Cranberry Chutney & Home-made Honey Mustard Dressing

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I looked back and found their hands intertwined. 

Preparing food for this Lord’s Day feast- and in some way- feeling like every Sunday should be a mini-Thanksgiving with gratitude to God round a bountiful, delicious table:

Cranberry Chutney

(delicious, warm, seasonal side for pork or chicken; can be served over pancakes or dairy items like Brie or ice cream – if you eat those items)

4 Cups cranberries

3 chopped, green apples

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 cup water

2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot; cook on high until apples are soft. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened. Keep warm in crock.

Enjoy!

Home-Made Honey Mustard Dressing for Sunday’s Green Salad

[this has a kick (or a bit of a bite- as they say) to it which Todd and I love]

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

shake of good sea salt

dash of ground black pepper

heaping 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix well and serve over greens

Sweet and Spicy!

 

Blessings on this Lord’s Day!

 

 

 

 

As way leads on to way (Robert Frost)

Blog of my heart (and dear, welcomed reader), I am here. Committed more than ever to write. O, the quiet moments with hot drink beside and writing my way to peace.

I have a jumble of posts in mind and in drafts… and so much longing to … is it eke out? or unleash? or scribe? or scratch down? I don’t know. So much longing to gather myself to post.

So I begin with some poetry and the way connections can ignite learning. And the gentle way Morning Meeting leads us:

We recently had the wonderful experience of learning new vocabulary words in a vivid and personal way: alms and almoner. (and I thought I knew what these words meant… but it took an inquisitive question from a child to fully unveil meanings)  It all started like this:

We read this poem for October by Longfellow:

Autumn

Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o’er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven’s o’erhanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer’s prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

(And O! we were heralded by the rain! Incessant rain. Unending rain. So much rain, the color came late and felt so sparse.

And the greatest riches found in these delicious words- both the poem above and the poem below. Richness, Color, Life. Gentle, un-pressured reading of the beautiful words is life-giving.)

Then a little while later, through a happy circumstance, I happened upon this:

ALMS IN AUTUMN

Spindle-wood, spindle-wood, will you lend me, pray,
A little flaming lantern to guide me on my way?
The fairies all have vanished from the meadow and the glen,
And I would fain go seeking till I find them once again.
Lend me now a lantern that I may bear a light
To find the hidden pathway in the darkness of the night.

Ash-tree, ash-tree, throw me, if you please,
Throw me down a slender branch of russet-gold keys.
I fear the gates of Fairyland may all be shut so fast
That nothing but your magic keys will ever take me past.
I’ll tie them to my girdle, and as I go along
My heart will find a comfort in the tinkle of their song.

Holly-bush, holly-bush, help me in my task,
A pocketful of berries is all the alms I ask :
A pocketful of berries to thread in golden strands
(I would not go a-visiting with nothing in my hands).
So fine will be the rosy chains, so gay, so glossy bright,
They’ll set the realms of Fairyland all dancing with delight.

ROSE FYLEMAN

 

My young son asked: what is an alm? And so we did a little research and discovered: alms are charity, money, or food given to the needy; gifts given to relieve the poor

and this led to the exploration of almoner: the official chaplain or church officer who distributes the gifts to the poor; also a prince can have an almoner.

And both these poems suddenly came vividly alive to us. And with that wild leap of connection that poetry offers: we are realizing- the wind is our almoner; the alms of autumn are for us:

The wind- scattering the golden leaves to us- the needy ones.

The Alms of Autumn: pocketful of russet berries (and so much more)

(O, how the beauty of Autumn is an alm for the needy heart- and o!the wind as almoner.)

And so– way leads on to way. The poetry way. The most gentle, rich, and textured way to learn poetry is simply to read it every day. I find nuanced meanings become clearer and clearer- writing themselves on mind and heart- until they become a treasure trove of mind and heart… (how we all spout out: O wind a- blowing all day long! O wind who sings so loud a song! on a blustery windy day- just because we spent slow time in those rhythmic words)

Blessings on your school year,

Rebecca

 

 

The Hundred Acre Wood, Morning Meeting, and me

Todd found me pouring over an article on my phone this morning. A few inquiring questions, and I was a mess of choked tears. Hands over my face. Sputtering an explanation.

Sometime last week, I informed my six  young (ish) children that I was going to be adding something of keen importance to our morning meeting time and that I was planning to make a continued valiant effort toward consistency of said meeting.  The addition would be the inclusion of classic read aloud.  And the reading time would be short- but it would be faithful. Little by little, I determined I would see a stack of well-loved favorites committed to our common heritage.

I wanted to read An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott. I have had it for awhile and never read it- and I thought it would be perfect. Slim, festive volume. Thanksgiving quickly coming…

 But I wasn’t able to find it (as of yet). My shelves are a complete tumble; and my hand lit upon The House At Pooh Corner and The Hundred Acre Wood.

