Endless Gifts

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Endless Gifts

  • Evenings of firefly catching, and they spread out across the lawn; I sit in cool night air and breathe.
  • the sweet physical relief from sleep and rest for my body
  • Maryland sky
  • all their help, in every way
  • her poem request, and I wake inside my soul
  • the hard soul work of homeschooling with learning disabilities; the uncomfortable realization that really, it is about my sanctification, and it hurts, and it is hard. I cry.
  • the gutsy commitment of this journey, and knowing more than ever, I don’t control any outcome, and trying to find my own joy and soul-filledness as I walk this path
  • the way a small (not so small) son cooks for me
  • 20 years, and the sensation of cresting something.. -where– the view is now sweet, and the hand is in mine, and the soul is knit, and the realization that some things will be easier from here. And somehow, we made it here.
  • pouring myself out like a cup full of water for their growth; for their futures; for their souls; for life; trying to understand what restores that cup; but knowing Jesus is the well that never runs dry, and grateful to know; to live at any moment that I can lean in, lean in to Him, and He is everything
  • turning back to write gratefulness, to write thankfulness, and knowing it is the power to transform a life
  • her organized, structured, logical ways
  • the Balanchine essay she wrote, and the quote she applied
  • my oversight advisors  {grace}
  • sweet friend’s boundaries encouragement, and how her words ring for me
  • he collects our photos for the yearbook, and my soul exhales. I see good.
  • a writing “club” whose location is the van; whose beverages are often a cola (for him) and an iced coffee (for me); whose encouragement is grand; time with a teen who creates space & gentle accountability for me; listening ear and fiction encouragement- for him #writinglife #itisgood
  • Summer season
  • and summer plans: swims, walks; trips; summer school; cooking; baking; tending; living; writing

Lenten Hope, Lenten Joy

i

40-day journey to the cross.

I posture my heart.

I posture my soul.

Face down- yet

lifted

(high)

ii

I clasp hands earnestly

and beseech

for joy and hope

at the table gathered

with children.

In the morning.

I pray.

iii

Later.

It is afternoon.

And, I am jolting

forward. stop. forward. stop.

hurtling jaggedly home

two cello players car (in)side with me.

and suddenly...

I am deliciously

captivated by the

word

incandescent-

incandescent... distilled to me from a moment

in a beautiful song. 

(I would never have found but for the son by my side)

iv

We are almost home- and oldest cellist and I study quickly

to gain the full understanding

of this lovely, lovely word:

it speaks to me.

  1. adjective incandescent: 

(of light) produced by incandescence.

glowing or white with heat.

intensely bright; brilliant.

brilliant; masterly; extraordinarily lucid:an incandescent masterpiece; incandescent wit.

aglow with ardor, purpose, etc.:the incandescent vitality of youth.

God, I love this song.

“Magic Mirror”

 

O, profound song. Speaking to me.

 

Inside, I weep.

And-

I joy.

v

Later, (on the road again) I ponder how that word

incandescent

thrilled me to the toes

and how

for a brief

whiff

of time, I felt so joyfully alive.

And, I’m grateful.

I think on… what makes me feel alive.

vi

I find myself stepping

into Target.

Target, of all places,

and… once again-

the joy is

rising.

a glimmer, found for me

among little girl dresses

with unicorns

and spring themed

garments hanging like

hope

in pinks, greens, purples, sky blue

and of course,

(silver and gold)

sparkle

for some reason

I am happy.

 I am happy among the spring themed atmosphere of Target.

I tell my son, and we laugh.

Target can do that to a lot of people, we ruminate.

As we walk out, the smell of coffee fills the air, and I fill my lungs.

With that good smell.

vii

In the car,

I realize

that I prayed,

in the morning

I prayed

for the reality

of joy

and the reality

of hope

and that we would ponder the way to the cross

and 

the joy of resurrection.

 

The truth is-

it has been a rare day that

I have felt the free joy

I found today.

I don’t take it for granted.

I am grateful.

O sun, O spring, O-

thankful for hope

and

feeling

for

goodness, joy, and life.

And knowing it is true.

viii

I am looking for Spring.

I am looking…

I am looking for my Savior,

lifted high.

I am looking

in the faces of the

ones around me-

and I am remembering,

to

pray.

Face down

yet lifted

(high).

