Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stepping Our Way Through July

I always find myself saying, "We'll do _____ when things slow down."  I'm not sure how things are around your parts, but that just doesn't seem to happen around here.  Instead of trying to do an in-depth post, which I just can't find time for right now, I thought I would share our photos from July...so far.

A little mid-Summer flower buying.  I fell in love with the zinnias! They are so cheery and full of color!

A wonderful day at one of the Metro Parks in Toledo.

Autumn and Liberty do everything together.  For a DIY to make the Daisy Crown click here.

Annie loves learning and reading about Annie Oakley.  For our visit back to my hometown for the 4th of July, we stopped by her Memorial.

A whirlwind trip to Cleveland.

A stop by Lake Erie.  I love spending time around water.  Maybe I was a mermaid in a former life :)

Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen.
author unknown

I finally added some new felt cookies to my Etsy shop.  I really love sewing with felt, but I really don't like the promoting side of it.  I never really know how to describe the items in "wonderfully descriptive language that lets the shopper know the color, feel, texture..."  You get the idea :) Let's just say, that my felt cookies are wonderfully soft, lovely to look at and hold; and even better to play with.  My friend Angel opened a shop recently, and you can visit it here: Blessed2Sew.   It was the inspiration I needed to get them in the shop.

Life is never dull.  But, that's what makes it so great...the next adventure.  What have you been up to lately?  Any family vacations or visits?  Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Changing the World

"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits,
I dreamed of changing the world. 
 As I grew older and wiser I discovered
the world would not change.
So I shortened my sights somewhat
and decided to change only my country,
but it seemed immovable. 
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt,
I settled for changing my family, those closest to me.
But alas, they would have none of it.
And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed,
if I had only changed myself first,
then by example I might have changed my family.
From their inspiration and encouragement
I would have been able to better my country.
And who knows,
I might have even changed the world."

Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Taking A Second Look At The Roles of Boys and Girls

Woman and children first...What do you think about this? Is there any validity in todays world, or is that an antiquated view of men and women? With the recent 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and the mother of 4 boys and 3 girls, it got me to thinking...

Norman Rockwell

What will we teach our boys about chivalry?   Is it important?  Does the way we allow the interactions between brothers and sisters in our home matter?  We are training future husbands, fathers, employees, business partners, pastors, etc. The world we live in is so topsy-turvy. What once was a sign of being a gentleman is now considered overbearing. How can we teach them to live in the modern world yet hold onto the values, morals, and Godly standards the Bible talks about?

source unknown

What will we teach our girls about virtue?  Is it important?  At a time when the world is telling them to forsake all for the "hoots and whistles" of their peers, how do we show them that being folded in the loving arms of her family is all the "hoots" she needs until the "One" God has for her shows himself? How can we convince her that the things she will learn while living with us, like running a home, cooking a fine meal, showing love to her family, are not things to run from and be embarrased about? But are given to her by God so that when it is her turn to step into the role as wife and mother she will be more than prepared?  If God has something else for her outside the home, it will still be a blessing to her and her family to have these skills.

What are you teaching your children?  What things do you think are important as we train our children to become adults?  I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Are Children A Blessing Or A Nuisance

My husband and I were enjoying dinner at a restaurant one evening while our six-week-old daughter slept in her carrier. I noticed two elderly ladies seated at the table next to ours were admiring her. One spoke up. “Enjoy every stage of her childhood,” she began, and I waited for the usual “because they grow up so fast,” like so many others had said to me since her birth. Instead, the woman went on, “because each stage is worse than the one before it.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. What a negative thing to say to new parents!
I wish I could say that was the first and last time someone has been so disagreeable when advising me about parenthood, but it wasn’t. In fact, from the moment I announced to coworkers that I was pregnant, I’ve heard one disparaging thing about children and motherhood after another. Almost everywhere I go, I notice that children are seen as a nuisance. We live in a society that sees having more than two children as a financial and emotional drain. Abortion on demand is viewed as a necessity. Even our president has said that he wouldn’t want his daughters “punished with a baby” if they became pregnant before they were ready. Our culture’s mentality that children are a burden is evident.
As moms, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. When you take your kids to the grocery store, how often do you hear, “Wow, you have your hands full!” or, “Just wait until they’re teenagers!”?
I’m ashamed to say that I used to laugh and go along with this kind of talk. I’d agree with a chuckle. But lately, I’ve been reconsidering this approach.
After all, don’t the Scriptures speak of children as a blessing and a treasure? You’re probably familiar with Psalm 127:3: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
And didn’t Jesus welcome the children? “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 18:15-16).
God created us in His image, and He has designed childhood as part of His perfect plan for humanity. When He came to die for us, He came as a child. Clearly, He prizes children. And if God values them so much, shouldn’t we?
Now, I’m not saying that it’s never okay to admit that we’re having a rough day, or that we’re struggling with our role as moms. We should not try to portray our children as perfect, because they aren’t. However, we can choose to be honest while also valuing our children with our speech.
Living as Christian moms means being radically different than the culture around us, and the way we speak about our children should be no exception. As mothers who want to honor Christ, we should talk about our children the way God’s Word talks about them: as precious gifts who bear His image.
I have heard similar comments so often, too often.  Things like, "I can't stand the ones I have, I don't see how you do it with so many!"  It is so easy, at least for me, to take a defensive stand against others and their words,  but I like how Aubrie takes the offensive approach...looking at it through God's eyes makes all the difference.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  Psalm 127:3

