Gathering my Thoughts




















I find myself:

::noticing God's glory

I definitely have shoots of tulips coming up. It's going to be super cold tomorrow. I hope all will be well.

::listening to 

Nothing. Very nice. 

::clothing myself in 

Layers. Many, many layers. Even indoors. It's cold, my friends. And tomorrow will be colder.


::talking with my children about these books

Misty of Chincoteague. Katie has requested "horse read alouds." We can do that.


::thinking and thinking

About staying warm and keeping children warm. We have no heat and probably won't until the end of the week, depending on how long it takes to receive the part. I'm being very intentional about what we do, where we do it, what we wear, how we cook, and what we eat. It's all about warm.

::pondering prayerfully

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

Aimee pointed out the the NAS version is Cease striving and know that I am God. Seems the perfect verse for someone who just spent six months making list after list and getting to nearly everything on them and trying mightily not to let anyone down. Perhaps it is time to cease striving?

To that, I've added Isaiah 43:1

But now, thus says the LORD,

who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name: you are mine.

Much more on this thought at the end of the week.

::carefully cultivating rhythm

We're getting there! Tweaks here and there to last week's schedule are going to render this week's nearly perfect, I think. Until the sports schedule shifts again;-). I've been working on our daytime learning schedule because it definitely needed some thought. Think I have that one nailed down now. My greatest challenge has been to figure out where to put our gym time. It's about two hours round trip to get there, work out, shower, and get  home. Some of those trips, I want to do with the children and some will be alone. I'm still working out the work out schedule.

::creating by hand

Flannel cozies. Katie and I sat in the warm, sunshiney window of the sewing room on Saturday afternoon and made eleven new flannel "pillows" filled with feed corn. When popped heated (the corn doesn't pop) in the microwave for three minutes, these become wonderful personal heaters. We filled a basket to overflowing on Saturay afternoon. They were fully utlized during football Sunday. Last night, I slipped a warm one beneath the covers of everyone's bed. Toasty. I'm sure those warmers will be busy all day. This project is a great one to do with children just learning to sew--nothing but straight seams, but some turning, corner practice, and a little filling challenge make for a satisfactory sewing afternoon. Then, when the cozies are so much appreciated, there is a bit of deserved afterglow. Detailed directions here.


::learning lessons in

 renewal. More later this week. 

::encouraging learning 

I have to amend a statement I made years ago. I said I'd never use IEW for a child under ten. Still true. For us, I don't think the Structure and Style Program is a good idea that young--I've had 7 children that age now and none of them would have benefitted at that age.  But now, the folks at Institute for Excellence in Writing have two (fairly) new programs written for beginning readers and writers. We're going to give them a try. I have lots of MP3s to download and listen to this week in order to learn the system. A teacher inservice to wedge into the regular schedule, if you will

::begging prayers

for Elizabeth DeHority and Kelly Davignon and Jen Fulwiler. And for all the folks who have asked for prayers this week.


::keeping house

We've vaccumed air filters and cleaned creosote from the fireplace. 

::crafting in the kitchen 

There is confusion in the kitchen. I registered for Heather Bruggeman's Whole Food Kitchen Online Workshop, which is supposed to start in February. I had hesitated and hesitated. Honestly, I'm a sucker for good visuals and everything Heather does is a good visual. I was feeling rather alone in my kitchen. It seems like every nutritious cooking endeavor is met with grumpiness, no matter how tasty. Somebody always has something negative to say. I figured the class would give me backup, because I have every intention of requiring it of my kids. 

After I registered, a friend loaned me her notebook from last year's class. Honestly, by the time I'd read the essays from every week, I was in tears. I didn't learn anything new. It was a beautiful presentation of the kitchen lifestyle I've long embraced. Until recently.

