Saturday, October 3, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
We had a great time hosting a party for my grandmother last year on her birthday. When all the guests had gone home, Grannie told me that she'd never had a birthday party before. I was speechless. I decided then that we would definitely be doing that one again. It's coming up very soon, and we are gearing up for a repeat performance.
When we begin our planning, we usually start with a theme. We arrive at our choice through various methods, choosing something we particularly like (superheroes or the 1950's), finding decorations on super-sale (luau in the winter), or even coordinating with the season of year as we will be doing this time.
The invitations can take any form you like. Evites are particularly popular these days, and I can appreciate their efficiency in both time and cost. I have to admit, however, that I am partial to a more traditional approach. It's hard to beat a sweet little card that arrives in your mailbox. It's an extra measure of thought that evites just can't provide.
The decorations will usually be chosen to fit your theme. Pick something you like, and don't be afraid to step outside the box. I loved this autumn leaf design, but plates, cups, and napkins in the same pattern seemed a little much. The coordinating stripe napkins added a touch of fun, I thought. These items and a fall centerpiece for the table will pretty much comprise the decorations for this party.
To save on cost, you may choose to use what you already have. If you have a few leftover plates from several different parties, stack them up in a random order for serving. Use a solid color for the napkins and cups. When you get ready to play a game, divide your teams based on their type of plate. We also have some inexpensive plastic plates and cups we often use for get-togethers to avoid disposable items.
We like to play games at our parties, and I find it to be a wonderful way to get things going. I always try to have an activity planned for the start of the party since early arrivals can feel at loose ends while they are waiting for everyone to arrive. When our children were small, we often had an art project for everyone to work on until things were in full swing. For older guests consider a jigsaw puzzle or two, a scavenger hunt, word find, or crossword puzzle. You can make up one of these with information about the party's honoree for a personalized touch. When your guests don't know one another, a game is a great ice-breaker and serves to get people talking.
I have found that party food can be very simple yet completely sufficient. Several years ago, some friends and I discovered that we could have one dish and a fun party drink, and everyone was more than satisfied. Most of us tend to watch what we eat anyway, and it is considerate not to provide the temptation. We would often serve key lime pie or cheesecake and a light and fruity punch. Open a can of mixed nuts if you'd like to offer something salty and wa-la! That was easy.
If you'll be serving a meal at the party, make less trouble for yourself by selecting a dish that will easily feed a crowd. A big pot of chili can be made ahead of time and warmed up just before your guests arrive. Cook boneless chicken and salsa in your slow cooker and serve with rice and tortilla chips. Offer a baked potato bar with an array of toppings for your guests to create their own masterpieces.
Though completely unnecessary, I enjoy presenting our guests with favors as they leave our home. For our fall birthday party, we will be giving these seasonal tissue holders. I have a feeling this one will be a hit with my grandmother's friends. Most likely, these ladies will be turning theirs wrong-side-out to view the construction and making their own by the next day. That gives me great joy! Last year we gave each guest a small pot of pansies. Choose your favors to suit the likes of your guests. Keep things simple and costs down since you will likely be doing several of these.
So plan your party and have a fabulous time!
Offer hospitality to one another... 1 Peter 4:9
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Here's a slightly different version which omits a troubling reference for us, Genesis 24:17. It also contains the actual ingredients if you want to double check before you bake, or if you are so inclined to cheat. Surely not.
Monday, September 14, 2009
My daughter gave me this cute book for my birthday, and I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying this light and fun reading. Within the delightful story, however, are some close-to-painful pricks at my soul.
Becky Miller is an average stay-at-home mom who dearly loves her husband and three children but battles constantly with balancing her duties at home, at church, with friends, with family, and with Almighty God. She earnestly desires to "live a life filled with Meaning and Purpose" while being a "Wonderful Wife and Marvelous Mother." (I love the caps. That is classic.)
She is fully aware of her shortcomings but so wants to be perfect. Anyone? Disappointments and struggles are no stranger to Becky and her little family, but God is faithful.
I can hardly wait to see how it all unfolds. I stayed up reading last night until my eyes just would not stay open. Gotta go sneak in a chapter between loads of laundry and checking schoolwork.
What was that about Meaning and Purpose?
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I got rid of the shower cleaner, scraped the wall, patched, and repainted. Over time, it started to happen again. All we could figure was that our older son's head was the problem, and since we'd rather keep it around we looked for an alternative.
Many of you know how smart my sister and brother-in-law are. Believe it or not, they were having the same problem in their master bath. (Apparently my brother-in-law's head is a problem, too.) They fixed their shower by affixing a couple of rows of tile above the enclosure, essentially increasing its height and protecting the walls.
