Archive for the ‘Thankful x 1000’ Category

More than any other year so far – even the first – this year of homeschooling has been difficult for me.  I don’t know if it is the backlog of things that didn’t get done since my husband was deployed the first part of 2011 or adding another child to the lesson planning/attention paying/intentional time spent learning mix or simply that I am getting old or something I can’t completely comprehend, but it has been exhausting for me.  I just feel tired, and I am longing for simplicity and time to relax.  I am struggling with the very-too-long list of things to do, and I am also finding it stressful when everyone seemingly needs my attention all.at.once!  I’m tired of my house always being a heap of projects and “art” and messes.  Eek!

So when a friend asked me recently, “So how is your year going?”

I smiled carefully and said, “Terribly.”

A funny thing happened though:  As that word slipped out of my mouth, I thought, “But I don’t really want my children to learn any other way right now.”  I shared that for the first time there have been very real conversations (between Handsome and me) about whether it is time to send some of the kids or all of the kids back to school.  I was very real with what I said, but as I spoke I started to think of all the things I do love about where we are at.  So I am counting my blessings for the things that are going well this year:

551.  the spelling program that I had been putting off buying because of the price but then finally bought in hopes that it would help one of my children not only spell but read – it is helping on both counts, and it has been good for the others too!

552.  the projects that are taking over our living space are all kid-inspired, “Can we please do this, Mom?” type projects – so fun, and learning too!

553.  my co-op class has combined with another class, and I am finding it pure joy to team teach with the other teacher!

554.  We have strengths in exact opposite areas – a beautiful thing!

555.  the freedom that I am learning (in that white-knuckled, I really don’t do this well sort of way) in not trying to do it ALL (not that trying to do it all was working for me either)

556.  the learning that is taking place, because we are learning not to try to do it all – it looks different, sometimes like play or leisure, but is oh, so amazingly profound!

557.  the literature books are getting thicker around here . . . and more interesting for me

558.  One child is just finished his last phonics lesson.  He is reading many years ahead of his grade level, and it is a delight to see the joy with which he embraces books!

559. oldest child is finding her loves in life.  She’s knitting and taking an “applique and hand stitching class” where she couldn’t wait to learn to dye fabrics.  She’s riding horses and learning to care for them too.  It’s fun to see this girl grow and develop into  someone with “loves.”

560.  Speaking of loves, I just finished teaching a unit on color theory to my co-op class.  It was so much fun!  I loved it!  I think the kids had fun too.

561.  I also just finished knitting a shawl that I LOVE . . . the color is “winter wheat,” the yarn divine, the pattern amazing and fun!

562.  Thankful that that shawl is headed to a cooler climate to keep a loved-one warm; I hope she enjoys using it as much as I enjoyed making it.  It is fun to be able to pass on handmade gifts.

563.  Today a friend reminded me of James 1 – long ago memorized – God is our source of wisdom.  We need not dig it up on our own; it is generously given to us!

564.  the computer slowly but surely being taken over by the ten-year-old as she uses her typing skills to learn Latin and so many other things

565.  the amazing opportunities that we have as homeschoolers – classes like knitting and “learning biology through art” and learning about gears with K’nex and learning about design with Legos and watching a woman spin and make soap like a real colonist would have – amazing opportunity!

566.  seeing diligence pay off – I have been just amazed at all the things that the kids learn by recitation; it seems they can memorize anything.  This practice which has so fallen out of favor in public schools is a treasure to our homeschool, as we learn poetry and verses and definitions and so many other things simply by repeating them each morning!

567.  K, who comes on Mondays to do hands-on activities with the kindergartener!  What a great way to start the week!

568.  for my science-loving, over-educated husband who doesn’t sweat the small stuff and teaches science to our kids!

569.  so, so thankful for our homeschooling friends – moms on this same journey who help prop me up and really amazing, creative, fun kids with whom my own children have so. much. fun!

but my favorite one of late:

570.  I got to hear him read his first word!  A note from a friend read, “First steps, first words…. READING FIRST WORD TRUMPS them all!!!”  And you know, she was right – I did miss his first steps and his first words, but I feel so, so honored to get to teach him to read his first words and to hear him say, “Mom!  I’m learning to read!”



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A Tentative Start

I’ve been away for so long, I’m afraid that my blogging muscles have completely withered, but lately I’ve been thinking that I need to start counting again – counting my blessings and recounting the precious moments that we are living out daily.

