Monday, September 29, 2014

soup and school

A chicken carcass is simmering on the stove (NOT one of my hens!).  I'm going to be making The Pioneer Woman's Italian Chicken Soup.  It's definitely a soup day!  The sky is overcast, there's a little nip in the air and I'm probably lounging around in sweats and long sleeves since I got home from work.

As I sit here and sip my cup of afternoon coffee I can see my girls pecking around.  They are all so big and glorious now and we get along swimmingly.  They adore the sunflowers I dried for them and are experts at getting the seeds out (remember when I had to teach them that skill?).

School is going well all around.  I'm relieved and pleased and encouraged and happy.  Austin is doing really well in the high school.  One month in and he's getting A's in all his classes, except Algebra which is a B+ (no complaints here).  He's still working occasionally on the weekends at the restaurant and he's diligent with rifle team practice (6 a.m.!!).  I'm just really proud of my boy.

My Blake is doing awesome in homeschool as well.  He's very thorough and dedicated to a job well done.  In fact, I wanted to share our homeschooling schedule here.  I know it's always interesting to me to see what other homeschoolers do and maybe our schedule would be of interest to someone else. 

Since my work schedule can change from month to month we have to remain flexible.  I did drop down to working just 3 days per week and it has helped immensely.  We begin the week with Day 1 which for the month of September was Thursday but in October that will be moved to Wednesday.  We work on a 5 days per week schedule with Saturdays and Sundays free.  I'm thankful for the freedom and ability to be flexible!

Our schedule is not organized down to minutes and hours because at this level those needs change daily.
  • Day 1
    • English lessons 1 and 2 with Mom
    • Math lessons 1 and 2 with Mom
    • Bible lesson 1
    • Literature lesson 1
  • Day 2
    • English lessons 3 and 4 with Mom
    • Math lessons 3 and 4 with Mom
    • Bible lesson 2
    • Literature lesson 2
    • field trip or activity with Mom
  • Day 3 (the student flies solo)
    • Bible lesson 3
    • Science lessons 1 and 2
    • History lessons 1 and 2
    • Literature lesson 3
    • reading (student's choice) 30 minutes
    • typing lesson (
    • art lesson (self guided with the Artistic Pursuits book)
  • Day 4 (the student flies solo)
    • Bible lesson 4
    • Science lessons 3 and 4
    • History lessons 3 and 4
    • Literature lesson 4
    • free reading (student's choice) 30 minutes
    • typing lesson (
    • art lesson (self guided with the Artistic Pursuits book)
  • Day 5
    • quiz day
    • free reading (student's choice) 30 minutes

Sunday, September 28, 2014

three things

Last week offered to me three things I wanted to share.
#1   On a quick trip into Walgreen's my stomach began to beg for a snack.  I picked up a little bag of pretzels and a bottle of Argo tea (green tea ginger twist).  This tea was SO good.  Seriously tasty and perfectly sweet.  The company sells this flavor in loose leaf as well, something I'd like to try.  What else can I say about this tea other than, you should try it, if you can find it. 
#2   One morning when I was out to tend to my chickens, this sunrise greeted me.  It's always so surprising how quickly the sun moves through the morning sky.  One moment the sky is dark, then the red grows and grows, filling the air with a pink hope, red fades to orange and darkness gives way to light.

#3   I attended a ladies' conference, the ninth consecutive year I've been able to be there.  The theme this year was "An Instrument In His Hands".  Oh the parallels that are evidenced between a musician and his instrument and a yielded Christian in the hands of God!  I took lots of notes that will hopefully make their way here to my blog soon. 
Anyway, for the conference, we had a small orchestra  that I was honored to be a part of.  So. Much. Fun.  !!!  I don't often get the chance to play music in a group.  We met early to practice and all agreed  we could have stayed all night just making music together.  I even proclaimed, "I've found my people!"  Yes, I'm corny.  I've come to terms with it.
So...picture proof.  I'm in the middle. 

What you can't tell from the picture is that the girl sitting in front of me was playing....a cello.  Sigh.  The poor girl had to put up with my swooning over her instrument.  I asked her if it'd be ok if I maybe could play her cello, or just sit with it, or at least just touch it.  She let me do all three!!!  And I'm not even joking when I say it was a highlight of my year.  I was moved by the voice of the cello, my heart stirred as the vibrations passed from the instrument to me.  And I held back the tears of joy that wanted to pour forth.  I love the cello.  The desire of my heart is that God will allow one to come into my life.

P.S.  Another fun memory from the conference weekend.... sitting in a Denny's at 11:30 at night eating a Grand Slam breakfast of sausage, pancakes (with melty butter and drizzly syrup), hashbrowns, and fried eggs.  Good old fashioned comfort food and great company.  Both are heartwarmers. 

