7 Quick Takes Friday


Bayley has been waiting for weeks to get her hair cut.  The day finally arrived today, and she couldn't contain her excitement.  She got the same angled, stacked bob as last time, only shorter (to get us through camp :)), but added bangs this time.   It looks *so* cute.  I never can get good "haircut pictures"...this was the best I could do:


We've been scrapbooking.  I am more than ready to "get back at it" after a long, long hiatus.  I've done a project here and there, but haven't scrapped regularly in several years.   I have a couple of long-term projects for others that I am desperate to finish, as well as my own huge backlog.   

I love that my children love to scrap with me!  This is a page Ammah Grace designed all by herself several days ago...maybe I'll get a photo of it *after* she adds the photos, too. :)


With our new workbox system, the kids are sometimes assigned an activity to do with a sibling.  Peter and Ammah Grace had a wonderful time working with her shape puzzles one morning.  It was a cool morning, so they went out to the back porch and worked on the deep freeze. :)  


Ammah Grace has apparently had a bit too much *cops and robbers* with her brother.  She came in with a Nerf gun tonight and told me to put my hands up and not to move or she'd shoot. When I pretended to shoot her back, she told me I couldn't hurt her, "because I am metal".  I said, "What if I am metal, too?"  She said, "You can't be metal...only I am metal."  I asked her why I couldn't be metal, and she said, "Because I get to choose who is metal, because I'm the good guy.  You're the bad guy, so you don't get to be metal."  

Would that it worked that way in real life.


We started our weekend early today with lunch at a local PlayPlace with friends.  I think we all needed the break!   The kids had a great time playing, and K and I enjoyed having time to chat without {too many} interruptions. :-)  I love that God has given me friends with whom I can laugh about anything (or nothing :)) one minute, and the next be discussingdeep doctrinal issues.


Billy is home for three days!!  I love three day weekends.  Someone asked today if we had big plans for the holiday.  I told her we would probably cook out, and other than that, we have plans for various projects around the house, family time, and lots of R&R!    After all the craziness of the past few years, I enjoy a totally laid back holiday every once in a while. :)  We will, however, make a trip to the National Cemetery in honor of the holiday...the kids always enjoy seeing the graves of our family members who are buried there, and hearing the stories of these relatives they never met.  

For more Friday Quick Takes, visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary.   


Things That Make me Smile...Thankful Thursday

Nothing serious or deep today...just a quick list of little things I'm thankful for today...very random, certainly not all-inclusive, and definitely not in any order...things that make me smile:

1. Blueberries
2. 50% off sales at Hobby Lobby
3. A letter in the mail "just because"
4. My husband's grilled country-style ribs 
5. Cottage-style decorating magazines
6. "Perfect" quotes
7. Beautiful fabric...especially tiny floral prints, ginghams, toile, and plaids
8. Hymns
9. Dirt cheap used books (well, actually any used books, or any new books, but even better if I get a "really good deal"
10. Hugs
11. My husband's smile
12. Happy Hour at Sonic
13. My children's giggles
14. A fresh new notebook
15. A bucket full of Sharpies
16. A Bible verse you know you must have read before that hits you in a whole new way
17. Tulips
18. The laughter of friends

What makes you smile?

To participate in Thankful Thursday,  head over to Lynn's


Those girls!!

Earlier this week I challenged myself to post every day this week.  Wednesday is always our busiest day of the week, but today was moreso than usual, so I almost forgot.  I was about to shut things down and go to bed when I realized..."Ack!! The blog!"  No time (or brainpower) for anything major (and if you have any doubt  about the brainpower thing...I messaged a friend earlier with a list of items, and realized that I had two number "1's" on the list!  Eek.)

So, I'll quickly share a couple of "funny girl" stories with you.  

First, we were on the way home from church tonight, when five-year-old Ammah Grace said, "Mom, I wish *I* was 45 and *you* were three. Then I could boss *you* around!" 

Never mind the fact that I'm not 45 and she's not three....

That reminded me of a conversation with Bayley last week.

Mom to Bay:  "Bayley, *you* are just too funny."

Bay to Mom:  "Well, Mom, I was raised in a funny family."

I hardly think, at the ripe old age of 9, her "raising" needs to be referred to in the past tense.  