And so I’m trying to fit back into this space, fitting the thanksgiving into the numberline, where I left off:

531.  modern technology that allows international calls without the international price tag

532.  four month olds who are seriously chubby, one in particular

533.  smiles from babies, again, one in particular

534.  children praying for their daddy at night

535.  encouraging notes from a friend

536.  another friend who offers sage advice and a listening ear

537.  another friend who is letting me sit in on her knitting class again, to help teach this time

538.  painting with six-year-olds

539.  warm gingersnaps (I didn’t even think I liked gingersnaps until I made them for my class!)

540.  thirteen children who “Oooooh” and “Aaaaah” over my still-warm-because-I-barely-had-time-to-bake-them-before-class gingersnaps!

541.  the mom who told me that her daughter missed me when I was not teaching last week

542.  doors that seem to be closing while other doors are opening

543.  a little girl in the safe home of a friend who has three boys (even if only for a season)

544.  the knowledge that even prayers whispered are heard

545. new classes for my children

546.  anticipation

547. Valentines mailed and delivered

548. a lazy Sunday

549.  pajamas worn the whole day

550.  toothbrushes and toothpaste!

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On Not Blogging

I have mentally titled this the “Summer of Nothing.”  This happened long ago, but I have maintained my stance . . . which is the unusual part in that I almost always end up planning a bunch of stuff at the last minute then wondering how it is that I’m not getting anything done.  I did have things planned for this summer – play dates for the kids, time at the pool, lots of reading, time to be bored, and a few projects – but my real goals were to 1.) spend time with friends and 2.) get caught up on a few of the projects that have been sitting undone at our house.  I have simplified everything – food prep, cleaning routines (still getting the house clean – just not as clean as usual maybe), piano lessons, sports, blogging, and most everything that I have figured out a way to simplify.

It has been good.  The kids are fit and happy.  We all feel connected.  Our home is peaceful.  Our schedule is not chaotic, and it’s been months since I’ve said, “Ok, we’re going to have to eat in a hurry, so we can dash out the door!”

There will be a season when we pick it all back up and hurry about, but today I’m so very, very thankful for:

516.  teaching Dimples to tie a bow – unhurried

517.  playing Dutch Blitz over and over . . . and over

518.  reading with my kids – for fun

519.  sorting out the mess on my desk

520.  reading the pile of books that has been sitting at the end of my bed, waiting, for way too long

521.  capitalizing on curiosity (We’ve been reading all about bats – not because we have to do “science,” rather because the kids WANTED to.)

522.  learning new games

523.  trying new recipes

524.  enjoying slow the chores that are often burdensome hurried

525.  watching every video that the shuttle crew has posted and savoring the lasts

526.  standing for way to long after all the other parents left to watch my oldest sit atop a horse

527.  enjoying stuff again

528.  smiling – for no reason at all

529.  nights out with Handsome

530.  taking time to mentor

531.  and be mentored

532. catching up on scrapbooks

533.  chronicling family laughter

534.  working out

535.  praying long

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I spent a good deal of time last week baking (more on that tomorrow); it’s something I love to do!  This week’s list comes from various adventures in my kitchen.  And yes, I am concerned that so many of the things I am thankful for revolve around food and eating . . . but what’s a girl to do!

I am thankful for:

501.  juice from organic lemons mixed with powdered sugar to make a glaze

502.  the way egg whites whip up and stand tall

503. warm cream + dark chocolate = ganache

504. the feel of sugar cookie dough as I roll it out on my counter

505. icing that dries and allows me to transport sugar cookies easily

506. tiny vanilla beans with so much flavor

507. the many uses of that expensive vanilla bean

508. cream cheese icing

509. ingredients mixed into dough and placed into a pan . . . baked to yield English muffin bread

510. my red mixer

511. the bendy metal spatula that I inherited from my mother’s mother’s kitchen and is now my favorite way to spread icing

512. edible glitter

513. white gel food color – it’s cool!

514. cute cupcake wrappers

515. butter (I should maybe list this a few times, I am so thankful for it!)

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This weekend Handsome took our oldest to riding lessons (riding horses, that is).  When he got home, he told me that while sitting near the hay in the barn he realized that the smell of hay in the barn is one of the smells that just makes him feel “at home.”  Later this weekend, I was making our guest bed, pulled out a quilt that was my grandma’s, and had that same feeling of being “at home.”

In this fast-paced, ever-changing, military-moving life of mine, I am grateful for the few things that do stay the same.  Today, I am thankful for:

481.  smells that take me back to home

482.  cotton quilts, washed many times, to softest perfection

483.  the taste of homemade ice cream

484.  the smell of our home after being away for a while

485.  the feel of my favorite jeans

486.  homemade strawberry shortcake – one thing that hasn’t changed since my childhood!

