Thankful Thursday--Sovreignty of God

I am thankful this morning to have been reminded again that *nothing* takes God by surprise.
He has reminded me over and over of that in recent months. As I read this Thankful Thursday post, I thought as I have thought often recently, that God's Sovreignty can at times be very painful. That has been a new realization this year. When we have experienced trials in the past, the Sovreignty of God has always been a comfort...but I have discovered through this past year that there are sufferings of a depth that can truly make the Sovreignty of God *hurt*. However, I am so thankful that that realization has come hand in hand with realizing God's love on a whole new level. He has shown me that the pain of His Sovreignty is always accompanied by the immensity of His Love and Care. He truly does "carry us close to His Heart as a Shepherd" (Isa. 40:11).

Robin Sampson posted this quote from Warren Wiersbe in her Thankful Thursday post this week...I am thankful that God led her to post and led me to see them, as I *needed* these words today:

“If we only endure our trials, then trials become our master, and we have a tendency to become hard and bitter. If we try to escape our trials, then we will probably miss the purposes God wants to achieve in our lives. But if we learn to enlist our trials, they will become our servants instead of our masters and work for us; and God will work all things together for our good and His glory. (Rom. 8:28).”

I am thankful this morning that no matter how hard the day or how blah my mood, God always reminds me of His incredible blessings if I will just stop long enough to be reminded. I'm thankful for Thankful Thursday giving a *push* to stop and let Him remind me.


Remembering Papaw

I am sitting here stunned at the moment realizing that this picture, if I have my dates right, was taken 27 years ago today. It doesn't seem possible that it could have been that long ago...and yet there have certainly been many changes since then (for instance, I think the recliner in the background has been recovered *twice* since this picture was taken! :)). I *think* that this picture was taken on my Papaw Brown's 80th birthday, May 29, 1981.

A true gentleman. That is the most often-heard description whenever people talk about my grandfather, who died in 1986 at the age of 85. A hard-working man who often worked 7 days a week, 364 days a year, a gentleman who was rarely seen without a long-sleeved white shirt, tie, and his ever-present hat until he was well into his 80s, a faithful husband who had been heard to say during his last fight with cancer, "I just hope I live until our 56th anniversary." He did, and died less than a month later. An incredible family historian who compiled a 3 inch-thick, legal-sized *book* of our family history by typing with two fingers (he typed *everything* and typed amazingly fast for someone who only used two fingers :)) and copying on an old xerox copier at the library. A dyed in the wool worrier (who passed that trait on to his oldest son and his youngest grand-daughter. :)) A stern man who also had a wonderful dry sense of humor and could make me laugh faster than almost anyone.

Papaw and I had a very special relationship. I was grandpa's girl and everyone knew it. When I was two, my mom was hospitalized, and while my other grandparents were still working, my grandfather was ten years older than the others and had already retired. This man who had spent most of his own children's childhoods working suddenly found himself in charge of a two year old while my daddy was at work. Some of my earliest and best memories are of the time I spent with him during that time. Years later I would pack up my books and head to Fort Smith in the spring of 1986 when he was diagnosed with cancer for the last time. I spent many hours in the hospital with him, and then many days with him and my grandmother after he went home. One of the greatest blessings of homeschooling my last two years of high school was having the flexibility to spend most of those last few months with him, and time with my grandmother after he died.

I found this recently...a poem that my great-aunt, his sister-in-law, wrote for my grandmother 6 months after his death:

He was a very noble man.
Forget him, we never can.
It was so very plain to see
He was devoted to his family.

He was kind and understanding,
Never harsh or commanding.
He was honest and forgiving
Working hard to make a living.

He is missed so very much
That gentle smile and loving touch,
That vacant chair that seems so quiet,
The long, long days and silent nights.

