Friday, April 30, 2010

Home Happenings

Isn't this hilarious?  We are not a family that does organized sports activities.  But, there are constant images of sports...TV's in restaurants, on the family friendly movies like "Facing the Giants," which by the way we have and highly recommend.  So, my oldest son decided he was going to play some football in the house right befoe bed, so he made a little adjustment to his pajamas!
His helmet is a turned about baseball style cap!  Kids are so creative aren't they?  And of course, if big brother is playing it...the others want to get in on the action too!

Other things going on here...we have been extremely busy at home lately.  Since we rent, we are not free to plant a full size garden in the yard, but we do have a square foot garden that is providing us fresh herbs and some lettuce.  I planted a dwarf blueberry bush in a container yesterday and plan on planting my second one this weekend.  We have 25 strawberry plants that we are planting in a hanging bag, a couple of tomato plants and a sweet red bell pepper plant as well.  I have been planting some flowers for the front yard in containers...hopefully I will have pictures to show you soon.  I am hoping to get more work done on coverting the guest room to a craft room this weekend...right now it looks like a tornado hit it!  If you think of us, please pray that we make a wise decision on purchasing a second automobile.  We went to one automobile a few years ago to save some money (still trying to save enough to pay for a home without borrowing), but right now, we are finding it more and more difficult to be without a vehicle.  We have some unexpected health issues...I am in chiropractic care and now my oldest daughter is experiencing some of the same problems that I have had and is going under care from my doctor as well.  The drive is a little over an hour away.  My mother, ever gracious and helpful, has allowed us to use her car for such things.  But, we do not want to tax her indefinitely in this way.  The doctor's visits are not covered by insurance and are quite expensive, so finding a reliable vehicle for a low price is imperative.  God has been faithful to provide for us in the past, and we are trusting Him to do so again.  If you think of us, please pray for wisdom in this area.  We do not want to buy something because the need seems urgent and then get the wrong vehicle.  We are trying to wait on the Lord...and be active in our searching at the same time.  We have made decisions in the past that were not God's will in the area of we are trying to be doubly cautious to not make those same mistakes again.  I pray you all have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fun Science

This is a fun science activity to do with your children.  Isn't this guy cute?  He is made of an old pair of hose, some dirt, seeds, small scrunchies, some eyes and glue.  To make this little guy, just cut off an old pair of hose about 7 inches above the part where you would place your feet. Take about a teaspoon of seeds...chia, grass, wheat, etc. and place them in the hose first.  We didn't use wheat seeds, but if you grind your own bread, they would be great to have the wheat grass growing for the hair.  Once your seeds are in the bottom then begin stuffing the head with dirt...or potting soil, whichever you have on hand.  Make sure you shove the dirt in really well and pack it down.  You will know how much when you start to have a good shape for the head of your creature.

Next, you will tie the hose at the bottom of your head.  To make the ears and nose, just grab some dirt in the hose, pull it out and then place a small scrunchie there to keep it in place.  Glue on your eyes and that is all!  Make sure to water your head everyday so that the hair will grow.  This is about two weeks worth of growth.  The hose holds water pretty well.  In the beginning, I just watered the heads twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.  You can keep it in a small plastic bowl to avoid getting dirt, or water in unwanted places.  There is no need to place them in a sunny place, our seeds did fine just by keeping them on the counter with only the lights from inside the house. 

The children enjoyed making these and seeing the hair grow.  It is a great way to make science fun and let them get their first taste of growing something on their own. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Cleaning and New Discovery

For those of you that don't already know this, we rent the home where we are currently living.  When we moved in to this house, there were many things that caused us to choose this home for the family.  It has a beautiful fenced backyard.  It is in a safe and established neighborhood in the city.  It is convenient to most everything.  The neighborhood is very quiet and peaceful, and it is just a little under 2 miles from my mother's house.  However, there were some issues about the home that were not so pleasant.  This picture above is one of them.  The house is older, so it desperately needs some work and updating in many areas.  The bathrooms are a prime example.
I had tried and tried to scrub this grout when cleaning the floor before.  We try to stay clear of toxic cleaners, but I even brought out the big guns...BLEACH!  I poured it on, left it to get squeaky clean, came back and scrubbed and still this is what I was left to see.  I since have found a miraculous solution for cleaning grout.  Would you believe...baking soda, water and a good hard toothbrush?  The next picture shows the difference with a small section that I cleaned this way.  So, if you have some problems with grout looking dingy...try the baking soda solution. Make yourself a paste, put in on the area you wish to clean and scrub away.  If you still have some problems, try mixing the baking soda with vinegar as well as the water.  This should also help get rid of the mildew that tends to build-up.  But watch out...vinegar and baking soda really bubble up.  In fact, we used that same combination to simulate a volcano for science!!  So, go sparingly on the vinegar until you get the right combination.
Ah, it looks like a new floor doesn't it?  And what a relief to know it can be done beautifully with a natural, non-toxic cleaner.  So, in a way, I am getting my new bathroom after all!  God bless, until next time!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Remembering Dad

