Thursday, February 26, 2009

Magic in the kitchen.

A very delicious Sour Cream Apple Pie. I've made several different types of apple pie, but is defintely my (current) favorite variation.

Check out the link, then take a few minutes to give it a shot - you won't be sorry.


Marriage to a Difficult Man

What a good book. Truly. When I started it, I knew little to nothing about the Edwards', only that he was a Puritan preacher and they had a lot of children. What a blessing this couple was, not only to those they directly ministered to, but to us, who enjoy the fruit of their ministry hundreds of years later!
Two most common questions I'm asked is, "Why are you reading this book?" (with a pointed look at Toby) and "What made him so difficult?". As to the first, you quickly realize it's not a self-help book (regardless of what the Barnes & Noble clerks think), but a love story - between a husband, a wife and their God. It's also the story of the massive impact they made on generations of believers - they children they trained in godliness, the countless guests they ministered to, and the unpacking of God's truth for those who believe.
As for what made him difficult, it seems that Jonathan Edwards was not blessed with certain social graces that one would expect in a man of his position. He was not harsh or demeaning; he adored his wife and children; he had a great love for the people of his flock. What he did not have was the desire to impress or the interest in meeting social expectations for their own sake. He didn't sit and make small talk with parishioners, he studied. He travelled to preach when it was considered extravagant to do so. He told his church what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear. But when a travelling minister needed counsel, they got it. When a church memeber lost a loved one, he wept with them. When his family needed him, he tended to them with joy.
In all of this, I think what made him "difficult" was really Sarah's ability to tend the social graces her husband was so lacking in. She was well aware of and cared what others thought, so when her husband made choices or delivered sermons that were not popular, she often felt the community's displeasure in a way that Jonathan did not. Yet God was faithful (as always) in refreshing and preparing them both for the difficulties that would ultimately remove them from their church in Northampton.
I shall not share any more, for it would likely spoil the reading for you. You'll have to get into it yourself! My mom got me my copy from Vision Forum (thanks Mom!). Check it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I am second

This is Stephen Baldwin's testimony. Once you've looked at his, check out some of the others. It's pretty neat to see the many different people God calls to himself. And to think that I'm one of them... Awesome.

Coming soon...

...a short review of Marriage to a Difficult Man. For now, a couple photos of my daughter on the receiving end of a (terribly cute) Sharpie attack: And something I never thought I'd see - my son, sitting still and reading! Oh happy day!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fighting stinks

My children were bickering, believe it or not.
Me: "Would you all stop fighting?! I hate it when you argue - it stinks!"
Abi: "It stinks?"
Me: "Yes, it's awful."
Abi: "I know it's awful, but I don't see how it makes a bad smell..."
Love that girl.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A new 'do

So, I'm sitting in my chair, playing with a snuffly baby. Anna comes and asks me a question. As she turns go, I spot something. "Anna, what happened to your hair??" Her: panic-y look, "Nothing." "Anna, did you cut your hair?!" "I don't know." Me: looking over the glasses, "Did. You. Cut. Your. Hair?" "Yesssss...?"

(The despair is palpapable, no?)

It's bad enough to need correcting, so following a traumatic explanation of how she will now have short hair, followed by a tearful session with the scissors, we have a new hair do that everyone's happy with. Now, to put a padlock on the scissors...

(So cute - I've been grinning at her all the time!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ugh - and yet...

Noah's sick. Ellie's sick. I'm tired - up half the night with Eleanor. Big girls are a little stir crazy. Toby's out in the wet and cold. Ugh - and yet...
The Lord is good to us. He's provided soup to warm and fill us, blankets to snuggle under, and crafts to entertain us. When it's all too much, beds to bunk down in. He's given me more love for and patience with my children - heads are kissed, rather than rolling. A night with a sleepless baby means cuddles, baby-head smell, and quiet Internet time. Awful weather means hunkering down, keeping warm, and taking things easy. And poorly children means they let me hold them more than normal.
It's not what I wanted or planned for my day, but His ways are higher than mine. I'll see what His plans are for me, infinitely better than my own.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Makin' some noise

And that's not all she has to say on the subject...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Playing catch up

Just a few details that I've been forgetting to share...

Like a felted sweater repurposed to fingerless mittens for me and my son. I'll let you know what I do with the rest of it.

The reversable dresses for the girls' ballet recital. Which, may I say, went very well. So proud of my sweet ballerinas.

A new hat, to replace the old one he lost.

A model shaduf, made from bamboo skewers and playdough, for history.

