As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Toaster Oven Cover

When I shared our latest kitchen updates, I mentioned that I had asked Ron to make a cover for the toaster oven. One of my decorating practices is to hide ugly stuff, and although my toaster oven is not particularly ugly, I think this new faux apothecary cabinet is much prettier! 

The plan was to add a bit of color to the kitchen. Ron applied an undercoat of black paint with the idea that I would then paint it some colonial color (barn red or my favorite Quaker Green) and distress it. But when we put it on the counter, I really liked the black! 

I did a small amount of distressing, applied a coat of Miss Mustard Seed's hemp oil, and left it at that. 

Who knows? I may end up painting it another color some day. (Or maybe not.)

I am happy to have another house-y project checked off the list! ✔

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What Will It Be?

What will it be to see Him whom I have known so long but never seen before? To adore His beauty, to worship Him in holiness; to see Him crowned with glory and honour who was wounded, bruised, oppressed, afflicted -- what will it be to see Him and not another, not a stranger?

What will it be to serve in perfect purity and in untiring vigour? To see no more through a glass darkly, to grope no more on the edge of knowledge, but to press on into that kingdom to which no frontier is set? To see with new eyes, to hear with new ears, to know no more in part but even as also we are known?

What will it be when Faith and Hope fade out of sight and only Love is left?

What will it be? We cannot tell. We do not know.

Only this we know: the travail of the journey is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to usward, even to usward, though we be the least of the redeemed.

~ Amy Carmichael

From Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes by Iain H. Murray 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Persistent Candle and the Polite Piñata

Because Kati often requests Mexican food for her birthday meal

and because we wanted a good excuse to have a pinata for the kids

we chose a Mexican theme for our November birthday celebration!

It was a lovely day of celebrating our November birthday people: Paul, Peter, and Kati! Family gathered, tacos, games, a sweet guest, Choco Tacos for dessert, lots of baby holding . . . all the makings of a festive afternoon!

Don't be fooled by Peter's melancholy face in this shot; he had a great time at his party!

See? 😊

"Hold me like a baby."

Then there was the candle that wouldn't extinguish! CrAzY, because I assure you that they were not trick candles. Kati's and Peter's blew out on the first try. Paul's, however, just wouldn't give up. 


Silly candle!



This is crazy!

Try again.

This BIG puff finally extinguished the flame! Whew!

And then there was the piñata.

I had bought a pull string piñata instead of the traditional whack-with-a-stick variety. (Only one of the cascading ribbons opens the trap door to the candy.)

First, each of the birthday peeps had a turn to pull a string.

No candy yet. So we let the others take a turn, from youngest to oldest.

No candy yet!

Still no candy! The suspense is mounting!

When it was Ryan's turn, he pulled a string . . .

and the trap door began to open, but also the hanger became dislodged and the whole thing crashed to the floor!

He picked it up and started to dump out the candy.

But do you see what is happening? 

You're right! Nothing!  

The kids all just stood around watching the candy scatter over the floor.

They started picking up a few pieces. 

It was the most polite piñata scramble ever!

So Sarah had to show them how it was done!  🤣🤣🤣

I love her!

P.S. There was even candy left over! It will be recycled as Grandy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Quarter of a Century

Well, as you've been saying, you're a "quarter of a century" now! That means we have had twenty-five years of loving you, twenty-five years of enjoying the blessing that you are to our world!

I love that we laugh (uproariously) at the same things. I love that you're a nature lover and see the beauty in the lovely and in the lowly things. I love that you are a clear thinker. I love that you are orderly. I love that you are a loving aunt to your eleven nieces and nephews. I love that you are a plan-aheader. I love that you are creative. I love that you are generous and thrifty at the same time. I love that you are patient and kind and gentle. Mostly, I love that you love the Lord and you trust His plan for your life.

I hope that this new year of your life is filled with dreams come true! But even more, I pray that you can say this:

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:28

Birthday blessings and much love,

(Blessings and love from Dad too! Even though he doesn't laugh uproariously when we laugh, he would say everything else.) 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Gathering the Moments of October

Oh, how I love October! 

I love its warm days, its cool nights. I love the crisp air. I love the color of pumpkins, gourds, berries, and turning leaves. I love October in the kitchen, making soup or a batch of pumpkin muffins.

This year . . . well, only about half of it seemed October-ish. It felt like summer until the middle of the month! 

But I loved it anyway! 

It was a good month. 

This year, October was birthdays (Ben's was a milestone: 10!) and pumpkin spice iced coffee and buying a new gourd every time I went grocery shopping. (You never know what you'll need on the Thanksgiving tables. Plus I never met a gourd I didn't like.) 

October was finally decorating for fall just before the birthday party. It was a new wreath for the front door. (Because I put the old one on the dining room table.) 

October was a senior trip, several days chock-full of learning, and walking, and memory-making.

And then another trip for Kati. A good trip.

October was an overnight camping trip for Ryan's family, along with four of Kristin's children, and Kati and Bekah. They ate around the campfire, played games, told stories, canoed, and kayaked. Ron and I stayed home with the granddog. And I nursed a cold.

(October was also lots of laundry after three consecutive trips!)

October was also a growing baby boy. (Be still my heart!) It was coffee and donuts with Peter. It was apple cake and Apples to Apples (the game).

It was lots of long distance communication.

October was a Shakespeare Reading Day and book club. It was piano lessons and voice lessons choir and plenty of time in the car. It was Morning Time with the book of Jonah and "Jesus Paid it All" and George Catlin and Stephen Foster and Gerard Manley Hopkins. 

October was trying to hold on to the moments as life changes, as seasons of life begin, as some seasons of life draw to an end. 

And yet, we can't hold on to the moments. We can only gather them and store them in our hearts, thanking the Lord for His good gifts. Then we move ahead. 