I have long loved the “Pooh” Tales for the perceptive insight into the creative world of a child and the poignant bittersweet of this beautiful, innocent, fleeting season. But, I have never read both volumes in entirety- and for some reason, I just felt- the time was now.

So, today, I began. Nested books together, I snapped a picture.

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And somewhere, deep in my soul, I felt a witness: that this might be difficult. — that this might mean choked tears.

I am slayed by motherhood. Again, again. These days.

I read the introduction and Joshua asked: What does A. A. Milne stand for? And so, I searched. Alan Alexander Milne. And in the search, I discovered what led me to those sorrowing tears. Estrangment of father and son. Bitterness. Disconnected hearts. Deep disconnect.

Now, a caveat. It was a wikipedia article- and I quickly searched Amazon and then the library- and found autobiography by father and one by son. So, I plan to reserve those and read for ,myself- as the Britannica article mentioned nothing of the sort. But further research, did indeed, reveal a chasm of broken- ness and disconnect.

My heart broke at the thought that this perceptive father- who ( I thought was- but apparently he was not)  in tune with his son; so connected in and through his childhood world, would lose that precious relationship when that son grew up.

There is a scene at the end of The House At Pooh Corner that beats with the pulse of a parent’s heart and a child’s destiny:

“So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” 

And then, there it was. The heart wrench of leaving. The grief of loss. The children grow up. The season changes.

And Todd sat down and laughed in his wonderful way – and made me laugh, too- and remarked about tax law and regulations and him crying over the federal law changes. His unfeigned and utter disbelief over me crying while reading Wikipedia and A. A. Milne. He is the smile behind my tears. And he  cast (legitimate) suspicious doubt over such a source ( of course). And I tried to explain the perception and connectedness needed to write such a tale- and the understanding of a child’s world- and of course, (and this is the part that made me weep… the part about being in all those moments with children where their wonder is my wonder; and their joy is my joy; and the thread that twines between is flame and gold; and their hand in mine; and their story is my story):

my heart cracked for Micah-

 my writer; my world builder; my dreamer of worlds.

But all in all, I knew it -the sudden reckoning way, that has been happening to me. My heart is sore. And this: this 2018-19 Senior year. It’s hard. It is a hard year for me.

 I have been having more trouble than ever managing the chores; the practical navigations of the home and life; the plate is fuller than it has ever been.

I’ve never had a favorite age in a child before. I have loved it all in every season. But, I think….

 I think seventeen might just be my favorite.

(you are all my favorites)

And I have one before me now- and I know what it feels like…now. And O! what utterly delightful people my darlings are. What things they say; what wisdom they possess; what beauty they find.

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I have to grow bigger and stronger and taller inside.

But I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t change anything. I am glad to have been in my dear hearts’ “hundred acre wood” and I pray I can be there again.

 

My little one, she’s only five.

How it Feels

written the week after Micah went to school; photo from Family Weekend a couple weeks ago
How it Feels:
Standing on the Verge of Kindergarten 
While Saying Goodbye
to my new college freshman.
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We’ve already begun. Miss K5 and I. A gentle, tottering start into her first official year. while so many, many other things swirl around fiercely. Read: seven other students and grade levels. Three in high school (again). Pretty much always. From now on.

The yawning ache in my heart overflows my eyes and suddenly, all I am seeing is a wavering mist. 

And that is what it is. A wavering mist- but a treasured, priceless, incredibly important mist, at that.
Looking at the investment before me in my wee, small girl, I can’t help but be informed by this “ending” I have faced- and indeed, am facing again, again.
It is all too much for me. It is too big for me. I am too small, weak, inadequate.
It feels like a blink. It feels unrelentingly daunting.
Every day is different. And this K; this kindergarten is SO VERY different from Kindergarten in 2004.
The best I can give is myself. The best of myself.
It feels like birth- when I was torn asunder for new life, Again, again.
It feels scary like when I bravely begin the next hard task before me. Again, again.
It feels exciting like gazing at the beautiful, lit horizon glancing gold too beautiful and yet too mysterious to see.
The books are what choke me. It is the bookshelf gazing at me with every fierce remembrance. My hand resting upon this one, my gaze- upon that one.
The stories told down all the many years.
He will read new books now. There are new horizons stretching before him.

I think I need to read some books of my own. 

But I will always remember. And I fight valiantly to build such a heritage with my little clan. The days slip away. It is hard. Everything changes.
Life is too big for me. I take a weary step. Every yes is a no. What are my yes’s, what are my no’s?
One thing I know: I say yes, again, again, again to every face gifted into this life of mine: Todd, and each precious child.

