Monday, December 30, 2013


Starting with Thursday December 19th, we became busy bees.  We decorated the house and porch.  We began baking cookies, decorating them, preparing other yummy goodies for snacking and Christmas dinner.  We even took a day and went shopping, then added wrapping gifts to our to-do list.

By Christmas Eve we were all done.  It was a lovely evening and Hannah captured it well in pictures and a poem.

Christmas Day after Divine Service, we had part of David's family here.  Good food, good conversation, and good games made for a good day.

Since then, the youngest three have played with friends at their homes and ours.  We've watched various movies and tv shows, read books, listened to lots of music and have had an overall general joy of doing whatever.

This week the weather turned colder, although not nearly as cold as was predicted, and all day today the snow fell.  I'm still working on our Christmas cards and I predict they should be in the mail by the 8th day of Christmas.  We plan to spend this week lazily as well.  More tv shows, books, and movies, with even a possibility of seeing Frozen in the theater New Year's Day.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Soup's On

Need a new soup recipe?  Try this one.

Cabbage and Sausage Soup

It is so yummy on these cold wintery days.

The recipe is from Linda's Low Carb Menus and Recipes.

Monday, December 09, 2013


Our tradition for when to put up the Christmas tree and decorations is "whenever works."

In keeping with tradition, this year it won't be till the weekend before Christmas.

This week is the last week of college classes for Hannah and Ellie.  They have papers and projects to finish.  I will continue to do lessons with Nathan, Abby, and Sam for the first three days of this week.  Plus, we have two families arriving on Thursday who will stay for the weekend.  We will once again attend the midnight premier of The Desolation of Smaug and enjoy a fun-filled weekend together with lots of food and games.

Next week Hannah and Ellie have finals Monday through Wednesday, therefore I will do school work with Nathan, Abby, and Sam those days.  Starting Thursday, December 19th, we will spend our days baking and decorating, shopping for and wrapping gifts, not to mention lots of time to listen to Christmas music, watch movies, and read books while snuggled under blankets and drinking coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

We cannot wait.  But we must.  We have work to do before hand.  Until then, we will enjoy the new tradition we started this year.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Set in Motion

It is done.  Last night I clicked the "buy" button on the digital scrapbook of our Europe trip.  I have completed many scrapbook albums over the years, but never a digital one. I am nervous, anxious, excited, and hopeful.

When we planned the trip we were all these things as well. With no experience in such a trip we did not know what to expect but we had ideas and hopes.  That is how I feel now too. Never having done a digital scrapbook. it was hard to figure out which pictures to use, what to write, and should I do it this way or that way, with this company or that one.  There were so many choices, just like in planning our trip.  None of these questions had a right or wrong answer.  All were simply a choice to make.

When David clicked buy to purchase the plane tickets, we knew we were going.  Whatever might happen on that trip, good or bad, we were going with the family to Europe.  That one purchase set it in motion.  When I clicked buy last night to purchase the digital scrapbook, it brought back those memories.  Whatever mistakes in pictures or words I made are there forever.  The scrapbook is done.  This will be the book that keeps the memories of our fantastic trip alive in our minds.  I cannot wait to hold it in my hands.  Yes, nervous, anxious, excited and hopeful emotions are swirling through me and will be till the postman delivers it to my door.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Little Things

My husband remembered that I have been wanting a hand-held mirror.  While shopping yesterday he bought one for me.  It makes me smile that he thought of me and purchased something for me that appears to be so small and insignificant. When in reality, those little things are just great big expressions of love.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

School Update

We are in our twelfth week of school.  I cannot believe it either.  Our schedule and routine has become natural and Nathan, Abby, and Sam have become adept at moving through their daily list.

We aren't as far in some subjects as I had expected.  History in particular.  That is one I always have trouble gauging what I should expect, what I should plan, and what actually happens.  We will finish Ancient Egypt before Thanksgiving and move on to Ancient Greece and Rome.

Other subjects have gone better than I expected.  The Geography book I bought has been well-received and they read on average a chapter per week.  I could do more, but I will try to remain positive and remember we are learning just by reading.

Another that has gone extremely well is Sam's science.  He is reading through Exploring Creation Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  We haven't done many of the experiments, but he is always telling me about what he reads.  He also writes down what he learns either on paper or in a lapbooking form I might have found.  He will finish this book before Christmas.  I have on the shelf Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day and I found this site.  I think I will get it for him and have him work through that book and complete the lap book in the winter and spring.

