Outdoor chores

One of the reasons I've always dreaded the chore of weeding is that it's a chore you can never complete. I can go out to the yard, stoop down and weed for 30 minutes to an hour, get up and pass about a million other weeds on the way back into the house. Not very satisfying to someone who likes to make a TO DO list and check off the items as they're done.

Now the kind of chore I prefer would be something like, say, cleaning the kitchen. I can walk in, begin cleaning, and 30 minutes later have clear counters and floors and walk out hearing the hum of the dishwasher and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Done.

For several years I just didn't weed. Mark did all of the weeding. And then last year when Mark had his accident, and injured his hands, I had to do it. I wouldn't say it was my favorite chore, but I readied, planted, and weeded the garden, and things grew! And I derived a bit of satisfaction knowing that I had done it.

Mark's hands are better this year, so I could let him do it all, but when the kids are in the yard (as they frequently are this time of year), it makes sense that I'd do something.

Knowing that I like to have that sense of a job completed, I've finally figured out a system that works for me. I sat down and listed all of our outside chores, and then broke them up into manageable chunks and divided them up on different days of the week. I came up with this:
Outdoor Chores

 chickens: food and water
 garbage out
 recycling out
 weed dahlias and strawberries
 water gardens

 chickens: food and water
 garbage out
 slug bait
 weed herb garden and back beds (pumpkins, squash, ella’s flowers)
 water gardens

 chickens: food and water
 garbage out
 weed front flower gardens and walkway
 water gardens

 chickens: food and water
 garbage out
 mow lawn
 weed back half of vegetable garden (sunflowers, corn, and beans)
 water gardens

 chickens: food and water
 garbage out
 weed front half of vegetable garden (carrots, lettuces, tomatoes, etc)
 water gardens

 chickens: food and water
 garbage out
 miscellaneous weeding (hydrangea bush, beneath apple trees, etc)
 clean chicken coop
 water gardens

This has helped tremendously. Now that I've broken the weeding into smaller jobs, I don't mind it so much. And I know that if I miss a Monday, next Monday will come around soon enough and it's still being done more regularly than it was before. And best of all, when Mark gets home in the evenings, he can just rest and play and doesn't have to worry about the weeding.

Vacation recap

Well, we're home from vacation and settling back into routine.

Here's a recap of our vacation:

On Monday morning Mark and I headed out of town to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

We stayed at a B&B near the beach. This photo turned out dark so I'm not sure if you can see it, but the weather was clear and beautiful, and we had a great view of the water from our room.

We spent a large part of our time walking along the beach, talking. We asked each other all sorts of questions, ranging from: How would you like to grow in your relationship with God this next year? How about in your relationship with me? The kids? to If you had $1000 cash and you had to spend it on a gift for someone TODAY, who would you spend it on, what would you buy, and why? We ate yummy food, played cards, and even went to a movie together one night, just because we could!

On Wednesday afternoon we came home to some happy-to-see-us children (I just love it when they miss me!), although they had a blast with Mark's parents, who had come to stay with them at our house. We had my parents up for dinner Wednesday night, and then Thursday began painting an upstairs bedroom. (Isaias recently moved down to share a room with Ella and Isaac, but eventually we plan to have the girls (Ella and our hopefully-coming-soon-adopted daughter) upstairs). Since the room is now standing empty, we decided to paint. We bought a gallon of pink paint (think Pepto Bismol), and a gallon of green (think celery), and my idea was to have one wall in vertical stripes- wider pink, smaller green, and the other walls white, with green stripes randomly coming up from the bottom of the walls to meet a pink flower at the top. Ella is in charge of painting the flowers. We're still in process, but here are some pictures of our little painters:

Friday morning we packed up the van and headed over the mountains to celebrate my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary with the entire family. We stayed at a lodge, which was the a first for the kids and they were duly thrilled. Ella ran around the room marveling at everything, "Look! Two beds! We get to sleep in a bed right next to daddy and mommy! And the beds are the same! Look, mommy! There's a hook on the wall! And there's a toilet over here! And, and..." And Mark and I marveled at how easy our kids are to please. :)
We swam in the pool,

had a "slumber party", which is what we kept referring to the fact that our whole family got to sleep together in one room,

and I was able to see cousins and aunts and uncles I hadn't seen for several years as we shared memories and gratitude for grandpa and grandma.
Here's a picture of the whole gang. (My grandparents had four children.)