Live and Learn and Giving my Life to God

I wrote this a little bit ago- as I worked to process a lot of incoherent emotions and difficulty in myself while I tried to begin needed work for Nathanael. For me, senior year is difficult. One, we cast a wide net as far as college searching goes- and it is a very uncertain time for our family. Even though I am doing things differently with Nathanael- there is still a lot of uncertainty.  Two, it is a very difficult balance and dance with an almost young adult child and student. I think I wish there were clear answers and a defined path- but for us, so far, really there has not been. And there are a lot of hard decisions. All the time.  So, now- for the post I wrote:

It is not amiss to say that I have been having some post-traumatic stress responses as I face a senior year again so soon after Micah’s.

I have some resources/a link I want to share with dear readers and friends- so I am working to unearth some of the swirl of challenge in my soul to write this post.

I have passionately and vehemently proclaimed a motto of “Live and Learn” in response to my experience reaching graduation and homeschooling to college. My family knows it well. My students (children) have been recipients of said proclamation. I have made several adjustments to our home school based on what I have learned through my experience with my two oldest sons (one graduated and one now! a senior)- and I am working on implementing them immediately.

One area I have been struggling with is remorse and regret. While Micah is off to the college of his choice, a Honors Program participant, and a (large) Scholarship recipient, it is very clear to me (in retrospect) some areas where I should have done better in the application and record keeping process. And not only that, but also in our academic journey. I have made immediate changes for 2018-19 with my high school students- and potentially- my seventh grader. All of that said, I have been struggling manfully to move forward and do some things differently starting immediately with Nathanael’s college journey. I become entangled in my spun web of remorse and regret- and guilt.  Micah’s horizon is golden (thank You, Lord) but there is some financial stress and hardship that breaks my heart. The only thing I can do is continue forward into each day “living and learning” in the Lord.

My whole heart, soul, sweat, blood, and tears are wrapped up in last year. It is hard to move forward in the wake of it all. But, I must. And, I am. I have to leave that part behind and move on and move in and move forward. I have a brown-eyed blessing looking to me- for more than courses, credits, and transcripts. For Life. For the Lord. For God’s Love. For Stability and yes, for all. the. things (scholarship applications, essays, records, recommendation letters, college visits, college interviews and on, on).

With that said, I have to trust that I did the best I could with what I had- and in the areas that I didn’t (because there was an area I actively resisted- and O! I regret it!) , God’s grace is more than sufficient. And this is where I give the whole of my life to God… successes, failures, decisions, dreams. I give all into His Hand. I release it all and continue to move forward into each day with the best (Lord willing) that I have. I need to actively choose to trust His provision in the life of each of my children- individually- as I continue to do my (insufficient) best by them. But where I am insufficient- HE is sufficient- and this is where I am struggling to rest.

One of the areas that I am doing differently (and that might benefit someone out there) is in the area of home school record keeping and transcripts for high school. This was a little tricky for me with Micah because we are in a diploma program and I did not fully understand- but- now, I do. I took our diploma program credential as sufficient accreditation and proof of the integrity of our learning program- when, in reality, our studies went far, far beyond their basic requirements- and it would have been much, much better if I would have provided the full scope of my student’s learning through a Comprehensive Record File.

Note: I did provide the Official Transcript, School Profile, Counselor Letter, Recommenders, Essays, Writing Samples (where needed/requested), ACT and SAT scores and more.

Sometimes, I struggle to give the time needed to all the details, paperwork, and record keeping that makes up a well-documented home school (I wonder: is this really needed? Isn’t there someone else who could do this? Shouldn’t my student be doing this? How do I spend the time on this? I have also questioned how to figure out where my child should apply to college, what colleges, Christian or secular, commuter or residential… And the questioning can swirl on and on- effectively making me inert when I should be in active, directed motion)

– but I have learned that it is a wise and needed investment to dig in and work on this needed, detailed paperwork. I have also learned that it is a worthy life work and the end result- a comprehensive record is a worthy testimony and document of a journey well- lived. It is also a gift to my student- who will have documentation, work samples, and a reflection of these very special years to carry forward into their adult life. With Google Drive and other Cloud Applications, it is easy to upload such records for safe keeping and no clutter. Ready right at the fingertips whenever needed.

So, with those thoughts unearthed and uncovered, dear friends, I would like to recommend (with absolutely no affiliation or benefit to myself)

Lee Binz’s Comprehensive Record Solution and Total Transcript Solution.

I attended a Free Webinar called Super Scholarships for Humble Homeschoolers and was able to access a special for the Record Solution with the Total Transcript a free bonus.  These resources have everything I needed last year (for Micah) and didn’t have. Templates and examples right at the fingertips. I googled many things (last year) like Activities Resume, School Profile examples, Counselor Letters, and so on. And I do suggest research- but having all this right at hand is SO helpful.