"They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true."
Frances Ridley Havergal

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Bekah's Senior Trip

A few weeks ago, we took our final "Senior Trip," a tradition in our homeschool that started out rather unintentionally, but became something of a rite of passage for each of our high schoolers. 

Here is how our Senior Trip tradition began:

The summer before Kristin, our oldest child, was a senior, we decided to take a family vacation to Niagara Falls. It is something that we had been wanting to do for a while. But we suddenly realized that this particular year (1997) should be the year because who knew if we'd have the opportunity  to travel together after Kristin graduated?
Kristin's Senior Trip to Niagara Falls, 1997
(We do not know the lady wearing the red shirt. 😄)

So two years later as Ryan was heading into his senior year, we asked him if there was anywhere that he would like to go. He chose a trip to Skyline Drive, Luray Caverns, and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.
Ryan's Senior Trip, on Skyline Drive, 1999

Between Kati's junior and senior year, she spent the whole summer living with Ryan and his family in northern California. They traveled some while she was there, including a camping trip to Crater Lake in Oregon. Even though we did not share this experience with her, we considered it her senior trip!
Kati at Crater Lake, 2010

And now, of course, Bekah is a senior!

When you are the baby of the family (and that family has an age span of nearly 21 years!), there are  plenty of things that your older siblings have done that you have not!

You've never been to an amusement park, Bekah? Are you sure? 

Remember the time we went to the Museum of Natural History? Oh, you've never been there? 

You mean you haven't done      fill-in-the-blank   ?


So when it came time for Bekah to choose a senior trip, she wanted to stay closer to home and grab some of the experiences that she had only heard about! And she didn't want day trips. She wanted to hang out in the big city (cities) and fill the days. We were going to visit museums . . . as many as we could do in three days!

On Day One, we visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore, located on the beautiful Baltimore Harbor. When we arrived, we were surprised to learn that we qualified for "Maryland Mornings," a limited time offer in which Maryland residents who purchase their tickets before noon on Monday through Friday receive a substantial discount. Yay!

A view of Baltimore Harbor, seen from a window in the National Aquarium
Photo by Kati

We spent our day exploring exhibits of a tropical rain forest, coral reefs, and "extreme" creatures of Australia. We saw jelly fish, puffins, a sea turtle, and rays. We watched a dolphin training demonstration. We all loved the multi-story shark tank where you see several species of sharks (and other fish) swimming up close! 
Photo by Kati

Photo by Kati

After we left the Aquarium, we meandered across the foot bridge over to a large Barnes and Noble . . . not for the books, I'm afraid, but for some cold, liquid (and caffeinated) refreshment at their Starbucks cafe!

Photo by Kati

On Day Two, we went into Washington, D. C. via the Metro. Bekah had big plans for that day. She wanted to tour three different museums!

Photo by Kati

We began at the International Spy Museum, this one new to all of us, not just the "baby." We spent several hours learning about the world of espionage through exhibits about disguises, famous spies, codes, and much more. There was also an entire section dedicated to the fictional James Bond. My favorite part of the museum was the gallery called "The Secret History of History" where we learned how spy activity impacted history, from Moses to the Trojan horse, from Harriet Tubman to Elizabeth I.

Photo by Kati

From the International Spy Museum, we went to the Museum of Natural History. Bekah had researched the galleries ahead of time, and had chosen the ones that she wanted to visit. We explored the Mammals exhibit and the Ocean Hall on the first floor. (I am still amazed at how evolution theory is presented as fact in the exhibits at this museum. Perhaps I shouldn't be, but I am. Yet another reason that I am glad that we homeschooled our children!) 

Photo by Kati

Upstairs, we spent some time at the Live Insect Zoo, which made Kati happy! (She loves creepy crawlies.) We made a quick pass by the mummies and the dinosaurs, and we saw the Hope Diamond. The girls had gotten (free) tickets to walk through the Live Butterfly Pavilion, but the time slot they had would have meant that we would miss the last museum on the list for Day Two. We let Bekah make the call and she reluctantly chose to move on.

Photo by Kati

Our last stop of the day was the National Air and Space Museum. Due to limited time, we made sure to prioritize the things we most wanted to see, but we ended up seeing quite a bit! We began with The Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age, but we saw The Spirit of St. Louis and we  visited galleries on Early Flight, How Things Fly, Sea-Air Operations, World War II Aviation, and the Great War in the Air.

Photo by Kati

While looking at the WWII planes, Bekah asked me a question about one of the planes. While I struggled over an answer, she said, "No. I'll ask Dad." 🤣

Dad supplying a knowledgeable answer. 

Day Three took us back into DC. Our first stop (which also ended up being our last) was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Ron and I had been to the museum before, but this was a first visit for both Kati and Bekah.

There is so much that could be said about this museum. It is incredibly, incredibly moving . . . from beginning to end. It mind-boggling to see the rather rapid evolution from tolerance to persecution to  absolutely unspeakable horror. It was a somber visit. Much to learn, much to ponder.

Photo by Kati

One of the most meaningful parts of the museum for me was the little theatre area on the second floor where you can watch a video of Holocaust survivors sharing their own stories. (You can actually see some of these interviews . . . and more . . .  ~here~. Heartbreaking and inspiring.)  

Photo by Kati

We had planned to visit the Museum of the Bible on this trip, but we spent a great deal of time at the Holocaust Museum and we had hoped to leave the city before rush hour. We made a quick decision to return for a day trip sometime this spring.

Although our first "senior trip" was a happy accident, these became a meaningful part of our children's high school experience. Senior trips were something to look forward to. They were a rite of passage. They were meaningful times to spend together as a family. And they were times to make happy memories. 

A senior trip was another way of finding joy in the homeschool journey!

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