Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Day of Nothing

Yesterday. I had no children at home. One was at work, another working in the mountains. Another with grandparents, and the last one at camp. I promise I didn't plan it that way, but for most of a week, Adam and I find ourselves here, at home, without children.

How very strange.

We had one of our Bible study groups over for supper on Monday evening. And ladies, you know what that means on Tuesday: there's absolutely NO housework to be done, because I worked like a frenzy to get EVERYTHING clean for Monday night.

So, yesterday I looked around. No housework. No kids. No laundry to do. Hardly any cooking -- it's like cooking in retirement, I suppose.

Yesterday stretched out before me, unfamiliar. Slow. Peaceful. Nothing. And for some reason, it became a most productive day. I clipped a few azalea bushes out front, but they're in full sun and I couldn't do it for long. Then I decided it was TRULY time to knock out some of this old school-year grading that was still hanging around. I did that. Lunch? Leftovers. I floated in the pool a while, but the sun was clouded over. I was bored. What to do? The afternoon was turning ever so slightly cool and breezy. If i ignored the calendar and the recent heat-wave, I could almost convince myself that it was very-early autumn. Almost.

I looked over at Adam's brick oven. On both sides were mounded piles of cut branches and debris for burning. And the pyromaniac buried in me responded. I would tidy up those piles all afternoon.

And I did. Now THAT was a productive afternoon! Adam got the fire started, and then I cut branches and thrust them into the blazing throat -- for hours. The smoke billowed in the lifting breeze. I sat in a lawn chair and watched it. You can't hurry a fire; you'll put it out by over-tending. So I forced myself to sit, wait, relax. That is the hardest thing to do. But when I do, it is most beneficial. I need the rest more than I ever need the work.

I have very-busy days when I can hardly remember what I did. Frankly, some busy days I feel like I spun my wheels and accomplished little of value. Yesterday was a welcome contrast to that.

Soon, the children will return, the schedule will pick up. It's days like yesterday though, that one remembers and turns into a picture in the mind.

Monday, June 28, 2010

And for a change of color:

Something in pink?
My bags will (hopefully!!) soon be displayed in Hagedorn's Fresh Market and Deli, in Brevard, NC. So, if you're in the area, stop by!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Look who's coming back for a visit!

Rebecca! Yep, she's coming this week, and the house will rejoice!
Perhaps she will someday train Julia how to smile for a camera?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lookin' Juicy!

Our first large tomato -- from my Brandywine plants! Can't wait!
Here's my money plant. I cut a few of the dried branches, but they aren't too attractive.
Here's our first Roma:
And the grand prize: our first watermelon!! Adam put in 3 plants, and all are growing like gang-busters. My volunteer pumpkins are looking good too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lake Morse

For a number of years, my only criticism of Ridgehaven Camp was that they didn't have a decent lake around which the rest of the camp was designed. Well, now they do!!
This used to be a muddy little pond that no one stuck a toe in. But Ridgehaven did LOTS of work, and now it's the central attraction -- yippee!
The most recent addition is this gorgeous pavilion:
And the Wet Willie waterslide, added last summer, is everyone's favorite stomach-lurcher. Those kids come catapulting down and flip into the lake.
They also have this great swing -- the rope at the end of the long boom. Kids stand at the end of the platform and fly out above the water. There are also tubes and boats of various types, and a bevy of life jackets.
I know my kids are enjoying the water this week!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dumping those kids --

I took Peter and Julia to Ridgehaven for camp on Monday. Anna was already there. The various cousins converged on my parents' home, and I got a quick shot of them as they took a break from soccer:
They're all so much bigger than they used to be!
Mother made burgers and dogs for lunch. The kids usually end up on the porch to eat.
Then we went to register for camp. After all these years, we feel like old hands, and spend lots of time swapping hugs with dear friends. Anna is working as an intern this summer. Here she is!! She's taking her cousin Hannah's temperature:
Ah -- the proverbial head-chopping picture. I'm really sad that I messed this one up! Four girl cousins, and Anna clearly had her sassiest grin on!
Here are the GAWers -- "Great Adventure Week." Peter, Katie & Hannah stand with one of their counselors.
I hope they're having a great time! I'm enjoying the extreme quietude of the house while they're gone :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

And it begins...

