Open house: Monday, June 30th

Listening to... Ella, singing a silly song with the boys' names while she moves to do her chore. The boys, giggling at her goofiness.

Thankful for... So many things! A good night's sleep. Merry children. A sunny day. Laundry to hang on the line...soon. Mark, who cleaned the kitchen for me last night. [And the night before that. And the night before that.] Ella, whose after-meal chore has evolved from putting the silverware away to emptying the WHOLE dishwasher. Our garden growing. Beautiful flowers blooming all around our house. Our cheery hanging baskets.

Enjoying... watching the Planet Earth series with Mark and the kids. We LOVE these. (Thank you, Andrea, for the long-ago recommendation!)

In the kitchen... Tonight we're having fajitas with guacamole dip and pico de gallo. Maybe cornbread to go with it? And some fresh fruit. Mmm!
Oh, and last night I made some delicious fruit salsa:
*2 apples, peeled and cored
*some fresh pineapple, chopped
*2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
*several strawberries, chopped
*a pint of blueberries, chopped
(you can use any combination of fruit that you want)
add: 3 T of apple jelly, 1 T of sugar, 1 T brown sugar
Mix and refrigerate.

Cinnamon chips
*flour tortillas, cut into chip-sized pieces
*cinnamon sugar
*spray-on butter
Spray butter on one side of tortilla strips, sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top. Then turn over and spray/sprinkle the other side. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Sewing... I just checked out Amy Butler's In Stitches from the library again, and I'm hoping to make some of her Wide-Leg Lounge Pants.

Reading... The Shack.

Striving for... a merry heart, a gentle tone.

In the yard/garden... our garden is happily growing (and we've just begun eating the lettuce from it!), my peonies are in full bloom, I saw the first burst of color on my hydrangeas yesterday (!), our daisies are happily blooming, along with several other flowers around our house.

Praying for...
{for my children} the character trait of gratitude (I use this chart that Elise posted on her blog).
{for Mark} his rest (Still praying off of this list I made a couple of years ago.)
{for me} Mondays I specifically reserve for confession. (I have a list I keep handy to jog my memory for Mondays: pride, judgmentalism, anger, impatience, criticism, gossip, lack of discipline, lack of self-control, high expectations, love of self, want of the approval of others, negativity.)
*and* continuing to pray for baby Joe.

In the CD player today... Rich Mullins' Songs.

Mealtime prayers: what we do

Once upon a time, in our home, in our eating nook, around our table, we'd sit down to a meal and our children would bicker about who got to pray for the meal. For a season we let them all pray, but that was getting a bit long and the food was getting a bit cold.

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon the ingenious idea (I think from Amy's Humble Musings, if my memory serves me correctly) to select a day for each child to pray, and we've been doing that ever since. I love this little system. If it's a Friday, it's Isaac's day to pray. If it's a Tuesday, it's Isaias' day to pray, if it's Sunday? Ella prays. It just simplified everything and I like simple.

For the past several months we've been doing this other thing for mealtime prayers.

See this bowl?

It sits on our kitchen table. Inside the bowl are little folded up pieces of cardstock, and on each piece of paper, there's a name or family or request written on it.

Written on the papers? There are grandparents and great-grandparents, family members, friends, our pastor, President George W. Bush, the AIDS orphans in Africa, our Compassion child, our adoptive kids' birthmom's, our neighbors, specific needs of friends and missionaries.

Then at each meal, whoever's day it is to pray gets to draw from the bowl and include that in their mealtime prayer.

Another little system I'm enjoying.

And the kids? They absolutely LOVE the drawing-out-of-the-bowl idea. It is such a fun surprise for them to unfold the little paper and discover who it is they've drawn. They look forward to it immensely.

What has been neat for me to see is that God really leads us to pray for those who need our prayer the most. There have been days where we keep drawing the same person, and at first the kids would get a bit frustrated: "But I just prayed for them!" We pointed out that God directed them again to choose that person, and that must mean that that particular person or family or missionary really needs our prayers at this time. Now when that happens they're all excited that we're taking part in something big that God might be doing in that person's life. :)

And what a treat it is for us to hear our children's earnest prayers for all of these things.

***While we're on the topic of prayer, please pray for Kendra's little Joseph!

For fellow fabric addicts

Randi from i have to say... has opened an online fabric store called Fresh-Squeezed Fabrics.

Today is her shop's Grand Opening. Woo hoo! If you head over and leave a comment on this post, you've entered yourself to win some *free* fabric. And then if you post about it on your blog, you get to leave 3 comments!!! And that triples your chances of winning, which is why I am doing that (well, and because I adore Randi and think she has great taste in fabric selection!)

