Monday, August 30, 2010

Worship HIM.

 And when everything falls apart...
Worship Him still.

Another try at starting a school week today.
Another later-than-I-planned morning.

Bible reading and character training are my first priority of the daily routine, and endure throughout the day.

This morning things started like they often do when I really want to inspire the children and hear the Holy Spirit speak:
There was bickering about who gets to sit where,
and "your pillow is in my space"
and "your foot keeps touching my leg",
and "can I go potty real quick?"
and "I'm hungry".

Then there's me.
A humbled mom, holding her head in her hands. How could I be beaten by 8:30 in the morning?!

Silently I called out to God:
"I want my children to know you Lord, but is this a bad time to press through?
Shall I move on to the next thing so I don't misrepresent you?  
I don't want to start reading your Word with attitudes like this. 
It seems counterproductive to the goal.
I do not want to pretend something, contrive something, force something...
But I do want to be obedient.  I want to be faithful..."

As homeschooling moms, or any mom who loves the Lord Jesus,
we do the things we do because God is real and really deserving of everything we give Him.
He deserves more than that of course, but He graciously accepts what we submit.

If I give you the short version for why I stay home with my children to oversee their education,
it's because I believe that knowing God and our need for a Savior comes before anything else.
After that, I want my children to know who they are as eternal souls,
and how that manifests itself in all our thoughts, words, and actions as humans in a tangible world;
and more importantly, what that mean in reference to the Almighty God who made them.

That's a full time undertaking without all my very daily tasks plus educating my children about the world we live in.  
But when I take inventory of what I think will actually get a accomplished on a given day,
and when I decide that something on my agenda must go,
Our time in God's Word is not among the things I cull.

I want my children to be faithful in their studies and able to communicate with people outside their sphere,
but that being said, I really truly believe that a formal education isn't important to the Lord.
That is to say, I think being knowledgeable about "stuff" isn't important, for the purpose of  "knowing stuff" to get along in life.

You can sputter and cough and wheeze about that for a while, and I'm sure it sounds good to say:

"...but it's important to rightly represent Christ to the world 
by being good stewards of our intellect!"

To that I say,

We need to be faithful with the resources the Lord has given us, but only foremost
as an act of worshiping our Creator.  

While I believe that beautiful fruit can come from obedience and faithfulness as an act of worship,
and a powerful witness can be displayed, I don't think that displaying beautiful fruit should be the first goal - even for the purpose of witnessing.

might I suggest that any aspirations outside of worship and obedience (which are responses born from gratitude and love of our Savior),
are vain glory?

I think so.

I do suspect that if we cultivate our interests and passions for the glory of God, and build our understanding of those things on the foundation of Jesus Christ and honoring Him, they may endure death.  I don't know.

You see, perseverance through a mini battle such as I experienced this morning is of eternal consequence.  Whether my heart is soft to worship the Lord,
whether my responses to shenanigans are filled with grace,
whether I captivate my childrens' interest because I CARE about what I'm teaching them, and actually BELIEVE the things I am saying - THAT has an effect on my children now; I have an effect on my children now.
That effect will reach into their adulthood,
and last for all eternity.

for.  all.  eternity.

I am responsible for what gets tucked away in those now-tender hearts.
it seems a waste to work so hard on stuffing things into brains that will die with their bodies, and yet neglect the greater part.
Or at least fail to recognize the grave importance of having an eternal perspective because we are blinded by what worldly standard we must achieve today.

Corinthians 3: 10b - 15a 
"...But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, 
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; 
and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss..."


It was a rough start this morning, but that was normal.
I should get used to the fact that life is dynamic and won't hold a serene pattern to please me.
In fact, it's possible - likely even - that there is more opportunity for spiritual growth when all my plans are demolished and my heart is laid bare.

What overflows from within me when it appears all is lost?
 It could be the greatest opportunity for me to worship,
and the greatest opportunity for humility and repentance,
for restoration,
for sacrifice,
for obedience,
for perseverance,
for making a lasting impact.