When they were down for a visit this summer, these two went to the store with us and helped us buy everything we needed to fix our bathroom. They spent part of a day tiling these couple of rows for us, and it has really made all of the difference. What good guys!
These towel hooks are one of my very best purchases and tips for anyone who shares a bathroom. There's no question about which towel is whose, and I love the way they provide function and a bit of style at the same time.
Our little beagle wore herself out trying to defend us from this strange enemy. Wooed with stale bread, Molasses returned to safe surroundings and all was right again.
Friday, September 4, 2009
It has been such a wild and crazy summer around here that I have not had the time to do any projects. My sewing machine has been sitting dejectedly in the closet awaiting the time when someone will open the door and take it out to play.
Early Saturday mornings have become my time for therapy. That's really what sewing often is for me. The hum of the machine provides a soothing backdrop for the racing of my mind, and more often than not my spirit becomes quiet, even restful. So on these peaceful early mornings, I've had a chance to work on small things.
There are tutorials all over the web for tissue holders like these, but my sister found a way to make them where the lining provides a bit of trim while finishing the edge of the opening. I love it! The ones I've done before required fusible web and bias tape or other trim to finish that edge. This approach is much more streamlined and well, smart.
Just cut the lining a bit longer that the outer fabric, and it will form a sort of self-facing. Wa-la! I like to use a lining that is about 5 1/2 x 9 and an outer piece that is 5 1/2 x 6.
What fun! It's also an excellent way to use up some scraps and practice combining fabrics.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I know. I'm a homeschool mom, and I'm supposed to just love gettin' in there with my kids and exploring new ideas, taking chances, making mistakes, and learning new things in the process.
Our experience has been that science experiments generally mean me buying something I don't typically have on hand. It always involves pulling out a million different things, and at least a fair percentage of the time, said experiment does not work.
I'm grumpy and uncooperative. The kids become grumpy and uncooperative. It's just not a good day.
Enter Apologia Science.
I love this curriculum. We are doing General Science this year with our 7th grader. Our older children have done Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics as well. In fact, our 11th grader and his wonderful dad are doing Physics this year. We have also done some of the Apologia Elementary Science programs. They are all very well done, user-friendly, and pretty much fool-proof.
Although we have had some eventful science experiment days, I must admit that the goofs were more the fault of the experimenters than of Dr. Wile and his experiments. (Sometimes my kids and their friends ask the question, "What if we...," and then proceed to do a little experimenting on their own.) Always read the directions!
One of our first experiments this year demonstrated the density of various substances and objects. It's all about the atoms and how closely they are packed together.
Fill a tall glass with 1/4 water. Add the same amount of vegetable oil. Then pour in the same amount of corn syrup. The corn syrup is dense enough to pass through both the water and the oil and rest on the bottom of the glass.
Next drop in a cork, a grape, an ice cube, and a small rock. Where do they rest?
Now, that's just plain cool and relatively stress-free.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Peel and slice peach. Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Apply masque to a clean face and allow it to set for 30 minutes before removing with a warm, wet towel.
Place a couple of cucumber slices on your eyes while you wait and just relax.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
We were able to attend the broadcast taping which featured Alex and Brett Harris discussing their book, Do Hard Things.
At the very end, you can hear our daughter asking a question from the gallery. You can also hear guest host Frank Pastore make a crack about where we live. What's up with that?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Today was the day. He was as spiffy as it gets. Heading off this morning, our little guy was uberexcited about starting school.
It turned out he had a great first day, and it is going to be a good thing.
So much of parenting is bittersweet.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Things have been rolling along with our CLEPtomaniacs knocking out two tests (one each) this week and gearing up for school to begin. Our youngest is about to begin his studies at the classical school our older two attended, and he is oh, so excited.
Apparently it has been busy and tiring for Velvet as well. The life of a dog...that's a whole 'nother story.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
He and my dad once spent an entire afternoon trying to diagnose the problem with my car. They tried everything to figure out why it wouldn't crank, only to discover I was out of gas. Only I could manage to run out of gas in my own driveway.
He built a playhouse for me one year at Christmas, and I spent countless happy hours playing house and fast-food restaurant in that little dwelling all my own. He was truly as powerful as Superman in my eyes.
Papa was also deathly afraid of snakes. Although he was never a big man, he had incredible strength in that lean and wiry body. He used that strength to kill any slimy, slithering creature he happened to encounter.
I remember once in New Mexico, we came upon a rattlesnake while hiking. Papa picked up a rock and smashed its head before it could strike. He valiantly tried to squash one that managed to invade their screened porch one spring afternoon, but it got away much to our chagrin. The most memorable of Papa's snake encounters, however, occurred one hot summer afternoon while he was weeding in the flower beds.
