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.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beef Stew with Noodles

Along with cooler autumn weather comes the desire for foods of the warm-and-cozy variety. Apparently a few people thought that the beef stew pictured in this post met that criteria, so I am going to share. (The recipe, that is, not the beef stew. Although I'd love to do just that...one family at a time. If you'd like to have dinner with us, sign up in the comment section! :-)

The September issue of Everyday Food arrived a few weeks ago when Ron was on vacation. And since Ron is very interested in yummy dinner ideas (to eat, not to cook), he perused the magazine and requested this dish. Not only did he request, he drove to the grocery store and purchased the beef! That worked for me!

Click here for recipe. And following the recipe on the web page is a place to click for a free preview issue of Everyday Food, which I highly recommend! It's a great source of recipes for beautiful, elegant, but simple foods that don't take all day to prepare.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

While the Earth Remaineth...

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Satisfying September Saturday

Memory-making moments included:

  • A trip to a farmers market for mums...and to another for pumpkins and gourds.
  • Sisters making dessert for Sunday's family dinner.
  • Roasting hot dogs over the fire pit.
  • Pumpkin pie and coffee and a game of Phase 10.
  • Phone chat with loved ones from across the miles.


Simple pleasures all...gifts given to us on this day from our Father.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Time

It's time to move from this...

to this.


And from this...

to this.


And from this...
to this.

And from this...

to this.






Are you ready too?

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Fitting Farewell to Summer

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Too Much Nature


I have never been much of a nature girl. My mom used to have to insist that I play outside sometimes, because I would much rather have been inside, curled up on the sofa with an apple and my latest book. And did I tell you about the time that my dad asked me to weed a section of a flowerbed? I was so repulsed by the lurking creepy crawlies that I whined my way into never being asked to do it again. Pretty pitiful, huh?

Oh, I love cats and dogs and birds. And flowers and trees and leaves. And deer and rabbits. And sunsets. And the ocean. Those are such lovely things, don’t you think?

There are some nice buggy things too. Butterflies and ladybugs fall into that category. Ants are interesting when they stay out of my kitchen. I have learned to admire spiders (again, those that stay out-of-doors) and their intricate webs. It is fascinating to house a caterpillar and watch its metamorphosis from crawling thing to chrysalis to butterfly.

My tolerance for the (hmmm...how shall I say it?) not-so-beautiful things in the natural world has grown over time. I truly appreciate God’s marvelous creation. I don’t think that praying mantises are particularly lovely. In fact, I don’t entirely trust an insect that has a neck. And the way that they turn their heads and watch me as I walk by is positively creepy. I imagine them saying, “I would eat you if I could.” However, I have very willingly let one live on the screen of my back porch for days now. (We just don’t make eye contact.)

I have even learned to tolerate the three-striped skink with the very blue tail that has also chosen my back porch as his home. (I suspect that the “skink” might possibly be “skinks”, but I choose to be in denial.) And who would have thought that I could ever share dwelling space with a lizard, a lizard being a reptile and all? But as long as he respects my boundaries and remains on the porch (and doesn’t surprise me like he did Ron a few nights ago by jumping out of a pot of impatiens), then he may stay.

But we’ve had a few unwelcome guests lately. Most unwelcome.

This week, Bekah was getting ready to pick some cherry tomatoes from her pot on the deck, when Kati said to her, “What in the world is “that?” “That” was this:




Oh my. Does that strike you as one of the weirdest things you have ever seen? Has anyone else ever seen one of these things?

Ron went out to look, came in and grabbed an insect field guide, and identified the gruesome visitor as a tomato hornworm with parasites. (No one was happy until I saw it too. Misery loves company?)

But the most unwelcome guest of all was (is) this:


This guy has stepped over the line. Way over the line.

I have to provide a bit of background to this story.

On the morning of September 1, the girls and I were leaving for a day of ordinary errands—orthodontist appointment, library, piano lesson. As Kati got into the car, she recoiled and declared that there was a frog in the opening of the door. She said that if she closed the door, it would be squished. Yuk.

