Sunday, July 29, 2007

Captain's Choice


Poppa's been wanting to get a new boat for some time, but I don't think this is quite what you had in mind, was it Poppa? This would be more of a personal water craft - as in one adult sized person only!

Making Memories


We are busy making memories with Poppa and Grammy, and just having a lovely time. Last night we took a picnic to 'The Portage', a park I remember well from childhood. It was our 6th beach to explore this week and we all enjoyed it so much. The water was cool and refreshing, with a breeze and lovely waves. We had a swim and then got dressed in the bath house. It felt so good to be a little chilly since it has been so very warm here. We enjoyed a wonderful salad picnic after our swim and then explored the rocks. I took this picture just as we were leaving at 8 o'clock. Still lovely. I never tire of looking out over the water, I find it restful and soothing somehow. I guess a lot of other people feel that way too since lakefront property is so costly!
I have experienced this particular park as a child during two very bad storms. It was long before the days of personal satellite weather tracking devices. Though weather is, of course, still unpredictable, I think those devices must be a blessing to those who regularly go out on the water. Poppa and Grammy were retelling the funny tale of hiding in the outhouse and watching the fierce storm. We saw our boat loose it's moorings and drift out into open water with Poppa frantically chasing it amidst the lightening and crashing waves. As a child I remember being so very much frightened, but Mum got us all singing every Sunday School song we knew at the top of our lungs as we waited out the storm, and that seemed so much to help. Just knowing that God was there, even in the midst of the storm, was a blessing. It was a good thing to be reminded again of all God has brought us through, and know that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lakeside



We've kind of established a lazy lakeside routine - and I'm loving it! Our days have been beautiful for resting and making nice memories.

In the morning, we get up late, eat breakfast, make beds and get dressed, and plunge into a bit of school work just to keep up routine and keep the grey matter active. Just an hour of the basics and a bit of our Discovery Journals. Then lunch on the deck and into our swimsuits. So far in three days we have explored three beaches! There are enough beaches here to keep us busy for at least two weeks and we'll just visit our favorites when we run out! We have been avoiding one lake because some kids are getting swimmer's itch, but it is a much warmer body of water, so we might just take the risk!




At the beach, our children are playing in the water, and in the sand. Grammy has flutter boards, pails and shovels, a dingy with oars, and super soakers! What more can two kids ask for? We find some shade and watch - and jump in when we get hot too! Grammy even tried out the dingy yesterday! So far our children have made friends at each beach, and at the park - very surprising if you subscribe to the widely spread misconception that homeschooled children are not well socialized! We take a semi-healthy snack to the beach and lots of water - ice cold cans of Fruitopia for a very special treat. The van has much sand that needs to be removed, but what's the point since every nice day is to be a beach day!


Yesterday we skipped out on our school work a bit early and went thrifting - after all we are with the Queen of Thrifting - Grammy! We went to her favorite store and found some half price fall tops for the Dreamer and also a pair of overalls she has been wanting for play. I found some glass votive holders for $.25 and I think they will look nice in our 'new' bathroom!


We come home each late afternoon in time to clean off the sand and get supper going - nothing too fancy since we are trying to keep the house cooled for sleeping. Poppa made great burgers on the grill last night - almost as good as Daddy's!


It is getting really hot today so we are just going to get lunch and head out! The kids are in hats and lots of sunscreen, but they are still getting a bit brown and definitely have a healthy glow. Grammy and I have found shade so I still glow in the dark, but I'm sure I'll get a bit of color by and by!


I did get all our ironing caught up last night - shorts and t-shirts don't take too long!


All in all, we are resting and having a lovely time! We haven't used our bikes too much yet, but I'm sure we will. Mum and I went for a nice walk last night - sitting at the beach isn't exactly a workout, though keeping an eye on The Storyteller presents a bit of a challenge!


I'll check in again later in the week! Hopefully with more pictures - my camera battery needs to be replaced!


Sunday, July 22, 2007

We Made It!


We made it to Poppa and Grammy's in one very long 12 hour travel day! The weather was perfect! The traffic was heavy at times, but overall not bad. We didn't get lost! Praise the Lord! I was confused at the border a bit, but there was a car ahead of us that had a bumper sticker that said,"Jesus said, FOLLOW ME, and I will make you fishers of men" so I followed that car! It seemed pretty clear to me! They are doing a lot of construction at the border and re-routing everyone and it is just a mess. We had an easy crossing, and the guard was one we had met before - very nice.


