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.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflections On Our School Year

This week, on a homeschool yahoo group of which I am a member, someone posed the question, " How many years have you been homeschooling...and how many years do you have to go?" 

My answer?  I am completing my 21st year of homeschooling with 7 years remaining.  

Can you believe that the 7 years remaining sounds like a very short time to me?  And that I kind of dread the day when it is all over?

I have been reflecting on our current year, this 21st year of my homeschool adventure, this first year that I have had only one student with none waiting in the wings, Bekah's 5th grade year. 

The question has caused me to reflect, along with the fact that I have spent a good deal of time over the past week or so organizing and recording the year's work and Bekah's portfolio in preparation for our annual review.  Add to those things the fact that I always panic ponder at year's end, considering what we have accomplished, what needs improvement, what we are going to do next year. 


 

My challenges this past year...


Well, umthose who remain in our homeschool (ie., the teacher and the only student) areahemdawdlersWhat?  You didn't hear me?  Okay...we're dawdlers.  Yes, dawdlers.  And when both of the people involved are, well, you know...let's just say that neither of us likes to hurry.  Let's just say that our school time can run late in the afternoon.  Let's just say that Ron has arrived home from work on several many occasions to find us still reading or mapping, or the kitchen table still covered with school books and papers.  And a few days ago, Ron asked me if we were not sometimes finished with school by Memorial Day. Well, yes, every. single. year. (Until this one.)

Then there was the mid-year switch to a different track in science.  Because science is not my favorite subject, I often leave it for last in our day's schedule, which means that there were too many days when we didn't get to it at all.  (See preceding paragraph.)  Somewhere along the line, I could see that we had a lot of material left to cover in our Astronomy textbook if we were going to complete it this year.  But I also realized that we had covered many science topics in our study of world geography—landforms, glaciers, earth science, habitats, flora and fauna from every continent—and we had done some some study with birds and with gardening, I decided to record everything as General Science and come back to Astronomy another time. 

 

This year's strengths...


As I look back, they were many. 

For the first time, Bekah was the focus of our homeschool.  Because of the wide age range of my children, I have tended to focus our studies on the older ones' needs, and the youngers have tagged along.  For example, during Kati's last four years of school, we did a comprehensive overview of history.  So while she was learning about the Civil War and reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Up From Slavery and watching Ken Burns' eleven-hour documentary on the Civil War, Bekah was playing with Civil War paper dolls and reading Pink and Say and a biography of Clara Barton.  And when I chose hymns or artists or composers for our Morning Time, I selected ones that Kati had not yet learned.  But this year, Bekah's own needs and interests set the course for our studies.  

It was a year of exciting learning!  As I have told you before, we "traveled the world" one continent at a time.  We have read biographies of missionaries.  We have cooked ethnic meals and eaten in ethnic restaurants.  We have mapped rivers and lakes and mountains and countries.  We have discovered new animals.  We have sung Geography Songs.  We have been fascinated by the West Edmonton Mall (the largest in the world, it even has skating rinks and hotels).  We have learned to recognize world landmarks.  We have listened to music from different countries.  We have watched a video of the Changing of the Guard.  And we have read, read, read. 

Cooking Swedish meatballs


On the arts front, Bekah has continued to make strides in her piano playing.  She has also developed an interest in drama, directing many home and extended family performances, and she was thrilled to attend two local theatrical productions. 

In full costume, playing Irving Berlin's "Sisters" at her spring recital

Although I have named dawdling as one of our challenges, I consider our ability to be flexible as one of our strengths.  We have been able to linger where there was interest (as in our "travels" through Europe), because we are able to adjust our schedule (as in our decision to study Australia during the beginning of the summer when we have usually finished our "formal" studies) to meet the needs and desires of only the two of us. 


Most importantly, as I reflect, I thank the Lord for the privilege of teaching my own, for this time of bonding and spreading the banquet table of learning and pointing her toward Him.  



And I think that these seven years will fly by.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Snapshots: I Scream, You Scream...

(You know the rest...)

We all scream
 For ice cream!


It must be summer.

Kids running through the sprinkler.
Adults seeking the shady spots on the patio.
The first homemade ice cream of the year.

Ron used his new (to him) White Mountain ice cream freezer today.
He told us that it was a twenty-year-old freezer that had never made ice cream before this afternoon.

(I don't think it will be another twenty years.)

And when Papa opened the lid for the great reveal,
the kiddos DID "scream for ice cream"!

(Actually, it was more like a cheer, but that doesn't fit with the rhyme.)

 
What tells you it's summer?





Saturday, May 26, 2012

{One More} Sneak Peek

By this time next week, Lord willing, the kitchen remodel will be complete, and I will be sure to overload you with show you some pictures. 

In the meantime, I thought I'd show you one more sneak peek and tell you about our new light...and the bargain I snagged yesterday.   


