Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stocking Stuffers

During last Christmas season Cade was very into making me proud of his healthy choices.  We were walking through the candy aisle in some store, and he declared with much enthusiasm that he didn't want candy in his Christmas stocking.   And even went so far as to add, "I'd rather have Popi's chicken salad in my Christmas stocking."

Well, of course I couldn't pass that one up.  Too cute.  Somehow chicken salad has become a signature recipe of my Dad's and all the kids love it.   I told Dad, and he was all over having a little rubbermaid container of chicken salad for each of the kids stockings.

Well this Christmas my parents are in South Africa visiting my brother and family (they relocated there for a few year with Heinz).  That chicken salad had already become a relied upon tradition would never have crossed my mind, especially with the recipe calling for quartered grapes.  (Really now?  Who has time for that?)

But as soon as we pulled out the stockings after Thanksgiving, Bode's eyes lit up and he turned to me and said, "Remember?  Santa brings us chicken salad for our stockings!"

So here I am in the kitchen before the crack of dawn on Christmas morning quartering grapes.  And tucked in or under every stocking is Santa's gift.
Oh, the funny things we do for our kids to make Christmas magical.

May your day be filled with love, and the knowledge of the true miracle of Christmas.  That God humbled Himself to be born into this world, so He could show us how to truly love, and then made the ultimate sacrifice to pay for our sin, that we might have a relationship with Him.  To be His children and His friends. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Simple Christmas Traditions

I am finally content with our Christmas traditions.  It's our 20th Christmas as a married couple and our 17th Christmas with children.  I guess it's about time.

I have learned my limits, and no longer come into the season with goals to make new ornaments for the Jesse Tree or bake ten types of Christmas cookies or have special gift boxes to open each day for the twelve days of Christmas (all failed experiments from my past).

I am good for one big day (or weekend) of decorating, and whatever does not get done then will not get done at all.  Our tree doesn't have a theme or much organization.  Just a lot of white lights and all the ornaments added over the years.  Each year we buy each child a new ornament that they can take with them someday (sniff!) to start their own tree.

I'm not really into crafts.  But I print out Christmas coloring pages and crossword puzzles and phonics worksheets and math worksheets to do "Christmas School."

I am really, really good at reading (impressive, I know!) Christmas books and buying a few new ones each year to add to our collection.
(I'll list some of our favorites at the end of this post.)

I'm also really good at buying a fun variety of Christmas cookies at Trader Joe's.  I buy a new kind every week in December!  But we only bake cookies once or twice.

I love making Jesus the center of it all.  One of our favorite long-standing traditions is to set up the manger scene with the animals and shepherd, but the baby Jesus gets hidden away until Christmas morning.  Mary and Joseph "travel" throughout the house on their way to Bethlehem and the kids love searching for them every morning.  They move from bookshelf to counter to under the piano... in no real order... throughout the season.  On Christmas Eve they will be in the stable.  And on Christmas morning at least one small child will melt my heart when the first thing they ask is "Is baby Jesus here????"

(Even this simple tradition isn't always perfectly done.  "Mom, Mary and Joseph haven't travelled since yesterday."  "Oh, okay, sorry, uh, close your eyes!"  And then I stomp all around the house to throw them off track as I move them to their new spot. )

Here they are today, hidden in the base of one of the advent trees.

I do love the Jesse Tree, but I finally had to break down and buy the ornaments.  You can read more about it here (minus the part about homemade ornaments), but it's a daily advent devotional that takes you through the highlights of the Old Testament and the geneaology of Christ.  The name comes from Isaiah 11:1:  "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit."  It's a beautiful reminder of how much we need Jesus - He is our Rescuer!

I love our very traditional stockings.  Even though we've added many over the years, they all go together.

I love having at least one nativity that the kids can play with.  It's fun to walk through the living room and see that the animals have been rearranged.  They might even be on the roof.  But I know the kids hearts are thinking about the real meaning of Christmas as they play, and they always ask such good questions.

Most of all, I love to take time to be quiet.  To turn out all the lights except for a few candles and the tree lights and sing carols on the couch.  To have days with nothing planned except to sit and read Christmas books.  And reflect on the beauty of God's precious gift to us.


Picture Books:

Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant
Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble
Christmas with the Mousekins by Maggie Smith
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham
The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
Silver Packages by Cynthia Ryland
A Little House Christmas (Holiday Stories from the Little House Books)

Chapter Books:

Jotham's Journey
Bartholomew's Passage
Tabitha's Travels
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Best Before and After EVER!

