28 December 2007

Christmas Week in the Olive Grove

Happy 4th day of Christmas! 

I just love keeping Christmas as a season rather than a single day.  The local radio station may have stopped playing Christmas music, but all of my favourite cd's are getting a good work-out.  There may be no more "holiday specials" on television, but there are still quite a few in my Netflix queue.  There are more special books to read in the basket in the family room; the halls are decked with red and green and angels and gingerbread houses and folk, and the Magi are journeying toward the Creche.  Formal academic studies remain on hold while we relax, rejoice, and reflect.

Some highlights of this past week ~

  • reading through my signed copy of Susan Branch's Christmas Joy which arrived on Saturday

  • celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary on Sunday

  • baking oatmeal/cranberry cookies and pumpkin/spice cake (both vegan and whole-grain)

  • hanging lights and garland

  • putting out all of the angels and the nativity scene

  • reading the Christmas story from the Bible

  • making our traditional breakfast casseroles (and eating them)

  • seeing the gifts that the kids chose for each other and UncleB and their daddy and me ~ I am really proud of the amount of thought that they each put into it this year ~ they really considered the recipient and the results were delightful

  • taking the kids to the toy store and the book store to use their gift cards

  • watching Holiday Inn and White Christmas

  • listening to Christmas in the Northwest (even if it does make us homesick)

  • talking about the (possibly) hidden meanings behind the true love gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas

  • sleeping in

  • spending time with daddy and UncleB when they both had some time off from work

  • special Christmas devotional readings

  • no snow here in central Texas, but overnight temperatures have dipped below freezing several times this week

By the way, nobody that we invited was able to make it to our open house on Christmas Day, but we had a wonderful time anyway ~ just the 10 of us!

22 December 2007

Coffee, Shakespeare, Downtown Lights, Bubbly, and Music

That is how we marked Tibby's graduation.  Her Daddy and I took her downtown to her favourite coffee shop and presented her with her gift of The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  Afterward, we took a stroll up to the Capital, enjoying the Christmas lights along the way.  Then it was back home for a toast to the graduate (sparkling grape juice for the kids).  We said our goodnights, got back into the car, and headed to the late showing of August Rush where the three of us had the theatre completely to ourselves.  Tibby really enjoyed the movie, and said that it had been a great night.  I went to bed happy, knowing that she was happy.

21 December 2007

Humming Pomp and Circumstance...


Yes, I am now the very proud mother of a high school graduate.

20 December 2007

Thankful Thursday

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the precious gift of Your Son. 

Thank You, Jesus, for leaving Your glorious home in heaven and humbling Yourself to come down into this world. be born in a stable, walk among sinful men, be rejected, ridiculed, spat upon, beaten, and crucified for me. 

Thank You for conquering death by rising on the third day, so that I have the assurance of an eternal life with You.

Thank You for my adundant life.

19 December 2007

Keeping Advent

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

~Charles Wesley


17 December 2007

Her last week of high school!

Tibby began her last official week of high school today, and I am so very proud of her.  Yesterday at church they recognized her during the worship service and presented her with a new Bible.  Her Daddy prayed for her, and then the elders prayed for her; it was really nice.  When people ask her what she plans to do next she smiles and says, "READ!"   Well, why not; she's been doing that since she was barely three, and it has served her well.  She wants to get her driver's license and a car ~ which she has worked and saved diligently for.  Then she plans to start at the community college in the fall and eventually transfer to a university and major in literature or history with hopes to spend some time studying abroad.


It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

~e.e. cummings

What we are is God's gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God.

~Eleanor Powell

The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.

~Maya Angelou

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.


For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 1:6

13 December 2007

Holiday Homeschool Open House 2007


I will be keeping this post at the top of the page and updating it as I have time, so please visit often.

Please visit Tiany HERE (oops ~ try HERE instead) and join the festivities.

  • How do you keep Christ in Christmas?

We use the Advent season as a time of Bible study, devotion, and preparation ~ we talk about Jesus making His home in our hearts.