We miss you, Foy--
Feb. 87
Jessie Robertson

Tackle It Tuesday

This is going to be another *two-tackle Tuesday* for me. :-) We got a *lot* done on the house last week...but of course, never *enough*. ;-) One thing I had really *needed* to do last week that didn't get done was re-organizing my bedroom. Because we have so little storage, our bedroom ends up being the *catch-all* for everything...and it has gotten really bad this time! So...I know I won't probably *finish* it today (too much else demanding attention as well!), but I want to spend at least an hour getting a good start on it. I won't have an hour tomorrow, but I'm going to try to spend at least an hour the rest of the week until it is finished.
My second tackle for today is finalizing our summer schedule, chore lists, and school plans. I have been working on these, but we've had several major changes lately (dad's job schedule changing, adding piano practice, etc.), so I need to adjust things and get it all finalized and printed up. I created some forms a few weeks ago that I think are really going to help us...I just need to get them *launched* and in use. So...I plan to get that done today as well.
Check out what others are tackling today at 5 Minutes for Mom.


Menu Plan Monday...

I didn't stay on track as well as I needed to last week...thus you will see some of the same items on the menu because we didn't eat them last week. (Some we did have last week and are just having again. :))


B: Cereal

L: Out (Birthday Party)

S: Hoagies and Salad


B: Cinnamon/Cheese Roll-Ups

L: Tuna Sandwiches/Cottage Cheese

S: Fajitas, Rice, Refried Beans


B: Oatmeal

L: ?? Gone to Used Book Sale

S: Tilapia, Slaw, Beans


B: Scrambled Eggs/toast

L: Nachos

S: Chicken Patties, Baked Mashies, Salad, Green Beans


B: Yogurt Smoothies

L: Tortilla Roll-Ups

S: King Ranch Casserole


Rice Cakes, Protein Balls, No-Bakes, Muffins, Crackers and Pepperoni, Fruit
Thanks to Laura at Orgjunkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday!


Our New (Well, not *exactly*...) Piano

Twenty-some-odd years ago, as a teenager, I bought a piano after inheriting some money from my great-aunt. The piano I originally bought was an antique Steinway square grand, which looked a little like this . I soon learned that while an antique Steinway square grand was a nice *thought*...this particular one (and from the reading I've done, most of them at this point :)) was great for looks but not practical for someone who actually wanted a piano to *play* seriously. :-) So...we traded it in for a much newer but not *new* Baldwin Acrosonic. My dad had worked for Baldwin at two different times in his career (I'll have to post more on that subject sometime...:)), so he helped me to find *just* the right piano...and I was attached to this one from the beginning.

When I moved away from home, my piano stayed behind. Recently, my mom decided to buy a piano a friend was selling, so that my piano could come *home*. I had started accompanying a children's choir at church and needed to be able to practice regularly (I hadn't in over ten years...ack!), and my children are ready to start learning to play now. It was no small feat to move not one but *two* pianos, but a great crew of men helped us and we finally got everything where it needed to be on Friday. The kids are *so* excited (I hope they stay that way when they have to start actually *practicing! ;-)), and so am I!
ETA: Can anyone help me figure out how to position the photos in my post where I want them? When I use more than one photo in a post, I can't seem to get them to end up where they are supposed to! (I *wanted* the full piano on the right at the top with text to the left of it, and the piano keys at the bottom of the post in the center...help!)
ETA2: Thanks to Joyful Days for helping me figure out how to get things (mostly:)) where I want them!!

The Reading Nook

I have been intending to post a picture of our new *Reading Nook* ever since I posted about it in my WFMW post. Here it *finally* is. The size makes it a challenge to photograph...this picture is taken from the doorway of our bedroom; the opposite wall has a doorway leading into the living room. We still have work to do in here...I need to make new curtains for the front door, we are going to add a small bookcase just to the right of where I was standing, and I need to reposition the swag and the artwork above the loveseat (we used to have taller furniture in that spot :)). Billy also said we can be on the lookout for a good deal on a screen door. I decided after we got the loveseat moved in there that it would be really nice to have a screen door on the front door (directly across from the loveseat) so that on nice days we could have the door open and feel the breeze. I can't wait to get that done! :) I love our new cozy spot!


Small Houses revisited...

Earlier this week I ran across some great links on small houses in a post at Starry Sky Ranch . As I mentioned in my WFMW post on Small House Survival, I am on a quest for *outside the box* solutions to our space and storage issues, while working to make our house warm and homey. Although our house is not a mobile home, I was really inspired by the photos here and here . Thanks to Kim at Starry Sky Ranch for posting these links! I'm always on the lookout for more good ideas...I'll be posting as I find them, and would love to hear any ideas or see any photos anyone else has.


