Thursday, December 31, 2009

TIme for turning over a new leaf--


Here's wishing you and those you love a wonderful start to a wonderful year--God Bless You!


We have spent the evening cleaning kids' rooms and playing Wii Resort Sports--they even got ME in on the action a little.


I am most thrilled that the rooms are clean, though. Now on to figure out those resolutions--er-- GOALS for 2010!


Blessings!

-april

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking for the Lovely--

It's kind of ironic to me that we intentionally "took off" the months of November and December from our structured schooling in order to have "more" time to work on holiday projects--making paper things, sewing, pursuing new crafty interests, baking, blogging . . .and I did LESS this year than in other years. For some reason I just wasn't into it so much, and that has been frustrating.

The housekeeping never goes away--even in Ornament-Land!
I love this solemn little gal with her broom. She has RESOLVE.
Add to that frustration the wild side of children with no structure to their days; the normal holiday stress of shopping and shopping and running out for last-minute craft supplies, and shopping online and preparing dinner ten times a week(sometimes it seems like this!)PLUS lunches, breakfast and snacks, and grocery shopping; add the sibling bickering and general craziness of kids so excited that they cannot-- LITERALLY CANNOT-- sit still OR quit "bothering" each other . . . . I was more ready than ever for that Christmas cruise that I threaten every year about two weeks before Christmas. . . .it will never happen, of course!
I guess it's all kind of sad, really. Why is it so hard to slow down and BREATHE during December? I honestly think I enjoyed thinking about and planning for, making things and preparing my SOUL for Christmas MORE in September this year than I have in the last eight weeks--which have flown by as quickly as those snowflakes MELTED in the Louisiana humidity a few weeks ago . . . .

Yet Christmas, by its very nature, should be a time of great joy. We are not celebrating beautiful baked goods or hot-cocoa parties, picture-perfectly-wrapped gifts or sleepovers with friends; we are celebrating the birth of the baby who grew into the man who sacrificed Himself for the dead-in-our-sins rest of us who couldn't be helped any other way--even if we had WANTED to be helped. Aren't the best gifts the ones you couldn't possibly expect OR attain on your own? Wow.

So in light of that eternal-best Gift, I am trying not to let the frustration set in. Realizing that the kids' need of structure is MY problem. Reconciling myself to the lack of PLANNED "fun" activities we managed and seeking to enjoy the spontaneous times more--never DID get those little strips of paper in the countdown calendar! Enjoying answering the questions my 6-year-old is asking about Jesus being born "the first time"--though my brain is TIRED. . .trying to give up the hopes of beautiful moments in a freshly-cleaned kitchen baking cookies peacefully with my never-cross-or-know-it-all three daughters. Relishing the glimpses of the favorite decorations amongst the STUFF of everyday life--one day the counter will again be clean and the toys will be all put away. Not now. They are IN USE. Perspective is good.

And hey, my brother was home with his beautiful wife and their yet-unmet but already much-loved baby boy . . . we haven't had Coleman home in two years thanks to the Army. We got to see them on Christmas day, to walk in the woods and play with their puppies. We even had a game of Scrabble--turns out Katy is a pro(she was MEANT for this family!). We will treasure the moments because we KNOW they're precious, and they are all the more because of the time of year. Somehow the celebration of that marvelous birth gives its light to everything else that surrounds this time of year--isn't that why Jesus came? To light the darkness.

Thought I would share a few pics of some of our decor this year. My fave thing I decorate every year is my chandelier--I hang my grandmother's Shiny Brite ornaments and sparkly snowflakes on it. It looks like an over-decorated winter wedding cake with all the ribbons and beads, but I just love it.

One of my favorite Christmas memories is going down to Mawmaw's house one Sunday during December(every year) with my Mom and watching the OLD "A Christmas Carol" on TV while we decorated Mawmaw's little tree with all those old Woolworth's ornaments and the big, chunky lights. Usually the tree was a small cedar Dad and I had tromped through the woods to find, and I always thought those little pinecone Santas and Mrs. Santas were a bit odd, but the few I own now are treasures. I have a little gold lamb ornament that was hers, and then of course the wintry blue and pink, red and silver single-color Shiny Brites. I love those, never even now being able to pass up a cheap box of them at a garage sale or Goodwill--but I keep Mawmaw's separate. THEY are special, even if less embellished than some of my independent finds.


