Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #10

{continuing my gratitude list} 

91. Gratitude lists with my friend Marjorie via email every year, she reminds me, so grateful for the slowing down, the paying attention together

92. God’s love, we can’t even begin to fathom the depths of it

93. The fluttering children’s artwork hanging over the heat register

94. My father-in-law and his Amish coworker stopping by for hot chocolate

95. Goofy Messenger texting back and forth between me, my sisters, and my parents

96. Hugs from my 12 year old son

97. Pretty candle holder from the Dollar Store, my Phoebe buying it for me ❤

98. My brilliant green stocking cap, gray wool coat, and floral scarf, so cheerful

99. Thanksgiving feast with family today

100. Words. Blank pages. New day to live.

~

 

Advertisements

Emptied

IMG_5815

{Prince Edward Island, Canada – August 2017}

 

Empty Vessel

 

Poured out, drained, decantation

Bone-dry, cracked, fearful

Dusty, grainy, gritty, grim

 

Lonely, solitary, shelved, siren-sucked,

Useless, stagnant, stuck

Yearning, thirsting, doubting

 

Portal, shaft, brilliance, unbroken

Chink-patched, warmed, lightened

Outside, upward, forward

 

Burgeoning, blooming, full to top

Fruitful, tangy, rich, overflowing

Emptied to be filled

 

Potter, Vintner, Maker

Earth, sun, sky, sweat

Blood, tears, laughter

 

Slipping, spilling, sloshing

Filled to pour out

Best wine saved for lasting

 

~

 

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #6

_MG_5749

{continuing my gratitude list}

51. giving, giving, and giving more…coming to the end of myself, seeing the need of my Savior more than ever to carry me

52. library trips

53. listening to my 8 year old daughter talk, talk, talk

54. fluffy, hot, clean laundry from the dryer

55. poetry

56. Minestrone soup with thick-cut sausage, home made bread slathered with butter

57. early morning light reflecting off glass-glazed ice puddles

58. warm, woolen coats

59. new tights, cardigans, rich colors

60. Amish gentleman rollerblading by with his bow hunting gear slung over his shoulder, welcome to the “deep country”, I’m so thankful I live here

~

Parenting Meditations

_mg_4056

Effort has its place in life and it has its limitations, too. Effort can get you to a concert on time, but it will not suffice to enjoy the music. Strain to listen, stretch to get every note and you will be miserable. But sit back with open mind and heart, as a field in springtime is open to the sky, and let the music fall upon you. Soak it in. Let it seep down into the roots of your being, and a good response will have a chance of flowering.

Harold E. Kohn, Thoughts Afield, p. 50

{In context, this quote has nothing to do with parenting. It struck me with such a force, however, in the context of being a mother. All that we do day in and day out, all that effort, yet learning to “sit back with open mind and heart”, letting the music of life with our children fall upon us is what this is all about. “Soak it in. Let it seep down into the roots of your being, and a good response will have a chance of flowering.” Yes.}

~

Autumn 2017 – Our Favorite Books for Children & Young Adults

IMG_7140

This may seem like a massive list for just a few months of the year! We do enjoy our books, that’s for sure. However, remember there are eight people (well, my 3 year old didn’t say much) weighing in on their favorites for RIGHT now. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with autumn, just what each person is enjoying personally, some from our learning and others just for extra fun during this season. I tried to take photos of all the suggestions from my family for this list, but that didn’t work out (alas, real life), but I did some. I also added an age range, but honestly, we all love most of these. Hope you enjoy this list!

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay – Hilarious adventures of three friends who have a magical pudding that never runs out! Two nasty puddin’ thieves are after their treat. Wonderful rhymes and songs! (All ages! Australian Classic.)

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton – This is the first in a series and my 5 year old and I are very much enjoying this! Our copy has full page, lovely, colorful illustrations. This is the story of three children that find a magic tree that takes them to faraway, crazy, lands. They meet a host of fun friends, and some creatures they wish they HADN’T met! (10 and under)

 

 

 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – a favorite reread here all around. (All ages!)

The Twenty- One Balloons by William Pène du Bois – the incredible story of a retired Professor who decides to take a balloon trip, ending up crashing on an island full of surprises. (All ages!)

