Another “Little House” To Love!

I am all wrapped up in The Greatest Garden Ever That I Am Going To Plant these days- planning, dreaming, etc. While googling “printable garden planner”, I discovered the neatest blog, Little House in the Suburbs. Not only do they have a great little garden planning tool, the ideas there for a cold frame and compost heap I may just have to try as well. Not to mention all the knitting, crocheting, cooking and hmm, have I thought about soapmaking! a girl could want. Enjoy!

That Could Work

Big A has been inspired to enter an American Girl contest. Prizes will be awarded for the best poster about bullying, and she has been hard at work on a colorful and insightful warning to all would-be pesterers.
I’ve had trouble with this for a number of reasons. As the oldest child, she herself has issues with this, tending to be rather bossy and push her weight around. One of my greatest goals would be for her to live up to her gracious middle name, but as yet we are in the beginning stages of knowing what it even means. Would it be hypocritical for her to submit this glowing, anti-bully artwork when she has a ways to go in this area?
This afternoon, as she was making a second poster (the first one having suffered at the hands of a toddler and a coffee mug), this is what I heard her say:

Mom, would it be okay to put a Bible verse on my poster?

I’m thinking about the one that talks about doing unto others as you would like them to do to you.

I looked up ‘others’ in the concordance and couldn’t find the verse anywhere.

I found a good one: Matthew 5:43-44: You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor…”

Maybe this is precisely the activity for this American Girl, seeing how much she’s gleaning from the Word. Gotta love that.

Some Interesting Developments

I’ve been following a couple of news items this week:
1. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act– there are parts of this legislation that have small-time children’s product makers, crafters, and even the library quite concerned. I’m having trouble understanding exactly what the implications are, but I plan to watch this drama unfold with great interest.
2. Transition TownsAmy linked to a man talking on his blog about this movement, how in his opinion getting involved could be an excellent way to evangelize. I haven’t yet found any towns in Ohio on board; there are rumors of one in southeastern Ohio, an area we all know is the very seat of enlightenment and progressive thought.

To sum up, if you are looking for a job with real potential, consider becoming an approved lead tester, or a Transition ’09 community organizer. Both careers look quite promising. 🙂

Thoughts From Miss Sullivan

I’m currently reading The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller. In this edition, letters are included at the end that Anne Sullivan, Helen’s “Teacher”, wrote about her progress. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this part of the book, and wanted to get some quotes down here I thought were especially noteworthy.

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think…Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences.

Whew. Thank goodness I don’t have to be sweet-voiced to teach my kids.:)

Since I have abandoned the idea of regular lessons, I find that Helen learns much faster. I am convinced that the time spent by the teacher in digging out of the child what she has put into him, for the sake of satisfying herself that it has taken root, is so much time thrown away. It’s much better I think, to assume that the child is doing his part, and that the seed you have sown will bear fruit in due time.

More to come later.

Committed

We do also give up our selves one unto another in the Lord, and according to the will of God, freely covenanting and binding our selves to walk together as a right ordered congregation and church of Christ, in all ways of His worship, according to the holy rules of the Word of God, promising in brotherly love, faithfully to watch over one another’s souls.
~ Boston Puritan church covenant renewal, 1636

As I was reading The Light and the Glory some months ago, I was inspired by the chapter on the Puritans and how they covenanted to live in the New World within their families and churches. Some of the traits that today’s culture laugh at as being ‘extreme’ are the very ones that fostered their vitality as a church body. They considered themselves watchmen over one another’s souls, a responsibility seldom given attention today. Maybe we feel like we’d be seen as judgmental if we interfered, maybe be just don’t have time to get involved, but the result is the same- a total lack of commitment to our brothers and sisters in Christ. I like how the authors of TLATG put it,

…is it not enough, some people ask, simply to be a family which is already centered in Christ, without being committed to some body of fellow Christians?
…it has been our experience that we often need the discernment and counsel of other Christians outside our immediate family, in order to truly live in Christ and for Christ, instead of in and for self.

That word, committed, keeps coming to my mind. I spend time thinking about what that means for me. I like to think I am a dedicated mother to my children, kind person to other people, etc. But every so often the Holy Spirit stops me in an unhealthy thought and asks, “what more should you be doing to demonstrate how committed you are to this person?” It should be evident in every single act, an inseparable part of the goal of mirroring God’s love.