If you're interested, head on over and comment. If not, don't. By all means, should you choose not to leave a comment, it only betters my chances of winning some of that free fabric. So now why am I telling you about this again? Oh, yeah. I get to go and leave 3 comments now!

Congratulations, Randi!


Thank you for all of your happy anniversary wishes!

Mark and I just returned from our overnight. It's the one time a year we make sure we get away with just each other, and I'm so thankful for it.

Our kids went to grandma's for a "slumber party", and you'd think they were going to Disneyland with how thrilled they were to be able to do that!

Mark and I went to a favorite Bed & Breakfast near the beach.

It was so very good to simply rest.

On the way there, I read aloud to Mark from my 1993 journal- specifically, the season we began dating. That was a hoot! :)

When we arrived, we walked along the beach and talked. My only pre-planned question for the weekend was this one:

"How can I encourage you... your faith? a father? our marriage? your work? your friendships?
...with your extended family?

He answered as we walked and then this morning I wrote it all down in my journal so that I can remember to check back and see how I'm doing in my role of help-meet.

We ate yummy food. [Which is always one of my favorite parts!]

We played a few card games. One deck of cards and the only two games I could remember were Gin and Speed. Sheesh. My sister and I used to know all of the two-person card games.

We read books (he's reading God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew and I'm reading a book by Michael Phillips.)

We slept. And slept. And slept some more. [I took a nap yesterday, slept 9 hours last night, and took another nap today! I was tuckered out and it was such a luxury to just be able to sleep, and without interruption or responsibility. A rare treat!]

And now we're home again, and so refreshed! I missed the kids and was anxious to see them again. Mark has one more day off and tomorrow we're heading to the ZOO, (weather permitting), and I do hope it permits because I adore the zoo.

How are you, dear readers?

***Oh, before I forget! Congratulations to my friend Quinne who recently had a sweet baby girl!


I was 18 years old when I met Mark. He was 24. I was the campus pastor's step-daughter, and let's just say Mark was pretty brave to pursue me. My parents were a hard sell when it came to their daughter's hand.

I was young; and my list of "qualifications" for a suitor was fairly short:
-He must love Jesus.
-He must share my values (most importantly to me: that he would desire children and support my desire to be a stay-at-home mom).
-He must be faithful, honest, and full of integrity. (All characteristics that my biological father desperately lacked. I had very real fears and needed to know that I could trust him implicitly).
-Finally, he must be handsome.

He was all of these things. And as we dated, I saw in him so much more:

He cared little for things, but loved people.
He quickly became my best friend.
He was a servant.
He had a heart for missions.
He had a heart for the orphans.
He loved his own family and had good family relationships.
He was compassionate.
He always saw the best in everyone, and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.
He worked hard.
He was generous.
He was thoughtful.
I could write a book on the romantic ways he courted me- flowers practically every other day, notes and cards and signs, elaborate dates, etc. He truly won my heart.
He was kind; he spoke well of everyone.
He was not easily angered.
He was patient.
He respected my opinions.
He thought I was the most beautiful girl he'd ever laid eyes on.
He liked me, then loved me, just the way that I was.
He thought I was funny.
He was funny.
He was pure.
He was the most selfless man I'd ever met.
He was intelligent and well-read.
He loved children and maybe more importantly-- they loved him. At the time I had two little brothers that adored him, and he was the favored uncle of his nephews.
He was never hasty to speak; he carefully considered his words before he spoke.
He was insightful when it came to God's word.
He had solid guy friends.
He gladly set aside all of his friends-that-were girls as soon as we started officially dating.
He loved me more through his actions than his words.
He was goofy. He played crazy music and danced silly just to make me laugh.
He honored me.
He was frugal with his money, but didn't hesitate to be a generous gift-giver.
He encouraged me -and helped me- in all of my endeavors.
He drove out to the bookstore where I worked every single night, for years. I closed the store alone; he wanted to be sure I was safe and gave me a ride home each night.
He liked playing board games and doing puzzles.
He cared about the things- and people- I cared about.
He was a good listener.
He wasn't afraid to cry.
He was a good writer.
He respected authority.
He liked my friends.

All of these things- and those I haven't mentioned-made me sure of him. When he asked me to marry him, I happily said yes. I'm so glad I did.

Eleven years ago today we were married.

I am daily thankful for God's gift of Mark to me. Mark still is all of the above things. And each year since he has given me more reasons to love him.

Happy Anniversary, beloved husband.

[*I had planned to add some of our wedding pictures to this post but our scanner isn't working. Sorry for the photo-less post.]