A tiny gold lamb that was my Mawmaw's, and a cute postcard from
a local shop. I just loved that all the girls were holding their dolls--
I have kind of a special place in my heart for girls and dolls! Imagine that!
Speaking of girls and dolls--The Redhead took Kit with her on the carousel
at the Mall of Louisiana on their picture night a few weeks ago. We did
portraits for grandparent gifts this year. We hadn't had portraits in four years!


J and the Boy had fun on the carousel too. I was glad J would ride.
She will be "too big" in her opinion, like her big sister, before too long.
They grow up too quickly!

Our Christmas tree is COVERED this year, being smaller than usual. I didn't get out anything close to all of the ornaments. We had to pick and choose, but the kids hang all of theirs every year. I keep threatening to put up two big trees, but I am afraid that my husband would kill me if the "taking down" in January DIDN'T. haha. He puts up with my decorating/rearranging/daydreaming . . . remarkably well.
So I settle for a few other "not so big"(and not so little, either!)trees, Like the white tree, decorated with vintage glass and my tiny teapot collection. I like it as much as the big tree, for sure.


Or this little "feather" tree for the kitchen--it is decorated with the little vintage wooden ornaments. They are so whimsical.
I am truly blessed.
I hope you all had a very wonderful Christmas celebration.

May your new year be blessed, too! 2010 is on its way!
~april

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Primal A quest for the lost soul of Christianity

In Primal, Mark Batterson invites the reader along on a journey of self-examination to seek the key elements of living as a follower of Christ. This journey takes the reader to the day of his or her conversion, when the fires of faith likely burned most brightly, all the way back to the early days of the Church, and even beyond then to the words of Jesus in Mark 12. When He was asked what is the most important commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The book is divided into sections dealing with just what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He talks about comfort and how detrimental it is to really living for God, how each of us has a personal responsibility to stretch ourselves and to develop in ALL four areas in order to fully grow up in faith. He goes beyond the theoretical concepts into very inspiring illustrations of how people’s lives have been changed by grasping these principles. The point of the book is VERY practical. Don’t just say it, think it, or feel it, but DO it. Love is an action. We hear that phrase all the time, but in loving God, as He showed us by sending Christ to live and walk and minister and die here among us, we have to DO something. Batterson even gives some solid examples of how this can work.

Pretty simple. I liked that it was an admonishment to self-examine. I liked that he talked about “God ideas” and how we need to grab hold of those and seek Him to help us develop them—a different look at taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ. The key there is obedience. That is, of course, the hardest part. Sometimes obedience is uncomfortable, but it is the most basic lesson we learn as young children!

This book really would be a good read for January—an opportunity to do some soul-searching and direction setting in the new year. I hope to sit back down and take it a small piece at a time, with some journaling and prayer worked through the pages. The message of the book is worth taking the time to read and absorb deeply.

It is available for purchase at www.RandomHouse.com

Friday, December 4, 2009

should be dreaming . . .of a white Christmas

We have had a busy week. The three girls' Christmas Concert was tonight, and they had practice two nights this week for it. All that road-running in the evenings makes for a stressful time. Add to that the pile(ok, mountain!)of Christmas decoration boxes piled nearly to the ceiling in my family room and the "winter storm" weather conditions prior to the concert tonight, and there's a ball of stress in my shoulder that won't let go anytime soon!

The concert was great. This may be the best year yet for the Chorus at Christmas. They really sounded wonderful. It's always such a blessing to hear children sing, and these children are so well-rehearsed it's amazing. That's what the propaganda says about LPCC--"You will be amazed." They're right. Watch the video and remember my camera can't properly represent the SOUND. Wow.
video
Well, we got home to a crock pot of yummy soup(that may actually HAVE a writable recipe!!!!!) which everyone ATE(no small thing). Then the hubby says "according to the radar it SHOULD be snowing here by now. . . . "
That did it. We checked the windows, and sure enough, it was flurrying on down a bit. We zipped up coats and slid into the first yard-worthy shoes we could find, and we were OUT--all except hubby who is a true Louisiana boy and can't tolerate the cold OR understand why his wife who is normally fairly sensible would (1.) allow the kids out in the snow in their PAJAMAS, and (2.) want to go out in that sticky wet stuff AT NIGHT. He watched through the front window. The kids and I went out and had a ball because it REALLY started coming down!!!!



