Monday Ponderings {May 15th}

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A good reminder for me today.

 

Speaking on the her childhood:

In those days, women made whatever was good and never minded how tedious the process, but now we live in a short-cut age. But house-keeping is fun, and I think women who hate it lack imagination. It is one job where you enjoy the results right along as you work. You may work all day washing and ironing, but at night you have the delicious feeling of sunny clean sheets and airy pillows to lie on. If you clean, you sit down at nightfall with the house shining and smelling faintly of wax, all yours to enjoy right then and there. And if you cook – ah, if you cook – that creation you lift from the oven goes right to the table. One way to look at it, of course, is that women’s work is never ended, and I have heard housekeepers say they hate to make cakes because they are eaten right up anyway. You can make it drudgery if you want to, but it isn’t. And it is not monotonous either, for no day is ever really the same. Lucky the woman who has a home and can live in what she is creating!

Stillmeadow Seasons

Gladys Taber

pg 70

emphasis mine

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Hearth Ridge Diary {Tuesday night}

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{ a stream near us that I dubbed The Withywindle. It’s stuff dreams are made of, don’t you agree?}

Tuesday night is always taco night here at the farm. I don’t remember when we instituted this tradition, but anticipation builds every week. I’m glad a bit of meat, sour cream, salsa, cold lettuce, a big giant family-sized bag of shredded cheese, with a side of crispy tortilla chips elicits such rave reviews. The home cook takes all the encouragement they can get! ¡Olé!

The morning dawned cool and rainy, misty grayness hovering over the farm. Perfect for coffee and reading together. We were particularly moved and had a good discussion over Elizabeth Yates’, Amos Fortune, Free Man.

Early afternoon found us tackling chores, while listening to an old folk song and hymn collection from our Charlotte Mason community group. “Goober Peas” rang out and the broom sweeping seem to keep time to the beat. The sky clearing a bit, I was able to run out in the afternoon, in an attempt to help at a friend’s yard sale, but alas they really had it under control. I felt a little like Mel Gibson in his movie “Brave Heart” while out, silently screaming, “FREEDOM!” in my mind as I drove gaily down the road. A diet soda, chocolate-definitely-not-on-my-diet, and podcasts cheering me on my way. I threw around all sorts of ideas with this empty bit of time on my hands as I pointed my Dodge Caravan homewards. Should I find a place to sit and sip coffee? Are there any nice places open in my rural area past four o’clock in the afternoon? (Don’t laugh. A real dilemma in rural areas.) I settled on a bigger public library. I ransacked the memoir, writing, and poetry section and sat down to peruse in a comfy chair by the window. Pure bliss.

Glancing at my phone, I realized it was time to head home. I put some of the books back including a fascinating one about literary places in the Midwest. I definitely hope to check into Sterling North’s museum and a few other places someday. Road trip, anyone? I am currently reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand Country Almanac and would love to visit The Shack.

As I left the town, my eyes drank in the view. Oh my. Spring here is delicious and food for the soul. The green is so hopeful, so light, so refreshing. The hills reaching to the blue sky, touching the clouds. The Amish were out enjoying their little horses and carts, scooters, and roller blades. I saw the freshly plowed fields finished, I had passed them working earlier.

It looks like more rain moving in from the east, but the rain-scented air is worth it. My two year old is out picking bouquets of dandelions for me, the sun setting. A lump forms in my throat about these precious children I’ve been given for such a short time. Glorious gift and weighty responsibility. I read this morning about how Gladys Taber’s mother left the to-do list and took her on a picnic,

“And it occurs to me now that it is a good thing for any parent to stop now and then and wonder what memories they are giving their children. We all try so hard to leave real property, but memories are property of the heart.”

Stillmeadow Sampler

pg 33

~

 

April Reads

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Silence by  Shusako Endo – (*****) This was an interesting and challenging book. The descriptions and writing style were beautiful. It made me think deeply. That is why I rated it so highly. However, I didn’t really love this book. I have a longer review on Goodreads, if you are interested.

Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland by Sorche Nic Leodhas – (****) I loved these! A bit creepy, mysterious, and romantic. Short tales and legends with Scottish charm. Children would love these as much as I did!