My fierce soldier

Isaac: Look! The Civil War is coming!

Me: It is?

Isaac: Yes. I had to go get some armor on because the naughty guys are coming.

Me: Who are you?

Isaac: I'm a soldier in Abraham Lincoln's army.


That's my boy.

In our last batch of library books? These two, both by Cheryl Harness:

Highly recommended.

At home: Tuesday, June 17

The things I like to read on other blogs are the things going on in and around someone else's home. I really do like to know what you're reading, what your children are up to, what you're having for dinner, etc. Those things. A little "snapshot" of your day, if you will.

A blog I used to read had a little section in the sidebar where she updated what was going on in different areas of her home each day:
In the kitchen...
In the garden...
In the sewing room... (etc)

It was very similar to the Simple Woman's Daybook posts that I've seen floating around the blogosphere. I considered jumping on the bandwagon of that particular series, but I've decided to come up with my own list of questions, and periodically post those here on my blog. I do this occasionally in my journal and I always appreciate coming across an old entry that captured some specifics of that particular day. Here goes:


Listening to... Mark, beside me, reading books about ships to the kids. Ella, Isaac and Isaias all climbed into our bed this morning (we were sleeping; it's Mark's day off), and this is where we're hanging out.**

Learning... about ships. There's an exhibit at our museum right now about ships, and Mark is taking the kids to it later today. [Hence all the ship books.]

Thankful for... Mark's day off today.

In the kitchen... Well, we ended up having dinner at my mom's last night because my sister was up, so we'll have the Taco Salad tonight.

Sewing... absolutely nothing right now. I'm in-process on some embroidered wall-hangings for the girls' room, and I've yet to put the binding on. But I haven't worked on it in at least a week.

Wearing...Pajamas! Boxer shorts and a tshirt.

Reading... I just started Tracy Chevalier's book, Burning Bright.

Hoping... for a miraculously obedient son today.

In the yard/garden... my peonies are blooming, our vegetables are coming up nicely. Especially the radishes! Sheesh. Those things are prolific! Even my tomatoes are happily growing.

Praying for... Amy and their house situation, Beka.

Looking forward to... going away with Mark next week. One night away to celebrate 11 years of marriage. I sure love this guy.

**In the middle of writing this post, Adelia woke up, so we're all here on the bed. Ah...this is the life. The five most precious people to me, tucked in beside me. I'm off to enjoy them! First up: a bottle for my sweet littlest girl. Have a wonderful day, all!

[My thought is that I'll post such a list (or a variation of it) on a semi-regular basis. (Every other week?) I don't know what to title these types of posts, though, so if you have any suggestions, do share! :)]

On the menu for tonight: Taco Salad

This is the most scrumptious Taco Salad you'll ever have:

Taco Salad

Brown 1 lb hamburger, drain
1 can kidney beans
1/2 onion
1/2 green pepper
1/2 package prepared italian dressing
(Marinate overnight)*

When ready to eat, add:
8 dashes tabasco sauce
1/2 bottle chili sauce
1 package Doritos**
1 head lettuce
3-4 tomatoes
4 oz. shredded cheese
1 avocado
the rest of the dressing

Top with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

*I am rarely organized enough to marinate this overnight. But it's just as good if you marinate it for an hour before you eat it! :)

**I suppose you could use regular tortilla chips but we always splurge on the Doritos for this salad.
One more thing: if you think you'll have leftovers, I suggest that you do not mix it all together. Keep the ingredients separate. It can get a little soggy in the fridge overnight.

Do let me know if you try this out. I'd love to know if you like it as much as we do!

While the rest of you are winding down...

[First of all, thank you for sharing your own painting woes in the comments of my last post! I'm so glad to know I'm not alone in the painting-disaster-department! ]

My children have been practically begging me to do some school the past few days. I'd say we school every day (even when it's just a day full of character development, chores, and read-alouds), but I think what they were after was a little more structured school.

When our foster baby arrived in February, any form of school-with-structure immediately ceased in our home. We went for the less-structured approach of: Learn How to Take Care of a Baby, Use Quieter Voices, Please and Meet All Sorts of People with the Title of Social Worker. Oh, and... Be Patient with your Mama While She Cries.

Before our foster baby had even left us, Adelia joined us , and we have been making that delightful adjustment.

All that to say that it's been since mid-February since we've had any structured school. (Oh, a day here and there, but no routine of structured school.)

But yesterday they were pestering me again about it, so I promised that today we could "do school". And this is what we did:

:: read a story from James Herriot's Treasury for Children. [Which we all adore, by the way.]

:: read several poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. [Also always a big hit at our house.]