Before, we had a piece of scalloped molding over the window, bridging the two sets of cabinets, and the track lighting was (sort of ) hidden behind. 



But we had decided to remove the piece of molding when we painted the cabinets, which left the (rather ugly) track lighting exposed.  So I went on an internet search to find a light. 



I found some vanity style lighting that I liked, but there was not enough room above the window frame for that to work. And the ceiling above the cabinets is slanted (this area was at one time a porch!), so a flush mounted light would not work either. I knew that I would have to have some kind of suspended lighting, but most chandeliers are too big for the space.

I decided on a saddle light and was delighted to place the winning bid for one on e-bay that was brand new and made by the company that carried the exact light that I had looked at!  Score!



And the bargain I snagged yesterday?  These pre-made valances!

I was happy with my old valances until we painted, but when I took them down, they had some major fading.  I washed them and tried to gather them in the same way when I rehung them so that the faded areas didn't show.  No way.  So I planned to find some navy homespun fabric or some natural linen and make a new pair. 

Yesterday, I went to a store at which I had purchased some curtain fabric several years ago.  They did not have a lot to choose from, but as I browsed, I found these pre-made valances for $11.50 per window!  Score again!

There's only one problem, and I am not going to let that be a problem.  When Ron was looking at the packaging for the navy valances last night, he noticed that the label said black.  Why did he have to notice that? 

I am going to pretend that they are navy.  (Can you pretend with me?) 


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Honor or Sacrifice?

In our travels around the world (via this year's homeschool geography studies), we have made it to Africa.  While visiting here, we are reading a biography of  missionary David Livingstone. 

These words are profound. 

And they are no more true for a missionary than for a mother-homeschool teacher or for a nurse or for an office worker or for a mechanic or for anyone who lives for Jesus and walks in obedience to His calling. 


If a commission by an earthly king
is considered an honor,
how can a commission by a Heavenly King
be considered a sacrifice?
~ David Livingstone






Linking with Lorraine at her lovely blog,
With A Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Grand Weekend

Or...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS: WEEKEND EDITION



It was our privilege to have five of our grandchildren (the ones who live near by) staying with us this past weekend.  We were busy, busy...and I have renewed admiration for my daughter and son-in-law.  But we had such a delightful time and we wouldn't trade it for anything!




Here is baby Alaine (20 months) who woke up singing

and little brother Benjamin (3) who wanted to do everything the big brothers were doing

and busy Owen (5) who had lots to do

and sweet Maddie (7) who tamed the stray cat 

and the oldest,  Gavin (9), who was the "team captain."


We began the weekend with a checklist for Owen, who thrives on such things.  Oh, the boy loves a list.  He immediately set about accomplishing his "tasks."   

There were indoor activities...

...a little TV...

 
...books, books, books...


...puzzles, games, and crafts.

 
There were outside activities...

Papa helped the boys make periscopes
and tape together some large pieces of cardboard for a make-shift house. 
(By the time this picture was taken, the house had been entered and exited a number of times and was in a state of disrepair.)

There was a circus, including a musical parade and a "dare devil" act. 


And I can't tell you about our weekend without telling you that Bekah taught both Gavin and Maddie to play "This Old Man" on the piano.  Oh yes she did.  We heard "This Old Man"  roughly six hundred and forty-two times.  Plink. Plink. Plink.  "Oops, I made a mistake.  I have to start over."  Plink. Plink. Plink. 


Indeed, we all had a grand time!





Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Personal Question

This weekend was exhilarating, exciting, and extra special.  It was also exhausting.  All because of five honored house guests who were here for the weekend. 

Those honored house guests were our nearby grands: Gavin (9), Maddie (7), Owen (5), Benjamin (3), and Alaine (20 months).  Their parents (my daughter Kristin and son-in-law Brian) had never been away from the children since their first was born.  But their youngest is such an easy-going baby (and has always had a special bond with her Gran), that this seemed to be the right time for them to take a just-the-two-of-them excursion.  Kristin tentatively asked us this past winter if we thought we would be up for such a weekend, and we quickly agreed to it! 

In between lots of meals and activities and chatter and giggles, I snapped a lot of pictures.  I had planned to share some of them in a special edition of Sunday Snapshots.  But tonight I am just too tired to choose which ones to share, let alone decide how to group them or present them.  Which leads me to a laugh we had over the weekend.  

As we finished dinner on Saturday evening, after a day full of activities and outdoor play, I was feeling the ebb of my energy.   

"Who's pooped?" I quizzed my dinner companions. 

Gavin's head jerked in my direction and, with eyes wide (obviously thinking that I was asking a very personal question) he said, "Today?!"