The Crimson Skew by S.E. Grove -(**)   Last month, I talked about the first two in this YA series. I was looking forward to this last title in the trilogy. Unfortunately, I was so disappointed!  I liked that questions where answered that had been asked earlier in the series and there were some delightful moments, but overall, this got a bit preachy for me on social issues (ie. war etc) and I thought it got a little weirder with the fortune teller and the grove of memories was too vague. Bummer.

Stillmeadow Daybook by Gladys Taber – (*****) I often read Gladys’ seasonal memoirs to coincide with the current month or season I am in. So it takes me awhile to get through her books. However, that is not a problem, as she never fails to delight! I was so enchanted and once again I found myself slowing down to notice little things about my daily homemaking, my family, and the nature around us. This is one of the three Taber titles I own, so I’m glad to read more of my delicious library shelf titles.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – (***) I loved Margaret Lea and the beginning part of this book…I wanted to just follow her around and hear more about her life and dig around her and her father’s bookshop together. Yes, I’m THAT boring. I did not like so much the mystery or Vita Winter’s life. Maybe I’m too hopelessly romantic or something or too unrealistic. Miss Winter’s life was SO dark and hopeless and I was just like, “What about you Margaret?” Also I did not like the switching of perspective between Margaret, Vita, and the character’s in Vita’s story…I got confused…a few times I skimmed over parts. The writing of this book was BEAUTIFUL, Setterfield is a fantastic writer, I just wasn’t loving the grim, darkness of the horrible life lived by “Vita Winter” and her family. I did appreciate Margaret’s sorrow over her family secret etc, but the tie in with Vita’s was strange to me and felt forced, dark, and hopeless. I don’t like hopeless fiction. The ending felt sad too, and again hand me an ice cream and a fuzzy puppy, I’m not that great with sad endings. Overall, I was drawn in and this was well-written, it’s probably just my taste.

A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge – (*****) I’ve read this title many times, so a reread for me. There is something about Jocelyn trying to find his way through his darkness and despair that just grips me. The beauty of words, the house & bookshop, the beautiful cathedral town in England, the family relationships Jocelyn fosters (especially with his Grandfather), and the mystery surrounding Ferranti, a reclusive man, draw you in. I love that Ferranti’s writings and the bookshop full of beautiful books are the bases for Jocelyn’s journey towards healing. Highly recommend.

Suncatchers by Jamie Langston Turner – (***) This book is VERY slow reading because of the heavy character driven descriptive style. However, I love Turner’s way of writing about someone outside of the Christian faith looking into it. This had a simple plot, and you spent an huge amount of time inside the main character Perry’s mind and what he was thinking about all the people who were around him. I enjoyed it, but it did not move you along, you were standing still, listening into conversations and thoughts. S – L – O – W. I appreciate Turner’s writing style and think it is beautiful and thoughtful. So far, my favorite title of this author’s is Winter Birds.

Judges, Ruth, Acts: The Holy Bible (*****)

~

Gladys Taber on Clotheslines

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Pierre Bonnard 1867 – 1947

Take those flapping clothes. I wonder what could be lovelier than a line of pink and jonquil rompers, gay little socks, pastel baby blankets. And showy sheets, bright bath towels, flowered luncheon cloths blowing on a line have as much beauty as a modern painting, for the eye that can see beauty. Basement indeed – who wants clothes dried in the basement when the dazzle of sun and the sweet of fragrance of fresh air are wasting outside?