David has been using Lingua Latina with Nathan and Abby this year. Switching to this curriculum has been good.  Both kids are picking up Latin better and enjoying it.  They love the story aspect of this and don't mind that some work is done on the computer.  Sam and I are working through First Form Latin.  I will finally advance beyond "pre-school" Latin as I plan to continue through the books as Sam does.  I even bought a workbook for me to fill out and Sam enjoys quizzing me on our vocabulary.  Currently we are learning the Perfect System.

We found a new piano teacher and she has been well-received.  All three are showing continued improvement.  We also found a new oboe teacher for Nathan.  So far we have only had one lesson, but based on it, I think she will be good for him; re-inspiring him to practice and play.  Abby continues with violin and Sam is not-so-patiently waiting for us to find the means for him to learn a second instrument.  Currently that wish is to learn cello.

Hannah and Ellie have adjusted to their college schedules.  Hannah still hates her required PE class and Ellie is constantly telling us about her theater class.  Both are working about three or four nights per week at Pizza Ranch as well.  We have grudgingly adjusted to not having them home for lunch and often supper.  We all, though, love when everyone is around the dinner table, like it used (and ought) to be.

Overall this year has been a success.  Twelve weeks is twelve weeks. Our daily and weekly rhythm is more natural. As we come upon the busy Advent and Lent season, I think it will serve us well in keeping up with some of our bookwork.  Or did I just jinx us?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dirty Dishes

I have had to do dishes by hand the last couple of days as there is a problem with the dishwasher.  While doing this I've had these thoughts:

1. Remembering doing Laura's dishes while staying at her house a couple of weeks ago.

2. How lazy modern appliances make us.  "I hate dishes" or "I hate laundry" is often uttered from our lips, yet we have dishwashers and washing machines and dryers that make that task less burdensome.  Those I hate statements reflect most on our selfish, slothful desire to want to do what we want when we want.

3. I think that if one did dishes by hand after every meal, owning fewer dishes is a possibility.  The same ones would be put to service each meal.

4. I don't mind doing dishes but I really hate putting them away.

5. How come it seems like the dish work has taken less time doing them by hand than when the dishwasher is also put into use?  Is it because I just wash till they're done instead of juggling who is supposed to load and what will fit and what still needs to be washed?

6.  Do I really save time or water or energy with a dishwasher?

7. Would I want to give it up if mine is broken?

I know the answer to the last one - no.  I do like the dishwasher.  Such life-shattering thoughts while soaping the dirty dishes, aren't you glad I shared them?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Happy Things - Friends' Posts

My friend Jane started to post happy things to her blog as a reminder of the good and happy things she has surrounding her.

My friends Elephant Child and Susan thought it was a grand idea and followed suit.

Whether or not I decide to do the same thing I do not know.  But I wanted them to know that it makes me happy every time I read one of their posts.  That makes for a lot of happy days and reminders to me of what I have that is similar surrounding me in my own life and home.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Doner Kebobs - First Attempt

Ever since I posted this picture

and stated I was craving the delicious doner kebobs we ate all throughout Germany, I could not stop thinking about them.

I googled recipes and read many different ones.  I watched various youtube videos of people showing how they make them.  I thought and thought and thought about how I could make this yummy meal.  I feared failure but finally decided to throw caution to the wind and try.

I knew I did not have the resources to make it on a spit, nor the finances to try it with lamb, but decided to try to get as close as possible to the taste I remember.  After reading several different recipes I settled on this one and this one and proceeded.

First I bought a three pound roast and sliced it as thinly as I could.  I  cut the thin slices into strips and then placed into a 9x13 pan.

I mixed together:
2 onions which I chopped into a fine pulp in a food processor and drained out the liquid
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 Tbsp salt
1 heaping Tbsp oregano
Pinch of whole rosemary that I crushed with my fingers
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin

I poured this over the meat, covered and refrigerated it overnight.

Late the next afternoon I made tzaztiki sauce.  My sister-in-law, Michele, sells Wildtree and this is a product we decided to try together.  I followed the directions on the jar using Greek yogurt, grating 1/2 a cucumber, and mixing all with 1Tbsp of the Wildtree tzaztiki seasoning blend.  It should refrigerate for at least an hour.

That evening, David grilled the slices on the Kamado Joe.

While he was grilling, I made a salad of red cabbage, shredded carrots, cucumber slices, and chopped tomatoes.  Instead of eating it on pita bread, we simply put it on our plates, topped with the tzatziki sauce and ate.

It was so yummy!  The taste was just right.  The meat was a little tough like I expected and a better cut of beef would be tastier.  But I got the seasoning right and that made me happy.  I will keep experimenting with types of meat, and I am still thinking and contemplating how I can make it more authentic, aka, on a spit.

