Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The goods

I want to remember the gifts that my husband chose for my birthday this year so I am going to record them here. I can not count how many times the Lord has used this blog to remind me of how abundantly He has blessed us, mainly relationally and spiritually, and in every area FAR BEYOND OUR DESERVING. So this is so I won't forget how my husband really listens and knows me...

This print from "fancyprints" on etsy.com (except mine had our initials and wedding date, plus green birds and gray background pattern)
This print was SO MEANINGFUL because he proposed to me at "our tree" in a state park where he had carved my initials when we dated. We have visited our tree several times, including when I was pregnant with Lydia Joy (pictured below). Can't wait to get it back from the framer and put it above our bed.Love my new gen-u-ine cowgirl boots. My man is getting me ready for the farm life and these will far exceed my polka dotted rain boots with the hole in the toe. (PS: Cowboy boots are COMFY!!) He probably envisions me pulling weeds in these. I envision boots + short floral sundress + flower garden. And last, the necklace below that was found on dayspring.com. Because as a child of God and a mother of three, all I really need to know is that I am saved "By Grace Alone". This necklace has become a permanent attachment to my neck. Could I ever be reminded enough?? I am so thankful for my sweet, sweet family. I really love doing life together with them! They know and love me well! Thank you for the celebrations!!
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
~G. K. Chesterton

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend

We had an eventful weekend! We went straight to Mimi and Papa's house for Thanksgiving lunch. My parents don't really have Thanksgiving traditions, so Mimi and Papa very graciously invited them to lunch, too. We were so excited that Andy's Aunt Glenna joined us as well. The kids enjoyed the day with their favorite adults, eating, and playing games. I know they missed their cousins, but they forgot all about that while we were there.

Lydie took orders (on her pad) and Mimi & Aunt Glenna teamed up to make a YUMMY meal!
Beautiful table

Sweet Papa sat at the kids' table. Poor Papa!

Lydie loved to wear this mask. It works for cutting turkey, doing surgery on dolls, and the like.Aunt Glenna and Joshua had a Monopoly war. Josh won, as usual. Every family has a game whiz and he is ours!

Friday night our favorite football team, the Auburn tigers, beat our rivals the Alabama Crimson Tide. We were sure it would be an upset, but we came back for a close win- 28 to 27. What a fun game to watch together!
Friday morning Andy and I enjoyed our annual Black Friday shopping date. We decided to sleep in and leave at 7:00 this year. We actually found everything on our list! ALL of my Christmas shopping, plus all 5 birthday gifts were bought! I am DONE Christmas shopping!! THIS is a good start to the holiday season!

I came home on Saturday and Andy enjoyed some time alone at the farm. It was the best decision I have made in a long time to get home a day earlier than usual. It really saved my sanity! I am so, so thrilled that December is upon us!
**Favorite part of Thanksgiving: Thankful comments from our jar. Some favorites were: art or drawing, which was put in the jar 4 or 5 times by the boys, "my loving family" by my boy (sniff sniff), and "our church home". We didn't have any funnies like in years past (winged meat was my favorite from last year), but seeing their hearts revealed in an unpromted setting was so touching! I am so, so thankful to have a gracious God who continues to bless this sinner!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Over the river and through the woods...

Turkey gifts painted and glossed. School work done for the week. (The picture below is Squanto. J got a little "happy" with the shadowing technique. :) But I like the expression that he captured.)
Squash casserole ready to go. Along with a fresh apple pie. Tangled premiere with Lydie shared and loved.
House cleaned and car de-trashed. Clothes washed and bags packed. Check, check, check.

We are FINALLY ready for a FOUR day weekend with grandparents! Holiday with family, birthday celebrations, black Friday shopping, Auburn/Alabama game, then back home to decorate the house for Christmas. I am SO ready (and praying for coveted REST)!!
I almost gave up today. So tired, weary, discouraged about things that are out of my control. My husband came to the rescue, as usual. Loving the words below, tonight, as it all winds down and I remember it is all for Jesus. And that even when I forget, His grace abounds.
"Thank God! He deserves your thanks. His love never quits. Thank the God of all gods, His love never quits. Thank the Lord of lords, His love never quits."
Psalm 136:1
Hope for Thanksgiving day:
"When I fully enter into now, the weight of fully being in the moment slows time down. Full attentiveness is the only thing that does."
~Ann Voskamp

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving projects with the kids

The kids and I have had a blast in the kitchen today. We made a few things to take to Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws. First, we made Thanksgiving ornaments from salt dough. I found this project here and decided to tackle it, even if it required sweeping, mopping, and extra laundry (flour-soaked clothing, dish towels, and dish rags). The kids really enjoyed making the turkeys. We have one for each family that will be at Thanksgiving dinner with us, plus one to keep at home. I am sure painting them tomorrow will be another fun time (with less mess, double plus!).

