Monday, January 30, 2012


Why are Mondays SO hard.  Today was the official start of our preschool, so we got up late, strapped on our cement boots, and slogged our way through about 15 minutes of meaningful content and 12 hours of managing personalities.  Not the start I had hoped for.

Kinda like how we start out in the Kingdom.  Baptism.  Cool segue huh!  Ok, I'll explain.  The Kingdom of God is one of those ideas that become too glossy to attain, like homeschooling.  As I scan the blogs, websites, and (gilded) memories, I get this Waldorf/Montessori/Mason fantasy going.  It looks like this:

But somewhere along the way, it becomes clear that toddlers go through the terrible/terrifying/terrorizing twos, the house goes the way of a landfill and my beautiful plans end up here.

Remember your baptism.

The Southern Living version of the Kingdom of God (happy people loving each other and reaching out to people of all nations, ages and races, smiling with really good teeth) is not the place where Jesus stood.  He stood with the prostitutes, junkies, gang members, and lepers (fill in any social periah).  At least for now, the Kingdom is gritty.  A place where desperate people come to find hope.  Desperate people make me uncomfortable.  I don't know how to help.  I don't want to have to give up my comfort.

Baptism isn't just a place for a beautiful baby to wear a nice outfit and get oohed and ahhed over.  Baptism is a passage THROUGH death into life in the Kingdom of God.  Often I hear it said FROM death to life, but it isn't.  We symbolically drown ourselves to enter into God's Kingdom.  Pretty serious stuff.  In the moment that a person undergoes baptism, he or she touches the grace of God and is brought through death into life.  We did this to our children.

So, I have visions of my children playing sweetly together and marveling over new discoveries.  Learning and loving and laughing.  But they have to go through the baptism of self-discipline first.  So do I for that matter.  I feel truly called to being a mother and teaching my children at home.  Like any other calling I have to allow God to be the author.  I must allow God to baptize my plans so that God's call can rise up.

And be thankful.


Sweet moment overheard today:

Scene: Laine is scooted up to Ollie's new indoor swing (thanks, Sheryl!) playing his guitar and singing lullabies.  He felt like this might smooth over Ollie's obvious feelings of abandonment while mommy was off saving Annabel's life (again).

After a few adorable moments of heartfelt crooning, Laine announced, "I will sing you, Song of the Shadows now, Oliver."

"Ooo-ooh, ooo-ooh stars in the shadows, dawn will come.   Ooo-ooh ooo-ooh I love my little Oliver and he loves me."

Aaaaaaaand, THAT is why we do this!

Sorry no pic, it would have trashed the moment...not worth it!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Uhmm...I lied.  This is so COMPLICATED.  Carrots like tomatoes, and peas need trellising, and bunnies like broccoli and DON"T EVER PLANT ONIONS WITH...SOMETHING!! Ahhhhh!


Gonna let the kids toss the seed out.




FYI, here are some of the resources I like.

Sow True Seed in Asheville, NC.  Open pollinated, local, non-GMO, and the catalogue has TONS of information about planting what-not.
Annie's Heirloom Seeds...obviously, I like the name.  Also, heirloom, blah blah THE NAME

And this looks cool, but I haven't used it yet.

Gardener's Supply Co

{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. ~Soule Mama

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thoughts on actual dirt

I often look at the subtitle of this blog and smile.  To be honest, this blog is a downloading site for my brain, a place for my children to look back and see glimpses of a gentle time and a venue for all the conversations that pass though my head that do not center around trains or Toy Story.  But today--today I have something to write about dirt.  

The kids and I spent about 45 minutes digging in the garden transferring old compost onto a plot where the chickens had been.  This dirt was dark, rich and loose.  I almost giggled because I grew up with red, hard, dry clay, and this dirt seems decadent.  I wonder if spinach grown in extra rich soil becomes dessert spinach?  AND, I received half my seeds today.  I am itching to get started.  Tomorrow.  

And tomorrow I will show you my garden plan, seed selection, and this awesome little website that tells me what to do and when.  So fun.


Amazing idea

Found this on Pintrest. You're welcome.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blueberry Granola

Simple, good, easy.

I like granola, but my kids adore it.  Laine would eat it for three or four meals a day.  Therefore I have been searching for just the right balance of crunch, clump, and flavor (subtle for the kids and yet still interesting for parents).  Commercial granola is a bit pricy, and let's face it...I am kinda stuck on doing things myself.


I have been on a journey of self discovery lately.  Recently I announced in a room of my closest friends that everything is a competition and that I hate to lose.  Apparently this came as absolutely no surprise to this dear group of geniuses.  I had always thought of myself as uncompetitive because I hated competing. Come to find out I only avoid competitions I am not almost assured of not losing.  Not the most attractive trait.  And it drives you to make granola from scratch.  Darn it!

(Skip to here to avoid (well-written and witty) tangent)

Here is my greatest achievement in granola making.

Leave a comment if you try it!