It might not be exactly like we had all throughout Germany, but it was close.  A good first attempt, one worth trying again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

20 and 50

This summer marked two anniversaries, just 11 days apart.  My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and eleven days later, it was the 50th anniversary of my in-law's wedding.  All the  brothers and sisters and children gathered in our town to help Grandpa through a bittersweet day.

First we all gathered together that morning for Sunday's service.  These were the flowers that David and I put on the altar for these special occasions.  The flowers at my wedding were daisies while my mother-in-law had giant mums.  I think the bouquets turned out beautifully.

After church everyone came to our house.  Last year David and I rearranged our basement to make better use of the couch and chair we inherited from his brother.  When we finished, we thought it would make a great space for people to gather and enjoy watching a movie together or sleep-overs, or games.  As you can see, some of the cousins put it to the test.

Both these pictures give me a big smile and make me happy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Middle-Aged Mind

I still cannot figure out why I have such trouble posting to my blog anymore.

I had once thought that it was because I did not have anything to post.  But that is not entirely true.  I have an 18th birthday tea party I could write about, or the day I spent with many homeschooling friends, or the progress on our schooling.

I had once thought that it was because I did not have my pictures downloaded to share.  That is a problem, but I have not taken that many pictures lately that I could even download.

I had once thought it was because I am trying to focus more on the youngest three and their studies.  That is true to a point.  We are far enough along in our year that they are working more independently, and asking me questions as needed.  I have time I could be writing while they are working, like right now.  One is practicing piano, while two are working on math next to me, while I type.  I answer questions as they ask.

So what is it?  What is keeping me from posting on a regular basis?

I think it is middle-aged mind.  My brain anymore cannot switch from one thing to another or multi-task like it once did.  I am going to have to make more lists for myself to keep on task, adding "blog" on a bit more regular basis.  And I probably should include a space for "blogpost ideas" so when it is time to blog, my mind does not draw a blank.  Maybe that will help this brain to think clearly for awhile longer. Then again, it might not.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Books and a Backbone

Some parents I know have established the rule that their child does not have permission to watch the movie until the book is read.  We never had that sort of parental backbone.  Our children were watching Lord of the Rings movies from the time the oldest was 9 and our youngest was 2.

To be fair to our parental strength, our children did know the story.  We had listened to an abridged audio version traveling around in our Odyssey.  David and I knew the stories as we had read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for the first time when the first movie was released.

As for Harry Potter and all of its movies, we watched them as a family after I read the book out loud.  This was over the course of a year, starting in July 2006, and again mostly while traveling around in our Odyssey.  I would read a book and then we would borrow the movie from the library.  We caught up to the current movie, The Deathly Hallows and saw it in the theater much to the delight of all.  We finished the sixth book right at the time the seventh and final book was released.  By then we were waiting with all the other obsessed fans for the next movie to be released.  Once again, to the delight of all we watched them in the theater.  Now that I've written all this I guess we have a stronger backbone than I originally thought.

But I should not pat myself on the back to soon or it will break.  Those youngest kids, who were not reading on their own yet, continued to watch the movies, both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter over and over and over again.  Sure, they still listened to the audio books at bedtime, but none of them decided to actually pick up the book themselves and devour the words for themselves.

My back finally broke late this summer when I was tired of the constant question, "Can we watch something?" Not to mention the ensuing arguments when one or another did not like the choice a sibling offered.

"No more Harry Potter movies until you have read the books," I declared.  Stunned looks and squeals of "not fair" followed my proclamation.  No amount of puppy-dog eyes, or pie-crust promises would work this time to change mom's mind.  By this point, all that did was to increase my stubbornness to continue down the path I'd entered in frustration.

"But those are so long, it will take FOREVER to read them," uttered my youngest.  Still, I did not relent.  "Well then, it will be forever till you watch another Harry Potter movie," was my heartless reply.

We have well-worn copies of each book on the shelf.  They were immediately taken by Abby and Sam.  They sat and read, first complaining, but then as the days progressed, telling me more about the story.  Then when the first book was done I was scared.  I was afraid that would be it, no more interest in reading and they would just try to out-wait my decree.

But it didn't.  Instead what I have been hoping would happen for years finally arrived.  They became so interested in the story, I would find them at every possible moment reading the next book.  I finally heard them tell me, "But mom I'm reading,"  and I have had to tell them, "Put the book down and do your work."  These statements have been pure joy to me, as it has been long in coming.