It is amazing the sounds, sights, smells that cause you to remember a loved one that is gone.  I was going through our collection of music the other day.  I like to change the music in our CD player periodically so that the children gain an appreciation for a variety of music.  I mainly have inspirational, hymns, instrumental, classical, celtic and big band type songs.  I brought out my Glenn Miller while I was working in the guest room.  "Moonlight Serenade" came on.  Instantly, I could see my father sitting in his favorite chair, closing his eyes and moving his hands to the rhythms of the music.  He would say, "Jackie, now that was when music was real music!"  I cannot hear that song without thinking of my Dad.  I accredit my strong interest in big band music to my Dad.  He gave me my appreciation for old movies and good music.  I guess sometimes those things are taken for granted while our loved ones are with us.  And then, when they are gone, something like a song brings all those memories home again.  Tears came to my eyes as I thought how nice it would be to sit beside my Dad again and enjoy a good song... to hear him tell my how he used to play those on his saxophone as a young man.  I cannot have that again, but I do have my memories.  It is just a reminder that although he is not here in body, I will be forever touched by the things we held dear together.  And it makes the time I have with those around me much more intentional.  What will others remember about me when I am gone?  I hope I will bring a smile and a warm feeling to their hearts.  The video below is of the song my Dad cherished so much.  If you decide to listen, you can pause the playlist at the bottom of the page.  And remember today...make your life intentional.  Live for Christ, pass on a heritage worth remembering, and may your memory leave smiles for those left behind.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Welcome Spring!!!

Things here are so beautiful this time of year.  We have had an unusual amount of pollen that has affected those of us with allergies pretty badly, but with the beauty all around us, we cannot complain.  These pictures were taken in various parts of the yard.  We are renting the house we are in and we have enjoyed so much the lovely plants that grow here. 

All this beauty just once again points me to my wonderful Creator God.  Truly man is totally without excuse when he gazes on the splendor of God's creation.  Few things lift my spirits like the beauty of flowers. 

We have been incredibly busy here at home lately...thus my lack of posting.  I have tried to corral a few spare moments here and there to finally finish the huge job of changing out the children's clothing for spring and summer.  I was already behind one season due to my husband's you could say I had double the work this time.  But, all closets and drawers have been reorganized and bins are labeled and stored in the attic waiting for the next season of use.  Now that the clothes are finished, I am putting my extra moment efforts into changing our guest room into a sewing/craft room.  Joy and I are really looking forward to having all our supplies in one place and those safely out of the reach of little hands.  It always makes me a little nervous when pins and scissors are easily reached by little fingers.

The final picture is of my precious children.  They are under the fig tree out in our front yard.  It is amazing how quickly they grow.  Life truly is short and oh so fragile.  Love on those blessings while you may...and have a good and godly day today!  Until next time!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Moments with Mommy

This weekend Joy and I had a wonderful time just spending some mother/daughter time.  It is so hard sometimes to find time one on one with our children.  What with homeschooling, the size of our family, chores, and everything else that goes along with managing a home, it is difficult to cultivate those special times to get to know our children and spend special time with them by themselves.  After talking it over with my dh, we came up with a plan to take each of our children out somewhere just one on one periodically.  I would start with the oldest and go down.  He would start with the youngest and go up.  I would be the first...and next time, it is his turn.  That way, no child is waiting too long before they have that special parent time.  In between some of these special times, we are going to be deliberate in making sure we plan times that we can all be together as a family and do things as well.  It looks as though we will not be able to take vacation as we had hoped this summer, so these are our mini-vacations!  It is a way to keep our children's hearts and hopefully it will provide lovely memories they will have for a lifetime.

This is before we left the house for our day out.  We had lunch at Jason's Deli.  Then, I took Joy to the yarn store to replenish her stock of yarn so she could finish her afghan. 

Aren't these yarn colors beautiful?  The store is a small one, but just lovely with all the delightful looking colors.

Once we left the yarn store, we headed downtown to the quilt store.  We were surrounded by so many different gorgeous fabrics, it was hard to see it all. 