Stillmeadow Seasons

Gladys Taber

pg 71

~

The Music of Domesticity

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{Spring book love}

Life is full, isn’t it? I’ve been caught once again between the things that must be done and the things that one wishes to do. However, thankfully, there is some overlap and that is the beauty of looking closely at life, a sort of thread of music woven throughout. A tune carrying us forward. There truly are moments of delight to be found in every hour of mundane.  As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been ruminating on the relatively short years of my mothering journey so far, trying to remember when I began to see mothering and all things domestic as a gift and a song. My memory isn’t the greatest, but I recall a book called, The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocketboth of my dear sisters and I laughing about the title, yet it meaning so much to me. It gave me a permission to ENJOY art, culture, beauty, and domesticity in my home. Even though my faith is extremely important to me, when I started as a wife and mother, unfortunately, I had some unrealistic standards from the faith community that I took on as a burden. This was a lack of discernment and error on my part, viewing opinions that are man-made as truth, but are not actually from The Holy Bible. Insecurity reigns supreme and it scrambles to look for formulas.  I also remember savoring Edith Schaeffer’s books and Ruth Bell Graham’s poetry. And of course, the gift of Gladys Taber, who I was introduced to through another lovely person, Susan Branch. Gladys column in the Ladies Home Journal many years ago was titled, “Diary of Domesticity” and I think that is just lovely and it inspires me.  In the Family Circle she penned, “Butternut Wisdom”, so sweet and quaint. And of course, my dear mentor, Charlotte Mason, shared on education, life, and relationships. I was so encouraged to read this today and this the other day, thankful once again for having found the name Charlotte Mason almost 10 years ago, and following the prompting to dig a bit deeper. My own dear mother, Margaret, has been a constant example of servant-hood. Just laying aside her own desires for others out of love.  These sweet notes of encouragement also have floated out from many fiction authors over the years. I especially fondly recall hours with L.M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Goudge, and Jane Austen.  Katrina Kension and Annis Duff come to mind as well. All of these women are so different, not all of the same faith, not all mothers themselves, but yet have so invested in my growth, kept the light burning, so to speak, in my heart.  So, anyway, I just was thinking through this, wanting to record and share in hopes that it might encourage others as much as it does me.  Now a bit of life beauty recorded…

Hearth Ridge Daily Diary Entry {4.17.17}

Amos and I discussed a few things. I need to learn to listen better and forgive quicker. Snuggling on the couch with my boys, we sang through “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, my 9 year old, running to find the book for my 2 year old to look through. Rain clouds rolled in, this hill we are on wears all the weather’s feelings on its sleeve and we can see what’s coming miles ahead of it.

I had to apologize to my 7 year old for snapping at her, and my 9 year old and I laughed about me dubbing him Sir Sam of Mathematics. He was having some negative feelings about hitting the numbers today. I hope I will have enough time to get through all the chapters for my book study tonight. Nothing like procrastination. Ironically, they are about forming good habits. Ha.

I’ve been thinking through my 7 year old’s upcoming birthday. It’s so interesting to really think about the people our children are, who they are becoming. A funny thing happened today, which I promptly shared on Instagram, I was reading from the Landmark Series, Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway, to my 12 year old son. My 5 year old was apparently listening because after we talked about the Labrador Sea and Greenland on the map, she came up and said, “Do you want me to send you back where you were…unemployed, in Greenland?” Oh my. Maybe we watch The Princess Bride movie too frequently. 🙂

The afternoon found us outside, fickle weather, sun peeking out. We blew bubbles and through the windy gusts, my older four played basketball. I showered and threw on a favorite comfy outfit of a black t-shirt, black maxi skirt, light brown sweater, my favorite old Red Converse Allstars, and don’t forget my favorite necklace, bearing words I need to remember daily. “Courage, dear heart.” by C.S. Lewis. At a restaurant before study, I sit sipping my drink, as I listen to that faint tune of beauty humming in the background of my life, soak in the words of a mentor, and thank God again for this blessed home life I live.

 

~

 

Happy Birthday, Gladys!

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Today marks Gladys Taber’s 118th (give or take a few years due to my Math skills) birthday. I originally was introduced to Mrs. Taber’s writings through the beautiful quotes in Susan Branch’s art and books. I am so glad I found her! I have been inspired and charmed ever since, appreciating her attitude of thankfulness for the simple moments in life. A life where beauty can be found anywhere, if (and this is a big if) we just S L O W down and notice it. Be still and know. The little hands of my baby boy squishing his hamburger with delight as he takes a bite, the stamp on a handwritten note, and the moon’s light casting a haunting glow over eventide. The way my husband’s hand rests on the back of my neck, our 12 year old, humming while he does the dishes, and the light hitting a stack of books just right. A gratefulness wells up in me, an astonishment over these gifts I have been given. It turns my heart towards my Savior, from whom all blessings flow. Thank you, Gladys for sharing your life with us. I think I will go make a cake in your honor.

