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, February 26, 2010

Moments With Living Books

Oh I suppose that there is a textbook somewhere that would teach us about badgers. Or I suppose that we could do a google search and gather some information. But better still is to glean from what Charlotte Mason called "living books"—those that are rich with ideas and literary language.

On a recent homeschool day, I read to Bekah from The Burgess Animal Book for Children, the chapter about Digger the Badger and Glutton the Wolverine.

Peter Rabbit says of Digger,

"I visited him, but I didn't find out much. He's a regular old grouch. He isn't the least bit neighborly. It took me a long time to find him. He has more holes that anybody I ever knew, and I couldn't tell which one is his home. When I did find him, he gave me a terrible scare. I didn't see him until I was right on top of him, and if I hadn't jumped, and jumped quickly, I guess I wouldn't be here this morning. He was lying flat down in the grass and he was so very flat that I just didn't see him. When I told him that I wanted to know all about him and his ways, he replied that it was none of my business how he lived or what he did, and that was all I could get out of him."

So much learned about the badger in that very first paragraph of the chapter! But it got better.

While reading the chapter from Burgess, we remembered the passage in the Little House book, On the Banks of Plum Creek, in which Laura encounters a badger. Although it wasn't a part of the "lesson plans", Kati ran upstairs to get her copy of Plum Creek, and we had an impromptu reading of Chapter 5.

Pa had given Laura strict instructions never to go near the deep shady pool alone, but as she is playing one hot, dusty day, the water keeps calling to her. At first she dismisses the idea, then considers going just to look at it, then considers just wading in the edge of it...then she is on her way. As she nears the water hole however, a mysterious-looking, furry, flat animal is in the path and it snarls at Laura. Frightened, she leaves the swimming hole and runs back home.


But in the quiet of that night, as Laura lies in bed listening to Pa and Ma outside the cabin, Pa playing his fiddle, her conscience begins to prick her.

"Everything was beautiful and good, except Laura. She had broken her promise to Pa. Breaking a promise was as bad as telling a lie. Laura wished she had not done it, and if Pa knew, he would punish her."

"At last Laura could bear it no longer."

Laura crept out of bed and out of the cabin and quietly confessed to Pa what she had done, and told him about the curious animal who had stopped her.

"Then for a long time he did not say anything and Laura waited. Laura could not see in the dark, but she leaned against his knee and could feel how strong and kind he was."

The next evening, after Laura had spent the day being "watched", Ma said to her,

"Tomorrow you and I are going to look for that badger. I am sure that he saved you from drowning, for if you had gone to that deep water, you would have gone into it. Once you begin being naughty, it is easier to go on and on, and sooner or later something dreadful happens."

There. We had begun the lesson learning about the curious badger, but along the way we had seen much more. The beauty of a tender conscience. Pa's kind, gentle strength. Just consequences for disobedience. Laura's submissive spirit in receiving those consequences. The principle that one sin often leads to another.

So many ideas that are powerful and noble and true are found in "living books."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning Update

The bathroom sparkles and sighs with relief.

Bekah excitedly asks, "What can I scrub next?"

The other rooms shout, "Me too! Me too! When is it my turn?!"

Kati says, "Let's make a list of chores for the other rooms now."

And I groan, "Oh, my aching back."

(I am taking the day off from Spring Cleaning.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

To Each His Own

While Dad, Mom, and Kati watched an Agatha Christie mystery on TV...


...Bekah and Pinky watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring Cleaning

A new week. New plans. All weekend I have been looking ahead to today—the day that I will begin Spring Cleaning.

Never in my life have I done this thing called "Spring Cleaning." My mother used to do Spring Cleaning, but I was not involved, so it was an enigma...just a hazy vision of curtains coming down and going back up, scrub buckets filled with soapy water, new shelf paper, and a fresh, clean feeling of house-y well-being. But until now, Spring Cleaning has not been in my real world.