Monkey Cake

The Monkey Cake recipe, as promised...

(This was originally titled Nutty Banana Bread Squares, but we renamed it Monkey Cake. :-))

1/4 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large whole egg
2 large egg whites
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large, very-ripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.
3. In large mixing bowl, beat well with an electric mixer the melted butter and sugar.
4. Add the egg and egg whites; beat on high 1 min.
5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cr. of tartar, and salt. Gently add to the butter-sugar mixture.
6. Beat on low speed, just until mixed.
7. Peel and mash bananas. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture into the batter.
8. Beat until just mixed.
9. Pour into prepared pan.
10. Sprinkle nuts over the top.
11. Bake 35-40 min., or until top is golden brown and bread springs back. Let cool on cooling rack. Cut into squares when cool.
(from www.kidnetic.com )

We used chopped pecans instead of walnuts, because that is what we had, and because we like them better. :) And because part of our bunch doesn't care for nuts, we only sprinkled nuts on half the cake. I am planning to try this with a cream cheese frosting someday....it was great without it, but I think it would also be great with it. :)

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Let me know what you think if you try it...:)

Thankful Thursday

I had planned all week to participate in my *first* Thankful Thursday today...and then this morning got up and almost backed out. I'm just not *feeling* especially thankful this morning. I'm not necessarily feeling *not* thankful...just kind of *blah*. (Probably has something to do with a grueling Wednesday followed by a mostly-sleepless night...and knowing I can't just let the kids watch movies all day while I sleep because we are going to be gone *all day* tomorrow and we have WAY TOO MUCH TO DO. :)) But then I realized...this is probably exactly the kind of day I *need* a Thankful Thursday the most! If I'm *not* feeling thankful, I need to get that way. So...here goes:

1.Grocery Day tomorrow. Since Billy's schedule change, I've decided the kids and I will do our major shopping trip *together* every other Friday. 4 kids, Sam's Club *and* the Supercenter, sometimes the Bread Store and/or the Chicken Outlet...Makes for a *very* long day!! And a new experience for a mom who is used to doing her major shopping *alone*...or *occasionally* with all four kids and dad along. But the kids did *so* well two weeks ago that I am actually looking forward to it this week...and I'm loving their excitement about it! Who knew that group shopping could be so much fun for everybody??

2. Snorting!! Ammah Grace is snorting at me as I am typing...acting like she is a monster coming to get me. She is *so* funny sometimes (okay, *almost* all the time!) And I don't suppose I will ever get over marvelling at every single little thing she does...and remembering that we weren't sure she would ever even be able to *smile* at us...much less keep us in stitches 90% of the time. I know that God gave her to us to make us smile during dark days...and remind us how Amazingly Powerful He really is.

3. Monkey Cake. I have been planning to make this banana cake for over a week now, and *finally* got it done yesterday. Bayley helped me with it and we renamed it "Monkey Cake" in the process (it was originally called Banana Bread Cake...I'll try to post the recipe later.) It turned out really good, and I'm just glad I finally got to mark it *off* my list.

4. House progress. We still have a LONNGG way to go, but we've made a lot of progress on the house recently. I'm thankful for a husband who comes home from a long week of work and is willing to jump in and work on the house, and for all the things I keep looking at this week and thinking, "wow, that looks better!"

5. The upcoming 3 day weekend. We are doing well with Billy's new schedule, but I *do* miss having three day weekends every week. I'm looking forward to having one this week!

Have to stop for now and get the kids (and myself) moving again. Check out the other TT posts at Sting My Heart , and thanks to Iris for the motivation to *get thankful* today!


Incredible Love

We are working on another song by Stuart Townend in adult choir right now... How Deep the Father's Love for Us. The first time we sang it, I thought it was beautiful, and looked down to see who it was written by...and realized it was written by the same person who wrote my very *favorite* song we have done in choir this year (The Power of the Cross). Not only are both of these songs musical *dreams* for an alto (some beautiful low melody parts in addition to gorgeous harmonies), but the words are incredible. God continues to amaze me with new realizations of the true depth of His love. And He continues to remind me of the *truth* and *reality* of His Sovreignty. I have struggled with the Sovreignty of God this year more than any other, but through those struggles, I have become convinced that suffering is indeed necessary for us to gain a deeper understanding of God's love for us.