Dry ingredients:

4 cups oats (if they are all "old fashioned" I process some of them to avoid the breakfast work out)
2 cups coconut (also chopped/processed/blended)
1 pkg graham crackers (smashed/processed/crumbed/blended)
1.5 cups almonds (chopped/you know the drill)


2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp sea salt (I have truly fallen in love with Maldon sea salt)

Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup oil (canola, walnut, veggie, grape seed)
1/3 cup honey

After baking additions:

2 cups dried blueberries


Preheat oven to 350° F (just for clarity)

Mix dry ingredients and spices.  Mix wet ingredients.  Combine until evenly moistened.  If you like a clumpy granola, add some juice (apple, orange, cranberry-pomagranat...left over from Christmas that you bought in bulk for one little recipe and now have tons left over which you can't drink because you are trying to count calories so you can fit back into your old pants...or whatever).

Spread evenly over a couple greased baking dishes and bake until golden brown (around 35 mins) stirring every 10 minutes or so.  I use two glass casserole dishes, but anything will work.  If you spread it out really thinly, reduce the baking time.

Add the dried fruit and store in an air-tight container.

There you go!  It makes about 6 cups and I would imagine without help it would take about 15 minutes to put together.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Update on Spaghetti Sauce

Laine pronounced that a second pass at mom's fantastic spaghetti sauce was "horrible!"  Might need some tweaking.  Or maybe just his nose!

Empty Feeders

Today is one of those wordy days, so I am inserting unrelated fun pictures from our vacation as rewards for reading.

Today has been one of those painful days when I struggle to reaccustom myself to a life of structure.  The baby moon is officially over.  Not that we are finished loving on Ollie!  But, we must return to work.  I am looking at our bird feeder hanging empty on its hook, and realizing that it is indeed time.  Unfortunately, even though my "time off" is over, my children have not stopped needing me, my house has not stopped getting disorderly, my clothes need tending to, and the animals would probably appreciate getting fed, so I must embrace the words of Isaiah 54:2 and allow God to stretch me (as if I need more stretching).

Enlarge the place of your tent,
   stretch your tent curtains wide,    
do not hold back; lengthen your cords,    
strengthen your stakes.

Dear Bible scholars, I know I have taken that one COMPLETELY out of context, but I don't think I am abusing it.  

This passage is addressed to a barren woman who is a widow.  Not me.  But I can relate to this verse, because it tells me that even though I am pretty sure I can't do the things I have set before me, God only requires that we make room for God's work.  If we are within the place of God's calling, God will provide the ability to fulfill it.  I just need to make room for God.  I feel very much called to homeschool my children and I am finding it hard to scoop together enough wits and courage and selflessness to do it.  (I am pretty sure my kids are young enough for me to be allowed some panic time with very few consequences.)  So, I am stretching, knowing I cannot fulfill this role, and trusting that God will care for these precious children.

Also, if it doesn't stop raining soon we are all going to start biting.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snuggling in

Luke took paternity leave when Oliver was born.  He kinda stretched out his time because of Advent and Christmas, so we are just now enjoying the last few days of his time off.

I am so grateful that he has had the freedom to snuggle in with our family.  Not only has it made the transition from two to three way easier, it has underscored to our children and me that Luke love us.  Lots!

I  realized tonight that our dear Ollie is changing from new born to infant.  It makes me sad as a mom, but I am also excited about who this little guy will become.  Ok...I am lying's killing me that he is even a tiny bit grown up.  Love that kid.  Love them all.  *Sigh*

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Friends and Whales

Talking to an adult before during and after lunch.  Taking a shower every day.  Every single day.  Jogging with someone who loves my pace. 

 Ollie and EV are 46 hours apart.  They really enjoyed meeting each other.

It was a great week for Rex.

Annabel loved the girl time.  Watched a princess movie, dressed up, played tea party, wore high-heels (well, Laine did that too), and generally soaked up every moment.

These two were perfect.  They smiled when they were awake.  Slept with the "grown-ups" wanted to chat.

Then we were off the the Georgia ah-crayer-ree-rum.  So. Much. Fun.

Friday, January 6, 2012


It finally happened!  After 15 years of struggling, I finally made a spaghetti sauce that my family likes.  I began as a 15 year old armed with canned tomatoes and fresh herbs and the Joy of Cooking.  But it was never right.  Thin, thin, thin. Bitter.  Runny.  After a few years, I pretty much gave up.

Last summer I canned my own tomatoes so I was determined to make a sauce that made everyone happy. I tried several.  No dice.  Then after a particularly crushing defeat wherein even I didn't want to eat my sauce, I did I should have done all along--I added carrots.  After lots of cooking and blending, I found what my family has been wanting for those noodles: thick, not-bitter, not-sweet, rich, tomato-y and not-too-bright sauce.  The kind of sauce you can eat with your fingers (Annabel), doesn't "pee" on your plate (Luke), isn't bitter (me) and compliments meat-ah-BALL-uhs (Laine).

