Saturday, May 31, 2008

critters R us

mark came home from work the other day to find yet another jar on the kitchen island, bringing our critter count to approximately 30 ants in an ant farm, 1 caterpillar transforming into a chrysalis, and 15 tadpoles...

i can't believe you all put up with my terrible photography, but this is the best shot i have of one of our little fellers.

now that the water has settled and cleared we are finding all kinds of interesting life forms in our puddle water! (praying that they aren't mosquito larva!)

everyday gift: muddy toes and tadpoles


the last week of school C was very evasive when i asked him about his homework. he said he had a few finals to study for and something else, but don't worry about it, he's got it under control. and then a sly grin. (he never could hide when he was up to something!) up in his room he was hard at work on the mystery, coming downstairs every now and then for a glue stick, construction paper, now sculpty clay. thurday it was finally unveiled! in lou of a final exam in Bible class, the teacher allowed them to do a final project of their choice. C chose the project, but admitted later that the test would have taken a lot less time! his creation: BIBOPOLY! he amazes me sometimes!

you start the game on the first square, where else but Genesis; and free parking is "the sabbath: free resting"; instead of going to jail you go to the "lion's den"; hot properties are jericho, bethleham, and jerusalem; instead of community chest and chance you draw cards from "covenant" and "commandment".

the game markers are the ark of the covenant, the commandment tablets, the Bible, and a staff/snake.

everyday gift: incredible creativity

beautiful weeds

thank you, sweet pea! they are beautiful...and so are you!

everyday gift: a fistful of weeds, picked with love

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do Hard Things ~ by alex & brett harris

i bought this book to give as a high school graduation gift next weekend. and could not put it down. (shhh...don't tell, i didn't crease any pages or anything!) i am very impressed with this book and will probably purchase many more copies before all is said and done!
Do Hard Things is written by two 19 year old brothers who have in fact already done hard things and believe that teens should apply themselves toward that same goal. the book challenges our culture's expectations of those between the ages of 13 and 19.
it was not until the early part of the twentieth century that we even recognized this age group as a separate group at all. until then you were a child until you began to grow into an adult sized body with adult capabilities. at that time you were expected to take up adult responsibilities. when child labor laws* were passed and education was mandated through high school*, childhood was in essence extended to age 18. teenagers, as they became known, where exempt from many responsibilities and these adult-like children (or childish-acting adults?) emerged. this book takes a critical look at that viewpoint: challenging young adults to pursue worthy goals and activities; and challenging adults to think of our teens in a new way; raising expectations and helping them accomplish great things, living up to their capabilities and potential rather than wasting those years.
the most startling thing to me is that i will have a teenager under my roof in 6 months! this is definitely a book i will have C read. i want to see him rise up to his potential and do hard things during his teen years!
*i am in no way disputing the need for both of these things.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

So Brave, Young, and Handsome ~ by leif enger

i gotta agree with amy on this one. (and she always says it so well)

i just never really bonded with the characters of this book. it was disappointing after Peace Like a River, whose characters i fell in love with, bringing to mind the brilliant characters and relationship of scout and aticus in To Kill a Mockingbird.

question: to whom does the title refer as brave, young, and handsome? none of the characters seem to fit this description.

a day at the soccer field

highlights from a day of soccer: families in lawn chairs watching their kids, cheers from the crowds at a goal scored or a deflated "good try", corn dogs for lunch, gaterade, plenty of sunshine, red faces on tired boys, strong legs carrying kids across the field, good sportsmanship all around, dad giving his love in the form of time spent coaching (a priceless gift!)...

coach dad giving instructions to the team

S waiting for the kick

(i am quite certain that i will not be hearing from ESPN for my action video and sports reporting!)

hat trick

C had a great season of soccer, even if the weather didn't always cooperate! but this day was beautiful: blue skies, warm sun, light breeze! only later realizing that it is time to start putting on the sunscreen! i love the way he really throws his all into the game. he scored 3 goals this game, wrapping up the season with a "hat trick".