Sam has surprised me the most.  He has just been devouring them, one right after the other.  He finished the third book on a Tuesday.  Library day is generally Thursday.  He kept asking if we could go earlier so he could get the next book as our only other copy was being read by his sister Abby.  I finally gave in and told him I could pick it up on Wednesday at a different library that I would drive by after an appointment.  He was delighted.  I couldn't believe he wasn't able to wait even one day to start the next book.

Each time we are at the thrift stores, all the kids scour the shelves for books to buy for their own collection.  Each are obtaining their own copies of Harry Potter as well as Narnia, and books by Rick Riordan, and of course The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Readers, that is what David and I are.  We are constantly reading something, books, magazines, articles.  Hannah and Ellie followed suit shortly after learning to read around age 6.  Nose glued to a book, that is how we are.  But Nathan, Abby, and Sam?  I worried.  For a long time I worried they wouldn't be readers.  Even though many other homeschool moms had told me not to; had shared their own stories of how their own offspring finally decided reading is inviting at later ages than "normal."  But I was scared and worried.

They were right, I needn't have worried.  These three are reading for pleasure, are reading for assigned school work, their noses glued to a book.  Our parental backbone is still in place, aching and creaking for sure, but still there.  They have learned that movies are good and fun and enjoyable, but the books give so much more.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

All Good

This is the week we look forward to all year.

Good friends, good food, good times.

Sitting by the fire, or the lake, reading a book or chatting with Ralph and Amy.  Playing Settlers of Catan every night.  We even have a list of who wins that dates back to 2010.  Seeing and hearing our children play with each other in the woods, in the lake, in the cabin.

We have our routines.  Games in their cabin, eating in mine.  Archery two times during the week, the voyager canoe at least once, swimming whenever it is warm.

It really is a highlight of our year.  A most relaxing, enjoyable week.

Good friends, good food, good times.

Friday, September 06, 2013


In the last week or more I have become aware of the silence.  No, not from my children, although they are old enough now to understand Mom's need for quiet sometimes and therefore tone down their "conversations" or take them outside.  That is, once I get their attention and remind them to do just that.

No, the silence is early in the morning when I awake.  There are no birds singing to me anymore.  It made me sad.  Although fall is my favorite season, I realized that morning when the migrated birds no longer were singing their wake-up calls, that I do not like that part of fall.

Our goldfinches still visit, but they are year-round visitors.  We will enjoy watching them change from their bright summer colors to their more muted ones of fall and winter.  We also still see hummingbirds come and feed.  I keep wondering when they will head south for their winter retreat.  I'm glad they are filling their tummies from our nectar.  It is fun to watch them flitter and fight with one another.

Well, for a time, morning silence.  Then in the spring once again I'll enjoy the songs and chatter of my returned feathered friends.  It reminds me of our liturgy where we bury the Alleluia for a time till it bursts forth in glorious splendor on Easter Sunday where we cannot sing or say it enough.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Thinking and Pondering on Siblings

I used to wonder how people who grew up in the same house could be so different.  But I have five offspring of my own and it is quite clear to me now how this can be.

They are different individuals with their own likes, dislikes, tastes, and distastes.

Yes they have the same parents, but those parents aren't the same parents to each child.  They are different to their first child then their last child.  They are different to the child who is more responsible by nature than to the one who needs more supervision.  To the auditory- learning child, they tell them how to clean the toilet, while having the visual learner watch them clean it the first time in order to learn.  They are more cautious and worry more over little things with the first, but generally not as cautious as much with the last.  Worry stays, but changes with the child.

The house is different too, even if the family never moved.  More children often mean moving and rearranging to make the best use of rooms.  Or it just means there is more stuff and time management becomes an issue.  The neighborhood isn't the same either.  One child might not have any neighborhood kids his age while a younger sibling seems to be invited over all the time.

And the siblings.  The oldest never experiences having an older sibling and all the joys and pains there-in.  While the youngest never experiences having a younger sibling to teach, pester, and love.

Why, with all this, did I not understand how people who grow up in the same house can be so different?  Probably because I just never thought about it too closely.  But parenthood makes one think about a lot of things.  This just happens to be one I've been thinking and pondering lately.

Monday, September 02, 2013


Some days I miss Germany.  The places, the walking from here to there and back again, the sights, the smells.  Today it is this that I miss:

Doner Kebabs were one of our favorite lunches.  One day we will get back and enjoy another.  Till then, I'll just sigh, and remember how utterly delicious and filling this sandwich was.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Father's Joy

My youngest daughter turned 12 on Wednesday.