And for the Lord to show Himself very real to some sinful little children,
through one imperfect mom who knows the miraculous power of His redeeming love...  

...and lives it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hot Water

A momentous week for us.
We took our first baths in the Marvel Hill "Bath"room.
Why is this so amazing?
because the "Bath"room is complete (baring a bench and some towel hooks),
and because we have hot water IN the house!!

(And why does she keep putting "Bath""room in quotes?!  Because there's nothing else in this room, my friends.
Don't try looking for a toilet or sink here - that's for another room *ahem* and post.)

It's been rather luxurious the past few days, to wash hands and dishes in hot water right out of the tap.
Some people think it's normal to expect hot water in a sink,
but I am familiar with heating water on the stove for dish washing.

This is in modern United States of America, people.

The only hot water previous to now has been a propane instant hot water shower on the porch.
Sans shower curtain.
Sans the promise of privacy.
Sans hot water if it's windy enough to blow out the pilate.

Even that propane shower was a step up from the 2 gallon Coleman pump-up shower of the last two seasons!

So back to my INDOOR hot water...
It is wonderful.
Much better to bathe in hot water when it's getting chilly out :-)

We think we should call a Marvel Hill Holiday to commemorate...
"The week we got hot water in the house."

Friday, August 27, 2010

I bought these REALLYBIG Marshmallows

for the kids.

because I wanted to be the mom who does that sort of thing.

they made the reallybiggest S'mores I've ever seen.


 and the gooiest ones too.

but marshmallows this size almost guarantee bigger smiles!

Now THAT's a S'more!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Looking at my sidebar... feels like it's time for a make-over.
At least some current pictures of the kids?


Why is it that my husband needs to notify me if there's a stinky diaper in the house?

As if I wouldn't notice something like that on my own!

(I'm pretty sure I am not the exception?)

Monday, August 23, 2010

I can't compete with Mrs. Jones

The blog buzz in my sphere lately, is all bout the start-up of a new school year.

Teaching Momma's are excited about
new books,
new organization,
new pencils and crayons,
new enthusiasm...

I have been thinking for weeks about what I want our next year of learning to entail.
As regards academics, what's the most important things I want to focus on for each child?
As regards hearts - what is most important to the Lord?
I have lots of ideas, and in my brainstorming I've been praying that the Lord would help me know what would be just the right approach for my family.
It's pretty easy to find value in what someone else is doing (because it always looks so much more achievable when someone else is doing the legwork!)

Then there's the beauty of blogging.
Only the best gets published, creating a lop-sided perspective of the total picture.

the best ideas,
the best pictures,
the best crafts,
the best stories,
the best successes,
the best days out of ALL the days I home school...

...Those are the blogs YOU get.

Those are the blog posts we ALL get when we peruse the windows into other peoples lives.
I'm not saying it's bad,

Just so you are clear, I don't plan to start blogging my failures and worst days.  I doubt you'd come back, and to be honest,
I prefer not to remember those things.

My purpose in reminding us (because this is my pep talk to me as well) this truth, is so that you and I purpose to

do . what . works . for .me

For you, that is.
 Do what works for YOU.

And don't be fooled into changing your groove just because it looks 
so beautiful
or successful
or intelligent...
on someone else!  You might actually lose a good thing that you already possess ;-) 

Now that I got that off my chest, let me share one thing that I'm really excited about doing this year:
I am going to 
study my children.

In trying to figure out what each one needs from me in the wide world of academia, I am quickly reminded that my children are unique - not only in ages and stages, but in every facet of their make-up.
Their personalities.
I am their mom, yet I could do to know them better.
Furthermore, there are things in this life that are more important to me than their ability to do sums.
Do I know how to help them with heart issues and character qualities on a personal level?  
In more than a general sense?   ie. "we are learning about Patience today children..."

Here's my little idea.
I am starting a binder just for journaling each of my children. 
There is a divider for each one, and in his or her place I plan to make notes about that persons 
fears and concerns,
favorite things,
things they like to do,
thoughts and dreams.