We look for opportunities to share with others about the Greatest Gift ever given ~ the True Reason for the season.

We keep santa out ~ although we do learn about Saint Nicholas ~ a real man who loved and served Jesus.

more to come...

  • Share some fun things you do with your family, traditions, is there  a new tradition you want to start?

We end our academic year at Thanksgiving.

I try to never shop the day after Thanksgiving.

On Saint Nicholas Eve we each decorate a new felt stocking and hang them along the stairs. (We don't have a fireplace.)  We usually open them on the morning of the 6th, but this year I had one child who really really wants to open them on Christmas morning, so that is what we are doing.

If we have a tree, we usually get it and/or decorate it on our wedding anniversary, which is  23rd of December.  This year we are planning on going to a nearby tree farm to get a "Charlie Brown tree" on the 22nd.

Although I am not Catholic, I have always wanted to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve.  Maybe this year...

We read the Christmas story out loud from the Bible either last thing Christmas Eve or first thing Christmas Morning or both.

We have a big Christmas Day brunch and open house.

I usually go out shopping early the day after Christmas.

We celebrate the twelve days of Christmas in some way; although, it has varied greatly from year to year.

I give my gifts to my children on Epiphany (or Three Kings Day).  I have done this for probably 15 years now, but have been trying to attach more meaning to it.  Well, thanks to a few of the other ladies who are participating in the Holiday Open House, I have found a wonderful resource here.  Thank you! (When I remember which blogs they were, I will mention them specifically.)

We begin a new academic year on or around 7 January.

more to come...

  • Share fun activities, projects, crafts, unit studies or websites you might incorporate into your homeschool/home.

Read Alouds ~ here is a list of books/stories/poems we are reading over the season:

  1. Amazing Peace ~ a Christmas poem by Maya Angelou

  2. The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas

  3. The Birth of Christ by Alfred Tennyson

  4. The Three Kings by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  5. So, Now is Come our Joyfulst Feast by George Wither

  6. Christmas in the Olden Time by Walter Scott

  7. Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

  8. The Christmas Carol by William Wordsworth

  9. The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen

  10. An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola

  11. The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim

  12. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

  13. Cranberry Christmas by Wende and Harry Devlin

  14. Rocking Horse Christmas by Mary Pope Osborne

  15. Country Angel Christmas by Tomie dePaola

  16. The Real Santa Clause by Marianna Mayer

  17. While Shepherds Watched by Jenni Fleetwood

  18. A Moon in my Teacup by Anita Riggio

  19. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

  20. The Animals' Gift by Szaboles deVajay

  21. King of Kings by Susan Hill

  22. The Night of Las Posadas by Tomid dePaola

  23. Lullaby for a Newborn King by Jozef Wilkon and Hermann Moers

  24. They Followed a Bright Star based on a poem by Joan Alavedra 

  25. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojcieshowski

  26. A Cowboy Christmas by Audrey Wood

  • Gifts~ Share gifts that you will be making, gifts from your kitchen, frugal ideas etc…

This year we have felt convicted to really get to know our neighbours, so we are going to be making goodie baskets for the 9 or 10 houses on our half-block.  We hope to deliver these next week.  There will be a loaf of pumpkin bread and a loaf of ginger bread and some cranberry oatmeal cookies.  We also will make a card and an ornament of some sort, and include an invitation to our Christmas day open house.  All of the details aren't yet sorted out, but we are really looking forward to doing this.

  • Food~ Please share a tried and true family recipe for the Holidays! Side dish, cookies, cake, appetizer, drink etc.

still to come...



11 December 2007

Our wonderful weekend

I wanted to tell you about this past Saturday and Sunday.  It seemed like a perfect December pre-Christmas weekend. 

On Saturday morning we went to our local Christmas Stroll, which was what I would call a street fair.  The weather was warm but not-too-hot, and we enjoyed walking and looking and tasting and picked up a few stocking stuffers and gifts.

