Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Morning Time

Morning Time is the anchor of our homeschool day. It is our daily meeting, after breakfast and family prayers, where we read out loud, pray, and recite Scripture and poetry. For the young ones especially, this is the backbone of what we do. Though I do not make the oldest two participate, I have an inkling that they are eavesdropping. We love Morning Time!

I thought I would share what books we are using and what Morning Time usually looks like. We have been memorizing the book of James since last year. We begin each day by reviewing and learning new material. I don't do a whole lot of explaining, just helping everyone memorize the text.

Next we read a couple pages out of Herein Is Love, a children's commentary of Genesis by Nancy Ganz. We have also read through some other Bible story books in the past. This particular book is a little deeper, so the little ones don't understand everything. That's ok though. We move slowly!

The third portion of our "Spiritual Disciplines" is learning about and praying for a country or people group of the world. We have used and love the You Can Change the World books put out by Operation World. They are written for kids and give excellent information and ways to pray for all kinds of people, many we haven't heard of before and whose names we can barely pronounce! They are pretty dated, but much of the information is not dependent on current statistics. We count this as our geography as well.

After prayer, the kids are free to draw or do other quiet activities. At this time we review and learn new poetry. I am using this old volume Pocket Full of Rhymes, and it is full of charming verse that is a nice length for little ones. Our first poem this year was an excerpt from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and who knew that my four-year-old would memorize it better than any of us! The young ones absolutely love the structure and activities of this daily time we spend together.

Next we will usually read an Aesop Fable. They are short and sweet, but memorable. I am using this beautiful edition illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, one of my favorite illustrators. Of course the kids are always drawn to beautiful artwork.

We alternate a nature study book with a Shakespeare picture book. Currently we are reading Secrets of a Wildlife Watcher by Jim Arnosky. It is full of beautiful sketches of wildlife along with engaging writing about his observations in nature. On alternate days, I have been reading through a beautiful picture book about Shakespeare, The Bard of Avon. Although a little heady at times, again the illustrations really speak. The kids are really coming to love Shakespeare, I think (I hope!).

Finally, we come to our Ukrainian Phrasebook and Dictionary. We are just learning basic words and phrases, as well as the Lord's Prayer. I had two years of Russian in college and several trips to Eastern Europe, so I am fine reading cyrillic, but my Ukrainian vocabulary needs help! I hope to teach the kids the basics so that they can get along if they ever get to go to Ukraine. I am pretty sure I will be going back next summer, and it would mean a lot to my friends there if I tried to speak in their language.

This seems like a load, but it really just takes us 30-40 minutes to get through. It is not always easy, but I do it in faith knowing that God will bless it. I love it, and I hope that is contagious to my kids.

Later on in the morning, if the weather is nice, I try to take the youngest kids on a walk. If they see me get my camera out, they get excited and run to find shoes and coats. We don't move very fast, stopping to enjoy every leaf and rock along the way, but we try to be very observant. We usually find some sort of treasure, whether it's a dewdrop on a leaf or vibrant hues against a blue sky. I use that time to practice my photography, always trying to stretch my imagination to see new things as we walk the same paths each day.

These are the days that pass so quickly. I want to treasure each moment and fill my kids up with all the good things I am able to. We love these times!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Four Years!

Today our chubby-cheeked, blue-eyed September baby turned four. She is the little sister so long prayed for, her name Patience bearing witness of that fact. She is adored by us all, especially in these dolly-days that fade so quickly. She sleeps surrounded by all her baby friends, dressing them and caring for them just like a little mother. She also loves dirt. Having six brothers, she has a rough-and-tumble side to her as well, though the tumbling part happens much too often and far too dramatically. She has fire inside her, but also a tender heart. We love our Patience.

She came to us in a flurry and a flash, delivered by her father in our bedroom in lieu of the midwife. That was not our plan, but it happened, and we laugh about it now. Her name says just the opposite of the way she entered the world, but we pray that that name will be a virtue she is known for her entire life. Her name is also a reminder to us all, whenever we say it, of what we ought to be, and God is working that in us.

Happy birthday, Patience. Four is great!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Orange Peels and Pebbles--the "Who Cares" Project

Current Project: Petal Burst Table Topper from Sedef Imer's book Quilt Petite.

Hangup #1: I didn't really like my combination of fabrics (which you can't see here) 100%. But I had already cut them out and spent lots of time sewing the interfacing on the back. One of the fabrics is a script text print. Another is this farm print. Not sure they go together. Who cares.

Hangup #2: Drawing the guide lines for placing the appliqué was a little daunting to me. Who cares. I did it anyway, and it was no problem.

Hangup #3: Blanket-stitching all 42 little pieces of appliqué was a new skill. Slow and steady wins the race. No one said it had to be perfect. Who cares if it's a little wonky.

Hangup #4: Free-motion quilting is my nemesis, the thing that could just ruin this project for me. No one said it had to be perfect, and it's definitely not. There are puckers on the back, but who cares. No one will look back there. It's imperfect, but finished, and I feel like I conquered that thing I was most afraid of.

All that's left is to bind it. It's interesting what a love/hate relationship you have with some projects. This one definitely has had both sides of the coin. But who will imperfect finished project is better than a perfect unfinished one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Now three weeks into school, we have carved our routine out into predictable patterns on the tablets of this new year. The freshness, always pleasant and invigorating, is turning into normalcy. The books are showing their first marks of wear. The pencils' erasers are not perfectly pink anymore. And here is where the hard work starts, where the put-your-head-down-and-just-do-it attitude must kick into gear.

This year I chose the word "diligence" as our year's virtue to concentrate on. On the first day of school we see a giant pile of books, so many chapters to be read, questions to answer, ideas to wrestle with. For myself, I see attitudes to be dealt with, relationships to be nurtured, the mountain of work it takes to feed and care for a large family while also working my job from home. Oh, it is all a gift. It is all wonderful stuff, but it does look like Mt. Everest at the very beginning. How will we get to the top? Will we survive?

