Open house: Sunday, August 31

Listening to...
The hum of the dishwasher, and the sounds of Mark doing something by the back door (taking out the garbage?)

Thankful for...
The baby growing within me (!)....the apples we gathered and picked today... the fact that fall has arrived here in our town. (And, um.... I know I had a minor setback in the spring when I may have said that spring was my favorite season because the lilacs were blooming. But I was lying. Because the lilacs? They only bloom for a week. But Fall? It's here for a WHOLE season.) And I love it. So let's all just pretend that I didn't say that. Because Fall is definitely my favorite season.

In the kitchen...
Apple pie, for Mark- just out of the oven. Earlier today: vegetable soup (zucchini, peas, carrots, onions, and basil- all from the garden), and some potatoes and celery tossed in, too. AND the kids loved it.

I recently completed a dress for Ella, (I'll try to post a picture soon) and the top of a quilt I'm making.

Lies Women Believe, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I knew nothing about this book other than that I'd seen it on a couple of peoples' book lists. I'm really enjoying it.
The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (With the kids.) And it's so good I can barely put it down. I am continually tempted to sneak off into my room with it and read it by myself.
A Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola. Again.

In the yard/garden...
There are some cucumbers, carrots, and herbs. A little rhubarb. And our gourds/pumpkins/squash patch is taking over our yard. It is out of control. Mark told me yesterday that there's a HUGE butternut squash growing in there so I'm thrilled. YUM.

Praying for...
My frustrated heart towards my frustrating son.

In the CD player today...
Addison Road. Have you heard the song What Do I Know of Holy? A great song. And I love that girls voice. You can scroll down and listen to a bit of the song here. I can't vouch for any other song on the CD, but that song, I love.

Thinking about...
Homeschooling for this year. I know what we're doing, just not when we'll be doing it. (How many days will we school, what our schedule will look like, etc...)

Looking forward to...
A road trip and Beth Moore conference coming up with my friend Michelle.

You all have a wonderful day!

Boys' weekend, in pictures

[May 2013: Edited to remove photos that someone else had placed in place of MY photos.  On my blog.  Sigh.  If you're here, my apologies for the photo-less post.]
I have meant every day this week to put up these pictures, but each day has gotten away from me before I could do it. It's been a busy week, with out-of-town cousins to play with, social workers coming to check on our Addie, a doctor's appointment, playdates, and the regular work of laundry, meals, and cleaning.

And we've had a child this week who is clearly making it his mission to make me want to run away from home, so there's that, too. On Wednesday of this week, I called Mark at work at 9:00 in the morning, sobbing, and asking him to come home. [I think by that time we'd had about 5 incidents of hitting, pushing, or lying, and I was at my wits end. At 9 in the morning. Never a good start to the day.] Mark came home, listened to me while I cried it all out, encouraged me, prayed for me, and headed back to work. We still had a really rough day, but we managed, and I did feel strengthened to handle each incident. The following two days have been just as challenging, but we're still all in one piece.

I find it challenging, these days, to face each infraction anew-- without keeping a record of the previous wrong(s) and letting those cloud my correction for the incident at hand. Am I making any sense? It's like I come at each offense with an angry, irritable heart already, and then respond (usually wrongly) to the offender. We never begin with a clean slate. So I'm working on that.

And now here I am, rambling, and all I was going to do was post pictures. Whoops!

::with some uncles, a couple of cousins, and grandpa... on the dock::

::grandpa, with two tired little boys::

::uncle k, walking with isaac and isaias::

::holding a pole for the first time (i'm totally bummed i had to miss this!)::

::this right here is serious business::

::by the campfire with daddy and three of the uncles::

::mark was trying to figure out what isaac was doing behind this grass, here::

::why, licking the dew off the blades, of course!::

::exploring. i love this picture::

::and this one::

::that's one proud fisherman!::

::um, and can i just say again, i'm REALLY bummed i missed this part?::

::what's a boys' camping trip without a little football?::

::and a nap, on the boat::

The house is quiet

Mark and the boys are camping this weekend, so it's just been me, Ella and Addie.

