"Our homes, imperfect as they are, must be a haven from the chaos outside. They should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion.” ~ Jani Ortlund
Last night at church we had a mystery dinner for our Friday night fellowship.
The tables were set in an easy and fun way....
Here is the menu (you can click on it and it will enlarge)
The lovely waitresses....
After placing our orders we were entertained by Anthony the Amazing!
We all enjoyed eating the peanuts at the tables!
Rachel in action - they had so much fun!
Some of the delicious food - potato cheese soup, apple pie and banana pudding (this was amazingly good with semi sweet chocolate shavings on top! Yum!
These are the lovely ladies who planned and ran the event (I contributed the potato cheese soup!)
We always have a great time fellowshipping after an event. While we were around the table talking, Lindsay started stacking water bottles.
Soon, people were giving her suggestions of things to add....
The stack got larger and larger...
Until it was this big!
The stack is as follows: pepper shaker, salt shaker (inverted), full water bottle (inverted), partially full water bottle, mostly empty water bottle (inverted), empty root beer can, empty coke can, empty root beer can!
Visitors to this cottage realize that lots of kids live here! We are also frequently visited by friends with lots of kids as well. Now having said that, I confess that we are not child centered. The kids do not rule the roost, everything is not about them! However, I have learned a few things about living with kids, and I have developed "rules" that allow me to stay sane, enjoy my children and be willing to share hospitality with others.
1. I do not try to have a magazine perfect home. It is simply impossible. Even when we are very diligent to pick up after ourselves, and often we are not diligent enough, there are bound to be little boy cars and girlie dollhouse people "sharing" our living spaces.
2. While I have a goal to have things tidy and in a state so as not to be embarrassed should company come by, I realize that 8 people live in this house. We are here nearly 24/7, because of home educating. This house gets used. I do not want to "harp" at my kids about every little thing. Life happens here.
3. Kids can be taught to keep their things picked up. I need to keep mentioning this to myself, because some days I wonder. My older girls are good at helping, but my new goal with everyone is to "see" something that needs to be done, and do it, even if "mom didn't tell me to."
4. I love to decorate! My style is cottage, country, romantic. This allows me to use found objects, which is good on my budget. These styles are kid friendly, which leads me to my next point.
5. Kids will inevitably spill, throw up, and draw on things. Including couches. Or a little kitty will forget the couch is not a litter box. (eewww) Trust me I know. This time in my life is not the time to get really expensive pieces of furniture. When we bought our first home we needed a couch. So we went out and bought a beautiful dark green couch. We were told the fabric was kid friendly, you can use a waterbased fabric cleaner etc...Then my daughter threw up on it. Believe me, while I got the mess out, the mark where it had been was always there. Then the cat used it to sharpen its claws...
6. Be willing to use furniture that is free. If you hate the fabric you can use slipcovers. I have one on the couch mentioned above. This thing is a tan color, gets very dirty and it all washes out in my washing machine. It is a very easy way to get the look you want without worrying about spending a lot of money. We were given a couch recently that is in perfect condition. Now it is not my favorite style, has a bit of wood and brass trim. But it was free, it is a neutral color and is comfortable. My kids all love this couch. I can live with it!
7. Allow your kids to have a say in their rooms. My girls couldn't decide on what color to paint their room. One older girl wanted blue, one wanted green. So they decided to compromise with a blue/green color. This took awhile but they both found a color they liked. It is a beautiful, fresh color. It looks wonderful with our white trim and their white furniture. I would never choose this color, but it is their space. They like it alot.
8. Develop a schedule for cleaning that works for your family. For example: a smaller family may not need to clean their bathrooms everyday, but we do. Both of our bathrooms get used alot. We clean them everyday, and we have to vacuum daily too. Also with our kitchen and living room open to each other it is important to keep them as clutter free as possible. Clutter makes me nervous.
9. It is important to sort through "stuff" several times a year. I find that the change of the seasons is a good time, because of sorting through seasonal clothing. My girls are collectors, and one is just a pack rat, but I make them go through their things and throw some stuff out, but some in storage or give away things.
I saw on the news that Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, wants 150 million dollars of the new 825 BILLION dollars of bailout money, to go to "family planning." She says that fewer children will be better for the economy!
I wonder who Ms. Pelosi thinks will PAY for this tax dollars bailout? I read statistics last year, that in the near future ( as all the baby boomers one of whom is Ms. Pelosi retire), it will be only 2 American workers paying Social Security Tax for every 5 retirees. How long do you think it might take those 2 American Workers to decide that they cannot afford to foot the bill for Social Security for 5 retirees as well as pay tax to retire this enormous bailout bill? They are not being long term minded. They are thinking only of what might help in the immediate, "we'll just tax the future generations". sigh...