And here we are, (my sister's family and my own, as well as my biological dad and my grandparents)

I am so thankful for the faithfulness of my grandparents over the years. Not just to one another, but to Jesus Christ, as well.

We made it home Saturday night, and had a wonderful Sabbath together before heading into our week.

Glad to be back!

Father's Day and an anniversary

Happy Father's Day, honey!
We love you!

And I, having now been married to this wonderful man for 10 years, get to go away with him for a few days to celebrate!

Thanks for noticing me, Mark, so many years ago. I love you *very* much, and am daily grateful I get to go through this life with you by my side.

ps: Can I also just say that I am thankful for you, dear readers? This past week I have thought more than once of how grateful I am that anyone at all reads my blog.
We are on vacation this next week, so I won't be blogging at all, but I hope you have a great week!

The little I bring

Our days have been so busy lately. We have had so much going on that I feel as if we just get home from one outing/event and have only minutes squished in there between the next thing we have to do or the next place we have to go. I am feeling physically and emotionally worn out. Maybe part of it is that vacation awaits us next week and it just can't get here fast enough.

I woke to this day exhausted, thinking of all that awaits me in the next few days; all that there is to do. I feel as if I have so little to give. I am tired.

Early this morning I opened our bedroom curtains--which poured in such happy morning sunlight that I could not possibly fall back asleep--, and I read from Matthew 14.

The disciples want to send the crowds away. Jesus, ever blunt, replies: "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

The disciples: "We have here only..."

As I read that I wondered how often it is that Jesus asks something of me and my first response is "But I have only..." Even as I looked at the days activities stretched before me, my attitude was, "But I have such little energy. I have little patience, not nearly enough time..."

But then Jesus says this: "Bring them here to me." It's as if he's saying, "Yes, I see what little you do have to bring me. But bring it right over here, to me, and I will multiply that so that you can feed others."

My prayer today?

Jesus, will You take what little I have? I bring it to You, as the disciples brought that meager meal of 5 loaves and 2 fish, and I ask that you would multiply what little I bring.

Visit with a blogging friend

A couple of weeks ago Rebeca emailed me to say that they would be driving through our city on the way to visit a friend of hers in another city, and could they stop in for a visit?

Of course I said YES! I was excited to meet the author of a blog I have so enjoyed over the past year and a half. On Monday afternoon, as my children waited on our porch swing and I prepared lunch, I heard Ella shout, "I think they're here!" I walked out to the van and gave Rebeca a hug, and said hello to her very-cute children Peregrine (4) and Alethea (2).

We ate lunch together and then headed out into the backyard so that the kids could play while we visited.

Rebeca is beautiful, and she is a wonderful mama, full of gentleness, affection and love. I was marveling at her gentle tone with her children. Every word that came out of her mouth was spoken in a loving, gentle, quiet and calm voice. [Um. Can't so much say the same for myself. It's not like I spend my day screaming by any means, but I would say that sometimes I do sort of snap at them as I react to disobedience.] Not so with Rebeca. Although when I asked, "Do you always speak in such a kind tone?" She answered "Not always." But I'm thinking it's probably the rare exception that she doesn't.

Peregrine and Alethea were a delight- so cute, polite and well-behaved. They listened well to their mama and they were a joy to have in our home. (Don't you love sweet little friends for your children to play with?)