Never mind that The Boy is on antibiotics for a sinus infection or that no one had on socks. . .
They made a memory.
That stress ball is GONE.
Pretty cool stuff. ;-)
~april

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bookworms listen up!!!!

Oh, oh, OH!!!! I am so glad our library sends "arrived hold" notices under the heading "Overdues"--gets my attention EVERY TIME(we pay enough overdue fines to have our own special WING built at the library! UGH! HOMESCHOOLERS!!!!!!)! At any rate, I digress.


I just received note that a new sound recording my daughter requested is IN--and it reminded me that I wanted to mention the BOOK here, just in case anyone who reads my ramblings actually takes anything away from it and is looking for something REALLY GOOD to read, say, to a son or daughter or a grandkid or niece/nephew or school class or something. . .or even just would like a really rip-roaring good story for YOU to read because you like kids' books better than adult fiction, always(like me), and you've read The Chronicles of Narnia repeatedly and could use something new besides Tolkein because that is REALLY a committment . . . I digress again.

Singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson has written a book(actually two, but this is about the first one because my family has not finished the second book yet--reading aloud as a family has definite rewards, but it takes so LONG to finish something, which is pure torture when you get into a story and WORRY about the characters like C and I do--ANYWAY!!!!). The title, which I mentioned in a Friday post a few weeks ago, is On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.


The story begins as the Igiby children are finishing their chores in anticipation of the Dragon Day Festival in their little village of Glipwood--a small town built on the edge of the Dark Sea in the land of Skree--a "free" country that has been overtaken by the lizard-like Fangs of Dang who answer to a Great Evil know as Gnag the Nameless. The Igibys--Janner, Tink, and Leeli, are normal kids with normal kid dreams, but they also live in fear of the Black Carriage which comes and takes children away in the night, never to be seen again.

All the perils of foreign occupation aside, they have learned to live happy lives--captivity being all they've ever known-- and having a wonderful family with their mother and grandfather, and children being children.

On the day of the Dragon Day festival, though, odd things begin to happen. An unpleasant encounter with one of the lizardesque Fangs who has a grudge problem starts an unraveling of their lives that will change almost everything. They discover their family has secrets, learning things about their mother, their long-dead father, and their grandfather that they could never have imagined. They begin to hear tales of and to long for a far-away place that actually seems more like home than the home they've always known, and they begin to have ADVENTURES.

Aerwiar(pronounced "here-we-are")is a world populated with many strange creatures; there are Horned Hounds, Bumpy Digtoads, Toothy Cows, and Thwaps(my family's personal favorites) to keep things interesting, and perilous.

All in all the book is full of humor and fun mixed up with the realistic love of family who would do anything to help one another, odd encounters with eccentric characters(did I manage to get this far without mentioning Peet the Sock Man?), and page-turning, heart-racing, run-for-your-lives and pray-to-the-Maker escapades. It is full of real fun and real fear coupled with real hope, all of which are necessary for a really good story to be, well, REAL.

My Redhead told me last week, "Mom, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is such a good story, it's so sad that it's just a STORY and not REAL."

And yes, that is true, unless one is glad to live in a world where evil is not nameless, and the Maker is intimately involved in the lives of His creation, and where we have The Book that tells us what happens at the end(I admit that while reading the On the Edge. . . . I wanted to skip to the end more than once, just to make myself feel better and quit worrying about the Igibys!).

All good stories, after all, give us glimpses of His Story--the One who spins the story of our lives and holds all things together by His Word(Hebrews 1:3).

The book is available on Amazon. You can find out more about the Igiby family at http://wingfeathersaga.com/

Enjoy!
~april

Friday Fourteen

The letter F. Could be a tough one. Let's see!
1. Family

2.Friends

3.Food

4.Fried. Won't say that this one applies to all three of the above. . . haha.

5.Four. Kids. Proof that the Lord has a sense of humor. Really.

6.Fun. Our lives never lack it--or noise, which doesn't begin with F.

7.Free. Love this word when it rings true.

8.Faith. Free gift from God. Amazing but true.

