Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Moments from Our Week

Weeks roll by quite quickly here, and we are getting more settled.  We still have unopened boxes and some unsettled rooms, but that will just take time.  We are still trucking along with homeschooling, so when we wrap that up, I'll have more time to finish unpacking.

In the meantime, life moves right along.  Here are some moments...

My oldest son found this flower growing alongside a parking lot and asked me to take a picture.  Really gorgeous flower full of passion, don't you think?

Love the Lone Star!

We had an amazing first visit to our library.  This just happens to be the most beautiful library I've ever seen, and it held quite the wow factor for us.

And there's a whole section with homeshooling resources, curriculum, computers, etc.  Texas is very supportive of its homeschoolers, and the library reflected this.

There were all sorts of interesting things, like cake pans and puppets for checking out.  Here's quite an impressive station for coffee and other drinks.  And on the other side of the glass window is an area dedicated to the littlest ones, with board books in colorful bins, tiny tables with educational toys and computers for parents.  Our youngest daughter kept saying WHOA in this room!

Caught a decent photo of this roadrunner pecking on the glass of the library window.

Here's everyone in a tree in our front yard.

Tried something different for a protein-packed breakfast...baked eggs.  The first time I baked these in a greased cookie tin, but it was a nightmare to scrub out afterward.  So, I made a trip to HEB (love love love that Texas store, by the way) and bought some no-stick parchment paper liners.  Baked perfectly...and sure enough, no stick.  Just line your cupcake tin with the parchment paper liners.  Then fill each cup with cheese, sausage, etc....then one egg...and whatever spices you like.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until eggs are cooked as you like them.  Super easy on busy school mornings, and clean-up is just as easy (as long as you use the parchment paper!).

Our artist has been honing her skills, perfecting faces.

And little bit has been busy discovering cause and effect on her own.  She does this every night, so last night I grabbed the camera.  In our master bathroom, we have a built-in laundry thingy.

She LOVES using this novelty!  Just open the top, throw your clothes in, and they land in the laundry basket below.

 But how much more fun it is to open the top AND the bottom so that you can actually see what happens to your clothes when they drop.

Every night she goes through this process, and every night she has the best time!  Cause and effect...self-taught.  Forget the worksheets with the boring match-which-photos-go-together.  Real life is a much, much better teacher.

And the homemade wheat tortillas that didn't get eaten in time (which rarely ever happens!) became a very cool science specimen for mold.  The boys loved it!

And today marked the first day that Daddy left home to go down into the city to work.  He is working from home about 99% of the time.  But with things shifting around for the day, the girls and I settled in with the Anne of Avonlea movie this afternoon (my favorite movie of all time, which the girls blessed me with today) and some serious nail decorating time.  The artist did all of our toenails.  Little bit's nails have a Cinderella theme (complete with a little jewel, which thrilled her to pieces)...the artist chose a Minnie Mouse theme for her own toes (cute, right?)...and Mama's toenails were decorated with a French tip and some very fun flowers.

Missing my Georgia friends as well as our extended family...and sending love from the Lone Star State...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sweet Sixteen

 There have been many people awaiting photos of the recent Sweet Sixteen celebration, and I haven't sent a single photo to anyone.  (Unpacking, cleaning, organizing has become my life over here!  Surely soon it will be finished!)  I thought I'd take a few minutes and throw some photos up on the blog with a quick commentary.

I usually serve breakfast in bed for the birthday person, but her brothers had a surprise movie planned for her breakfast.  So, early that morning, I slipped out the door to buy some donuts, kaloaches, flowers and balloons.  I did serve her hot tea in her bed, so that tradition kept its grounds.

Her favorite movie (Prince Caspian) made for a very exciting breakfast.

While they were off to the land of Narnia, I made her cake.  She chose a homemade chocolate cake.

While the movie was playing, I walked in to find her all set up on the floor with her mirror from her bedroom.  Sixteen means lots of time with make-up, hair and girlie things.  Ahhhh...when did she grow up?  Seems only a handful of years ago that I held her in my arms for middle-of-the-night feedings.

She chose some really great big-granule sugar for coating the cake, so I worked to get that on.

This stuff has a fairy-like quality.  Isn't it fun?

She and her brother worked on making fondant roses.

And here's my artist arranging her 16 roses on her cake.