I can't really write down a precise recipe yet because I doctored several tries, but if I can recreate it, I will share.

Things I do know:

  • Do remove the is a pain, but those little buggers are bitter!
  • Do use a really nice tomato paste or at least something reliable
  • Immersion blenders are a gift (well mine was) and should be liberally applied
  • The secret is carrots.  Lots of carrots.

a little word

My Symphony

To live content with small means. 
To seek elegance rather than luxury, 
    and refinement rather than fashion. 
To be worthy not respectable, 
    and wealthy not rich. 
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, 
    act frankly, to listen to stars, birds, babes, 
    and sages with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, 
    do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. 
In a word, to let the spiritual, 
    unbidden and unconscious, 
    grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.

William Ellery Channing

I am sorry I have been away this week.  I am trying to work out my juggling routine.  Turns out, it is hard to stand on a ball and hold a fish on a rake (sorry, Dr. Seuss).  Here are some words that a friends passed along to me (thanks, Mary).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Garden planning

So it's cold.  (It says 14 but I wasn't going out there to get a better picture)   Time for coffee, slippers and garden planning.  I can't help it.  Sow True Seed, announced that their 2012 catalogue is in the mail.  I can't wait!

Steps for January:

Plan spring garden
Look at seed stash
Put chicken tractor on rows
Move compost beds onto rows (after chickens are done)

Yay!  So excited!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Clean up time!

It seems like just a few days ago we tugged our fat little Christmas tree into our living room.  We enjoyed the warmth it lent to its little corner of our living room.  We brought it home for the first Sunday of Advent and let it remind us of the "evergreen" love of God.  

Then on the second Sunday of Advent, we put lights on and talked about how Jesus became the light of a dark world.  Also, our three year old started the joke of the season.  Every time he saw the star on top of the tree he would giggle and say, "Look, the star of Knapford (a Thomas the Train thing)."  To which his father would reply (with a growing bit of exasperation), "No, that's the star of Bethlehem."  Laine would giggle and the argument would continue.  (Today we put away the star of Knapford and that little imp actually said it just to bug his dad)  

On the third week of Advent we added the ornaments to help us remember the love of our family. 

And on the fourth Sunday of Advent we recounted the story of the nativity and prepared our hearts for the coming of Christ.

Today we wrestled the tree out of the house.  It was dry and made such a mess our three year old felt compelled to immediately begin vacuuming, but it bravely did its job.  It focused our hearts on the journey of Advent.  It helped tell the story of the nativity--our story.

Each year as we tug those brittle frames out the door, I feel a little sad.  I know it can't always be Christmas, but the next few months are hard.  I am not looking forward to the introspection of Lent, the rending of Holy Week or the devastation of Good Friday.  Our little tree was ugly and messy and didn't even smell good, but it bravely led us through our story once again.  The story that began with the most unlikely of kings and ends with tragedy.  We have to face ourselves in the coming days, but we can look back to the pageantry of the nativity and the promise of the star (of Knapford *giggle*) and remember that there is an unexpected post script to this story.

And, PS, that is why we tell it... 

Happy New Year

Happy Wish-Making-Day.  I wish I were more devout, neat, efficient, skinny, attentive, fluent, active and driven.  There, now I don't have to make any stupid resolutions because I have wished for all the attributes I need to accomplish what I think I ought.

And it is clear that I have painted an entirely unrealistic picture of what I should be able to do.

About the day after you discover you are pregnant, the parenthood guilt virus (PGV) begins to attack your frontal lobe.  By the time your child turns three, the PGV will have spread throughout your brain forcing you to agonize over every decision you make.

For instance: media and your child--the shame of letting your child watch media.  The pressure to keep media out of your children's lives is overwhelming.  I find myself justifying any media I allow my children to watch to everyone...and I am pretty sure they don't care.  I really want my children to grow up in a rich environment full of stories and imaginative play.  I want them to feel safe to express themselves, I want them to play outside, I want them to be fascinated by interesting things but, sometimes, they just want to watch Kipper (the dog, the dog with a slipper).

Today we came home after church and played in the yard for two hours.  I pushed them on the swings, Ollie took a nap in the sunshine on our special family picnic quilt, we got the new kite stuck in a tree (sorry, Grammie and PopPop) then went inside to have a family lunch.  Then it got really stormy.  Really, really stormy.  And I STILL felt guilty for being inside.  Then Laine asked to listen to an AUDIOBOOK of Thomas and I felt guilty for not reading to him.  Then he asked for a piece of fudge and I felt guilty that he knows how (incredibly) good fudge is.

So, this year, I am making a wish for myself and for you.  I wish for a cure for PGV.  I wish to play with my children because it delights me and not because I feel like I ought to.  I wish that when I feel grouchy and unimaginative I will be honest with my children and ask them to help me play (it is their job after all).  I wish that every once in a while I will say yes to a movie and watch too.

Happy New-Opportunity-to-Try-Your-Best!