Now even though I am not Nature Girl, I really don’t like to kill things, and that seemed like such an unpleasant way to meet one’s demise. So I told her to see if she could get it outside. She tried to shoo it out with a library book, but the thing crawled up over the top of the hinge part and disappeared. We assumed that it had gotten out, although we were a bit antsy during our travels that day. After all, no one had actually seen it leave. (Only Kati had seen it at all.)

Fast forward to this past Thursday evening.

I had been grocery shopping and had just unloaded all the bags from my car, and was getting ready to move the car from its unloading station near the back door to its regular parking place. Bekah wanted to ride with me. (It sounds silly, but when you’re little and are not allowed to ride in the front seat because of the air bag, a few seconds of traveling in the normally forbidden seat seems like a big deal.) So Bek began to climb into said front seat...and screamed. This time, I saw it too—The Frog (whom we had not seen for 16 days as we, presumably, carried it to and fro all over town!).

Managing to remain calm for Bekah’s sake, I scurried around to the passenger side, picked up a stick from the ground, and tried to encourage him to leave. But The Frog (hereafter known as Grady) had other plans. He crawled in further and sat in the floor. I told Bekah to get Kati to get her dad who was in the front yard mowing the lawn. I kept a vigilant eye on Grady so that I knew exactly where he was. That way, I reasoned, I would simply point him out to the knight-in-shining-armor-come-to-rescue-his-damsels-in-distress (aka Ron) who would handily return Grady to his natural habitat. Wrong again. Under my watchful eye, the brazen Grady climbed up under the dashboard of my car and disappeared.

This frog clearly does not respect my boundaries.

So now I have a car that I will not drive. Technically, Grady is harmless. But I fear that great harm could occur if I were driving along and he decided to emerge from his hiding place. Oh my.

I’ve had enough nature study for a while.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back to Homeschool

Aaahhhh...

That is the contented sigh of a mama who is happy to be back in the homeschooling groove. Oh, our summer break was refreshing indeed. I enjoyed some slow, quiet mornings. We were able to restore order to some neglected corners of our house. Bekah’s bedroom got a makeover. We celebrated a few birthdays too.

We never took a vacation from learning, just from our “formal” studies. Kati took a cake decorating class and a nature photography class. She volunteered at our local library. Both girls read all summer long, and we managed to complete a few family read-alouds. Summer was also a time for nature discoveries as we became acquainted with a striped skink (skinks?) that lived on our back porch, a black and yellow argiope, and the caterpillars in the herb garden, and we collected shells and played with sand crabs at the seashore.

Nevertheless, I am glad to be back to routine and rhythm. The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs at an earlier hour. Hot tea with our morning readings. Practicing our poetry recitations. Learning new hymns and their stories. Delving into history as we hunker down on the sofa to read from “living books.” Each day different, yet a pattern of sameness that is restful.

And so I have begun the nineteenth year of teaching my children at home. If you are feeling sorry for me that I have been homeschooling all of these years—and still have years to go (some have expressed their sympathy)—please don’t! I wouldn’t trade these years.

"After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."

Life at Green Gables was full of just such days, for Anne's adventures and misadventures, like those of other people, did not all happen at once, but were sprinkled over the year, with long stretches of harmless, happy days between, filled with work and dreams and laughter and lessons.

~ from Anne of Avonlea

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today's Simple Pleasures

Making blueberry upside down cake for dessert...

And having a visit from this baby boy...

Too cute, don't you think?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Follow Up

The travelers have arrived at their destination! We praise the Lord for His mercies on them!

A dear friend once wrote to me, "When you get out on the roads today, in the midst of all that traffic, you feel like you should fall down and bless God every time you arrive safely home. He is very good."

I wholeheartedly agree. And I thank all of you who prayed with us!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Traveling On...