I found out just before we left that the hotel that we usually stay at was booked with a convention, and that made me uneasy. It's one thing to stay alone with the kids at a familiar place, but another to go to a strange hotel. We kept going and since I wasn't feeling too tired and the kids were excellent (until the last 1/2 hour), I just kept on. I thought we would find a hotel up the highway, but by the time we stopped for supper, we were only 2 1/2 hours from our destination, so we ate, stretched and moved on. We arrived at 10:30pm.


I am very weary, achy and sore, but I feel so blessed and relieved to be here at last. Poor mum wasn't quite ready for us, but was very gracious none the less! I am too tired for church this morning, but I know with rest I will be just fine!


We are expecting a 'heat wave' of sorts here this week - it has been very cool so we are just blessed beyond measure - the kids will just love being in the water every possible minute! I knew if we brought our sweaters and sweat shirts we would get some lovely warm weather!


Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. We have much to be thankful for!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Psssst!


When we return from vacation, I will be getting close to my one year 'Blogiversary'! Do you see the word 'give' hidden there? Well, I plan to celebrate by giving a little token of appreciation away! When I began blogging, I never dreamed I'd make it to 12 months, so I have 12 little things to send to some happy blogging friend! Shall I give any more hints? I think ... not!

We're Off!


Tomorrow the children and I begin an adventure of long distance proportions - we are driving almost 700 miles to Poppa and Grammy's home. We will drive through two States and one Province, cross one very confusing international border, travel for hours and hours on busy highways, and stay overnight at a hotel without The Historian. These are all things I am not really comfortable with.


Did I mention that I am not a confident driver either? That I lack energy on a daily basis is no secret - so WHY am I doing this???? To spend time with my parents in the town where I grew up. To see old friends and familiar places, and to rest beside the quiet waters of two wonderful lakes while my children make wonderful memories of sun kissed summer days at the water!


I do ask for prayer for our travels - I know it is only in the Lord's strength that I will be able to accomplish this. I am praying that the children will be well behaved listening to C.D.'s, munching veggies and reading books. We will have lots of stops for sure - my back can't handle such long sitting! I pray for easy stops - no forgotten purses or long waits. I pray for easy on and off ramps and good lane changes - not too many detours, wrong exits or getting lost, and long construction back ups - and I am praying that I will be near a gas station when 'THE DADDY LIGHT' goes on, because I never think to look at the gas gauge otherwise! I am very spoiled in that my husband just always keeps the tank full for me! I am praying for my husband too - he will be very lonely without us, I'm sure. I'm really praying he'll remember to water the plants and pick the produce!


That seems like a lot of things to pray about, but I'm not worried - God alone really knows my needs, even before I bring them to Him, and He will supply. I'll try to blog from my dad's computer, but please pardon my absence if I am not able to! I'll be back, Lord willing, in two weeks or so!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Storyteller's Birthday

The Storyteller opens gifts 'long-distance' with Poppa and Grammy this evening! Do you see his headset? He is 'wired' just like when Momma talks with Grammy on the 'phone!

Today our Storyteller celebrated his 7th birthday in fine style! We stayed overnight last night at a waterpark resort and had hours of fun today swimming, splashing, sliding, riding, screaming, eating and resting on the 'lazy river'. What fun! We have had cake, sparkly candles, ice cream, lovely gifts and tomorrow we hope to have a friend over to enjoy more cake and ice cream! We are totally tired in a wonderfully happy-worn-out-water-logged-good kind of way!

Can I be completely honest and say, I don't know where the time has gone? I think it was just yesterday that we were marvelling at the precious gift of his life! He is a true miracle, not of modern medicine, but of God! After years and years of infertility, and our adoption of our sweet Dreamer, we were sure that it was not part of God's plan for our family to have any 'homegrown' babies - we planned to pursue adoption again when we discovered that God had another plan!


