Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Life's too short"

Warning: Prepare for a rant
We keep getting these fliers from a company saying, "Life's too short to clean your own home."
For one thing, I don't appreciate a mailbox-full of junk mail. But the big problem with this sort of thinking is what they don't say: "Life's too short to clean your own home, but it's all right if you clean someone else's." Don't get me wrong - I understand that there is a lot of value to having some extra help around the house, and there is certainly nothing wrong with paying for that help. It's the mindset that's the trouble. The mindset that says, "I'm going to take the easiest route, regardless of the cost." It says, "I have better things to do with my time than care for my home and family."
Why is life too short to clean your own home? Because it's work? So what? Do the work together, as a family. Sing songs together as you sweep. Laugh together as you do the dishes. Train your children to do these chores, to be your helpers, to prepare for caring for their own homes one day.
I'm aware that my thoughts are not exactly popular, and I may have stepped on some toes. If so, I'm sorry, but I refuse to be told that life is too short to care for my blessings. As far as I can tell, life is too short to continually abdicate responsibility to "the professionals". No one else is going to treasure my treasures like I will, no matter how well they're paid.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Going to the fair

A week or so ago, Toby and I made our first foray into homeschool curriculum fairs, our maiden voyage, if you will. It was, I must say, rather exciting. So many books and cool stuff in one place!

One thing was a must - sign up with HSLDA. If you homeschool, you should seriously consider it.

Next we took a little tour. I was determined not to come in with the wild-eyed look of someone ready to buy everything pushed in my direction, so I tried to do a little advanced prep. I made a plan the week before of what I was thinking of doing for next year. Then I made a list of things I wanted to check out as possibilities. We worked our way around with military precision, making notes and comparing this writing material with that, what grammar is more age-appropriate, etc.

Then we reached Queen Homeschool Supply. And stopped. And dwadled. And dithered. And quite unexpectedly, fell in love. It hadn't featured on my list of things to check out, but I have no idea why not. I'd heard of them before, and thought their stuff looked great, but it went no further. But when Toby saw it - and thank goodness for the direction and perception of my dear husband - the search was over.

So, for the homeschoolers or wanna-bes or anyone else vaguely interested, Queen is worth a look. Believeing family, committed homeschoolers with plenty of experience, and the most beautiful picture studies I've seen.

Looking forward to next year already.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where to begin?

There's been a lot going on the past week or so.

First up, The (Un)offical Little House on the Prairie Dress. I don't really know what I was thinking with this one. The pattern is great. Fits perfectly. Highly recommended to any nursing mama. Fabric is cute. Simple. Understated. The two things together? I put it on and wonder Mary and Laura are while I distantly hear Charles calling from the wagon "Caroline!". Not good. So if anyone needs a colonial-period dress, you know who to come to.
Next, the eggs have hatched! Our little mama robin has 2 or 3 little hatchlings that we've been keeping a keen eye on. Not much to see yet but fluff and skin, but they're growing!

Toby's mum and her partner Peter have been with us for about a week now, and have left this morning to go to Florida for a few weeks. We've had a couple of pleasant outings with them, namely to Eden Mill and Longwood Gardens. Both wonderful days out.

A pair of billy goats, these two are

A very impressive tree house, one of three at Longwood. Rest assured, Toby took notes on all three

We should have taken some photos of the Children's Garden, which was awesome. But with all the water, it's probably best we didn't.

Sadly, we received the news that on Saturday morning, my maternal grandmother went home to Jesus. She's been suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia for sometime, and had recently suffered a series of miniature strokes, so it comes as no surprise. My mother was blessed to be with her, holding her hand as she died. Please keep my family in your prayers while we all adjust to the loss of such a beloved woman.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Made and Unmade


Toby's neck collar (from here), for his birthday. Sewed the seam as instructed and it was too tight. Panic. Try to cut the seam to fix, end up cutting into the body. Despair. Gnashing of teeth. Mend pretty well. Sew on buttons and realize it's still pretty snug. Hope he looses inches off the neck before next winter...

I used a beautiful 100% Baby Alpaca from Ewenique Yarns in Bel Air. I love those ladies - they're helpful, kind, and let my kids use the swift. Sweet.

A pillowcase for Zoanna, to bless a soldier. Needed to match stripey sheets. Went for plain with a few spots to cover the stitching. Got to employ the serger. Happiness ensues.


My calculator, after Noah had "played" with it for a few minutes. I'd like to think that this is the great engineering brain at work, but honestly, any monkey can break something. I'll definitely let you know if he manages to fix it, though...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Big Day

Today is Toby's birthday, an occasion also shared by HM Queen Elizabeth, he once was pleased to share.