I love that boy! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another Sneak Peek


The scene tonight...preparing our evening coffee with water from the kitchen sink (not the bathtub), with the coffee pot back on the counter (not in the kitchen floor).  Ahhhhhh...life's simple pleasures. 

You can see a glimpse of the new wood countertop, and the bead board backsplash. 



Earlier, Ron drilled the holes for the faucet.  We had needed to wait for a coat of stain and four applications of polyurethane to dry before the faucet could be installed, thus we had been without a kitchen sink since last week.     
  


The sound of running water tonight was glorious.  And the coffee tasted especially good. 


Tasks completed:


Tasks yet to complete:

  • A bit of molding around the farmhouse sink
  • Finish repairing the hole in the wall
  • Another coat of paint on backsplash
  • Make second window sill and bottom trim
  • Touch up cabinet/wall paint 
  • Make new cabinet doors to accomodate smaller space under the new sink
  • Make valances

We're getting there!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Note Card Party: The Cats

I am often attracted to cards with animals on them.  Animal faces can be so expressive, and if you're an animal lover, those faces can win you over in a hurry!  Vee is hosting her monthly note card party (you can join in too!), and I have gathered a few pictures of our feline babies to share. 

Oh, these faces have certainly won us over! 

My girls had wanted to have a cat for years.  But Ron said no to an inside cat (he did not want a litter box, nor clawed furniture), and I said no to an outside cat (I didn't want to risk it being hit on our busy road); thus, we had no cat.  But the Lord brought two cats to us.  Really.  They appeared on our property within a few months of one another, one male, one female, both neutered!  One wanted very much to be an inside pet; one wanted no parts of the inside...the great outdoors is fine, thank you very much.  And although it took us a while to win them over, they had won our hearts in no time.  (You can read the beginning of our cat story in A Lesson Via Stray Cats.)


Here is Pinky, perched by Bekah's "Kitty Cucumber" Christmas tree. 
Pinky has probably been on the very top of every piece of furniture in the house. 
We even found her straddling the top of a door one day,
eyes as big as saucers, waiting for someone to rescue her.


James Herriot once said, "Cats are connoisseurs of comfort." 
Pinky fits that description.


Puss is a big teddy bear. 
It was almost a year before we touched him for the first time,
and he is still quite timid.
But he loves his people now...as long as we are inside the back porch.
If we are out in the yard, he doesn't know us.  He has issues. 


Bekah took this picture of Puss, napping on his porch with his little tongue sticking out.
He is the sweetest thing.



Since they arrived in our yard, these kitties have taught me many spiritual "object lessons."  If you have the time or inclination to read, I am sharing one such lesson below. 



Be sure to visit A Haven For Vee,
and see some amazing photographs at this month's
Note Card Party!





A Haven for Vee



 

DEBTOR

(originally posted December, 2010)

The poor little black cat had apparently been hit by a car. I passed its lifeless body several times last week as I drove to and fro on a road near my house, and it pulled at my heartstrings. I have a soft spot for animals anyway, but this particular cat reminded me of our own Pinky.

That could have been Pinky, I mused as I drove by.

It could have been Pinky, for Pinky was a stray who just showed up at our house one February.

But if she had not come to our house where there was food outside for another stray cat...

If she had not found a house with two girls who loved her immediately...

If those girls had not had parents who had a soft spot for a cantankerous but needy little kitty...

If we had not taken her in, to safety and food and love...


But Pinky has no idea.

Here she is...with humans who love her, with plenty to eat, with a warm house...and she lives like the Rum Tum Tugger*. "She will do as she do do, and there's no doing anything about it."  She is totally unaware of her good fortune.

And I am afraid that I am like Pinky.

My Heavenly Father has rescued me. He "brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." (Psalm 40:2)

He feeds me with Living Bread. "I [Jesus] am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)

He loves me with "an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3)

He has promised never to leave me. "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)

He has provided eternal life with Him in Heaven. "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2, 3)

He gives me grace and mercy every single day in the here and now. "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:9)

And what do I do?

I should fall down at His feet and cry out with gratitude and worship. I should wonder why I should be so favored, when I have done nothing at all to deserve His kindness.

And yet I am like Pinky. I sometimes live as if His grace is natural, is normal, is expected...oblivious to the fact that I couldI shouldbe anywhere but in His family. I live as if unaware of His great mercy.

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.**

"Even on earth, Lord, make me know
something of how much I owe."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

* "The Rum Tum Tugger" by T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
** "I Am Debtor" by Robert M McCheyne (1813-1843)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday Snapshots: Mother's Day

What a week! 

A week of assisting my handy man as he cut and installed the new countertop.  (Can anyone say stress?  Really, hon...you don't really mean that you want me to help measure and draw the lines on the wood for the sink cutout, do you?  What if we make a mistake?  And you need me to make sure that the cut you're getting ready to make is an exact 45 degree angle?  And that the next piece is also an exact 45?  And now why. aren't. they. meeting?!  Must we haul this six-foot slab of butcher block out to the patio again?)