"How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure...

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

...Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers...."

(Exerpted from How Deep the Father's Love for Us, by Stuart Townend)

When we first began working on this song, I had just had a conversation with a friend about God's sovreignty and goodness and human suffering. It is hard for us as finite humans sometimes (all the time?) to reconcile the suffering of children with the Goodness and Sovreignty of God. She shared that it was much easier for her to accept the suffering adults experience than the suffering of innocent children. I have struggled with that as well. We have watched a number of *innocent children* suffer...including our own. We watched our youngest go through intense physical suffering during the first 6 weeks of life, enduring medical procedures that send adults into anxiety attacks, and acquiring scars that may be visible for the rest of her life. Our older children have gone through periods of extreme emotional suffering due to various family crises. I have spent a lot of time pondering why God allows *innocent children* to suffer, both before and after the conversation with my friend. I certainly don't have an easy answer. But God has brought me a long way in this area, and because we are dealing with some long term issues involving the suffering of children, I know that He will continue to lead in this area.

One thing I have realized about the suffering of children is this: the suffering of my children gets my attention faster than anything else. God has taught *me* more through the suffering of my children than through any other suffering I have experienced. I have clung to Him more for wisdom and strength in helping my children through their suffering than I ever would have otherwise. And I have learned more about God's love for us as our Heavenly Father through the experience of watching my children suffer.

When Ammah Grace was still in NICU, I had the most vivid realization of the immensity of God's love for us that I had ever had up to that point. She was several weeks old, and it was our first time to actually be *alone*...she was finally stable enough for me to take her into the nursing mother's area and be in the privacy of a curtained cubicle. I was finally able to just sit with my baby and examine all of her little fingers and toes as I had done with all of my other children in the first few hours of life. As I sat marvelling at how tiny she still was...although she had already gained almost a pound by that time...I noticed something I had never seen on my other children. Scars. Little tiny scars, on her hands, and on her feet. Scars from multiple IVs and other tests and procedures I didn't even want to think about. I was suddenly overwhelmed at how much suffering this little girl had already experienced in her very first weeks of life. I remembered the agony I had gone through a couple of weeks earlier, giving permission by phone for her to undergo a spinal tap...not a pleasant procedure for anyone, much less a tiny baby. I remembered having the crazy urge to jump in the van and drive the 2 1/2 hours to the hospital because I couldn't stand the thought of her going through the procedure alone, despite the fact that the doctor had said they needed to do it immediately. (I had gone home for a week or so to get things settled before going back to Little Rock to stay for the duration of her stay in NICU.)

Tears flooded down my face as I ached for the suffering this child had endured...as I contemplated the suffering that could be still to come for her...and as I realized again my complete and total inability to do anything about any of it. In the midst of my tears, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought of another Parent who had wept over His Child's scars. God quietly reminded me that He, too, had experienced the pain of seeing scars on the hands and feet of His Child. He, too, had known the pain of allowing His Son to suffer alone...not being there to comfort Him in the worst time of suffering that He...that any man...had ever experienced.

And then He reminded me of this: He didn't have to.

As I struggled with my total helplessness to control the suffering my child had already experienced and would experience in the future, I realized that God didn't *have* to see His Son suffer. He could have, with a word, released Him from that suffering. Jesus Himself could have called "10,000 angels...to destroy the world and set Him free." But...God willingly watched His only Son suffer and die at the hands of evil men...He turned His face away as Jesus took on the sin of the world that He couldn't even look upon...and He did it for *us*. Sinful, evil, miserable, ungrateful people. People that He loved enough to die for. I realized in that moment that there was no one in the world that I could have *willingly allowed* this little girl to endure that kind of suffering for. I knew that I would have done anything in my power to keep her from having to experience the suffering she had experienced.

