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.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

{Gathering the Moments} May



(Click ~here~ for music.)*

When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love and praise.


 Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From whom those comforts flowed.


When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
Revived my soul with grace.



Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue



And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.



As I gather the moments of May, 
as I "survey His mercies
His "unnumbered comforts"...

indeed my heart is "lost in wonder, love, and praise"!


*"When All Thy Mercies, O My God," lyrics by Joseph Addison, 1712; recorded by Fernando Ortega, 2003.




Again with this month, I am inviting you to join me in "gathering the moments." You may wish to share two or three photos, or several collages, or bunches of photos...with words, or without words. The link-up below will be a gathering place for us to reflect and share and connect. (The link-up will stay open for a week, so you have plenty of time to gather.)


Thinking About Home


Friday, May 30, 2014

Homeschool {Meandering Thoughts at the End of Our Year}



The last day of school.

That phrase brings back floods of memories. Those giddy last days of my own childhood, summer looming before me as an endless stretch of time to read and play kickball with my friends in the neighborhood. Last days when my older children were young and attending public school...days that they got off the school bus and shouted at the top of their lungs because summer had arrived. The last days of our early homeschool years, when the shouting tradition continued, even though the three of us would spend summers together as we had spent the school year together. Last days with my younger two who never understood the shouting tradition, but still looked forward to the more unstructured time that summer afforded. 


Today is another last day of school. 

We are happy to have completed our formal studies for the year, and we've already made a list of projects and activities that we'd like to do, a mix of work and leisure. 

But for me - Mom, homeschool teacher of 23 years - the feeling is no longer giddy. Instead, I have a quiet sense of time passing. My youngest student has only five years left. Five more years. So little time. 


As I do every year, I reflect on the year that has passed, evaluating strengths and weaknesses, and considering whether I have met my goals. Have I followed the Lord's leading and guided my student toward His plan for him/her? Have we made the days count? 

Last summer, as I prayed and planned for the upcoming year, I felt as if the Lord was directing me to broaden Bekah's horizons. As an older mother, I can be quite content to be at home. All day, every day. And because Bekah has never had any other mother, she, too, is content to be at home much of the time. So as I felt the nudge to get out more, I planned a few regular school-related activities. We would:

  • join a monthly book club to which we were invited
  • sign up for PE classes
  • take a monthly nature walk away from home
  • go on one family field trip related to something we were learning


The book club has been delightful! 

It is a genre book club, meaning that a genre is assigned (mystery, classic, biography, etc.) and the student chooses her own book to read. On meeting day, the girls gather at the home of the leader/mom. She opens with an ice breaker or some kind of activity related to the theme. Then the girls (and moms) move to the dining room and have tea (oh joy!) and theme-related snacks as Mrs. L. guides discussion about their chosen books. It is such a relaxing and encouraging environment.

Bekah has been encouraged to broaden her reading choices and has read some great books. She has learned to talk extemporaneously. She has made some new friends. All wins!



PE class was also a success. Bekah enjoyed participating in the classes, learned more about fitness, and she added some new skills that she is practicing at home.



The monthly nature outings...well, they weren't exactly monthly. We got off to a great start. And then life happened. If you've read my blog for very long, you know that we had a very challenging autumn/holiday season, followed by the longest, coldest winter I can remember, including weeks of Kati being sick. All told, we had outings in September and October, and in April and May. 

We'll try again next year.




Our family field trip was fabulous! 

We had given Bekah many suggestions of places that we could go. Living in Maryland, there are oodles of opportunities within a few hours drive. After a lot of hemming and hawing (because decision-making is not one of her strengths), she chose a trip to Washington, D.C., including a visit to the National Gallery of Art (I was thrilled!) and the Museum of American History (Ron was thrilled!). 

I cannot tell you how excited she was to be seeing real life art! 

We had visited the NGA website before the trip, jotting down the locations of the works that we wanted to see, so that we could be sure to visit the galleries of the artists we knew. We did not know beforehand, but there was a special exhibit of the art of Andrew Wyeth, an artist about whom we had studied in our co-op a few years ago, so that was a thrill for us. But when we got to our first gallery of Impressionist artists, we girls just stopped, mouths agape. My own heart actually beat faster, seeing in real life the paintings of Monet and Renoir that we had seen in books. For Bekah, it was the first time. (Kati and I had visited the National Gallery of Art about 10 years ago.) We meandered through the galleries, rather awe struck, as we saw Watson and the Shark and Peaceable Kingdom and Little Girl in a Blue Armchair and Girl With a Watering Can. We noticed Van Gogh's bold brushstrokes, thick with paint, the detail in Hicks' colonial scenes, the grand size of Stuart's The Skater.

This is the door of the National Gallery of Art. (No photographs are permitted inside.)


Then it was on to the history museum, full of "relations" as we are finishing our second year of studying American history. Highlights were the dollhouse, Julia Child's kitchen, Dorothy's ruby slippers, and the First Ladies exhibit. Bekah was entranced by the First Ladies' gowns (most of them inaugural gowns), and slowly made her way from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, taking in every detail. (I had a similar fascination with the White House china on display.) 

As an aside...as we left the First Ladies and were headed to the gallery dedicated to the Presidents, Bekah said, "Their clothes won't be as interesting." No, they weren't, although we don't usually judge a President by his sense of fashion. :)





Of course, in addition to our away-from-home activities, there was plenty to do in-house. 

