Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Ever since Christmas day I have been focused on the new year. This week so far has been full of plans and work to make things ready for 2011. We cleared out the closets that so easily become over-run and even tackled the basement in this effort to start fresh. Everything is plain, clean, and simple today.

Brian and I have some very different ideas about what daily life should be. This book-nerd girl married a tech-geek guy, and while there is sometimes a clash born out of that difference, there is one thing we agree on: Keep It Simple.

Last year I named my year presence. Brian was in school 20 hours for his last semester of college plus working 60+ hours a week and I felt a little crazy keeping everything together with house, kids and studio while he was mostly absent from daily life. The focus on presence helped me to narrow my mind to only the task at hand, instead of my brain scattering through all the tasks for the day and even week.

And did I accomplish what I set out to do? Sort of.

The thing is, I tried to do it. I tried to make it happen instead of truly making it prayerful and focused with God in the center. I tried to make it the way I wanted it instead of letting God shape it, and what a more glorious thing that would have been! Oh what I missed due to selfishness!

Has it really been 5 months since I felt like God dropped me so that I would have no choice but to let Him re-make me? I know now that it was the only way to have such a massive change of attitude. I know now that He didn't drop me, I hit that bottom on my own where I could finally admit my defeat and all I could say was

God, I cannot do this. I need you.

As I thought about a word for this year, there have been many to cross my mind. I can hardly settle on one, it seems, because no one word seems to encompass my spiritual need.

For this year, my word is Change.

If I could subtitle it for clarity I'd include: Grow, Reach, Be Willing, Abide, Pray.

And it's all a little scary. I mean, at any time God could ask me to really grow, to reach for God-sized things, to be willing to go, to stay, to do hard things... And if He really asks? How do I step forward? What is the next thing?

... and that's where I get stuck. That's why the word for this year is Change. I revert again and again to my natural state of doubt and worry, my need to know what the next step will be, what exactly might be asked of me so I can plan for it and be prepared...

And yet God doesn't always give us next steps. And I think in my case He may not for a very long time if ever because I seem to desire that information so very much. I need a re-boot, a full change in perspective, if you will, and this is the year for change.

Is it simple? Not at all. I'm a little worried about that, since it so goes against the established order around here, but this is my step forward in faith. Taking the things that are a little messy, a little complicated, a lot different, and proceeding anyway. Praying, centered on God, trusting that He guides my progress.


Ann Voskamp invites us this week to define the coming year. You can visit her at A Holy Experience.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Knits, Part 1

This year I made more of our gifts than ever before- 7 gifts in all knit over the last three months. I was so worried about not being finished in time that I started in October with the Kernel scarf, and kept going straight through.

First up on the Christmas Knits tour are the Elf Shoes [Rav link]:

Please forgive the flash photos, but Christmas came early in the morning this year- this is the first year Ezra has really understood how Christmas morning works and his usual waking time is about 6:30 a.m., so it was even earlier than that....

My boys have wide feet and since I felt like the felting process would be pretty forgiving I made them both the youth size. I was a little nervous about the sizing, but it turned out well. The boys definitely needed the extra width!

I took them yarn shopping with me for this project, but told them it was for a secret project. They did catch me working on them once or twice, but fortunately at points in the projects when they couldn't tell what they were!

These took about 4-5 hours per pair to knit and then 2 cycles through my washer to felt to the correct size. I used plastic bags wadded up inside the slippers to block them since I didn't want the boys to know what their gift was and I was surprised at how well that worked! Again, I was nervous after they were dry that they had felted just a bit too small, but they turned out perfectly.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Knitting is Dangerous

... or so my husband says. Since the incident he has made every effort to convince me to give it up.

So I was carrying things upstairs a few days ago- just a random assortment of end of the day stuff- a book, a few little green army men, a shirt, my knitting... and I tripped on the stairs.

I just happened to be using metal needles in my knitting (which I rarely use these days!) and my thigh now has a lovely hole the size of a US 5 needle 2 inches deep.