And at that moment, I realized in a way I had never realized before how deep the Father's love for us...for me...really is. The lyrics of this song express what I felt that day...and what I feel every time I think about those teeny, tiny scars...so perfectly. What incredible word pictures...about an Incredible Love.

Works for Me Wednesday...Small House Survival

Our family of 6 lives in a 60+ year old house with three bedrooms, one bath, very little closet space, and even *less* storage. While our 1700 square feet is certainly not *tiny*, it isn't spacious either...and while most people we know have a garage *and* an attic for storage...we have *neither*! So...we are learning the fine art of using space creatively. I have realized that the secret to living well in small spaces is learning to *think outside the box*. We have a *loonnnggg* way to go in this process, but slowly but surely we are getting there!

Following the death of an elderly cousin recently, we were offered a loveseat that I originally turned down, as it would not have fit into our living room. However, later that day, I had a brainstorm while washing dishes at the kitchen sink (another plus of old-house living...no dishwasher...which is fortunate, because that seems to be where most of my brainstorms appear! :-)) I realized that the loveseat would probably fit perfectly in our entry hall...and I suddenly had a vision of turning the entry hall into a reading nook. I've always thought it was odd that a house that was otherwise not spacious had so much space in a virtually *worthless* room-that-wasn't-even-really-a-room. But now I was inspired! Our front door has a half window and the lighting in the entry is great...we would put the loveseat opposite the front door, add a small bookcase on the side wall, and have a perfect place for people to read or study.

The loveseat fit perfectly in the space...with about 3 inches to spare! And our new reading nook is one of our favorite places in the house. I can do individual schoolwork with one child in the reading nook while the other children are busy in the living room and dining room (which doubles as our school and all-purpose room :)). It's a quiet spot for people to read, draw, or nap. When a child needs some extra TLC, we can head to the entry hall and snuggle on the loveseat. And because the entry hall opens onto our bedroom, it's the perfect spot for a child to sleep if they are sick or have had a bad dream.

If only it were that easy to add another bathroom!!

Thanks so much to Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for hosting WFMW!!


Tackle It Tuesday!

My first Tackle It Tuesday! :-) I've debated what my Tackle It Tuesday project should be...we are in the process of a *whole-house overhaul* on our 60+ year old house, so there are lots of possibilities!

I think we'll go with painting the front door (the inside, not the outside). The front door and door facing *really* need a touch-up, and I have been going to do it for a week...and then Billy was going to do it this weekend...and neither one of us ever got to it. :) The other thing I *really* need to do is switch over my email...I am in the process of changing ISPs and the state of limbo I'm in with my email is about to drive me bananas! So...I will tackle that as well.

Hope everyone has a productive Tuesday!

Tackle It Tuesday Update...

Whew! Finished them both!! Got the door painted and the other trim in the Entryway touched up, *and* got my email switched over. That was quite a traumatic undertaking...I have several email accounts for various purposes, but our primary email address has been the same ever since we first got internet service. Funny how such a seemingly *minor* change can shake a person up so much! Not only did I have to get everything switched over, but I also had to make a *decision* about what our new primary email was going to be from here on out. I knew the addresses I did *not* want to use as our primary email, but couldn't decide between my relatively new gmail account and the email address provided by our new ISP. I finally went with the new ISP address...and so far, I'm happy. I just realized though...I need to figure out which email addresses and email loops my mail needs to be changed on and get all *those* changed as well. *Sigh* Sounds like a "Tackle It Tuesday" project...only unfortunately, this one won't wait until next Tuesday....and my brain is way too tired to tackle that tonight. Guess that will go on my "Way Too Full Already Wednesday" list...;-)

Thanks for the inspiration, motivation, and encouragement to get these projects done!!


Menu Plan Monday...

I was really disappointed this morning to realize that I had missed out on the opportunity to participate in Menu Plan Monday...because I posted my menus on Sunday night! However, thanks to the fact that I have one less loaf of bread than I thought I had (the crew was apparently hungrier than usual last night!), I now have the perfect opportunity to re-post our *new* menu for the week and be part of Menu Plan Monday! I hope I'm doing this right...I'm not sure how to post the MPM banner in my post, but I'll work on it. :)

ETA: I have tried to figure out how to post the MPM banner in my post and my Monday Morning Mush-Brain can't seem to do it. If someone would give me instructions in a comment (or link to instructions for me), I would be *ever* so grateful!! Thanks!!!