This is us last night:

We've had a fun girls weekend. Yesterday morning we went to a few garage sales with my mom, and Ella found a stack of books and an envelope of paper dolls. Then we headed out of town to an outlet mall to do some "school" clothes shopping. When we got home, we made some dinner, and after I put Adelia down Ella and I popped some popcorn and watched the first part of Anne of Green Gables together. (Ella's choice. She's never seen it, but asked, "Mommy, isn't that your favorite movie? That's the one I want to watch.") So we cuddled up on the couch and watched Anne squirm her way into the hearts of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert while munching on popcorn and gummy bears. Then we crawled into my bed for a "slumber party", whereupon Ella settled her face mere inches from mine and held onto my hands with her own, and we chatted and giggled until she told me she was going to sleep.

It's been delightful to be with my girls.

And let me just say, it is quiet around here without my boys. I mean, Ella can be chatty and all, but here's the difference: she's not chatting while jumping, climbing, leaping off of the furniture, or embodied in the character of Knight, Sports Player, Cowboy or Soldier. When she has played, she's played with Addie or with her new paper dolls, in a sitting position. She has spent several minutes, head bent over a book, quietly reading. And she doesn't push or hit anyone. When we sat in church this morning, Adelia on my lap, Ella next to me, I couldn't get over the fact that our little clan was so still this morning. No wiggling, squirming or reprimands needed.

But, oh my. I am missing my boys something fierce.

Especially this one, here on the right:

And I can't help but glance out the window about every five (okay, three) minutes to see if just maybe they're home.

The way my husband is

Mark, all in the span of three days, has done the following:

*He has gotten up with Adelia in the four o'clock hour (one night, in the three o'clock hour) for her bottle feeding. [She doesn't normally wake at this time but has a cold so has woken up for an earlier feeding all week.]

*He does this even when he's gotten VERY little sleep. Last night we went to sleep at 12:30. This morning, at 4:55, Addie awoke, and Mark's feet were first on the floor to get her. I found him in the kitchen, Addie in arms, sleepily spooning formula into her bottle. "Honey, let me do that" I offered. He smiled, shook his head, and told me to go back to bed. (This from a man who's job is very physical. (He's not sitting in a chair all day, people. He needs his rest.)

*He also does these middle-of-the night wake-ups with not one complaint. The truth of it is that were I to get up, three or four nights consecutively, at that time of the day, everyone would know about it. And as I climbed back into bed beside my sleeping spouse, I might just bounce the mattress a bit harder and maybe I would sigh, just so that he was quite clear about the sacrifice I'd just made. I'm just saying. That would be me. That would NOT be Mark. He simply- and cheerfully- serves. Because he loves me. (And he loves Addie, too.)

*He has gotten home from work the past two nights (remember: long, physically exhausting days) and made dinner for our family, because I have been sick with a cold this week.

*Since I've been feeling so crummy, every day he has called our children over and asked them if they wanted to pray for mommy. And they have rested their little hands on me, and prayed.

*The other night when I asked him to run to the store for a few things, he came back with three items especially for me. (Gummy bears, black licorice, and my favorite bag of chips.) Just because.

*Today, he stopped in at home during his work day and brought me a bouquet of cheery sunflowers.

*Everyday, he reminds the kids to be good during quiet/nap times, so that "your mommy can have a nap".

*Everyday at lunchtime (he gets to come home for lunch), he holds Adelia on his lap so that I can eat without a baby in arms.

*He has cleaned the kitchen, taken out the garbage, straightened the living room, corrected our children, rubbed my neck, asked me how I'm feeling, and a million other things, I'm sure, that I have neglected to notice or mention.

Oh, I am thankful for this man.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
~Ephesians 5:25-30, NASB

Fair slideshow

A little belated, I realize... posting our fair pictures well over a week after we went to the fair, but that's okay, right?

Camp recap


It's been a busy week, what with the fair and then camp. The past couple days we've been settling back into our routine, with some tired kids (and parents!) and lots of laundry to do. (I think we were about caught up on the sleeping bit, at least, until last night, when we spent the evening- uh, until about 1:30 am- with our dear friends, learning this game.)