I could share a really gross photo, but I'll forgo that and just wish you all a blessed Christmas week. I had fully intended to share a few more snapshots from our Advent waiting and Christmas preparation, but I've mostly been hanging out on the couch with my leg elevated, knitting and reading with my boys, the camera put aside. We had a lovely weekend with one side of the family and this week is quiet as well as we await Christ's birth.

Praise God for:

:: The preparation I did earlier in the month. Even though not all my plans will happen I don't feel like we're missing anything.

:: That all the Christmas gifts are taken care of! Everything has been ordered and received and knitted or sewn. I was done early for the first year ever and thank goodness for that small fact!

:: That my husband was home when the needle incident happened and he kept our boys from seeing what happened, especially Ezra who is so very sensitive about injuries.

:: That I do not have to work for the next two weeks- no climbing up and down stairs to the studio while my leg heals!

:: Tetanus shots.

:: My two sweet boys who took Daddy's words to "take care of your mama" very seriously when he left for work this morning.

I'll be back soon to share our Christmas with you, and maybe sooner pending the doctor's decision tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Postcard #2

Marking the days with easy crafts,

simple ways to focus our minds on the calm of the season.

The fresh clean white is like a breath of renewal in our home.

craft links:

yarn wreath

coffee filter wreath

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent Postcard #1

After lighting the candles each day

we watch Mary's progress,

ever closer to the stable where she will give birth

to the Christ.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas Daybook

Outside my window... It has been cold and gray for several days now. Maybe snow this weekend? We'll see...

I am listening to... Manheim Steamroller. It makes working around the house a more exciting venture!

I am wearing... Jeans, a long sleeve tee-shirt and cardigan, and knee socks. This type of outfit is fast becoming my "uniform" now that it's so cold.

I am thankful for...

Quiet mornings

laundry done early

an unexpected free hour to read, write, knit, whatever...

my sisters

I am thinking... about knitting. My brain is stuck on the Christmas projects yet undone, and I'm trying not to stress. I have plenty of time for what needs done, but I'm sure something will go wrong....

I am reading... Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, more Elizabeth Zimmermann, and continuing our family read-aloud of Treasure Island.

I am creating... Christmas gifts in the evening hours, lesson plans in the early morning.

Always learning... We're taking care of basics each morning in about 30 minutes then spending the rest of our time on great Christmas books, making cookies, making art, and being all around relaxed.

Around the house... I'm in "maintainance mode" until Christmas break in the studio. Once Christmas break is here though I'm finishing up the closet revamps we started on Thanksgiving break.

I am planning... for next semester. and I'm resisting the temptation to start working on first grade stuff. At least until February or so.

Towards a growing faith... Brian and I are continuing our reading in the New Testament, almost done with Matthew. My own reading has been in Colossians this week.

I am praying... for a new nephew arriving in late April/ early May.

One of my favorite things... hot chocolate. Mmmmm....

A few plans for the next week... Finishing up this semester in the music studio, marking the days with the Jesse Tree, singing together and celebrating early with extended family.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holy Mess

It was a long day Sunday. I rose early to get to church ahead of my family, ahead of most of the congregation.  Eight of us meet early to rehearse praise music and be sure we know all the cues for the service. We sing, play, pray, and ready ourselves for worship. We work hard in rehearsal and worship God in the service, no matter what might happen. We’ve seen proven time and again that even if a weird buzz pops up on a speaker mid-song or the musicians aren’t quite together for a few bars God still uses that imperfect music to call hearts to Him.

We pray together,  the eight of us, for job interviews that might finally pay off after a year or more of unemployment, for an unsaved sister, we praise Him for the work He is doing in our church these last few months.

I try to focus on this time of worship, but my brain is jumping hoops remembering all the work waiting at home. If only all the externals would vanish when its time to worship. I whisper words begging forgiveness for my unfocused mind. Father help me be here instead of worrying about later...

And I remember that long ago it was Mary and Joseph over-full with worry- after all they were called on to go take care of taxes when the birth of Jesus was imminent!

Faithfully they headed off to be counted, awash in the scandal of pregnancy before marriage, Mary heavy with child for the journey, and traveling so long only to find no room to stay, the babe so close to birth… 

Complicated, disgraced, MESS.

