Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blog Award

Interesting...I received a blog award. It was from someone who I know through this crazy and fun blogging world. So, that made me feel good. Then I started following the blog history of this award and met other people and other awards.

So, thank you very much for the recognition! It is always nice to get a little affirmation!

This award is given to alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive and inspiring blogs.

I'm excited to pass this one on!

Becoming is very inspiring. You should check it out. This blogger has a deep strength that comes through in her ability to be true and honest.

The above blog is very amusing! OH, and she is an excellent writer, so she also gets points for being impressive.

And last, this next blog is also inspiring, but has a fun flare that is very alluring and somewhat bewitching!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why So Many Wolves?

Our Christmas tradition has been to buy each boy an new ornament, item of clothing, toy, and a book. They open one each night leading up to our grand trip North to Grammy and Poppy's Winter Wonderland! But this year I think I will just buy one really good book for all the boys to share!

Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales by Lucy Cousins! What a hit! The inside jacket describes my feeling towards the book exactly:

With bold language and vibrant pictures, beloved author-illustrator Lucy Cousins retells eight of her favorite fairy tales. She brings the famous characters and their adventures to life with all the humor, drama, and joy of the originals while also imbuing them with a modern magic, assuring that her fresh look at these classic tales will be shared again and again.

Since checking this book out, our entire family has had fun reading it each evening. We sit on the red couch, all equally engaged. My husband does the voices while I read the narration. AND, Ms. Cousins not only picked her favorites, but ours also. In fact, my favorite, The Musicians of Bremen, is on page 106!

She also puts just the right amount of grit and gore into these tales. Yep, the Wolf really eats two of the three pigs, the Woodsman really chops off the Wolf's head, and the Big Billy Goat exuberantly bashes and splashes the Troll off and into the water below.

Boys love a little violence. So do most men, as seen in the popularity of action movies. A friend of mine reminded me that this is a core part of who boys are, and if they are always told that it is bad, then they feel ashamed. Now, before you all think I'm promoting violence, there is nothing violent and bloody in these stories. They are classic tales, just like Loony Tunes is classic and engaging each time the Road Runner blows up the Coyote.

I'm just living into being a mom of three little boys...and loving it!

I'm buying this book for sure for Christmas. It is a classic, one that later in life will conjure up good feelings of childhood.

Another book that seems to have captivated my boys lately is An I Can Read Book called, Kick, Pass, and Run by Leonard Kessler. It is all about football. I actually do not enjoy reading this one. But the boys love it. Not because I don't like football, but because it is an easy reader and the words and not fun for someone who already knows how to read. :) It is perfect for this season of fall. Bonus: afterward I find myself at the bottom of a tackle. It actually promotes activity as the boys search for something they can pretend is a football. OOOPS on us! We have plenty of soccer gear around, but no footballs. So, that is another thing they are getting this year for Christmas...a football.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Trust is a bold word, almost an onomatopoeia word with the two T's banging confidence. It jumps out on a page! The two words I associate with trust are boldness and confidence, but in my life right now trust is quiet and scared. Each day my trust gets stronger yet in a gentle way. Sometimes I fall back to where I started, and I must begin again. I often wonder if I will finally let go and trust. It's hard but I know trust will bring freedom and peace. I see and feel glimpses of this, and I like what I see. And yet the battle of self I must also continue to TRUST. (Written @ 2003)

I have always been one who journals. I have a huge box, complete with lock, with all my journals. They start somewhere in the 80's, when I was in the 3rd grade. The middle school years are quite humorous and dramatic. High school was a bit better. College, interesting. My early years of marriage....well, I'm glad we grow and progress. I wrote this above entry during the 3rd or 4th year of my marriage. Marriage is one of those really good, fashioning experiences. Of course, it is an experience that endures and does not go away with time. Of this I am so glad, so glad I have a partner for life. One who knows me intimately better than any other.

We celebrated out 10 year anniversary this past June. My only regret is that it is going too fast. I look into those same eyes I first loved when I was still a teenager, and I think, "We are going to be 80 before we know it!" (Wow, I was 17 when I first met my husband. I turned 18 a few weeks later. That makes me sound really young, but we were both in college at that point.)

When I wrote that bit about TRUST I was sure it was going to be a constant battle between God and me. I would always struggle. I would get better, and then the doubts would come in again. I'm actually happy to say that because of God's doing I am resting in Trust. I've learned to submit to Christ and the events that come my way. Trust is no longer a bold word for me. Trust is a comfort word. Trust means resting in God's arms, being held by my Abba. I still grow in this act, but I am glad that I've gotten better at it. Makes me grateful for the fun and not so fun events of the last decade.