American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenberg – this is well-loved favorite, especially the part about Paul Bunyan. (10 and younger)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer – We are really just in the beginning of this book, but my 12 year old and I are really enjoying it. It is sobering, yet heart-warming. We have really interesting discussion after reading. I’m editing just a wee touch as I read this out loud, but over all a engrossing story of a young man growing up in Malawi. (12 and older)

The Black Star of Kingston by S.D. Smith – (*whispering* I find this series little simple and redundant.) My children, however, especially my boys, find the idea of warrior rabbits, fantastic! This is a prequel, I believe, to The Green Ember.  A certain boy is even getting a t-shirt from this series for Christmas. (10 and under)

IMG_7161

Knee-Knock Rise by Natalie Babbitt – My 8 year old and I are reading this together and so far it is a mysterious, interesting story about a boy Egan who travels to visit relatives. Everyone in the village lives in terror a menacing noise up the mountain, is Egan curious and brave enough to find out what’s up there? (10 and under)

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace – this is the fourth in this series and I’m looking foward to reading this with my 8 year old daughter. We’ve been slowly savoring these. Adventures of two friends and their families in a Midwestern town. She picked this before we’d even read it, because she really loves these! I’m going to hold off on the last four in the series as those are when Betsy and Tacy are older. We’ll pick up on those later. (10 and under)

The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – This was a sad, yet mystical story about a little girl and her parents during the Great Depression. A neighbor shares the story of a secret river full of fish, sending Calpurnia on an adventure to help her family and friends. We have the version with Leonard Weisgard’s illustrations and I think that adds a lot to this. (10 and under)

IMG_7153

The Book of Golden Deeds by Charlotte M. Yonge – A collection of stories of bravery and true courage. You won’t find any sports “heroes” in this book! Highly moving and challenging. My daughter and I have wonderful discussions on this title. Older language, just FYI. (12 and up)

The Story of John J. Audubon by Joan Howard – This is an interesting biography or historical fiction? (I can never tell), about Audubon. My daughter and I are really enjoying talking about it. ( 8 and up)

The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney – Interesting science behind clouds told in engaging way with folk lore, stories, and myths behind clouds. Good for discussions with older students, some adult- type topics in it, just FYI. (12 and up)

IMG_7147

Half Magic by Edward Eager – Three children find a magic pebble that gives you HALF of what you wish for…so be careful! This leads to hilarious situations! The children love this book. (All ages!)

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – This is our summer read aloud that we didn’t finish and we are still very much enjoying it. Fantastic examples of what hard work and ingenuity can do. Great examples of a loving family environment. I think some of the situations in the story are a bit TOO convenient, but I didn’t mention that to the children, and they love the exotic animals, interesting houses, and adventures the Robinson family are having! Older language, just FYI. (All ages!)

Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards – yes, by THAT Julie Andrews. This started off slow for us, and some children were very frustrated and emotions ran high about certain parts of this book, that they actually wanted to quit! However, I pressed on with this one, because I had peeked ahead, and now they can’t get enough of it. Hopefully, they will enjoy the ending. (All ages!)

Honorable mention, not pictured:

The Dry Divide by Ralph Moody – this is the 7th book in the Ralph Moody Series which my husband has been reading in the evenings to the children. We love this rough and tumble true story of Ralph’s life.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini – my oldest wanted me to include this series. We both enjoy fantasy and she read this series this autumn after it was recommended to her.

We read many picture books and my youngest has favorite board books, but I can’t get my head wrapped around our favorites in those areas right at the moment. I’ll let you know if any jump out at me.

Happy Reading! Please share if you have any favorites from these genres in the past few months!

~

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #4

IMG_6928

{continuing my gratitude list}

31. fresh sheets on my bed

32. owl hooting outside my window in the wee morning hours

33. stuffed animal birthday celebration

34. planning Christmas surprises

35. writing group at library, so inspiring

36. surprising the children with donuts and trip to a little local dam (we’ve been reading about them!)