B--Cinnamon/Cheese Roll-ups
L--Nachos and Refried Beans, Carrot Sticks and Ranch
S--Brat Stew, French Bread, salad
Sn--Rice Cakes, fruit, smoothies

L--Baked Potato Bar
S--Tacos, Nachos, Taco Salad
Sn--Trail Mix, Banana Cake

B--Scrambled Eggs/Toast
L--Cheesy Rice, Carrot Sticks and Ranch Dressing
S--King Ranch Casserole, Green Beans, Salad
Sn--Trail Mix, fruit, protein balls

B--Scrambled Eggs/Oatmeal
L--Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Mac and Cheese
S--Tilapia, Cole Slaw, Green Beans
Sn--Tortilla spirals, No-Bakes

B--Cinnamon/Cheese Roll-Ups
L--Tuna and Cottage Cheese, homemade *Rice-a-Roni*, fruit
S--Twice Baked Potatoes, Loaded Salad
Sn--No-Bakes, Muffins


Thankful Thoughts

I *really* need to be thinking thankful thoughts right now. Mostly because I *really* don't feel like it. I'm mad. The Mama Bear in me has been stirred again...one of my children is hurting deeply because of the misdeeds of others and I want so badly to lash out...I guess it is fortunate that I couldn't talk to the culprit right now if I wanted to. And not only that...but it is taking everything inside of me not to throw myself a great big giant pity party right now. Our family has been through a very painful season, and I am tired. Tired of my children hurting. Tired of seeing my husband burdened with the load of trying to lead and protect his family through circumstances he should never have had to deal with. Tired of fighting tears.

So, right now, I am going to think of five things to be thankful for...more random thoughts of thankfulness:

1. I'm thankful for the work Billy, the kids, and I got done on the house this weekend. We still have a long way to go, but we made progress and I feel a sense of accomplishment in the little things.
2. I'm thankful for shoe bags! I had been looking all over for cheap over-the-door shoe bags for the kids...we had *no* shoe storage and I was tired of shoes all over the floor! (Not to mention lost shoes...ugh!) I had not been able to find the cheap plastic versions I was looking for...and then J. called and had found some on clearance at Sears...not the super-cheap ones, but good sturdy ones...for $3.80 apiece! They had four, which was exactly what we needed, so Saturday the kids all gathered *all* of their shoes and filled up thier shoe bags. Yay!! No more shoes in the floor...and they are actually excited about putting them up now!
3. I'm thankful for a good library, and access to good books. I've been reading several books on blogging/HTML, perusing a couple of new cookbooks. and having 5 minute vacations in a book from one of my favorite Christian fiction authors....all thanks to our library trips this week!
4. I'm thankful for clothes! I was really worried about having clothes for this spring and summer...and thanks to a friend cleaning out her closets and passing things on, I have a whole new wardrobe! It's nice to get ready for church and not have to worry about *what in the world am I going to wear?* !! :)
5. I'm thankful that everyone is finally asleep so I can go to bed! :)

I'm feeling better already...

What We're Eating...

Maybe if I post our weekly menus, I'll stick to them a little better. :) Here is the plan for this week:

B--Cinnamon/Cheese Roll-ups
L--Peanut Butter sandwiches and chips
S--Brat Stew, French Bread, salad
Sn--Rice Cakes, fruit, smoothies

L--Baked Potato Bar
S--Tacos, Nachos, Taco Salad
Sn--Trail Mix, Banana Cake

B--Scrambled Eggs/Toast
L--Cheesy Rice, Carrot Sticks and Ranch Dressing
S--King Ranch Casserole, Green Beans, Salad
Sn--Trail Mix, fruit, protein balls

B--Scrambled Eggs/Oatmeal
L--Nachos with Refried Beans, Carrot Sticks and Ranch
S--Tilapia, Cole Slaw, Green Beans
Sn--Tortilla spirals, No-Bakes

B--Cinnamon/Cheese Roll-Ups
L--Tuna and Cottage Cheese, homemade *Rice-a-Roni*, fruit
S--Twice Baked Potatoes, Loaded Salad
Sn--No-Bakes, Muffins

I'll report back on Friday on how well I stick to it. :)

Random Thoughts of Thankfulness...