We began sponsoring Adanu at the Trees of Glory care-point in July.  The picture below was taken in June.
This next picture was taken in November.  Just five month later!
I can not get over the difference.  I had e-mailed Karen, our contact with Trees of Glory, telling her I couldn't wait to get a new picture of Adanu when she (Karen) went to visit in November.  I wanted to see Adunu's smile!  And I couldn't wait to take that sad picture down.  

But I had to leave it up on the fridge.  It's lower now, and to the side of the new picture.  But I can't get enough of seeing those two pictures next to each other.

What a difference sponsorship makes!

In the new picture Adanu is holding the care package we sent with Karen.  All the love we could stuff into a gallon size ziploc bag.  A new shirt, other small gifts, and letter and a picture of our family.

18 more kids are joining the care-point, and need sponsors!  Please e-mail Karen if you can help.  $34 a month makes a world of difference in the life of a child!

Below is more information from Karen's blog about Trees of Glory.

"Trees of Glory" care-point is located about a 2 hour drive North of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  It is a semi-mountainous area of Ethiopia that has been greatly affected by famine and drought  The care-point is located on 27 acres of land that can eventually be developed to help the care-point become more self-sufficient.  There are 13 buildings on the property that are being renovated to provide shelter for the kids when they visit the care-point.

The local government identifies the neediest and most destitute children in an area, and provides the opportunity to attend a care-point to meet their basic needs.  84 orphaned and destitute children have been assigned to "Trees of Glory" as we develop a sponsor program here.
Most of these children are orphans, and are living with a relative or guardian that is barely able to provide for their basic needs.  As a result, many of the children are severaly malnourished, and are vulnerable to illnesses like malaria and pneumonia.  Local livestock owners employ many of the children as herders, and pay the child's guardian a meager wage of about $12 per year.

Your sponsorship will provide your sponsor child with nutritious meals every day, along with clothing, medical care, Christian discipleship and EDUCATION.  Without a sponsor, these kids will never have the opportunity to go to school and they will continue "working" to pay for the roof over their head.

Ginia, with Children's Hopechest, spent a day with the kids at "Trees of Glory" in May 2010 and she emailed me: "Trees of Glory is WONDERFUL. It's a 2 hour drive into the mountains from Addis. We gave kids bread and bananas today. Most of the kids are orphans and are living with relatives or on the streets. They work as "herdsmen" of sheep and cattle. The relative is paid 120 ETB (equivalent of about $12 dollars) for year by livestock owners for the kids to work. It's very sad. Simret's (the director) vision is very big. She is a beautiful Godly woman. Very sweet and you can feel the presence of God in this place. There are no Christians living in the area. They are mainly Ethiopian Orthodox and live by superstitions and witchcraft."  A sponsor program will make a dramatic and lasting impact for the kids at "Trees of Glory"!!

If you are interested in sponsoring a child at "Trees of Glory", please contact me at and let me know if you have a preference for a boy or girl, one child or a sibling group of 2.  I will email you with a child's photograph and biographical information and instructions on how to register as that child's sponsor. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crazy Fair Trade Day

Today was a serious test of my new commitment to buy only fair trade. 

As a community group we have adopted some families who are hurting for the very basic needs.  Our part was to do pajamas, maybe a few sweatshirts.  I wasn't too worried;  I knew I could find something online that was fair trade.  But then I got an email that everything needed to be turned in by this weekend!  I looked around a little this week, but didn't have much time.  Today had to be the day.

I was headed out to Sherwood for a birthday party at Safari Sam's.  My plan was to drop off the boys then hit a consignment store.  Which I hoped existed but I hadn't found anything on my google search.  So I called my friends at Sweetest Thing Cupcakes and got the name of Pitter Patter in Newburg.  Yea!  

But then I got a phone call from Courtney.  She needed 5 Christmas presents for a gift exchange.  Tonight.  Okay.  I can do this.  God, I pray I can do this.

Pitter Patter was a great success.  I pulled every quality item I could find in each of the two kids' sizes:  jeans, pajamas, shirts, sweatshirts, mittens, hats, scarves.  It was a load.  And the price?  Less than taking the family out to dinner.  I think I like this thrifting!

Then a quick cup of coffee and yummy gluten-free cupcake with Ann at Sweetest Thing (it WAS on the way back to Safar Sam's).  And supporting local businesses, double yay.