We are all in a relationship with God. He's constantly seeking out his creation. Even when we don't realize this. But we are all on a spiritual journey. It is good to look back and see how many God-sightings we have in our journeys. This is one of my favorite questions to ask friends I meet along the way.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Check out this boy info....

A friend of mine also has three sons. She is taking a class with her husband all about boys. Here is some good info:

Make A Guess....

What is it? Chime in. Take a guess. Name that garden goody!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Montessori Mama

It is one of my parenting motivations. I want my children to be problem-solvers, initiators, creative-thinkers...scientists and artists. I want them to be able to work well with others, navigate group dynamics, and get-the-job done. When I was a middle school teacher I was beginning to notice that the generation of children I was teaching lacked the ability to create. They never lacked the ability to be bored. They wanted to be awed and entertained. There were those rare jewels who could create and think.

I kept reading more and more articles about this generational problem. The experts said it was due to over-programing. So many of the children had been plugged into preschool, Gymboree, soccer camp, riding club etc. (No one freak out, we will be doing some of the listed activities, but all in balance.) Parents want to provide everything for their kids. But in doing so what they provided was no down time. No time for time. No time for kids to have to solve their own problem and be their own entertainment.

That was one reason I wanted to move to the country. I wanted to give my boys for their minds and their bodies. In our little piece of suburbia the temptation to "program" was too great.

I'm seeing fruits of my Montessori parenting style. The boys decided to dismantle the soccer goals that Daddy had built for them and experiment with water and water pressure. They had a "blast" building pipes in all manner and form. The got excited to see how long they could build the pipes and still be able to shoot acorns through the system of pipes.

This was hours of entertainment. Real-life connections were made in their brains. Now when they sit in a classroom the scaffolding has already begun. I love it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

God-Sighting Number 4,792...

/s400/100_1113.jpg" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5383764654906196626" />

Ok, I think I want to do these God-sighting blogs more often. I really do see, feel, hear, and experience God on so many levels and in so many ways. He is a comfort food, at times. He is my oldest friend. My favorite God spot is in our orchard. When I was a teenager I used to lay on my back and feel the grass outline my body while I stared up at the blue interrupted by the various orchard tree branches. It was here that I did most of my talking and listening to God. Seemed like when I needed to feel connected I could always run out there and feel and find him. Expectancy has a lot to do with having God-sightings.

Some of my God-sightings are BIG! Some, quite ordinary. Some, like the story of my grandma praying....others like this one you're about to see with me.

How can you deny God even in this....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Spoon, Hat, and Stick

I found three brilliant, simple books on our last trip to the library.

All three teach a moral or lesson. I think they could all be fables, but only The Clever Stick claims to be.

Spoon is clever and witty. Yes, it is all about a spoon. He wishes he could be like his friends: knife, fork, and chopsticks. He tells his mother how cool his friends are and all they can do, but little does he know that they all think spoon is the greatest! Spoon can do so many fun thing: eat ice cream, stir tea, and be used as a drumstick by children everywhere. It ends with Spoon realizing how many good things are in his life as he "spoons" with his mom and dad in the silverware drawer.

Note: I get giddy to read this one to my kids before bed!

Hat is another book worth reading and discussing with your kids. Hat is found. A boy dreams of all the cool things he could be and do with Hat. Then his mother points out that Hat is not his, and if he takes it then the true owner won't be able to do all those cool things that the little boy imagined doing with Hat. He decides to leave Hat where he found it. This was very appropriate for my oldest who is starting to like to "find" things and then walk off with them. After reading this book he found a car at a friend's house that he particularly liked, but he decided to leave it on their floor because they might miss it when they wanted to play with it again. Hat helped teach this lesson to him.

The Clever Stick!
The images in this book are as captivating as the words. All simple. Stick isn't sure what he's good at. He feels so plain and ordinary. He wants to be good at something. He wants to be special. Then he realizes he can draw. Sick has such joy as he discovers his life calling. What a sweet message for children

I love that these books are personifications. I think young children are always making objects come to life, and so these authors do a good job or relating well to their audiences. Plus, I find personification, done well, very clever and witty.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A God-Sighting

Is God real? But I can’t see him. How do I know? These were the honest questions my pastor’s 4-year-old has been asking him. I think we continue to ask these even as we grow and mature in our faith. I still sometimes find myself caught between doubting and knowing. Still, I push on. I can look back and see the facts and the God interactions. I stand on fact and walk by faith. (This was a concept I adopted from Beth Moore.)

