Isaac,  age 9loves:
the Bible
the woods
climbing trees
unique shirts
mommy's cooking
the color green
pirate booty 
his pogo stick
getting tickled
his sisters
riding his bike
triscuit crackers


{Happy Birthday, budders!} 

Gratitude: Monday, October 22

this.  beautiful to me.  and grateful to my God who created it all.

2426 | quilting (and that even though I have no idea what I'm doing with this log-cabin piecing, I love it.)
Again: Inspiration here.
2507 | a day off for Mark (and his Columbus Day creativity for the kids for breakfast)
2513 | for Audra, who apparently thinks hiking means running.  The whole way.  We could barely keep up with her.
2520 | For the garter snake that Adelia spotted, Isaac wasn't afraid of, and everyone else was wary of.
2561 | Mark, who loves well
[also, as a side note: I always feel so proud of myself if I can somehow manage to get a candid shot with everyone in it.  Success!]
2594 | apple-picking with mom and the kids: a new tradition!

 for these six. {even the grumpy one!}

other snippets from my list>>

2406 | removing rocks from the pockets of Audra's dress before I put it into the washing machine today

2411 | our cozy home

2428 | library with the kids today

2443 | that God and His laws are trustworthy (Ps. 111)

2463 | pumpkin pancakes with whipped cream

2466 | holding Ella when she got hurt today

2477 | Audra's arms tight around my neck at 4 am when I took her potty, with a whispered, groggy, "I love you, mama."

2479 | Isaias' improved reading skills

2487 | the sound of Ella practicing piano

2491 | that God's word stands forever (Isaiah 40) What else stands forever?!  Nothing!

2499 | He does not grow tired or weary (Isaiah 40:28) 

2410 | for the picnic lunch we had at the base of the mountain

2412 | for a falling-over- (onto Isaac) -asleep Adelia in the van on the way home.  We were all laughing so hard.

2535 | that He has swept away my offenses like a cloud, my sins like morning mist. (Isaiah 44:22)

2559 | for a warm mug of anything to wrap my hands around on a cold morning

2564 | Chex Mix

2570 | crisp Autumn weather

2571 | cozy socks

2574 | impromptu baseball game in the yard on a Sunday afternoon

2578 | Ella, standing at the sink, washing Fiestaware

2579 | Isaias, offering to pray for me so often while I was sick

2583 | MadelineTosh yarn

2599 | sleeping next to Mark every single night

2602 | Audra, napping next to me in bed


Musings on our weekly school schedule

A friend asked me recently if I was as prepared for school this year as I was last year

Um, no.

Absolutely not.  ~smile~

We're into our our 7th week of school and I'm still tweaking our weekly schedule.  (See how everything is in pencil?  Yeah.  I'll get out the Sharpies when I'm ready to make it permanent.)

You can click on the photo if you want to see it more clearly.

Being as planned as I was last year made me a little crazy.  Mainly because we were usually running ahead of my meticulously-planned-check-the-little-boxes schedule and so each day I was looking at things on the schedule that we weren't actually DOING on that day and arghh! that frustrated me.

I just feel more relaxed about our schedule this year.  Or maybe the relaxed-thing comes with the fact that I've done this for a handful of years, now.  Or maybe it's a reaction to being overly planned last year.  Who knows?  All I know is that this year I'm probably the LEAST planned of any other year.

For example, I have Picture Study written down for Mondays.  But we haven't even done Picture Study once, because I still haven't selected an artist to study.   (And shh!  So far the kids haven't mentioned it!)  (Recommendations welcome.  We've done Rembrandt, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Carl Larsson,  Norman Rockwell, and maybe a few others but those are the ones I remember right now.)  While I'm on the topic of Picture Study, have you seen these Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason?  They're great!  I used one of those last year, for Rembrandt.   I know.  Why don't I just order up another one of those for this year, you ask.  I just don't want to study the other artists they offer quite yet.  :)

So... total tangent, there.  Back to Picture Study on our schedule:  We'll get to it.  I'm sure inspiration will hit soonish. 

I'm also still trying to figure out when it works best to do Dictation and Written Narration with Ella, so I keep moving it to different days and trying it on for size, so to speak.

What do I love this year, so far?  Sitting down and learning Latin with the kids.  It's just as new to me as it is to them, and I love that!  I've also been practicing cursive right along with Ella and Isaac and that's one of my favorite things.  I always love reading aloud and we're doing lots of that.  [I'm currently reading Opal Wheeler's Frederic Chopin biography- the one on the left in the picture below.  If I haven't mentioned lately how much we enjoy Opal Wheeler's composer biographies, there you have it.]  The kids color while we read and afterward, while they're finishing up their coloring, I pull up some Chopin from Pandora and we call that Composer Study.

We're also doing Training Hearts Teaching Minds each morning and I'm really enjoying that so far.  We're reading through the Proverbs together out loud- Ella and Isaac and I take turns (and very soon Isaias should be ready to tackle it with us: he is reading so.much.better!!!)