Abigail's requests:

Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls

Lunch: Chicken Piccata
Supper: Red Beans and Rice

She will also celebrate with homemade pizza and cake and ice-cream on Friday when family and friends are able to join us.  She didn't want to wait till then for her gifts from her siblings or parents.  So after attending Wednesday evening service, she opened her stack of gifts.

From Sam:

From Hannah, Ellie, and Nathan:

From Dad and Mom:

She was quite confused with our gift of push pins.  Why would we just give her those? But when I handed her the bulletin board she had written on her wish list, those push pins made more sense.

Happy 12th Birthday Abigail!

P.S. Thanks to Hannah for the great pictures (minus the cinnamon roll one I took with my iPad)!

Rhythm of Days

We are in the middle of our second week of our new school year.  Overall it has gone quite well.  The theme is fresh and new and keeps us moving.

In the past I have always planned an overall outline for each subject so I know what to teach next and where we are headed.  Math is the easiest, because generally, it is simply the next lesson.  Although I do have to take care to speed up and skip lessons not necessary to the particular child's learning needs or slow down and do more work for a certain skill.  But that can't be really planned ahead of time.  History, though, is one that is relatively easy to do an overall plan.  I teach it on a four year cycle and use lists and curriculum to help me set up what topics I plan to cover in the year.  Other subjects, like grammar or writing, Latin or geography, need to only be divided into how many days each week I want the kids to study that subject and then figure out how much of the book should be done each time in order to finish in the year.

But I really want this year to go well. Therefore, I did a lot more planning than I have done in a long time.  I planned what I wanted to do in each subject each week.  No, not for the whole year.  I'm enough of a veteran to know that never works and only disappoints and discourages.  Instead I simply planned for about four weeks.  I decided that was enough time to give me a good gauge of how things were going.  Was that too much?  Not enough?  Did we get it all done?  Did we feel overwhelmed?  It also meant that I would not have to plan weekly, which would get tiring real fast. And if the plans were useful, then it would give motivation to plan when completed with the first weeks!

But, I did not even stop there!  My "wonder-homeschool-mom" hat was apparently still on and I obliged my son who begged for an actual schedule.  He likes to know what time he should be doing a certain subject.  I have hesitated to use a schedule in the past few years because they never seemed to work.  I think that is because I had to try to juggle five kids' education. This year, though, I only have three to primarily educate so we are going to try once again.

I found this schedule on-line (detailed directions on how this homeschool mom creates the schedule are found here), and since it is laid out in the way my brain thinks, I made one just like it for my family.  Well, David set it up, two actually.  One for Nathan, Abby, and Sam, and a second one for Hannah and Ellie.  Then I worked on fitting the pieces of our day into time slots, printed them, and hung them on the door.  We will have to make a few adjustments but, for a first attempt, it has worked well.

Summer weather has arrived the last two weeks.  Sunny, hot and humid.  There are two good things about that arriving as we begin our year.  One, we like to be inside where it is cool.  Two, the kids like going to the pool.  What great motivation to get their work done in order to enjoy swimming in the late afternoon and early evening! I don't mind soaking up the sun's rays while enjoying a book.

Last week I had Hannah and Ellie here to help me.  I was constantly having them do this load of laundry or fix lunch, or wash the dishes or even some windows all while I was teaching their younger siblings.  But not this week.  This week they began their college classes.  They leave each morning, lunch in hand, and return home in the afternoon, sometimes only enough time to change clothes and head to their job.  What a change it is to have them both gone during the day.  It is fun to hear all about their day and their classes when they get home.

Keeping up with this new schedule and working hard to have a successful year is exhausting.  We all are quite ready to lay our heads upon our pillows in the evening.  I think it will get better as the year goes along and the rhythm of days becomes natural.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Latin Makes All Things Epic

This time of year is filled with back to school sales, preparations, cryings, and rejoicings.  Many times I stumble across themes that teachers or schools cut out and display boldly and prominently on their bulletin boards, in their hallways, or rooms.

Homeschoolers, of which I am a part, don't necessarily do this, even though we participate in the back to school sales, preparations, cryings, and rejoicings.  But last year, I did come up with a theme for our year.  I failed in the art display since I didn't display it at all anywhere, but I did repeat it over and over again to the family.

"Listen to Learn and Learn to Listen"

Not bad eh?  It was a favorite saying of my dad's. Since he has been enjoying his heavenly rest for thirteen years, he hasn't been able to pass it along to his dear grandchildren.  But I remembered it and knew how much his grandchildren needed to be reminded of it daily.

And like most brick and mortar schools the theme worked well for awhile.

But it is a new year!  New preparations!  New Mottos!