 

~

Daily Diary {March 30th}

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Gladys Taber was a memoirist that I truly enjoy. She wrote about her farm, Stillmeadow. I love entering her thoughts and reflections on home, her animals, family, cooking, and the daily doings on her farm. I wanted to capture a bit of her spirit here. I decided to do more of a list version today, Gladys wrote much more poetically. I love reading about people’s real, daily moments of life.  Each day flows differently and each family has their own unique rhythm. So a Gladys-inspired post:

5:30 am – I woke to wind and rain lashing windows and I remembered that I forgotten to get some laundry off my clothes line last night. Drat. I get up and make coffee, chatting with my sister on Messenger while I wait for it to brew. She is preparing to teach her class and we talk about a book we are starting to read together, Silence by Shusako Endo.

6:15 am – Coffee steaming from my lovely blackberry and leaf painted mug.  I sit down with my journal, Bible, and pen. Stephen the Martyr and the story of Samson today. My husband and  7 yo come down. I pack a lunch for my husband and read a new library book to my daughter. You Belong Here by M.H. Clark. It is simple, but it’s the illustrations that make it shine.

7:45 am – I pore more coffee and read in my devotionals these beautiful thoughts.

Calcutta to Cannon Beach

by Nathaniel Lee Hansen

I have His darkness – I have His pain, – I have the terrible longing for God.

-Mother Teresa

That at times this future saint

could not sense her Lord while sweating

words with pen read as a revelation

to me, disclosed that she was human, too.

God’s omnipresence still too far – boils, sores,

and scares too near, so faith meant treading.

the waters of theology’s raw mystery,

their paradox: belief is doubt

that we can know with certainty.

And so I cup the ocean with my hands,

though fingers leak, dry, then crack.

Yet for a moment, I can clutch the ocean

with my makeshift bowl, taste

the salt my everyday eyes cannot see.

from Between Midnight and Dawn

Complied by Sarah Arthur

pg 59-60

I also thought on this from Amy Carmichael in Thou Givest, They Gather this: “…one long look at Calvary does something for us that nothing else can do.” pg 72

8:00ish am – I help my 12 yo with his math and he reads to me for a bit. Everyone is getting up, happy chattering. A disagreement about what we are having for breakfast ensues and I wax poetic about the benefits of oatmeal five days a week. Har.  My son gets the oatmeal made and sets the table.

9:00 am – Hot, steaming oatmeal with your choice of brown sugar, peanut butter, raisins, and walnuts for breakfast. Prayers and we read a bit of poetry together.

9:32 am – Dishes being scrubbed, a child just said sweetly to me, “Mom, guess what? I’m cleaning my room.” Yay. There is hope.  5 yo is “reading” to the 2 yo and it is the cutest thing. I set up copywork for three children from their various poems and things they are working on.

9:33 am – Ok. I better get up. I am just sitting here at the desk staring at the screen.

10:00 am – 2yo and I watching a black-capped chickadee at the feeder. My 2 yo loves our dress up clothing, so he is usually wearing a hodge-podge outfit. We said the chickadee’s call together. “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee.” I talk about copywork and math with my 9yo. He and I do factor chains which are fun. I fold a basket of laundry and brace myself to go rescue stuff on the clothesline.

10:30 am – Freezing cold, my bare feet squished in the mud as I ran through the rain. I will have to rewash the things on the line. Grr.  I start another load in the basement washer, turning on the dryer again as well. My 7 yo comes to me as I step upstairs, an armful of cloth, asking if I can make her stuffed animal some clothing. Oh my. I mention a plan to get out my sewing machine in the afternoon and maybe we can try something. I am not a good seamstress, so that should be riveting. Ha. My 2 yo comes to me with a doll with a leg that has popped off. I put it in. The children take their piles of folded laundry to put away. I help 7 yo with copywork and pop doll leg on again. That doll may or may not need to be “retired”. I read two paragraphs of this post.  I notice a new list of podcasts to check out . A fight breaks out and we have tears about copywork. I have my daughter finish the word she is on and we will work on the rest tomorrow. Short lessons are beautiful, thank you, Miss Mason.