Got the boys and headed to the new Finegan's Toy Store at Bridgeport.  I wanted to have at least one brand new shiny toy for these kids.  But EVERYTHING was made in China.  Almost.  I finally settled for Playmobil advent calendar toys.  Made in Malta?  I don't know, but I had more hope for that than China.  And the boys had the most fun there playing with a remote control helicopter toy!

Now back to the Courtney challenge.  Five moderately priced gifts.  After dropping Bode off for a Noni and Popi date and before Cade's basketball game, we stopped at a craft fair but there was nothing that teenage girls would find exciting.  I wish hand crafted stuff didn't look so, well, hand crafted.

But I found what I needed at my beloved Market of Choice.  Along with the best price on organic grass-fed beef in town, they also had.... Fair trade wool hand warmers!  You know, like gloves, but with the tops of they fingers missing so they can still use their phones, itouches, etc.

All devices that use conflict metals, a whole 'nother issue.

But anyway!  It was a successful fair trade day, and I'm thankful.  But tired.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Me, An Oppressor?

I have to confess that I have been oppressing people.  Maybe not directly, but I have.

We've been studying James 5:1-6 this week in Bible study.

Here it is in The Message:

1-3 And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You'll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you've piled up is judgment.
 4-6All the workers you've exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You've looted the earth and lived it up. But all you'll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you've done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.

We learned today that James is not addressing Christians here, but still, I want to examine myself.  At first I felt pretty good.  I think I deal fairly with others, and try to be generous.  But I couldn't stop thinking about the "exploited workers."  The ones I don't see when I buy something at the mall.  The ones who made the clothes under possibly inhumane conditions.

In the past I've gone back and forth on this issue, sometimes refusing to buy things made in China because of human rights violations, and then getting tired of the effort.

This week I did more research, and my eyes have been opened.  As the songs goes, "Now that I have seen, I am responsible."

At the end of our study we were asked to write James' indictments in our own words, applicable for today.  These were my thoughts:

You care only about your bottom line and spend your money on cheap food harvested by oppressed workers, some of whom have lost their family farms because of your demand for perfect, plastic, convenient, name-brand food.

In the same way, always looking for the best deal on clothes (so you have plenty of money to eat out and entertain yourself with the latest movies, music and video games), you think nothing of the children who were sold by their parents to work for no pay, 16 hours a day, sewing tiny little beads on a t-shirt for your daughter.

You have lived on the earth in wanton pleasure and luxury, always wanting to have a better house, a nicer vacation and a fancier car.

So what am I to do?  In general, I need to be content.  Live simply.  Be busy giving and doing good.

But specifically in the area of clothes for my (slightly) large family?

Honestly, it will be pretty inconvenient.  But I can probably clothe the nine of for about the same price as I do now, if I:

1.  Buy less.  I mean how many clothes do we really need?
2.  Buy used.  I will miss the Nordstrom smell.
3.  Buy from fair trade - socially responsible - ethical companies.  Yes, they are more expensive, but they will be balanced out by less clothing and used clothing.  And I am so happy to support companies that are doing things right and the people that will be blessed with good jobs.

As far as food, I've been trying to buy quality, local, and organic for quite some time but there are probably a few things I need to tweak.  More on that another time.

In all of this study and soul searching, I am so thankful to God for how tender He has been with me.  I have truly felt a change in my heart that can only come from Him.  He has made me really want to do this.  I would have done it out of obedience, and done my best to have a good attitude.  But His Holy Spirit has changed my heart, and I am grateful.  I'm actually excited to do it!

He's also given me a song to inspire me.  We've been watching a lot of Les Miserables with both Abby and Kat in the musical for three weeks, and I love "Do You Hear the People Sing?"  You might have to listen to it yourself to fully appreciate it, but here are a few of the lyrics.

Do you hear the people sing? 
Singing a song of angry men? 
It is the music of a people 
Who will not be slaves again! 
When the beating of your heart 
Echoes the beating of the drums 
There is a life about to start 

When tomorrow comes! Will you join in our crusade? 
Who will be strong and stand with me? 
Somewhere beyond the barricade 
Is there a world you long to see? 

And for more information on the global sweatshop crisis, this is by far the best, easiest to read article I have seen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Praying Mantis

Soon after setting up the greenhouse both a male and female female praying mantis moved in.

One day we couldn't find the female, and I told Bode to look for her.  I said that she might be laying some eggs.