37. sunlight hitting the table full of nature treasures JUST right

38. hot coffee

39. Go Fish and Uno games

40. twinkle lights around the house

~

 

Daily Diary {Unit of Time}

Dou,_Gerard_-_The_Night_School_hi_res_-_c._1660

The Night School, Geritt Dou, 1660 {Google}

Chicken soup with veggies simmering on the stove, walnut chocolate chip brownies baking, and the chatter of voices drawing pictures.  Stirring the soup, I think through the day. The beginning was one of a brilliant, cold blue, sky with a orange-hued golden crust, the bottom resting on the black bottomless shadows of the horizon. Sipping a bit of soup, I gaze at the now. Popcorn scattered around, half dried laundry waiting, my Monday. Evening now upon us, soon children will be wrestled into their beds, the giggles, messes, and moments tucked away for tonight. Listening to Bing Crosby, youtube videos on how to dance “The Charleston” (don’t ask how we got on that!), discussions over Matthew, chapter 6 come to mind. First big snow showers (no accumulation to the chagrin of the children), chickens who are on strike due to the cold, and black, forlorn, frozen skeletons of dear cosmos waving an icy hand at me.  The smell of wood smoke as Noah stokes the furnace in the basement, the needle nose pliers out to fix the knob on the dryer, and knocking at the door, an organic certification lady to talk business with my husband. Leftover baked potatoes, steamy hot, sprinkle of cheese, pat of butter, salt and peppered. A bit of leftover chili with toasted sandwiches. Apple cores everywhere, a big load of seconds from a local orchard spilling, rolling, tumbling out over our porch, apple heaven, apple pie, and soon-to-be applesauce if I can get to it. Two book packages in the post, thumbing through them, hot coffee steaming, warming, caressing my face, words floating up from the pages. New to me writing podcast, delightful kindred moments as I chop veggies for the never-ending feasting, gratefulness for the bountiful life simmering just under the surface. Benjamin-Boy with his deep, chocolaty eyes twinkling at me, his lovely red sweater now out of blue tub, arms outstretched, crying for me, “Hold me, Mom!” Paintings radiating with light, stories on Johnny Appleseed, autumn poetry, and snuggles with Sam, reading his special him-and-me only book. Oh, there were the arguments too. Mini-trials of regular ‘ole life, if you will. The lack of eggs (don’t ask, refer to chicken strike above), doing what we ought when we don’t want to because it’s right (oh, boy, do I understand that one!), the crumbs, the massive laundry load, hurt feelings, tears, the smashed apple I just stepped in with my bare toes, and the general wild exuberance that frays the stoutest of nerves. Gladys Taber writes this and I thank her for it, this perspective, a glorious thing.

“What has my day been worth, this unit of time given to me? Possibly I said a comforting word where it was needed, or offered practical help to someone in trouble. Nothing world-shaking, to be sure. I cannot influence the world. I can only live every day as well as I can, keeping my home, cherishing my neighbors, helping in the community in a small way. But perhaps I have grown a little in understanding, patience, and loving-kindness. And perhaps I shall do better tomorrow, another precious unit of time.”

Stillmeadow Sampler

~

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits By Thanksgivng} #3

IMG_7005

{continuing my gratitude list}

21. Yesterday

22. Today

23. Sunlight flickering through field corn

24. Sumac’s brilliant red color

25. Friends to talk about home educating with

26. Commonplace journal for quotes to look back on

27. Sam and Ella chopping ham and potatoes for crockpot

28. 45 minute drive we have to get to bigger towns – time to think, pray, decompress

29. Prayer

30. Holidays coming to see family

~

Daily Diary {Autumnal Thoughts}

IMG_6902

There is a rich depth to autumn. A culmination of the years work, a closure, a going out with style. I’ve been wading through our full learning days to the core of beauty that this time of the year brings. It takes a conscious effort and choice to slow down and choose to take time to really see. To really soak my soul deep in the little things that are happening. Noticing the old-fashioned Amish corn-shocks, the swirl of fallen leaves behind you on the road, the birds flying southward overhead, wood smoke lingering in the air, the brilliance of the blue sky, and of course, the amazing, deep jewel colors of the tree splendor engulfing us.

The mood is mostly one of delight, a coming in, last of the zinnias and cosmos being picked for bouquets, the last moments of soaking up warm sun rays, the bringing out of fluffy quilts, the sipping of hot drinks. There is a somber tinge to this time too, a realization that death, and cold icy grip are at hand. The coming November especially starts to leech out the color, the green, the life landscape slowly becoming gray, brown, and stark, sharp black. Locally here, two friends have died from cancer, and that has me thinking of this whole seasonal shift, life outlook, and cycle of seasons.