I hope I'm not committing a major blogging faux pas here...but I'm fairly certain that this blog is going to be the *permanent* one, so I decided to repost an earlier blog post from my original blog. I plan to continue the *Random Thoughts of Thankfulness* posts on a regular basis, so I thought perhaps I needed to share their origins here as well...

(from May 11, 2007, the wee hours of the morning...)

I have been quite convicted lately that I need to stop on a regular basis and spend time just being grateful....time that I thank God for His amazing blessings, without any other distractions. It's 1:18 a.m. at the moment, and I am sitting here *waiting* for a new internet security program to download so I can shut down and go to bed...and I realized perhaps this would be a good time to just *be grateful*. :-) I plan to make this a regular part of my blog...but hopefully *not* regularly at 1:30 a.m.!

A bit of housekeeping, first. My plan is for this to be a place for *random* thoughts of thankfulness....thankfulness for those things in my day or week that make me smile, or give me a sudden jolt of realization of God's goodness and love....things that make me excited to get up in the morning (or keep me from running away to Alaska on the rough days. :)) So...let's get the *big stuff* out first...because these are things I am *always* thankful for, and they won't necessarily be repeated in later random thankfulness posts:

1. The gift of a Christian husband who spoils me rotten, wholeheartedly believes in homeschooling (and works hard so that I can stay home to accomplish that), and is the most incredible husband and daddy ever (and he even does dishes! :-))

2. Four beautiful, healthy, crazy, bright, amazing (but sometimes cranky) children.

3. The blessing of being raised in a Christian home by Godly parents who sacrificed much and prayed often for us. I realize more every day what a very rare gift that is.

4. Friends who make me laugh until my face hurts, endure my tears (and shed their own with me), listen to me unendingly, and sharpen me as iron sharpens iron.

5. The most wonderful gift of all...a Savior whose love, grace, and faithfulness are more awesome to me every day.

Now...for today's random thoughts of thankfulness...

1. Missing doors! My brilliant hubby suggested years ago that we take the doors off of either end of our large dining/school room. It took me several years to catch up with his thinking....but I decided a few weeks ago that part of the dining/school room makeover *desperately* needed to be losing the doors. So...Billy took the doors off after work tonight, and it has *already* made a world of difference in this room! Much more usable/wall space and a much less *cluttered* look. (He and the kids pulled wallpaper off half the room tonight, too...the kids had a ball, and I am a few steps closer to having this room painted and transformed. :))

2. The promise of high-speed internet. Wow! I am excited about this. I have needed to make some changes in our phone service for a while now...our long distance usage has changed and I knew we could get a better deal than we had but I just hadn't gotten around to it. Today I ended up on the phone with a customer service guy from our phone company...and ended up getting our phone service and high-speed internet bundled for $55.00 *less* a month than we were paying for our phone and slow dial-up! It will take a week or so to get it all going, but it is definitely something to look forward to. :)

3. Choir Practice. I often think I should take a break from choir for a while...due to time and health issues...but I just can't ever quite make myself. Choir has always been one of the most enjoyable times of the week for me...I enjoy all of it, even just going over things over and over and *over* again until Lyndel is happy with them (or until he gives up, whichever the case may be :-D). I'm always amazed at the way God uses the music we are working on in very specific ways in my life. Somehow in the past few years, with all that we have gone through (Ammah Grace, losing Daddy, and the difficult events of the past year), many of the hymns and choir anthems I've sung for years have come alive in totally new ways. And Lyndel has managed to introduce us to new pieces that have impacted me immensely. I actually started a blog post this morning (hopefully I will finish and post it someday :)) about the music of Stuart Townend and what a blessing it has been lately. I'm really thankful that Billy has supported my staying in choir and that Lyndel puts up with me. :)