 

Day (Night) Story

Outside my window... winter wonderland. It is snowing, and we have a weather advisory. Thinking the highschoolers’ co-op will be cancelled tomorrow morning.
I am thinking…that I have tried three times to complete my weekly review this weekend- and it still hasn’t happened. So,now- I am procrastinating and writing this post!
I am thankful… for time around the table on Sundays. For the Piano Guys Playlist streaming through my bedroom via the Echo that was a Christmas Gift from my brother- and all the feels. This IS my music. For good talks with my loved ones, my darlings. For hot tea and chocolate. For oatmeal with raw honey. For GRACE (and my whole soul raised up in praise and an inner shout)
In the kitchen… Asian Beef made by Todd and it WAS amazing!
I am wearing… still my cozy church clothes- thick, creamy tan sweater, black knit top, black skirt with almost golden flowers. I think I was loathe to take this warm, pretty outfit off today. I also thought I would be heading out to a lesson that ended up cancelling because of weather-  This skirt is from long ago- that still fits- maybe even better than it used to- so there’s that. But my headband is round my neck, and my hair is down and going a wee bit crazy- kind of like my mind.
I am creating…the Mid-Year Report for colleges; updating the high school transcripts with semester grades; this blog post; tomorrow’s day plan
I am going…to run around tomorrow afternoon and evening- unless the snow cancels all. I am going to squeal with glee when Todd finally gets into our bed after working.
I am wondering…hmmm. I am wondering so much, I don’t know what to write here!
I am readingWingfeather Tales by Andrew Peterson, Different by Sally and Nathan Clarkson, Passion for the Impossible by Rockness, Charlotte Mason Home Education Volume 1 Part 3- I just finished Middlemarch by George Eliot, and I am pondering Becoming Mrs. Lewis (plus many others)
-with children, I am reading: My Father’s Dragon; The Horse and His Boy; The Hundred Acre Wood; Heidi; various picture books
I am hoping... to feel much better this week and to sleep better.
I am looking forward to…a special time with a cousin; annual birthday meal out with my birthday “twin” brother; one-on-one times
I am learning…about learning challenges and homeschooling with learning disabilities; I am learning about myself and how to be a more fully nurtured and invested person to pour out more richly.
Around the house… so many things. Where do I start? In March, I plan to begin trying to follow the Motivated Moms household checklist for maintenance tasks. And- all our chore routines need a hearty refresher!

 

I am pondering…Mystie Winckler’s Weekly Review Email that came out this weekend. And-
— she writes:

“It’s about knowing how to show up each morning and how to help the kids do the same. It’s about holding on through the storms – whether the storm is inside us or the storm is the child’s doing or our current situations are storming or it’s all three making a whirling tempest.

We can do it. We must do it.

Sometimes, homeschooling is a mind game –

with ourselves and with our kids.”

Later on, she says, “We are the atmosphere.”

And– I was ready to go deep in and deep under- until Todd pulled me up and out. With nary a blink of the eye. Christ is the atmosphere. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility. It doesn’t mean that I don’t need to show up with a positive force and focus. But…. he reminded me of a sermon we recently heard at church and one of the points was that the worship leader and that leader’s stainless life is NOT the focus- Christ is the focus.– and the same is true in our homeschool and should always be true.

Thank You, Lord for the gospel. And let me tell you, those storms she lists up there. Yeah. I’ve got all of those.

O! Let me wake up thinking about how to magnify Christ in my homeschool!

Note: there is a lot more to that email- and some wonderful “meat” to chew on. But, the prompt asked, “What am I pondering…” — and, well- there you have it.

One of my favorite things... dairy free whip cream on hot chocolate and coffee! O, I waited years for that stuff.

Something funny…I was at the Chik-Fil-A on Saturday with my Nathanael and Asher. The Chik-Fil-A in my town has a drive through situation that makes my heart race when I am in my big van- but I was enduring for the lemonade! The line wraps around the building through a parking lot complete with a stop sign. I was waiting at the stop sign and looked to the left. There– was a Yield Sign– and I read (in my head):

YIELD:

to the exciting

drivers (!)

and I thought: My! Chik-Fil-A is taking their positive vibe to a whole new level! Then, I read the sign again- and realized it said:

EXITING

drivers

EXITING NOT EXCITING

O! we laughed. And then, laughed again when we told Todd.

A peek into my day… this was not today– but still.

Norah and Mellie painted my toes. One foot purple (M)/the other pink (N). It made me laugh. They did it on a day I wasn’t feeling well. Nurtured by my wee, small girls. And Norah painted her own fingers and toes- blue and pink. Roses- forever my pleasure (thank you, my love). And,– me and tea with my darling.

Cookie Day 2018 and Filled Snickerdoodles

 

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Sugar cookies

We recently had our very first “Cookie Day” with my brother’s family. It was utterly delightful, and I am so glad I said, “yes!” when the idea came to us both in “relatively” early November. I struggled a bit with some aspects of the implementation and am thankful everyone worked together to make this day a sweet success. At the end, the little ones each got to fill a plate with six cookies- knowing that all the rest were going to head to Ama’s for Christmas Day and the days to come.

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I fell completely in love with cookie stamps! I found an Irish claddagh. It is a beautiful, stoneware cookie stamp that is even dishwasher safe. Cookie-making with these stamps was so, so fun!