10:41 am – Huge disagreements to wade through, I ask my 5 yo to pick up the board books, and I set up a studied dictation lesson for my oldest. She is using “The Highway Man” by Alfred Noyes. She grabbed her books and heads to her room to work on some things. I eye the clock. Almost time for Elevenses. Maybe a bit of tea and a snack will squash the fighting. The sky is steel gray and the rain continues to trickle down. The friendly sound of the furnace kicking in is comforting. What should I serve for snack? Oops. 2 yo is unfolding the laundry.  How nice.

11: 41 am – Well, we had baby carrots and a piece of fruit for Elevenses. I didn’t make tea, my patience was wearing thin. I grabbed a few almonds. My 7yo and 9yo listened to me read them a nature lore story. They narrated it back to me. There was some more fighting and I may or may not of lost my temper a bit. Yikes.  I helped these two with reading lessons. 9yo and I enjoyed a selection in Seabird by Holling Clancy Holling. We talked about what Nantucket is and looked at the map. We found it fascinating that the whalers had to pour sea water on the ropes so they wouldn’t catch fire from the friction.  Now, I call the 12 yo down from his room where he and the 9 yo were playing Sheepshead.  Oh boy. Now they are wrestling. Sweet Lord Jesus, help me be patient. I have the 9 yo release some energy by picking up a stack of books and re – shelving them in our library. 12 yo and I learn about Archimedes, levers, he adds a drawing to his Science Journal, we read a bit of Sterling North’s Rascal, and work on reading together.

12:28 pm – Lunch is running late. Thank goodness my dear mother made us some chicken noodle soup yesterday. We are heating that up and adding the noodles to it. I will serve it with crackers. My oldest narrates her readings and I read her the dictation passage she studied.  I have a feeling that spring fever and a few other things are causing some of our grumpiness today. Thinking on it.  My son is practicing his drums upstairs and that reminds me I need to call on piano lessons for my oldest. My husband texted me something really nice. What a blessing.

1:11 pm – Lunch was delicious and is wrapping up. My oldest is putting my 2 yo down for a nap. We read the story of Naboth’s vineyard and Ahab, narrating it. The boys got out their action Bible and looked at some drawings of the story. We read the Proverbs for today and narrated it. My 9 yo has lunch clean up, so he is slowly working on that.  My oldest was hired to do some laundry for my father in law while he is on a trip, so she switched out the laundry for me and started washing his clothing. I have two baskets to fold.

1:29 pm – Egads. I forgot to start the dinner in the crockpot! I’m making chicken fajitas, or rather my version of chicken fajitas. I threw chicken, chopped onion, green pepper, and sweet peppers in together with some taco seasonings. Hopefully, the HIGH setting will have that ready in time. I’ll shred the chicken and add some cheese a little bit before I serve it with tortillas or chips. Time for another cup of coffee and a piece of dark chocolate.

2:50 pm – We finished our formal lessons for the day. The drawn narrations for Greek myths were fun to see. I also helped my 7 yo with math. We attempted to do some geography mapping of the east coast USA. I’m still learning how to do this myself. My 5 yo and 12 yo braved the rain and journeyed to the mailbox. We received book mail and my new issue of Writer’s Digest.

3:00 pm – I’m sitting here in a stupor. 5 yo is painting, 9 yo is drawing more, inspired by the Greek myth book, 7 yo and 12 yo being silly and telling stories, 13 yo is reading her book, and baby boy napping. Whew.  Maybe I should go dig out my sewing machine. It is almost time for the children to start their chores. They get an hour of media time if their chores and school work are done by 4:00 pm. Overall, they are very good about keeping track of what they need to do each day. Now 5 yo is cleaning up painting stuff and switching to Play Dough.