Because the members of this family have a tendency to put off till later any job, my one-word theme came to mind on more than one occasion.  I thought it was a brilliant theme for our year.  I shared it with the family the other night.


Hannah commented it should be in Latin, Dad concurred and uttered, "Nunc."  Ellie then repeated the Latin phrase learned her very first year of Latin in Prima Latina, "Nunc aut Numquam."  We all realized that my one word theme, which was brilliant, is now epic thanks to Latin.  I might even cut-it out and display it prominently in several rooms.  But most assuredly I will loudly repeat it each time a child responds, "I'll do it later."

"Nunc aut Numquam"

Friday, August 02, 2013

Come Stare With Me

I finished my china hutch.  I love it.  I absolutely love it.  I sit and stare at it and smile.  It turned out just as I had hoped.

David and I bought this hutch his fourth year of seminary.  David's brother Mark had decided to follow David and Paul, another brother, to the seminary.  (If you need to keep count, David was a fourth year, Paul was on vicarage, and Mark was a first year). Mark and Beth had two little girls and had to sell their home and find a new one in Ft. Wayne.  They had no room for their dining room hutch.  We said we would buy it from them.

I always liked this hutch and it has served me well for many years.

But in this current parsonage, it just didn't quite work.  The floors in the dining room are hardwood, the room dividers, and the trim are all wood, the table and chairs are wood.  It was just too much wood.  Last fall while at camp, I had asked my friend Amy if she thought my hutch would look good painted.  She told me absolutely and that she knew which paint I should use.

It took me till July to work up the nerve to buy Annie Sloan's paint, but I am so glad I did.  First I used it to paint my porch.  Then this week, it was tackling, finally, my china hutch.

I took off all the hardware, set up a table in the living room, topped it with the top of the hutch, strew the drawers all over the dining room table and floor, turned on Issues, etc. on demand and began painting.

Martin and Katie kept watch.
Annie Sloan chalk paint is easy to use.  No sanding or priming needed, just start painting!  And it sticks to most surfaces - even metal.  That made the daunting task of painting a china hutch not as scary, and even kind of fun!

After everything was painted I used Annie Sloan's wax to help harden the paint.  This was another scary step to me, but once I started, it was quite easy!

I bought one of her brushes too and would recommend you do the same.

After waxing everything, and giving the the base a second coat of wax, I let it dry overnight and then buffed the entire piece.  I also took all the hardware and spray painted them a matte black.

Finally, after a week of walking around all the pieces scattered in the dining room and living room, David and I put it all back together.

This morning I put all the china back inside.

The color seems different because of the lighting.  The ones with the china were taken during the day, while the ones of it empty were taken at night with the lights on.  Either way, I love it.  I absolutely love this color - arles.  Come on over, I'll make some coffee or tea and we'll sit and stare at it together.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Project Update

The boys room is nearly complete.  A few shelves to put up which will then provide a place for the remaining detritus littering the old bedroom.

My dining room hutch is painted and awaits a coat of wax.  I should be able to get to that today.

Shelves in the garage are complete and look great!

Once the boys' old room is empty, it will need a thorough cleaning from top to bottom.  Ideally we would like to paint it the color Abby chooses before we move in her bed and dresser.  It sounds reasonable, don't know if it is doable.

Once Abby's room is complete and she's moved in, Ellie's room will need a makeover - clean, paint, organize.

I'm still hoping this can all get done before classes begin at the end of August for Hannah and Ellie.  I'm looking forward to having time once again for reading.  At the moment, I currently have no brain power to follow a story.  I simply allow my brain to petrify as I check Face Book, emails, blogs, and play Solitaire.

Eyes to See

On Sunday, the Gospel reading (Luke 11:1-13) was Jesus teaching the disciples to pray.  He gave them the words of the Lord's Prayer, then told them a parable, then a promise, then compared evil earthly Fathers who can give good gifts to Our Heavenly Father who will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.

It is the promise that my eyes were opened a bit more this time.  "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you." This comes in teaching the disciples to pray.  After Jesus has given the words to pray, and telling a parable about persistence, then this promise, followed by how evil fathers even give good gifts to their children.  This promise of asking and seeking and knocking isn't about my own individual worded prayers, but about the Lord's Prayer.

I should be that impudent neighbor asking, seeking, and knocking.  The Lord's Prayer isn't to be prayed once and check it off the list, but to be prayed constantly.  Morning, Noon, and Night, and even in between.  In it Jesus teaches us to pray for what is needed most, and "how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

How simple it all seems when God opens our eyes to see. What should I pray? The Lord's Prayer.  How often:  Without ceasing.  But won't that tire and bother God the Father?  No!

