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 nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—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, July 3, 2015

Memory-Making Moments {Part 1}

So I took a blogging break to make some summer memories with the ones I love.

A mama is happy when all of her children are in one place! It doesn't happen often, but when it does there are memory-making moments to be had.

Such was the case last week when Ryan, Sarah, Eve, Nora, Peter, and Baby Paul rolled into our town on a summer's night. What a joy to see their faces! What a joy to spend the next several days going here and there, doing ordinary things and special things, relishing our time together!

Kristin, Brian, Gavin, Maddie, Owen, Benjamin, and Alaine, as well as my mom (my dad was under the weather) and my sister Linda, joined us on Saturday and, of course, we made it a party! We feasted on Maryland crab dip, steamed shrimp, grilled chicken, salad, watermelon...and homemade orange creamsicle ice cream for dessert. 

Our four children...
Kristin, Ryan, Kati, and Bekah

...and our nine (so far) grandchildren.
Back row: Owen (8), Eve (7), Nora (6)
Seated: Gavin (12) holding Alaine (4), Maddie (10) holding Paul (7 months), Ben (6), and Peter (4)

Some peeks at the moments that graced our days...

Aunt Linda gets kisses from Lucy :)

Gammy and Paul

Because it was a rainy day, the ice cream operation was moved to the screened-in porch. It became the place to be, all of the children wanting to watch and all taking a turn with the churning. I hear that there was some competition to see who could crank the fastest! 

(Ryan suggested the orange creamsicle flavor, and we will definitely make it again! Yum!)

Before they left on Sunday afternoon, we took a family photo. Aren't they a beautiful family? (Yes, I am biased.) (But they really are!)

Then it was time for good-byes.

But this time the three older children were saying good-bye to their parents (and Paul) for a few days, because this time --for the first time--  they were able to stay over with Papa and Gran! 

To be continued...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Thursday Chat...and a Little Blogging Break

About that highboy...

First of all, I loved reading your comments and advice! You all had me grinning from ear to ear as you offered your opinions, both here at the blog and on my personal Facebook page. One friend, in a private email, made this concession: 
"I promise not to be so opinionated if that piece turns up black someday. I'll just say How lovely!"

Of course, I know that the world is not hanging on my decision. But just in case anyone is curious, I will tell you that the highboy is not going to be painted. (For now.) The more I look at that beautiful cherry finish, the less I can imagine painting over it. 

However, I have also decided that it cannot live in my living room. I really wanted to make it work, It is such a beautiful piece, and I love it! But I have lived with it her for several weeks now and it she is The Queen among more humble residents. It she stands there looking elegant and Queen Anne-ly...and she steals the show. So she is going to go upstairs to my bedroom where she will still steal the show...but fewer people visit my bedroom, and I will have time to decide what to do with her. (That is, after I sell my current bedroom suit. I tell you, there is a lot of furniture coming and going in my house these days! First world problems.) 

It's been a while since Kati has hosted a photo challenge (the girl has been busy!), but July is the month and I am excited about it. I tend to get into picture taking ruts, but a photo challenge causes me to think differently and try new things. I am hoping for a burst of creativity!

Kati will be posting her rules for the challenge in an upcoming blog post. Want to join us?

Have you had a chance to peek at Nora Murphy Country House's summer e-mag? Oh, please do! You do not want to miss it!

Now it is time to take a little blogging break.

We're expecting some good times here at The Farmhouse, and I need to be able to be all here! I'll keep my camera handy (and try to remember to use it), and I'll be back in a week or so.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Always Books {Genevieve Foster}

This post is a part of my series Always Books in which I share some of our family's favorite living books. Gathered through our twenty-four (so far) years of homeschooling, they are books that we have loved, books that are inspiring, books that we heartily recommend. These are books that will stay on our shelves...always. 

I wrote about the history books of Genevieve Foster a couple of years ago, but since dear Genevieve's books will be on our shelves always, I thought that she needed to be added to this series. 

A few weeks ago, I began reading George Washington’s World to my youngest child, my last homeschool student.  As I opened the book, I wondered if this would be my last time to read this aloud.  Secretly, I hoped not, although it is likely to be.

You see, I have read George Washington’s World to my students several times over the years.  I have also read Augustus Caesar’s World, The World of Columbus and Sons, The World of Captain John Smith, and Abraham Lincoln’s World, all by Genevieve Foster.  And can I say that I have enjoyed these history books every bit as much as my children have? 