A week of everything everywhere again.  No running water in the kitchen sink since Wednesday.  A make-shift table set up to hold all the kitchen counter stuff and paper plates and disposable cups.  The (essential) coffee pot set in the floor by an outlet.  

A week of mess.  Not just the to-be-expected everything is everywhere kind of mess.  How about the sand-the-countertop kind of mess that leaves a fine layer of sanding dust on every square inch of the entire downstairs?  The sort of overwhelming mess that requires dusting everything that you own and vacuuming the floors only to leave smears of fine dust and then needing to wet mop all the floors to really get it all up.  On a Saturday evening.  When you're hosting the Mother's Day get together the next day. 

A week of things other than remodeling.  Like each one of us taking turns being sick.  (One at a time of course.)  Like Kati making an all from scratch pineapple cake for her grandmother (promised weeks ago) without a kitchen counter on which to work and no running water in the kitchen.  And a baby shower on Saturday afternoon.  And Bekah's piano recital, a bit later on the same Saturday afternoon.  And did I mention that we were hosting the Mother's Day gathering? 


But then...we did NOT host this year's Mother's Day gathering!  When we were at the baby shower, Kristin (the dear, dear girl) offered to host!  I told her that this year, it was the best Mother's Day present she could have given me. 

And so Sunday afternoon, we drove to Kristin and Brian's house and had a lovely meal and a relaxing (key word...relaxing) time of visiting and chatting and enjoying the children and appreciating mothers. 




Traditional group shots
Top: me and my girls
Bottom left: Mom and me; bottom right: Kristin and her five


It's been a while (a few weeks, at least) since we've had a performance.  Yesterday, the kids were all about the musical Annie.  They sang through every song on the soundtrack, and then treated us to a rollicking performance of "Easy Street."  (If you have been reading Sunday Snapshots for a while, you may have noticed that Bekah and Owen are the consistent members of the performing troupe.  Yesterday, they needed Kati to be Miss Hannigan.)

It was quite a show!  Still photos do not do it justice.
Rooster (Owen), Miss Hannigan (Kati), Lily St Regis (Bekah)


Thus, the week ended on a (much) less stressful note!

As the four of us shared a frozen pizza last night (the oven is still functional), we talked about the good things from the past week.  We got a lot of work done on the kitchen.  Working together, we had gotten the house cleaned up.  Everyone was feeling better.  We had a nice dinner out one evening.  I added, "And we're still married."  (Anyone who does DIY projects together knows that such things are the test of a marriage. ~smile~)

When we talked with Ryan on the phone, I told him what I had said, and he replied, "But do you still love each other?" 

And we do...so it's all good. 

(But I really do not want to measure any 45 degree angles in expensive slabs of wood this week.)





Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Thoughts

I have shared this quote before, but I think it bears repeating here on this Mother's Day weekend...


"How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."
~G.K. Chesterton


Me and My Mom, 1961


I have been so blessed in my life to have known many women who saw their task as a mother as a "huge" one, a serious one, a vital one.  My own mother took her mothering job very seriously.  (She still does.  Once a mother, always a mother.)  My daughter Kristin and my daughter-in-law Sarah are two more such mothers.  How grateful I am!   A grandmother's heart is at rest when she knows that her beloved grandchildren are being raised by such mothers.

If you are a mother, may I encourage you to recognize the enormity of your task?  And may I direct you to the One who equips you for this task? 

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom,
and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Isaiah 40:11



A few years ago, I shared more thoughts about mothering.  You can read them ~here~. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What We've Been Up To


Phase Two has begun! 

Monday

We went to Ikea to purchase the countertop.


Tuesday

Ron took out the old cracked and rusty kitchen sink and put in the new farmhouse sink.


He has temporarily rigged the old faucet on a piece of lumber so that we can have running water until the countertop is in place.  The new faucet will be set into the countertop. 
(Thanks, Hon!)

Even in its humble (aka unfinished) surroundings,
I can tell I'm going to love this new sink!



 Wednesday

Wet weather prevented the countertop-cutting station from being set up outside, so Ron decided to install the under cabinet lighting that he had chosen. 

Honestly friends, back in November, I wanted to paint the cabinetsPeriod. 
But when The Man of the House comes on board and takes on the project, you just never know what's going to happen (sink, countertop, under cabinet lighting...)! 

 

We girls are going to love having our workspace lit so beautifully.


All Week

Yes, while Ron has been busy working, one of us (or two, or three of us, depending on the day) has been camped out on the sofa or wrapped up in blankets or zoning out on movies while nursing a yucky upper respiratory virus of some kind.  Blah.



Next up...countertop!
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