This morning I'm driving to the mountains to take 2 of the kids to camp. Thus begins the hectic part of the summer, which involves much driving, packing, unpacking, rearranging, passing off of children, etc. The summer probably won't really slow down again until sometime in mid-late July. By that time I'll be asking myself where the summer went!

Nothing much else to add. Church was especially good yesterday. I taught our ladies' Sunday school class. (We have 3 ladies who rotate the teaching.) A friend and I note how frequently the Lord orchestrates for our lesson to tie in perfectly with the sermon. Adam preached on the doctrine of election, particularly God's purpose in it -- to accomplish his own glory in it. The text was Romans 9. It is good to sit in a church where strong, biblical preaching is the norm.

I've had one afternoon in the pool thus far, in which I discovered that my raft/float has a large hole. So, the relaxation in the pool will have to wait until I return from the mountains. Happy summer days to all of you!

Friday, June 18, 2010


We’ve been praying for the marriages in our church lately. For some reason, it always shocks and surprises me to discover that marriages I know are in trouble. I don’t expect it. Like children in a family, I assume that the married adults around me are happily toodling along together in life, sometimes squabbling but also making up, and working out their troubles as they mature. But often lately, I find the opposite is true.

Now, I’m not going to write about any particular marriages here, so nobody should get nervous – I’m not writing about YOU. Unfortunately, there are so many marriages-on-the-edge (or near the edge) around me, that I can easily generalize from them all. What do I see?

*Hardly any of them involve sexual infidelity.

*I’ve known these Christian couples for years, some since their weddings, and they loved each other and never dreamed they’d be on the precipice of divorce.

*From my perspective, the struggles they now face usually result from the husbands, not the wives. Usually the husbands initiate bad behavior or treatment, and the wives are in response mode.

These situations shake me to the core. Adam and I have a truly wonderful marriage, and I now realize I possess a marriage that many women long to have. I’ve never wanted to say that, because it sounds boastful. Both Adam and I have worked hard, very hard, to nurture our marriage and to cherish each other, but I can hardly claim that I’m responsible for this beautiful relationship, around which all other things in my life flourish. A decaying marriage rots all things attached to it. What can be done when a marriage is failing, when only the bare threads of it (or nothing at all) remain?

I don’t know. I LONG to roll up my sleeves, intervene and “fix” the marriages around me. But that’s impossible. My heart breaks when I talk with my girl friends and hear their misery. Who would have imagined? They feel unloved, uncherished, lonely, trapped. They feel abandoned and weary of living with men who won’t communicate or respond to them. They’ve tried for years and are ready to give up. They sorrow for the death of something they believed would endure forever, grieve the death of the central friendship of their lives.

If any of this resonates with you, DO SOMETHING. If you’re not communicating with your spouse ABOUT your marriage, try! Use self-control, love, gentleness, and never, EVER say anything in the harsh way your mind first crafts it. Above all: FORGIVE. And forgive again. Search for even a speck of love in your heart for this one you promised to cherish till death. And forgive. Take time apart with each other – I’ve heard from several older divorcees that they believe now their marriages could have been saved if they’d just taken some time away, alone together, to work things out carefully, lovingly. And forgive. Don’t brood in silence. Don’t assume the problems are all the other person’s. And forgive. Pray for God’s help and intervention, for Him to change your heart and your spouse’s. And forgive.

I have dear friends who are already divorced. Some are not there yet. I’m enough of a romantic to believe that a marriage can be saved even when it is in trouble – it’s happened. Yet we remain silent when some around us are drowning in their marriages. We watch the catastrophic happen. People we know are sinning against their spouses. “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19/20)

Nurture your marriage. Cherish your wife. Follow God’s example, husbands -- God initiates love for His bride, gives her gifts, provides for her comfort, assists her in all things, initiates communication with her – in fact, his Word to her is Himself. Wife, honor your husband. Uplift him, encourage him, commend him, thank him, as God’s bride thanks Him. Just as our relationship with God begins with HIM, and we respond to Him, so the responsibility for the marriage – for its goodness and for its illness – rests with the husband. Tend to it!