M-M-Mexican Rice

I love rice. If it weren’t nearly impossible, I might think I had been switched at birth with a Hispanic baby. I am so happy to have found a recipe for Mexican Rice that I could actually accomplish. And it turned out delicious. How fun to be able to make ‘restaurant food’ in my own kitchen.

Weekend Thoughts

I do think we need to stop thinking in terms of ‘what can I handle’ and instead ‘how can I be stretched’. ~Octamom

My sister put out a request for good books to read, as she has challenged herself to read more in the coming year. I got to thinking how much I have enjoyed reading in the past, especially novels. Then about three years ago, I started noticing how while reading I would really zone out. It was getting dangerous to read while the children were about; even though I was in the same room with them, I wasn’t paying a lick of attention to what they were doing. Kim warned me about escaping into fiction; Nancy did, too. But it wasn’t until the day I looked up from my book to see 9 month old A Minor crawling down the sidewalk toward our street’s intersection that I was shocked to attention. Of course, there were other circumstances that led to her escaping the house unnoticed, but it still served as a wake up call to me- novels no more! I love to read. I love to spend my time doing that. But ever since I have become a mother, I have had to give up many things I love to do, because my children’s well-being is more important than brief moments of leisure.
I like how Octamom puts it:
“I would never have grown into the person I am were it not for the cradle crucible of self-sacrifice…”
I’m not saying reading novels is wrong. I just finished the last two books in the Mitford Series over Christmas, following Nancy’s advice of picking up a favorite book during vacation. And, I have discovered the joys to be had in reading non-fiction, in preparation for school lessons, homekeeping, and growing in wisdom. Reading, as with all other interests, is a pastime I have had to bring under submission to God’s will, not mine. Even little things, like giving up novels, serve to stretch me in ways I never imagined.

Year of the Bug?

Gracie, 2009 is not getting off to a good start.
Last week I had the flu, as ill as I can remember being in a long time. There was one day I lay in the recliner, only getting up when it was completely necessary. I could only shuffle places, and every pore in my skin felt like an active volcano. As I rested, I would think about what it would be like to be this way long term, either with a chronic illness or a debilitating disease. I was thankful that by all appearances this would only last a few hours. In my fog, I also noticed how much funnier Luke seemed to be- it was as if everything he said made me laugh (silently, and gently, for fear of hurting my throat). Usually his humor rating falls around 2%.
That bug apparently hit Luke, me, and our two next to youngest, and we all are on the mend. But this week we have been hit with something really strange- a staph infection. A Flat developed this rash behind both of her ears, and I took her to the pediatrician yesterday and found this out. The antibiotic was free at Meijer, which is about the only good news in this situation. The rest is bizarre- where did it come from? Why her? Why the back of her ears? I have to scrub them from time to time because she gets a kind of cradle cap thing going on back there, and I am thinking I must have done something to break the skin last time. But that still doesn’t explain much. I’m not in the mood to use my limited computer time to google ‘staph infection’ and look at gross pictures, so if any of you have any tips on staying infection free, please share. Hopefully nobody else will get it, and she will heal quickly.
This is supposedly the Chinese Year of the Ox, but it is looking to me like the Year of the Bug. C’mon, niney- prove me wrong.

Trash Day

I’ve been paying closer attention to how much my groceries cost, and was astounded to realize that the trash bags I buy at Aldi were $6.29 for 36! That’s a lot of money to be ‘throwing away’. I am stepping up my recycling efforts, including the reuse of the bags themselves as much as possible. I use them to hold my recycled plastics, and stuff headed to Salvation Army (I still donate goods, but don’t shop there for now). When it is time to dump those, I’ll be emptying the bags and putting them back to work.

Matthew 6:19-20 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

10 Things

He has Bubba Teeth in the bathroom vanity, right next to the dental floss
He has dressed up as a black man for each of the last three costume parties we have attended
If the above doesn’t already indicate, he makes me laugh
He is building a house
He currently has two paying jobs
If the above doesn’t already indicate, he works very hard for our family
He plans getaways for us to be together
He looks forward to the next time we can have a date
If the above doesn’t already indicate, he actually loves to be with me
He won’t eat the pancakes I burned while typing this. That’s okay, we’ve got six other people who will.
Happy Anniversary to my dearest and best friend.