Whatever makes them tick.
Whatever they tell me about themselves,
but mostly all the things I observe.
I will steal an idea from a friend of mine and draw each face, praying for that person as I study him.
I will record things they say and did;
I want to pay attention to poor attitudes that need to be uprooted before becoming a permanent part of that persons character.

I want to take time to pray for each one of mine with purpose and with understanding.

I hope to use that binder/journal a lot this year, and I hope it might start something that "works" for me.  
I have lots of plans for our school year, but I am trying to set baby goals so I can reevaluate every now and again whether my people are growing and learning,
or whether we are just checking off the boxes to get "it" done whatever "it" is,
or whether we are just attempting to keep up with what works for the Joneses.

Our family is unique from every other, just as each child in my home is different from one another.

Start off your year looking straight ahead.  Slow and steady is just fine.

You'll do great!

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us lay aside every weight, 
and the sin which doth so easily beset us, 
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
Hebrews 12:1

A Squirrel's most fearsome predator is...

...the 9 year-old Boy.

Sadly (for him), this cute little fella was skinned and eaten.
It felt like Deja Vu to me.  I remember when my brother was 9!
I believe that Davey Crockett (he was first named - which is always sadder I think.)'s hide 
is now about as stiff as 
the cardboard version a 9-year-old Uncle Charlie
tried to tan some 20+ years ago.


Need I say more?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

He said he could make it...

...Raspberry ice cream, that is.

I believed him.

 Without an ice cream maker, and without a recipe, but with a generous portion of enthusiasm and a handful of Raspberries.
I was impressed - it was very tasty!
I asked if I could share his "secret" recipe and he couldn't help his generosity, so here it is:

2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 cup Raspberries

Stir together in medium mixing bowl,
cover and place in freezer.
Stir every 30 minutes until frozen through.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Flamboyant Adornments

Little cousin has visited on more than a few days sporting flowers in her hair.

I had to look closely to see that they weren't real, but were darling little silk blossoms and had come in a package from her Auntie Faith.

...Along with two beautiful dresses.  

Apparently Auntie Faith (Hannah's sister) got a very bad itch to sew something for a girl - go ahead, 
click through the link.  You'll understand.
Anyway my girls were drooling.

Susanna even requested an "Auntie Faith".   
I can't say that I blame her - I'd like a dress like that myself!

I'm pretty sure she just got her first real taste of envy.

Because I could not grant her wish
(although I would like to insert that Auntie Hannah's are pretty unbeatable too) 
I decided to hunt down some clips for my girls.

Love them flowers - dirty face and all!
They picked their own flowers and glued them on with help from me.

  Three little daughters - my own princesses - satisfied for today.

...Until Auntie Faith sends another package to our cousin up the hill :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not everyone gets "Cane Sugar Coffee"...

...As a "surprise birthday breakfast" when it's August and ones birthday usually falls in April.

But I did!

This morning Susanna took some ownership of the kitchen (and supplies therein) to make us breakfast.

When I was called down, I arrived to five smartly-set bowls of rice with a granola bar by each,

and MY plate (set for "The Queen", I am told) 
held a peanut butter topped rice cake, a pile of dried cherries, 
a chocolate chip cookie, and a granola bar.   
(We know how to stock "supplies" around here.)

Beside it was a glass of water and a glass of "Cane Sugar Coffee" which apparently is warm black coffee with a liberal portion of cane sugar stirred in.

What a gal!

Clearly it's time to walk her through a few basic steps and turn breakfast over to her.  I never believed the day would arrive:-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Well stake my Ter-mater's!

 I sent my children on an expedition to find me some sticks for stakin' my Tomato plants.
Not necessarily because of their large size, rather in hopes of motivation them to grow.
"Grow, grow BIG, grow gorgeous; and please, my dear stunted little tomatoes, GROW SOME FRUIT for goodness sakes!"

So anyways, I told my fellers and their sister Sue, that I wanted some straight stakes five feet tall:

"That's from the ground to the tips of your fingers when you reach toward the sky"

And about four inches in circumference (they know this word):

"That'd be about the width of your wrist."