4. School! We have finally found our *niche* as far as schooling goes, and that is *such* a good feeling. It is so good to have a plan (one that actually *works*, after the first one *didn't* :)) and books and know where we are headed. We have had so much *fun* with school recently. Some of the fun hasn't been surprising (making clay *creations* as a project to go along with our Mystery of History lesson...I'll post pics soon...), but some of it has caught me off guard. One of the things the kids have enjoyed the most this week has been their *handwriting*, of all things. I printed copywork pages from the DonnaYoung site of George Washington's Rules of Civility...and the kids have *begged* to do them first every day! More on that and lots of other school thoughts coming soon...:)

5. When I started this, I had five thoughts, but somehow when the clock struck 2 a.m., I lost the fifth one. Since this download is *finally* almost finished, I'm not going to attempt to remember it...maybe it will come back to me in the morning. For now, I will replace it with the fact that I am thankful that I should be in bed in the next 10 minutes and only seconds after that be asleep. A very thankful thought for 2 a.m. for a tired mommy...:)


Experimenting with Photos...

Okay. I actually managed to post an avatar picture in my profile. (Don't tell Billy...he'll start that *nerd* stuff again...;-)) Now I'm going to see if I can manage to post a photo in the body of my post...

I actually posted not one, but five! :) I still have a lot to learn...obviously. Not only is one of them *sideways*, but they ended up in completely the wrong order (I went through a rather convoluted process to get them here...I'll have to read up on posting photos tonight.)

Now for the introductions...
This is Billy...the incredibly spoiling husband. He said earlier "I don't want my picture in that blog..." I said, "Not even the one where you are kissing the donkey??" "Oh, okay, I guess you can use that one." (For those who are wondering...we went to visit friends who have a donkey, and Billy was sharing a carrot stick with it. ;-))

These are the *creative kids*. I don't remember what they were playing that morning, but they got up early and began frantically making masks and shields (knights' armor, maybe?) out of the cardstock-like scrap paper Dad brings home from the hospital. *Frantically creating* is a common pastime with these three...

*This* is the baby. My sincere apologies that her picture is upside-down. I will try to do better in the future (and maybe post a *rightside-up* one tomorrow to make up for this one.)

These are *the big kids*. They are quite a crew. I know we won't be able to get by with calling them *the big kids* much longer...Ammah Grace will soon be letting us know that *she* is one of *the big kids*, too. :-D

This is *the boy*....along with his clay creations, which are also currently found in my avatar. These were his *creations* from our first Mystery of History lesson. I'll be posting more pictures from that lesson soon...we *love* Mystery of History, and hope to share lots of MOH projects here!

And *the girls*...
Poor Peter. He is seriously outnumbered. Other than occasional lapses into *I really want a baby brother* depression, he handles it pretty well. He is very protective of them, and has adapted to all the pink girly stuff by turning Polly Pockets into parachuting snipers with machine guns strapped to them with pony-tail holders, and using hair ribbons to tie up everything in the house. More on the Harris sibling front to come in future posts...:)
Well, I've accomplished two things tonight: I've posted an avatar and I *think* I'm about to post my first post photos (I guess I should wait until it actually *posts* to consider it an accomplishment, hmm?) I think on that note, I'm going to sign off for the evening and call it a day.

Becoming a Nerd...

Every time I start *playing* with some new techno-toy, Billy tells me I am becoming a *nerd*. I told him today that I guess he is right...I went to the library yesterday and checked out a stack of books on blogging and HTML. :-D I do pretty well with computer and internet basics...but I know *nothing* about HTML...and only what I have gleaned from cruising the blogs of others about blogging in general. But...I am determined to learn! Not only am I excited to have a place to share scraps and snippets of our lives, but I also told the kids that *they* could have their own blogs when I get this all figured out. They are *really* excited about that. I think that that will be a good experience for them in honing their language/writing skills *and* acquiring some computer skills as well.

I guess I need to add Blogging for Dummies, Creative HTML Design, and Blog On to the *On the Bookshelf* list, huh? ;-)


Scraps and Snippets

I am trying out a couple of new blog spots...I'm not sure I'm happy with my current *home*, so before I get any more deeply involved where I am, I am going to try out a couple of spots and see which I like best. This blog will be a spot for the scraps and snippets of our lives as a homeschooling family of 6.