Though we have many difficult days with our active, impulsive, strong willed fellow, we are so blessed to have the privilege of raising this very special boy. He is sweetly, completely trusting His Heavenly Father, fiercely loving, sensitive, courageous, loyal without question, creative, imaginative, and astoundingly verbal. God has preserved his life on numerous occasions - while others have said we were 'lucky' we have known all along God's special providential care for this son.
Now, he is 7 years old! I can't wait to see what God has in store for this small boy! The best is yet to come, I feel! What a joy to be a part of a young boys life - what an honor to be called his Momma!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On Sewing




"It is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied."
- Nathanial Hawthorne

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Tea-Bag’s Tale



I began life in the most ordinary way really. Woven together on a large loom in a noisy, dusty factory; I was made for a purpose. I was loosely woven, of coarse cotton, made especially to absorb and to not carry lint. I was then washed, sized and pressed before I made my way to the printing room. Four wonderful dyes carefully applied to my length in a fun and fruity pattern - red, blue, yellow and green, all working together to make me bright and homey. I was sold in the yard goods department at Woolworth‘s - quite cheaply in fact, as ‘unfinished tea toweling‘. The woman who bought me was attracted to my bright pattern and durability.



It wasn’t long before my colors were set in a salt water bath, I was dried, pressed, cut and hemmed - then put into service in the kitchen. I dried many a sink full of dishes , and even more hardworking hands. At first I was used mostly for Sunday and when we entertained, for I was a bright spot in the otherwise humble kitchen. I was hung carefully on the oven door and all could see my brightness. I was washed often and carefully hung to dry. I was ironed and returned to the linen drawer for future use.



As I became faded, I was used more often, though my tasks were not always as pleasant. I was used to dry out the turkey at Christmas, and to cover the bread while it rose. I was used to mop up spills and even to cover more delicate fabrics as they were being pressed. Then one day, I was ruined by a big splotch of dark blue that would not come out. I was washed and then relegated to the bottom of the linen drawer, rarely used.


By and by a young girl took a fancy to me, and I was sent home with her. I was placed in her drawer, and eventually in her hope chest. She didn’t seem to mind the blue stain. After she married, I was often used, for there were few other towels in the drawer to choose from. I was hung carefully once again on the oven door, my dark stain hidden.
With each washing, my dark stain faded, and for many years I was a favorite for I spoke to the young woman of days gone by. During one moving time I was carefully placed back in that old cedar chest and forgotten for many years. Spring cleaning brought me to light once more and my owner wondered if there was some more useful purpose I could now serve. She set me aside on her sewing table.


A careful washing and pressing, and then I was cut once again, this time into many pieces, but no pattern was used. My blue stain was discarded and only the good parts of me remained. A bit of a pocket, a snap, and some handles all worked out of my best. I was sewn together with care, given a bright lining with more pockets, zippers and snaps! A touch of rick rack, a bright bow, some whimsical strawberries and now I have a new purpose. I will hold keys, sunglasses, a wallet, a comb, cell phone, lotion, Kleenex, a pen or five, and hand wipes.



I do not know just how long I will serve my strange new purpose, but I will do my duty with a bit of classic kitschy style. It will be nice to get out of the kitchen! I think we shall have good times together, my maker and I.

Resilience


My purple cone flower took quite a beating this spring and I wasn't sure how it would fare. It resides just under the master bathroom window, and because of that it got a bit trampled upon at various times in the renovation process. Some of the branches were broken and died. They went to the compost pile. Some were merely bent over, and have bounced back now. All in all it has come through the trial and is now blooming prolifically - it is shining in the herb garden!

It made me think of some of the day to day 'trampling' we often take. Worries, illness, fear, discouragements, unkind words, or just the overwhelming volume of life's little tasks can trample us for a time. Our happiness, peace, and contentment seem illusive when we are pushed down by life's difficulties.
We were reading John chapter 15 in Sunday School yesterday, and it struck me again how very practical this chapter is. When it comes right down to living the Christian life day to day, we've got to cling to the True Vine, Jesus.
When we abide in His love, we'll thrive despite the difficulties we face, and we'll bear much fruit. We'll shine for Jesus, be a witness for Him and bring glory to the Father. What better purpose for our lives? Three times in this passage we are told to 'love one another'. The world won't love us, but we are to love one another, because He has loved us. We don't have the strength to do it alone, but we have The Comforter, sent by Jesus to help us abide in Him. The Christian life has never been easy, but there is joy - abiding joy that we can have in full. Despite the frequent trampling!
"These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
John 15:11