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Picnic in the Rain

The Plan for Thursday, July 25th:

Leave our home at 1pm to drive to Spring Green, WI in order to attend the 7:30pm viewing of Hamlet. Hannah, Ellie, our friends Andrew and Mindy, David, and I also packed a picnic supper to eat in the scenic area surrounding the outdoor theater.  After the three and a half hour performance we were going to drive all the way back home, arriving approximately 4 or 5 in the morning.

The Reality:

We left on time, had a nice drive visiting with our friends.  It rained the whole way, but I told them I had checked the weather and it said rain for WI wasn't to start till Friday.  We arrived at APT and it wasn't raining then, so we took our picnic lunch and sat at a picnic table under one of the trees, spread out our supper, and began swiping at mosquitoes while trying to eat. Then the rain started, so we ate while holding umbrellas.

But there was still a good hour and a half before the play was to begin, the rain should slow down, or at least be light enough that the show would go on.

Nope.  It continued to rain, getting harder at times, slacking off at others.  We ventured on up the hill, waiting under the porch like-structure of the gift shop, concession stand are along with all the other attendees to see if they would start on time or wait to see if the rain would pass.  Then, the speaker crackled and the announcers voice said they would hold the start as their meteorologist said the radar looked as though the rain should move along and the play could go on.

A second announcement some time later gave the disheartening news, "The show will be cancelled as the optimistic outlook has changed."

Big sigh.

Along with everyone else, we walk back down the hill, not discussing the lovely performance of Hamlet, but instead how disappointed we were about not getting to see the play.  We began our drive back home after 8pm and therefore arrived home four hours earlier than our original plan.

The tragedy?  Andrew's favorite Shakespeare play is Hamlet.  We had told him and his wife how wonderful this theater is and they were so excited to come with us to see.  But, due to the rain, he won't get too.  The remaining performances of the season do not work with his schedule.  And, frankly, I'm not sure it will for ours either.

Big sigh.

Well, we at least had an enjoyable visit with our friends who didn't mind us taking them four hours away for a picnic in the rain.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Are You Starving?

On Sunday, July 7th, I was fed.
On Tuesday, July 9th, I was fed.
On Friday, July 12th, I was fed.
On Sunday, July 14th, I was fed.
On Wednesday, July 17th, I was fed.
On Sunday, July 21st, I will be fed once again.

6 times in two weeks the Lord's Body and Blood was placed into my mouth for me to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of my sins.

Also in those same last two weeks I have been blessed to be immersed in God's Word.  From July 9th through the 12th, I attended multiple services each day with approximately 1400 others at the Higher Things From Above conference held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.  From July 15th through July 18th with about 100 other attendees of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN.

I did not realize how much I was starving until I was fed so abundantly.

I'm always telling my kids to drink more water even when they are not thirsty.  By doing so, their bodies will be craving more water, which is good and healthy for them. These two weeks has shown me that being adequately hydrated in God's Word and with His Body and Blood is very similar.  By being fed, I want more.  I crave the spiritual food that will make me strong unto salvation. May God, my gracious heavenly Father, continue to do this good work in me and sustain me through the times of fasting, and bring me and all believers into everlasting life.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Summer - Watch Out For Dominoes

Last summer was great.  It was hot, and practically every day I took the kids to the pool.  They swam, I read.

This summer is quite different.  It hasn't been nearly as hot, I've yet to go to the pool with the kids (they are quite thankful their Aunt and cousins take them), and last week was the first time I picked up a book to read.

Why the big change?  Because this is the "Summer of Getting Things Done."  All those projects that have piled up are being tackled.  And like dominoes, lead to another falling onto the list.

David is busily building shelves for our garage.  Over halfway done, we have found plenty to fill what is already built, and more that needs to go on the new ones which hopefully will be completed tomorrow.

You might wonder where all these things were before the garage shelves were built? Some on the floor of the garage of course, but some in the storage room of our basement.  That room was the first to fall of our domino-line of projects.  David needed more room for brewing supplies, and the storage room was the perfect place.  I'm completely happy to encourage this tasty hobby, so make room we did.

The things to fill the new shelves are coming from the "toy room."  They are the toys the kids no longer play with, but can't bear to sell or give away.  They are content to store them in the garage, just in case the Duplo Legos or Lincoln Logs or Thomas the Tank Engine call their names.

The toy room will be converted to the new bedroom for the boys.  The boys' current room will be given a fresh look as Abby's room, and Ellie will finally have her own room which she has dreamed about ever since Hannah got hers.