But on to camping matters: I initially met these families after they invited Ella and I to join their Keepers of the Faith group. Prior to meeting, we'd just been reading each others' blogs. We've now gone to a few Keepers Meetings, and have enjoyed the fellowship with these other homeschooling moms and their delightful children. Two of these moms decided to plan a camp for all the Keepers families, and we decided to go.

I took the kids out to camp, which was held at one of the families' homes- on Wednesday morning. (Mark joined us that evening after work and stayed the full second day). The kids officially "registered" for camp, checking in at the registration table, finding out their "dorm" number, and getting bandanas. Each dorm member had matching bandanas. The dorms, or teams, as our kids kept calling them, consisted of an older child (in the 12-16 age range), a middle-aged child or two, and then a little one (or two).

Ella's dorm, "Children in Action"

Ella's dorm clears the ground for their tent.

All the kids lined up for The Shoe Toss.

One of the first things expressed to all of the kids was that the purpose of camp was to have lots of fun and glorify God. (How much do you love that?)

From the beginning, the teams emphasis was not about winning the games, but rather having fun and working alongside one another. The older children were encouraged to help the younger children, and they all did an amazing job throughout camp.

In fact, my favorite part was watching the older children take a hand of one of the littler ones (many times one of my boys), and guide them through a game, or help them get their tray of food at mealtime, or invite them to come and sit with them. I cannot say enough about the character of these older kids.

Boaz helps Isaias during one of the relay games

My (personal) other favorite part was that each time we gathered as a large group, one of our wonderful camp leaders went around to each of the adults, asking if they'd seen any kind acts that day. It gave us the opportunity, as parents, to praise the deeds we had witnessed, and the heart behind those deeds. I loved that.

I'm pretty sure my kids would tell you their favorite parts were the Snack Shack (after each lunch, and after the kids had each scraped, washed, and dried their own trays, they were given three tickets to spend at the Snack Shack). Or their "teams", or the water balloon fight they had the final day, or sleeping in the tent. Or the scavenger hunts, the songs, games, or the food. But for the past few days I've also heard them playing together, and pretending they are some of these older kids, so I know they made quite the impression on these particular little hearts.

The game where Mark got to chase down each kid and tag them. He tagged all but two very fast kids.

These two moms did an *amazing* job creating and planning this first-ever Solid Rock Family Camp. Everything was well-thought out, our days were packed full with back-to-back activities, things from "gather with your teams, use the items in this bag, and build your own invention. Then tell us why we want to buy it", to game where they had to get every member of their team over a rope (being held by two adults), without any member of your team touching the rope.

I am so impressed with all of the thought and detail that went into putting this on, and the HUGE success that it was. Great job, Hilary and Renee!!!

The boys' dorm, "The Courageous Crusaders"

Some of those Baker's Dozen boys

We feel so incredibly blessed to be able to be interacting with such wonderful (not to mention creative!) families!

Where we've been

The past two days our kids have been at camp with these kids. (Amongst others. Some of the little ones didn't make it into the picture.)

First year of family camp. Six families, nearly 30 children, two full days.... HUGE success!

I'll share more about it later when I've done a bit of laundry and we've had some time to get back into our home routine.


I only have a few minutes but things will likely be quiet around the blog this week (busy week ahead!) so I wanted to get something written.

We are headed out in a little bit to go blueberry picking. My mom will join us, so that will be nice. I'm not planning on doing much with them, just have some on hand to eat fresh for the next few days, maybe make some blueberry muffins, too- and any extras we can toss in the freezer.

When Mark gets off from work late this afternoon we'll head out to the Fair for the evening. Can't wait.

13 quarts of beans are canned, and I'll need to go out to the garden today to pick some more. They were probably ready for a second picking two days ago but I couldn't bear to go out and check. We're getting the hang of the pressure canner, though, and the second canner-full went much faster than the first. I'm thankful to have a handy assistant in Mark.

Adelia is sitting up! (Isn't she perfectly adorable?)

Okay, time to go...
Tell me what you're up to today!

I wish I were sleeping

But, alas, it's 11:36pm and this is what I'm doing instead:

There's more, too.