All of this together becomes a kaleidoscope of color, moments, bleakness, thoughts, and most of all gratitude. This swirling mass, twirling, spinning, diving, a tapestry of life. Of which I can never be thankful enough for. It is a gift. A gift that becomes a question. A question that becomes a purposefulness. A purposefulness that brings one to setting aside the iPhone, the to-do list, getting down on a knee and squeezing those little ones, dropping a card in the mail, having people over. Painting a butterfly with your 5 year old instead of writing, reading a bit of The Magic Pudding with your 10 year old even when you are exhausted, laughing with him over the antics of Sam, Bill, and Bunyip Bluegum, not to mention the Pudding. It’s learning to listen, oh how I need to listen, both ears open wide, heart grasping at deep meanings that matter to my loved ones. Listen to my dear Amos, to my young-adults-in-the-making even when it’s 10:37 pm and tooth-picks are holding up my eyelids.  The endless cooking, dishes, laundry, even questions become a golden thread in this autumnal stitching, a beauty unsurpassed as it all is given out of a heart of thankfulness.

Rich, deep Autumn. Thank you for reminding me again of so much beauty, even in the midst of a dying away. A dying away of nature, a continual dying away of self, a laying aside of what easily besets. Till we meet again, I bid you adieu.

~

 

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #2

IMG_6992

{continuing my gratitude list}

11. Dental insurance

12. Taco Nights

13. Little girl accident in the middle of the night – this time I appreciated her sweetness instead of being frustrated about lost sleep

14. .99 cent cheerful geraniums for the window

15. It’s Friday!

16. Discussions about Longfellow’s poetry

17. Listening to Rachmaninoff with the children

18. Ben’s brown eyes

19. Ella’s painting

20. Rainy days for tea and banana bread

~

Patchwork

IMG_6972

I jump in feet first. Sort of like Mary and Bert into those chalk pictures. It’s deliciously colored, looks soft, smells of clean earth and sky. I’m falling, down, down, down. Just as I thought. It’s an old patchwork quilt, stitched lovingly by hand. A mother, a sister, a daughter like myself carefully hoarded and saved precious pieces of fabric. Bits of cloth for this masterpiece, useful and beautiful. In the lamplight, or maybe with hot wax dripping off a taper, she cuts slowly, choosing the pattern, tongue out in concentration, piecing the intricate memories together. Her husband’s flannel shirt, a flour sack, bit of an old rag, piece of her baby girl’s first dress, bit of blue the color of the sky, green like the meadow. I slowly circle her work, fascinated and enthralled. The patience, attention, and fortitude to her craft astonishes me. Me in my 21st century three second glances at a web page, drive thru coffees, and buy it now, one click shopping. I sit cross-legged at the edge of the table. She looms above me, the colors of her art, life, work, swirling, stunning me. I hear a hum from her lips, a sigh of satisfaction as she places another small piece in the perfect place. Scissors down. Resting, sipping coffee, gazing a moment out the cabin door. A breeze flows in because it’s open a bit. She returns purposefully to her work. A graveness steals over her as she carefully handles some white muslin. What does it mean to her? A lost mother, a child? I feel my eyes well up. I stand up, brushing free of a stray thread, and take a last glance at this woman’s history laid out on the table in front of us. One life represented. So brief, yet complicated, messy brevity. A span caught in a single item can never truly reveal all. But it can try. I jump up and I’m out, out and now how do I live my own quilt rightly? I don’t know. But I will try.

~

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving}

IMG_6512

  1. Cosmos still blooming
  2. Big, fat, white, squat pumpkins Noah grew for me
  3. .25 cent linens from yard sale
  4. Laundry on line
  5. Annie’s homemade caramel corn
  6. Amy Carmichael’s Toward Jerusalem book of poetry
  7. Technology to keep in touch with my sister in Haiti
  8. Little boy hands hugging my neck
  9. Prayer line directly to God
  10. Lovely honor of home educating, hard, but SO worth it!

~