"good game, good game, good game...."

a little friendly competition

it was the last game of the season. and B was finally playing against the dark green team, the team of her best friend! it was so fun to watch them face each other on the opposite side of the line at kick off...smiling, laughing, and chatting. somehow who won the game just wasn't important!

ready, set....


hooray! good game girls!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

He's got the whole world in His hands...

during our school time we have been working our way through the solar system using Exploring Creation with Astronomy by jeannie fulbright. this is one in a series of elementary science books which we have found to be excellent! beginning with the sun and working our way out we have been taking a close look at each of the planets. we decided to have a longer stay on earth, our home planet, and are using A Child's Geography by ann voskamp as our guide.

here are a few photos of our fun paper mache' globe project.

O Lord, it is You who made the heavens and the Earth and the sea, and all that is in them. acts 4:24

everyday gift: this incredible planet that is our home

Monday, May 12, 2008

the great spring morel hunt

a tradition has been passed on: the great spring morel hunt! last week we took mark's dad out to our woods in search of morels and we hit the jackpot, at least it seemed like it to me! but according to mark, they were bigger when he was a kid hunting for them at their cabin along the mississippi river. the kids joined in, although skeptical that they would ever eat the strange looking mushrooms. after all, haven't we always told them "never eat a strange mushroom you find in the woods, it may kill you!" ? now we are spending hours in search of them and plan to cook them up for supper.

a successful hunt

grandpa, mark, B, and S after the morel hunt. grandpa is holding an antler, another prize found in the woods.

a page from S's nature journal

everyday gift: family traditions, spending time with grandpa

unusual garden ornament

do you see what treasures my boys leave for me in my garden? i discovered this beauty this morning as i was checking on my blooming iris. apparently they found this in the woods and brought it home for my pleasure.

rare sightings

rose-breasted grosbeak visiting our feeder

elusive morel mushroom

mark washing dishes

mother's day brought many rare sights and blessings...mark and the kids grilled steaks for my mom and me and topped the meal off by cleaning up the kitchen. this was quite a sacrifice for mark who proclaimed shortly after we were married, "i don't do dishes." (now, before you think ill of him, you must know that this man never stops working! the kitchen is really out of his comfort zone, but that's okay, as long as i don't have to mow our acres of grass.)

so as i sat on the couch, overstuffed from dinner, listening to the clatter of clean up in the kitchen, i had the chance to count my blessings: 3 beautiful children who give me the privilege of motherhood, handmade cards filled with messages of love, surprise gifts of cashews (my favorite!) and sweet william bedding plants for my garden, and a loving husband who dips his hands in the dishwater to give me a break from my daily work.

everyday gift: sacrificial love gift

Friday, May 9, 2008

music to my ears

i am trying to document these days and events of my life but they are so fleet. they disappear as quickly as they come like the notes from the piano. they ring loud and clear and linger in my mind, but then they are gone. sometimes the tempo is so fast, i have trouble hearing each individual note. sometimes a wrong note is played and it gives me a jolt. sometimes the music is soothing and i never want it to end, this music that is my life.
i have watched these three struggle over these notes, play them again and again, and finally master them! and on this night they are on display, nerves making them jumpy, wondering if they will make a mistake. they are filling our home with music, the music of their love and laughter and life...oh, and the piano, too! i am praising God for the music of our lives and praying that He will be glorified in all that we do.
B playing Owl in the Night by rollin and Oh Susannah (folk song)

S playing Go Tell Aunt Rody (folk song) and Brown Bag Boogie by kowalchyk/lancaster
C at the piano playing Changing Trains by cooper and Jungle Fever by rollin

B with her piano teacher

everyday gift: the music of our lives

Thursday, May 8, 2008


last night was the last of C's track meets. i would like to say that watching C put his heart into his running was a real joy for me. since his school is so small, they weren't always competitive with the larger schools, but this did not discourage him. often times they had to run 4th graders in the 5/6th grade class in order to have enough runners. during these relays C would get the baton already quite behind, running his best to the end, sometimes closing the gap, but not winning. he ran the mile race finishing 4th sometimes 5th, but he was pleased that with each race he bettered his time.

i am so pleased with the mature attitude and good sportsmanship C displayed, where winning was not as important as doing your best and finishing the race. that makes him the real winner in my book. great job, C! i am proud of you!