I was really young, kindergarten-age or younger, but I remember Papa killing that snake with the hoe. After all of the excitement, Mamma and Aunt Lynn got out the snake book, and we looked up pictures to figure out what kind of snake it was. Eventually, everyone went back inside except Papa who continued to weed and me who wandered around looking for trouble.
I was examining the dead snake more closely and picked it up with a stick. I'm not sure where I was taking it, but I started walking across the yard toward Papa who was working shirtless in the flower bed. As I walked, the stick began to bob up and down.
With absolutely no effort or attempt whatsover from me, the stick bobbed a little bit and the snake went sailing through the air. No joke. I was as surprised as anybody...well, except Papa, I guess. His bare back was turned toward me, and the snake landed perfectly on his right shoulder and slid down his chest. There is no way on God's green earth that I could have executed such a precise trajectory.
Already on edge from the recent discovery of that foul creature in his garden, Papa reacted with lightning speed. He leapt from his crouching position and turned to find me, his sweet, precious and only grandchild standing there with a stick in her hand. Everyone in the family said that if it had been anyone but me, the perpetrator would have suffered a swift but painful death. As it was, Papa was eventually able to laugh about the event, but I don't think he ever believed that it was an accident.
Once and for all, I truthfully proclaim in writing that I did not purposefully toss that snake on my sweet Papa. I could not have done it had I wanted to. It was just one of those freaky things that happen to me. I promise.
You believe me, don't you?
Monday, August 3, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
The Rebelution is a counter-culture movement that we happily support. Here's a snippet from their website which describes the philosophy.
The official definition of the 'rebelution' is "a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture." When you look around today, in terms of godly character and practical competence, our culture does not expect much of us young people. We are not only expected to do very little that is wise or good, but we're expected to do the opposite. Our media-saturated youth culture is constantly reinforcing lower and lower standards and expectations.
The word 'rebelution' is a combination of the words "rebellion" and "revolution." So it carries a sense of an uprising against social norms. But in this case, it's not a rebellion against God-established authority, but against the low expectations of our society. It's a refusal to be defined by our ungodly, rebellious culture. Actually, we like to think of it as rebelling against rebellion.
Not only was it a real treat to see the behind-the-scenes action of a taping session, but this was a topic about which our kids could really get excited. We had participated in the Harris brothers' Modesty Survey a couple of years ago and were already familiar with their website, so when we heard they were in Colorado Springs, we jumped at the chance to hear them.
The message is so inspiring, so motivating. We loved it! If you haven't joined the movement, please do. This is one time when it's really ok to rebel.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
We had an opportunity to spend some time with these dear friends yesterday and catch up on what is going on in their lives. Brief visits throughout the years have allowed us to stay in touch but not really up-to-date. It was wonderful to be able to sit down and talk at length about everything and about nothing.
Sorry, Jim. It really was a Rainy Mountain.
Dean, Liz, and their boys are part of a church planting mission near Denver and were able to share how God has confirmed and directed the process. It is so encouraging to see God at work in such a mighty way and know that He is affecting lives that might never have heard the Gospel without this work.
This motley crew is the offspring of these two former college yahoos who grew up to be responsible, productive adults making a difference in the world in which we live. We pray these guys do the same, whether they are playing roller hockey, writing novels, reporting the news, producing life-changing films, or just eating us out of house and home.
Speaking of eating, a home-cooked meal after weeks of eating out was worth the price of admission alone. Thanks so much, guys!
We had a wonderful evening and loved every moment. Thanks for having us. Hope to see you on our side of the Mississippi soon. Happy 16th Birthday, Jake.
We love you.
The red rocks and cliffs here really stand out against their surroundings. This one is called Balanced Rock for obvious reasons. It weighs 700 tons, so let's all hope it continues to be balanced.
The Kissing Camels are on the top of this rock. Can you see them? The right camel's head and hump are visible while you can only see the left camel's head. There is a small hole underneath their heads.
The park is a very nice place to visit with lots of trails to enjoy during a peaceful morning.
However, we found no entryways into the Labyrinth. Sorry, Percy.
- He loves me more than football.
- He makes me laugh.
- He encourages me.
- He prays for me.
- He writes me songs and sings them to me.
- He inspires me to make things happen, to follow my dreams.
- He loves our children and spends time with them.
- He takes care of his parents.
- He is the spiritual leader of our home.
- He's the steady rock in the midst of my mania.
- He gets all of my jokes.
- He shares all of my secrets.
- He listens.
- He is the SHMILY king.
- He tells me I'm beautiful.
- He knows where my thrift ends and my snobbery begins.
- He tolerates my never-ending lists of projects.
- He takes me shopping.