Not only do we need to move some of their old toys to the garage we needed to come up with places for the toys they still play with - all the games, all the PlayMobil.  We looked around and came up with a plan that involved new Ikea bookshelves for the school room, reusing the old school room shelf as a game shelf, and a new Ikea cabinet for PlayMobil.

See how the dominoes fall?

I also wanted to paint the porch and my china hutch this summer.  But amidst all the dominoes, David and I left for a few days in June to attend the CCA Symposia.  We missed the last two conferences and this year chose to not bring the kids.  It was wonderful to go back, listen to good theology, attend two beautiful Divine Services which fed us with Christ's Word, body, and blood, and to eat at the best custard shop anywhere - Kopp's.  After getting home from Wisconsin, I did go buy the paint and was able to paint the porch.  The china hutch is still waiting its turn.

This week started with Strawberry Day and our friends arriving in the evening.  They will leave Friday morning to continue their vacation.  Next week is Higher Things - Hannah, Ellie, and I get to go.  The week after that is the CCLE conference which I attend by myself.  While I'm off attending conferences, David and the kids will be keeping my mom company.

After all that, we will still have plenty of projects to finish and hopefully not too many more dominoes will fall onto the list.  Because if they do, this will go from the "Summer of Getting Things Done" to the "Fall of Getting Things Done."  Although that has a better ring to it if I'm referencing dominoes.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Parsonage Porch

We have a wonderful front porch.  We have always loved it and spend quite a bit of time on it; reading, eating, sitting.

It is north facing, so it is always cool and comfortable.  We love eating meals on the picnic table.  Over the past ten years, we've put the porch to good use and it shows on the floor .

This week I finally picked a color and began the work of showing the porch floor a little love and thankfulness for all the enjoyment it brings to us.

Since I finished, we all have enjoyed our porch even more.  The cheeriness of the color, the smoothness of fresh paint under our feet, but most of all, the return to relaxing and enjoying our parsonage porch.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Surprise

On June 14th, we watched as Hannah and Ellie boarded the MegaBus and headed to Chicago.  They planned a surprise visit to their best friends, Ramona and Lydia.  The reason?  Ramona's 18th birthday.

We were told they were completely surprised and many squeals of laughter filled the moment and the few days Hannah and Ellie could stay.

Hannah, never without her camera, took enough pictures to capture practically every moment.  Which is great fun for us who didn't get to go.  You can see them, if you haven't already,  here and here.

And these four girls are setting quite the precedent.  Here is another music video they did while together.  I think it is my new favorite.

22 from Hannah on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Learn From Experience

I get a lot of questions about homeschooling.  Many are looking for how it is done, what it looks like in my home, trying to quell the never-ending fear that arises when a parent adds the responsibility of educating their own offspring.

Today I've realized the best piece of advice I should be giving is simple.

Build floor to ceiling and wall to wall bookshelves.

Yes, you read that right.  Pick a room and a wall or two, measure, and then either shop at Ikea or, if your the handy type, the lumber store.

Doing anything less and you'll only regret it* as the years progress and the books pile higher.  At which time, you'll pick a room, measure a wall or two and head to Ikea.

Sure your shelves may start out looking like there is plenty of room. . . 

But before you know it, they'll look like this and you'll wonder which other wall would be good for more shelves

*Speaking from experience and a room full of piles until the new shelves are able to be put it into place.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I'll Never Understand

Why do people wash the plastic plates and cups?

Wasn't the purpose of buying those things to make clean-up involve not washing?

Red Solo cup, I love you because I don't have to wash you.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Live and Learn

Homeschooling families don't necessarily follow the brick and mortar school schedule.

That means they don't have to be doing school from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m. Monday through Friday late August till early June.

They might be.  More than likely, though, they are not.

They are living life as their family schedule dictates.

That means that they might be doing school during summer!

Maybe it is to catch up. Maybe it is to finish a book. Maybe it is starting a whole new subject that sounds interesting. Maybe their life is just easier to do school work in the summer more so than in the fall or winter or spring.

Homeschool families are that - families living and learning throughout all of life.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Always a Fun Place to Visit

Just four days after our last snowfall, we took our three youngest to the zoo.


In the Zoo, the lions sleep today.

Don't you just think, "Aslan?"


and Polar Bears!

Not to mention monkeys:

I mean these monkeys:

We watched the seals playing

And then walked outside just as they were teaching one of them tricks.


Now treat time!

After lunch we toured the Botanical Gardens.  We all enjoyed the sunken garden.  It was so pretty, and smelled so nice.

We're such cool cats.