Genevieve Foster (1893-1979) was a commercial artist turned housewife who believed that there must be a better way to learn history than the way that she had learned it.  I believe that she found a better way!  She wrote history for children “horizontally” as opposed to “vertically,” an innovative approach.  Foster would take a central historical figure and write not only about that person’s life, but about key people who lived and events that were taking place all over the world during the time that that person lived.  Learning history in the traditional way, she said, “was about as dull and unsatisfying as a play might be, if only one character appeared upon the stage, while the others faintly mumbled their lines in the wings, out of sight of the audience.”

Foster wrote and illustrated nineteen books, four of which were Newbery Honor books. 

Each of the five books that I have named above is divided into five parts, each part a section of the main character’s life span.  At the beginning of each section is a double page spread of illustrations featuring other historical figures and events that take place during that life stage, with a very brief description under each illustration.  We take the time to look at each one and read all the captions before we read that section, familiarizing ourselves with the main players before we read the details. 

Then comes the narrative, masterfully told as a story (for isn’t history a story?), engaging readers young and old.  Even my youngest children have listened in as I read aloud to their older siblings.  We learn of the main character, his parents, siblings, childhood friends, little-known stories about his life.  We get to know him.  Then we are introduced to other people who were alive in his world, those near and those far, all across the globe.  Chapters are brief, the stories well told.  At the end of the section, we go back to the illustrations and review the characters and events we have just learned.  (Charlotte Mason would call this narration.) 

We continue this pattern through the remaining sections of the book, continuing to add to our knowledge of the main character and of the other players, adding more as we go along. 

By the time we have finished our story, we have developed an intimate acquaintance with the main character (as well as many others), and feel as if we have lived in his time. 

While these books are not specifically Christian (there is discussion of other religions and cultures, and these are treated with equal respect), there is also fair representation of Christianity, much more than would be offered in a typical modern history textbook.  Let me share a passage that moved us when we read Abraham Lincoln’s World.

It was the mid 1830’s, and four Nez Perce Indians from Oregon had traveled eastward seeking the white man’s Book of Heaven.  At the end of a 200-mile journey, they came to St. Louis, where they were warmly received by General William Clark (of the Lewis and Clark expedition) and his men.  They spent the winter there, and were lavishly “wined and dined,” so to speak,

...but they were disappointed. At the farewell dinner in the spring, one of the Nez Perce rose and addressed the company.
“I came to you over the trail of many moons from the setting sun. My people sent me to get the white man’s Book of Heaven. You took me to where you allow your women to dance, as we do not ours: and the Book was not there! You took me to where they worship the Great Spirit with candles and incense, and the Book was not there. You make my feet heavy with gifts, and yet the Book is not among them! I came with an eye partly open for my people who sit in darkness. How can I go back blind to my blind people? I have no more words.”

Isn’t that poignant? 
“The book was not there.”

We began by learning history; we discovered a treasure.

Here within the pages of our history book, we were saddened by the disappointment of the men who had come to find truth and did not find it. We were inspired to look through spiritual eyes in our interactions with people...and not be so ready to offer them entertainment or earthly treasure, when their hearts are searching for eternal treasure.

So do you see why I do not want this to be my last time through the Genevieve Foster books of history? 

Foster's books will remain on our shelves. Mostly, they are informative and inspiring (and true!) stories, but they are also a handy reference. Perhaps my children will come to borrow these books as they teach their own children...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sunday Snapshots: Father's Day

Yesterday, we honored the fathers in our family. 

It was a casual gathering with lots of good food. Crab dip and crackers and a veggie tray to get us started. Chick-fil-A chicken strips, Mom's potato salad (by special request...again), a colorful tossed salad, deviled eggs, sweet potato biscuits (made by Maddie and Owen). Four desserts. No one walks away hungry at our family gatherings! 

We reminisced and told stories about family vacations. 

We gave tokens of love to the dads.

We passed around some more old photos. 

Kati took some photos of a "visitor" on our porch.

Kristin and Owen played a piano duet. 

The kids all piled on our bed to watch Puss and Boots on Netflix. 

We braved the heat and humidity to take some family photos. 

Later in the evening, Ron's mom, his brother Max, and sister-in-law Pat stopped by for a visit and we had more cake and coffee and lots more conversation. 

Uninvited guest sunning himself on the porch ~ photo by Kati


 Daddy and his daughters
L to R: Linda, Daddy, me

Ron and his daughters
L to R: Bekah, Kati, Ron, Kristin

My son-in-law Brian and his children
L to R front row: Ben (6), Alaine (4)
Middle row: Owen (8), Maddie (10)
Back row: Brian, Gavin (12)

It was a lovely day of memory-making moments...the kind of day that reminds me that I am most blessed! 

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