Diligence and discouragement are like feuding cousins, that second one always lurking about, tempting you around every corner. But diligence will always win the prize, and her fruit is sweet. Diligence has a far-sighted, optimistic perspective, but she always takes advantage of the present moment. Discouragement has a blurred and shortened view of things. She feels alone and unable, seeking momentary pleasure here and there. Diligence asks for help from those around her. She knows she has an army of helpers surrounding her. She laughs at the time to come because her hope is in something much grander than herself. I know which one I want to be like.

Will we survive this mountain? The resounding answer is "yes!". Along with all these gifts of work God has given us, He has given us a way to achieve it. Diligence is a real key here. We do it, asking for His help each moment, chapter by chapter, day by day, one little bit at a time. I can't wait until the end of the year when we get to celebrate what's behind us, what God helped us accomplish. We will get there, with our heads down and blinders on, one little step at a time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

She Thought She Would Stay Forever

Summer came with her bags packed, and she thought she would stay forever. She did come with beautiful and tasty gifts. But she should have known it would have to come to an end. A sweet end, no doubt, but an end no less. All the most glorious clothes do grow old and moth-eaten. She came to remind us of that.

This scrappy quilt top was a summer project I made up to use some extra HSTs. I didn't have much of a plan except to add enough sashing to make each square measure 5 inches (or so), then just to randomly put them all together. There was not much thought involved, and it got rid of some scraps. Win.

Summer is turning into golden glory. She has been beautiful, but she is old and tired and ready to go to sleep for another winter. But first she must make her blazing exit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Trees Grow Diamonds

A couple recent projects to cross off my current list

This is the Wonky Love Block from Kelbysews, a free pattern that I stitched up for a little challenge hosted by Stash Builder Box, who sent out the Art Gallery fabric (Nightfall by Maureen Cracknell) so that several of us could sew this block to be included in a charity quilt project. I will be sending the block back to them, but I am definitely inspired to make more like it. I am already working with my daughter on another one with fabrics she chose.

At first the blast of color inside the "O" seemed like not such a good idea. But I left it, and it has grown on me. I like the bold stroke.

Here is a finished mini-quilt top that I am glad to be done with. These are not my favorite colors, but I wanted to cut into some fabric that I don't like as much. It inspires me to be brave and use more of my stash. It's kind of like decluttering. Once you start, you get on a roll.

And may I just say, this pattern was a pain to piece! Too many points to match and unpredictable triangles to throw me off. Don't look too closely!

Speaking of cutting into the stash, I am still really trying to be good about not buying new fabric. The longer I "freeze," the easier it has gotten to stop impulse-buying. I am not wasting as much time perusing all the sale sections online (though I still have my favorite flash-sale haunts to visit every day!), and I am not spending as much money on fabric that will just sit there. I have bought a little, but I try to allow myself a little freedom to take advantage of a really good sale or thrifty find.

There is still color around here, though the crispy, dry leaves are no longer. We have had the rainiest fall in a long time.

I take the same walks over and over again, but I always try to find new things or look at the same things from a different perspective. It's a good life lesson, and it also inspires creativity.

Mossy carpet turns into a fairy wonderland when you get up really close.

The gross rainy day also holds treasures of beauty, if you just look around. When else do the ditches turn into rippling creeks? We enjoy just stopping and listening...can you hear it?

Finally, my favorite part of rainy weather is the sun break. The droplets dangle and sparkle like a million tiny diamonds in the trees, and it takes my breath away every time. See, it just depends on your perspective. From this side of things, my trees grow diamonds, and I am rich!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pete and Sarah

Years fly by, and memories fade a little, but they seem to get sweeter with time. It is a gift to remember people you have known, even if your time together was short.

It's a gift to sit with older people and listen to their stories. I am grateful for the wealth of wisdom they have shared with me over the years. I spent summers as a teenager volunteering in the hospital, sitting by many bedsides reading to folks, listening to music, playing games, reminiscing. On the surface of things, I was doing them a service. But in reality, they were giving me a gift. That was a very formative experience in my life.

A little later on in my teenage years, I began cleaning house for an elderly couple in my church. They were still fairly independent, but they needed someone to touch up the house, so they said. First, they were immaculate housekeepers, so there wasn't much to touch up. Second, they probably were yearning for someone to spend time with them. So I did. Looking back, I see what a gift that was, not for them, but for me.

They were quiet people, but so full of stories. I heard many times about how they got engaged. He gave her a watch instead of a ring, and they would chuckle about how he would always ask her what time it was just to get her to admire that watch. We would sit together with our iced tea (that was so, so good and southern sweet!), and I would listen to their stories of seminary, raising kids, pastoring a church, and all in between.

Pete and Sarah, those were their names. They loved each other so much. I loved observing their aged, seasoned marriage, tested by time and proven true. As I was on the cusp of my own marriage, they gave me the gift of example that I cherish to this day.

I admired their attention to detail. As I said, their house was always neat. They were very methodical, orderly, and thrifty. Sarah had a sewing machine. I never saw her use it, but I know she did. She would make her clothes and things around the house. That doll in the picture above came from her. The stitching is perfect, and I am sure it was made from some scrap of something she had. They are both gone now, but I am grateful to have something she made to remind me of the time we shared together.

As I sit stitching this and that, night after night, I sometimes wonder if it is a luxury I can't afford. Time is precious. But you can't put a price on the things you make and give. When I look at the things I have from those I love, I see that their time and creativity is a priceless gift money could never buy. Those things spark my memory, warm my heart (and body), and remind me of their love.

Hug. xo