What’s Up?

Val, Val, how does your garden grow? Little by little- weekly we start some new seed indoors. So far there are a passel of still hidden onions and some leggy tomatoes. Yes, you read that correctly- Luke got a little craving for some real Early Girls. Ha. Nevertheless, seeing those bright green wisps of life these last days of February does my heart good. More onions, parsley, broccoli and asparagus are up next for their dive into the potting soil this weekend.
Some more crockpot successes- tapioca pudding, ribs, and a minestrone made out of a bag of bean soup mix that was fantastic.
Every few months I am forced to reevaluate my parenting and teaching skills, and these always come up lacking. Luke just bestowed upon me his precious iPod, which now contains every children’s song known to man. I’m excited about this especially helping me teach on spiritual topics like character qualities, Bible stories, and discipline. Before I might have known about the song or story, but wouldn’t usually take the time find the cd and to include it in our day. Now I have no excuse, what with being able to customize my own playlists on iTunes.
I was elated to find Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, at my local library in their new book section. I read this book last summer, and it has had quite an influence on me. Shameful that I still have not gotten around to writing a review here on the blog, but one of the reasons is that it isn’t a book for everyone. Not to sound too ethereal, but I feel like I was at just the right place in life to be challenged by Barbara’s eating lifestyle choices- I’m very excited to start growing my own food and finding as many local producers of the rest of my food as I can. Many other people, however, would look at the author’s foodlife story and shrug in indifference. The present economic times do have many more looking for ways to sustain their way of life themselves, so a book like this should only grow in popularity, with more people than the usual ‘green’ types.
I’m going to read it again, and maybe I will post my thoughts as I go this time through it.
I’ll leave you with a wonderful quote from Fanny Crosby’s Rescue The Perishing. When we sang it one Sunday, I felt so encouraged in my mothering-

Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
back to the narrow way patiently win them;
tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died.

That just about covers my job description, doesn’t it?

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!

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. 🙂

Thinking About The Ordinary

We’re talking about George Washington in school this week, and I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to going over the usual details (cherry tree slayer [not], war hero, president, great man, yada yada yada). As I was going through some books I got out of our library, however, I was drawn to some things that usually are not as widely talked about, like George’s affection for his older, half-brother, Lawrence, or what he might have liked to eat for breakfast. In other words, don’t we find those human, ordinary aspects of a person sometimes more interesting? It’s like getting a peek at their private journal, what reading a blog would be today. Things that make a person unique make for fascinating learning. Tomorrow we will revisit Washington’s famous winter at Valley Forge, but I hope to focus on the human aspects of such an experience, hopefully gaining a greater appreciation for what those brave (but ordinary) men accomplished through their suffering.

All these glimpses of the ordinary in George’s life get me thinking about Jesus, an infinitely greater hero. The longer I know Him, the more I want to get to know Him. Too bad the Bible didn’t include more details of His life before He went into ministry. What would have He been blogging about when His days simply involved work, family, and daily routines? What did He eat for breakfast? Those activities and habits that make Him unique would be of great interest to anybody who plans to spend eternity at His table!
Well, I gotta go make dinner. I’ll close with this favorite by Rich Mullins:

Cinnamon Bear

I forget how I came across it, but we’ve gone wild about Cinnamon Bear around here. The Cinnamon Bear in the Adventure of the Silver Star was a radio program first broadcast between November 26 and December 25, 1937. Six nights a week, there would be a short installment. The story begins with two children looking for a silver star among the boxes of Christmas decorations in their attic. They discover a bear figurine that talks, and he joins them in the search. I’ve only heard the first one, the kids the first three, but now we wait until November 26th, when we plan to listen to one a night just like folks did in 1937. Luke’s got his iPod rigged up to play through our dvd player’s speakers, and we have been enjoying all the music he has stored there. He downloaded the entire series of Cinnamon Bear, and that is how we will listen. I am looking forward to nights under the Christmas tree, simple evenings where we gather and do something old-fashioned like hear a radio program.

Winning Christmas Music Picks

I wish any other time of year it was customary to pop a cd into the machine, and not only be entertained, but MOVED, you know? I suppose this kind of thing should be reserved for certain celebrations; the experience is temporary, therefore precious. Here’s a list of my favorite Christmas albums, with plenty of time for you to borrow, buy, or give:

Michael W. Smith’s Christmas albums, especially last year’s (see review below)

Angel Tree Christmas– children singing. Need I say more?

Daily Bread Majestic Christmas-I could listen to the song “Love Came Down At Christmas” 24/7. I think I did, last year.

Harry Connick Jr.’s When My Heart Finds Christmas
Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas
Music from The Nutcracker
These are the first to come to mind. The season is still young; I may come back and add. Talk to me: what are your favorite holiday sounds?

“It’s A Wonderful Christmas”

(This was originally posted last December.)

Delightful. Lovely. Heart-warming. Majestic.
These words come to mind as I think about Michael W. Smith’s latest Christmas album, It’s a Wonderful Christmas. Having enjoyed his other Christmas album, I looked forward to hearing this work. It did not disappoint. The recording opens with a sweet anthem sung with a little help from a children’s choir. I love to hear children sing- it gets me right there, you know? The title track is a piece that sounds like it is right out of a movie soundtrack. Luke and I thought maybe it was, since we knew he had auditioned work in the past for the movie Titanic. The next song has you feeling you’re on the top of the mountain with Frodo in Lord of the Rings- yep, another soundtrack song. That’s okay- he does start singing, eventually, in that one. “Song For A King” follows, a beautiful melody on the piano and violin that gave me goosebumps. There is also a song on the cd that Mandisa (from last year’s American Idol) sings with Michael- it brings a smile to my face, even though I wasn’t a big fan of her on the show. I don’t know how many of Michael’s past recordings have included bagpipe overtures (at least two), but this cd joins the collection, with “A Highland Carol”. The shortest track on the disc is also the most precious- I’d love to hear the story behind “Audrey’s gift”. Smith’s embracing benediction in “All Year Long” brings the album to a close perfectly.
I highly recommend this album to anyone who loves Christmas music. Its sparkling sound is sure to brighten your holiday.

Swamped

This week has ended up way busier and crazier than I intended it to be. Funny thing is, the chaos is due to just about everything else but the newborn. This is the reality: she is easy, but getting everything else to fall back into place takes a while. The song below really speaks to me in times like these; I hope it encourages you other mothers out there, too. To hear the completed song, buy the album. I highly recommend it.