I wanted 19:

"...5 tomatoes at 3 stakes each, plus 4 for the peas to lean on...  
If you find me 12 to 19 stakes in a timely manner 
I'd consider it worth 2 dollars for each of you, 
and I think that's very reasonable 
considering it's YOUR garden too and I could send you on a stake-hunt as a 

They agreed.

Well I'm here to tell you they knocked my socks off , those industrious 4 foot tall plus-a-reach people! 
They came to me an hour and a half later with 14 near-perfect beauties and only stopped there because they forgot the total number I had requested.

The boys told me they'd found a Ceder tree that "was just right", and I still haven't gone into the woods to see if the tree has any limbs left.  We like the trees near our yard to be healthy and whole, bu the general deal around here is that if it's not within sight of the house, one is allowed to take a hatchet to it.  (If you visit with boys, please don't quote me on that - the deal might have changed by then). :-D

Don't they look tuckered? 

And the Garden...

It was so happy to have a few stakes.  We all wanted to see the tomatoes be motivated to grow.  Maybe this will help.


Thank YOU Nasturtiums - you're divine!

Oh Borrage - I love you also....

And that's that for now.
My ter-maters are happily hedged in,
I've lined a few or 6 pockets with spending cash,
I've documented the growth of the garden and provided you with proof,
and after all is said an done,  if the kiddo's aren't tired out, I am!

(Tah-tah for now)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My son - a Warrior

"But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."  Luke 2:19

I can only imagine the depth and width of things the mother of God had to ponder, but I want to follow her example.
That's the purpose of this post.
I want to remember.

This morning I was wakened by wiggling at the foot of my bed.  

Prying my eyes in the dim morning light I noted that Clayton was trying to make himself comfortable with a pillow and blanket on top of my quilt.

Quietly I suggested that he cozy back into his own bed for the remainder of the dawn.

He collected his bedding and with head hung, slid off.

My eyes once again shut, I felt the whisper of his breath near my face.


"What sweetheart?"

Head near mine he asked,

"Can you pray for Bryce, that God will protect his spirit?"

Suddenly alert.  I assumed that this was inspired by his dreams but I didn't question.  

I pulled him into bed and drew him close.  

Then I prayed for Bryce, believing well it could be important beyond my comprehension or understanding.
I prayed that the Lord God would protect his spirit; 
his mind, heart, and body too.

I also prayed for his big brother.
And when I was done praying out loud, silent prayers continued to pour forth.

Then, we slept.

Later this morning I asked Clayton if he had a bad dream.

"Yes."  He replied,
"I dreamed that Zachary fell off the upstairs porch...
and I dreamed that an evil snake was trying to get into Bryce's heart and tell him terrible things."


You can chalk it up to the subconscious, but I know better.
There is a realm we do not see with our eyes, but  at times our other senses detect it.

I don't understand it, but I believe it.

Clayton has a heart that's  profoundly sensitive to spiritual things.
I'm so glad he didn't dismiss his discomfort.
I'm thankful he wanted to pray for Bryce.

I could learn a thing or two.

Bryce will likely benefit from Clay's prayers in ways he'll never know.
What a privilege to have a brother praying for him already!

This was a good opportunity to talk about listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit; 
to pray for those the Lord puts on our heart just out of the blue;
and to bring every concern before the Throne of God.  He will wage war on our behalf;  
He is faithful, and knows all about that "other" realm to which we are blind.

Lots to think about;
to ponder.

And so I do like Mary
and tuck this tidbit away in the recesses of my heart.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, 
but against principalities, against powers, 
against the rulers of the darkness of this world.  
Against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Ephesians 6:12

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I am a Venti Mom

"Venti" is a size.

It would be less confusing if it were called "Large" or "Largest", but it's Starbucks.
They size their drinks to sound important.

Maybe a Large is "Venti" and a small is Tall so that you feel you're getting something big either way, but all you have to do is look at the cups to know there's a difference between something otherwise referred to as "Large" and what Starbucks calls "Tall".

The truth is, I was never a "Tall" mom because I didn't truly discover all the glory of Starbucks until child #5 and an 8 hour stretch of road to drive.
I went straight to the biggest size Java Chip Frapucinno made.  Why mess around?