There were quilts all over the walls as decoration.  I really like this one with the appliqued picture.  The flowers we made out of buttons!

This was another quilt on the wall.  I really like the colors of this one, too.

Afterwards, Joy and I went into a few more stores downtown.  We found some out of print Landmark books...that was a great deal!  Then we got a couple of drinks from a nearby gas station and headed to the park to just sit on a bench and enjoy the day together.

Now this was a most unexpected sight at the park.  At a distance...I thought this beautiful Macaw might just be fake...but it most certainly was not.  And when we arrived at this bench...his owner was no where in sight.  We were quite perplexed to say the least.

This is Joy "talking" with the bird.

After we had taken a few shots of the bird, the owner came back and allowed Joy to get a picture with the bird on her shoulder.  Then he talked with us for quite some time and we learned so much about parrots!  It was quite fascinating.  This particular bird goes with him lots of places, doesn't fly off and eats hamburgers, spaghetti, mac and cheese and while we were there he had a few french fries!
This is the owner showing us a few of his bird tricks.  We really enjoyed talking with him about his bird.

The next few pictures are of the nusery we went to after the park.  The flowers were amazing.  We both are extremely fond of flowers.  It is so nice to share some of these same interests with my children.  Joy has become a close friend as well as my daughter. 

We ended the day with aching feet, but happy hearts.  I have a feeling this is going to be one of the nicest alternatives to a vacation that we have ever had!  She thanked me many times for taking her and told me how much she enjoyed spending time with me alone.  But you know, I believe I was the one that was blessed the most!  I encourage you, if you do not already, make time to take your children out one on one.  It doesn't have to be for a long time and you don't even have to spend any money.  Just a time to let them know they have your undivided attention.  Just remember, you are investing for an eternity.  Shalom!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Making Home More Comfortable

At just about every possibly check out counter, there is a plethora of magazines telling us how to have lovely homes.  I believe it appeals to the nature of women, the nature that God has given us, to wish for our homes to be beautiful and welcoming.  However, when they fall short of "ideal," it is easy to feel like a failure as a homemaker.  I appreciate looking at lovely ways to beautify my home, but am learning to let go of the "ideals" and replace them with what works best for our family and the way God has designed our family to work best.  Having a beautiful home is not marked by how many untouchables or knick knacks that adorn a room, but if there is love there.  Do our families feel warm and safe?  Do they look forward to being surrounded by the things that make their home special?  They may not mean anything significant to anyone else...and that is okay.  Do they speak love and peace to those with whom God has blessed us?  Thinking of home in a totally different way has caused me to make some changes...and more that are on the way.  We do not own this home, so the changes must be non-permanent and I must work within the confines of the space that is available to me. 

I wrote last time about rearranging the furniture.  I thought I would share some pictures of the process.  This home has a nice separate dining area, but not large enough to accomodate a family of seven comfortably.  Because of this, I began thinking "out of the box" and decided to make the living room the new dining room area.  When we have over guests, it is hard to accomodate them in our small dining space and they did not have an easy way to get up and around the table if they needed to do so. 

This is where the buffet was originally before it was moved.  We were not even able to put the leaf in our table because it would have extended too far into the living room.

As you can see, everyone wants to get into the act.

This is the new arrangement.  Comfortable seating, plenty of room to move about the table...and hopefully a more welcome space for family and friends.

The old dining room area was not big enough to place all the furniture in this grouping is still where it was originally, but I think it ties the two rooms together very nicely.

And here is the room we now call the parlor...formerly the dining room.  My hubby was very thankful I didn't ask him to move all the pictures and things on the wall!  I was actually surprised they went as well as they did with either grouping of furniture.  And what is in store next?  We have decided to do away with our guest room and make it into a crafting/sewing area.  The decision was not an easy one.  But looking at what little time it actually gets used, we decided we could utilize that space so much better to accomodate the needs of our family.  We tried moving a craft table into the den, but little hands have made it difficult to keep it there.  Joy is now taking private sewing lessons, and I am taking private quilting lessons.  Plus, I never get to scrapbook or stamp anymore because of lack of space...oh, and time is a little bit of a factor too!  But, I do know I would have some time once the children are off to bed if there was one area that we had to keep all the supplies together.  I will show you the progress as we go along. Right now it is full of all the clothes bins I am sorting through to change our clothes and such.   Moving things around...which hasn't cost us one thing, has made our home more comfortable for us...more usable.  Why didn't I think of this before?