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Happy Thrifting



Not long ago, we went to a favorite thrift store to look for more shorts for our growing Storyteller, and my eye caught sight of this unusual item! It was bent, rusty and $2. It came home with me! I carefully straightened it out, primed and spray painted it white, found some burgundy votives in my drawer and hung it in the gleaming white pergola. It looked a bit colorless, so I dug out some green plastic whimsy garland and draped it. The picture isn't very good, but it looks quite at home over our patio table and comfy chairs. The windows in the background are two of our master bedroom windows, so it is nice to look out to the back patio and enjoy my sweet bargain.

Cushions Completed!

If you remember this post on my crazy outdoor cushion project, you'll know I was going way beyond my sewing expertise in order to save money and keep our cheap old patio set out of the landfill for at least one or two more seasons! I ran into a major obstacle when my sewing machine could not handle the final sewing of the back cushion to the seat cushion, so I ended up taking much more time than I had planned. I completed the project by hand sewing closely with upholstery thread and a cording needle (after breaking three regular hand sewing needles!). I have the callouses to prove that it wasn't easy! I even covered some buttons to finish them up nicely.


They have been complete for a few weeks, but then we started to have our pergola freshly primed and painted, so I kept the cushions indoors until that was completed. The man who sometimes paints for us is good, but a bit messy! He was working in our little job between the weather and his other customers, so it took much longer than we had hoped. Finally, it has all come together and I am very happy with the end result!


Peppermint, the cat, has already claimed the chaise lounge - and we are trying to figure out how to keep him off it, but I am afraid it is an impossibility.


Welcome to our back patio!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

So close to perfect


It makes it easier to think of the glory of heaven on these close to perfect summer days. I know it is not even a glimpse, really, but it reminds me of my Father's tender care. In our little corner of the Midwest we enjoyed temperatures in the high 70's, lovely breezes, sunshine, delightful white clouds in a scurry across blue blue skies and almost no humidity. While we are still greatly in need of rain, I could happily enjoy duplicate days for the rest of the summer without a complaint!


We were 'slug-a-beds' this morning and awakened when the sun was streaming over the trees and into our still curtain-less bedroom! For once, there were no eager beaver lawn mowers in the vicinity, and our early riser was occupied with yesterday's newspaper. I actually spent a bit of time reading in bed, but the day was calling us all out of doors, and that is where we stayed until 7 pm.


We puttered. A few jobs are checked off the master list! The guys sorted and took the recycling to our community recycling center and then went out for a father/son lunch. The girls spray painted flea market wire chairs - I'll post a picture when I get the cushions on. I watered, weeded a bit, deadheaded, repainted our wrought iron bench, did some laundry, weeded a bit more and generally enjoyed the day.


The Historian took the children fishing! What fun! Catch and release at a friend's stocked pond - bluegills and bass. A little rowing about for our Dreamer and one good soaking for the Storyteller - rather inevitable when a boy almost 7 and water are in close proximity!


We ended the day together at our favorite old time drive-in rootbeer place with frosty mugs of made-from-scratch refreshment! Mmmm!


The children are bathed, have nicely trimmed nails, were massaged with soothing lotion, prayed with, kissed, and are now sound asleep! Their clothes are laid out for tomorrow - Bibles at the ready for Sunday School and shoes in good order.


I just can't help praising the Lord for the blessing of today! I do hope you too can find something special to be thankful for today!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Solution for Zucchini Overload


If you have a wee garden, as we do, and you accidentally planted too many zucchini plants, as I did, you may now find yourself facing Zucchini Overload. When the Historian and I were first married I overestimated the amount of zucchini I could stir-fry, pickle, freeze, make loaves with or give away - by about nine plants! It was no laughing matter - I became obsessed with ridding myself of the great green squashes that were taking over my kitchen! It got to the point where I would put a bag of the prolific produce on some one's doorstop, ring the bell and run. Oh yes, and heaven help those unsuspecting parishioners who left their car doors unlocked of a Sunday morning, for they too were 'gifted' with my excess! I thought I had learned my lesson, but this year, I again have more than I need. I have made muffins, loaves and stir-fry, and yesterday I made a cake! I forgot to take a picture before it was cut and now it is gone, but I'll share my recipe anyway.



