Monday, November 30, 2015

To look and be thankful

I'm thankful our children have the chance to be unique.

I'm thankful for vignettes that bring joy to my heart as God's beauty is before my eyes.

I'm thankful that God loves color.

I'm thankful that children really are a blessing.

I'm thankful for the out of the ordinary.

I'm thankful for the ordinary.

I'm thankful for breathtaking things.

I'm thankful for friends - people that are like iron sharpening iron.

I'm thankful for each 24 hours we are granted.

I'm thankful for inspiration.

I'm thankful that God is my Rock.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Some good music

Friends, it's that time of year!!!!  I'm sure you're hard up for some terrific Christmas music.  In honor of that, I'm reposting this post.

So, I'm a Christmas lover.  I listen to Christmas music year round.  Really.  You can gag if you want, but how can you when those Christmas songs are so full of beautiful Christian doctrine and the miracle of His advent to Earth?  My soul swells with joy even now as I type.  (I'm serious.)  Being that I love the traditional Christmas songs, it stands to reason that I can't stand double and triple doses of santa songs and all the icky Santa Baby, Baby Its Cold Outside and other such nonsense.  Where to find a good station that plays what I like?  (And I know you're thinking why are you blogging about this now?  Just stay with me here.)  I found this station.  BLISS.  An excellent variety of Christian Christmas music!  And, the reason I'm blogging now, is because this station and I pretty much have a daily relationship now.  I love to set the mood when Daddy gets home from work or when Mommy needs to refocus.  I click to this station and VOILA!  When I'm more in the mood for something worshipful and calm, I click "Gentle Praise."  It's this gorgeous array of mostly instrumental praise and worship music, including some of my modern favorites like, "In Christ Alone!"  And, then, when I get into that Red-And-Green mood again, I click to "A Family Life Christmas" or "Peaceful Christmas."  What a blessing it has been!  Sometimes, we mommies just need a little help bring peace to the house again.  Why not try it yourself?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Give Storynory a Try

Hey friends!

I'm sure you're busy with your Thanksgiving prep.  I wanted to share a little tip with you.  It's a good one for a cozy Black Friday evening, complete with hot cider and!

Have you heard of Storynory.comA friend of mine shared this wonderful web site with me ages ago.  I don't even know how she found out about it, except that she is quite the knowledgeable lady.  Storynory is a web site with free audio books.  Um, FREE.  Natasha is their fantastic narrator and does a superb job.  She comes across as personable and never "canned." 

The girls and I are thoroughly enjoying The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  It's makes for a relaxing evening, lounging in the living room and listening to a classic story.  (It was a great motivator for the bigs during supper clean-up and the littles during helping to fold clothes!)

Hope you enjoy as much as we have!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Sunday, November 22, 2015

If you stopped by and had tea with me today, I'm sure we'd get to talking about things that have been inspiring us lately.

I've been inspired by a friend of mine who previously struggled with knowing her life's purpose.  In having children, raising them for Christ and homeschooling, her purpose has become crystal clear.  The beautiful thing about God's will for each of us personally, is that He supplies (abundantly) the grace needed to do His will.  It rarely is easy, but we are not alone AND we are thoroughly equipped to do it.  I derive so much comfort from the fact that whatever it is God wants me to do, He comes alongside me, helps me and equips me, as well.

I've been inspired by a mom blogger of a large family, to know my family's vision and to make purposeful decisions that align with that vision. I would love for this little blog to inspire someone to do the same.  I feel like the "keepers at home" concept of Titus 2 is dying off.  Can I just share with you the joy of being a keeper at home with the girlies?  There is loads of work, but I get to be here to take care of our home!  I get to make this place a haven.  The peaceful place I imagine, I can make it come into existence.  I have the privilege of being here to educate our daughters, to teach them life lessons, to live out our faith in front of them.  

I may be tired, but my heart is at peace.  

I can look back over the last 10 years of my stay-at-home career with very few regrets.  I was here.  With them.  Being Jesus to them.  Nobody could do a better job, because God gave this job to me.  

I'm not super mom.  

I'm Dominique, loving Jesus, taking care of the girlies and this home.  

I try to please God.  I go to bed exhausted and then I get up again to try to please God in another day.  It's a good life.

The best definition of a good life is being in the will of God.

Not more money.
Not a bigger data plan.
Not the perfect house.
Not over-achieving kids.
Not a crazy schedule.

It's being in the will of God.  

What will you sacrifice this week to be in the will of God?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Your Wishes/Your Command

Have you ever heard, "Your wish is my command?" 

Sappy, dating couples sometimes say it.  (And usually married couples gag in response.)

Back in our dating days, the Rugged Mountain Boyfriend Man said,

"If we always make each others' wishes, our commands,
we will always have a super relationship!"