When I stop I know he’s real. I’ve had too many God-sightings in my life to deny it, but still I am human: I still have to embrace faith in my Faith.

We’ve been working through Philippians in our church this summer. Two verses continue to rumble in my thoughts. “Rejoice in the Lord always....” and “Think on these things....whatever is true etc.”

I have been blessed to have a special Grandma. We have shared a special connection. I would never have predicted our bond when I was a little girl, but it grew and is still there even though most of her memories are gone now. She suffers from dementia.

As the disease took over more and more parts of her mind and personality, I used to hold on to the FACT that she still retained her intimate relationship of knowing Christ. This too has slowly faded, at least to the observers. She used to always pray for me. After each visit, she’d hold my hand and pray a blessing on my life. This faithful closing faded in the last year or so.

Except this last visit, I cried such tears of joy. My throat was tight. My soul was crying with the realization that God is real.

She looked at me and said, “Well, I’d like to pray.” She bowed her head, closed her eyes, and held my hand. It was a short prayer, but it spoke of thankfulness for all of God’s blessings. It spoke of love toward God and toward her children. This prayer summed up her heart of 95 years. She still was in a loving, mutual relationship with God. It was as if Jesus was holding her other hand and sitting on the other side of the table.

Here, all has been taken from her. Even the memories from her life, and still she rejoices in the Lord. Still, she thinks on those things which are true. God love us. He seeks us. He wants good for us. He will make us whole and perfect. His goal: to be in perfect relationship with us.

I am sure he is eager to bring my grandma to him. I am eager for her to be made well again and whole. I know she desires to be in heaven with him and all those waiting for her, yet she waits and continues to rejoice in the deep recesses of her soul even when all we see are the evils of dementia.

I rejoice in this God-sighting. Of this I am glad.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Very Outnumbered

These photos are my future reality. My husband had 20 plus soccer players to our house for a team bonding experience. (He coaches varsity soccer.) Wow! That was a lot of male teenagers. My boys were in heaven. My oldest informed me later that he had invited all of them to his birthday...which isn't until the spring.

Can you see our second son basking in the glory? He is in the middle of this very stinky room

They came and played capture the flag in the woods, ate a ton of food, and then watched soccer clips in our TV room. Heat permeated from that room a full five strides before entering. They were all very polite and took their shoes off in our washroom. The washroom was very smelly, but I was grateful since we have white carpet in our home.

Boys stink. They are a bit messy. Yet we love them. We, women, seek them out. We dream of them. We hope for them. We marry them. We continue to wonder why their feet stink so bad. We continue to love them anyway.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Husking Corn

Husking Corn

I love husking corn,
Watching the bucket overflow with husks and hair,
Oh the soft, yellow corn hair that always seems to stick.

I sit on the back porch and face the sunset,
The summer's warm rays upon me.
I sing, or think, or talk out loud.

Then I give my dog a pat on the head and turn
To go inside.
I hear the clatter and clutter of a summer's canning.

Peaches, pears, plums, green beans...
I only eat mom's.
I hand over the corn and watch it slip into the boiling water.

Beside it is a bubbling pan of zucchini and chard.
To the right, fresh zucchini bread.
I love summer's bounty.

I wrote this poem in 2001. I spent that summer writing poems; they mostly revolved around my farm upbringing. I do love living on our farm again. I love living seasonally. It makes each season something to be embraced. Right now we are eating more corn, tomatoes, and plums than we know what to do with, but that is OK. For a time will come, very soon, when they will be no more. It is a very seize-the-day type of life.

The picture is of my grandpa, my sister, and I. He used to come down each September and help with the corn harvest. He is now 97 years old. He still asks about our orchard and garden.

You'll notice I talk about summer in this poem. Even though school has started and the summer is waning, it is still summer. September 22nd is the first day of fall. So, embrace these last days of this warm, free season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Religious Book Bombs...Or Maybe Just What We Needed...

I feel very sacrilegious saying I found some religious book bombs, but I really did....or maybe I didn't. We will verbally process this together.

1. Creation by Gennady Spirin. First of all I loved this book. It was a visual masterpieces and spiritually challenging for me, as an adult. But my kids could not relate. The words for this book came directly from the Bible,how can you go wrong! But, for 3 and 4-year-old didn't connect. I can see owning this as a coffee table book. Or using it as an opener for a group discussion, meditation, etc.