Then, we decided to make turkey cupcakes to take as well. My kids have not been completely convinced that pecan and pumpkin pie are "yummy", with the exception of my oldest son who will eat anything and love it. So we are taking our own little festive, kid-friendly, dessert. Lydie and I made these cupcakes. I saw the idea in a Family Fun magazine, I think. I couldn't find the recipe, but just went by memory. These were fun, but took a good bit of time, too. Back to squash casserole and apple pies tomorrow!
Happy thanksgiving! Hope your holiday is full of gratitude and celebration!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A date with my son and Harry Potter

Jackson and I finally went to the new Harry Potter movie. We read the series last winter together, and we've seen all six movies together. Its been a great experience. Oh, the conversations we've shared! We give the movie two thumbs up, although it is very intense and scary! My favorite Jackson quote from the night was when I asked him if he wanted to wear his HP costume to the movie and he said, "I respect those people's enthusiasm, but I'm not into geekdom." Almost everything he says is hilarious to me. So courteous, so blunt, so spot-on. He is the king of one-liners.On the home front, we are taking the week to do a little of this and that. A little school, a little housework, a little shopping, a little baking, a little napping-some work and some play until Thanksgiving day when we celebrate with family. Although there is much to do and the next few weeks are jammed packed with activities, I am so thankful for good health, a normal week with my husband and children, and taking it at our own pace (I say this in comparison to Andy traveling or me walking around with swollen cheek and toothache). I will take busy over sick and parenting solo any day!!

Here's a normal morning with Lydie, watching her lick the bowl clean. Love it and her! So happy to bake with her.
And here's Joshua's usual afternoon routine, wearing monochromatic pants and shirt and running out to play. We call this "camo on camo". (It's better than green on green or denim on denim, which is particularly tacky.) He is darling, though. Love it! So happy to watch through the window and laugh. It's good to have a daunting, difficult week every now and again, if for no other reason, to embrace the mundane with open arms!

"My heart took delight in all my work."

~Ecclesiastes 2:10

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Crazy, crazy

This week has been nuts. I had a tooth (THE TOOTH) abscess. I rate the pain up there with labor. I finally got in to see the dentist, but he put me on antibiotics and told me to come back in a few days. I didn't question him. After all, he is a dentist. But I left wondering how in the WORLD I was going to put up with the constant pain!?! Long story short-in the mean time my mother-in-law came to help out (because Andy was out of town for work), but fought a sinus infection one day and back pain another. And my friends helped by taking the boys on a field trip, but one of those families had to leave early because the daughter was vomiting. I feel a little like we are a dark cloud that no one should get near! :)
Finally yesterday the tooth was pulled. I am 34 and I had a tooth pulled! It has had 2 root canals and it was determined that there must be a crack that can not be repaired. In 6 weeks when my mouth heals I will get a "new tooth". Lovely. My mother-in-law made it safely home. The kids had a wonderful week because of our AMAZING friends who brought flowers, treats, and let them come over to play until dark. Today I have to make one more trip to the dentist. If he is not satisfied with how much the swelling has gone down, then I will have to get an iv of antibiotics in the ER. But I do not think that will be necessary. Here are some sweet moments from that last few crazy days:
The kids' Lego gift for me ("35" because its almost my 35th birthday)

Lydie's thanksgiving party at her preschool. The kids are so cute!

Lydie's little friend. Four year olds make the goofiest faces. This one made me laugh.

Our thankful jar is almost full. Good reminder of our blessings!

The kids wrote and performed a puppet show for me. SO DARLING!

Flowers from two sweet friends and a REALLY yummy meal!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving party with friends

My sweet friend, Tammy, hosted our home school group for a Thanksgiving party last week. We really enjoyed seeing our friends, the beautiful weather, and having an afternoon break from our routine. (I'm feeling the need for a vacation lately. So any excuse to break away, even for only a few hours, is nice!) We made Operation Christmas Child boxes, a fun tee pee craft, and played outside. I brought some Native American games to play, but mostly the kids just wanted to rip and roar. We are SO thankful for this group of friends!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Girls' weekend

While the boys were shooting rifles, camping, playing chase, and getting dirty last weekend, we were doing some girly stuff together. (I am not much of an over night camper.) I really treasure time alone with my children.