Lastly, after writing this, I read Ann Voskamp’s blog. Here’s a link to the entry, which I recommend that you read if this topic applies to you at all. She gives a gripping account of how she changed her attitude toward her husband and marriage.

Here’s a summary of her “Five Secrets to Make a Marriage Last.” She references research. Look for yourself in these:

1. Good conversation —“Spouses in happy, stable marriages made five positive remarks for every one negative remark when they were discussing conflict. In contrast, couples headed for divorce offered less than one (0.8) positive remark for every single negative remark."

2. Good conflicts – “96% of the time the way a discussion begins can predict the way it will end. When one partner begins the discussion using a harsh startup, such as being negative, accusatory or using contempt, the discussion is basically doomed to fail.

On the other hand, when one partner begins the discussion using a softened startup, the discussion will most likely end on the same positive tone.”

3. Greatly Circumvent the Fatal Four:

Criticism --- which begins with the accusatory: "you always" or "you never."

Defensiveness --- which is a cross-attack or complaint.

Contempt --- which is a roll of the eyes, a sigh of disgust, a muttering of name-calling.

Stonewalling -- which is to become a stone wall and express nothing

And the research says: “The negative impact of contempt cannot be overestimated.” (Lehman, 2005, p. 296). “Nothing predicts divorce more accurately than contempt.” (Gottman, 1999).

4. Good Chronicling – “Couples who are deeply entrenched in a negative view of their spouse often rewrite their past (Gottman et al 42). Excess negativity leads to a distorted perception that can affect the past, present and future of a relationship.”

5. Goodness Contacts -- Write out a thankfulness log to get the log out of your own eye. "Decreasing negativity during and after fights, as negativity is the best predictor of divorce over six years (85% accuracy).

(Thank you, Ann. I hope you don't mind my passing along your good words.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bee Bearding

Last week Adam did a little work on his bees. He checks regularly to see if the 3 hives are coming along well, after the big cut-out procedure. Here, he checks the Warre hive. Note the ventilation box on top with the screen.
This is a photo of the bees bearding -- hanging down (on the right, they're hanging on each other) as they drape down and build new comb.
This is old comb taken during the cut-out. Adam put lots of it into the 3 hives for the bees to clean off and salvage the honey. It's about finished.
A close-up of some bees from the Warre. Some are much lighter in color; these are young bees. The very young ones are almost a pale yellow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"The Relatives Came"

(That's a great book, by the way!)

Faith & the 6 kids were here for a week. They returned to WVa yesterday -- here are a couple of pics. I didn't take many during the week b/c we were so busy. This is The Utterly Adorable Couage. He is SO photogenic!
Mercy holds Grace after she gets up from a nap. Grace LOVES her baby dolls.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Two more crocheted bags

I crocheted last week as Adam drove to West Virginia, and I finished this bag. It's my favorite so far, and I plan to keep it :) I LOVE the deep brown yarn, which is very soft:
Here's the most recent addition to the Bag Family:
They're a nice pair.
Hunter, I'm going to do a blue one soon, and if you really like it, it'll be yours. But we can pick out your own yarn if you prefer that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oreck Give-away!!!

Here's a link to Jo-Lynne's blog; she's giving away a brand new Oreck vacuum cleaner -- a Platinum Pilot. Hop on over and check it out! Oreck is (IMO) the best vacuum ever. I had one once, and would love one again :) And give her blog a try -- she writes about lots of my favorite things.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mommy Spoilage Day

Adam and the children declared today to be "MOMMY SPOILAGE DAY"!! Don't you love it! My sister-in-law Faith and her six children are here for a visit, so ALL the kids got involved in ALL the fun for the mommas :) Adam started last night on the way back from church. He stopped and had the kids pick out cards for us.