Zucchini Chocolate Cake


1/2 cup soft butter (1 stick)

1 3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or 1/2 cup vegetable oil if you like)

1/2 cup sour milk

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups grated zucchini with peel



2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 plus 1 tablespoon cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. sea salt



1 cup milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and get on that apron - cocoa really stains you know!


In mixing bowl at low speed cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and beat until light. Mix in apple sauce and vanilla. Mix in sour milk. Remove mixing bowl from stand and use a large spoon to stir in zucchini. Combine dry ingredients and sift together twice. Add to zucchini mixture all at once and stir just until combined. Spread in a well greased 9x13 pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 -40 minutes or until toothpick comes out cleanly.



WARNING: If you are serving this at a potluck, be sure to clearly label, as there are those who 'despise' zucchini and will feel that you are 'pulling one over' on them if you hide it in a yummy, moist, delicious chocolate cake!


Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Check-Out Inquisition

Have you ever been subjected to the 'Check-Out Inquisition'? For some reason, I get questioned all the time! If it's not about the kids not being in school during the the normal hours (we home school), it's about what we are buying. Or, not buying!


We have one grocery store check-out girl completely convinced that we are vegetarians, just because I go there mainly for the produce and don't ever buy meat there. She asks me about it every time. I have considered lining up in other lines, but she is super efficient and knows a cabbage from a carrot so we stick with her.


The other day, the inquisition centered around my choice of laundry soap - admittedly, a guilt pleasure. Perhaps I was too sensitive, but in my defense, I was at the store early before the Historian went to work, and I was without children since they were still nestled in their beds. My daily orange juice had not 'kicked in' and my morning meds were rolling dangerously in my tummy.

Clerk: "Oh, you're buying that Mrs. Meyers laundry soap. Did you see that All was on sale for $3.69 - that's less than half the price of this stuff."

Me: "I really like this product, thank you. It's so fragrant and really, a little goes a long way."

Clerk: "There are new scents in the All products too, and they are on sale."

Me: "Thanks but I really like this and I know it agrees with our daughter's sensitive skin."

Clerk: "For $3.69 you could give the All a try, you know - it comes in scent free too."

Me: "No, thank you - I like this product. I know I am spending a bit too much on laundry soap and that I could economize more in this area, but I know it is environmentally safe, it is wonderfully fragrant, and it really works well in my HE machine."

Clerk: "So, you think this is economical?"

Me: "YES!!! For me, it is economical, because I REALLY like it! I don't waste money on beer, cigarettes, junk food, coffee or bingo. I don't buy lotto tickets or gamble, I buy everything I can on sale and get many of our clothes second hand. I sew our curtains, make gifts from scratch, and I try to be frugal, but I really like this soap!!!!

Clerk: "OH! Will that be paper or plastic?"

I didn't loose my temper, but almost! I did apologise as I handed her my money, but what's a girl to do? Since I found another coupon from Mrs.Meyers in my purse that was also expiring, I went back again to get another bottle for the pantry and a different clerk, very friendly, asked if I liked the soap and found it economical!!! I thought, 'Oh no, here we go again.' Thankfully she accepted my 'yes' and moved on!

I think I'm going to have to start praying for patience before I go grocery shopping!

So, what I really need to know is, what is your most interesting 'Check-Out Inquisition'? Or, is it just me?

'Just Lunch' and other joys ...


"Just lunch' yesterday went very well! Thank you all for your interest and encouragement! I appreciate your prayer support. I had to make a last minute 'menu' change since the bread was not rising according to schedule! I blamed the air conditioning! Maybe my liquids were not warm enough, but whatever the reason, I'll remember to make my bread the day before so I'm not rushing at the last minute next time.
I used the ham that was intended for sandwiches to make Ham & Cheddar Pie. So simple and so tasty! We also enjoyed fluffy tea biscuits hot from the oven, crisp veggies with Dilly Dip, fresh fruit cup, and warm chocolate chip cookies. I made lemonade in the blender with lots of ice so it was like a slushy. All in all, it was simple, easy and appreciated. My bread eventually rose properly and was just coming out of the oven when she came in the door! She appreciated the wonderful smell!