Monday, September 22, 2014


listening to... recently, I've been listening to a lot of cello music on YouTube and Pandora.  My heart adores the cello although I've never played.  There is a breathy sound that resonates in the recordings and I've not been able to tell if that is the bow, the hands as they change place, or the breathing of the cellist.  Anyone know?

eating...  Where I work we sell smoked salmon and today I was able to bring some home.  I've been snacking on that and giving samples to my Charlie-pup.  He approves.

from the kitchen... a loaf of pumpkin bread is in the oven.  For dinner we are having a build your own omelet bar.

drinking...  a sweet lady gifted me a bag of pumpkin spice coffee.  I brewed it this morning and enjoyed a hot cup and turned the leftovers into an iced coffee this afternoon.  It's great both ways.

wearing... boot cut Levi's, a sheer blue top with a lavender tank top underneath

thankful for...   After Silas passed away so suddenly on Friday, we were treated with much kindness and sincerity at our veterinary office.  The next day we received a pretty flower arrangement delivery from them.  And today a handwritten note of condolences came in the mail.  I'm thankful for those acts of kindness.

reading...  The Giver by Lois Lowry


feeling...  This week already has me beat and it's only Monday.   But to see the good in things: I am looking forward to a lunch date with my youngest son this week and a small trip out of town to a Ladies' Conference.

around the house...  I see memories of Silas and miss him in the voids.

thinking...  I've come to realize that I'm a fixer.  If somebody is hurt I try to give a remedy.  If someone is sad I try to help them see the silver lining.  If someone confides in me I give advice.  Well, I just realized that nobody needs my fixing.  Sometimes, most of the times, those somebodies in my life, just need my ear, my heart, and my attention.  I just need to listen and not jump to the fixing.  While it is a strength I think I have (when used properly and timely), it also becomes a weakness.  It's important to be mindful of hearing the heart.


Saturday, September 20, 2014


On a sunny afternoon I sat at my piano to play a few hymns.  Silas, our chocolate Lab, settled in beside me, knowing I'd be there awhile.  After a couple stanzas of a couple hymns, Silas' body seized.  I knelt down on the floor with him and the stillness of death entered the room, stopping his heart.  And all within a matter of seconds our Silas dog was gone.

There is such sadness.  And eleven and a half years of memories.  And tears.  And smiles.

He was a dog well loved and it is an honor to have been loved by him.

This is the first morning after.  He enjoyed a good morning, happy to simple BE in that moment.  So this morning as I did my chores outside, instead of having him as my ever present companion, there were tears.  But I saw beauty through those tears.  When I couldn't focus my eyes, the camera lens focused and captured some of the morning sights.

Rebuilding after a rainy night...

This web was receiving a beating from the breeze that whipped through
but the spider held tight.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

egg day

September 15th shall hereby be known as "Egg Day" for it is the day that my dear little Mintie (a Rhode Island Red) laid her first egg.  Maybe there will be no parades in the years to come to commemorate such a day, no fireworks lighting up the night sky, no mayoral speeches, but the day shall live on nonetheless, if only in my mind.

It began early in the morning, as I was burying my head under my pillow to steal a few more minutes of sleep.  The sun was shining brightly through the open window.  And Mintie was talking.  She's always been vocal, the loudest voice of the five hens.  But that morning, she had something to say.

I went about the morning chores as normal, releasing the girls from the coop to their daytime pen under the trampoline.  I fed them, watered them, gave them treats, cleaned their coop, freshened the nesting boxes that they sleep in.  And Mintie was still talking.

She became more "crazed" as the morning wore on and I had the thought that this might be the morning.  I have birthed two babies so I have an idea of the discomfort she was probably in.  I fixed up a nesting box for her and when I gave it to her, she was immediately interested.  As she sat in there, intermittently, the other girls watched, curious.

I had to leave for work, but I left Blake with the task of checking on her frequently.  Just an hour later he texted me a picture of her egg.

A perfect little brown egg.

Same day as the egg I harvested a few goodies from the garden.  I can't even begin to explain the joy this brings, this bit of farming I get to do.  But it is there, the joy, all pure and unadulterated, bubbling over in my heart.

Monday, September 15, 2014

beautiful life

A good, kind man passed from life yesterday.  Uncle Curt was my mom's little brother.  He was a kind soul. Kindness in his eyes, and his genuine smile.  He was diagnosed with lymphoma just months ago and chose to live the remainder of his life as naturally as possible.  I admire my Uncle Curt for how he lived his life and also how he chose to accept the end.  His life is beautiful.  His love for his family is beautiful.  Of course there is pain in the loss.  There are tears.  But shining brightest is the light that Uncle Curt has left behind in the lives of those that love him.

Until we meet again. 