This morning they cut some flowers. Here's Honor with Faith's bouquet:
While Faith and I lounged in our respective rooms, Adam was up and making the BEST BATCH of scones he's ever made. Faith declared it the best breakfast ever :)
Faith's tray, complete with card, (AND cloth napkin!) :
Honor, Justice and Mercy show their mommy they love her.
Baby Grace brought her the card.
Patience, Mercy and Grace watch their mommy smile.
Then the kids all went and jumped in the pool (well, except Grace, of course).
And the mommies got dressed and went out for some girl time in town while the menfolk held down the fort. It was a great day. Faith took nap #2. Tonight we'll have homemade bread and spaghetti.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Planning Ahead

This fall, Julia will be in 6th grade – beginning what they now call Middle School. In my mind, she’s still elementary, and she’s certainly NOT Junior High (as we called it back in the day) yet. I digress….

I’m teaching Julia school based on the Classical model. This is an integrated study of content classes like literature, history, science and Latin, studied chronologically. In addition, we do Bible, and skill classes like spelling, grammar, dictation, and math. Last year she was in the Ancient period, working through the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome.

If you want to look at the books she studied this past year, here’s a post about that. Her books are at the end, but I’ll note that I bought & checked out MANY more, mostly historical fiction recommended by Susan Bauer.

I want to show you what she’ll be studying in the fall, as we move into the Medieval period. Here are the books I had here at the house already, that I want her to read this year. Some of them she will read carefully and write reports on; some she’ll read through with no written assignments; some she’ll look at briefly but, if they’re beyond her level right now, not struggle over. We’ll do Medieval again in 10th grade, and the more difficult works we’ll address then.

Grendel by John Gardner -- only if she enjoys it
Beowulf (I have several translations of this, and I’ll have her look at a few short passages.)
Medieval English Verse (We’ll probably just glance at a few examples, unless she loves it.)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (I have the Raffel translation, but Tolkein’s is great too.)
Stories of King Arthur by Winder
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by S. Lanier, one of our great Southern poets
Idylls of the King by Tennyson (Again, just a brief exposure.)
William the Conqueror by Costain
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Pyle – a MUST
The Door in the Wall by De Angeli – another MUST
The Divine Comedy by Dante – a very brief contact with the Inferno, unless she wants more of the original
The Fall of Constantinople by Keilty
Tales from Shakespeare by Lamb – This one we will spend some time in, mostly with Henry V, Midsummer Night's Dream, or Macbeth.
Story of the Middle Ages – an old Christian Liberty textbook that may be a decent reference book for her at times.
Young People’s Story of the Medieval World – a junk store find. We’ll see.

Then I went shopping, as if that isn’t enough reading. (It’s not.)
Under Drake’s Flag by Henty
In Freedom’s Cause (Wallace & Bruce) by Henty
Jacques Cartier and the Exploration of Canada (a slim reading book)
2 Dover coloring books on Medieval Times and Life in a Medieval castle

Now, this is all rather hodge-podge, slap together stuff. My guide in her reading is Susan Bauer’s fabulous book The Well-Trained Mind. She has a suggested reading list, and I am supplementing the above reading with many items from her list. I found these books on, almost all for $1 each. You see a photo of these new arrivals above. Here they are:

Beowulf, a New Telling by Nye – This is a simpler text, age appropriate.
Otto of the Silver Hand by Pyle again
Joan of Arc (a picture book, but I felt Joan needed to be addressed)
Nordic Gods and Heroes by Colum (She LOVED his book last year.)
Saint George and the Dragon by Hodges
The Sword and the Circle (Now, this is the 4th text about Arthur, and I won’t make her wade through it all 4x. She’ll attach herself to one of these and prefer it, which is fine.)
The Canterbury Tales by McCaughrean – Oxford Illus. Classic

I also use lots of National Geographic articles. I want to be sure to cover the Bayeux Tapestry very well – love that thing!

I also want to get The Lantern Bearers at the library. She loves Sutcliff’s books. And she’s already finished Cushman’s 3 books set in Medieval times. (The Midwife’s Apprentice, Catherine, Called Birdy, and Matilda Bone)

Julia is a reader, so this is not too much for her. And she knows there’s no pressure – I don’t give her huge assessment tests on this material, so she can enjoy it without stress, and I find she retains the information better that way, which is the whole point, right? Also, remember that this reading takes the place of a standard literature/reading textbook and a history textbook, for 6th grade. It gives a good balance of fiction and non-fiction. I may supplement with Kingfisher’s book, The Medieval World, but I don’t think it will be necessary.

