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 home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—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.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Snapshots: What Will We Do For "Grandy"?

Several times Ben (6) had asked if it was time for Grandy.
And then Gran remembered that she had not taken many photos. 
An idea was born!

Gran: Ben, if you sit in that chair and look as cute as you can while I take your picture,
you can have three candies!"

No sooner said than done.

(Pretty cute, huh?)

Aunt Kati: How about if you be cute on my lap?

Gran: If you're cute on Kati's lap, you can have four candies!

That was a little harder...

...but he got the job done.

Owen (8) is really not into being cute...but three candies were at stake.

No, four!

A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

Maddie (10): No thank you. I'll just have three.

Sigh. I suppose one can get too old to sit in a lap. (But she's not too old to be cute.)

Alaine (4) was presented the offer of multiple candies.

"I'll take four!!"

She jumped into Aunt Kati's lap to be cute and claim her prize!

Gavin (12) surprised us all.

 "I have to sit in Kati's lap to get four candies? All right."

He wasn't sure what that was all about, but sit he did.

The kids made their choices...

...and Gran got some cute pictures.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Coming Up...

What's coming up? 

Blooming things! The day lilies have started to bloom. The golden yarrow will soon be in bloom. The limelight hydrangea is full of unopened blossoms. June promises to be a beautiful month.

A new pole shed...for our firewood. The lean-to in which the wood is now stored will be closed in and Ron will move the lawn equipment there. The section of the barn where the lawn equipment is now will become overflow for Ron's shop. (Very much needed.) Did you follow all of that? 

Ron was off this week and the work began. His brother came over with his tractor and the two of them set the poles. Yesterday, Ron's brother and our brother-in-law helped him put up the rafters. It was kind of like an Amish barn raising. (But at this one, there was no feast served by the women because one of the women was babysitting and the other two were at our homeschool Book Club finale.)

The end of our "formal" school year. We had hoped to be finished this week. It didn't happen. Too much activity! We should be finished next week. (We think.) 

What's coming up on the blog?

  • Gathering the Moments of May 

  • Sunday Snapshots

  • A tour of my sister's place...for those of you who like house-y things. Linda was just a smidge reluctant to let me show her humble abode, but I think that she is a decorator extraordinaire and I think you'll love it!

Sneak peek of the house tour...

What's coming up in your world?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The New Books Series: Always Books

This begins a series I will call Always Books. These are some of our family's favorite living books. Gathered through our twenty-four (so far) years of homeschooling, they are books that we have loved, books that are inspiring, books that we heartily recommend. These are books that will stay on our shelves...always. 

(The birth of this series is in this post.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris is our "go to" poetry book. This is one anthology that I think no home with children should be without! It has 598 pages filled with over 700 wonderful children’s poems. The plethora of poems are arranged in such enticing categories as "My Almanac", "Little Things That Creep and Crawl and Swim and Sometimes Fly", and "Roundabout the Country, Roundabout the Town". Within its pages are sonnets, ballads, nonsense poems, seasonal poems, and Bible passages. There are poems by Shakespeare and Ogden Nash, by Christina Rosetti and Emily Dickinson, by Sir Walter Scott and Carl Sandburg, by John Keats and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Some of the verses are quite well known, and some neither of us has heard before, but the poems are well-chosen, carefully selected by Helen Ferris—Helen Ferris whose delightful forward to the book is sure to inspire you to create a life of poetry for your family!

We have used this book countless times over the years. My children have chosen poems to memorize from this book. They have chosen poems for copywork. They have found poems to accompany a drawing in their nature notebooks. We have looked for a poem to enhance something we were studying in history. And we all have simply read poems for our delight.

My mother taught Kati and her cousin Alec "The Purple Cow" by Gelett Burgess.

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one!

We have read aloud ballads found in Favorite Poems Old and New: "Hiawatha," "The Wreck of the Hesperus," and "Paul Revere's Ride." (We may have even read a ballad that Longfellow didn't write. ~smile~)

If you have children, I suggest that you buy this book today. If you are a home educator, you need this book. If you are a grandparent, purchase this book for your grandchildren...or keep it at your house and read from it when the little (and bigger) ones come to visit. It will be money well spent.

Yes, this book will remain on our shelf. Always.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(More on teaching poetry ~here~.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weekend Snapshots: Strawberry Gatherings

We've been gathering strawberries...and then using them in all of our gatherings. And it was a busy weekend of gatherings!