I'm not sure why I said that.

He found her.

And she really was laying eggs.

Right then.

And it only happens once a year.

The whole process took about an hour, and they won't hatch until spring.

Here she is, hard at work.

I did some googling to find out more, and it seems that sometimes the female eats the male, starting with the head first, after laying the eggs.

And sure enough, about ten days later we saw this.

Poor guy.

So now we're down to one pet.

But in the spring, we should have hundreds more.

Evidently the babies might eat each other too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sometimes I'm a Little Slow

Early this year at a church conference I was offered a free copy of this children's Bible and I didn't take it.

A few months later everyone at church was raving about it, but I wasn't interested.  

I already have a great children's story Bible, and besides, I really didn't like the cartoon picture of Jesus on the cover.

Then my best friend starts telling me about this great children's Bible and even buys me a copy.

Ok, I've read it now.

I think I understand what all the fuss is about.

The introduction made me cry.

It's beautiful.

Even if you don't have kids, you need to buy this Bible.

Here are just a couple paragraphs from the intro to whet your appetite:

"No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes.  The Bible is most of all a Story.  It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure.  It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne - everything - to rescue the one he loves.  It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life."

"It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story.  And at the center of the Story, there is a baby.  Every Story in the Bible whispers his name.  He is like the missing piece in a puzzle - the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture."

(Oh, and for you Tim Keller fans, he was evidently very influential in the writing of this book, as noted by the author.)

My kids love it too.  They never want me to stop reading it.  And when I do, they keep looking at the pictures.  For hours.

Here you go - you can click here to buy it now.

Hopefully you're not as slow as I am.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

There Should Be An App for That

I want to give more.  I want to teach my kids that it makes a difference when we skip that trip to Jamba Juice and give the money to those really in need.

But I need help.  While I want to give, I'm still an impatient American used to instant gratification.  So I have a great idea.  More about that in a minute.

You know that Jesus cared about the poor, right?  And they should be one of our highest priorities in life.  It's not the government's job or someone else's job.  If you are a Christian, it's your job.

If we are generous and share our food with the poor, we will be blessed.

If we give to the poor we will lack nothing.  But if we close our eyes to them we will receive many curses.

When we are kind to the poor we lend to the LORD and will be rewarded.  (This one really amazes me!  It's all God's money anyway.)

But if we shut our ears to the cry of the poor, we will cry out and not be answered. *

I think there are a lot of people who care about the poor and still do nothing because they are overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problems in this world, and they feel like their small contribution won't make much of a difference.

This is not true.

Every little bit helps.

I learned recently that we spend $62 BILLION each year on soft drinks.  If we gave up just a third of our soda, we could provide clean water to all 884 million people in the world who lack it.

So back to my need for instant gratification.  Yes, I could tell my kids that we're not going to have soda with dinner because it not healthy, and that we're going to send the money to help someone who really needs it.  I'm not sure how much they would get that.

But if I pull out my phone and had an app that allowed me to quickly and easily show them a picture of the baby chicks we're going to send to a family in Africa to start a small business, and really sent the money right then and there, don't you think that would be effective?

So to all my favorite charities - those that meet physical needs and give eternal hope through Jesus Christ - this is my request!  I'd like your "gift catalogs" to be made into iphone apps.  I will download it, and it will be so fun to see how our money can be better used.  And really give - then and there - to make a difference!

*Proverbs 22:9, 28:27, 19:17, 21:13

Disclaimer:  This type of giving is not tithing.  As Christians we should order our finances in such a way that we are tithing to our local church, paying our taxes and bills, providing for our family's needs, and giving generously regularly.  This is just an extra way of giving a little more.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Greenhouse

My fortieth birthday present from my husband was a beautiful silver bracelet from Tiffany's and a fabulous party.

My fortieth birthday present that I connived/guilted him into was the greenhouse of my dreams.

I asked him how he would feel if it was football season and he didn't have a TV or a computer.  Cause that's how I feel when I can't garden during the winter months.  And somehow, after all my years of pleading for a greenhouse, that was what got through to him.

But he's actually really gotten into it.  We feel like we're officially an "old couple," since we spent a Saturday afternoon at Home Depot and working on the greenhouse instead of going out to dinner for a date.

It's been pretty warm lately, making the temp in the greenhouse at least in the 90's during the middle of the day.  My thermometer reads over 100 at times, but I'm not sure how accurate it is.

We're starting veggies and herbs and flowers from seed.