We enjoyed our visit immensely - it is always a good sign when your guest tells you that she would love to stay and chat all afternoon! I did 'show off'' our new bathroom! Since my new friend has just built her own new home, she appreciated the changes and necessary decision making!

A kindred spirit in matters of homemaking, sewing, gardening, preserving the harvest and, most importantly, in her love for the Lord, we got along very nicely. She was encouraging to spend time with since she is an experienced mother having launched two sons now in their late 20's, and currently raising her youngest son who is a teenager. She is even a grandmother - but a very young looking grandmother! She kindly remarked that she has noticed some maturity in our Storyteller, and she generously praised our efforts consistently to parent as the Lord has lead us. Perhaps a deeper friendship is begun!
I had a short nap after she left, and was quite refreshed. It was intensely hot and humid between each of our three thunder and heavy rain storms yesterday, so we were just as content as could be to stay in and read.
All in all, I am looking forward to another 'just lunch' soon! I don't know why I took so long waiting for 'someday'!
Thank you Lord, for the 'nudge' in the right direction!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Maple Muffins


Momma's Maple Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 8 muffin cups.

Blend together:

1/4 cup melted butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. sea salt


Add dry ingredients and blend until crumbly:

1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I use part whole wheat)

2 tsp. baking powder



Add and stir together:

3/4 cups rolled oats


Mix together well and stir in to dry ingredients just until moistened:

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup pure maple syrup


Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from muffin tins. Cool and spread with glaze.
Glaze:
1 tbsp. soft butter
1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tbsp. milk
Mix together until smooth and spread on cooled muffins.
We had these for breakfast and I thought you might like the recipe too! The original is from a 1982 edition of Muffin Mania, but I have made a few alterations, since the original was too sweet for our family. I often double the batch, but not the glaze since there is more than enough for two batches! Enjoy!






Sunday, July 8, 2007

Someday


I am no longer waiting for 'someday', because 'someday' just never seems to come. I have heard it from others and many times and said it myself often, I'm sure!

"We should get together 'someday'."
"That would be great!"

What, exactly, are we waiting for?

I grew up in a home that modeled Biblical hospitality - my dad and mum filled our dinner table almost every Sunday with whoever would come. We have great memories of my mum's wonderful dinners and all the folks we shared them with. When The Historian and I got married, I hoped our home would be the same. We started well, but then quickly realized that many folks found it an imposition to be invited. Still, we kept on trying to open our home and we loved it when folks would come a share a meal with us.

Somewhere along the line, I got too fussy and complicated and made the family miserable trying to have everything 'perfect' for company. So, we went back to a simpler format and it was far more enjoyable for everyone. I love it when I actually learn from my mistakes! When we moved, hospitality was put on hold until we got more settled, but about that time poor health began to limit my energies and hospitality became difficult.

We've lived with liver disease for quite a while now, and I have good days and not so good days, but life continues on. My primary responsibilities are to my husband, our family and serving the Lord through our local church ministries, but I also want to invest a little more of myself in friendship. Not 'someday', but today.

No one is going to be less busy tomorrow than they are today. I'm always going to have projects I am in the middle of. My home is not going to be 'magazine shoot' perfect and dust free. Ever. It doesn't need to be.

We are going to offer hospitality simply. I will try not to apologise for the mess - that's going to be hard, but I will try. We have been given this home by God to use for His glory - it about time we use it! God calls us to be hospitable!

Today I invited a lady, who is a widow, from church over for lunch. It went like this:

"Would like to come for lunch one day this week?"

" Um, sure - I think Tuesday is clear for me."

"That would work well for us too"

"Just me?"

"Yes - well, our children will be home of course."

"No other ladies?"

"No, I'd just like to get to know you better."

"Just lunch?"

"Yes, something simple - just lunch."

"Alright then, I'll see you Tuesday."