9.Feathers. Four birds in the house equals feathers everywhere. UGH!

10. Fickle. This is a word I use often, being a Mom of Three Daughters.

11. Fate. I despise this word. People refer to it as if it were a god, rather than placing their trust in the
12.Fact that the ONE True and Living God actually holds the

13. Future--which of course means according to 1 John 4:18, that there is no reason to

14. Fear--because he or she who fears has not been perfected in love.

ok. didn't mean to sermonize. sometimes word games are evocative.

Let me close this with that quote from Scripture: 1 John 4: 13-19(taken from biblegateway.com)

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us.


that says it better than i can.
~april

Thursday, October 22, 2009

beautiful morning surprise . . .


Wow! I woke up accidentally later than usual this morning(it was actually LIGHT outside already), and after getting my coffee(very important), as I sat down to the computer table, I saw FOUR Great Egrets in my neighbor's yard! I tried to get a picture, but the zoom on my camera just wasn't up to the task. They were so beautiful. I don't know if I've ever seen four of them in one location, ever. They are such fun birds to watch, too, as they step delicately along in the ditches and puddles, suddenly dipping their heads to catch a bite of something. They look as if a strong wind would send them reeling in a flash, on those long spindly legs. They freeze completely motionless at any odd sign which could mean danger, even if they're standing on one leg. If necessary, suddenly the huge wings open and they flap away, graceful and yet laborious. Getting to have them in the yard, on the bridge, near enough to watch is probably one of my favorite things about Louisana--one small redeeming quality of living in the flatlands(and I'm always LOOKING for redeeming qualities!).
They say home is where the heart is. . . .I'll take that at face value sometimes.
~april


Friday, October 16, 2009

A Pirate Party


Last night we had a pirate party. There were some pretty rough-looking characters hanging around here--better watch this crew of scalawags!!!! We had fierce, scary pirates(see the red eyes?!?)
Tall, tall pirates and small, small pirates . . .
Trays full of piratey snacks,
Pirate shirts and pirate hats--
They even did some pirate WORK--hunting for treasure, of course.

Did you know that pirates like burritos?


Too pretty to be pirates!

I think it is safe to say we all had a rollicking good time--hopefully there are no scurvy rascals hanging around here today.
The air is COOLER this morning!!! We have been WAITING!!!!!!
Happy weekend, y'all!
~april




Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Six years ago . . .






Today is the Boy's birthday! I cannot believe my "baby" is six--where does the time go? He is such a blessing in our lives. We love you, man!!!!!


Friday, October 9, 2009

A Day Out

Oakley Plantation

The (ladies')parlor, where guests would have been received.
Welcome, y'all!

Ok, so I've tried to work on this post for two weeks--to no avail. I've decided to let the pictures speak for themselves. It was truly a lovely day--so enjoy the scenes from a bygone era.

Quiet corner of the parlor
A couple of weekends ago, my whole family(that means with hubby included)went for a field trip to Oakley Plantation--about an hour away--to learn about life in the 1820s. We toured the old house and grounds and saw demonstrations of the way things were done "back then". We unexpectedly got to visit with some long-unseen friends--quite a pleasant surprise.
The gardens were beautiful.
The kitchen(above and below)

Medical supplies
The stairs were rather narrow and frightening! I loved this candlestand.
A child's bed. So pretty! Bed and bath suite, anyone?
Sleep tight!
Steps leading up from the driveway. The parlor is on the first above-ground level. Above it is the floor containing all the bedrooms; the dining room is located on the lowest level.










The butler's pantry. Don't you LOVE the dishes? My camera wasn't able to get the full breadth of this china dresser. A beautiful piece!
The dining room--on ground level. The thing above the table is a "fan" that would have been operated by a slave standing in the corner. Its purpose? To keep flies and other unwanted guests away from the food!

I am sure this big guy would be distressed to know how close he is to the dining room in my post! This is Gus, the highlight of the day. He is a "butterball" turkey who was dropped off at the plantation--I guess someone thought it would be a good home for him. He should be a tour guide, as good as he is with people. He followed us around all day, showing his beautiful feathers and generally stealing the show. He even let the kids pet him!
Here is Gus, strutting along in front of one of the slave cabins.

Makes me hungry!!!!!
~april