And in the mess of life, in the hay and the imperfect place to bear a child our salvation is made possible.

In the faithfulness of a young girl and her husband-to-be our salvation is here.

From such humble beginnings is born the babe who will renew our hearts and minds, transforming us in His grace.

Stable, manger, HOLY.

Ann Voskamp invites us to write about Advent this week. Won't you join us?

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Math Experiments: Capacity

Welcome to our lesson on capacity! We read the book Capacity** together and gathered containers together to compare capacity. We decided to use only clear containers so that we could see the water very clearly.

First, the boys filled each container with water. Ezra used a 1 cup plastic measuring cup that we usually use in our rice sensory box, and Ender used the small pitcher we usually keep in the fridge so that they can pour their own drinks. We had a sponge and a towel on hand just in case of spills!

Ender estimated which glasses held different amounts of water from greatest to least, and we lined them up in that order.

Ender poured each container into a 4 cup measuring cup and measured each amount to see how his estimations worked out.

We learned that "tall" doesn't necessarily equal "most".

** We love this series of math books by Henry Pluckrose. Our library has most of them and they've been a really fun way to introduce new concepts.

Friday, December 3, 2010

{This Moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Australia Unit

We spent this month learning about Australia.

Our focus for these continent units is not to be all encompassing, but to give Ender a little look at the people and animals that live in different places. We are not keeping to a specific schedule, but generally we read a little each day, Ender gives an informal narration and about once a week I write down his narration and he illustrates his work. We did use a few components from some lapbooks available on Homeschool Share, but we used them as crafts or notebook pages instead of creating an actual lapbook.

These books were selected for my kindergartener, though this unit could be used with older or younger kids by adjusting the amount of written work. My 3-year-old tagged along during the reading and on a few coloring pages, but of course none of the written work. We did not use lapbook components that included an inappropriate amount of writing for my son's age unless we could adapt them in a way that he could write something shorter, but by including all of those components this could work for a student through 3rd or 4th grade.


Great Barrier Reef
Australia in Colors
The Pumpkin Runner
Wombat Walkabout
Dingoes at Dinnertime
Katy No-Pocket (Sandpiper)
Aboriginal Designs

These two links are to DVDs that we really enjoyed, found at our local library:

Families of Australia

Other Resources:

Australia activities and lapbook
The Pumpkin Runner activities and lapbook
Marsupials lapbook


 World Map Outline (we used the robinson projection with no labels for this project)

1. For the first activity we found Australia on the map. Ender traced around Australia with a marker and we talked about how far away Australia is from our home.

2. For our second activity we found Australia on the map again and discussed the types of habitats that can be found there. I had Ender guess what types of animals live in Australia based on the habitats, and then we talked about the animals that actually live there.

3. We used the book Aboriginal Designs as a starting point for some interesting artwork.

Other Continent Work:

Continents and Oceans


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Waiting for the Manger

As we brought boxes out of storage last weekend in preparation for Advent, we gave the "big job" (the tree) to Ender and Daddy. It was Ezra who came alongside me to open the most carefully wrapped pieces. 

"Who is this?" he asks, holding the pregnant figure carefully.

"Mary. She has a long way to go. Do you see her belly? There is a baby in there."

His face lights up. "That's baby Jesus!"

We pull Joseph from his wrapping, followed by a few sheep and a donkey. Next a shepherd, and he listens closely to the story again.

Where were the shepherds that night? In their fields, and it was the angels who came to tell them!

"They should go in the stable now."

I explain that it isn't time yet. We have to wait.

The creche is empty, waiting for a pregnant mother tired from her travels, ready for a moment of rest. My little three-year-old looks at the pieces scattered around our living room- wise men together in one place, the farthest to travel, the shepherds in makeshift fields, Mary and Joseph traveling... and he says "That's a long wait."

That night we light the first purple candle and Ender fills his little brother in on Advent. "It's a lot of waiting, but it's exciting!" he says, and Ezra catches on.