We made a strawberry spinach salad for a potluck supper/baby shower with our Bible study group. 

Strawberries began and ended a dinner party on Friday evening. Fire and Ice Salsa was an appetizer...

...and strawberry pie (and/or chocolate pie) was dessert, served up on the patio.

On Saturday night, there was no gathering, but I made strawberry shortcake just for us.

On Sunday we were back out on the patio on a weather-perfect day, churning up a big freezer of homemade strawberry ice cream. Our neighbors/family (same thing) arrived on golf carts and our brother and sister-in-law brought another freezer full of strawberry ice cream. (No one minded!) 

This morning, Ron picked six more quarts of strawberries! What's next? Freeze them? Make jam? Hmmm...

What's your favorite way to eat strawberries?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Those Bookshelves {...and a New Series}

We painted them. We waited for the paint to cure while books were stacked in crazy piles around the perimeter of the dining room.

And then the real work began: I had to choose which books went back on the shelves. 

Does that sound easy? Not if you're a bibliophile. Not if you feel a personal attachment to books. Not if you remember where you acquired them and where you read them. Not if your name is written inside. Not if your child's name is written inside. Not if you used many of them in your twenty-some years of homeschooling and have precious memories attached.

It was hard work. (Thankfully, Kati was willing to help me with this task.)

I handled each and every book, making a decision about each one.

Some were easy decisions. No one has ever read that book and no one is likely to read it. We don't need four herb guides. Where in the world did this one come from? 

Most, however, were not easy. We had to ask ourselves qualifying questions. Will anyone ever read this again? Is it loved? Is it a good reference book? Does it hold sentimental value? Are there other books on the shelf that fulfill the same purpose (i.e. multiple field guides on trees, different age levels)? Would it be more helpful to someone else? Does this one go in a particular child's "keep for my own children" stash? 

We had a gazillion books on Presidents. Another gazillion on the Civil War. Another gazillion on Lewis and Clark. A gazillion poetry books. (There were definite themes in our collections!) So we tried to cull our collections. (Within reason.)

One night, I handed Ron a large stack of history books to see if any of them needed to be returned to the shelf. Later I saw that he had put one book aside. "So you want to keep that one?" I asked.

"No. That's the one I think I can get rid of."

Hard work.

It was also sobering work, as I realized that many books would not be reshelved because we won't be using them again. Bekah, our youngest, will be at high school level this next school year. No one will be reading If You Lived in Colonial Times or Shakespeare For Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities. (Say it isn't so!) No one will be poring over Pets in a Jar (truth be told, Bekah did not pick this book up at any age) or Nature Crafts for Kids. It was sobering to make a break with elementary education, knowing that we will not be back.

But then there was another category of books. 

As we sorted through the books of American history, I picked up our copy of The Book of Indians by Holling C. Holling. Yes, it is written for children, but I gripped it tightly as I declared to Kati, "You will have to pry this out of my cold, dead hands." 

Message understood. She placed it in the stack to be shelved.

There were others that fit this category. The funny thing is...Kati usually knew which books were of the "prying" sort. 

And that led me to the realization that these books are the best of the best. These are the ones that we have related to, have read over and over, have been inspired by, have loved. These books are what Charlotte Mason called Living Books, ones that are filled with ideas and literary language and inspiration and noble thoughts.

So I am beginning a new series of posts in which I will share with you some of our best-loved books. There will be no theme other than that. They may be from any subject. They may be fiction or non-fiction. They will be from all reading levels (and/or listening levels). But they will all be books that we have personally read and loved and recommend most highly.

(This series will be geared toward my homeschooling readers, although anyone who has a child in her life may find some treasures to share or to give as gifts.)

* * *

What about you? Are you a bibliophile? Are your shelves overflowing as mine were? (Does one ever have enough bookshelves?) Let's talk books!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sunday Snapshots: Dessert by Owen

Some of you asked about the dessert that Owen was bringing. Well, here it is: a cookie pizza, featuring chocolate and M&Ms! How could that be bad?!

It wasn't. Take my word for it!

(And he is the cutest baker, isn't he?)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Graces

Graces...things that I do not deserve, but that He has seen fit to give to me. These are all joys here on a May Saturday.

~ Going to brunch with some long time friends. Our paths don't cross nearly as often as they did once upon a time. This morning we have set aside some time to connect. We'll probably talk through lunchtime and maybe longer. We may be home for dinner. 

