Monday, September 19, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"Jesus doesn't participate in the rat race.
He's into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling --
all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace."

-- Lysa TerKeurst

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Andrew turns 14!

Andrew celebrated his 14th birthday a few weeks ago! It was a "low-key" year with a simple family dinner but Andrew got to have all his favorite foods and enjoy some family time. Here he is with his requested apple cobbler for dessert:

There were presents, of course. These centered on soccer (practice equipment) and needed clothing.

Andrew was very happy to get boxed mac-n-cheese for dinner! It seems each child likes to request that at some point during their birthday!

Andrew is loving being a high school student and it is fun to enjoy his enthusiasm. :) And now just about 10 days until we have our next birthday around here!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"The cross you've been given is always God's kindest decision. 
The cross you carry -- is carrying you toward who you are meant to be."

-- Ann Voskamp

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Into September

At last the windows are open and the loud songs of the late summer crickets are easily heard and the fresh air can blow in through the windows! Almost everyone I know loves these months of September and October. 

My fig tree is nearly done bearing for this year. I've had nearly 3 dozen figs off it this season! The weather worked out in my favor and the figs turned perfectly sweet and soft.

We are well established in our school routine now. Some mornings we are late and we take our breakfast upstairs. And sometimes we need a BIG pot of tea. School is going well. It is a completely different story than homeschooling with babies or young children. My energy levels have been quite poor but I'm thankful I can still plod forward and I take Elisabeth Eliot's advice: "do the next thing." Routine is my best friend.

I feel almost as though we have two families going: the high school family and the still-at-home family. Rachel and Andrew really enjoy going to school and they always have stories to tell at the end of the day. We also text during the day which is nice.

Andrew's been playing JV soccer. He loves it!

It is Rachel's 3rd year on the golf team. She has made a new record score for herself recently that we are all proud of. It is a real treat to be able to escape to the golf course for several hours to watch her play and enjoy the serenity of the golf course.

It's the stay-at-home family with which I get to do all the fun field trips. Last week we headed to Conner Prairie to use up our pass. We checked out the new outside brick oven.

The lady tending the fire told us an old trick for predicting the winter weather ahead. She cut open a persimmon seed and we looked to see if it was a knife, a fork, or a spoon. It was a spoon (as were a few more she later cut). A spoon shape means lots of wet precipitation ahead. (Knives mean a sharp, bitter winter, and forks are for mild winters.) We will wait to see if this prediction comes true!

The pigs amused us for quite some time!

It's just hard to get the idea of this being "fun" and "enjoyable" into my head:

I love the sign in front of the barn. Wouldn't it make a good sign to put in front of a house?!

The sheep are so cute! But you should see the wool on their back -- it's all matted down like worn carpet from being petted by thousands of people! ha ha!

 It was a beautiful day and the Conner House looked like quintessential Indiana!

We found tuber roses blooming in the Loom House garden. I love how smells can take you places. The smell of this flower takes me straight back to my 13th year and dark, warm African evenings in our Ugandan home with this scent wafting in the windows as we visited with guests.

Of course I was delighted to find a beautiful plaid pattern being woven on the loom!

Trying out a canoe in the Indian village.

I just love chickens! I probably wouldn't be any good at actually raising them, but they are such beautiful creatures with all their feathers. Loved the rooster!

We took some time to stop and paint what we saw.

Yes, the sun was hot!

But everyone persevered and did several pictures!

One day I found I had an extra passenger driving along with me! Poor thing!

You wouldn't believe the hours and hours of fun the kids had with these boxes! It was pretty funny! Even the older kids couldn't resist trying them out!

The pool closed on Monday. Laura made lots of progress this year -- going from being afraid to jump in to jumping in by herself all the time.

My flowers have brought me so much joy!!!! Mostly thanks to my mom who picks them for me each Sunday when she comes. It is hard to find time to pick flowers! There are always too many things to do and so many things must be left undone.

The kids love sculpting things out of kneaded erasers. It's so funny!

Someone even likes to utilize garbage! I came down this week to find the dishwasher creating tantalizing "ant food" rather than doing his chores. How to be mad?

We had a rainy day this week and due to a cancellation I had a little time to make tea and read. It's always a refreshment. I bought myself a little beeswax candle at the fair after reading about them in my latest British Country Living.

Well, it's time to go and do some tidying. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Life of C. S. Lewis in Six Snacks

Over the summer I agreed to teach a biography class to our church middle schoolers. I figured I might be able to do something fun with C. S. Lewis that would keep the kids' interest as well as mine!

I LOVE history, but just reading a textbook with facts and dates never worked for me as a child. In fact, I thought I was terrible at history because I couldn't remember all the dates. History is so much more fun when you can branch out and study maps, read period books, try foods from afar, and, of course share that fun with others.

So I started into my lesson plans and realized pretty quickly that having the right snack might just make or break my class (lots of boys present). After a few weeks I realized I could actually use the snacks we were eating to tell the life of C. S. Lewis! Yes, it's all a bit crazy and nerdy, but it's also FUN!

Check out some of the fun snacks we had a long the way and if you are interested in teaching a class like this yourself I've included a PDF at the bottom with all my lesson plans, mapping ideas, and timeline dates.

Week One began with C. S. Lewis' birth and early years in Ireland (today the area of Northern Ireland). It seemed like Irish Tea Bread would be the natural choice for a snack!