Creativity ~ Somewhat Random Thoughts :)

Talk About...Creativity

Last night I actually wrote a letter.  By hand.  Two pages worth, decorated with random doodle art. :)  Twenty years ago, that would not have been noteworthy.  Last night it earned a spot as my Facebook status.  Twenty years ago, my trademark was LONG newsy letters and random cards sent for no reason other than "just because".  Today, I can't get to the post office to save my life, and it recently took me almost a week to manage to purchase a book of stamps.   The only way our Netflix movies make it to the mailbox is (a) our mailbox is literally just outside the front door, and (b) our 11-year-old is in charge of returning Netflix movies.  Otherwise, we would be watching Season 2, Disk 3 of the Brady Bunch for the next seven months.

*Anyway*, I was writing this letter to the very-most-creative person I know, my friend T.  We've had many discussions over the years on the topic of creativity.  It is a topic about which we used to argue (one of the few things I remember us actually arguing about, other than the phrase "thank you"...yes, we have an odd-but-wonderful friendship. :)),  and about which I finally had to concede a few years ago that she had been *right* all those years (as a result, of all things, of a Vacation Bible School lesson...*rolling eyes*...I hate it when that happens!) 

I've blogged before about the eye-opening realization a few years back that creativity is actually a character quality, and as such, it is something that God expects us to work at and develop in our lives as we become more like Him...the ultimate Creator.  

But back to my letter...I was wishing on paper that T. could be here right now...thinking how much fun it would be to share this avalanche of VBS crafts and church camp crafts with her and how helpful her creative genius would be as I attempt to put it all together.  Because, as I shared with her (about which we have also talked before), I've been in a bit of a creative slump lately.  And by lately, I mean for the past 4.5 years.   No, that wasn't a typo...and yes, it said "years".    

Dr. Wesley Sharpe, in his book Growing Creative Kids, says that emotional stress is a "major block to right-brain thinking and creativity".  He says this about children under stress...

"Children may cover up their anxiety and learn to put on a good front, but anxiety cripples creative thinking.  Deep emotional stress restricts their ability to shift to the creative side of the brain.   These children feel safe in an undemanding routine that lowers their anxiety but fails to inspire creativity."

That is true not only of children, but of adults as well.  I've definitely seen it in the past few years of chaos in our family, and I've talked to others who have experienced the same type of creative dry spells during times of grief or stress.  

So...I was sharing with T. that I have been trying hard lately to pull out of that creative slump once and for all...that I am needing to actually "be" creative again, "rather than just playing at it to meet some deadline or another."  As part of that, as well as trying to better nurture creativity in my children, I've been reading some interesting books recently.  I hope to share more about them soon.  

I found this interesting yesterday, though.  I just started reading Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts, by Steve Turner.  Turner spent time in the 70's at L'Abri, the Swiss "learning community" founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer, who happen to be two of my favorite authors.  In the first chapter of Imagine, Turner discusses the need for truly excellent Christian artists who are able to express *truth* through their art, in response to the empty questions and false answers that abound in much of art today...artists who are able to engage in the cultural debate on an equal footing.
As I read, I was reminded of a comment Bro. Kent made in a sermon a while back that really impacted me, and I searched through my notes for it last night.  The sermon was on Daniel 1: 17-21, and the topic was "The Gift of God's Wisdom."    In talking about wisdom being a gift from God, Bro. Kent mentioned that "this includes knowledge and understanding of the world's literature and wisdom.  We need to know what the world is thinking so that we can engage them in intelligent conversation and refute them."  (That is a quote of my notes, btw...probably not an exact quote of Bro. Kent...hopefully I got it close!)   I jotted in my notes "a strong argument for excellent education".    

I'm really looking forward to reading more of Steve Turner's argument for excellence in the arts.  Hopefully it will continue to motivate me to be diligent in working to put that lengthy creative slump behind me, as well as working to nurture creativity and artistic excellence in our children.

I was surprised to discover this morning that the month of May is "Creative Beginnings Month".  A Google search didn't yeild much info on exactly what that *means*...just that it *is* an actual, official "national month".  (In case you are interested, May is also "Better Sleep Month" and "Get Caught Reading Month"...which I think we'll celebrate as well...and "National Artisan Gelato Month" and "International Audit Month"...which I think we won't. ;-)  Here's a list of May's official observances, just fyi. :))

It's always nice to find out you are celebrating something you didn't even know existed!  It sounds so much better to say, "We're celebrating 'National Creative Beginnings Month'" than to say, "I'm trying to dig my way out of a creative slump right now." ;-)  

Anyone else celebrating Creative Beginnings Month?  Or continuing long-term creative endeavors?  How do you pull out of a creative dry spell?   I'd love to hear what others are doing creatively, as well as thoughts or ideas for nurturing creativity and artistic excellence in children.

(I'm linking to "Talk About Tuesday" today...hop over to Lara's to see what others are talking about today!)