I wrote Sweet Sixteen in white frosting, and voila...cake was finished.

She chose for her birthday meal: grilled bacon burgers (yes, folks, you heard that correctly...her Mama actually made pork...and yes, I did make my children take some probiotics to off-set the bacteria!).  She also chose baked sweet potatoes loaded with good stuff, and chips and queso ( IS Texas).

She decided that this year she was going to slowly blow out one candle at a time.  Of course, she didn't tell me ahead of time, and it quite ruined the sports shot mode I had placed the camera on...but that's okay...I rolled with it.

A very fun night for her.  And I must say that I love this sweet sixteen girl!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

He Replants the Desolate Places

The number seven in the Bible signifies completion.  Mother's Day, May 11th, marks 7 years since my son Elijah was birthed into Heaven.  They call it a stillbirth, and in the physical sense, it was very heart monitor hooked up, no baby cries...and even the nurses were hushed, not quite sure what to say to me.  And in the spiritual sense, it was still.  There's just a place where God is all...the great I AM...and in that place, He speaks stillness into the spirit...peace that passes all understanding.  But in the emotional sense, Elijah's birth was anything but calm and still.  It was with fierce heaving of an intense storm on a mighty ocean.  It brought me to sheer emptiness in a way that nothing has ever done before or since.   

But God is good.  And no pain is ever wasted.  Multiple blessings have littered the path that led out of that experience.  And today marks 7 years.  I feel a very real sense of completion in the full-circle of these 7 years.  

This little ornament was given to me by my friend Beth shortly after Elijah's birth.  Today it sits on my bedside table.

 "For the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places, and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.  Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and melodious song." --Isaiah 51:3

"This is what the Lord God says: On the day I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the ruins will be rebuilt.  The desolate land will be cultivated, instead of lying desolate in the sight of everyone who passes by.  Then they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden.  The cities that were once ruined, desolate, and destroyed are now fortified and inhabited.  Then the nations that remain around you will know that I, Yahweh, have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate.  I, Yahweh, have spoken and I will do it'." --Ezekiel 36:33-36

God is in the business of rebuilding, replanting, cultivating, comforting.  He sees the pain, even the hidden places that we cannot or dare not share with others.  He sees, and He knows.  And if we simply wait on Him, He will deliver us.  And in the desolate place, He will replant and will cultivate.  His melodious song WILL be in us.  We need only to see it with eyes of faith.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Settling in

Moving is a tiresome event that never seems to come to an end.  Slowly, steadily boxes are unpacked.  And each room, each shelf, each nook and cranny is in chaotic upheaval until organized.  Meanwhile, life does go on.  Boxes have to wait, because meals need to be made.  Laundry piles up.  Groceries need to be bought.  Books need to be read aloud.  So, the unpacking process goes very slowly.  

But it is more than unpacking.  More than organizing.  It is creating home.  I will come back to this in future posts as I share photos of our progress.

For now, here are a handful of photos to let you peek into our days.

Oh, and I have a future blog post whirling in my mind about Charlotte Mason's idea that "education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."  I want to pick this quote apart someday soon and illustrate it in photos.  For now, just take a look at what my children's work space looked like last week when we started doing lessons before everything was unpacked and organized...  COMPLETE CHAOS!  

But before you judge the poor dears, take a look at what the room looked like!

Seriously, who can operate in such a disaster zone?!  So, their work space reflected the atmosphere of the entire room.  Education really IS an atmosphere.  Okay, more on that later...

As I said, life moves on, even with boxes still unpacked.  The kitchen was the first room that I tamed.  It really is the heart of the home in many ways.  So, at 3 times during our days, no matter what the state of unpacking in other rooms may be, we can meet in the kitchen for some down time together.  

The rhythm and routine come back into motion as tables are set...

And meals are prepared...   This particular meal was roast, mashed potatoes, onions/green chiles/poblano peppers, and an organic mixed greens salad.

Sometimes it's the little extras that make all the difference...the colors of the food, the way it's arranged, the bringing out of cloth napkins, the candles, the bread wrapped in a cloth in a basket.  All these things make mealtime special in a way that cannot be described in words.

And, not forgetting the practical side of things, of course...  The juice from the roast is collected in a mason jar and frozen for later...possibly for soup or gravy.

Life is moving along here...the chaotic slowly being tamed into the peaceful.