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, January 29, 2010

The Blessing of Honora

This precious little girl is now one year old.

Nora, can it be more than a year ago that Papa and I were waiting oh-so-anxiously for a phone call from across the miles saying that you were about to arrive?

It seems like such a short time ago. I seem to be saying that a lot these days (like here and here and here). Is that because I am getting older...or because I am getting wiser? Or is it because you are my grandbaby and I do not live with you day by day or get up with you at night when you are hungry or sick or teething?

Well, whatever the reason, you are now ONE and I am so thankful for the blessing of you!

I wish I could be celebrating with you in person...watching you eat your birthday cupcake, watching you as you open your presents (and seeing your eyes glaze over when the package contains something to wear and your eyes light up when it reveals a new toy), watching your big sister Eve enjoying your birthday cupcakes and your birthday presents as much as you, giving you birthday hugs and kisses. But you are in the land of snow and mountains and sledding and I am here.

So I will choose to be grateful that you are a baby most blessed! You are a happy baby. You have a precious big sister. And you are loved and tenderly cared for by wonderful dedicated parents who want you to know Him.

Could a Gran possibly ask for more?

Happy Birthday, dear Nora!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Royals


When most people get one of their checkers across the checkerboard to the very back row, they triumphantly call, “King me!”

Not these girls.


Granddaughter Maddie (5) and Bekah (8)


Instead, they shout, “Queen me!”

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Morning Time"

Several years ago, I stumbled across an idea that breathed new life into our homeschool. “Morning Time” has become an anticipated and much-loved part of our day, and I believe that we are all the richer for it.

It is a simple idea, and yet it is profound. I first read about “Morning Time” one summer on Cindy Rollins’ blog, Ordo Amoris (which is always full of mind food). She wrote about the benefits her family has reaped by dedicating a small amount time each morning to learning the things that she had deemed important. Cindy shared this childhood poem to illustrate what she was trying to accomplish:
Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the beauteous land.

She wrote,
My Morning Time is a way to collect little grains of sand. It should not be a way to complicate life but a way to simplify it.

When I read this, I knew that this was something I wanted to do! You see, there were things that I wanted my children to learn (actually, I wanted to learn too!), but they were things that were too often overlooked or put off for another time. I wanted my girls to know the words to “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”, to recite Psalm 100, to recognize Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, to recite “The Swing,” to begin each day with the Living Word...and “Morning Time” seemed to hold an answer. So come the beginning of our new school year, we gave it a try. And, several years later, it remains an integral part of our day and (I am repeating myself here) we are all the richer for it.

We have tweaked our “Morning Time” inclusions and routine over the years, but this is what it looks like currently.

BIBLE READING
This year we’re reading through all of the Gospels.

BIBLE MEMORY
We began the year with Ephesians 5:15, 16 and then continued to work on Luke 2: 1-20. Now it’s time to select a longer passage. In addition, I am also having Bekah memorize the books of the Bible in order to aid her in locating Scripture passages.

LITTLE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Sadly, we finished reading this book last week (after slowly reading through it for about a year). Now I am considering a classic work of Christian fiction to fit into this space (original Pilgrim’s Progress, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?).

SING A HYMN
We’re learning “Crown Him With Many Crowns.” We aim at memorization, which usually takes 6 to 8 weeks per hymn.

POETRY RECITATION
Each of us recites the poem we’re memorizing. Currently Kati is learning Shelly’s “Ozymandias”, Bekah is reciting Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing With Feathers”, and I am working on Yeats’ “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”. (Guess who of us has the most difficulty with poetry memorization?)

POETRY EXPOSURE
I choose a poet to study for a time. We read a selected work of our chosen poet three or four days in a row, and often read a biography of him or her. Currently, we’re reading poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.

LISTEN TO A PIECE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC
Typically, we study a classical composer. This term we are listening to the music of George Gershwin.

ART APPRECIATION
This year we have studied the art of Vermeer, and are now enjoying the works of folk artist Edward Hicks. We keep this very simple. I choose several paintings by that artist, we look at each print for a week or two at a time, and we usually read a simple biography about the artist.


Does this sound daunting? Or would it surprise you to know that our Morning Time is usually only between thirty and sixty minutes (depending on whether we are reading from a biography that day, or how long the passage we're reading).

Fellow homeschoolers, your “Morning Time” could be totally different. Cindy’s is different from mine and mine is different from what my friend Kathy calls her “Morning Stack.” You include the things that you deem important. But as Cindy says:

If you have something that you want your children to assimilate like poetry or scripture or music or Shakespeare, forget the grand schemes, forget what the Konos mom is doing down the street, start giving that thing one or two minutes of your time daily and watch the years roll by.