A little over two years ago, Ryan and Sarah and their brand new baby Eve began a new chapter in their lives. The Lord's plan and Ryan's job had them traveling 1500 miles away from us, to a place they had never been and where they knew no one. And they were happy. (I don't think that "happy" was an accurate description of my own feelings, but I was grateful for God's guidance in their lives.)

Now again, this young family is moving (this time with baby Nora and dog Lucy too), approximately another 1500 miles. And today the five-day journey began. Two vehicles, two drivers, two tiny girls, one dog, many miles...and this mother's heart is in her throat. (Remember, I'm a Puddle.)

But again, the Lord's leading has seemed clear. So I comfort myself with Scripture. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way." And "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses (or Saturn station wagons...or Toyota trucks) : but we will remember the name of the LORD our God."



Okay, Lord, I will pray and I will trust in You.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Challenging Theme

As I pray and ponder and plan for a new school year, I am sometimes drawn to a sort of theme for our year. Ephesians 5:15, 16 seems to be the one for this year.


“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”


So much in those verses to ponder!
  • Walk circumspectly. Looking all around. Watchful.
  • Not as fools, but as wise. True wisdom is from above.
  • Redeeming the time. I am challenged by this phrase. Do I wisely use the precious gift of time? Or do I squander it on frivolous things?
  • The days are evil. Indeed! Enough reason to redeem my time with eternal pursuit.
So much to learn! I want our learning to be more than academics, but that which challenges and changes the heart.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Along Came a Spider...

...and sat down beside her...but no one ran away! Now I have to say that if Penelope (Kati's name for our arachnid neighbor) had done her thing inside my house...well, can anyone say Orkin (or Ron, who would not be willing to pay for Orkin)? ~~shudder~~

However, Penelope did not come inside, but very politely built an amazing web right outside our dining room window where we could observe closely but safely. (Safely just refers to how we felt , as I realize that she is harmless.) So we pulled out our field guides and our cameras, researched her on the internet, and dusted off our nature notebooks and sketched her.


May I introduce you to Penelope...

Black and Yellow Garden Spider
Argiope aurantia

Bekah's nature notebook

See what Kristin and Raya have been up to in their nature studies!

Have you had any fascinating nature finds lately?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What's the Goal?

You would probably have to go a long way to find a more enthusiastic homeschooler than this mama. I’m a cheerleader for homeschooling. “You can do it!” I say to women who ask me. “He will guide you!” “It’s worth the sacrifice of time and resources.”
In my heart, I believe that homeschooling is the best way to live out Deuteronomy 6:7. (And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.) Twice I have stood on the other side of the homeschool journey (two have graduated, two to come) and I have not regretted for an instant the choice we made. Not for an instant.

So I will admit to a certain disappointment when a homeschooling parent changes course and chooses another schooling situation.

But do I think that homeschooling is THE answer to raising Godly children? No, I do not. Sadly, I have seen many young adults who were homeschooled, but do not walk with the Lord. And I have also known people who were educated in traditional schools who love Him with a fervent love.

A family member recently returned to public school after being homeschooled for several years. His mother said to me, “Having deliberated most of the summer, we came to the conclusion that we want A__ to go to Heaven.” Yes.
And Humble Amy (whose blog I have followed for years) said here, “I want to again stand behind what I’ve said before, that faithful children are a blessing, and homeschooling is a very good way to raise faithful children. Homeschooling is a means to an end, as opposed to an end in itself.” Amen.

My goal is to be faithful to obey His leading.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

As we have turned the calendars over to September, the Summer Birthday Season has officially ended. (Note to grammarians: the use of capital letters is intended. "Summer Birthday Season" is a proper noun around here...just like the names of more recognized holidays like Independence Day and Labor Day.)

As we close out the season for another year, I thought I'd share some glimpses of this year's celebrations.

Daddy-in-law



Maddie



Ryan



Ron



Owen



Kristin



Mom



Me


Who knew you could actually get tired of birthday cake?

Well, I am here to inform you that you can. (Even the scrumptious cakes that Kati has made this year!)
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