- He completes me.
- He's my very best friend.
Happy Anniversary, Kev! I love you.
We are all avid Adventures in Odyssey fans, and our kids were very excited about the Whit's End area of the Welcome Center. They had a ton of fun exploring all of the exhibits and seeing all of the Odyssey paraphernalia displayed there. Four of us were within the height limit and able to traverse the three-story A-Bend-A-Go slide. Hang on. It's a wild ride.
We had lunch at the Whit's End Soda Shoppe, and yes there are a couple of Wodfamchocsods on the table there.
Our children were also able to add their voices to their very own episode of Adventures in Odyssey in the Kids' Radio studio. That was so much fun. It was great just watching them.
I'm afraid to give away any real details because things could always change, but I will say that the guests are two rebel brothers who have a phenomenal message to share. More to come!
We arrived at Grand Teton National Park on Saturday nearing lunchtime. Although we had pretty much scrapped our original plan to camp there for three nights, I was wavering. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Blue skies stretched for miles, temperatures were in the 60's, the campgrounds were not yet full, the park was breathtakingly beautiful.
Nonchalantly, I commented that one of the campgrounds we had considered was just up ahead.
We drove a bit farther and stopped for a picnic lunch beside the lake. The mountains on the other side were a perfect backdrop, and I was lost in the romantic idea of pitching our tent, sitting in our chairs by the lake, reading books all afternoon, doing a bit of hiking, cooking over the campfire, and snuggling into our sleeping bags at night.
Again I tentatively suggested, "You know, we could just camp here like we'd planned."
Finally, my wise and practical husband patiently reminded me that we spent two days drying out our tent, tarps, and other essentials inside our condo in Big Sky. Yes, we just moved the dining room table and chairs into the living room and set up our tent there for a couple of days. He and our children were not idealistic at all when it came to repeating the South Dakota scenario.
We moved on and enjoyed the stunning scenery for the rest of the afternoon. There was a funny moment when we read about the French explorers who named the Tetons. I didn't do my homework on that one, I must admit. I'm sure our friends in France can appreciate the humor there.
Our plans to do any hiking were halted by signs like these that mirrored those we had seen in Yellowstone.
We stopped briefly in Jackson Hole and witnessed once again the abrupt shift in the weather that we have experienced in our time here. Black clouds rolled in from seemingly nowhere. Dazzling lightning bolts streaked out of the sky time and time again. Ultimately, the skies opened and rain poured and poured and poured. My papa would call that kind of storm a "real gully washer." That it was.
We ducked into a store for shelter, and all I could think was how thankful I was that we were not in a tent in GTNP. Praise the Lord.
We drove a bit farther into Wyoming, met a sweet biker couple who steered us toward a small town where we could find a nice place to stay, and spent a restful night warm and dry in a delightful little hotel with an indoor pool and a hot breakfast the next morning.
God is good.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
He will not allow your foot to slip;
The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD will protect you from all evil;
Psalm 121 NAS
Friday, June 19, 2009
Nonetheless, our boys found a huge pile of snow to climb and proceeded to bean each other with snowballs. How many times do you get to do that in shorts and t-shirts?
The real draw for most visitors to Big Sky is this big guy, Lone Mountain. The slopes here are considered by many to be some of the best in the country. At over 11,000 feet it offers much to downhill fanatics. Double Black Diamond, anyone?
Our time here has been delightful, but we'll be heading out for another adventure tomorrow. With no firm plans for the next few days, we will be vagabonds somewhat. Who knows where we'll be tomorrow night?
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Upper Falls are the smaller of the two at 109 feet.
At 308 feet high, the Lower Falls are almost twice the height of Niagara Falls.
Visitors like us have been drawn by these breathtaking vistas since 1846 when Jim Bridger, possibly the first white man to see them, first arrived on the scene.
Around Yellowstone Lake the scenery makes yet another abrubt change. The waters here are tranquil and serene with snow-capped mountains in the distance. Don't be fooled, however. The falls are just a short distance away.
In a matter of ten minutes we went from being at about 8500 feet above sea level with snow falling to around 6000 feet and 63 degrees. The weather here is as variable as the landscape. Showers blow up quickly and can dissipate just as fast. It is truly fascinating.
We had planned to hike out to Natural Bridge, a rock formation carved out by erosion, but the trail was closed due to danger of bears. Yikes! Those plans quickly changed. May the bears enjoy their time at Natural Bridge. We were happy to let them have that trail all to themselves.
After a few stops for more geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and buffalo sightings we headed out of the park for a strategic visit to DQ. Every geyser gazer loves a treat now and then.
We will return to YNP for the last time on Saturday as we make our way south to Grand Teton National Park. What a week this has been!