:: read three of Aesop's Fables.

:: read the last three chapters of Farmer Boy. [~insert contented sigh, here~] Oh, how I love these books! On to the Banks of Plum Creek tomorrow!

So basically we read, then.

But wait. We also

:: worked on Memory work, our Catechism, and read a portion of the Bible. [Yesterday we made it to the end of Psalms in the KJV, and now we're on to Proverbs.]

:: examined our new caterpillars

:: studied a new Carl Larsson painting: In the Hawthorn Hedge [Picture study is another favorite!]

:: worked on a bit of Math U See, which means that Ella did a few pages of the workbook while the boys build with the manipulatives. [They love those little blocks.]


:: chores were completed (with happy hearts, even!)

:: Ella spent time helping me with Adelia

:: I was able to work on training one of the boys in obedience. [And I continue to pray to see some FRUIT for these efforts! There are whole seasons where I wonder if I'm even making a dent. This would be one of those.]

All in all a productive day.

How was your day?

Why you should never paint your kitchen yellow

[updated: with photos]

Because it's quite near impossible to find just the right shade of yellow, that's why.

Prior to the saga of repainting our kitchen (which, for the record, was already yellow to begin with), I felt pretty confident with my gifts in choosing color for my walls.

Not so anymore.

What I feel now is pretty confident that I should hire an interior decorator next time. (Which will never happen, by the way.) So I am through with painting for a very long time.

What happened was that on a whim (Ahem. Never a good start.) I decided that I wanted a fresh coat of paint in our kitchen, and I wanted blue this time! So I chose a pretty shade of blue. It truly was lovely, but on my kitchen walls, I hated it.

It made our kitchen look so cold I practically shivered each time I entered the room. Mark didn't really get all of my inquiries to the tune of: "But doesn't it feel COLD in here, now? As in, a little icy?"

He says he's never felt warm or cold about any color before, ever in his life.

I think he just didn't want to paint it all over again.

But, being the best husband in the world, and not wanting me to hate my kitchen, since I do spend an awful lot of time in there, he said we should change it.

So I went back to the paint store to find something to cover the lovely shade of blue that did not belong on our kitchen walls. I came back with several yellow swatches-- I wanted a warm, sunny yellow--but none really stood out to me. So Mark stopped at another paint store and cleaned out all of their yellow paint swatches. Didn't like those either. So he went to another store and brought back several more. Who knew there were so many shades of yellow? And so few warm, sunny yellows, to boot?

We finally settled on one. It looked warm and sunny on the little card. However. On our walls? It looked yellow/gold. Imagine with me, if you will, the yellow hue of McDonalds' golden arches? Mmm hmm. Pretty much.

All over my kitchen.

Not so much the "warm and sunny" shade of yellow I was looking for.

Too bad that as we were painting it on I kept saying to Mark, "I am so thankful to cover up this blue. Thank you for doing this all over again. I promise that no matter what this looks like, I'll keep it up for two years, honey." When all was said and done I nearly had to put on sunglasses to walk into my kitchen because it was so glaringly bright (what were we thinking, choosing that horrific color?!). And, honestly, there were a few tears on my part (I felt terrible that I couldn't get it right and we were basically pouring time and money down the drain.) I despised it so much that Mark took pity on me and said we could paint- again.

Back to all the little paint cards. No need to head to any more stores; we already had every single yellow paint card in town. But alas, there were no warm, sunny yellows.

And so. Back to the original store. Found an entirely new paint card with a paint color called Sunglow, which sounds perfect as far as the "warm and sunny" stipulation, and it looked about two shades lighter and less gold in tone than the paint currently on our walls [cringe], so we hoped to get it right on the third try.

We did.

Newly painted kitchen in a warm and sunny yellow?


[Although Mark tells me he's pretty sure we're back where we started. He thinks it looks awfully similar to the yellow we'd had on our walls prior to my whim. But I think it's quite different. And since he's such a champ he's humoring me.]

And. In my defense, and this is what I was trying to impress to Mark at the time of painting the primer for paint choice #2, I really am very easy to please. I had the original yellow on my walls for 8 years. And while many women want entire remodels and new cabinets and fixtures, I, on the other hand, am entirely happy with a $30 can of paint (or three) and rearranging the furniture we already own.

As for the blogging break, I think I'm done. I missed you! How are you? And while you're answering that, do tell me some of your own painting disasters, why don't you? It will make me feel so much better.

Okay. Here are a few pictures:
(with flash)

(without flash)

And. As I was uploading those, I found proof of our horrific paint color #2, right here:

So now you see. (Although the photo really does not do it's ickyness justice.)