4:30 pm – I called on the piano lessons and left a message. The children finished their chores and media time is upon us. One is reading in their room. I am hiding…er, relaxing in my room with a stack of books. I peeked at Facebook, blah, and then Instagram. Now I’m going to slowly move through a few of the books.  Four children are in my room, asking various things. I talk with my 12 yo about Joan of Arc and we tried to define relics. I talk about hiring him for a big cleaning job. Oldest asked me if I started the last in a YA fantasy trilogy we are reading together. I point to all my book stacks and we laugh together. She asks if she can make smoothies for a snack and I say yes. 5 yo is bringing me a Play Dough creation to look at.

5:30 pm – I head downstairs and everyone is just enjoying various activities. Huge plastic army guy battle being set up. The chicken fajitas look good. I guess HIGH worked after all! 7 yo and I talk about the sewing, but we don’t end up doing it. I’m pretty bad at crafting with them. Mommy guilt moment. My unfolded laundry stares at me with its beady, shifty eyes.

6:00 pm – My hubby is home. We chat a bit about his day and I try to listen as I’m drawn to Endo’s Silence, trying to get my brain out of what I was reading. I’ve already read past my sister and I’s agree upon goal for this week. Wow. I finished a lovely memoir about a couple that moves from New York to West Ireland. It was so real and beautiful. I also was inspired and have a ton of post-its of ideas and thoughts from my rereading of The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater. My 7 yo drew a lovely picture of my husband and I with our house. I love you Dad and I love you Mom written in crayon. XOXOXOXO. Swoon.

7:00 pm – The candles are lit, I added cheese to the crockpot for a few minutes after shredding the chicken. The table is set with all the fajita fixings. We said a prayer for friends battling cancer, the children beg for a story from my hubby and he begins talking about Gideon. The flickering candle light bounces off shining eyes and voices chiming in as they talk about this story.

7:59 pm – The last bits of dinner being enjoyed, hubby relaxing on couch, and a few more moments together before we start preparing for rest. The 2yo has unrolled a whole roll of paper towel. Where’s this child’s mom? What a beautiful, busy day. I’m blessed. I’ll leave you with a bit of Gladys.

There is always one moment in a day when I think my heart will break. Such a moment I think all women have, and men too, when all the meaning of life seems distilled and caught up and you feel you can never, never bear to leave it. It may be when you turn and look down a blazing autumn road or it may be when you see your house under great ancient trees or it may be, in the city, when you look up at a towering apartment building and see one light and think “that is mine.” It may be any one of a number of things, according to the circumstances of your life. But there is a moment, and all the heartaches and sorrows of your life suddenly diminish and only the fine brave things stand out. You breathe sharp clean air, your eyes lift to the eternal wideness of the sky. Anybody has moments like this to store up, but some people are too busy adding up their frustrations to appreciate them. And yet all we need is an awareness of the beauty in life to make us richly content. My definition of happiness is just the ability to garner the perfect moments. 

Gladys Taber

Stillmeadow Daybook

pg 148

~

Winter Ideas

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{Good reading choice, boys. 🙂 }

We are slowly making it through the dreary, foggy winter days. We’ve had some glorious sunshine spilling through the bleak grays. The sun is a blessing, shooting out and then deep down into our souls. Here are a few of my favorite wintery things, currently.

  1. Listen to Malcolm Guite recite his poem.
  2. Take a hot shower while listening to Anne’s podcast. Bookish kindred spirits.
  3. Take winter walk with children, listening to their sweet thoughts. Make hot chocolate together when you get back.
  4. Read Amy’s lovely post on the new year. 
  5. Hunker down with a light read and a cup of coffee. Kate’s stories  are lovely or Charles has some good ones, too. These can be found through the public library.
  6. Create a nature journal, highlighting your favorite winter birds, creatures, or whatever suits you. I’m loving these journals. 
  7. Make scones and tea and listen to some haunting music.  She has a song on this particular CD that is inspired by The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes. Sad and thoughtful.
  8. Read poetry together. We love Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris.
  9. Peruse another’s  reading list for a new book. Go book shopping.
  10. Wash your bedding and snuggle down for a long winter’s nap.
  11. My children love LEGOS, blocks, and Schleich animals this time of year, especially.
  12. I’m looking forward to watching this very soon. 
  13. Put up copious amounts of twinkle lights. Ask my husband. He’ll verify my obsession. 😉
  14. Save up for a new mug or socks.
  15. Journal through your Bible. Memorize a Psalm.
  16. Move your comfy chair by your pellet stove. Wrap up in your favorite blanket. Read Gladys Taber.
  17. Bird watch. Google your favorite birds to hear their calls and watch videos on them. Bundle up and head outside to listen and observe.
  18. Make time to hang out with friends. For me, there is nothing like coffee with other mom friends.
  19. Go on a breakfast date with husband.
  20. Break out a map and plan a trip.
  21. Order free seed catalogs and dream.
  22. Susan Branch. She is so cheerful. 
  23. If you home educate your children, here is a lovely spot for inspiration.
  24. Go to local coffee shop and people watch.
  25. Make a big pot of soup and take some to someone you love. My mom is fantastic at this! ❤
  26. Practice your accents. 😉
  27. Go thrifting.
  28. Practice tying knots aka knitting. (ok, this was a joke about my knitting abilities.)
  29. Write real letters and post with pretty envelopes and stamps.
  30. Light a candle and shake fist at ice. Just kidding. {sorta}