~ ~ ~
For further reading about Morning Times, visit:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter Pleasures

There is so much to love about winter. I love its slow(er) pace, its home centered-ness, and its absolute lack of sultry weather. Some folks may dream of living in a tropical paradise, but I am not one of them. Give me the gray winter days over the hot humid ones anytime!

Now I will make the best of any season, even summer ~wink~, but I revel in the coziness of autumn and winter.

~ This kind of snow is so beautiful.

~
We love to watch the birds in winter. The saturated colors of cardinals and bluejays against the grays and whites of winter are stunning. The chickadees and woodpeckers put on a show. Even the tufted titmouse and the drab little juncos are a pleasure to watch.

~
And this kind of snow is fun too! We learned to make these last year at a Snowflake-and-Star Cutting Workshop taught by my artist friend. I took one look at these and decided that they were far too complicated for me to learn and headed towards another station! But Kati gave it a try and convinced Bekah and me that we could do them. We made a few at the workshop, and then the girls turned into snowflake-making maniacs when we returned home. We hung them all over the house through the winter months...and made a new batch of them this year!


~ Then, of course, there's the tea tray which comes to take a priority spot on the kitchen counter, luring us with its comforting warmth. Because, after all...


...a game of Scrabble...


...or Masterpiece Classics...


...are infinitely better with a mug of hot tea.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fig-guh

Kati (perusing a cookbook): This looks good..."Fig and Honey Cream Gallette."

Bekah: I hate figs!

Me: How do you know, Bekah?

Bekah: Because. Fig-guh (pronouncing the “g” quite distinctly). I never did like “g”s very much.

Unwittingly, Kati and I snicker.

Bekah: Well, Gavin starts with “g” and that’s okay. And gift, and glitter. But a “g” at the end of a word—guh (again pronouncing distinctly)—I just don’t like.

(Who knew -guh- had a flavor?)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sixty-Five Years!


This past weekend we celebrated the sixty-fifth wedding anniversary of Ron's parents. What a milestone!



They have been blessed with sixty-five years together, (mostly) good health, eight children, eighteen grandchildren, twenty-three great-grandchildren, and a host of in-laws (or "out-laws" as my brother-in-law likes to say :-).

Sixty-four family members gathered to celebrate and honor their commitment to each other.

Cake by Kati


Snowflakes (inside, thankfully!)


Food and family


Fun and games


Too much party!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When He Is Silent