It takes time to consider the preferences of your husband. 

I challenge you to think of something today, a preference - a wish - of your husband's, and make it happen.  Serving each other, makes for happy days, day after day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hike a Mountain; Learn about God's Character

The girls and I have been thoroughly enjoying the unseasonably warm days that have been smattered here and there across our early November weeks. 

It's been refreshing to get outside, to breathe the fresh air and to see God's handiwork.  It's one of the best ways for children to get to know God.  His handiwork has His character written all over it. 

In His creation, children (and adults!) learn that God is big, because they can see His vastness with their own two eyes. 
They learn that He cares, because it is obvious that He put it there for them to enjoy, because He knows each sparrow that falls. 
They learn that He is orderly, because it is obvious that this Earth was not an accident.  Each season, each creature, each plant has an orderly life cycle. 
They can see that He is powerful, by the miracles in the life cycle of a leaf or the splendor of a mountain view. 
They pause for a moment and know, deep in their own spirits, that He is truly present; something we can tell them, but they can only truly know by the Holy Spirit's revelation to their own spirit. 
They too lift up their eyes to the hills; from the hills comes their Help, to quote the Psalmist poet. 
So many lessons from a few hours in His world. 


Another lesson for children in hiking, is learning to press through difficulty. 

This hike was SO gorgeous and entirely worth the effort.  However, my sister, my friend and I decided that it wasn't really child friendly.  We each carried our youngest on our backs.  As there was excessive erosion on the trails, the trail was exceedingly rocky and somewhat steep.  Progress was slow and nerve-wracking at times. 

Still, we powered through and enjoyed ice cream afterward. 

Get out in God's world and let Him reveal Himself to you and your children.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fall/Winter Discovery

I've never proclaimed to be an expert homesteader or veteran gardener.  I live too far away from my grandparents (resident gardening experts) for everyday advice.  I usually save such phone calls for those one time questions like, "How do you know when rhubarb is ready to harvest?"  In any case, the Rugged Mountain Man and I literally learn as we go, painfully at times (like the year I planted the corn THREE times!!!)

This year, our monumental discovery was planting a very late crop of cold-loving leafy greens. 

When we purchased seeds, we ventured into the world of arugula.  It's a stretch if you consider that we were pretty hard core Romaine lettuce people.  While the Blossoms aren't totally in love with the arugula, the Rugged Mountain Man and I adore the savory tang it leaves in your mouth.  And, to appease the troops, we put in a row of Romaine lettuce.  (However, when the Romaine lettuce runs out, guess who's eating arugula.  Sorry, girls, having the "wrong" kind of greens is really a first world problem.)

It's November and we are still regularly eating lettuce and arugula out of the garden, even after several frosts.  At a time when we're normally putting the garden to bed, we saved some space for the leafy greens and are tickled pink with the result. 

Now, next year, I'd like to delve into cold frames a bit.  I've heard you can really extend your growing season!  I'd love to eat organic leafy greens from our plot ten months out of the year.  I'd call that a real gardening success.  Until then, I'm going to keep enjoying my November arugula, while I thank God for a little rookie success...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Check out your State Parks!

Sometimes we aren't aware of all that is available around us. 

In our state, many of the state parks offer spring and fall Homeschool Days. 

They are hands-on days that cover such topics as vermiculture (that's worms, people!), migration of birds of prey, fishing, Native American weapons and amphibian identification, just to name a few.

Getting your hands dirty in your education has long been one of my mom's favorite ways to expose her kids to new topics and situations. 

Now I'm doing the same with our children. 

I loved the Birds of Prey presentation, as the Blossoms and I were able to identify the hawk that's been patrolling our place for quite some time.  (We thought he was a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.  We were wrong; he was a Broad-Winged Hawk, like the one above.  Unfortunately, when our dogs were in this evening, the Broad-Winged Hawk struck, snagging one of our Bantam chickens.  Then, there was Blossom sadness.)

And, while we were observing the demonstration, we even saw him "hawk" up a hairball.  How many people can say they saw that? 

Another interesting observation is that birds of prey are placed in their cages tail-first, a move that would be bad news points deductions when handling poultry in 4-H events.  Poultry has to be placed head-first for the safety of their wings.  Birds of prey are MOST concerned about watching the handler since the birds are not domesticated.  Although that poses a risk to their wings, it's most important to keep them calm and feeling unthreatened.  So, our 4-H experiences and birds of prey experiences made for an interesting discussion.

Plus, Homeschool Days are perfect for that much-needed socialization that everyone thinks we're severely lacking.  (If you're missing the sarcasm as you read, I'll just let you know now how much I think socialization is NOT an issue for homeschoolers.  Most homeschoolers learn to adapt to many social situations and age group interactions quickly and adeptly, proving the point that it's best not to pigeon hole kids to one specific age group... but that's just my opinion.) 