Saving some plants that would normally die once the first freeze hits.

And coming out here for some quiet moments.

I feel like we've added another room to the house.

We also have a few new pets -- that have moved into the greenhouse.  More about them next time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Cure for Perfection

I was moved by the Single Dad Laughing’s blog on perfection.  If you haven’t read it, you might want to go there first, BUT make a mental note to ignore the graphic at the top of the page.  If you’re a guy it will probably cause you to lust, and if you’re a gal, you might hate your body even more than you already do.

Okay, so great article, right?  Sad, but true.  And the solution is partially helpful. 


Growing up in Dallas, Texas, in the 1980’s I experienced what surely has to be some of the worst pretension in history.  I moved there in the 7th grade from Oregon and showed up for school in my A Smile jeans and a polo shirt.  I thought I was cool, only to find girls there wearing long, full, pleated skirts, heels, and carrying Louis Vuitton bags.  At 12 years old.  Are you kidding me? 

Living in Texas for 16 years certainly influenced me as a person. While living there I always felt I had to have the perfect house, with perfectly well-dressed children, throwing perfect dinner parties, etc. I still have a hard time going to the grocery store without any make-up on.

But it’s not really a Texas thing.  Well, maybe a little.  But the issue of perfectionism runs through all part of the world, in it’s own ways, in every culture.

And being real can be very powerful antidote.

When I was a young mom I was blessed with a new best friend.  We did everything together.  She was kind of a mess.  And she didn’t care.  SHE LET ME COME OVER WHEN HER HOUSE WAS MESSY! (This was in Dallas, Texas, ya’ll.  Amazing.) She didn’t act like she had it all together when she didn’t.  That was an epiphany for me.  Because I still loved her.  I didn’t think any less of her.  And I realized that I didn’t have to be perfect for people to like me either.  They might even like me more.  What a revelation. 

Another “ah-ha” moment I had in being real was with a friend in high school.  She and I knew each other from youth group, but went to different schools.  Because of this, I think we felt we could open up to each other and not worry about our image.  One night we sat on her trampoline and talked about everything into the wee hours of the night. I don’t even remember what we talked aboutBut I do recall the feeling of being honest yet still accepted, and the beauty of hearing another person express feelings that I thought only I had.

But where I think the BE REAL solution is not enough, is that it doesn’t address WHY we feel this desire to be perfect.  If it’s all about being real, then let’s just sit around and pick our noses in front of each other.  No!  Gross!  Not that real.

I believe we have a strong, inner desire to be perfect because we were created for perfection.  Before sin, everything was perfect.  Adam and Eve had perfect bodies and lived in a perfect garden and had a perfect marriage.  We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26).  And God is perfect.

But sin entered the world, and now we all suffer from it.  Some people embrace sin, and choose a life of hate, theft, addiction, greed, etc.  Others of us see sin, and don’t like it.  We want to be good.  But if we don’t deal with sin in the way God has provided, often times I think we turn to some small part of our life and try to control it to satisfy our desire for perfection.  It can be our image or reputation.  Our body.  Our home.  Our children. Our career. Or all of the above and more.

And it’s not that excelling in something is bad.  We were created for excellence.  The problem comes when perfection in some area or areas of our life becomes our god.  And turning from the true God puts us in the same group as those who embrace sin.

So here’s the bad news and the good news.  We are never going to perfect.  We don’t have it all together and we never will.  We screw up daily both on a large scale (hating, abusing, murdering) and on a small scale (overeating, not using our time well).  Don’t you like how I categorize sin? Those are my thoughts, not necessarily God’s.

Anyway, we will forever make mistakes and be imperfect.  And the really bad news is that the punishment for sin is death.  God is Holy.  He cannot be in the presence of any sin, no matter how “small.” All that you and I know that is good (life, light, love, beauty) is from God.  So what to do, what to do!

Of course, that’s the good news.  God already did DO.  He satisfied His need for justice in the death and sacrifice of His Son, Himself.  It is finished.  When Jesus rose from the grave he conquered sin and death.  If you have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, that His sacrifice has paid for your sins, you are saved. 

And when God sees you, He sees perfection.

He does. 

You don’t believe it, do you?

Even if you have already been saved.

But it’s true.

You have been cleansed, washed, forgiven.

You don’t have to strive.

You are His precious child.

It does not matter what you have done.