It's the grain-based, low meat kitchen that, quite honestly, doesn't work for me. Oh, but I can subsitute! I am assured that Heather's workshop could be totally gluten- and dairy- free. It can. I can completely avoid gluten and cook the alternate grains and potatoes for my family. But I can't eat them. I experimented last week with starches other than wheat. Not good. My entire system reacted violently. As in seven pounds of visible inflammation over night. The reality is that this way of cooking appeals to me. It's beautiful to me. But it makes me miserable. And sick.

But. But. But. An all paleo diet for a family this size would be very expensive and perhaps, needlessly restrictive.

I was feeling really, really despondent, perhaps unreasonably so. Food is such a relational thing for me. (Thanks for joining the conversation there. The giveaway is still open.) I felt like the people who live in this house couldn't care less about the value of the food. I think it and think it and think it. Perhaps I overthink it, you think?

Not so with the people who live here. They want to eat whatever they want, with little or no thought given to what nourishes them. And if I can't eat it? Oh, well. They'll eat without me. Furthermore, they'd be just as happy--happier, even--eating junk. Someone, who shall remain nameless, made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies four times last week. Um, yeah. I inhaled those cookies. Literally. Just breathed them in and tried to avoid the kitchen until they were gone.

By Sunday morning, I was sick and tired of thinking about food. I was also pretty miserable due to the experimentation with grains after trying some of Heather's recipes. Kristin came over for football and made Moroccan zucchini boats--no grains, dairy, beans, sugar, or potatoes. Oh my goodness! They were delicious. I was so hungy! And so grateful! 

Today is a new day. Kitchen adventures continue.


::loving the moments

When we are all home on Sunday evenings. Our friend Molly was home from college this weekend and joined us Sunday afternoon and evening. Patrick was missed; maybe he'll wander this way for the Super Bowl. Seems like he should be here to watch a classic showdown of highly intense, competitive, athletic brothers;-). Michael and Kristin have come over every Sunday since the wedding. We've gathered. I really, really love gathering. I know that, as soccer season begins, these Sundays might not be so cozy and easy to to pull off, but for now, I'm really loving it.

::giving thanks 

Oh, goodness! Am I giving thanks for guardian angels. On Tuesday, I took Mary Beth to the gym. I thought the steam room would do her good. She's been sick since before Christmas--first with the flu and then with pneumonia. She'd been feeling some better and she wanted a try to do something a little more physical than the half mile walk she'd been taking every morning. She got on the treadmill, and well, treaded. I finished working out, and headed downstairs to to check out the class schedules. She followed a few minutes later, down 26 stone steps to stand with me at a granite countertop. And then she passed out, falling against me so that I could cradle her head as we both dropped to the hard floor. I'm sure the EMTs had been called before we hit the floor. I'm so grateful she didn't hit her head. I'm grateful for the care on the spot and the continuing care. And I'm so, so grateful that she was right next to me when it all "went down." (She never did get to the steam room.)

Then...on Friday, a heating technician waded his way through the mess in Christian's room to the closet that holds our heating unit in order to do a routine maintenance check. He discovered two cracks in the heat exchanger. Two cracks that leak carbon monoxide. He turned off the gas immediately and explained what would have happened when the cracks grew. Yeah. Scary. Ridiculously scary. Christian is fine and happy to have a reason for the headaches and other weird things he was feeling. We're over-the-moon grateful those cracks had not yet expanded. Crazy grateful. I'm also ridiculously grateful my husband was wise enough to provide for those routine checks.

living the liturgy

We are preparing for Candlemas. Candles. I do love what they do for our home.

::planning for the week ahead

If the heating guy isn't scheduled for Friday, I think we'll go downtown for the March for Life. Mike is due to head out of town for a few days sometime this week or next. I have lots of sewing and knitting to do. I'm contemplating watching the first season of  Downton Abbey. Or maybe Call the Midwife. Yes, it's true. I've seen none of either. So, which one? Or none?

 Photo credits: Various children took the camera to record Sunday afternoon warmth yesterday.