487.  hay in the barn

488.  the grass greens every spring and the trees sprout new life – reminding me again that though the seasons change, much is the same

489.  Pachelbel’s Canon in D, to which my bridesmaids walked down the isle

490.  lying next to Handsome at the finish of the day

491.  sun-warmed strawberries on my lips

492. Handsome’s voice

493.  children, snuggled next to me (even if their bodies do keep betraying me by getting bigger and bigger!)

494.  the sound of the kids laughing, as Daddy tickles them in the next room

495.  scrapbook pages, now almost ten years old, of my first newborn (thankful that I had the energy and time to put those together)

496.  Romans 8:28, long my favorite verse and proven over and over again

497.  prayers whispered in the shower, the one quiet place in my day

498.  the feel of my wedding band as it slides over my finger

499.  the opportunity to raise my children (at least for a while) in the place where I was raised

500.  the comforting hand of God, the same yesterday, today, and forever

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For as long as I can remember, I have always loved colors – not just one color (though I often say my favorite is red), I love colors together.  The way colors play on and affect each other captivates me, and there is no store display that calls to me like one with one item in a rainbow of colors.

I am thankful for
461.  the yellow color of the flowers in the field that made the kids gasp and made me think, “God, I am somehow amazed that you make flowers in that color yellow!  It’s not just man-made after all!”

462.  chocolate brown, that is the color of my youngest’s skin;

463.  gray, as it floats in, riding the middle of the thundercloud;

464.  blue-green, the color of the cold North Sea when you look down into it from a ferry;

465.  deep, deep blue, a clear night sky;

466.  light green, moss in spring – a soft carpet over the forest floor;

467.  orange, of flickering flames;

468.  purple, shades of which always live in my refrigerator fruit drawer, grapes;

469.  shiny black – obsidian found by the little creek;

470.  the blended red-orange of a perfectly ripe peach;

471.  softest pink, in which I always have a sweater;

472.  yellow –  the color that seems to somehow compliment every other color;

473.  lime green, because it is pure fun;

474.  silver – shiny!;

475.  the color of my couch – not quite khaki, not brown, not green . . . I don’t know what it is, but it matches everything!;

476.  the red of an old barn, standing on the wide open plain;

477.  corrugated cardboard brown – a package from far away!;

478.  the creamy color of homemade vanilla icecream – mmmm;

479.  white, a lamb without blemish;

480. and crimson, blood poured out as a sacrifice for all.

And because my sister asked to see our experimental Easter eggs, here is some more color for you.  These were made by coloring on hot eggs, just out of the hard-boiling pot, with crayons.  It was fun, though the kids had to be careful with the hot eggs.  (Credit for the idea goes to Family Fun magazine.)

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[a day late on the publishing of my counting, but the counting is being done daily nonetheless!]

When I was probably ten or eleven, my out-of-town cousins visited and stayed at my grandmother’s house.  One day, we were all running through the house, playing tag or some such while we waited for the adults to finish planning our trip to the zoo.  I remember feeling something hit my knee as I ran; I didn’t think to much about it.

Then I felt my ankle itch.

My hand felt wet after I scratched my ankle, and I looked down to find that knee had split open from one side of the knee-cap to the other.  Blood had run down my shin and made my white sock red.

Bandages were applied, and everyone did their best to help.

I don’t remember the pain of that injury, but I vividly remember surveying the damage.  I remember finding that my hand was bloodied and that my knee was opened from one side to the other.  I remember all day, limping around the zoo, not because it hurt, but because the wound would re-open every time I bent that knee.  I remember constantly re-assessing the damage.

It took a long time for that wound to heal, and I still have the scar though it is much less noticeable and in comparison to the size of my knee much smaller.

Over the last two weeks, I have thought often about that wound and its healing. I have thought often that while I am still aware of what happened, it no longer causes me to limp.

Over the last two weeks, since my husband returned from many months away (compliments of the military), I have thanked God again and again for

441.  the blessing of washing his laundry,

442.  his voice in the dark,

443.  a full table at dinnertime,

444.  inside jokes – alive and well,

445. help raising our children,

446.  and their call to him, “Daddy!”

447.  the Tickle Monster,

448.  his soft side that wants to say yes,

449.  and the way he reminds them, “Respect your mother.”

450.  the chance to feel like his bride all over again,

451.  the long talks late at night,

452.  and the music heard that revived those memories of our days as newlyweds.

453.  the opportunity to make his favorite meals

454.  and hear him say it was so much better than what he ate there.

455.  the time to listen to months of saved-up stories and thoughts,

456.  the realization that this time apart has drawn us closer,

457.  and the knowledge that it is only by God’s grace that can happen.

458.  tears over a husband lost in his own home,

459.  stronger faith,

460. and understanding that though this has been hard, healing has come . . . and soon we won’t be limping anymore.

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