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I was so happy to stumble upon a big sale at Michaels. It can be tricky finding safe sprinkles. The choices are limited. 

We set up three stations for the little ones:

decorating sugar cookies

cut-outs

cookie stamps

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Ever grateful for my husband who handles the cut-out station to perfection (orderly, organized, calm, fair, and so on!)

Ryan had the fantastic (cozy) suggestion to have crockpots of chili.

He brought a venison mango/sweet potato chili with a spicy kick. We made our turkey salsa/black bean chili.

While three adults manned the stations, my older kids were able to complete almost all of the rest of our Christmas cookie baking. Nathanael and Asher made their traditional peppermint cookie bark, and Abi made filled snickerdooodles.

We have gotten a lot of requests for our filled Snickerdoodle cookie recipe. These cookies are becoming holiday favorites for our teachers and other people we share them with at Christmas-time. They are definitely a festive treat!

I am sharing the recipe below! Merry Christmas, friends!

Filled Snickerdoodles
Cookie:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup dairy free margarine or coconut oil
2 eggs
2 3/4 unbleached white flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
3 TB cinnamon
3 TB sugar      {for rolling dough balls in}
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix first six ingredients into a dough that forms small balls in your hands
Mix cinnamon/sugar mixture
Roll dough into balls and then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Place on trays and back for 8-10 minutes.
Notes:
we prefer our cookies slightly soft so we choose the shorter cook time
we have found that baking these cookies on stoneware creates the absolute best cookie
coconut oil has a softer, richer texture than dairy free margarine
Filling:
Best Vanilla Frosting
1 stick dairy free margarine or 1/2 cup coconut oil (softened/melted)
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioners sugar
Water or Vanilla flavored dairy free milk such as almond or rice milk
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and whip together
Notes:
we use our basic vanilla/white icing filling or sugar cookie icing
the icing made with coconut oil seems the most delicious- but it is the trickiest to make. If not careful, you can end up with a lumpy mess that is hard to salvage.
Let cookies cool completely. Fill with a light layer of frosting. Place in freezer or refrigerator until ready to give away or serve!
Note to my children: remember to make the cookies on the small, thin side. 🙂

Thanksgiving 2018

My photos aren’t that crisp or clear this year- and it feels a bit symbolic to me. In some ways, this seems (maybe more than I realize) to capture what is unique for Thanksgiving 2018.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 NIV

 

Thanksgiving 2018
Appetizers
Halo oranges and pretzels
Wheat Thins and Special Sauce
Rippled Chips
Deviled Eggs
Main Meal
Roasted Turkey
Home-made Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Bake
Cranberry Relish (with way more cranberries and way less sugar this year)
Broccoli Salad
Coleslaw
Cucumber and Red Onion Salad (alas our Spring Mix housed Romaine 😦 )
Crusty (home-made) Rolls with Earth Balance
Desserts
(I think we overdid on our desserts this year! But, we eat much for breakfast the next day (and for days after) with scrambled eggs, and dessert recipes are one of the children’s favorite ways to participate in the feast. Everyone has their favorite(s).) 
Apple Pie (Joshua)
Jewish Apple Cake (Nate)
Pumpkin Pie (Jonah)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (Jonah)
Chocolate Cream Pie (twins)
Pumpkin Roll (Asher/Abi)
Pumpkin Bar (Asher/Abi)
Tofutti “cheese” cake with chocolate swirl and fresh squeezed lemon (Norah)

The Things They Say Part 2

I am gathered together with my teens in the music room.

We are an indomitable late-night crew.

Tall Son is home from college

– and we are drawn like moths to flame–

to each other.

The talk turns to sports and the local christian school sports team some of the boys have played/play for:

And basketball- because one son plays soccer. And we circle round whether he should have played basketball, too– we chit– and we chat–

and then suddenly- Tall Son rallies! He tells brother he would have been sitting on the (basketball team) bench.

Said son deflects all perfectly- perfect delivery, absolutely no angst:

“I am a bench warrior; let me tell you! If I get the exercise I need in practice, mission accomplished. Then I can cheer on the team from the bench, which is what I do best!”

He rubs his knuckles on his chest and then blows on them.

He is the soccer man- and if he can maintain condition for soccer- everything else is icing on the cake.

“I am a bench warrior”- The Things They Say.

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That same night- two sons duel in falsetto.

I share the story of a small son (who is now basically a man on that very couch) many years ago- singing Christmas Carols perfectly in a sweet, high-pitched voice: “Falalalala-lala-lalala!”

Back and forth they sing an ad-lib, high-pitched duel.

I laugh so hard, I cry.

I share the story of my sister- with whom I would often laugh until I cried when I was young– late at night. We called it the “Daze Stage.”

It felt so happily familiar.

To laugh myself silly with my loves.