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us. phillipians 3:14

*update: with all the numbers in, MSA pulled off second place over all out of 8 competing schools! way to go MSA!

everyday gift: finishing the race strong

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

wildflower hunt

yesterday morning we took advantage of the perfect weather to go for a walk through our woods on a wildflower hunt. this is on some acreage we bought last year and we are still exploring it. my dream is to cut a hiking path through the woods with a little foot bridge across the creek. unfortunately, the people who owned the land before us for many years used the creek as a dumping ground, so we have a lot of clean up ahead of us.


unknown plant...but i thought it was interesting. can anyone identify it for me?


we missed the early april blooming. we have to go out earlier next year.

purple trillium

blue violet

spring beauty...loves oak woods

everyday gift: kids excited about nature

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

lambkins at play

now how can i get my laundry done with this going on right outside my window?

the millipede documentary

my young naturalist has captured a great video of a millipede! check it out. (keep watching, it gets exciting when he comes to the crack)

so i, being the homeschool mother, suggest that he find out more information in the insect field guide. to which he replies, "mom, it is not an insect." (turns out it's a myriapod. yeah. i knew that. really, i did.)

why did the millipede cross the road?

everyday gift: keen eyes observing nature

Saturday, May 3, 2008

something i never thought i'd hear...

C & S: mom, will you show us how to work the washing machine? we need this sweatshirt and jeans for tomorrow.

they had to break out the smelling salts to revive me! this question comes from my boys who are happy to wear the same shirt for 5 days straight until i finally catch a whiff of them and peel their shirts off their backs under protest.

perhaps being really far behind on laundry is actually paying off.

Friday, May 2, 2008

little cinnamon muffin bites

little cinnamon muffin bites

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted

2 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted

preheat oven to 400*. grease 2 mini muffin pans. sift dry ingredients ( flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and allspice) together in a large bowl and set aside. combine the egg, milk and melted butter in another bowl and mix well. stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients mixing until just moistened. spoon into muffin tins and bake for 12-14 minutes. cool on wire rack. while still warm brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

yield: 24 mini muffins

p.s. if you are baking these for a specific purpose, say, to send with your boys on a scouting trip, HIDE THEM! or you will find yourself baking a second batch the very next day...i'm just sayin'.
everyday gift: warm muffins

Thursday, May 1, 2008

a garden friend

our little friend, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, is back! he is bigger than the common chipmunk, with more stripes on his back. he is actually quite tall when he stands to watch us, watching him. one of his many holes is just under the gray rock in our garden. it is an especially good spot for him, where sunflower seeds spill out of the bird feeder!

**photos by S**

p.s. please disregard the sorry state of my garden in these pictures!

a walk in our garden

an excerpt from our reading...

And now, in the lovely spring-weather, Irene was out on the mountain the greater part of the day. In the warmer hollows there were lovely primroses, and not so many that she ever got tired of them. As often as she saw a new one opening an eye of light in the blind earth, she would clap her hands with gladness, and, unlike some children I know, instead of pulling it, would touch it as tenderly as if it had been a new baby, and, having make its acquaintance, would leave it as happy as she found it. She treated the plants on which they grew like birds' nests; every fresh flower was like a new little bird to her. She would pay a visit to all the flower-nests she knew, remembering each itself. She would go down on her hands and knees beside one and say, "Good morning! Are you smelling very sweet this morning? Good-bye!"

The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald

virginia bluebells and rhododendron in bloom

cherry blossoms...dreaming of cherry pies

bleeding heart

grape hyacinth

everyday gift: garden walks