Thursday, December 19, 2013

Almost there!

Our halls have been decked since the day after Thanksgiving, and yet I still can't believe how close Christmas is. I keep feeling like I should do more with the kids to help them create memories of the Christmas season. Yet every time I go to start a project, it just seems like I'm forcing it. It feels like I'm adding chaos just for the sake of "tradition", though not even our traditions! So, this final week, we're doing less and just being more. Hopefully the memories of playing, laughing, singing, and snuggling will be even sweeter than a gingerbread house. And hopefully, in all this sweet time together, we can talk even more about Christ--because that is what it is all about, after all.

Friday, December 13, 2013


I think it must be true. Any day is made better with freshly baked cookies. Especially with a face as cute as this to share them with:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


We are getting our first real snow of the season today. 
The past day or two my mind has been heavy with thoughts about serving the Young Women and about our family. But somehow, sitting here with a warm bowl of miso soup, watching the snow fall, my thoughts are simply on the beauty and quiet of this day. That white, falling blanket is such a comfort, and so cleansing. 

I plan on spending many minutes just looking out the windows today. Yes, naturevision; soup; bread; books. My day is planned.

Friday, December 6, 2013

for Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Beautiful Books

We are ever on the look out for new children's books with which to fall in love. In our last library haul, we happened upon THREE we can't stop reading/looking at.

Mary Had  A Little Lamb has been a favorite of Lucy's since she was a baby. We usually pick out a copy illustrated by Tomie dePaola to borrow, but this week we went for one illustrated by Salley Mavor. I am in love. She uses fabric relief to create her illustrations, and it is quite incredible. I love looking at the different materials and fabric patterns/textures she chose for each page.

Charlotte Zolotow is an author I have taken notice of in the past couple years. Like Cynthia Rylant, I have loved pretty much everything we have read by her. However, in her book When The Wind Stops not only is the author wonderful, but the illustrator is wonderful as well. Zolotow, combined with Stefano Vitale, makes for a winning combination. The story is very sweet as you hear a mama and little boy talking about how nothing ends, it just becomes something else.

The third book that caught my attention is one by Nikki McClure called Mama, Is It Summer Yet? While the illustrations in the other two books are fairly whimsical, these illustrations are bold, cut-paper art pieces that are simple yet dramatic. I also love the story of a boy asking his mother over and over, "mama, is it summer yet?" and her responses as she turns him to the cues of nature to seek out his answer.

Another book worth mentioning is by the same illustrator as When the Wind Stops, Stefano Vitale. The Folks in the Valley: A Pennsylvania Dutch ABC by Jim Aylesworth is a fun combination of ABCs review and a look into the simple life of the Pennsylvania Dutch--and you know how we love anything farm-based here!

So, there you have it. Some beautiful books. Any books you have fallen in love with recently?

Monday, December 2, 2013


I took the children to a little park for a picnic the other day. We ate, played, explored, and enjoyed that we had the space all to ourselves. 

After spending some time down by the water at the far end of the park, we turned around to pack things up and I noticed another car had pulled up. Then I noticed the group it had brought. There were three boys and one girl, probably in their late teens or early twenties, all wearing dark, baggy clothing and smoking at the picnic tables without any type of smile or happy conversation among them.

I will admit that my first reaction was to hurry the children along to pack up. We were getting ready to leave anyway, but I wasn't impressed with our new company. We grabbed our blanket, bag, and remaining food, did one last trip down the slide, and were soon all buckled into the van.

As we were preparing to drive away, I glanced at their car and noticed something I didn't expect: a funeral tag hung from their rearview mirror. I looked back to the small group and suddenly I saw them with new eyes. They weren't just a group of angst--filled teenagers looking for a place to smoke and complain about jobs or college classes or the government. They were most likely a close group of friends that were all hurting together, trying to overcome their pain from a loss that affected them all. Their clothes and faces were dark because they were mourning. 

Suddenly, I wished that there was something I could have done besides shuffle my children away. I had quickly judged them and wanted some way to take it back. Although I can't change that day, I hope that I will remember it's lesson far into the future--to be kind, because we truly never know what others are experiencing.