What are you doing to celebrate the last months of winter? (or survive them? 🙂 )

~

Just Kindness

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Three little containers of my favorite body scrub from a local spa. My husband’s aunt told him, “I know Amy loves this stuff, can you pass it on to her?” No reason, no special day, just kindness.

In a stack of overlooked mail, a beautiful pen pal letter, with hand made note cards for me. All tied up in  red & white twine, fairies and flowers dancing across them joyfully. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

After Christmas, as if what I received for the holiday wasn’t enough, a family member noticed I needed a new quill pen and nibs. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

“Did you make dinner yet?” he asked. “No, I haven’t.” I answered. Pizzas, soda, and flowers on my table. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

Movie night with my little daughter, older son surprising us with hot chocolate in big mugs, grin on his handsome face. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

“Mom, I made this for you.” daughter passes me a beautiful drawing. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

A freshly made bed, pillows plump, throw blankets folded at the end. A little boy surprising me with beauty and order. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

Kindness. So simple, yet SO life-changing.

~

 

2016 Favorite Reads

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I like to keep track of my reading each year, through Goodreads,  journals, or lists.  I recently changed my blog home and now I’m trying to find a good place and way to record what my children and I read. I’m still working on that,  so instead of my usually massive list of what books we read, I’ve been sharing just those ones that we have loved THIS year and in this moment. It is so, so hard to narrow this list down, but I based my decision not necessarily on just the excellence of the book itself, but also on how it impacted me at the TIME that I read it. So, here is my favorite read list for 2016!

My 2016 Favorite Reads:

1. My favorite book this year! A White Bird Flying by Bess Streeter Aldrich – I can’t tell you how much this book meant to me…how our dreams and reality war in our affections. Laura is a deep thinking child with dreams of writing and loving on words…an elusive dream world that can’t quite be explained. It sort of feels like a white bird flying through the air. Grandmother Deal passes away and young Laura is devastated…Grandma was the only one who really seemed to understand and listen to her…she will honor her Grandmother and never forget what she gave up by living her life grasping after her grandmother’s and her own shared dream. Little does she know that Grandmother did live her dream, a dream that lives on through the generations. Laura has choices to make, stories to live.This book is written with beautiful prose and lovely nature descriptions. The author’s love of Nebraska and the plains is woven and intricate to this story. I just love the depth of the characters and how each life is so interwoven. The beauty of generations is heavily shown here…the good, the bad, and the ugly of family relationships and how they shape us.  This starts off a bit slow, but is just so, so very lovely! I HIGHLY recommend this title.

I didn’t realize that A White Bird Flying is the second in a series and I am now reading the first, A Lantern in Her Hand, which is just beautiful. I also read Mother Mason by Aldrich and was deeply moved by the beauty, hardships, and humor of motherhood shared within that title. Highly recommend this author and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

2. Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery – I’m a huge fan of L.M. Montgomery and I reread this title at a particularly hard time this year and it just blessed the socks off of me . The young girl blossoming as she serves and loves her father. She doesn’t do anything spectacular except create an atmosphere of love and home to all those around her. And really maybe servant-hood IS the most spectacular thing we can do with our life. Just beautiful.