We had a very fun Saturday morning sewing with friends.
And on Sunday we went to the American Girl Bistro for lunch. It was a very, very fun and sweet outing. We also watched Beauty and the Beast together, played dolls, and had a "sleep over" in my room. Great memories!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One seed at a time

My boys get Bible story lessons in various places. So when it came time to look for a new devotion book for breakfast time, I knew I wanted something that would model for them how to apply biblical teaching to their lives. I have been very pleased with Josh McDowell's Family Devotions. If you are looking for a simple way to teach your children how to apply simple truths, this book is for you. It has a short Bible reading, a verse for the day, a story of children applying the truth of the verses in every day life, discussion questions, and a prayer. The kids take turns looking up and reading the verses, I read the story, and they read the prayer. It initiates great discussions. And I can see where they have reaped the benefit of these little, singular seeds being planted slowly but surely. We love it!

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Just to name a few

Today, I am thankful for...
A driveway that acts as a roller coaster.
A boy who overcomes his fears.
The very small piece of hair that was cut when my daughter said, "Look this is cool. I can cut my own hair!" and snipped before I could stop her.

The same daughter who spilled the beans about my birthday present and the husband who gave in and let me have it early.
Parents who love us so well and listen to us as our emotions ebb and flow. Particulary, the late night talk with Mimi and the lunch, all by ourselves, with Dad.

A husband who assures me, "If you will just submit to me in this, I promise I will tenderly lead you. Please trust me." (Doesn't that sound like Jesus?)

Children who really miss me when I spend the night away.
His eleventh hour answer.

These words that encourage:
"The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servants will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." John 12:25-26

And these that spur me on:
"One of the greatest powers for good is a family whose members respect each other and who have learned to function, however poorly, with the rich concepts of the Word God gives us as human beings. It is almost incredible to think of the stabilizing effect ordinary families can have: not only for themselves, but as a light in a troubled generation."
~Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Saturday, November 06, 2010

School plans, Take 2

So here we are in November, and I am making some startling discoveries about our homeschool curriculum. We are using My Father's World (MFW) for Bible/History/Science/Art history/Composer studies. The other stuff I pieced together. Well, I am not really in love with My Father's World. It is okay for us, but not a perfect fit.

I love the books they use for science. We have REALLY enjoyed our Answers in Genesis science book. It is called God's Design for Life: The World of Animals. I love that it begins the chapter with a shorter, slightly easier version of the text for "beginners". My 2nd grader can understand and retain the amount of information in that summary very well. Then it proceeds with a more complex version for older kids. Perfect for my very verbal, brainy 4rth grader. I love that each chapter includes experiments, review topics/questions, and a "taking it further" section. We like to take it further! And we very much like hands-on learning. We have done some cool experiments with animals!

The part of MFW that is not the best fit for us is the history, composer, and art sections. The history is something I am not willing to change simply because I spent a small fortune on all the books it requires and we are right in the middle. We enjoy the content. But it mainly calls for reading text, some of which seems to be written for an older age group. My boys can learn auditorally, but they learn better with more discussion and less reading. I loved Mystery of History for this reason. The author wrote like she was in a personal discussion and not so much in textbook prose. My second grader is finding it boring, I'm afraid. (He hasn't said so, but it's pretty obvious.) And I do not think history is my older son's favorite subject any more. I hate that. I am hoping that when we get past the European wars, which is mainly what we are studying this month (mid 1600s), and focus more on American history it will be more interesting for them and I can be more creative as a teacher. (How do you spruce up a lesson on Charles II? Another war against Protestants and Catholics?)

Regarding the artist and composer studies, I have pitched them. For us, the composer studies moved too slowly. We have been on the same composer for 2 months. But, I do love the cds that narrate their lives. (The Story of ______ in Words and Music) The artist studies from God and the History of Art move too fast. We were covering several artists a week! Their information was becoming a mile wide and an inch deep (in other words, they were retaining nothing). So, I have decided with composers and artists to go back to my tried and true method. We choose an artist and a composer to study each month. We focus on our artist and composer on Fridays. So much for a pre-packaged curriculum!