All that to say that we're having a great school year even though it's not all fully planned out and I'm really quite content being so relaxed about it all. 

{In the kitchen}

Freshly baked bread.  My grandma's white bread recipe.  (I have long wanted the recipe but always forgot to ask her for it.  She emailed it to me sometime last year, so now I'm making good use of it.) I think of her each time I bake it, and I get to read her instructions, which I love.  Things like:

8+ cups of flour (until the right consistency, I guess! :-))

Best way to eat it?  Toasted.  With butter.  And honey drizzled over the top.

I can't eat a slice without thinking of my grandma, in her kitchen-- kneading this bread, or waiting for it to rise with a little cloth over the bowl, or slicing it up and toasting it for us breakfast.  My sister and I always loved grandma's bread.  (And she always had it available, too.  I'll have to ask her how often she used to make it.  Or maybe she just made it whenever we were coming because she knew how much we loved it.)  Either way, now my kids love it, too- and I feel like I'm sharing a little piece of grandma with them every time we eat it.  Toasted, with butter and honey. 

I've just convinced myself to send grandma a card and tell her all of that. 

{In the kitchen}

 A lot of these:

Italian Prunes
We started with these, from my parents' tree.  Then we got some more from our neighbors and some more from my aunt.  Some of my kids like them fresh, but mostly we like to dry them and especially we like to make fruit leather.

I realized the other day that we've had our food dehydrator since we got married.  It was a gift from Mark's parents- either for a bridal shower or our wedding, I forget which.  Either way, it has been happily drying fruit for us for 15 years!

My mom always used to do this with our prunes while we were growing up, so that's how I learned you could make your own fruit leather.  It's so simple.  After washing and pitting the prunes, just puree them in the blender.  (You can use any fruit, I imagine.  We've done prunes, pears, apples, peaches- or a combination of those.  Currently we're doing just prunes since that's what we have right now.)  Then pour it out onto a tray (I rub it first with coconut oil so it will come off easily), smooth it out evenly, and dry for 8-10 hours (overnight!) and then peel it off in sections and wrap it up in saran wrap.

It is time-consuming~ doing it in batches (we only have 3 of the fruit leather trays, and one other tray for the dried prunes themselves).  But still: worth it.  Easy-peasy!  (Ella has taken over and is doing them now, and the other kids like helping, too.)  And ta-da!  Free, healthy snacks for the kids.


If you've not yet read this post, you must:

The story of Katie's adoption

Wow.  There are no words.  Just tears and awe at the way God works to deliver the orphans.

I love this, from the post:

Before this, God had made it clear that I was to pick up the pencil and write what He was doing. Now it seemed to us that He picked us up as though we were the pencils, and continued to tell the story using our lives.

Wednesday by the bay: Nature Study

{last week}

I thought this boat looked cool in the fog
All smiles!

Classic Isaac pose

Yes, Isaac.  That's very cool.  No, thank you.  I don't want to hold it.


What is this?  Anyone know?  (We took a picture so that we could ask daddy to identify it.)

Ella's quilt progress

I've been working on Ella's quilt, which just last night Mark affectionately dubbed Ella's Story Quilt. 

Aesthetically, this hasn't been my favorite quilt to make~ because it's a bit too scrappy (not quite matchy enough) for my taste.  But I keep reminding myself that Ella chose every piece and placement and that it has more meaning than any other quilt I've made, and I know that she loves it.  And that's what's important.

This is the first time I've tied a quilt, rather than machine-quilting the top.  (Jodi~  I kept thinking of our on our girls' retreat, with your cute quilt and you, there- cutely tying away!)  I used embroidery thread and I love how it turned out.  I might just do it this way every time.  It makes the quilt less stiff overall and more cozy, I think.

Stitching the binding is always my favorite part.  I love the cozy, quiet, sewing-by-hand that it requires.  I think I like it best because it can be mobile (I no longer have to be at my sewing machine) so I get to move to the couch and happily sew while Mark is reading aloud to the kids in the evenings.  [Current read-aloud: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch.  And we all love it.]  Having the quilt laying across my lap while I do the finishing work gives me the opportunity to admire it-- not my sewing, by any means.  There are lots of little flaws I see where the pieces don't meet up just so!-- but the fabrics and the colors and how it all looks as it comes together in final form.  I think things like:  Oh!  That blue fabric for the edge that Ella chose looks so good right next to this particular piece of fabric!  And I secretly choose my favorite fabrics next to one another or the best set of four.  Kind of silly, I know-- but it is so satisfying to see it all come together as a finished piece. 

Here's a view of the back.  The fabric on the back is from a sheet Ella had on her bed back when she had a double but now she has a twin-sized again.  Ella loves it because the back is so much lighter than the front, so she feels like it's reversible and she has a Spring/Summer side and a Fall/Winter side.  (How cute is she?)

My go-to links for the binding, each time I'm making a quilt, are here:
How to attach the binding to the quilt
How to sew a blind stitch (video tutorial)