And finally, what happens when you leave your two-year-old in a room with baby powder for more than 30 seconds.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Where, O Where, Does the Time Go?

I seem to have something of a reputation. No, not for that. Apparently, there are some kind, somewhat deluded souls who think that I am a good time manager. Just to burst that little bubble, I'm not. I am a champion time-waster. I can spend the whole day doing a whole lot of nothing, or spend it trying to do so many things that nothing actually gets done. I do have one tool, however, that makes things happen. It's this:

In a word: schedule. In two: time budget. Use whichever works for you. This one is rather specific, as schedules go, because it's specifically designed for homeschoolers, particularly helpful for families with several children, though it can be used for anyone.

Most people look at the schedule on my pantry door and say things like: "Wow, do you really do all this?" or "Wow, do you really get up that early?" Generally the answers are mostly and mostly. The beauty of this is once you break up your day into smaller chunks, you can better see where your time is going, and you often find you have more time to do the things you want to do. Rather than spending an hour and a half killing time on the Internet (facebook, anyone?), you schedule a half hour, check out the stuff you really want to, and learn a little discipline into the bargain. This is how you find the time to do all the hobbies, projects and outings you want to do, and how it affects your family.

A common reaction is "Oh, I'd get so obsessed by it, I don't know how I'd cope with interruptions. And it looks so daunting!" First, it can be daunting, but the book is great in helping you to set it up, slowly and methodically. It's a bit of work, but worth it. Second, it needs to be treated as a tool, not a master. It's designed by you to work for you. At no point should we become slaves to a tool that is meant to help us. There are days that I completely ignore it and we all go off and do something different. And that's fine with me, because even when we do that, I'm aware that we're not drifting aimlessly. There's something in place that we'll come back to tomorrow.

So. The Maxwells do a great job with this book and their others that follow a similar vein. However, you can make your own. It's simply a matter of looking at the time you have, and carefully working in your priorities to fit. But don't forget to pray over what God would want you to have as a priority, and include your children into the schedule. That way you know that the children are resting while you sew, rather than dumping Perler beads all over the house. For example.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Another (Magazine) Recipe

Well, after storing this recipe for almost 3 years, I finally got around to trying it out on my care group. They didn't seem to mind it too much, so here goes:
Maple Pecan Bake
You'll need:
1 pack (about 375g if you can find it, but less is okay) stoned chopped dates
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp instant coffee
75g/3oz soft butter
225g/8oz caster sugar
1 lg egg
1 tsp vanilla
275g/10oz/2 cups plain flour
1.5tsp baking powder
100g shelled pecans, roughly chopped
For the Icing:
275g/10oz icing (confectioner's) sugar
1 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1tbsp boiling water
1 tbsp maple syrup
75g/3oz shelled pecans
1.Grease and line a 9X12 inch baking tin and preheat oven to 190 C/375 F. Put chopped dates into a bowl and pour over 11 fl oz boiling water. Sprinkle over the baking soda and coffee and leave to stand.
2. Put butter, sugar, egg and vanilla into food processor and whiz for a minute until creamy. Drain dates, keeping liquid. Add flour, a pinch of salt, baking powder and liquid from the dates to the processor and whiz until combined. Add dates and pecans and pulse until nuts and fruit are chopped but not pureed. Tip into tin, smooth and bake for 25-30 min, until done.
3. For the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, add the dissolved coffee and maple syrup and mix with 1.5 - 2 tbsp of water to make nice and smooth.
4. Once the cake is cooled, freeze it for later without icing or spread the icing on top and decorate with pecans.
Yum yum. Credit to Sainsbury's Magazine, March 2006.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Abigail Gayner, Astronomer

I think the International Union of Astronomers are going to have their hands full. Abigail has decided that their 2006 decision to change the definition of a planet so that Pluto no longer classifies as a planet was incorrect. In her opinion, Pluto should still be a planet because she "likes it and it's got a nice orbit". Makes sense to me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Home safe and sound

After 10 days away (almost 4 of which were spent travelling), our Toby is home - with lots of photos! Here are a few...

Traffic in Varanasi

People arriving for one of the clinics

Church (women on right, men on left)

Beautiful children

Crossing the floating bridge

An outdoor evening service

More beauty

A school - seemingly plonked in the middle of nowhere. Also cheerfully repurposed as a clinic. Very kind.

Very organized poop - Cow dung is formed, stacked, dried and used for fuel.

Wouldn't want to be dealing with his fuel, though.

And there you have it. I'm sure Toby'll have more stories to share. I couldn't do it myself - I wouldn't do them justice. Suffice it to say, God is good.