The children being raised in this SELF oriented society, where children are a burden and too much work etc...will reap what their culture has sewn into them, when they decide that their are too many people living for too long ...and the culture of death goes from abortion to euthanasia.
We have received a lot of comments from believers and non believers about our having 6 children. Post moderns say "6 kids! How can you stand it?" They have been raised in the culture of death. Baby boomers say to us " I wish I had had more children." They were raised in the era of "don't have too many kids or you won't be able to give them everything they want!" They regret that they worried about those things and didn't have more kids!
When believers take God at His word and trust Him, I believe that you will see a change in this land. Where ALL life is valuable. It is time for believers to come out of the culture and reject the "kids" are a burden mindset. To reject the mindset that the elderly must be put away in nursing "homes". They should be brought into our homes when no longer able to fully care for themselves. They cared for us in our childhood and youth, we surely can make them at home in our homes, where they are not just a "patient", but a valuable member of the family!
My grandmother, who was the oldest of 9 children, was not a fan of me having more than just a few children. She would always say "well, there's nothing I can do for you." She came to realize however, that the Lord may have sent those 3 little ones just for her enjoyment - they were such a blessing to her. Sarah and she were especially close. Sarah our sunshiney girl, who shares joy where ever she goes, would sit with my grandma on her chair. They would both be under a blanket and spent many joyous hours together talking and playing and watching the kind of movies they both enjoyed - the ones with animals talking and being funny! God sent Sarah to bless her, and near the end of my grandmas' life she realized the blessing was from God - it was a way that He was showing her His love for her!
I feel sad, so sad for our nation. I pray God's mercy on us. The speaker of the house is simply reflecting the culture and what many, including Christians, believe. Lord, help us.
Lindsay has asked if she can graduate this year. She has almost enough credits and if she works a little bit harder, she could graduate. She is certainly mature enough, she would still be doing studies next year, likely some online courses. She wants to work with horses, so she could focus on more training for herself....She is eager to be on with her life...Tim and I are going to be praying about it.
Have any of you graduated your kids early? Pros and cons? I am interested in hearing your stories.
I wanted to add some thoughts to my previous post.
I believe hospitality is so important, and so we have always opened our home, even when it didn't look as nice as it does now.
We have had tea parties, birthday parties, Mom's gatherings, meetings, dinners, and 2 family reunions here at our home.
What is need is some creativity. When it is time to eat, no more than 10 can squeeze around our table, so we set up our long counter as a buffet, placing plates, flatware, napkins, and the food on it. I like to use tiered plates and baskets for some of the food as it makes the presentation more appealing to the eye, than if it were all laid out flat. Plus it saves space. Everyone then sits where ever there is a seat available. No one has ever complained about this.
Our home is about 1400 sq feet and has 4 bedrooms and two baths. The living room and kitchen are all open and the dining table is in there as well. The bedroom our youngest is in serves as a pass through for the girls bedroom. The previous owners added the master bedroom on and chose to do it that way rather than relocate closets. It is inconvenient at times, but it works. Our girls have the master bedroom. We switched with them two years ago. The 4 of them were cramped into the 2nd largest bedroom and the two of us were roaming around in an enormous space. They have plenty of room now, along with a private bathroom and walk in closet and the room we now have is big enough for us!
I find it just takes creativity to make the most of what you have.
When you are content and happy with what you have, people feel the warmth of your welcome and feel comfortable!
Today is my big brothers' birthday! I won't say how old he is though! :)
This is a big year for him - his baby girl turns 18 and graduates from high school, and his oldest son and son's wife are going to make him a "papa." His oldest girl is getting married, that means gaining a son-in-law, and Evan is planning a move to Pennsylvania!
What a huge year!
Congratulations Robert! It is wonderful to see you receive blessing in your life.
I have been thinking about thankfulness alot lately. I find that I am thankful for the cottage the Lord has provided for us and for giving us the ability to work hard and make it into a warm welcoming place.
My home will never look like the picture above. But God has given us creativity and a desire to take something that was to some, not worth fixing, and making it into a beautiful home.
My husband and I determined years ago to live debt free. We do not buy anything that we cannot pay for. Our cottage is the only exception and we are paying extra on it, in order to pay it off more quickly. So any projects we do around the house are done when we have extra funds. Sometimes this doesn't happen for a long time.
I remember once, feeling dissatisfied that it was taking so long to get projects done around our cottage. I thought "how come other people are able to add on to their houses, buy new things etc.." The Lord reminded me of the fact that we wanted to live debt free. He also encouraged me with the thought, that if hard times came, we wouldn't be worried about how to pay off credit cards and the like.