2. Jonah and the Two Great Fish by Mordicai Gerstein. Ok, so this version of the story involves two whales, and I think it must be based from Jewish literature/mythology. I have to admit I'm a bit ignorant in this area. My oldest did love the pictures and the language and words per page were right at his level. However, I was frustrated that he was learning a version different from the original Biblical account, as far as the versions of the Bible I read etc. Or am I wrong? Was it always two whales that took turns swallowing Jonah? I'm really wanting to know the Jewish tradition behind this story. I should take the time to do a little research.

3. Lastly, David and Goliath retold by Mary Auld. Ok, I have mixed feeling about this book. For my kids, there were too many words on a page, but I think for elementary kids it would be perfect. However, the pictures were great for me to modify the storyline and make it preschool appropriate. Everything was going great until I turned to the picture where David is holding the beheaded Goliath by his hair and there is blood dripping off his serrated neck. Nothing like a bit of gore and violence before bed. But, I was the one who checked out the book. I should know better since there isn't anything very G-rated about David and Goliath. Except, I remember singing the Sunday school song about five little stones and not realizing I was doing a jig to a murderous tale. Guess I wasn't being very discerning at the library this last visit.

BUT! I did have a very good conversation with my oldest about God because of this book. We discussed the Philistines and how they didn't like God. (Or believe in the God of Israel.) This was a new thought for my son. I've often wondered when he'd realize that not everyone likes, loves, or even believes in God. I was a bit worried about his first encounter with a friend at school who might let him know that his family's beliefs are not held by everyone. He wanted to know why the Philistines didn't like God. I told him that lots of people don't like God. He asked why. I said, "Well, they don't want to do what God wants them to do. They like making their own choices in life even if those choices are bad and even if those choices hurt other people." This conversation continued and got much more relevant when I talked about how I don't let my son do everything he wants because I want something better for him. Examples were being mean to his brother, hitting other kids, making huge messes in my kitchen etc. Basically a whole conversation about selflessness and thinking of others first.

So, actually, this book was exactly what we needed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of School: Chickens

While most bloggers are chatting it up about the first day of school, I've decided to focus on chickens.

Chickens are the IT thing these days. Nothing says sustainable, green, organic, and living seasonally than a bunch of chickens flip-flapping in your back yard.

I like to think I am joining the rage not because of peer pressure, but because I have a strange love for chickens.

We had chickens when we were little. I want my boys to experience the same. You hardly make money or save money with your own crew of laying birds. A dozen eggs from the grocery is much cheaper. (We eat an average of 5 eggs a day.) However, I do think they taste better.

Oh, and our chickens will be "pasture" feed. They will have a large yard to cluck and scratch in and get all the worms and bugs they need.

Oh how yummy and fun they will be. Plus, good fertilizer for the garden.

We are hoping to get our chickens in late October. Grandpa is remodeling the old chicken house: new ventilation system, better laying boxes, windows for more light, and new ramp for their little legs to race down into the free range yard below.

I'm feeling very Oregonian! Hope the boys are on board.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Religious Books for Kids

I feel self-imposed pressure to find good Biblical literature for my kids. I have had crummy luck finding the perfect mix. I think my kids are at an age when they are younger than the "really good" ones out there. I did purchase one about two years ago that is just now perfect for my 4-year-old, but still it is a bit lacking. The stories are brief and simple, but he still seems interested. We can read the entire New Testament in one night! Probably our best Bible is Picture That! Published by Zonderkidz. It is a read-along-book. There is a little picture of a boat when the boys are supposed to say, "Boat!" There is a picture of water when they are supposed to shout, "Water." And shout they do! They like it. It is both a good way to introduce some basic Bible stories and a good way to teach your kids to follow along and track with words etc.

Still, I wanted something more. By accident I found Jan Brett's Noah's Ark.

It was mixed in with all the non-religious picture books at the library. I guess because she isn't viewed as strictly a religious writer. It is great! The pictures are engaging. The storyline is both basic and interesting---something tricky to do when writing Bible stories for young readers. That seems to be the bummer in general with retold Bible stories for young kids: they take all the excitement out of the story to get it at their level. The other problem I run in to with these types of books is that they don't edit out enough and then they are way too wordy. I find myself retelling the stories as we flip through the pictures.

I was pleased with a four volume series put out by Moody Press called Read-Aloud Bible Stories. They were first printed in 1982 and won the Gold Medallion Book Award and the C.S. Lewis Honor Book distinction.