This is expectation at its finest; the very best of endings where a babe is born to become the man who will save the world. He is the reason we sing, the reason we celebrate, the reason we give of ourselves.

At the end of the evening shepherds, wisemen and a young couple are set for their slow journey to the manger over the next month. There is a tree ready to hold Jesse Tree ornaments and a circle of candles as our reminder of the wait- one lit, the others awaiting their turn.

Every little piece is for these two boys, to show them the journey taken by a young expectant mother and her husband, a journey taken by lowly shepherds and great kings- the journey they too must take to find the manger, the Christ!

Ezra lingers downstairs, and he reaches to touch Mary.

"When does the baby get home?" he asks.

"Soon." I say. "Every day they get a little bit closer, and on Christmas we will get to see the baby."

He smiles. "I can't wait to see Him."


Ann Voskamp invites us to write this week about preparing for the coming of Christ.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Handmade Christmas: Finishing up!

I thought I'd share my Christmas handmades again as I'm getting closer to the end! I finally crossed the finish line on Kernel about 2 weeks ago and I'm pretty close to finishing the boys' requested sweaters.

Kernel Scarf:

Pattern: Kernel
Yarn: Maggi's Linen [Rav link]
Needles: US size 6

Once I got the hang of the repeat and could "read" it well it went pretty quickly. I feel like I'm a lot more confident in my lace skills after this project, and I hope that I continue to gain confidence as I work more and more lace. I also learned to graft with even tension for this project. I've grafted sock toes before, but this was harder grafting work for me personally. Trying to maintain the same tension as I had knit with was a little bit of an adventure (read: I may have had to graft a few times)

This scarf measured 55" long and 7" wide before blocking and after blocking grew to 67" long and 9 1/2" wide.

Also in the Christmas queue:

 Ender's sweater:

I'm following Elizabeth Simmerman's EPS for the measurement here and I'm through the first decrease on the yoke. Another good evening of knitting and I'll be finished with this! I know it's just plain stockinette, but that is as requested.

Yarn: Cascade 220 wool [Rav link]
Needles: US size 8

Ezra's Vest:

Pattern: Diamond Back argyle Vest [Rav link]
Yarn: Hobby Lobby I love This Yarn [Rav link]
Needles: Size 8

 This has been a nice little intro to intarsia for me! I was able to complete the front in about 3 hours one night and didn't get too tangled up in all the loose threads on the back.

All that is left is to weave in 50 gazillion ends, stitch up the sides and shoulders, and add the ribbing at the neck and arms. It won't take long, it's just getting up the gumption to take care of all the loose ends!

Additional Christmas gifts:

1. A requested prayer shawl for my mom: in progress, 13 repeats to go of an 8 row repeat across 300 stitches. I'm finishing a repeat in about 90 minutes, but I've been really working at finishing the sweaters first.

2. Slippers for each of the boys. I have to grab yarn for this on Friday and I've made a goal for myself of being finished with Ender's sweater and Ezra's vest by then, as well as being another repeat or two farther in on the prayer shawl. I'm planning to use the Elf Shoes pattern by Pamela Wynn. [Rav link]

3. And maybe more? I might be crazy. We had our drawing for the 2 people we'll be buying for on my side of the family so now that I know who we're gifting I kind of want to knit them each something. Yeah... I don't know about that either. Totally depends on how fast those Elf Shoes go. Oh yeah- and did I mention that these 2 gifts would have to be ready for the 18th? We'll see what happens here...

Monday, November 29, 2010

School on the Fly

While we are not really any one type of homeschooler, my unschooling tendencies have been popping out during this holiday season. Aside from daily pages (a little reading, a little writing, and a little math) our school time has become "pick a book off the list, pick a project, create, create, create!" It's leading us to some fascinating places.

:: Our recent read of Peter Pan as well as the timely gift of a playmobile pirate ship from grandparents has led to a multitude of treasure maps, the wearing of eye patches and plenty of "ARGH!!!!"