The Things They Say (or Sing)

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I am immersed in a writing intensive with my freshman daughter.

We are working hard through much difficulty.

She crafts a compare/contrast essay on  Acro-Dance and Gymnastics.

The course utilizes a computerized scoring system and writing improvement tool called PEG.

We groan as we work with PEG; we determine to “trick” PEG; we won’t stop until PEG’s points go higher. I am relentless. She is determined. She is a force to contend with in her fixed focus toward completion. On, on.

PEG doesn’t like “acro,” we have to name it acrobatics. So, we do- with mutterings and groans.

PEG doesn’t like “back walkovers;” I trick it by insisting she call it “the back walkover.” So, she does (and the points improve.)

Later, I am working at the table… and she is standing behind a chair across from me. She wants to share her essay with some different people– and we are talking about it. I hear her muttering and pondering:

” ‘ The back walkover’ — that sounds so WEIRD.”

And suddenly, it hits me:

“The back walkover”– just how presumptuous and awkward it sounds-

as if it is some great, specifically precise feat separate from the other skills in her sentence in some inexplicable way.

The actual sentence: Side aerials, the back walkover, and press handstands are all amazing to watch and hard to achieve.

and she just can’t stand how “the back walkover” sounds and reads in the sentence- and how it isn’t true to what it really “is.”

Her face- scrunched up in disapproval; the battle with PEG; the victory with points; the sweat equity in the piece itself;

I laugh SO  HARD. I laugh today. I laugh forever. I laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

“The back walkover”  The Things They Say (and we do).

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A (smaller) Tall Son begins his first basketball season:

He loads the bus for his first away game:

A shout rises up: “BORGER!!!!” from all the high school players.

He loads and sits deep in the middle of the bus behind the high school Coach (Micah’s coach) and Coach says:

“Welcome to the Belly of the Beast.”

At dinner, he finds himself the center of some probing questions. A high school team member knows three of his brothers who have participated in various activities at said school.

“Whose your favorite brother?” the team-mate queries — hoping to disarm son and gather some ammunition. Not to be so easily outdone-

Son counters: “Do you even know how many brothers I have?”

The older student stutters, mutters, and answers incorrectly.

And that was the end of that. The question never came up again.

-I think he’s going to be just fine.-

The next day,

He finds himself on court, playing low post position. The opposing team member whispers (right next to him): “Jonah?”

Recognition dawns.

He finds himself face to face with a fellow Scout from our Troop. This confirmed a suspicion he had from the start- that the Casey on the team- was the Casey from Troop 9.

Worlds expand.

The Things They Say and Do.

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The Things They Say Part 1

I have captured some… and some I have missed.

But, for posterity-!

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A small girl stands stalwart.

Feet planted.

One legging leg up, and one legging leg down.

I remark about said pant leg.

She cries out,

“No one likes my fashion! No one likes my style!

It’s true!”

I am astounded. Of course I love her style! Of course I love her fashion!

Wee girly, with a fashion sense already?!?

The things they say

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It’s Saturday for several weeks-

and a bold, young man- aged 10; the youngest our family has known to take on such a responsibility-

is at the giant pancake griddle.

He is providing Saturday morning pancakes for our clan with great glee. Jam, Maple Syrup, many times Chocolate Chips, sometimes Pumpkin. The stacks are devoured.

I come home from the Saturday dance class journey-

and peruse the kitchen and the pancake stacks:

he declares to me: “I’m the OPM!!”

“What’s the OPM?” I ask.

“Official Pancake Maker!” he declares. “Daddy crowned me.”

OPM. The Things They Say.

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I am getting three little girls ready for bed.

I stand in some relief- and also amazed-

simply because they are doing so much themselves. Toothpaste on the toothbrushes. The whole routine.

Small, confident, pink – clad girls.

They start squeezing toothpaste under my careful surveillance.

One wee girl is at the sink running water over her brush.

Another sister is scrubbing her teeth vigorously.

A third is squeezing toothpaste onto her toothbrush. She is just about to put the brush in her mouth- when, suddenly- she stops:

“I almost forgot to water my toothbrush!”

She jumps on the stool and runs her brush under water and then commences brushing.

The Things They Say

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I am sitting across the table from an inquisitive, bright young man.

He begins declaring all these personal goals, interests, and hopes to me.

I am listening, astonished.

When suddenly, he declares, “I’m going to do it! I’m going to get an Eagle Palm.”

When I question whether he knew that in order to earn an Eagle Palm, he first had to achieve Eagle Scout Rank, he nods briskly.

THEN:

He proceeded to recite the fact to me that an Eagle Palm is awarded for earning five additional merit badges AFTER ranking Eagle Scout (which it is).

I am shocked. He clearly knew and understood.

BUT THEN:

“I have achievements I need to achieve.”— he said.

The Things They Say.

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