Together, we studied Bible, American history (1805 to the present), astronomy, art appreciation, and music appreciation, and poetry. 

Independently, Bekah did Daily Grams, English From the Roots Up, piano lessons, reading and literature, geography, and pre-algebra. 

She also did lots of cooking and baking, crafts, piano playing for church and family gatherings, drawing, and photography. There were also life skills, like painting, child care, party planning, decorating, designing a program, and gardening.




And so, we end our year, Bekah's 7th grade, with a sense of satisfaction. It was a year of accomplishment. A year of listening to His voice. A year of growth. A year of new things. 

It was a year, not without struggle, not without hard realities, but one in which we have continued to find Him more than enough. He has met us with grace, covered our mistakes, forgiven our failings, inspired us to move on.  

It has been a good year. 




Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 
Deuteronomy 11:18, 19




Linking with Linda...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins {with Strawberry Butter}




Still on my lemon kick, I made some lemon poppy seed muffins this afternoon. And because strawberries are growing in the garden these days, I whipped up some strawberry butter to accompany them.


  


LEMON POPPY SEED MUFFINS


Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter muffin cups.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds; blend well.
  3. Melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, eggs, and lemon zest.
  4. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients and blend until well moistened. 
  5. Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
  6. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

_______________



STRAWBERRY BUTTER


Ingredients:
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries, puréed
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar 

Directions:
  1. Using a food processor or stand mixer, beat the strawberry purée into butter.
  2. When mixture is fairly smooth, beat in sugar.
  3. Pack butter into a bowl or mold and chill until serving time.



So far, it's been strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, and strawberry-spinach salad. And strawberries on cereal and strawberries in yogurt. Oh, and simply strawberries in a bowl. Also on tap for this week: strawberry jam. 

Are we tired of eating strawberries yet? No way! 

Are we tired of picking them? Maybe so. (Especially since Kati discovered a snake skin in the strawberry patch. ~shudder~)






On Saturday, it will again be time to Gather the Moments. (Don't the months fly by?) 
Feel free to join in...with a little or a lot, words or not.
(The link-up will be open for about a week.)


Monday, May 26, 2014

Sunday Snaphshots: Grandy




 Favorite food at Gran's house might not be a yummy salad.


It might not be a platter full of marinated and grilled chicken tenders.


It might not even be dessert!



I suspect that the favorite food at Gran's house might be Grandy.





Every Sunday, I have the old Mason jar filled with some kind of tempting treat. It may be lollipops or chocolate or Smarties or Twizzlers. I set the jar in an out-of-the-way spot on the kitchen counter. (Often a grand or two can be seen taking a peek into that out-of-the-way spot to see what's in the jar this week.)



When it's time to go home, it's time to get a treat from the Grandy jar.



For them, it's a treat. For me, it's another way to build memories.





Friday, May 23, 2014

Edible Science Might Be the Best Kind


I really didn't plan a lot of organized activity for the Grand Weekend this year. The children play so well together, and with their aunt Bekah (who is older than the oldest grand by a mere 20 months), that they fill their time with all sorts of imaginative play, inside and outside. I allowed each child to have an hour of computer time sometime over the weekend, and we watched a movie before bedtime. But other than that, their time was unstructured. 

There was one activity, however, that Bekah had requested. She wanted to do a project that was in her science book and she wanted to do it with her nieces and nephews. The purpose was to demonstrate that different chemicals in water change its freezing point, but the result was ice cream! Great science, don't you think? 



If you have children or grandchildren to entertain, you may want to consider this simple and delicious project.

Right after lunch on Saturday, I gathered the supplies: whipping cream, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, rock salt, quart-size double-lock plastic bag, gallon-size double-lock plastic bag, and ice.  



I had the children choose a partner, so we had three groups of two. Each pair assembled their ingredients in their quart-sized bag. (We doubled the amounts so that we had enough ice cream for two kids in each bag.) 




After securely sealing the ice cream ingredients in the bags (check those seals!), the children placed the rock salt and ice in the gallon bag, placed the quart bag inside the gallon bag, and sealed the gallon bag securely.



Then they were to vigorously shake their bags for 6 to 8 minutes until the ice cream became firm. I imagined that they would just take turns with their partners shaking the bag. 

How unimaginative is that, Gran?!

It was far more fun to try different ways to get the job done!

One team "shook" their ice cream by jumping on the trampoline.




One team tossed theirs back and forth.



Some of the youngest partners decided that there were better ways to spend their time. 



Some decided to run with their bags.



Well, somebody had to supervise, right?



After about 10 minutes or a little more, we decided that the ice cream was ready. Some was firmer than others (I assume that the more vigorous shaking resulted in firmer ice cream), but the results were deemed delicious! The children said that it had the flavor and consistency of soft serve ice cream.



Yum!





Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Note Card Party: Happy Birthday!


Spring is the slowest season for birthdays in our family. Summer is crazy with birthdays, autumn is almost as busy, and winter is not far behind. But for some reason, "birthday" was on the brain as I collected my images for Vee's monthly note card party...so birthday it is! 








Do you send lots of birthday cards? (Do you choke at how expensive they are?!) 
Do you have a month or a season when there are oodles of birthdays in your family?

~ * ~ * ~ * ~







Do you have a blog?
Then you can join this month's party over at Vee's Haven!
Come on over...it's lots of fun!

(Click the button for details.)

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