You are in the very center of His will as you embrace His little ones to your heart and raise them to be mighty arrows for God's kingdom.   Be encouraged. And may you be filled with the joy of the Lord as you fulfill this mighty task in your home today.
Nancy Campbell

Women sigh for fame. They would be sculptors, and chisel out of the cold stone forms for beauty to fill the world with admiration of thier skill. Or they would be poets, to write songs to thrill a nation and to be sung around the world. But is any work in marble so great as her who has an immortal life laid in her hands to shape for its destiny?
J.R. Miller

A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts, but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love's lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling.
J.R. Miller

I hope these thoughts and quotes give you some encouragement for you day.  I have no doubt that if you are a mom, you have heard discouraging comments, how do you respond to the naysayers?  Please leave me a comment and tell me your story.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Local Parks and "The Handbook of Nature Study"

Where exactly did June go?  Going into the month I thought it was going to be a slow one.  Ha!  But, between raindrops we were able to get outside a bit, visiting our local parks.  My children and I are always drawn to the ones that are a little outside the city limits.  Walking trails and space to roam is much to our liking.  If it also happens to have a great playground, well, then it gets bonus points.

"Nature study is, despite all discussions and pervasions, a study of nature; it consists of simple, truthful observations that may, like beads on a string, finally be threaded together as a logical and harmonious whole.

Nature study cultivates the child's imagination, since there are as many wonderful and true stories that he may read with his own eyes, which affect his imagination as much as does fairy lore; at the same time nature study cultivates in him a perception and regard for what is true, and the power to express it.  

All things seem possible in nature; yet this seeeming is always guarded by the eager quest of what is true.  Perhaps half the falsehood in the world is due to lack of power to detect the truth and to express it.  Nature study aids both in discernment and in expression of things as they are."

Anna Botsford Comstock

(affiliate link)

This book was written in 1911 and it's about 2 1/2 inches thick.  The book is not colorful and glitzy, but it holds loads of great information.  The book is divided into 4 parts: The Teaching of Nature Study, Animals, Plants, Earth and Sky.  You can use it as a nature curriculum all on it's own; she has lessons already laid out in the book.  Poems, life cycles, and photos are also included.  I don't know that I would recommend it as a field guide, it's heavy.  But, keep it close at hand for an instant nature study topic or idea.

When I used to mention that we were going on a nature walk I would usually hear some moans and groans.  Now when I tell them we are headed to the park, everyone scatters to grab something for the walk.  Annie grabs her journal and a pen, Sam takes the magnifying glass, Liberty grabs random books about anything to do with the outside world, and Autumn her bird book.  She absolutely is fascinated with owls.  Here is a picture of her showing me the bird she thinks she is hearing.  No matter what the bird's song, she is sure it is a type of owl.  So cute.

The pictures in this collage are from Litzenberg Memorial Woods.  It is a wonderful park with walking trails, but it is also home to the McKinnis House.  Below is a bit of information about it.  To learn more click here.