One thing I observed in Rebeca's parenting that I'm going to try around here is this: I overheard her calling to Peregrine, who was playing in the living room: "Please come here, Peregrine." And then she promptly followed her request with, "I'm coming, Mama." To which Peregrine perked up and repeated, "I'm coming, Mama." I noticed she did this a few times throughout their visit. She would instruct him and then give a proper response. As she was giving it, or directly afterward, Peregrine would chime in with the same response and then obey. Isn't that a great idea? I am so using that with my Isaac. Sometimes he can be in his own little world and I think it doesn't completely register when I've spoken to him. But if I begin to cue him with the proper response? Maybe it will click. I'll let you know how it goes.

It was a delightful visit and I loved meeting Rebeca in person. There were c couple of times I would ask her a question and she would begin sharing and I would think, "Oh, yes... I remember you writing about this." But it was oh-so-much more enjoyable to hear her tell it! :)

Please, if you are ever in my area, do let me know so that I can meet you! :)


from the garden

and from the kitchen,
... a few walnuts, some goat cheese and balsamic dressing.

= lunch.


At breakfast with my boys

Well, Ella was there, too. But my boys especially delighted me so I'm talking about them today.

Over breakfast we were going over our memory verses for Thursday. Usually Ella and Isaac alternate; she does one, he does the next. Isaias participates only here and there when there's a word he knows well that he chimes in with. His favorite verse is: Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour... because he starts that verse out with a giant roar!

And when we go over our list of OT books of the Bible, all the kids giggle and wave when we get to Haggai (in their minds, it's "Hey, Guy!")

This morning, though, we pulled out our memory work box (thank you, Kendra), and Isaias was saying something to me, and I finally figured out he was saying that he wanted to do it, too. Great! So I pulled out a short verse, "Thou shalt not steal", and cued him beforehand on each word. It went like this:

Me: Thou
Isaias: ...Thou

Me: Shalt
Isaias: ...Shalt

Me: Not
Isaias: ...Not

Isaias: ... HIT!

Yep, that too! :)


One of our Thursday verses is: A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families. After we were done with all the verses I said, "Let's pull out the father-to-the-fatherless verse again and take a few minutes to pray for the child(ren) God is going to set in our family soon."

Isaac's prayer:

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for that you set the lonely in families. Thank you that we'll have a little girl. In Jesus' name, Amen. And a little boy. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Have a wonderful Thursday!

Why you shouldn't leave a load of laundry in the washing machine overnight

Because then when at 3:00 in the morning when your child stumbles into your room having just thrown up in his bed, you can change his clothes, clean him up, brush his teeth, give him some water, tuck him into your bed, head into his room and gather everything up and immediately put it into the washing machine. Not so when there are clothes soaking in bleach in the washing machine. Just a thought I had in the wee hours of the morning.

More on family-integrated worship

Remember my post on Sunday mornings? And the discussion in the comments that followed?

Fletch is sharing his thoughts on family-integrated worship over at the MangoTimes. I encourage you to head over there. I always appreciate reading what he has to say. He begins with an introduction here and there is more in his post today.

Gardens: planted

(These pictures are a couple of weeks old but I'm posting them anyway.)

ella planting

planting the beans with daddy

pumpkins in the back gardens

petunias and pansies along our front walk

my first-ever herb garden

By now everything is coming up beautifully [except our corn, which takes up most of our garden. *grr!*] and it is seriously the hightlight of everyone's day to go peek at what is growing.

Already growing were: rhubarb and strawberries

Planted: corn, beans, grape tomatoes, carrots, multi-colored carrots (???!!! i know; the kids found them on the seed rack so mark said we'd try them out!), sweet onions, cabbage, romaine lettuce, head lettuce, and cucumbers.

In the back garden: butternut squash, orange pumpkins, white pumpkins, zucchini, teeny pumpkins and assorted gourds (for fall decorating).

In the herb garden: basil, italian oregano, rosemary, dill, chives, thyme, cilantro, and more sweet onions.

What have you planted in your garden?