That brings me to our last change. We are sticking to the basics (Memory work, Math, Language, Phonics, Spelling, Latin, Science and History) Monday through Thursday. On Fridays we have "Fine Art Fridays". We will do a math lesson, language lesson, and take our spelling tests. Those things should take a total of around an hour. Then, it's all about the arts (with a little logic and geography thrown in)! We seem to frequently cram them in, and I do not want the kids to look at their artwork as something that can be rushed. Also with this schedule, we should be done with school by 1:00 every day again. Here's my new Fine Arts Friday schedule:

1st Friday
Read library book about our artist and fill book basket with other books
Read a story explaining our hymn for the month (Hymns for a Kid's Heart)
Logic puzzle
Map skills book and add to states and capitals memory map
Pit stop: I bought a packet of flashcards of American landmarks. The front has a picture (Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, Old Faithful, etc.), the back an explanation. We read it together and then mark the landmark on our USA map. It's fun and I am learning so much! If we go through them all we will begin with US Presidents next.

2nd Friday
Do a "fill in the blank" about our artist's life (I make these on the computer)/put our artist on our timeline
Read a book about our composer and color a picture of him
Logic Puzzle
Map work
Read the second story about our hymn
Seasonal art project
Pit Stop

3rd Friday
Do a project with our artist study (Discovering Great Artists)
Listen to our composer's music and draw what we feel
Do the first half of our drawing project
Logic puzzle
Map work/Add to states and capitals
Pit Stop

4rth Friday
Do a picture study of one of our artist's works of art
Add our composer to our timeline
Complete our drawing project
Logic puzzle
Map work
Seasonal art project
Pit Stop

Friday, November 05, 2010


This fall I have really enjoyed reading. I haven't had the time that I did in the summer. But I really look forward to traffic lights (only red ones, of course), rare quiet moments during the day, and mostly the late evenings when I can end the day with a book. Here are the ones I have read since school started, all of which I recommend. (Not including the loads of books I have read to the kids.)

The Help was on my book list for months. I randomly saw it on the library return cart and grabbed it. I am SO glad I did. I love historical fictions. We were studying the beginning of the slave trade in colonial America in history when I read this book about civil rights in the 1960s in the South. My heart broke, not only for the African American people, but for women in general from this era. This book gave me a renewed and more impassioned thankfulness for the freedoms we enjoy in our country as women, as well as a grieved spirit for the effects of slavery and racism. I really enjoyed reading The Help.

I am very glad that I read Laura Bush's autobiography. I learned many interesting things about our country, life at the White House, and her life. Although her writing is chocked full of details and she is simply lovely, I did not enjoy her style of writing. Her viewpoint is very factual, with little expression of emotion. Maybe this type of writing reflects her personality, and quite possibly may be why God providentially made her a First Lady. But it just did not appeal to me as a reader. It took me a full month to read this book.

If I could choose any mentor in the world (besides the wonderful ladies at my church), I would choose Sally Clarkson. I love her parenting and education books. They are filled with exactly what I believe to be truthful, wise, and successful. Her writing is full of heart, encouragement, and goodness. This book has been around for a couple of decades, I think. I have skimmed it before. But this time around I bought it and read it cover to cover. It is FILLED with notes and highlights!

My favorite genre to read is fictional series. I LOVED the Hunger Games trilogy! I read each book in a couple of days. At first the story seems strange and a little bizarre, but focusing on the symbolism reveals phenomenal writing. I was SO thankful that I discovered these books so late. I bought/checkout out all three so that I could continue seamlessly from one to the next. No waiting months or years for the next book for me! I highly recommend these books. Heidi wrote some great comments on all three books here.

I am currently reading the following two books. The Noticer is the book that my book club chose for the month. I think the author is attending our meeting. I am enjoying what I have read so far.

And this was another random find that I picked up from a cart. I liked the title. I thought Cure for the Common Life: Living In Your Sweet Spot might be good for a city girl moving to a farm in the near future. I guess my cure for the common life is playing out before my very eyes. But nevertheless, I am enjoying the content of the book. The theme seems to be to discover your gifts and talents, and then use them to serve the Lord. Andy and I believe in this ideal and have found the joy that it produces.

My book wish-list was lost on our old computer. (I seem to have a knack for crashing computers.) Any recommendations for what to read next? I am looking for some good fiction now that it is cold enough for a fire at night. So exciting!