If you trust in Him for your salvation, you are clean.  You are perfect.  When He looks at you, He sees the righteousness of His Son.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”


Not by anything that you did.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that now one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

And you weren’t saved for nothing.  You were saved for something.  See the verses just following:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10.

God loves perfection.  He is perfection.  He loves beauty and order.  Just look at the world he made.  At least the parts we haven’t messed up yet. 

He calls us to put off sin, to run the race with endurance.  He wants us to abide in Him.  Study John 15 to understand how to live a life of walking with Jesus.  But it’s not striving to earn anything.  He’s already blessed us, if we are Christians, with His righteousness.

Life should be a process of becoming less of me and more of Him, by His grace and in His strength.  And we don’t do this in isolation, but community.  We need to share honestly our struggles and imperfections as we walk with Him.  We do need to be real.  We need to bear with one another.  We need to extend grace, time and time again, to ourselves and to each other.

But somehow, through it all, He looks at me, even now, and sees the righteousness of His Son.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Growing Up Too Fast

He's only six.  

But lately he just seems so big.  

He wants to watch Sports Center and hang with the guys all the time.  

Not that he likes sports or anything.  

Note the two balls he brought with him for his reading lesson... and that he's wearing the beanie Daddy brought home from the Seahawks game.  Even though it's 82 degrees outside today.

We really are doing reading.

Unless, of course, there's a blue jay in the tree outside.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Good Day

So many thankful thoughts running through my head.

Inspiration hit yesterday afternoon while I was looking through some cookbooks, and I had made breakfast, lunch and dinner all before 9 a.m. this morning.  A crustless quiche for breakfast, split pea soup for lunch, and crock pot beef and vegetables for dinner.

This might sound like bragging.  I'm sorry.  I'm just so proud of myself right now :-)

I was also reminded (in another book) to cut up vegetables in large quantities in advance so they are easy to grab.  Duh!  I like vegetables.  I just don't want to mess with them when I'm hungry.  Now I have a container of celery, carrot and jicama sticks to snack on while I make lunch or eat for a quick snack.  It's funny how this is one snack that no one else wants, so I get them all to myself :-)

I worked out for an hour early this morning with a girlfriend (love you, Dayna!), so I'm happy about that as well.  I have 4 regular work-out dates each week, and I'm so thankful for the consistency.  I need it.

I love homeschooling my kids.  Lighting candles on cozy days.  Talking to my husband on the phone during his lunch hour.

I'm also so thankful for our church.  Devotional with the kids is so easy and fun when I'm being spiritually fed, and it's natural to share with them what I've been learning both on Sunday in Tuesday Bible Study.

Of course, in keeping it real, life is not perfect.  I had to apologize to Abby for being irritable with her right before our devotional time.  Ugh!  That always happens.  I had to call about a parking ticket I got when I was trying to pay for parking downtown but the  machine was broken.  I was frustrated, but thought I was handling it pretty well with the gal on the phone, but she railed into me about how rude I was.  Really???  And my children are still in the process of being sanctified... imagine that!  I look forward to the day when I can take "referee" off my list of duties.

But today is a good day, and I'm feeling blessed by my God who continues to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all I could ask or imagine!  (Ephesians 3:20)

Monday, September 13, 2010


I feel bad that I never write on my blog.

I'm not sure why I have such a hard time with it.

It's not that I don't have time or anything to write about.

It's just that I wonder about posting everything "out there" on the internet, and whether or not it's a good idea to talk about my kids, which is most of my life right now.  And then I sort of hate it when I have something personal to share and I write about it and then I want to tell a good friend about it in person and they're like, "Oh yeah, I read that on your blog."  Hmmmf.  Not that I blame them, but still.  It's kind of a funny thing, this internet.

So anyway, I'm going to try to be more regular.  Because I really like reading all of your blogs.  I just need to figure out how to do mine.

Another hang-up I have is that I really love to put a new picture up with each post, and if I don't have a picture downloaded, I think it's not worth writing.  I'm sure I need to get over that.

But, here's a cute pic of the big girls on their first day back to school.  It was Courtney's first day to public school ever!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why I Homeschool

All right, this is rather deceiving, yet again.  I finally post, and it's just a link to another blog.  But trust me, you'll love this.

And I feel like I could have written it.  If I lived on a ranch in Oklahoma.

Pioneer Woman on Homeschooling.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Late Winter Gardening

I had a hard time saying, "late winter."  Isn't it spring?