What else? Last year I used the Abeka 5th grade grammar book, which is thorough and good, but I found that the writing exercises were redundant; the classical model uses writing in so many of the subjects that doing all those papers in the Abeka was a bit laborious. This year, to focus only on grammar, we’ll be using Easy Grammar for 8th grade. I’m not wild about Easy Grammar. I hate the way it gives you just a smattering each day, as if it’s appealing to the fact that our kids ALREADY have attention spans of about 5 seconds. Sigh. But Julia’s grammar understanding is fine, so it will matter little. A bit of review each morning will be enough.

The only subject I was really dissatisfied with last year was science; Bauer’s recommendations of the How the Earth Works and How the Universe Works texts just didn’t work for us. Perhaps a more science-oriented mom would do a better job with them. She did a slew of fun experiments and memorized lots of info. But next year I’m using an Abeka text I already have for 7th grade. It has the standard reading/questions/tests.

She’ll use the Bob Jones 6th grade math book next year. We used the 5th grade one this past year, but had to spend SO much time catching her back up in areas she was clearly behind in, we’re still doing math. Sigh. If I’d known my 4th grader could barely add and had not retained ANY of her multiplication tables, I would have intervened sooner.

She’ll do Latin with her daddy again. They had a fabulous time – her favorite subject. She’s already using high school texts.

In Bible, I have her using Adam's curriculum for his middle schoolers. Each week she memorizes a passage of Scripture and a Q/A from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Why? Because I’m alarmed that no one is memorizing these things anymore. If a child doesn’t memorize those key, wonderful Scriptures in elementary school, they will not stick in the head like glue when she’s 35. And Christian schools and Sunday schools are not stressing Scripture memorization and Bible knowledge as they used to.

We also do Dictation. I use stories from the McGuffy Reader. This improves her retention and note-taking skills. We use Writing Strands occasionally, but she does so many writing assignments from her reading/history it is hardly necessary. Julia also writes her own short stories, and I use those for assignments. This year I’ll use an old 7th grade Christian Liberty Spelling Book, just to check her competency there.

It’s going to be another fun year! Because of this Classical model, she loves homeschooling and enjoys the material we study. She understands and enjoys the fact that the subjects often reinforce each other, and she feels confidence that she’s well-versed in the areas she’s studying.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Great Bee Cut-out

More bee busyness today! Adam cut the comb out of the packed-full dilapidated white box. It was nervous, long, arduous work. Here's a piece of the comb they cut out. They put it in a new frame and secure it in with string.
Adam started today with a stack of boxes. He also had an empty Nuc box (by chair), Warre hive (2 small pine boxes), and new white box.
By the end of the day, the old box was broken up (see its shell), the red box is full of bees and honeycomb, awaiting a new queen. (It's possible the old queen is in there still.) The Warre hive (the cute one with the roof) is full of comb, bees, brood (unhatched babies) and a new queen placed in there today. The new white box is full of comb, bees and brood. And the Nuc box is full of comb, bees and brood.
So, one hive turned into FOUR HIVES!! It was very exciting. Now we'll hope that they all settle into their new homes and get to work!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Two More Bags

The crocheting marathon continues. Here's another color variation:
And then I had a request for a little bag from Julia. This is going to be a little toiletries bag to take to camp. She picked the colors.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


My husband brought me these flowers for my birthday. I love the yellow-green daisies and the single rose. It was a simple birthday this year; we're living more simply. And last year on my birthday, he found 2 cards he really liked and couldn't decide between. So this year he pulled out the second one, which he'd kept all this time. It was very sweet and lovey-dovey, as Julia would say.

And can you believe it? 95 friends on Facebook wished me a happy birthday! Isn't that wonderful -- I felt as if all the world were celebrating. Better yet, my brother Marshall , my friend Alynn, and my mom all called to talk with me. And I received a card from Carolyn too. It was a great day!

And speaking of Carolyn -- I think you're right, dear -- I've "dried" hydrangeas before, but I think they'd actually dried on the bush, and I cut them then. The ones I showed the other day did NOT work out! I'm glad there are still plenty on the bushes.