The Age-Long Minute

Amy Carmichael

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it;
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?

~~~

This is another of those poems that speaks truth to me deep in my soul. It is both convicting and encouraging. Convicting because, too often I fail to be "quiet through the age-long minute"...but encouraging because it is a reminder of the unfailing truth that, if He is in the boat, it cannot sink.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Are You Calling Me Slow?

I was amused at the new commercial for Verizon high speed internet service...the one where the policeman gives the laptop computer a ticket for going too fast. (We also love the adorable kitten that appears on the screen when the policeman confronts the computer. :-)

With a smallish dose of sarcasm (we have dial-up service), I said, "I don't think our computer will ever get a speeding ticket." To which Kati added, "Mom, I don't think you'll ever get a speeding ticket for anything."
Hmmmm.....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sick Days



"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mommy, a teacher, a writer...but never a nurse. (All of my own girls have wanted to be a nurse at some point in their growing up years, but not me.)

However, when you're a mother, nursing is an inevitable part of the job from time to time, so you'd better learn to make the best of it. My natural inclination is to tire of sick people after a day or so and become impatient, and it's taken me many years to learn the art of nursing (and I still haven't "arrived"). I guess it comes down to the fact that caring for others is unselfish business, and therefore is not natural.

These are a few things that I have (slowly) learned over the years.

Stay home.
I've found that children want their mommies when they're sick. Even the big kids feel better when Mom is nearby, attentive to their needs. Whenever possible, I cancel all plans and appointments when a child is sick.

Make chicken soup.
Old wives' tale? Maybe, but I don't think so. There's just something about a hot bowl of soup that is comforting. Isn't there scientific research that supports the health benefits of chicken soup? (Lots of hot tea helps too!)



Bed on the sofa.
In our farmhouse, there is no upstairs bathroom, so I've always made over the living room sofa into a sick bed. Advantages: the sick one is not totally isolated from the rest of the family, and the TV is available for marathon viewing. Since we don't allow lots of screen time normally, unlimited viewing (of approved movies, of course) is a perk for the sickling. (The down side to the unlimited viewing is that the non-sick can go nuts. Once when Bekah was sick for an extended number of days, I heard so much "Little House on the Prairie" that I was ready to dress in period costume and hop on the first covered wagon headed west!)

Remotes in a baggie.
I forget where I read this tip (old issue of Family Fun magazine?), but it is a practical one. Put all remote controls in a zip-up baggie. This allows the sickie to operate the electronics, but keeps the germs off the remotes. (Well people can retrieve them when the germy person opens the bag.)

Special time.
Even though it is no fun to be sick, it can be a time of bonding and special memories. Being pampered, cool washcloth on a hot forehead, tender words, reading stories...all serve to make the sick one feel loved and cared for. (Note: It is also important to be left alone when that is your desire. Sometimes you don't even feel like answering, "How are you feeling?" I am one of those people who prefers to hibernate when I am sick. Just check to make sure I'm breathing from time to time.)

Allow siblings to serve.
It is a time for the siblings to learn compassion and servitude. How can we make the sick one more comfortable? Can we do her chores? Feed her guniea pig? Get her a glass of water? Put a DVD in the player?

And it always helps to have your own personal nurse, don't you think? :-)

What have you learned about sick days in your house?

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Dresses?


Upon learning that we were planning to watch Jeopardy again this evening (as we do most every evening), Bekah says, "I despise Jeopardy. Especially when they hardly ever wear dresses."

What is this world coming to when the Jeopardy contestants don't wear dresses?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Quotable

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business.
If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future,
I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not clearly see what is required of me now.

Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart, p. 53

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Back

So we’re getting back into our routine around here. After the busy-ness and excitement of the holiday season, as well as time off from our formal studies and work, it is a welcome change. I can hardly believe that we have already been at it for a week now.

But “at it” we are. And it is good.
  • We are back to gentle beginnings of days, a couple of cups of coffee and lingering over the Word (as opposed to jumping in with both feet because there is so much on today’s list)...and oh how I love that. I am naturally a slow starter. Well, I guess I am actually slow about most everything. Ask Ron, who calls us girls “Slow,” “Slower,” and “Slowest.” (On second thought, don’t ask him.)
  • We are back to Morning Time (which I plan to talk about it a future post).
  • We are back to stoking the woodstove and making hot tea.
  • We are back to soup simmering on the stove. This week it was vegetable beef and cream of potato.
  • We are back to planning projects for long winter nights...paper snowflakes, quilting, organizing recipes (a gargantuan task, but I keep hoping).
  • We are back to movie marathons like Bleak House or Anne of Green Gables or Pride and Prejudice or Cranford. (Or more than one of the above.)
  • And we are back to school. Ahhhhh....this is my favorite time of the school year! It feels like a fresh start...and there are no vacations or holidays to slow us down before we gain momentum. So we settle in to days of uninterrupted study and more than a few great read alouds.
So if you are looking for me, you can probably find me right here at home. With the tea pot on, a cozy fire, a stack of books...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie OR If You Give a Mom an Idea

Did you ever read the picture books by Laura Numeroff, the chain-of-events stories where one thing always leads to another (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Moose a Muffin and other similar titles)? I have chuckled over these while reading them to my children.

Well, I kind of lived one of those stories as I was tidying up my home for the holidays.

~~~

I decided to remove an iron baskethook that had hung in my dining room for as long as I can remember. (Don’t things just kind of blend into the background if you leave them in the same place for too long? And then you don’t even see them anymore?)

I climbed onto a Windsor chair so that I could reach the basket hook.

The seat of said Windsor chair split in two! (I have to insert here that it was in no way related to the weight of the climber. It was definitely because the chair was purchased at a scratch-and-dent sale years ago...and already had a hairline crack in the seat...and should not have been used as a step ladder. That was definitely the reason. Ahem.)

I moved a chair from the living room into the dining room so that there would be enough seats at the table for our Christmas brunch guests.

The proverbial light bulb flashed in my head as I decided that Ron could certainly repair the broken chair well enough to use as a (mostly) decorative piece for my front porch.

I hauled the broken chair out to my front porch and placed a basket on the seat to hide the crack.

The white wicker rocker that had formerly graced the front porch was suddenly homeless.

I instantly decided that I would post an offer on Freecycle so that I would not have a cluttered porch when my holiday guests arrived. (I wavered briefly when Bekah said that she remembered me rocking her in this chair, but quickly reminded myself that I have lots and lots of sentimental things around my house and that this is the child who wants to keep everything. I went inside and posted away.)

I spent the next hour responding to all the people who wanted the rocker, including my friend who promised to pick it up the following morning.

I dragged the rocker through my house (couldn't leave two chairs that were obviously not compatible sitting side by side) because there was snow covering the ground.

Rocker on the back deck now, I returned inside to vacuum all the white paint flecks that marked the path from the front door to the back door.

The next morning, the new owner of the wicker rocking chair loaded it into her minivan and drove away, leaving me with a spruced up dining room, living room, and front porch...and a happy ending to our story.

~~~

Conclusion: If you don't have time for a chain-of-events story to interrupt your holiday preparations, leave your iron basket hook in place until the new year.

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