Today as I loaded my babies into a cart at Wally World, I noticed a mom next to me loading Little's into her cart.  In the empty bottom sat a Starbucks frappucinno.
What is it about Starbucks that makes shopping with children seem like a vacation? 

My Frapucinno was already gone.  Savored to death in the first hour of our outing while I searched for Pita Pockets in a new grocery store.
That had been several hours prior and I assumed that Wally World was this lady's first stop.

I noticed that her Frap was a size "Tall" and wondered if she knew when she ordered that "Tall" meant "small", and did she figure it out for next time?
I need every ounce of caffeine that a Venti can deliver when I'm shopping with the crew.

Then it hit me.
She had 2 children.

I really think that Starbucks should find an Italian word for "Monstrous", or "Humongous" (in fact they could just call it that) because what about those moms of 10 out there?
I can't imagine that a Venti does it in their case.

To be fair, I rarely see a mom with that many kiddos with her.
Maybe it's because the bigger ones are old enough to babysit a few at home.
Maybe mom and dad divide and conquer when they shop, and dad is at the other end of the store.
In that case maybe they're a 2-Venti-Frap. family!

But honestly?
I think it's because Starbucks doesn't make a Frappucinno big enough to fuel a mom shopping with 10 or 15 children.
Laws of nature (or something like that).  What goes up... must come down.

I was happy for the "Tall" momma, that she had found the secret to making Wally World a slice of heaven (or at least a piece of sanity).
I felt strangely sorrowful for mothers of 15 - they have to get out to shop too!

But me?

I really enjoyed myself.  
I am a Venti mom,
and there was just enough caffeine in the biggest size that Starbucks makes to last me through ALL my errands.

And home again.

Early Morning Garden Helper

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another Hike. A rather LONG one.

The weekend after our last guests left, we decided to join our cousins for a hike to an un-hiked to lake.
Un-hiked to by us anyway.

This proved to be an expedition which produced many good pictures, but also many tired legs and feet.
I'm not ashamed to say that AJ and I turned around after lunch and headed back to the base of the trail with Bryce and the 3 girlies.  The boys followed their cousins on in search of the illusive lake - a lake which we were always "so close" to, but never quite "arriving at".
As the trail was dwindling, AJ and I were a little concerned that we'd arrive in time to carry ALL the children out, not just the couple babies already on our backs.  And darkness would possibly envelope us before the completion of our trip.

As it was, the story ended happily with us all sleeping in our own beds.  AJ tramped half-way in a second time with the double jogger to help tired little cousins back and I really don't know how a 5 month pregnant Sis-in law carried her 27 pound boy all that way!  Whew!  Wears me out just to imagine it.

They DID find their lake though, so congratulations to them!
And we kept our "happy hearts" so good for us.

Carolina walked most the whole hike interspursed with hitching a ride with me or her dad.
Susanna and Olivia walked the whole time.
In mud boots none-the-less.

This equaled probably 10 miles all told.  TEN MILES! I'm glad to know we could do it in a pinch, but I sure hope we're never pinched!

Speaking for myself, I was perfectly happy to hear about the lake.  I don't need to see it for myself :-)

Here's the picture journal of our adventure.  
Enjoy, and let your own feet be ache-free.

On a brief stop to check the map, certain of our party found a new purpose for young tree saplings.
(Shhh... don't tell the forest service!)
It's like the stationary precursor to mutton-busting - and no coin slots either!

This... is me telling the kiddos about Baneberry.  
Amongst the many many berries up in these parts, most are edible or if not, won't cause serious harm.  
The Baneberry?  It's rather toxic.  NO TOUCHY!  
We have a pile pf children who want to taste every edible plant and berry - even if the book says it's not "palatable" (new word in our vocabulary).  
The "unpalatable" ones keep them from trying anything with too much unharnessed vigor.

   One of my favorites

There was a certain amount of relief in finally laying eyes on the Trooper.  In the (here) famous words of Carolina:

We MADE it!