What has me suddenly ready to embark on this new venture? I'm not sure. Maybe it's the multitude of days we have spent this winter being snowed in, being inspired to do projects and to cook, but not to clean. Maybe it's the feeling of too much icy water and slush on boots being tracked in the back door. Or maybe it's the fact that last week I was captured by this post and its photo of the teal scrub brush at my favorite homemaking blog Pleasant View Schoolhouse... and then for some reason I clicked the "Cleaning" category in the sidebar and read every single post. (Think that sounds mundane? You click it and see if you don't come away thinking about microfiber dust cloths and lavender-scented ironing spray.) I am also at a season of my life in which I don't have a baby or a toddler, and I have a teenage daughter who not only is a willing helper, but also gets excited about my projects! (How great is that?)

So today we begin Spring Cleaning. We are beginning with my smallest room, the bathroom, because it seems attainable and I want to get off to a good start. (Although I am inspired by Anna at Pleasant View, I am not Anna. I. Am. Slow. And it makes my head spin to read of all that Anna does in the same 24 hours that I have!) I have compiled a list of all the things I want to accomplish over the week, and we will dig in right after our school time.

I am anticipating our home having that fresh, clean feeling of house-y well-being.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine Tea Party



First of all, if this is the equivalent of looking at someone's endless slide show of their vacation pictures, feel free to exit and my feelings won't be hurt. But, personally, I feel the need to document this for those who might share my opinion that this is one of the cutest things ever. (I suppose that could be perceived as "grandmother talk" too. And that would be right.)

While Brian and Kristin went out for a Valentine lunch, the rest of us had a Valentine tea party, per Bekah's request. And what a grand time we had...all with dress-ups and our uptown voices and pinky fingers extended and pink heart cookies and plenty of sugar-and-cream and lots of "Kati Dah-ling, I believe we are out of cream" and "Kati Dah-ling, could I have another cup of tea?" And a certain little boy in his diaper because his clothes were in the dryer recovering from a spill. And some polite giggles when that same diapered boy carefully picked the chocolate drizzle off his cookie. Yes, it was grand.

















Monday, February 15, 2010

Blessed by Love






Valentine’s Day:

expressions of love

normal Sunday afternoon (first in weeks due to snow and sickness)

more Valentine exchanges


Great Backyard Bird Count (details here)

pot roast dinner
dessert by Kati ("Gooey Chocolate Stack"...yum!)

all day with my sweetheart

♥ ♥ ♥

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God.
I John 3:1a

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Rock




Years ago, I read a biography about John and Betty Stam, young American missionaries to China who were martyred for their faith. Their story was inspiring on many levels. This young couple lived in a hostile environment, were eventually captured by Communists, and were taken, along with their three-month-old baby daughter, from their home in 1934 to face imminent death. The night of their capture, John penned these words to his fellow workers at China Inland Mission:




Dear Brethren,
My wife and baby and myself are today in the hands of the Communists, in the city of Tsingteh. Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release.
All our possessions and supplies are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight. God grant you wisdom in what you do, and us fortitude, courage, and peace of heart. His is able—and a wonderful Friend in such a time.
Things happened so quickly this AM. They were in the city just a few hours after the ever-persistent rumors really became alarming, so that we could not prepare to leave in time. We were just too late.
The Lord bless and guide you, and as for us, may God be glorified by life or by death.

In Him,
John C. Stam



I was (and still am) inspired by the calm faith that these words reveal. "We praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight." "May God be glorified by life or by death."

I was also particularly moved by God's miraculous protection over the baby and by Betty's tender care and thoughtful provision for her baby daughter, as she knew she was going to her own death. My mother's heart cannot even imagine the anguish.

But to me, perhaps the most inspiring part of the book was this poem included in the epilogue, a poem written by Betty before she was married, before she went to China, before the story that would be her life's story was completed. This beautiful poem, "Stand Still and See," has become a part of me over the years...I have read it, memorized it, meditated on it, shared it with others. It is my prayer that it will touch a place in your heart as you see the Rock in its words, and in your life.