She is socialized and evidently, she is fierce.  That's Blossom3 throwing an atlatl (Native American arrow throwing weapon). 

And, you never know, you might have a dinosaur sighting in your amazing state park! 

It's always great to get your kiddos outside as well.

Studies are now showing that kids who get outside and get moving, can focus better than kids who can't!  It's worthwhile to get out and breathe deep.  I enjoyed the beauty, the old friends and the new information, as did the girlies.  I can't wait to see what else the local state parks have up their sleeves!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Just Keep Doing Something

I think I've written a number of times about the Blossoms' personal devotions and the devotional time I have with them in the morning. 

Through my own experience and words, I've encouraged you to use the tools that are available to us.  I've also shared the Bible Story Books and devotion books that we've used at various times.  I've shared that Mommies need to adapt, adapt, adapt, when it comes to the constantly changing schedules and demands that go with having children.  I've encouraged you to just keep trying.  If something is important to you, don't give up, just because it isn't working the way you envision it to work right now.  Keep trying!  I've reminded you that if you're too busy for devotions, you're too busy.  (I know it's a hard word, but it's a much-needed word these days, and one that impacted me, as well.) 

When it comes to devotions with your kids, just keep doing something. 

My Dad sometimes says to employees who are standing around, "Do something, even if it's wrong." 

The point here is, at least you're trying.

I'm not talking about a half-hearted attempt, coupled with a bad attitude.  You may not know the exactly correct or perfect thing to do, but just do something.

Raising kids in this world is a faith venture.  No one has a formula for "baking the perfect cookie."  So, we step out in faith, doing our best to train up children in the way they should go.  That training is really a collection of practical things to further the Faith in their lives. 

I shared above so many of the things that God has used to help our devotional times. 

Right now, we're using Keys for Kids.  I discovered that you can actually receive it daily to your inbox for free, if you don't feel like paying the small charge to have it mailed to you.  Keys for Kids are really just parables and stories for a younger audience.  If you read the scriptures outlined at the top, your children will get a decent chunk of the Bible too.  (The girls liked Keys for Kids so much that they read the whole book in their free time!)

We will probably not always use Keys for Kids, just like we didn't always use these Bible story and devotion books.  I've learned to be ok with change, because I'm determined that by God's grace, we'll just keep doing something.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Has the Drama Found You?

Over the past week or two, drama has found me.  It's definitely first world drama (meaning not life or death). 

Perhaps you remember that one of the biggest reasons I've always distanced myself (far) from social media is to stay away from the drama.  "Drama" is really just a current word for strife and busy-bodying, among other things that the Bible calls sin. 

We try to practice Romans 12:18 to the best of our ability, as well:

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."
In any case, through the girls' dog treat business and some other things, drama found us, even though we were trying our best to live at peace with those around us.  This drama has helped me to think - what do I do when drama finds me?  That's when people are paying attention, when life isn't going smoothly, when you've been wronged or when you've been accused, etc. 

The thing about this drama was that it filtered into our home and affected the Blossoms directly.  We took the opportunity to talk about this at the dinner table.  It made for some really neat conversations and times of learning.  I'm sincerely thankful for opportunities to talk about real life ways that we walk out our Christianity.  It wasn't a gossip session.  It wasn't a bash session.  It wasn't a gripe session. 

"What would you do?" 

"How would you feel?" 

"How do you think we should handle this?" 

"What do you think Jesus feels about this?" 

This is where the rubber meets the road. 

We still tried to limit the drama.  After all, Proverbs 20:3 says,
"Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel."

It's easy to get sucked in.  We stopped the conversations that were controlled by the drama topic.  We love our peaceful home, so when/if it ceased to be a learning family discussion, Mommy just said, "That's enough."  We won't dwell on garbage!!!  Believe me, I was very aware that our children were watching how Mommy and Daddy handled this thing.  We also resisted the temptations to get involved further than we felt was right, wise or necessary.  We could've hit reply all, just like everyone else in the crazy email string. 

But we didn't. 

I really felt like it was an exercise in wisdom. 

We didn't do the easy thing, the fun thing, the feel-good thing, we just waited.  It was the wise thing.

If you've read the book of Proverbs, you know that wisdom is a really big deal and it's also surprisingly practical and quiet.  If I could contrast, I'd say that drama likes the flashy thing and wisdom IS often the quiet, common sense thing.

There wasn't a formulaic answer to quell the drama.  We just tried our best to walk through it in the Godliest way we could, teaching our children all along the way. 

I urge you, if the drama finds you, walk Godly, use wisdom and teach your kids through it all.