When I got home that afternoon my new coffee maker had arrived; I am so pleased to have this in time for our Christmas Day open house.

Saturday evening all three of my teens had babysitting jobs, so the four youngers watched The Bells of St. Mary's with me.  Then it was a quick ooh-ahh-look-at-the-lights drive with Daddy, baths, and on to bed.

On Sunday we went to church, and the worship was wonderful.  We had two dear families who left our local body to plant an urban church back visiting with us, and it felt so good to have them there again.  Then it was on to the children's Bible class and Christmas program practice.  We had some good prayer time with the kids this week.  After church the kids all stayed and we fed them a gourmet hot dog lunch then turned them loose on the playground to burn of some steam while inside the sanctuary the puppet stage and choir risers were set up for our dress/set rehearsal.  The rehearsal went great!  There is so much more to that statement then meets the eye; you see, our church has been in a season of testing -pruning -loss -grief -transition -whatever, and these 30-odd kids have been through the wringer.  There was such a spirit of cooperation during this rehearsal (something that I had prayed for specifically and out loud during our class time) even with the 4 & 5 year-old angels and shepheards who had neither seen nor heard any of the program prior to this.  I left the church at 3:40 Sunday afternoon feeling like I was truly filled with Christmas joy!

--And a cold front was rolling in; the high that day had been 81.

Our church does not have Sunday evening services, so on many Sunday nights my husband and most of the kids go downtown for services here.  I usually stay home with one or two of the kids who prefer to stay home as well.  But this week we all went, because we were going to Bethlehem afterwards.  Now, some you may have heard of or heard this guy, who is the lead worshipper at this church.  And his rendition of Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone is one of my favourites.  Well, we sang this on Sunday night and unemotional me was definitely moved.  Then there was a great sermon by Pastor Matt.

After the service we scurried to the van ~ boy, was  it getting cold ~ remember the day's high was 81 ~ and we set out for Bethlehem.  After a little over an hour's drive we arrived.  Thankfully, it was not crowded, most likely due to the weather, which didn't bother us non-native-Texans.  We saw Roman soldiers, a tax collector, a Jewish Priest, a candle-maker, a basket-weaver, a black-smith, an inn-keeper, chickens, sheep, and camels; we had some wonderful bread and went back for seconds, then thirds.  Finally, we saw the star and followed it until we found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

As we were walking back to our van we noticed a sign at the local bank with a temperature reading ~ 37 degrees ~ it was beginning to feel a little more like Christmas.  It had been 7+ hours since any of us had eaten, so we made a quick stop at the first place we saw for some cheapie burgers and little apple pies, and then a long, quiet, foggy drive home to bed.  We actually didn't even do our Advent wreath until last night, because all of the kids, even the older ones, were so exhausted Sunday night.

It was just such a wonderful, memorable weekend that I wanted to blog about it.


I won a door prize!

Wow!  I actually clicked on my own name to make sure it did, in fact, go to my blog!

Thank you Tiany, and thank you Susan Branch!  I will be receiving this lovey book!

Okay, I think that is enough exclamation points for one post, but, Yay!


01 December 2007


let all mortal flesh keep silence...

and with fear and trembling stand...

ponder nothing earthly minded...

 Not all of these are strictly Advent Hymns (those are hard to find!)), but I am trying to find songs that are at least quiet and contemplative to help set the tone for this season.

(I made the banner here.)

30 November 2007

Happy Birthday, J~Man!

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the blessing of J~Man.  Thank You for bringing him into our lives.  Thank You for the things he has taught me and all the fun we have had over the past ten years.  Thank You for his warm smile and his sense of humour.  Thank You for his intelligence and his diligent pursuit of the truth and his searching big blue eyes.  Thank You for his thoughtfulness and compassion.  Thank You for his desire to follow You and be like Jesus.  Thank You for him.