STAND STILL AND SEE

I'm standing, Lord.
There is a mist that blinds my sight.
Sharp jagged rocks, front, left, and right.
Hover, dim, gigantic in the night.
Where is the way?

I'm standing, Lord.
The black rock hems me in behind
Above my head a moaning wind
Chills and oppresses heart and mind.
I am afraid!

I'm standing, Lord.
The rock is hard beneath my feet.
I nearly slipped Lord on the sleet.
So weary, Lord and where a seat?
Still must I stand?

He answered me, and on His face
A look ineffable of grace,
Of perfect, understanding love,
Which all my murmuring did remove.

I'm standing, Lord.
Since Thou hast spoken, Lord I see
Thou hast beset; these rocks are Thee;
And since Thy love encloses me,
I stand and sing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February




The calendar says it's February.

This SNOW says it's February...


and so does this ice!



This icy gift from Dad says it too.



It sure seems like February when you're walking through the tracks of your dad's truck.


The heart whispers "February."


Homemade Valentines say it too.



This trio is tweeting "February."

Now can we fast forward to March?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowly and Sally Lunn


The winter is going slowly, snowly by.

Here in the mid-Atlantic, we don't usually see much snow. But this winter, we have been walloped by three winter storms so far—one in December, one last weekend, and this one. Yikes! I had been enjoying winter's pleasures until this one...and now, I am officially looking forward to lovely blossoming spring!

To make the best of some of our snowed-in days, Kati and I have been working on organizing those recipes. Oh my. What a job. I began this task several years ago, but stalled out. Therefore, I had organized myself into a greater state of disorganization, meaning that no recipe had a permanent home. When it was time to look for a recipe, I might find it in the notebook I had begun to organize. Or maybe it was in the stack of recipes I had used recently ("recently" meaning in the past six months...or more). Or maybe it was in the Pier I shopping bag (yes) of folders that I had sorted into categories. Or it might be in that same shopping bag but not in a folder. Or it might be on my shelf of cookbooks, or inserted in a cookbook. Many times I have done what I thought was an exhaustive search for a certain recipe and come up empty...only to have Kati come to the rescue and put her hands on it within a few minutes.

So are you getting the idea that this gargantuan task was long overdue? It was.

I am happy to report that major progress has been made...and the end is in sight! (Thanks, Kati!)

A side benefit of spending quality time with all my recipes is finding some forgotten treasures. This past weekend, I made Sally Lunn bread for the first time in years. I used to make it quite often, but neither Kati nor Bekah had ever even heard of it, so it must have been a while!

There is some history behind this recipe. Sally Lunn bread dates back to colonial times. The name is believed to be of French derivation, "soleil-lune" (sun-moon), and describes the bread's golden color.

And the more personal history is the fact that this particular recipe came from Ron's elementary school principal. Now Ron and the late Mrs. T were not exactly on recipe sharing terms...not at all. (I don't think that they ever discussed bread on any of his visits to her office. ~wink~) I clipped this recipe that Mrs. T had submitted to our local newspaper years ago. (I will add that I had the privilege of meeting Mrs. T as an adult, and found her to be a delightful lady.)

Another aside: Bekah scorned the name. You may remember the unusual relationship of sound and taste in Bekah's world. Well, she disapproved of the "Lunn" part. "It just doesn't sound good," said she. So, at least for this time, we renamed it "Sally Rose Bread"! (And she loved it.)


Mrs. T’s Sally Lunn Bread
(aka Bekah’s Sally Rose Bread)

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  1. Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast into large bowl. Stir well.
  2. Heat milk and butter until warm. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat at low speed, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and remaining flour. Mix well, cover, and let rise one hour or until doubled.
  4. Stir down and spoon into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Cover and let rise until double, about one hour.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. Serve warm with butter.

Note: I usually use two loaf plans instead of the tube pan, and decrease the baking time to 35 minutes.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Another Plus


One of the (many) benefits of home education:

You can have school on a Snow Day...

...but take a sunny day off for a trip to the park!
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