:: Ender saw me looking through a cute little book all about making Little Birds and he declared one of the birds for himself. When I told him he'd have to use a real (read: sharp) sewing needle for this project, he looked a little bit daunted, but I assured him I'd be right there if he had questions. He has stitched up one seam at a time and later today he'll be ready to stuff the body and complete that portion. I'm so glad he chose a project he's going to love.

:: I ordered a stack of books from the library for our Christmas reading, and we'll be picking those up later today. I love being able to point the boys to the reading basket and say "pick one!"

:: I cut up strips of paper with some easy open-ended activities on them and these have been great for having a bit of structure for Ender but a lot of freedom to interpret what each activity means. I've included the PDF I made if you'd like to use it.

Things to Play

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Love Much

I took Ezra with me to buy our advent candles last week. He doesn't really remember last year's candles, so I told him again about the circle that ends with Christ in the center. Such a simple connection that calls us to the manger each year, but to my little one it will feel brand new and full of excitement. As we talk I pray my 3-year-old hears and understands. We talk about Jesus' birthday, about a birthday cake and celebration. We talk about making gifts to give each other, spending time together, a special breakfast... and then he interrupts.

"What do we give to God on Thanksgiving?"






I started at the beginning of the list, but it made no sense to Ezra. He was looking for something tangible- an outward sign of thanksgiving.

When we went home we wrote a list together- a first grattitude list for a three-year-old boy- and prayed together to tell God thank you for each thing. Pictures were drawn and hung on the walls, a physical and real sign of praise for the things we depend on and the people we love.

Making my own list along with Ezra's and when I find myself beyond the usual- family, house, food... the stresses that have built up in the last few months became evident. I find the thoughts in the back of my mind bouncing around:

"Yes, thank you that Brian has a job, but You know he needs something better, more permanent."

"Yes, thank you for providing what we need, but we really need something more dependable."

I shake my head as if to erase it all and try to begin again. Thank you, for what we have right here, right now. Teach me, Father, to be content right here, right now, with what I have in this moment.

Some days it feels like there isn't much left to give after allowing my mind to be taken over by the worry and doubt- What if today is the day they tell him there is no more work? What if the job interviews don't pan out yet again? Haven't we been riding this train long enough that we deserve a break?

And there is the problem. Deserve. It's only by God's grace and mercy and sacrifice that we don't get what we truly deserve.

This thought floods my mind and I am brought to tears thinking of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with fragrant perfume and tears. Jesus' had so much to forgive her for and still she came- she came with what she had, praising Him, understanding that it was He who would save her from her multitude of sins.

God does His best work when we have nothing left to give and yet we still come before Him, offering up the only things left. Our commitment, our love, our hearts. Oh, He works in us in other times, as well, but as Jesus' says in the parable: Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. (Luke 7:47 NKJV)

Ann Voskamp invites us to write about giving thanks. Won't you join us today?

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So, intarsia...

My "learning knitting technique" technique has been to pick projects I really like and learn whatever skill it is I need to know to complete that project. Perhaps I should be more orderly about learning new things, but it's worked pretty well so far. Ezra's chosen vest pattern is a sweet argyle vest [Rav link] in blues and grays, with a bit of red showing up as well. I didn't look far enough into the pattern and assumed that because I'd done a bit of stranded color work I'd be fine. Then as I was near the finish line on the back and had to put that red diamond in I realized what it was...

Turns out it's intarsia, baby, and I was a little more than scared- another unknown skill I hadn't planned on acquiring!

I went straight to knittinghelp, and watched the intarsia video there. It didn't seem *too* bad- keeping track of a few colors at a time would be okay in such small patches, and those hanging ends that seem to bother everyone else so much don't bother me.

Then it was into the thick. I cast on for the front and wow- slow going. Not difficult per se, but between trying to make sure I lock the previous color before switching plus working with 7 (!!!!) different yarns in one row, it's not fast progress. Add to that that I didn't really like the color arrangement I thought would work so I ripped back to the ribbing...

It's going to look great, but it's times like this when I consider learning continental knitting just so I can knit with both hands and maybe speed up a bit on color work.

Other than the intarsia invasion Christmas gifts are shaping up nicely. I have only the yoke and a bit of grafting left on Ender's blue sweater, the Kernel scarf is finished and still on blocking pins. The only bits left to start are the elf slippers [Rav link] (a pair for each of the boys).