I do not know if compiling a comprehensive record for Nathanael will open a greater pathway for financial provision for him- as Micah did get right to the full tuition interview at Messiah and alternate for another full scholarship- but at least I will have the confidence, peace, and security of knowing that I did all needed. Nathanael is also going to apply for a selective scholarship that Micah did not apply for- that will need all of these details- so I must trust this is the Lord’s timing. I learned a lot- and I am going forward in the living.

Lord, let me see Your goodness in the Land of the Living. Increase our trust in You. Forgive me.

Friends, I pray you are blessed in your journey- wherever that may be and how the Lord leads you.

For His excellent greatness (Psalm 150:2)

Rebecca

Hidden, quiet- but still real

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My words have been hidden in the quiet. Caught and streaked across smudged pages. Typed hurriedly into a notebook app. A haphazard collecting of a scattering of days.

The water flows under the bridge. On, on. This life streams forward, too.

I have words to share here: writing words, and educating words; family words, and beauty words; truth-seeking words, and gratitude.

Writing is a path for me to reach my own longed-for destination.

Mostly, I want to find myself cupping full each day. Cupping faces and rubbing backs. Reading words that fill heart and mind. And more, and more. And this is just stream of consciousness and my mind’s eye and a deep breath:

We have seen “beavers” (ground hogs) munching grass, and chipmunks scurry with pointed tail, we are the happy home of one delightful, young wild brown rabbit- whom we have watched grow from wee, little baby to bounding youth; there was the drive home with the twin, dappled fawns staggering on their baby legs across the dimpled road- while the twins in my car squealed with delight – and the wise teenager next to me offered insight; there were butterfly winged- girls stretching out on the paved path; there was the happy accomplishment of  better tended geraniums; there was the Chesapeake Bay awash in rain; there were days swimming and soaking up sun, and then coming home for tortilla pizza; there was the “309” with my Dad at the diner; and a carefully prepared flute song for a birthday gift; there were Irish fiddle tunes, and cello tunes; there were stories cuddled up in the black leather chair; there was perfect, hot, salted kettle popcorn made just for me; and Orange Ginger Mint tea.  There were days upon days of Algebra 1, and a blue ballet wrap skirt twirling with the grace of my girl, there was a concerted effort to “train” for soccer; there was an Indonesian chair and music streaming from a grand piano; there was Sandymount in the rain; there was my bedroom alight with white candles- and my recognition that it was just like I thought it would be; firefly catching, and sparklers; there were (several) white knuckled drives, and a flood…

Our grass is long, and our house is in disarray. There is tending here, repair there, and organization needed. And without taking this time- it is enough to sink me low.  In fact it does, and I am.

But there is that Maryland sky- stretching above, streaking hope and glory- on the most unlikely of days. Todd called me out the other day. And I didn’t go. Craving just those few minutes alone, along to get work done on the computer. It was satisfying to make that small headway. It was regretful to miss those glory moments. But in my mind’s eye, I was there.  How do I know what to choose, and what I need? I did need those moments alone.  And I still feel the peace from that headway made…

The light has started to change. The earth shifts. My whole self feels it. I sense the early darkness- on its way.

It is a time of great transition for me. But it is also a time of staying true. Returning to beginnings. Practicing faithfulness.

It is time to get ready for school.

Up next, something I wrote a week ago or so…

~Rebecca

 

 

 

 

Painted Toes and a Polka Dot Skirt

 

We are on our way to a Memorial Day picnic.

Maryland is in full bloom.

Her sky, an ocean in texture and mood,

today awash in puffs and sleeves of wisping cotton.

The landscape rolling away in breaking sunlight.

Everything green and golden.

My heart so light and free.

In fun and high spirits, I spontaneously paint toes. It feels so carefree, and I think I can probably count on one hand how many times in 18 years I have painted my own toes. Truth. I rarely feel carefree.

I paint to match my wee girls who chose colors during little girl club(whose toes are painted frequently- all things considered) earlier in the week… and whose wee feet tripping brightly through the hours of the days

have

leant their own lightness to my heart.

Somehow, painted toes always seem so carefree

to me. And, while I

so rarely

feel carefree-

–today,

toes and polka dots

for me.

There are many different ways to shine a candle in the darkness; celebrate beauty among workaday duties; rejoice in all things;

A smear of lipstick, the flowering beauty flooding my Instagram stream, chocolate cupcakes tucked away in a quiet room with my youngest son, a tale told of birds at a feeder during a work day – and I see the cardinal; I see the chickadee, a little girl running determinedly barefoot in the grass, an imperfect poetry party and picnic in the yard,

and painted toes for me.

I choose joy.