So, I am thankful, for the projects we have been able to accomplish this spring. My heart feels like it is overflowing with thankfulness.
Thank you for your faithful service to our country. Thank you that we have not suffered another attack on our homeland since 9/11. Thank you for sticking to your principles, even when your popularity plummeted.
To read the accomplishments of his first term go here.
To read the accomplishments of his second term go here.
I just came from reading Brenda's blog. She was sharing some of her ponderings about how the Lord has changed her outlook on things.
Some of what she shared made me think of my Mother in Law. She called yesterday to chat about her new great grandson and some other things. One thing you realize when you talk with her is that she is a busy woman...she is 87 years old...she makes me tired!
Now I find that balance is needed, but I so appreciate her desire to serve others and to go where she feels the Lord has sent her - the woman does prison ministry.
While I don't feel lead to prison ministry at this point in my life, I have gained wonderful perspective about serving others, being willing to do hard things, and being a willing for God to use me.
We are in different stages of our lives, she is retired and busier than ever working at the food bank, doing prison ministry, playing piano for a small church, playing piano for a group of retired missionary ladies who go to the nursing home weekly to sing and share....
I am in the middle of things here with a grown son, two nearly grown daughters and three younger kids. I have 15 years of homeschooling ahead of me still, even though I am in my 15th year of homeschooling! (I may fast track these younger ones! heehee)
The Lord has grabbed a hold of my heart and given me a desire to serve others, practice hospitality, pray....I hope to do it in some form for the rest of my life.
There is never a perfect time in our lives, a time without difficulty and only good. I talked about that here. I do believe that God may have different things for us at different stages of our lives.
The key in all of it is to seek God, let Him lead you in every area. He has something for us to learn and do at every stage in our lives.
Right now it says 8 degrees - that is without wind chill. It doesn't seem to be windy outside, which is good, however our high today is only going to be 16! Wow! We are not used to such extreme temperatures!
We had our co-op yesterday. It went really well. The only issue being one that has been an undercurrent for several years. We are going to have to deal with it seriously, and it may not be pleasant. Pray for us for wisdom, mercy and grace. Only God can bring about a good resolution.
Today we plan to stay inside! My husband and I went to dinner the other night, using a gift card from our nephew Evan (Thanks Evan!) and then did grocery shopping. I picked up a few things from Costco after co-op yesterday, so I don't have to be out in this crazy weather. We will be doing school, reading blogs, waiting to see pictures of our brand new great-nephew Ethan. We will knit, read, and maybe rearrange some furniture.
I love these kinds of days. I like to be able to spend time with my kids, and also to focus on my home.
Our homeschool group starts up again today! We have been on a break since Thanksgiving.
One of the responsibilities I have as the "fearless leader" is the decision as to whether we meet due to the weather! It has snowed a tiny bit so that is not an issue - but the cold is. It is going to be so cold with the wind this afternoon. Of course, we meet inside and so it is only an issue of going to and from the vehicles. At this point I am planning on us meeting, as it is a pain to reschedule!
I am continuing my class on "Emma" by Jane Austen. Last semester the girls were not very talkative and it is hard to have a book discussion class when you are the only one "discussing" the book. They do like the English Country Dancing and are looking forward to having a real Ball -
Here are some photos from last years ball -
I made both of these dresses!
These young ladies had a wonderful time - many girls these days don't know what it is like to dress up for an event, so they loved it!
Today we awake to the first of two artic blasts coming our way. The high today if we are lucky is going to be 26 degrees. Right now, it is 16, that is not factoring wind chill. Tomorrow they are calling for snow, I am not holding my breath because they have been wrong alot this winter! Friday, the high will be 16 degrees. This is a bummer for me as it is my big shopping day - I could go early or a few days later, but the weather isn't going to be much different, so....Tomorrow in fact, we start co-op, but it may get cancelled if it snows like they are calling for, but like I said we will see if the weather people get it right. In a bit the girls will be bundling up to go out and feed our horses - brrrr. The horses are blanketed and have a shelter to go into, if they want. Their hay gets their systems heated up, and over the next few evenings we will be giving them extra hay overnight as the temps are supposed to plunge to 8 degrees.
Inside it is toasty warm, thanks to our woodstove! We have hardly used the heating system this winter, because the woodstove warms the house very well. We rarely have had to turn the thermostat up from our overnight setting of 63 degrees, but the house will be 72-74 degrees! That is a huge blessing to us!
Yesterday, I wanted to post one of my girls' movies - but while Lindsay got it reformatted, she wasn't able to get it to load. We will keep trying - it is so sweet.