Do you think maybe she has been to too many Mary Kay / Tastefully Simple/ Candle Lite/ Pampered Chef or Tupperware parties????? What ever happened to just lunch?
We're going to try it - this week!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Before & After


Sometimes a glimpse at the 'before' can really help you appreciate the 'after' much more! This is what the bathroom looked like after a thorough cleaning when we moved here - two shades of peeling pumpkin orange paint covered a mess of mold and a 'quick fix' grouting job covered up the fact that the tile was falling off the wall. There was no door and the ceramic tiles were popping off the floor. Do you see the strange hand-held shower sticking out of the wall - it leaked in between the walls and was a mess! The gold finish was coming off the faucets and the shower surround. It's funny now, but I actually got stuck in that shower - more than once! The door would not open and once we were late for our homeschool art class - quite embarrassing! I had to break it down! The mold quickly resurfaced after a few weeks here and we have battled it for over 2 years - now we have a beautiful 'new from the studs out' bathroom!
Happy am I!
I promise - this is the end of the bathroom saga! Honestly!

Show and Tell Friday


Kelli at There is no place like home is hostessing Show and Tell Friday and I thought it would be fun to join in - with a picture of our completed Master Bathroom! We think it turned out really nicely! I think our contractors did a great job - especially since it is their first bathroom as a fledgling company! They jokingly asked me to 'design' for their company, since they really like the choices that we made! Since not everyone is going for the same 'look' and classic, conservative and practical (keeping within the budget) is the only way I know how to do things, I think they'd be disappointed.


Now the fun part is moving everything back into our bathroom and walk in closet - no more brushing our teeth bent over double in the kid's bathroom (their sinks are the perfect height for them!)! I need to get some fabric to make a curtain and we definitely need to order blinds, find some more nice towels and other fun accessories! We also still need mirrors, but I haven't been shopping lately! So, the construction is done, but now comes the fun part!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Indoor Picnic


Knowing the storms were on their way, we chased the children outside to play right after brunch! They had a lovely time until the heavens opened up and the rain began in earnest - what a downpour! Too wet to picnic outside or even to brave it under the pergola - it leaks like a sieve! So, we went to plan 'c' - an indoor picnic! The Dreamer decorated for the occasion!


We read the Declaration of Independence and discussed the errors of King George and his loyal sympathizers arguments as well. We talked about the good Americans have done in the world, and the nations that have been saved because of American intervention at critical junctures. We talked about God's plan for the world and His way of working all things together for His own purposes. I think I learned as much as the children!


Thankfully, the storm ended and we even saw sunshine again briefly - dry enough for a brilliant fireworks display! The children had a lovely time - I'm too practical to truly enjoy fireworks, but I do try hard! I'd be thrilled if every community gave what they spent on fireworks to their local shelters, food pantry or Habitat for Humanity! Of course, that would leave the fireworks folks out of work and that's not a good thing either! My solutions are always too simplified!


We will be back to our normal schedule tomorrow - and a lot of post renovation tidy up! I'll post the pictures of our COMPLETED bathroom then! I do hope you have had a lovely Fourth of July with those you love!

Happy Independence Day Everyone!


Happy Independence Day! Our children have been asking some pretty pointed questions about the significance of the Fourth of July. We have had to hide a few grins and try to answer as seriously as the questions were asked, but this question really touched our hearts!


The Dreamer: "So the Americans declared that they were independent from England's King and had the right to rule the Colonies as they pleased?"


Daddy: "That's essentially right, honey. On July 4th 1776 the Continental Congress adopted what is called 'The Declaration of Independence' and let England know that they would no longer be ruled by a government that denied their rights and freedoms."


The Storyteller: "They didn't declare their independence from GOD though, right Daddy? Nobody can say they are independent from God! He made us!"


Daddy: "No Chum, They knew it was God their Creator who gave them their rights and freedoms and they asked Him for guidance all through the process of writing the Declaration. They mention God many times in the Declaration."


The Storyteller: "That's good Daddy. We should read it again. Maybe everyone should read it again, 'cause it sure seems like lots of people in America are living independent from God."



We'll be reading part of the Declaration again and remembering just Who governs the affairs of men and allows Kings to sit upon their thrones.



Romans 13:1


"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist are appointed by God."
Our little corner of this great land is to receive a bit of liquid sunshine tomorrow, so we may not be able to sneak in a picnic, and the fireworks are iffy too, but I'm sure it will be a nice family day! I hope you all enjoy time with your loved ones as we celebrate America's Birthday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Abundantly Clear


This week our homeschooling 'forms' came in the mail and brought our need to make a decision concerning this year's schooling to my attention. We have been faced with the logical reasoning of many well meaning and loving family members and friends more then once in the last year and a half of liver disease.