3.  This is kind of a strange thing, two beautiful titles have melded together a bit for me. The Broken Way: A Daring Path into The Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp and my rereading of Hinds’ Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard have been just so beautifully challenging and life-altering in so many ways. I’m still slowly savoring both of these, but I put them high on favorites for the year. It’s not simple to put into words, why I love these so much, but it has to do with finding freedom in just resting and trusting the Lord in the midst of our lives. That the brokenness, valleys, and heart-wrenching things are REAL life on this sin-soaked world. We can see God in those and live abundantly even when life isn’t safe or our idea of perfect. In fact, a careful reading of the Bible reveals life as, I believe, a barren desert with Jesus as our Spring of Living water. Voskamp’s writing can be a bit tricky to get into, but if you dig deep you will find lovely gems.

4. Winter Birds by Jamie Langston Turner – This was hard, sad, yet beautiful read. This story is told through the 80+ year old eyes of a woman looking back over her life, looking at the Christian faith as an outsider, and explaining her life, questioning death through the observing of birds, Shakespeare, and Time Life’s obituaries. Sound weird? It isn’t. It’s beautiful and thought-provoking. I’ve always read Christian fiction and it’s hard to find well-written, non-formulaic titles in this genre, but this one is excellent. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

5.  City of Tranquil Light: A Novel by Bo Caldwell – This fiction title is  based on a true story about Mennonite missionaries to China in the early 1900’s.  Hauntingly beautiful and thought-provoking. I was so encouraged and challenged in my faith. I couldn’t put this down.

6. The Gown of Glory by Agnes Sligh Turnbull –  I must share this lovely fiction title with you! A young minister and his wife arrive in Ladykirk, hoping that this is just the stepping stone to their big ministry position…only to find themselves still in the same place 25 years later. David Lyall is a humble, bookish man, who hopes his gentle sermons and life of love mean something in this world.  This follows their life and family and how simple loving can impact deeply.

7. Romancing Your Child’s Heart by Monte Swan – a beautiful, insightful parenting title. Swan challenges us to look at children as whole, wonderful people deserving of the love of the Lord.

8. The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebank – an interesting memoir about real life as a shepherd in the north of England. I read this around and during my trip in The Lake District, so it came alive to me. A bit of rough language, but I really loved this honest look at shepherding.

9. Applesauce Needs Sugar by Victoria Case – This was a fantastic memoir! This follows the life of a Canadian pioneer family working hard to better themselves and put food on the table for their growing family. I found most of the stories had a subtle humor that made me chuckle out loud, namely the ways the industrious mother went about her wild plans all while convincing the father that it was his idea in the first place. 😉 This book has an interesting perspective in that it shows a strong-willed, excellent business woman in a time when women had no say, no vote, no property…nothing. I love the relationship portrayed between the parents, not perfect but choosing love…the discipline and well-oiled way the mother runs her big family of eventually 10 has me in awe.

10. The Book of Stillmeadow by Gladys Taber – no year would be complete without a little side of Taber.  If you’ve never read her,  Gladys wrote from the 1940’s onward, on the daily and seasonal happenings of her farm Stillmeadow. I know some people think she is repetitive and slow, and she probably is…but I love her writing. I think the two things that strike me the most are these: 1. she pays close attention to the small details of life and 2. she uses words in such a beautiful way. This title started off a bit slow, but as I got into it, I was just enchanted. The beauty of home, family, animals, cooking, and of nature. The glorious bits of light and beauty we see in the midst of the mundane, if we are brave enough to just stop fretting and being disgusted by it all, we will be given a beautiful gift right where we are.  I have Stillmeadow Sampler and Stillmeadow Daybook for savoring in my book stack now.

I have a few others that I could mention here, but I’m going to try to show restraint, as I really do think these are my most favorites of this year, or at least touched me the most. I would be amiss to not mention the Book of Books, The Holy Bible,…I journaled through it this year, using a wide margin NKJV Bible, with no footnotes, which was lovely. I’m planning on using a different version next year and doing it again…the richness, life, and love in the Bible are life-changing.

What were your absolute, favorite reads of this year?

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