And why no pictures of all this glorious progress you might ask? A certain 3-year-old may have misused a cord not intended for little boys so there will temporarily be no pictures until said cord is replaced. So photos of our beautiful rainbow fish paintings from last week, my finished Kernel scarf, nearly finished and seriously in progress sweaters for 2 little boys are out for now. I promise we have been making plenty around here!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Daybook

Outside my window... We spent the weekend outside cleaning up leaves and sticks, so the yard is looking great even if the sky is gray for the 5th day in a row.

I am listening to... Chris Tomlin. I love his voice.

I am wearing... Jeans, a long sleeve tee-shirt and cardigan, and knee socks. It's a cold morning!

I am thankful for...

Extra sleep just when I need it most

Christmas projects done early

Fresh advent candles ready for Sunday

Time off from work all this week

I am thinking... about the food article in Christianity Today this month.

I am reading... Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson, the continual parade of knitting books stacked up on the night stand, and continuing our family read-aloud of Peter Pan.

I am creating... Christmas gifts and Bible study plans in the evening hours, lesson plans in the early morning.

Always learning... This week it's all about Thanksgiving and a little introduction to the pilgrims. Since I have the chance to be home all day this week we have a lot of projects planned. :)

Around the house... I'm working on the closets that seem to get out of hand every 4 or 5 months.

I am planning... for Advent. I'm very much looking forward to the season.

Towards a growing faith... Brian and I are continuing our reading in the New Testament, still in Matthew. I'm reading more John Piper on my own.

I am praying... for friends with a big decision to make.

One of my favorite things... early morning quiet.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Lots of time with my boys, time to cook dinner every night this week, spending the holiday with our families over the long weekend...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Collecting Christmas Links

I know it may be a bit early for some folks, but I'm deep into planning for advent- if I don't start planning now we would be half through the season before I pulled myself together.

I have a habit of collecting seasonal links for the next year- we never get to every idea, but we do get to a few every year (last year I made these stacking Christmas trees) and I really like having the abundance of new ideas- you never know what will spark new traditions!

Here are a few we're looking at including this year:

Elizabeth Foss's HUGE list of links- reading lists, crafts, baking... seriously, you could spend hours looking through it all!

Fun and Easy Garlands to make with your kids

We are sooo trying this Peppermint Bark this year!

I love this Coffee Filter Wreath, and Ender agrees, so we added it to our craft list for next weekend.

I am also researching Jesse Tree options- this will be our first year using the Jesse Tree to structure our advent season. Ann Voskamp may have a version ready by the 27th- I'm sincerely hoping so! Her materials are amazing.


What do you do to prepare for the season? I'd love links to your family traditions, favorite Christmas books or favorite projects and crafts!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One step

I didn't mean to tell the story I told, but when a dear friend asked if she could pray for me words tumbled out- all the words I never meant to share. It started simply enough- that the restored faith of a family member has been underwhelming to me when I thought it would be so joyous. And joyous it certainly was at first, but a bitter spirit crept in during these last weeks and I found myself pouring the ugly out too- words of jealousy and anger - the true words stuck in my heart:

"I have been faithful through everything all these years when so many people told me it was okay to turn away. And does anyone remember my obedience? My prayers? My faith?"

I suddenly realized what I'd said, what it sounded like, what it really was . . . and I cried.

There I was, the prodigal son's brother, worrying about what people thought of me when all that mattered was a soul returned to the Father.

It has only been a few months since I heard those words come out of my mouth and I felt a punch to the gut that sent our house upside down. I hadn't even fully realized that I'd been harboring those thoughts before they were born into actual words, but with that realization came a serious attitude adjustment that affected the whole family.

Learning to truly be thankful is a process, you know- a hard and dirt-revealing process. It took a full re-boot to my heartsong, the words that live in me, that I breathe in and out every day. And I know it's not complete.