Blessed is J~Man
         Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
         Nor stands in the path of sinners,
         Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
         And in His law he meditates day and night.
 He shall be like a tree
         Planted by the rivers of water,
         That brings forth its fruit in its season,
         Whose leaf also shall not wither;
         And whatever he does shall prosper.

~Psalm 1:1-3

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

~Romans 15:13

29 November 2007

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

  1. A trustworthy friend with an auto repair shop

  2. A commission check coming tomorrow ~ so we can pay for the repairs

  3. 10 healthy people in our home again

  4. Brothers & sisters in the Lord

  5. Dear friends who are far away and greatly missed

  6. Neighbours who we are slowly getting to know

  7. The blessing of praying for others

 Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
      Call upon His name;
      Make known His deeds among the peoples!

 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
      Talk of all His wondrous works!

 Glory in His holy name;
      Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!

 Seek the LORD and His strength;
      Seek His face evermore!

~1 Chronicles 16:8-11

posted in Giving Thanks

28 November 2007

Thankful Wednesday

A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.

~John Bunyan -- born on this date in 1628


~The Lamb~

~by William Blake -- born on this date in 1757

   Little lamb, who made thee?
   Does thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
   Little lamb, who made thee?
   Does thou know who made thee? 

   Little lamb, I'll tell thee;
   Little lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild,
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
   Little lamb, God bless thee!
   Little lamb, God bless thee!


Thank You, Father in heaven, for the most precious gift of Your Son ~ Whose nativity we will soon be celebrating ~ and Whose return we watch for.

posted in Giving Thanks

27 November 2007

Thankful Monday & Tuesday


I went to Half Price Books and found one missing Magic Treehouse Book for the set I gave Lulapalooza for his birthday.  I also was able to pick up a couple more books for J-Man for his upcoming birthday.  I found one book that we can use in history studies next year, and I found not only a prayer book (something for which I have been on the lookout for a long time ~ and it starts with Advent!), but a copy of Devotional Classics by Richard Foster as well.  All of this cost less than $20.  Thank You, God, for these little blessings and the many more that you send my way daily.


Well, I have three sick girls, but since the Bible says to give thanks in everything, that is what I will try to do.  I am very thankful that I am able to be here at home when my children feel icky and need mama.  I am thankful that my husband wants me to stay home rather than work somewhere else for a paycheck.  I am thankful that even though his job does not pay as much as we might like, it pays enough for us to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table and me at home.  I am thankful for the blessing of my children and the honour of caring for them.  I am thankful that the girls just have a simple stomach virus which will pass in a day or so.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

25 November 2007

Thankful Sunday

Psalm 95:1-6

 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.

 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.


posted in Giving Thanks

24 November 2007

Thank You, God, for Lulapalooza!

  1. Thank You for his birth on this date 8 years ago.

  2. Thank You for his wispy white-blonde hair and green eyes.

  3. Thank You for his gusty laugh.

  4. Thank You for his exuberant embraces and sweet kisses.

  5. Thank You for his keen intellect, artistic aptitude, and athletic ability.

  6. Thank You for his quiet independence.

  7. Thank You for his desire to know, love, and serve You more.

  8. Thank You for the overwhelming blessing and privilege of being his mama.

My son, eat honey because it is good,
      And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; 
      So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
      If you have found it, there is a prospect,
      And your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 24:13-14 

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:2-8

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18 


23 November 2007

Thankful Friday

We had a lovely Thanksgiving Day here.  The food was delicious, and a good time was had by all.  It was especially nice that UncleB was a part of it this year. 

Now, continuing my blessing countdown:

  1. I am thankful for my Heavenly Father who loves me and chose me and saved me and blesses me every day in every way.

  2. I am thankful for two faithful parents who brought me up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD.

  3. I am thankful for a dear husband who tries to love me as Christ loved the church.

  4. I am thankful for 7 children who fill my life with joy.

  5. I am thankful that I have everything that I need.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

~Ephesians 3:20-21

posted in Giving Thanks

22 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

"The joy of enjoying
And the fullness of living
Are found in the heart
That is filled with thanksgiving."