But, once again, not a perfect fit. The story lines are perfect for a 2/3-year-old, but lacking for my 4-year-old. And the people in the pictures are a bit non-descript....especially Jesus. My middle boy kept asking where Jesus was, but every time he was referred to the artist chose to only show his back and not his face. I get the purpose behind that, but my little boy doesn't and just wanted to see this guy we talk so much about. :)

Still, I think it is a good Bible series and would be worth buying used on Amazon.

My next posting will be highlighting some disasters in this religious category, some books to stay away from....or not...I think you'll find the next post very interesting as it ends up being a spiritual discussion between me and my oldest.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Books: Country vs. City

When I saw the title and picture on this next huge reading success, I knew we'd all related.

The Old Blue Pickup Truck by Candice F. Ransom was a major success. My boys smiled and beamed the whole time. I'm giving it four stars. Out of our huge pile of book picks this week from the library, it is the one they keep grabbing again when it is reading time. My little boys loved riding in their dad's green truck and now their grandpa's blue one.

Plus, this writer took the time to play with words and create simple, beautiful images for children. Here is an example:

"It was raining on all our things. Our whole day was getting wet!" Simple, but I love it.

Now, for a setting that my sons really shouldn't relate to we checked out the book Clang! Clang! Beep! Beep! Listen to the City by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Beppe Giacobbe.

The onomatopoeia in this book was complimented so well by the images. Good job Beppe! Good job Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.

My four-year-old is a bit beyond the simplicity of this book, but we made it interactive and so it was a good pick. My three-year-old loved it.

This would also be a great book to help a teacher demonstrate the power of onomatopoeia in a literary elements unit/lesson plan.

However, I think it was the images that made this a strong read. The life and noise of the city was well captured and even though we live on a farm, my boys were engaged by the city and understood its excitement. (We do drive through Portland on occasion. However, this city seemed a bit more like New York.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Shopping and Planning Meals for a Month

It is an event. I open my cookbook cupboard, take down my faithful four, spread out at the kitchen table, brew some tea, and plan. I plan out my meals for the entire month. Like a budget, there is room for flexibility. If I plan focassia bread pizza, but really feel like eating BLT’s, then I let myself switch it up etc.

But, my biggest struggle is knowing what to fix. Once I know, I can make. Once I make, I can eat.

I also do my shopping once a month, excluding items like milk and eggs. It does help that all my produce comes from my garden, orchard, and I preserve it all for the winter. I rarely am forced to buy out of season. I do find myself reaching for some apples and oranges in January, but for the most part we eat what we grow.

I’ve often had people ask what this once-a-month shopping and planning looks like. (Note: if you do it right you will save a bundle of food money.)

Here is my list of what to buy this month and a list of meals for the month. I don’t make the same meals each month. Each month looks different. I also don’t plan sides for my meals. I come up with those the day of.

Shopping List:

2 whole chickens
5 lbs of beef
Find fun meat on sale, like steak etc.
3 packs of bacon
5 packs of morning sausage
Ice cream
Sour cream
Butter sticks and tub
Feta cheese
Cous cous
Noodles of all types
10 various soups
Various canned beans
Corn bread mix
Dry It. dressing
Balsamic vinegar
Frozen fries
10 frozen dollar meals for H’s lunch
Frozen burritos
2 frozen pizzas
Focassia bread
10 healthy bread loaves
10 cheap white bread for the kids (they eat way too many PB&J to buy them fancy bread)
3 bagel loafs
Fruit snacks
Granola bars
Apple juice boxes
T. paper
Aluminum foil
Dish soup
Baby puffs and mum mums


I plan 4 to 5 meals per week and allow for some leftovers, but leftovers are mainly eaten for lunches the next day.

Week 1:
Crepes and sausage
Roasted Chicken
Teriyaki noodle chicken
Frozen pizza
Meatloaf sandwiches

WK 2:
Taco soup with corn bread
Leftover soup
Super Easy Chicken Meal
Mac and Tuna Casserole

WK 3:
Pita Bread Pizza
Hamburgers and Fries
Zucchini Garden Chowder
Greek Tom Salad with grilled Ch.

WK 4:
Crustless Zucchini Tom. Quiche
Steak and pesto/tom pasta
Whole Ch with sides

(I often switch meals in week 1 for meals in week 4.)

Even though the day I go shopping is crazy and somewhat insane, it is way better than doing it once a week or twice a month. Taking my kids to the grocery store is not what I like to do with my time and with them.

Plus, I had to change my shopping and buying habits once we moved to the farm and live 30 mins. away from any legitimate grocery store.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another Great Book Blog

If you enjoy my book reviews, you'll love this blog. Of course, keep reading my thoughts too! :)