Peace-and-Quiet Daybook :)

It's been a while since I've managed a Daybook entry, but all four kids are in bed for an hour of quiet time this afternoon, so I thought I'd give it a try today. :)

For Today... May 18, 2009

Outside my window... Sunshine!!  *So* very welcome after what seems like an eternity of rain. :)

I am thinking... about last night's sermon, from our Daniel series.  I loved the title, "God's Intervening Grace", and I so needed the reminder of God's perfect sovereignty and complete control.  I had never noticed these verses before and they stuck out to me... 

"It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.
 How great are His signs, how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, 
and His dominion endures from generation to generation." 
~ Nebuchadnezzar, in Daniel 4:2-3  

Love the thought of  Nebuchadnezzar, who had thrown Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, now  proclaiming God's dominion and the greatness of His signs and wonders! 

From the learning rooms... Last week we started a modified "workbox" system.   Sue Patrick's system,  and many variations of it, are all the buzz on online homeschool forums and blogs these days.  I was only mildly interested in the original  system, which calls for racks of 12 bins for each child.  No way would that work in this house!!  However, when I saw a modification using large manila envelopes...the wheels began to spin!   Hopefully I'll have time to share more about our system soon. 
I am thankful for... my new reading glasses!   I'm way overdue for an eye  appointment; at 40, I'm finally having to admit that I need glasses!   However, medical issues have caused some *really* wonky vision problems that are, thankfully,  temporary.  For a while, I could barely see to read or play the piano at all.  I'm so thankful that those issues are improving greatly, and thankful for the dollar store reading  glasses which are getting me by now until I am cleared for a vision exam and real glasses.   

From the kitchen... Billy called earlier and he wants to grill tonight.  Yay!! I love it when he takes over the cooking!

I am wearing... Jeans, a blue print shirt, and the jeweled flipflops that are my summer version of slippers. :)

I am reading... Taking Flight...Inspiration and Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings, by Kelly Rae Roberts, and Imagine, a Vision for Christians in the Arts, by Steve Turner.  Can you tell I'm working my way out of a creative slump? :) 
I am hoping... for more days of sunshine!!  But without excessive heat, please?  I'd love some beautiful sunshiny,  warm-but-not hot weather for a while...

I am creating... plans for VBS and camp crafts!  I am  immersed in camp and VBS literature, Oriental Trading and Guildcraft catalogs, bookmarked crafting websites...ahhhh.  
Around the house... Just trying to keep up at the moment.  If the weather holds this week, we hope to get some painting done.  We'll see how that goes. :)

One of my favorite things... A Saturday morning with nothing on the calendar and no reason to set the alarm!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Dr.'s appt. tomorrow, Mother to the eye doc for a pre-surgery appt. and a trip to the library Wednesday afternoon; otherwise, normal school, church, chores, errands. 

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Be-spectacled...(because I promised T. :))

Visit Peggy for more Daybook entries! 


Children's Book Week

Just a quick post to mention that this is Children's Book Week.   Check out the website for printable posters, bookmarks, puzzles, and reading lists.   Yesterday we made the "Care For Books" bookmarks, designed over 30 years ago for Children's Book Week by Little Toot creator Hardie Gramatky.  I love the vintage style!   


Saturday Night Snippets

*  Resolved 2 Worship is a recent blog find I'm really enjoying.  She is a wonder at frugal decorating, her photography is exquisite, and her posts are filled with encouragement.  This post was an especially timely and encouraging reminder today.  What a comfort to be reminded that "God is *not* unobservant".  

*  Emlyn and I had a wonderful "Mommy/Daughter date" last night.  We ate Em's favorite...Chinese...and then went to get haircuts.  We finished out the evening grocery shopping at Sam's. :-)  But before we left the mall, we did photo booth pictures with our new haircuts.   I am *not* a great photo booth fan, but Em was *so* excited and I couldn't say no. :)   Apparently, we've started a tradition, because the other kids are all anxiously awaiting their turns to go have their pictures made in the photo booth on *their* dates with mom. ;-)

*Billy was off Thursday (because he had to work today :-( ), so he and the kids decided to surprise me with an early Mother's Day outing.  What a fun time we had!  The kids had told Billy about some shoes I had looked at (apparently a bit longingly ;-)) at Sam's, so they took me to get shoes and then we had lunch at the "Sam's Cafe" as Peter calls it.   It's their new favorite place to eat!  Given our new focus on frugality, it can't be beat...huge pieces of pizza  and yummy hot dogs (which is saying a lot from this non-hot dog-lover ;-)), and soda's at Happy Hour prices. :)   It was the perfect fun and relaxing Mother's Day celebration!  