~Helen Steiner Rice~

The turkey is roasting in the oven.  The cranberries are simmering on the stove.  The cornbread I made last night is sitting on the counter waiting to become dressing.  O Special One's pumpkin cheesecake is chilling.  J-Man is in the kitchen busily slicing apples for pie...

For food that stays our hunger,
For rest that brings us ease,
For homes where memories linger,
We give our thanks for these.


Later there will be scrubbing, peeling, boiling, roasting, and mashing of potatoes and sweet potatoes and assembling and baking of the dressing.  Frap will make the green bean casserole...

Father we thank Thee for this food,
for health and strength and all things good.
May others all these blessings share,
and hearts be grateful everywhere. 

~Traditional, circa 1800s~

And , of course, we will make crescent rolls and mushroom gravy.  Sergeant Elf will make the pumpkin pie and Frap a razzleberry one.

~Moravian Blessing~

Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be
And bless these gifts
Bestowed by Thee.
And bless our loved ones everywhere,
And keep them in Your loving care.

21 November 2007

Thankful Wednesday

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

~Colossians 3:15 


I am thankful today for:

    1. Toodles' enthusiasm

    2. Lulapalooza's integrity

    3. J-Man's diligence

    4. Sergeant Elf's dependability

    5. O Special One's courage

    6. Frap's faithfulness

    7. Tibby's determination


posted in Giving Thanks

20 November 2007

Thankful Tuesday

Today I am thankful...

  1. for a roof over our heads

  2. for food to eat

  3. for good health

  4. for friends who care

  5. for my abundant life

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. 


posted in Giving Thanks

19 November 2007

Thankful Monday

In honour of Thanksgiving this week I want to make a daily gratitude post.  Counting my blessings is always a good thing to do.

I am thankful for...

  1. a great academic year and lots of wonderful time with my kids

  2. a new gymnastics academy that opened in our neighbourhood and offered quite an affordable class to homeschoolers, and our incredible coach ~ Miss Chris

  3. the internet ~ where vegan baking recipes are just a click away ~ so that Lulapalooza can enjoy treats just like everybody else without having a severe asthma attack and dying

  4. pumpkins and sweet potatoes and turkeys and organic farmers

  5. used bookstores

  6. a Godly mother whose birthday just happens to be today ~ Happy Birthday, Mom!

"Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more--a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise."

--George Herbert

posted in Giving Thanks

16 November 2007

In Memoriam

R.H.W. 1926-2002

I love my father as the stars - he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart. ~Adabella Radici

Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever. ~Author Unknown

Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor

There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994

Happy Birthday, Daddy ~ I miss you very much.

18 October 2007

Thankful Thursday

Rejoice always, 

pray without ceasing,

in everything give thanks;

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I have so very much to be thankful for:

  • uncleB is here, and God is using that to challenge, convict, strengthen, and grow all of us

  • hubby got a new job before we incurred any further debt

  • kids have been helping w/housework, and the house is looking good

  • I am finally able to teach 5th & 6th grade Bible Class the way it should be taught

  • academics are going well, and everyone is on track to wrap up the year before Thanksgiving

  • autumn weather is almost...really...about to be...just around the corner...

  • I am in awe of my children, and in love with my husband

  • My God is super-cool, and He loves me

posted in Giving Thanks

31 March 2007

I wrote a poem...

a rainy day
a cup of tea
a worthy book

my favourite chair
my cherished thoughts
my private nook

19 January 2007

A New Year

We started our new academic year on the 8th.  I always enjoy getting back into the routine.  This week was a bit of a challenge as we had three "ice and snow days" with daddy and the neighbor kids all home.  But our schedule is fairly relaxed anyway, and the kids had a lot of fun. 

I am still trying to work out some guidelines for computer usage, and I still have a few books on my "want to buy" list.

This year is somewhat of a milestone for two reasons:

    1. My oldest will graduate.

    2. My youngest is learning to read.

To every thing there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Ecclesiastes 3:1