I treasure these days with my young children and with my young adult children. I feel so blessed, even on the crazy days!
I don't know what to make for dinner tonight...Probably something with chicken.
I am thankful for...
Encouragement from God's word...
From the kitchen...
A pot of PG Tips and a few Lorna Doones
I am wearing...
A white long sleeved T and a Land's End skirt (stone colored)
I am creating...
A new knit scarf, this time for myself!
I am going...
We start back to our homeschool co-op this week. Lots to prepare for!
I am reading...
Jane Austen's Persuasion...
I am hoping...
For time to get together on a regular basis with my niece, who lives nearby.
I am hearing...
My kids playing together, with Kyle's blocks!
Around the house...
I still have my garlands and lights up, so cheery in the winter gloom.
One of my favorite things...
Is my friendship with my children...
A few plans for the rest of the week:
Mostly I am focused on co-op on Thursday. It will be quite cold later this week, and I usually do my grocery shopping on Fridays but it is going to be frigid on Friday so I am thinking through the possibilities.
I am planning on Chicken soup for dinner using alphabet pasta. The little ones get so excited when I do this! I will also have Lindsay make homemade cornbread - Yummy!
In the meantime, Tim went and got hay for our horses and is currently unloading it in the shed. He is going to go do firewood at a friend's house, and that means several children will be going along as well!
My projects for today will include some basic tidying around the house and then I plan to make a new blouse for Lindsay using this pattern
I am planning to make it in a red rayon blend that looks like linen. I will be making view A with a few adjustments. Normally I make the elastic waist but move it down to the natural waistline. This time, Lindsay wants to try it without the elastic at the waist. I am also thinking of doing the view D sleeve with out the wide ruffle. That would make it a normal 3/4 length sleeve. If Lindsay isn't interested in that we will do the regular sleeve for view A.
There will also be some reading and some knitting going on. I am currently reading
Persuasion by Jane Austen.
For knitting, I have finished a scarf for Lindsay and am working on one for myself in red! The yarn is so soft.
Well, I must get along with my day. I pray that you will look at the ordinary things of life and see God's blessings.
Last evening, I decided to make cookies. Kyle needed something to do to occupy him, so I asked him if he would like to help me make cookies. His face lit up and he said "yeth!" Then he needed an apron, so Sarah loaned him hers - Note: I will be making him a "guy" apron soon!
He was so excited to help, he liked stirring...
Here he is putting the dough on the cookie sheet -
I didn't get a photo of the finished product, as we started our evening Bible reading and then were putting little ones to bed...but I will try to get a photo today of Kyle eating one of his cookies!
It was a lot of fun and he did great, sweet precious times...
Our computer was being difficult today, I guess the Lord wanted me to get other things accomplished, because it is working fine now! We did some very necessary cleaning and I did some decluttering in my bedroom...Evan got home safely, no delays with his flights, which we were so thankful for. We missed you Evan when we did our Bible Study last night....
I thought I would show you some of my recent projects.
Emily is modeling the hat I knitted after Christmas - I like having hand work to do....
This is an apron that I made for Miss Paula who is a lover of pink....neither photo shows the right coloration of the fabric. I was very pleased with how it turned out, as I didn't use a pattern. This is an apron I made for Kaitlin, Miss Paula's girlie. It is interesting that the fabric looks much more pink without the dark trim, but I wanted to bring out the deep burgundy in the print. Kaitlin wants to be a pastry chef and likes to cook - so I thought I new apron would be a fine present...
I don't have a photo of the crocheted baby blanket for Ryan and Alicia
Nor do I have a photo of the Wilbur Buds for my brother, milk chocolate and dark chocolate!
Tonight I am going to make BBQ Beef Sandwiches and oven baked fries.
Evan is on his way to the airport - they are having an adventure - first when Grandma and Grandpa got here to pick him up, Grandpa had a tire that was a bit "soft", so they decided to head out and go by their house to get the Buick to take Evan to the airport. Then Evan realized that he left his boarding pass/ticket on the counter here in my kitchen! So back they came - apparently they were having some freezing rain as well...the roads are all treated and they are just wet so that shouldn't be a problem!
These three have hung out together for the past 3 weeks! They have had a nightly movie festival....
It was hard to get a really good shot of all of them....Kyle again is dressed like Evan, he was sort of casual about Evan leaving, until he realized that Evan was going to California and not just over to Grandmas. As soon as Evan walked out the door, Kyle started to cry about needing to hug and kiss him, so Lindsay quickly carried Kyle out to the car. A bit later Kyle mentioned Evan going home (we were looking at Miss Paula's blog) and said "but I am going to mith him tho much."