"Wouldn't it make more sense to put the children in school and save your energies for getting well, taking care of yourself, and being an energetic Mommy when they get home from school each day?"


It does make sense on many levels, and I can't argue it logically. It is actually quite tempting at times! Think of all the sewing I could get done!
Our children were born with the sin nature, as we all were; they are strong willed, stubborn and highly distractable. There are days when I do think "Why am I putting myself through this?". I also wonder if I am getting to everything I should be because of my decreased energy level.
The only thing that I can say for certain is that we felt called to home school our children before we even had children - called by God! Since we have prayerfully taken each year as it came and not heard from the Lord that we should stop, we have continued on.

With this in mind, we have been exploring our options and praying for direction and guidance for months.


Today ...


When I sat down this morning to read my Bible, my day had already 'gotten off on the wrong foot'. Since the kids were occupied making their beds, sorting their laundry and generally making each other crazy, I thought I'd take time to read a bit.


I am reading through Romans again because I have forgotten far more of the book's life changing truth than I have remembered! I have been praying for consistency as I am constantly getting off course. I read and re-read this mornings passage since the giggling minstrels of bedmaking and laundry sorting were quite the distraction.
When I prayed, I reminded God that the deadline for filing my homeschooling intent forms would come really quickly and I asked Him to guide our path.
As the banshees ran though my quiet time area for the THIRD time, I added,
"Oh Father, You know how distracted I am and how little quiet I enjoy. I am so dense these days, I feel like I am in a sort of fog of physical distress. You're going to have to speak up if I am going to hear Your voice. Please, please, please, make it abundantly clear to me."
This afternoon I took The Storyteller to Mrs. Wonderful, his speech therapist for his weekly appointment. She has been teaching in the public and private schools for 43 years and has had numerous private clients as well, including our Storyteller. She is amazing - we are blessed to have her, and she has helped our boy so very much.
Today, she was an answer to prayer!
As we were leaving after a very productive appointment, the children went ahead to the van, and another private client's family drove in. Mrs. Wonderful introduced me to the other mom. She had not seen our children but asked if our son was Downs, since her son is. When I replied, "No, he is just very very active and easily distracted. Mrs. Wonderful is helping him with a stutter."
This is when Mrs. Wonderful 'shocked' me.
She said, "Heather homeschools her children and so she and her husband sought out private help for their son since he would have received it in public school." After the other mom nodded her agreement, Mrs. Wonderful continued, "And thank God you do homeschool - I would just hate to see him in a traditional school setting - he would be in all kinds of special needs programs, labelled, held back, and they would be pressuring you to put him on drugs so he didn't talk the ears of his teacher, or teach the class himself! He thrives on the one on one. I would hate to see how quickly they would rob him of his wonderful sparkle. I just love that boy! And I don't think your sweet daughter would be the unspoiled girl she is either - I am shocked at what girls her age say to one another - they are so mean to one another"
I said, "I feel so blessed to be able to homeschool, since I am sure if the Storyteller were in private or public school, I would be getting calls from the principle and spending my nights trying to teach him what he didn't take in during the day because he was too distracted! I'd hate to deal with the attitudes they both would bring home from school. We have enough home grown 'bad attitude'!
She agreed with me but quickly clapped her hand over her mouth and said,"I shouldn't have said that at all - I work for the school! Well, I guess I am just working at the parochial school now, but still! I have never encouraged homeschooling, and I have had many clients who were homeschoolers!"
She had to go and start her session, but as I walked to the car, I realized that my Heavenly Father was making it abundantly clear ...
Now, I just can't wait to see how He will confirm His calling, and make the path straight so that we can do this, liver disease and all.
Note: In re-reading this today I realized that I sound terribly negative about the children, and I just wanted to clarify. Our children are wonderful blessings from God - they are full of life, creative, imaginative, cheerful, enthusiastic, passionate and wanting to be more like Jesus everyday. They bless our hearts with their simple faith and the love which they both freely express. I was merely pointing out the faults in their characters that cause most difficulty when home schooling. We are confident that one day God will use their strong wills to accomplish great things for Him, and that the stubborn trait we see today will blossom into a tenacity that will keep them striving on when life is a series of trials.