Sometimes choosing to be thankful is a drop-you-to-your-knees-in-awe kind of thing, but far more often it's choosing to whisper little words of thanks as you work through the day, one simple step after the other. Thankful as you make breakfast, a few words of praise with every folded shirt, as you drive to the library, tuck littles into bed...

One step in front of the other. Obedience, faithfulness in the little things that we are called to do.

Ann Voskamp invites us to write about giving thanks today. You can visit her at A Holy Experience.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Bigger Things

Never have I been more grateful for a timely post than I was when Sarah shared yesterday in Sometimes, I Feel Like Quitting.

After watching our 3-year-old running around in circles for a full 5 minutes my husband looked at me and asked, "Are you sure you shouldn't just plan to put him in school when he's 5? He's going to be really hard to teach."

I laughed and brushed him off with a quick joke: "He has two more years to shape up."

I know my husband is just joking, but it is certainly true- Ezra is going to need some totally different teaching techniques than his older brother and I'm still trying to figure out where he gets that crazy supply of energy that wakes him up at 6:30 a.m. smiling and ready to tackle the day. And this isn't the first time someone has mentioned this particular fact to me. Ender appears to be a pretty "easy" kid because he has a laid back personality and Ezra is . . . well, three. Doesn't that say it all?

Have I worried about how to teach him? Short answer: Yes. Do I hope he'll mature a lot in the next 2-3 years? Yes. Am I planning to ship him off to school? Not a chance.

Really what I think when people bring this up to me is how much more Ezra needs to be home, particularly in the first few years of his education. He will need more room, more time outside, more of a chance to experiment and learn hands-on because he is such a physical kid. We don't homeschool because it's easy or fun or always a lovely day- we homeschool because there are more important things than the little details of education.

Sarah's words are so much more eloquent than mine:

I believe in home education because I see incredible value in the child living and learning in the context of family life. Because I want sibling relationships to be stronger than peer influence. Because I want my child to love learning, long after graduation. Because I know that my most important job is to guide these children to the doorstep of Heaven, and I'm convinced that will be a heck of a lot easier to do if I can stand by their side for a good long part of the journey.

                                                                                               ~Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things

We have far bigger things to do with our kids than learning to read, write or add- we have been implored to guide our little ones to God. As Sarah said, how much easier if we're walking with them for much of that journey!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

{This Moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Early November Daybook

Outside my window... It is cold and crisp and we're waiting on a bit of much needed rain.

I am listening to... Casting Crowns. I'm so not the girl who longs to listen to Christmas Carols all year, but I felt the need to start early this year for some reason. Christmas music it is.

I am wearing... Layers. Lots of layers. Still having furnace wars with friends- you know- who can go the longest without turning the heat on? You're allowed to have the heat on if a baby comes to visit or if it snows. :) Whoever lasts the longest is the winner.

I am thankful for...

The chance to just stay home every day all week long, even though I worked

Ezra's morning cuddling
a few of the most beautiful words I've ever heard "I cleaned my room just for you"
the hard work of my husband

flowers on the table in November

I am thinking... about a friend's words: "We ask God to teach us to be patient or to trust Him but then we get mad when life suddenly gets difficult- isn't it just God giving you opporunities to be patient and trust Him?"

I am reading... The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (almost done!), a few knitting books stcked up on the night stand, and continuing our family read-aloud of Peter Pan.

I am creating... Christmas gifts and Bible study plans in the evening hours, lesson plans in the early morning.

Always learning... We finished up our study of Asia and we started reading about Australia this week.

Around the house... we were finally able to replace some very leaky windows last weekend and the difference in our heating is already tremendous. Now to replace the trim on the doors, re-paint . . .

I am planning... for Advent. I'm very much looking forward to the season.

Towards a growing faith... Brian and I are continuing our reading in the New Testament, still in Matthew. I'm reading more John Piper on my own.

I am praying... for my boys. Always for my boys.

One of my favorite things... desert for breakfast. Mmmmm...

A few plans for the rest of the week... finishing out the week in the studio, working on the house, and hopefully lots of artwork and knitting time this weekend!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In This Place

"Mama, I'm glad you're here."