'McKinnis History: The park area was originally settled by early Hancock County pioneers Charles and Mary McKinnis arriving in 1822 from Chillicothe, Ohio. A log cabin was built first somewhere nearby upon arriving and later replaced by the current McKinnis House. Built circa 1847, the vernacular Greek Revival style home is furnished in a style common to rural farmhouses during the 1800’s.  Charles and Mary raised six children and are buried with other early settlers and family members at the little cemetery known as Indian Green located just east of the park area on U.S. Route 224.' 

There is always something out there to be explored.  Where have you adventured lately?  I don't think you have to go far, sometimes just your backyard, or a walk around around the block.  It doesn't have to be fancy or complicated.  Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review Wednesday: Gardening Books by Author Sharon Lovejoy

Inspiration can come in many forms, and from many places.  Recently, I was scrolling through Instagram and caught sight of the book, "Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots."  The lady with the picture was commenting that she goes to this book again and again for inspiration.  Well....I had to check it out.

I clicked on over to our local library's website and put the book on hold.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that Lovejoy also had many more books!  I was pleasantly surprised, and put a few more on hold.  

It was a happy day when I went to pick them up.  What a treasure trove of information, beautiful illustrations, gardening inspiration.....I think you get the idea.  I have learned so much.  I read a little bit in one book, then read a bit in another.  I need to just commit and read one book at a time.

My littlest son Benaiah, and our dog Sophie, accompanied me out back where we took a few pictures for you near my little clump of blooming daises.   Fun :)  Just so you now, this post does contain affiliate links.

This quote from the forward really puts into words beautifully what this book is about.  

'Too often, the voice of experience comes to us in the form of a haughty scold or a boring dissertation: Not so in the case of author Sharon Lovejoy.  Playful, modest, and full of fun, Sharon's light hearted essays and whimsical watercolor illustrations combine scientific fact with scholarly observation in a manner that captures our hearts and makes us wiser as if by magic.....For more than ten years, the readers of Country Living Gardener have come to Sharon's "Heart's Ease" column to be entertained.  And they have left feeling educated and befriended.  For those devoted readers - and for gardeners, backyard biologists and kindred spirits everywhere - we offer  this collection of essays, illustrations, and weekend projects."       Marjorie Gage

Each essay is a quick read, but is packed with little hints and tidbits.  It would be a nice book to keep in your tote as you run errands, sit at soccer practice or wait in line.  

Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars: Grandma's Bag of Tricks

OK, I love all these books.  But, I especially love this one.  The cover of the book really says it all:

"130 Wonder-Filled Grandchild-Friendly Activities!"
"Turn an Hour, a Day, a Weekend into a Lifelong Memory"
"Includes... Firefly Lanterns, Worm Hotel, Pizza Box Solar Oven, Faerie Houses, Memory Boxes, and Peek-a-Boo Planters"

Wow.  This book also has recipes, herbs, backyard birding and crafts.  Whats not to love?  And no...I have not been paid to say any of these things.  Sharon Lovejoy doesn't know I exist, but if by chance she ever reads this, "I would love to meet you!"  Ahem...sorry about that.

Fun and simple gardening projects with useful tips.  Sayings like: "When the fly's upon the wall, Rain is surely going to fall", are sprinkled throughout the book.   She dances through the seasons and introduces us to quiet places.  Always with such a lighthearted air.  

What doesn't this book have. It is wonderful.  Whether you garden with children, or just like to act like one sometimes, you must get this book.  It gives garden basics, tips for a natural medicine chest, a Top 20 Plants For Kids list and tons of resources.  This is such a fun book, I can see why you would want to grab it again and again.  I can't help but mentioning that my children have loved looking at these books.  Her sweet illustrations are full of detail and really draw you in to look at the details.

This book is so much more than just Sunflowers (which would be OK, because I love those, too).  The book contains enchanting garden ideas, with lists of flowers to complete them.  Her lovely watercolors illustrate the pages and little poems and remembrances are dotted here and there.


I am so glad that I discovered this author and her wonderful books.  Even if you aren't a gardener there are a ton of ideas for you to use.  

Let me know what you think.  Have you read any of these books?  Maybe you have read some of her other titles.   Do you have an author that you enjoy that is in this same subject matter?  Leave me a comment!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Garden Analogy: Nurturing the Seed

Welcome back to 'A Garden Analogy'.  If you missed the previous posts I invite you to take a peak before continuing our garden tour.


Nurture - that which promotes growth; education; instruction

When I think of the word 'nurturing', the picture of a mother with her child comes to mind.  Swaddling and cuddling the little newborn in her arms.  Keeping the little one warm, a soothing voice to calm them down...  There is just something so precious about a newborn baby.