PS - Today we received a refund check for what was basically fraudulent use of our funds.  The Rugged Mountain Man and I thanked the Lord.  When the Blossoms get home from Grammie & Pappy's house, we can't wait to show them the outcome of all of it.  And we didn't even have to get crazy involved in the drama. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Quotable Quotes

#1 - "Don't kiss it, you're gonna eat it!" (referring to baby meat rabbits)
~ Mommy

#2 - "NO (livestock) animals on the table!"
~ Mommy, feeling like we're turning into the Kettle family.

(Ma Kettle swiping a chicken off the table as she sets it for dinner.)

#3 - "I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE rabbits, chickens and ducks, way more than cats.  Rabbits, chickens and ducks are way more cuddly."
~ Blossom2

#4 - "If you can't finish the animal choring in 30-40 minutes, I will set your alarm for earlier!!!"
~ Dragon Mama

(and then they did the chores in 20 minutes that morning.  Boom, baby!)

#5 - "Mama, we named the new litter of rabbits.  They are Salty, Pepper, Burnt, Gravy, Crispy, Roasted and Stewed."
~ Blossom1

#6 - "Mama, are we Amish?"
~ Blossom3
(The answer is no, of course.  In many ways, our lives parallel the Amish lifestyle, child work ethic being one of them.  AND, prior to asking me this, Blossom3 had just tied her kerchief on her head Amish work style and said she was pretending to be Amish.  I'm concluding she asked only for shock value as she followed the question with a hilarious giggle.  Additionally, I'm quite certain Blossom3 has overheard the Rugged Mountain Man and I refer to the inside joke at his workplace that HE is Amish.)

Have a happy day, friends! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Baking Bits

I love baking!

Sometimes I enjoy it more than others, depending on my current time constraints, but when it really comes down to it, I do love baking. 

Here's my new favorite product:

Butterfinger Baking Bits!!!!
Seriously, we've rolled our homemade Caramel apples in them and thrown them in our "Kitchen Sink" cookie bars.  (Our Kitchen Sink cookie bars are the Toll House cookie recipe with whatever kind of chips, m&m's or potato chips that are in the cupboard... everything but the kitchen sink goes in.  And they're always yummy!) 
These are basically a chocolate chip size bag of Butterfinger chunks - no pounding needed. 
(My little pounders gave me the poochy lip.)
Next time you're in the baking aisle, snag the bag and take 'em home to get your creative juices going.  They'll add the perfect crunch to your recipe - Blossom approved!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Next stop on our Ithaca, NY getaway was Buttermilk Falls State Park. 

Frankly, Taughannock Falls took my breath away the moment I saw the link sent over by the friend who let us stay in his cabin. Taughannock Falls State Park was on my MUST DO list for Ithaca.

I figured the Rugged Mountain Man could pick everything else we'd do, but I wanted to go to Taughannock Falls.  It definitely didn’t disappoint us.

However, I expected only one set of waterfalls at Buttermilk Falls; my expectations were considerably lower for this state park.

I seriously underestimated this whole state park. 

 At the end of the day, the Rugged Mountain Man and I ended up liking Buttermilk Falls State Park better than Taughannock Falls, and that’s saying something considering the sheer grandeur of Taughannock Falls.

The natural wonders at Buttermilk Falls just kept wowing us, moment after moment, step after step. 

Beautiful pools, stunning falls after set of stunning falls after set of stunning falls,

amazing geology (and you know how our Blossom2 loves rocks)…

This place is one that we hope to take the Blossoms to very soon.

The hikes again were all very short and ranked a 9.5 on my aesthetic 1-10 scale. I’d call them a 5.5 on the difficulty scale, as there were more steep stairs, but I know the girlies could’ve handled them.

We don’t usually hike with a time limit and when there’s more beauty to see, we usually have to shout out, “Stay where we can see/hear you!!!!!!!!” as they charge ahead.

With so much natural beauty so constantly near the trail, motivation would be high to just keep hiking. Once again, we strung together 3-4 trails to come up with approximately 4.5 miles of hiking.

(The Gorge trail is the main trail, with the most aesthetic "bang for your buck."  It's the easiest to access and the most popular, by far.  However, there's so much more to see than the Gorge trail has to offer.  We did the Bear trail, Lake Treman trail and the Rim trail to complete our circuit of the gorge, waterfalls and Lake Treman.)

I do love seeing the Creator's handiwork from as many vantage points as possible.

Additionally, the falls clearly respond quickly to changes in weather and the water table, so it would be very interesting to see it during the spring high run-off season as well. 

I like places that are always unique, so they can be visited again and again.

Gratitude doesn't begin to capture what's in my heart as I look at these snapshots of our time at Buttermilk Falls State Park. 

I'm simply astounded by the beauty God's hand etched into the New York geography. 

It turns my heart to the Creator afresh.