Sticky fingers wrapped around my neck, and he sniffled as he tucked up against me. He forces his fingers between mine to hold onto me.

Little colds seem to hunt this child down- never serious, but just enough to knock him back a little. His usual "go, go, go!" attitude slows just enough that I can actually catch him and hold him for bits of time here and there throught he day. He still smiles, because this boy always smiles. From the second he wakes up in the early hours to the second he goes to bed, his ear-to-ear grin accompanies him everywhere.

He smiles even while his nose runs, cuddles close and settles in.

My thoughts immediately jump to discontent: wishing I could just be home with my sweet boys all the time, wishing for better work for my husband to make that possible, then it disolves into the kind of detailed discontent I easily find myself stuck in: If I stayed home full time I could cook the way we'd like, homeschool exactly how we'd like, keep the home exactly how we'd like...

Bad habit revealed. I find myself recently with this ugly habit of discontent that I justified for too long as things that were "good" to desire. But the truth is that God has me in this place for a reason, and He doesn't call us to have a heart longing for places we are not in. Our heart is meant to be devoted to His service right here in this place. Finding joy, purpose and grattitude in this place is virtually impossible while longing to be elsewhere.

So re-training begins. Taking thoughts captive, re-focusing on praise and thanksgiving, pealing back the longing words in my mind to get to the heart of the matter: trusting God. Lord, I know what is in my heart. Continue to teach me to trust You in the place I'm in, not where I think I should be.

It's a long process, this thankfulness journey. Sometimes 10 steps back before a tiny toe forward is made, but oh! That toe forward leads to contentment and peace, right here in this place.

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Ann Voskamp invites us to write about giving thanks. You can visit her at A Holy Experience.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Handmade Christmas

I'm still hard at work over here knitting for Christmas.

This scarf has grown quite a bit thank goodness, but I've been a bit stalled for the last week. I was knitting 2-3 of the 16 row repeats every evening and feeling pretty good about that progress until I hit a serious snag on Thursday night. I would knit a lace row and end up off by 1 stitch every time. Fortunately I'm only knitting across 49 stitches so it isn't too bad to rip back, but when you have to repeat the same row 4 times before you can move on that gets REALLY old. I finished only half of a repeat that evening and ever since then I've been knitting on Ender's Christmas sweater.

The lace pattern really is pretty and when it's going well it's a fun and interesting knit. I returned to it last night and made it through 2 repeats without any trouble. Only 9 repeats left before finishing the edging and completing it!

I don't have current pictures of Ender's blue sweater, but I finished the body up to joining the sleeves and I cast the first sleeve on on Monday. I'm currently "ribbing like mad" as Elizabeth Zimmermann puts it in an attempt to keep him in the sweater all winter even if little boy growth spurts attack in the next few months.

Still to work on for Christmas?

:: A pair of slippers for each of the boys (knitting)
:: Ezra's vest (knitting)
:: new pajamas (sewing)
:: drawstring bags (sewing)
:: the prayer shawl for my mom (knitting, and also probably not going to be finished by Christmas, but she knows that)

The current plan is to cast on Ezra's vest as soon as either Ender's sweater or the Kernel scarf are finished and next after that is the slippers.

I have a few days off coming up and I've already blocked time to sew on those days. The sewing is pretty easy so it shouldn't take much time, but now that I've just written those words I'm sure it will take twice as long as I expect. Isn't that always the way?

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Curious Art

Ezra has been interested in shapes for several weeks now, so I've been drawing various shapes for him to cut out or color lately. About 2 weeks ago his shape obsession evolved into something else- he started drawing his own shapes!

It's the next part that is so curious to me though: He draws a circle-ish shape and then very carefully colors over the line he made:

And after about a week of that, he has spent several days drawing shapes and then filling them in with patches of color:

I've never seen a three-year-old do this before! We have never had any kind of conversation about "staying in the lines" or anything even close to that conversation, but he has arrived to his own "fill in the shape completely" conclusion.

He takes this project very seriously and when he starts to work on one of these pieces of art he is completely focused for about 20 minutes. I think I can safely say it's the longest he sits still for any one activity!
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