When I was in high school, I first heard of Anne Bradstreet, Puritan poet. I read the poem she addressed to her husband and thought, "One day, I'm going to marry a man I can say these things to." Low and behold, I did just that very thing on August 16, 1997.
We've been married 11 years now, and I can honestly say that I love him more now than the day we married - each passing year has only sweetened the deal.

If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee. If ever wife was happy in a man, compare with me, ye women, if you can. I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold or all the riches that the east doth hold. My love is such that rivers cannot quench, nor ought but love from thee give recompetence. Thy love is such I can no way repay. The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. Then while we live, in love let's so persevere that when we live no more, we may live ever. Anne Bradstreet

Happy Birthday, Babe

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nap time

Toby and I were enjoying our post-Sunday-lunch nap (while the big girls were playing outside and the little two were asleep) when we became aware of some clinking and scuffling. Cracked an eyelid to see this:

My first born not only brought me a snack, picked me flowers, and straightened my nightstand, but she did the same for Toby as well. Never mind that she picked my beloved peonies that haven't yet bloomed, or that a pile of books she had neatly stacked crashed to the ground and nearly gave us a heart attack. My sweet girl wanted to bless her mommy and daddy for the sheer joy of doing so. What a blessing she is, too.

Phase 1 - Complete

On Friday, our friends sailed off into the Wild Blue Yonder. Actually, they flew home to Birmingham. But we had a marvellous time with them.

On their last full day with us, we took the children to Port Discovery. The kids had a great time, the adults just kept doing head counts all day. (We got a number of looks that said "One man + two women + 8 kids = Mormon family.)
The most hair-raising part of the day wasn't the city driving or getting a touch lost on the way out, or even when Noah wandered off for a few minutes (though Toby and I apologize afresh to our parents for doing the same!). No, it was when the woman who is afraid of heights decided to climb up this...

...and down this...
...with this view below... that her Anna wouldn't be scared. And not only did it not work, but I had to work very
hard to not completely flip out while in the net-tube. Nearly shamed myself, though...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Having fun - with food

Broom's Bloom (I think that's the right way round) makes just about the best ice cream we've ever had, so we make it a point to take all guests for a visit. I think they all had fun - after all, we're talking 8 kids, ice cream and fields to run through. Not a bad gig, overall.
What a patient dog - kids just seem to love that beard
Easter was lovely. We celebrated our empty tomb and Risen Lord with an Easter egg hunt after church and lunch. Of course.

And finally, the mama bird. Such a diligent mama, protecting her eggs with this strange creature coming so close.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Some goings-on

All is quiet here because it's all happenin' at home! Throw together out-of-town (or in our case, out-of-country) guests, a couple of birthdays, Easter, lots of days out, a couple of projects and a couple of nights away, and you've got one busy household, I can tell you.
For now, I'm working on the February Lady Sweater (for myself, thank you very much), and a little something for Toby for his birthday, but I won't spoil the surprise.
We've got a new mama robin and egg in a new nest under the deck - same as last year. It's rather nice to see them again.
Our time at the Sovereign Grace Pastors' Conference was wonderful - truly. The thing that got me immediately upon arrival was how joyful everyone was, and so happy to serve. Great preaching, marvellous worship, and fabulous fellowship - we loved it.
Rest assured, photos are coming...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen!

Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Isaiah 49:13-16

Happy Easter, everyone!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A new knit

I've been working on this cowl for a little while, and am pleased to report that I finished it this morning while listening to the reading lesson. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good photo of it, even though we all took turns modelling. Mind you, I did get some good photos of Abigail, so that's a success.

I must remember to explain that awful dress soon...

Noah didn't really get the concept and promptly got tangled up in the thing. Started to freak out, which was kind of funny.

Obviously, a coerced photo isn't a pretty one, but a mama's gotta do what a mama's gotta do

When our photo shoot was finally over, I requested my new piece of wearable bliss back, to which Abi replied, "Mine."


Thursday, April 2, 2009

More nasty

I don't think I could ever be hungry enough to eat something that looks like this. Truly grim.

Impressionist art

A little bit of backstory:

On Monday, Toby and I are going away for a couple of days and leaving the kids with friends (thanks, all of you!). Eleanor, at this point, is still nursing, though only a couple times a day. Still, to keep things going well while we're away, I need to express.

Abigail asked to watch. To preserve my modesty and a shred of dignity, I declined. So in honor or retribution (I'm not sure which), she drew me a picture that I'd like to share with all of you.

Lactation, by Abigail Ruth Gayner.

Notice the machine, including the cord plugged into the wall. Seated rather stiffly with feet flexed.

I've called this impressionism, as the merry countenance was simply her impression of the moment.
I certainly wasn't smiling or waving.