In this post I'll show you around the yard and tell you about my latest gardening projects.  One friend actually asked me to do this, and I enjoy doing it for the record.  I won't be offended if the rest of you don't make it to the end of the post :-)

I was able to cross a lot of plants off my wish list last fall!  I finally planted a huge amount of bulbs.  Coming up here amongst the pansies are peony tulips and white flowering allium.

Pansies and Narcissus Dutch Master
I have an area at the end of a bed that doesn't get enough water, and today I planted it full of succulents.  
I never really liked the look of succulents (too desert-like, I thought), but last summer I ate outside at Meriwether's in Northwest Portland and sat right next to a pot full of a beautiful mix of them.  I wish I had taken a picture.  Anyway, now I love them, and I'm excited to watch this area fill in.
These may not be beautiful to you, but nothing is more exciting in the early spring to see sweet peas popping up their little heads!  It's not too late to plant some, but the sooner the better.
This is a new green I'm trying.  It's not too early to plant lettuces, spinach, peas and carrots!
Did you know that you can take sprouting organic potatoes and put them straight into the dirt?  It's a little early, but I'm counting on not getting any more super hard freezes.  Click here for more information about growing potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Scroll down a bit to "Potato Cultivation."
Whenever the kids help me garden they get to put their name on it!  Abby and Ryan helped me start some plants from seed.  They are in the shop right now under full spectrum florescent bulbs.  They must be set on a timer to have at least 6 hours off each night.
These are Ryan's Lobelia:
I forgot to have the kids water them when I went to CA and they dried out, but managed to survive!  I'm most excited to see if the petunia seeds I saved from last year will germinate.

This anemone has long been on my wish list...  I first saw it at Elk Rock/Bishop's Close.  I love early spring bloomers!
My favorite tree - a magnolia.  I call it "The Hope of Spring" as I stare at the buds all winter long.  I can see it from my bed.  Love this tree!!!
Happy Gardening to all!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Worth Reading

From Don Miller's blog.  I especially loved the second part beginning with:

"So two questions I’m asking myself these days are what is my field to plow, and am I plowing it?"

Click Here to link to Don's blog.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blogs for a Cause

Do you like the re-do on my blog?  I sure do, and what I like best is that the $30 it cost me is being donated to charity.  Thank you, Nikki!  (see her button on the left)

Of the $30, $25 goes to support Nikki's humanitarian work.  She is a 20 year old Canadian, and in her last year of college.  She sponsors four children in Africa and Haiti, and has gone to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Ethiopia to work in orphanages, malnutrition clinics, schools, etc. This coming May she will go to India.

The other $5 goes to a monthly charity.  This month's charity is Heartline Ministries in Haiti, which has an orphanage and women's program, that "endeavors to be the hands of Christ in Haiti."

I needed a re-do so my blog would match (and not clash with :-/) the Botanical Interests button that links to the fundraiser to benefit Open Arms International .  Please spread the word to your gardening friends!  It's time to start planning for spring!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Seeds for a Cause!

If I talked with you about gardening at all last year, you probably heard me raving about Botanical Interests seeds.

I first discovered them at Portland Nursery, and was taken by the beautiful colored sketches on the front of each packet.  As it turns out, they are not only aesthetically pleasing, but organic, heirloom, and family-owned.

Does it get any better?

Well, as a matter of fact, it does!  Now when you buy seeds from Botanical Interests (using the link or button above - very important!), 25% of the proceeds go to Open Arms International

Open Arms International is administratively based in Portland, but serves in Eldoret, Kenya, East Africa.  They provide a safe haven for children orphaned by AIDS and other tragedies.  They currently house twenty-six children in two homes, with a set of house parents in each home.  I love this model for orphanages.  Please read more about them on their site!

And, if you want to share this fundraising link for seed shopping with others, please use this link.
(Once you actually get to their site, the link will look different, so don't copy it there.)

For now, it's time to start thinking about planting sweet peas.  January and February are the months to plant for an early summer bloom!

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Couple Good Reads

I loved these books.

Jansen's Gift is a true story, about a woman who suddenly loses her son.   In her grief, she finds a greater purpose for life and ends up helping children around the world.

 Scared is fiction, based on the real life experiences of Tom Davis, President of Children's HopeChest, a Christian-based child advocacy organization helping orphans in Eastern Europe and Africa.

Both show the vulnerability of children and the reality of modern slavery
(often in the form of sex trafficking).  They will break your heart and give you hope.

And if you think you've got problems... you won't think so anymore.