Just as a seedling needs water, the right amount of sun, and the right food to nurture its roots, leaves and stems;  so do our little ones.  Showing a seedling a little bit of love will turn that little seed into a strong, healthy, flourishing plant.  

The nurturing from a mother or father to their child is vital, but I would like to take this concept a bit farther.  What about the relationships between siblings?  Do you think that it is possible for them to nourish one another?

While getting our gardens ready in Springs past, I have come across information that shows the benefits of companion planting.  Some plants can deter pests, some prevent the spread of disease, and they even can help feed one another.

Think of our little seeds, as they are being planted and grown together.   They can become a strong and  cohesive group.  They can support each other, teach each other, love and grow together.  They can learn how to deal with conflicts, show sympathy, and learn how to handle different temperaments.

All while being under the nourishing umbrella of parents who can guide and help them grow. 

In our home their is always someone to cheer another one on.  Someone to read a book, or play with.
Someone to get that drink of water, or go for a bike ride.  Someone to learn something from.

It is sad to watch children pick and cut each other down, especially siblings.  We try not to allow arguing, just for the sake of arguing.  Issues arise that need to be dealt with, but I would encourage you to put a stop to unnecessary squabbling.

A garden can be as pretty as a picture when we are strolling through on a sunny day sipping lemonade. But, if we get down on our hands and knees, we see so much more going on.  There are worms, bugs, insects and larvae that would like nothing better than to suck the life out of those little plants.  Rottenness, disease and mold would love to just cozy on up to those delicate leaves, stems and roots.

As the caregiver to those plants (children), we need to guard against that, whether it is from the influences outside our four walls, or sadly, those within our four walls.

I would like to add a disclaimer here:  As parents to 7 children, all still at home, we defiantly don't have it all figured out.  As I am writing through this series I just want you to know that we are trying to apply all of these principles everyday, and we still mess it up.  I don't think as a parent we ever come to the point where we think, "Ok, we've done it.  We have figured it out, and we have perfected parenting."  I don't know about you, but just when I think I have it figured out, God gracefully shows me that as parents, we still have much to learn.

Let's try to make our homes a safe haven for our children to grow, learn, and love each other.  At the same time, having a soft heart allows us to be mold-able and willing to learn right along with our children.

Here are a few things we do to encourage our children to spend time together:

*   We have the 'buddy system.'  An older child is assigned to a younger one.  Depending on their age, the older has a small list of things to do that are a huge help to the little one;  and their mom and dad :)  Things like helping them get coats, shoes, etc. on when we are trying to leave the house.  If we are having a meal or fellowship at church, a picnic, etc., they are in charge of getting their own food, and the food of their buddy.  

*   Have the Bigs put the Littles down for their naps.  This has been a life saver for me, but it also has helped the little ones get comfortable with their older brothers.  They know they can find comfort there.

*   I have the Bigs help the Littles with simple "school work."  Reading aloud. working through worksheets, craft projects or whatever else they can dream up.

*   In our home, there are times that not all the children get to go places.  Make it fun for those left behind.  Most Sunday evenings I stay home with the "really Littles,"  and my husband takes the four oldest to church.   This gives the Bigs some much needed time with dad.  They usually go out for dinner after the service.  And... it gives me time with the Littles.  We usually have popcorn. Its easy and they like it.  So simple. But, as soon as the Bigs head out the door the Littles say, "Popcorn!"

*   Have Family Night.   Almost every Friday night you can find us camped out in the living room for Movie Night.  It is one of our favorite times of the week.   We usually have pizza for dinner, and I try to make a fun dessert.  All the children bring their pillows and blankets and camp out on the floor, couch or wherever they can find a spot.

It is fun to get together with friends and extended family, but it is easy to overlook the relationships that need to be built in our own homes.

Get out your families favorite recipe, pick a favorite movie, and have all the children pitch in.  Put away all hand held devices, and focus on each other.  Start to build simple traditions into your family life.  It will bring a closeness between your children.  They will love it, and so will you!

What is your favorite family traditions?  How do you get your children to enjoy spending time together?  Do you have any resources, games that you family enjoys?  I would love to hear, please leave a comment!

Next Tuesday we will continue in the Series with:  "Warning! Poison! Danger!