Beauty.  I see it in a life well lived.  While there is pain and loss and heartache, the tears make the living that much sweeter.
I shared a few minutes with my neighbor, Della.  Her adult son recently passed away.  Cancer.  I watched as the men from the funeral home came by to pick up his body.  It was a Friday.  As they wheeled him out on a gurney, I could see Della, leaning on her front door for support, tears falling.  I knew she was probably seeing more than just a body being loaded into a car but the life of her son, memories, photos in her mind, snippets of conversations.  I stopped by just to check in on her a few days later.  She was still sad.  She reminded me to hug my children, tell them I love them every day.  And while I saw her pain, I saw beauty too.
If you can imagine a life as a large, grand painting.  See the vibrant colors, the rich textures, the beauty in the scene.  But also notice the shadows, the depth, the lines.  Without the shadows we would not see beauty in the scene.  It would be flat, dull, lacking. 
But a life, a life contains living, dying, breathing, loving, laughing, crying. 
Color, texture, depth. 
And it is beautiful.

Friday, September 12, 2014

lately: a list


1.  Beautiful sunrises that present themselves in the deepest of oranges and reds and fade to warm yellows. 

2.  Football games that run into overtime and end in a hard-earned victory.  Our guys have their first away game tomorrow.  I'm fixing sub sandwiches to have for our dinner after the game (ham, turkey, provolone, cheddar, lettuce, tomato).

3.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  What captivates me most about this book is that it is a story told by Death and it is not morbid but, rather, beautiful and poignant.  I am taking my time with this one, something I think the subject matter greatly demands.  There is depth here that requires consideration.


4.  My fall wreath.  I'm NOT a floral arranger, so really, this is just a haphazard assembly of dollar store items.  But it looks inviting from the street!

5.  Cinnamon Pear Cake
This is such a great cake.  For dessert, while it's still warm topped with some whipped cream.  For breakfast the next day.  So good.
Combine 2/3 c. sugar, 1/3 c. oil, 1/3 c. applesauce, 2 eggs, 2 t. vanilla, 3 t. cinnamon,
1/4 t. nutmeg, 2 t. baking soda.  Add 4 chopped pears and mix. 
Add 2 c. flour and mix.  Pour into a greased 13x9 pan and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

6.  Black shutters.  We can't afford to repaint the entire house this year.  But we can afford to update the existing shutters.  An easy coat of black gives the entire house a spruced up look.


7.  The last of the sunflowers.  They capture the sunlight so perfectly.  While their predecessors are drying on newspapers in the dining room these beauties are soaking up the early autumn afternoons.

8.  Homeschool and public school.  We are a week and a half into it and things are going well.  The homeschool student and I have settled into a good routine.  The public school student has found his way, found his locker, and likes his teachers.  Phew!
For homeschool we are using Landmark Freedom Baptist Curriculum and covering all the basic subjects: Bible, English, Spelling, History, Science, Literature, Math.  We are also using ARTistic Pursuits for Art class and for a typing course.
ARTistic Pursuits, High School The Elements of Art and Composition  -
The public schooler is taking Biology, Algebra, History, Spanish, Naval Science 2,  and English.  Rifle Team practices begins again on Monday.  : )

9.  My home on a sunny afternoon.  I like it here.


Monday, September 1, 2014


So here it is... two sons fight.  They bicker.  They compete.  They get really angry sometimes.  And I always feel like I'm the dam that holds back the torrent of water, standing solid against a flood of arguing.

Sometimes people in my house wake up grumpy.  Goodness knows, I don't care to speak for the first hour of my day!  But sometimes there are heart issues that rear their heads in those earlier hours of a morning.

And occasionally we are treated to an emotional rollercoaster by a member of the family.  Sometimes that is me.

But I've learned that I really don't have the luxury or even the right to entertain a bad attitude within myself.  I could be selfish and proclaim that my attitude affects no one but me but that is so far beyond false that I just don't buy it anymore.

As the wife and mom around here I hold a certain amount of influence.  A lot of influence.  I never asked for this responsibility but here I am holding the bag.

How I choose to behave (yes, it's choice) sets the tone for everyone around me.  I am the thermostat choosing the temperature of my home, my family.  If I wallow, they wallow.  If I snarl and growl, they snarl and growl.  If I am positive and kind, they follow in suit.  My attitude can be either a bolster to those around me or a stumblingblock.

It's easy, oh so easy, to be lazy in this area.  I don't want to be everyone else's cheerleader all the time!  I want to be able to yell "THIS SUCKS AND I DON'T WANT TO DO IT ANYMORE!!!"


I am the wife and the mom, and that man and those children trust in me.  And more importantly I'm a child of God and He has called me to do what is right.

So I suck it up when I don't want to, and I pray that my heart is changed when bad attitudes settle in so that there isn't a "don't want to" but instead an honest desire to do right by my family.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Proverbs 17:22
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.  In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.
Psalm 89:15-16
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies...her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Proverbs 31: 10 and 28