~ Pots of color.  We pushed to get things potted in time for our Mother's Day gathering. A few things were finished up this week, but now we can enjoy them throughout the summer. 

A grandson who asked if he could make dessert for Sunday.   
Eight-year-old Owen loves to bake and looks for opportunities to share his creations, so when he ran over to our van as we were leaving an event this week and asked if he could bring dessert, of course I said yes! (Don't tell him I said this, but he is the cutest baker!)
This is a photo of Owen when Aunt Kati cleaned out her cookbook stash and asked him if he was interested in any. (He was.)

~ Springtime.  And views like this...

~ A kitty on the porch.

~ A clean(ish) house.  We had a busy week with lots of extras. Bonus: We had to get the house presentable for guests which means no cleaning on Saturday! I guess I can talk with my friends through lunchtime...or later.

What are the graces in your world today? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mother's Day Follow-Up

Here at the blog, on Facebook, and in private emails, there was discussion about my Mother's Day musings and the blog post that I linked. I want to reiterate that I am all for honoring motherhood and mothers! I have always wanted to be a mother. I love being a mother. In fact, I consider motherhood my life's work. I am so very thankful that I was given that grace. 

If you know me, you will know that political correctness is not what I am about. (You might even be surprised to know that I am not about political anything, but that's another topic.) What I am about is being gracious to those who have a different calling or a different set of circumstances and trying to see things from their perspective.  

* * *

Now to answer a couple of your questions about our Mother's Day menu...

Have you ever watched the movie version of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility? Such a great movie! One of my favorite lines comes after Maryanne is spurned by Willoughby, she is sobbing uncontrollably, and Mrs. Jennings is trying to find something to comfort her.

"Does she care for olives?" she asks. 

At this point, we all laugh hysterically at the absurdity of olives as the answer to the depths of despair!

But my mom does indeed "care for olives" so I decided to make Olive Cheese Bread as an appetizer on Mother's Day. If you care for olives, you will want to look for an opportunity to make this bread! Yum!! 

* * *

I may have made the Olive Cheese Bread for my mom, but the dessert (shameless admission here) I made for me! (The other chocoholics loved it too.)

Pots de Creme is a beautiful, elegant dessert that is surprisingly easy to make! Bekah and I made these on Saturday night (the cream was freshly whipped and added on Sunday afternoon) and decided to put them in the Grandmother teacups as a nod to another mother in our ancestry.

* * *

I hope that you always feel free to contribute to honest, gracious discussion here at Thinking About Home. I know that I welcome your thoughts.

I also welcome your questions and curiosities and will do my best to respond to each one. 

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, 
that you may know how you ought to answer each one. 
Colossians 4:6

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sunday Snapshots: Mother's Day {and Musings}

It seems I am always "a day late and a dollar short" these days (that expression is a nod to my mom who used to say it a lot...maybe because she lived with me?), so here I am sharing our Mother's Day celebration when everyone else has moved on ahead with their May. 

Our Saturday was crazy. Nothing horrible, just a gazillion little glitches and mishaps and delays, and when you're using your day to get everything ready for a gathering... Well, I'll just say what I said on my Facebook page around 1 am: "I ran out of Saturday." Can you relate? 

Between the glitches, I was mulling over the thoughts expressed in ~this~ article. It hurts my heart to think that another woman would be hurt over my insensitivity to her pain. Those who have lost their mothers, those whose relationships with their mothers is strained, women who do not have children. Although I was a mother with three beautiful children, Mother's Day was painful for me the year that I had suffered a pregnancy loss and had delivered a tiny stillborn baby the month before. No, Mother's Day is not always cotton candy sweet. 

And yet...mothering is hard and important work and is worthy of honor. God Himself has commanded us to honor our father and our mother, so that is pretty clear! 

Motherhood is not something that is automatic. It is not a given, nor is it our right.

Motherhood is a gift of grace and what we do with this gift is of eternal importance.   

* * *

On Sunday, we honored the mothers in our lives. After the hubbub that was Saturday, it was such a relaxing afternoon. We hadn't had time to make a playlist of mothers' requests and I forgot the activity that I had planned. I also forgot to organize a "mothers and their children" photo shoot, so all of our pictures are candids and there aren't many of them. None of my mother-in-law, none of my sister, none of me. It was not a day of good recordkeeping, but it was a day of memory-making. A day of talking and laughing and gifts and homemade cards and loving and sharing time together. 

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