Hope everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day and day of worship tomorrow!


Thankful I'm Not Queen of the World...

It's been a pretty good today here.  Billy was off work (because he has to work Saturday...bleh), and it's always fun to have him off and home during the week.  We celebrated Mother's Day early...Billy and the kids had surprises and just couldn't wait. :)   He also did some much-needed and much appreciated repair work on the house today...I am, as always, very thankful for my handy husband!   I felt better today than I have in weeks...that was a blessing and I'm praying it continues to improve.  Bayley and I have made a lot of progress in the dining room/school room/scrapbook room this week (okay, I'll be honest...Bay has done most of the work, while I've supervised, and Peter's entertained the little girls.  She LOVES to organize, and she is *good* at it! :))  As a result of that, I've actually managed to pull some things out and get a bit creative...still trying to overcome the latest bout of brain fog and get the creative juices really flowing, but it's been *really* nice to even play with it a bit.   And we saw *sunshine* here today...seems like it has been *forever* since the sun has popped out.  "Yay!" for no rain!!

But at the same time that the weather has been sunnier, there have been some major overhanging clouds today.  Two friends with health problems...one whose long-term issues seem to be advancing and deteriorating way too rapidly, and one who received very bad news this week that just seems to be getting worse.  A friend with overwhelming extended family issues for which there are no easy answers, and which sometimes seem unbearable.   It is so hard to watch people we love hurt...and I so badly want to make it all better...to fix everything!  It frustrates me to no end sometimes that I can't!!  

Tonight as my heart was breaking for a friend,  I found myself  fighting that frustration again...wanting to "help", to "do something", to make it better.  And then God reminded me again of what He so often reminds me (usually about my children)...that He loves them more than I do.  He has them in the palm of His hand.  Nothing can come to them that He hasn't allowed through the filter of His goodness and love.  

Oh, that's hard sometimes!!  It doesn't *seem* like love right now.  It doesn't *seem* good...AT ALL.  But then...God began to remind me of other things.  He began to remind me of all the times in the past few years when we have been the ones in the horribly painful situation, and our friends have hurt for us.  He began to remind me of all the things He has taught us during those times...and most of all, of the ways He has used those times to enable us to *know Him* better, more deeply, more intimately.  As deep as the pain has been (and is), the blessings have been infinitely more precious.  

I ran across this Nancy Leigh DeMoss quote on a friend's blog earlier this week.  Beautiful quote, and beautiful translation of one of my favorite verses...

"God closely monitors the depth and length and height of every trial that you endure; 
He will not allow into your life a single circumstance that will thwart His eternal, loving plan for your life." 
Jeremiah 29:11 - "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

In my quest for a creative spark today, I ran across the blog of a pro scrapbooker whose work I've admired for years.  I used to be very involved in the online scrapbooking world, and *up* on all the news in that creative culture, but in the past few years have rarely opened a scrapbook magazine, much less visited online scrapbooking forums and blogs.  I had no idea of the difficulties this designer had experienced over the past few years, and I was fascinated by this recent blog post.   She and her husband had built a hugely successful business from the ground up, becoming millionaires in their 20s, and "had it all".   Then a tragic accident wiped it "all" out.  The premise of her blog post, "If I was the QUEEN of the WORLD..." is that now, looking back, despite the fact that they live in a rent house (in which one of her children has to sleep on the sofa because there aren't enough bedrooms) and that their "liability-only" insured van was totalled last week leaving them with woefully inadequate transportation...she wouldn't change a thing.  The benefits of "losing it all" have just been too great.

As I was reading, I was struck by what I am most thankful for this week.  I am thankful that I am NOT "Queen of the World".   If I were, I would be so busy "fixing" the painful circumstances in the lives of my family and friends...and they would never experience the deeper blessings God has in store for them.  I would have "fixed" the painful circumstances of the past few years in our family...and missed the blessings He provided through them.  

I am so thankful that while I am not "Queen of the World", I do know  the King of Creation. The ache is still there.  My heart still breaks for hurting friends. But how incredible to know that He  *does* have a plan, and that no matter what it looks like, His plan is a plan for wholeness, a perfect plan to give us a future and a hope!  I am so thankful that He is never "out of control" for even a second.  I am so thankful that He loves my family and my friends *even more* than I do, and that He is holding them...and me...in the palm of His hand, close to His heart.  (Psalm 91, Isa. 40:11)  I am thankful that He is working to show us wonders so many and so great that we cannot even describe them all.  (Psalm 40:1-5)  

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