And more in the garden.

And another thing: I've come to the rapid conclusion that my regular old canner is much, much easier than a pressure canner. Easier, but not safe for the beans. But, sheesh. And it's no wonder it's called a pressure canner. Watching that gauge to ensure it stays right at "11" for 25 minutes straight is enough to stress anyone out. But that would be Mark's job. Mine is here, snipping beans. ~sigh~

I'll appreciate this come wintertime, I know, when pulling those canned beans off the shelf.

And I did have wonderful little helpers this morning at the crack of dawn.

And those same two were my wonderful little pickers yesterday afternoon.

So that's nice and all. But I am tired.

Gratitude wrap

the pattern, courtesy of Amanda at Soule Mama.



: : i altered the pattern just a bit, making the left-hand pouch larger so that it could fit envelopes instead of the moleskin notebook the pattern called for : :


: : envelopes will go on the left, thank you cards in the middle, and stamps on the right : :


Praying for...

Beka and Mark.

Some of you have known this same grief, or have followed their journey... will you pray for them, too?

Garden tour

[May 2013: Edited to remove photos that someone else had placed in place of MY photos.  On my blog.  Sigh.  If you're here, my apologies for the photo-less post.]

{this is the whole of my basil crop}

{um. this time last year? my basil plant was about seven times this size.}

{this is some type of parsley. at least that's what we think it is.}


{ella's sunflowers. volunteers from last year.}

{our back garden, there behind the herbs. contains: zucchini, butternut squash, small ornamental gourds, small and large pumpkins}

{dahlias along the side fence}

{our apple tree, which is being ravaged by pesky squirrels which we wish we could shoot}

{our tiny apple tree, just planted last year}

{one of four pots of roma tomatoes}

{moving to the main garden, romaine lettuce}

{lettuce. um, and weeds.}

{cabbages, being eaten by something. and more weeds.}


{cucumbers. one of three hills.}

{bush beans, growing}

{peas along the fence}

{hydrangeas, next to the main garden.}

{in the front yard, more hydrangeas along the fence}

{daisies and other perennials beneath the front windows}

{potted petunias on my window shelf}

These pictures are about one week old. The peas are ready to harvest. I'm going to have to look into how to preserve those. My guess is that we shell them, blanch them, and then freeze them but I'll have to double check. [Have any of you done peas?]

Right after we finish the peas we're going to pick, snip, cut, and can (!!!) the green beans. (Yum. Love canned green beans.) It all needs to be done this week. I told the kids that it's "Harvest Week" at our house and we're going to need lots of help!

A little of this and that...

*First of all, thank you all for your congratulations and joy for our family! I read each comment aloud to the kids and they were beaming.

*Several questions came in after my On my mind... post about foster care and the hows and whys of it. If I haven't responded to you yet, I will!

*We've been heading out each morning for swimming lessons this week (and will next week, too), which is just a little extra on all of us. The kids love it, but having something on the calendar every day is something I'm glad we don't normally do!

*For those of you who asked how I'm feeling, I am feeling... pregnant. (So, tired, then. Really tired. And nauseous.) Mark is still trying to get used to me heading to bed at 8:30pm- which is about 3 or 4 hours earlier than my usual schedule!- and I'm still trying to get the kids used to the idea of mommy taking a nap every day. [Not always a successful venture, mind you.]

*Something I've learned recently: General public opinion is that five children is far, far too many. Three children is acceptable (but then, why would you, if you have a boy and a girl already?) Four children is toeing the line. But five? People do not know what to do with it. So they say something out of their own discomfort. It's taken a little getting used to, the idea that people have not responded with much enthusiasm. Ah, well. No matter. Thankfully we don't take much stock in other peoples' opinions. We wholeheartedly embrace this truth, instead.

*I just finished reading Charles Martin's new novel Where the River Ends, and can I just say- for the hundredth time- how very much I love his books? He is an excellent storyteller, he writes so well of the tenderness of a marriage, his characters are so real and his books make me cry. I, personally, love that in a book.

That's all for today....
I'm off to make lunch!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers!