Monday, December 5, 2016

Mondays are for Grace


"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, 
God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, 
whom he appointed the heir of all things, 
through whom also he created the world. 
He is the radiance of the glory of God 
and the exact imprint of his nature, 
and he upholds the universe by the word of his power."

Hebrews 1:1-3

Friday, December 2, 2016

Rachel's Sweet Sixteen

Rachel celebrated her sweet sixteen birthday just days before Thanksgiving. Our kids have been promised parties at certain big birthdays and 16 is one of them. So, I had to take the plunge, and with a great idea from Auntie Em, we planned a Murder Mystery Dinner Party.

 We bought a murder mystery dinner package online that told us just what to do. We set the party up in stages with appetizers, salad, main course, and dessert. This helped everyone to have plenty of opportunity to talk to other guests and accomplish their assigned tasks so the murder could take place and then be solved.

With two parties back-to-back (Thanksgiving/50th anniversary for my in-laws and this birthday party) I simplified by using a lot of the same decorating technics for both events! And, my sister, who invented the idea of the murder mystery, volunteered to help me pull the party off -- couldn't have done it on my own!

The party began with appetizers, provided by Auntie Em! Gorgeous!


 After the appetizers everyone moved to the front room for their sit down dinner (Emily and I served).

After the murder everyone congregated in the dining room for dessert -- Rachel requested mini pies instead of cake.


I'm sure you recognize my favors from the Thanksgiving photos. :)


Here are the girls mingling after their arrival. It was wonderful to see so many people come dressed up in costume!!!!


Here's the group! It really was terrific fun and I would love to do this again for an adult gathering although hosting something like this is SO much easier when you are only responsible for cooking and serving the food and don't have to also sit down and eat and interact.

The theme for the murder mystery was modern day fairy tale so there were modern takes on Prince Charming, Snow White, Cinderella, etc.


Rachel did a wonderful job of keeping the party going along the script. She elected to be "Prince Charming."


Here are the girls enjoying their salads and working on their secret tasks.


I loved "Gram's" outfit!!! Couldn't get over it!


Here are two sisters doing some sort of secret bribing or exchange of information.


The lights all went out at one point and the murder happened! SCREAMS!!


After some detective work the mystery was solved! Then there were prizes for best costume, best actor, and person with the most money leftover at the end.


On Sunday Grandma came over with the two cousins whom she was babysitting for the weekend. YAY! We enjoyed more birthday celebration and present opening.


And there were pies left to enjoy!!!!!


 A little help from cousin Arthur.


Rachel had to go to school on her real birthday but I think the festivities of the weekend made up for that plus the fact that she could use some of her birthday presents to get Starbucks on the way to school. :)

Happy sixteenth birthday Rachel!!!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mondays are for Grace


"It takes courage to listen with our whole heart to the tick of God's timing 
rather than march to the loud beat of our fears."

-- Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Family Thanksgiving

We just said goodbye to Michael's family after our bi-annual Thanksgiving celebration. It was a wonderful weekend together!!!

I am extremely blessed to have two pantries. This is what I call the "little pantry" and here it is the night before Thanksgiving with some of the pies waiting for the big day. Yum yum! Somehow this picture reminds me of a book I used to read as a child....maybe one of Beatrix Potter's illustrations. I can't quite put my thumb on it.


Michael's family came from Oklahoma, Chicago, Cleveland, and North Carolina! Besides Thanksgiving we were celebrating Michael's parents' 50th wedding anniversary! Quite an occasion to celebrate!


So the theme of the Thanksgiving decorations was "golden" for golden wedding. Lots and lots of gold.


The meal came together nicely this year despite losing my master list a few days ahead of time and having to re-create it. Of course the list materialized today after everyone left. Our menu included:

Spatchcocked turkey
Gravy
Mashed potatoes
Carrots with parsley
Green beans with balsamic vinaigrette and shallots
Butternut squash and sweet potato mash
Gluten free sage and onion stuffing (my favorite!)
Fresh cranberry sauce
Wild rice and butternut squash pilaf


The younger kids had their very own table in the front room. Lots of cousins to play with!


The adults enjoyed one long table in the dining room.


It was a delicious meal!


Afterward Michael's dad gave a speech telling about his childhood and how he and mom met and married (it was also Dad's 80th birthday this year).


Eventually it was time for pie!


This is what it looked like afterward! We then proceeded to eat pie for breakfast, snacks, and dessert for the next two days! Definitely a highlight of Thanksgiving!


We enjoyed a funny round of White Elephant Gift Exchanging.


And presented anniversary gifts to Michael's parents including this uncut sheet of 50 $1 bills which was a big hit!


The Golden anniversary favors:


And the happy couple!


It was fun to see the cousins together again after two years. Everyone was so much older, of course! Rachel and Kyleigh both love music.


Michael with all but one of his siblings.


We decided we needed a girl picture too!


This is my favorite picture of all -- grandparents with a dozen grandkids. YAY!


And so ends another thanksgiving season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Making Use of Mottos

Over the last few years I have begun to make use of "mottos" in our homeschooling. A motto is a phrase chosen as a guiding principle. Nearly every morning we recite these mottos together as we begin our day. Because we do this so often they roll right off the tip of everyone's tongue. Do my children think about what they are saying? Probably not, most of the time. Sometimes we stop to discuss a phrase or remind ourselves of the meaning of what we are saying. My goal with these mottos is to fasten them so securely in the children's memories that later, when it is important, these phrases will come back to haunt them (in a good and helpful way). 

When the kids grow up and wonder who they are I want them to know they are beloved children of the one true King, they are servants of others, they are responsible to be diligent keepers of the earth. 







I want the children to question in their minds: who can I love and how can I show that love? Do they ask these questions now? I'm sure they don't. But sometimes when I see them serving others or offering a kindness I point out that they are fulfilling this motto.
As with many things in homeschooling I often feel that I am benefitting the most from what we are doing. I'm quite sure I benefit more than the kids do at this point from reciting these sayings every day. The idea of victor/victim is a concept that will take a long time to communicate but life is going to be full of situations that will tempt my children (me) to feel sorry for myself and take on a victim mentality. It takes courage to trust God in bad situations.


It's best to learn this lesson young that life is hard but our comfort in that hardness is the presence of Christ. 



 I wanted to focus on gratefulness this year thus I added this motto. We have gratefulness journals which we write in most mornings and I chose psalms for singing that echoed this theme. Whether or not we are making progress? I think it's baby step after baby step. Progress is not usually seen day-to-day but more over great quantities of time.


So that's how I make use of mottos in our home and pray that my kids will grasp these truths and benefit from them in years to come.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Beautiful Fall

It has been a glorious fall! The temperature has averaged quite a bit warmer than usual, long into November! It seems the general consensus that the leaves haven't been as stunning as usual but I think I'd take the warmer days over the leaves.


Sun rainbows have been popping up everywhere! That is certainly a bit unusual.


We are so blessed to live just a few miles from an amazing park! Sometimes we go several months without being able to make use of it much but in October I went as often as possible, which was sometimes several times a week!


 Certain children take the offer of a walk more than the others do.


The SMELL of the leaves is just amazing. The whole forest feels so fresh.


The yellow light among the trees is just gorgeous.


And blue sky makes the best complement to orange trees.


Nature is such a wonderful escape from the regular busyness of everyday life.


The first week of November it was still warm enough to go kayaking! And we found a few stands of maple trees.


Here is my "little family" -- the ones I spend most of my time with these days.


Leaves, leaves, everywhere.


Maybe it was a little chilly?


Rounding dragon head point:


When we kayak we love to stalk the great blue herons. We try to see how close we can get before they beat their wings and fly off -- usually just around the corner where we can try this antic all over again. Typically we see 3-6 herons (possibly only about 2 or 3 different ones).


This group of trees was particularly beautiful.


An hour after we got home the sun came out and there was intense blue sky. I wanted to jump back in the kayak and rush out to see how these trees looked with that background.


Being out in the kayak brings me such joy -- it must be getting away from everything to a very quiet and beautiful place. There is a magnet inside of me that pulls towards this.


This is Laura's second year on kayak/canoe adventures. She is getting the hang of it.


And boys always find a way to have fun that includes giant mud messes:


We passed a sailboat -- sailboats always look so romantic and nostalgic.


Yay for fun in the canoe. All goes well for the first 3/4 of the trip and then there is a lot of, "Don't keep bending over the side. You're about to tip us over. Sit still please....."


Loving the adventure!


My favorite part of the fall garden is the marigolds. They come into their own and their strong perfume sends me right back to my childhood.


Putting out the old pumpkins adds a bit of color to the garden.


Isn't this mushroom pretty? I love its design.


These pine trees just beg to be climbed. James loves the pine trees.


Now the weather has certainly taken a temperature dive. I might not be so brave going out for walks. It's hard to believe thanksgiving is around the corner! Rachel turns 16 first and 16 is one of the years the kids are allowed a party. Always the same weekend/week of Thanksgiving!!