Week Two Found C. S. Lewis in France fighting World War I. A care package sent from someone like Mrs. Moore in England was just the thing:

Our care package included teabags, candy (in lieu of cigarettes), chocolate, and the famous Anzac biscuits that were made famous during World War I.

A picture of the Anzac biscuits:

Week Three finds C. S. Lewis settling in Oxford, becoming a Christian, and beginning the Inklings group at the Eagle and Child pub. I don't have a picture but I served the kids root beer in brown bottles and pub snacks like potato chips and pretzels.

Week Four covers the time of World War II with C. S. Lewis staying home and working for the Home Guard, hosting child evacuees in his home, and working on his writing. We had Welsh Cakes and raisin boxes to emphasize the simple recipes used during the war that fit with the rations the British were allowed.

Week Five covered Narnia! YAY! We had Mrs. Beaver's Marmalade Rolls and Turkish Delight. Definitely fun for the kids!

Week Six covered C. S. Lewis' marriage(s) to Joy Gresham which made wedding cake an easy idea!

So that sums up our class! We used Ephesians 2:10 for our memory verse and I continually emphasized to the children that they need to be thinking about and praying about how God can use their various talents and abilities to serve others and bring glory to God.

And now I want to dream up another history class.... I should have been a history prof, but perhaps I wouldn't have had as much freedom in the classroom.

Click here if you would like to download my PDF lesson plan.

Please note this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"Every saint in heaven is as a flower in the garden of God, 
and holy love is the fragrance and sweet odor that they all send forth, 
and with which they fill the bowers of that paradise above. 
Every soul there is as a note in some concert of delightful music 
that sweetly harmonizes with every other note, 
and all together blend in the most rapturous strains 
in praising God and the Lamb forever."

-- Jonathan Edwards

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Indiana State Fair

 This year I got my fill of State Fair fun! Between family and friend trips I made it there four times! (plus two more times to pick up and drop things off!)

The last time I went we had to wait for 20 minutes in the car while a random thunder shower passed over. The after effects made for beautiful photos! Speaking of weather, we've had about 6 tornadoes in our small suburban town this week! The weather has been crazy! Very thankful that no one I know personally has been affected.

Michael and I decided to have a date night to the fair. We caught the last bit of horse racing.

And we enjoyed some fair food which was a rare treat. Yum yum!

Going to see "world's largest pig" is always fun, except that I feel badly for the poor thing -- especially when the weather is so very hot.

The sheep barn is the next best thing to driving the Scottish countryside, right? Plenty of sheep to photograph and exclaim over.

For dinner I chose chicken on a stick and fried pickles. The pickles were better than I expected and had a sweet note to them.

I love the Lego farm scene and I wouldn't mind having it in my house (well, maybe in smaller versions). Farms have always held a very special place in my heart.

There was a new Lego exhibit celebrating Indiana's Bicentennial. Loved the covered bridge.

Another Bicentennial idea was painted Bisons (Bison-tennial, right? but of course the bison features on the state seal). The county groups that entered were so creative!

I loved all the country scenes that captured what Indiana is like.

The painting was quite good on so many of these!

The Pioneer Village is one of our favorite parts of the fair and it's a must-stop at the penny candy store where you can still buy candy for a penny! (limit of 20)

The vintage kitchen always draws me in.

The younger kids and I went to the fair for a school field trip. We had rain on this visit too. But we had fun and had a few laughs at the Pirate Show.

I love the horse barns because they remind me of Windy Foot at the County Fair, one of my favorite childhood books, which we just had to start re-reading after our fair trip.

The pig barn always has two mother pigs who have recently given birth and it is so entertaining to watch the adorable baby pigs and how much trouble they cause!

 The horses in the horse barn are beautiful! We didn't get to see any horse shows but we did walk around and admire the horses in their stalls.

We loved this sheep with his crazy hair!!!! Reminds me of a certain relation of mine.

The sheep have to look perfect for the shows! So different than when they are in the fields.

I loved seeing all the zinnia entries in the agriculture building. Every year at fair entry time I am way too stressed to think about trying to enter anything and then when the fair rolls around a few weeks later and school is underway with a regular routine I always think, "I could enter some things! Maybe next year." Someday I will.

There was a record-setting giant pumpkin at the fair this year. Can you imagine driving by a field and seeing these things growing??!

Another tradition of mine is stopping by the rug hooking table and thinking that maybe I will one day take up rug hooking. I loved this flower version with the flowers coming right up out of the rug.

The church ladies met one evening at the fair and that gave me a chance to get into the arts and crafts building and see quilts, and knitting, crochet, and other needle arts. So much fun!! These items were all made with wool from Indiana!

The rain produced a rainbow at the fair!

 A friend recommended the smoked pulled pork and I was so glad I took her up on that idea! It was amazingly delicious!

We stopped into the historic drugstore on the fairgrounds.

The pulled pork friend also introduced me to this candy -- anything maple is an easy win with me.

The ladies raved about these smoothies from the giant strawberry stand.

We ended the ladies' night with a trip to the bunny barn. How can one resist these cute animals?!!

This bunny had eye makeup on like a teenager.

Don't you want to cuddle one of these?!

This bunny seemed to be a true velveteen.

No wonder Beatrix Potter drew bunnies!

The ears on this variety were quite amazing!

I think all the women wanted to take a bunny home.

And so that ends our fair adventures for this year! It's fun how things you do year after year become family traditions.

It's another wet day here and the forecast says more crazy weather for the next five days or so! Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Please note this post contains affiliate links.