to swimming lessons? He missed 2 lessons and was begging to go, and since he isn't contagious, and the pool chlorine really helped this kind of skin irritation before, I gave in. We protected his ears and dried him off thoroughly. I'll be kicking myself at 4 am if he awakens with another earache! I'm praying he will be much improved in the morning!

On the bathroom front, another sort of 'cloud burst' in the form of more waiting. Our sinks have not come in - apparently we picked a really popular model and they didn't anticipate the demand .... blah, blah, blah! Three more weeks! I was so excited about last week's progress and now we are at a standstill again! I thought my patience lesson was almost finished!

So that is life around our home these days - this week it is VBS mornings, chores and light school work in the afternoons and a nap for the Mommy!

Maybe a bit of weed pulling and another visit to the garden center or two - I figure if I fill the space up with flowers there won't be any room for weeds! Right?

Thank you, Lord for cloud bursts!

Friday, June 1, 2007

There and back again ...

I'm sorry I haven't posted all week! This has been a week! Let me tell you! Whew! I had a couple of posts brewing in my heart and mind about some big decisions we need to make regarding homeschooling and my health, but they were too depressing in type, so we'll keep praying on that a while longer.

I have so much to be thankful for, but am too tired to express it properly!

Last weekend I slept for 19 hours, so I guess my body felt the need. Memorial Day was quiet - I'm afraid we didn't make too many good family memories, since I was really not feeling great and we felt incomplete without our boy-o!

Tuesday saw more progress with the master bathroom. Yeah!!!!

Wednesday we watched 3 three week old peregrine falcons being banded - quite a great experience. That evening The Dreamer had her ballet recital and it was just so much fun for her - a great evening! Thursday we travelled 300+ miles across the border into Canada to meet Grammy, stay one night in a hotel with a pool, and then today we drove 300+ miles home - and The Storyteller is finally home!

Now, I am in need of sleep! Tomorrow our little town swells to 100,000 as we host the annual Strawberry Festival and my, oh, my! We hope to get up in time for the 3 hour long parade, but we'll just see. After the week we have had, would it be the end of the world if we just ate strawberry shortcake at home this year? I don't think so!

Praise for energy to do the necessary, to enjoy the beauty of God's majestic falcon creation, to delight in the ballet dreams of one special little girl, to travel the miles in safety, knowing the hand of God was guiding all the way - since I really do get lost in large bathrooms - this isn't a joke now, really I do! To be home - sweet, sweet home again - and with some fun funky new solar lights working their delightful spell in my flower garden ...

'Praise God from whom all blessings flow' really means a lot tonight! I'll be back with pictures soon!