Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Watch This Movie... Tonight.

Snuggling under a cozy throw in front of the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree and relishing a good Christmas movie is one of my favorite things to do on cold winter evenings. 

However, finding a Christmas movie that is about the real meaning of Christmas and absent of gag-worthy santa propaganda is like trying to find your daughter's favorite Elsa sock when you need to head out the door in 4.3 minutes or less.  #santagetsoldafterawhile  #socksareinvisiblewhenyoureinahurry

Image result for max lucado christmas candle

Imagine my delight when the Rugged Mountain Man discovered a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas movie the other night.
Image result for max lucado christmas candle

Max Lucado's The Christmas Candle is based on his novel of the same name.  It follows the journey of one man, a town and a legend through hard times, through doubts and ultimately, back to faith.  Intertwined is a love story that's as much of a miracle as what the whole town experiences in the end. 

It's clean! 

It's wholesome! 

It's uplifting! 

And, it's well done, too! 

Image result for max lucado christmas candle

Additionally, being a fan of Charles Dickens and Pride and Prejudice era stories and scenery, I savored every bit of English scenery, charming architecture and exquisite costuming.  Fans of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South movie will be happy to see Leslie Hanville, who played Maria Hale, playing Bea Haddington, another central character.

Though not a musical, Susan Boyle ~ a Scottish singer and contestant on Britain's Got Talent ~ plays a part, lending her angelic voice to the theme song of the movie.  It was a high point in the movie for me, as her style and voice lean in the Celtic direction, a favorite style of mine. 

Image result for max lucado christmas candle

We finished this movie feeling uplifted and inspired.  It was worth watching.  I'm a repeat movie watcher, so I'm sure it will be one of my favorites for years to come.

As the movie has the death of a central character in the story line, deals with tragedy and an unwed mother, it isn't for the youngest of viewers, so no, the girlies haven't seen it yet.  We're still discussing how much the Littles and Bigs will understand and how much will go over their heads.  Plus, it could be a good discussion movie.  You watch it and decide for your family.  I'm looking forward to adding it to our movie collection; it's just that good.

If you've got Amazon Prime, it's free to watch there!  If you don't have Prime, try this link. 

Meanwhile, I'll be in the hunt to track down that book.  It's a must read for me!  Maybe I'll be able to read it during Christmas break...

Merry Christmas,


Monday, December 19, 2016

Did you ever wonder?

Did you ever wonder if your 3 year old has better time management skills than you?

Alternate captions:
"That's it.  I'm done waiting to go
to the Little Camo Guy's house." 
"I'm taking time into my own (capable) hands."
"Just rockin' out the time management over here." 
"Homeschooling: Teaching real life lessons...
like time management,
even to the youngest of students." 
Happy laughing, friends!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Getting a Little Pinteresting

It's been a little Pinteresting around here lately.

I find that Pinterest can help you covet
it can help you put to good use what you've already got. 
In this case, my growing collection of vintage aqua mason jars became budget centerpieces for a small post birth baby get together for a friend.  I had warm fuzzies to see something I've collected from my grandparents, my husband's grandparents, our friends and my mom being used to give someone else joy.

With the help of my mom and sister in law, we put together a "Thankful" celebration for my sister's coming baby boy bundle.
I'd noticed this autumn~esque centerpiece on Pinterest. 
I was thrilled to dig out my enamel basin that I'd snagged
from the Rugged Mountain Man's grandmother's estate.

Some scrap burlap, jute twine, a few leftover artificial leaves and a sharpie
became a simple "Thankful" pennant.

My sister in law shared this pennant idea... some more leftover artificial leaves, inexpensive clothespins and scans of favorite book pages made a cute book and leaves pennant. 
You might also notice our tin can luminaries on the Fall mantle.  They were yet another project from our Colonial life study, representing the tinsmith vocation that was popular during that time period.

As the holidays progressed, we wanted to do a fun little Christmas decoration update.  With a coupon for some fun lumberjack flannel, our own leftover burlap and ribbon, a Buffalo plaid garland took shape in less than fifteen minutes.  That's the kind of crafting I do these days, y'all!

I pulled off the update of the tree too, by using a new-to-us Christmasy quilt for a tree skirt and lumberjack plaid ribbon for the tree too.  It isn't a huge change from last year, but for $5.00, the whole family enjoyed making our Christmas decorations look more "us."  (You already know that our red and black plaids are a bit conspicuous.
And the Rugged Mountain Man pronounced this "the best tree yet!"

The girls and I put the enamel basin to work again,
tweaking the centerpiece to reflect their tea party's theme of an old-fashioned Christmas. 

The effect was thoroughly charming. 
At one point, my sister and I went back and forth through the house, proclaiming that we could smell something burning.  Eventually we discovered a few smoldering boughs in the centerpiece!  Never doubt a woman's nose!

The boughs are from a bush out front that "needed to be trimmed," (read: if Mommy knew how to use the chain saw, she'd cut it down herself.)  The Blossoms harvested holly sprigs from our own holly bushes, proving yet again that festive doesn't have to be pricy. 
I continue to use my sister's Pinterest mantra ~
When Pinterest stops inspiring you
and starts making you feel bad,
it's time to get off. 
However, I'm thrilled that Pinterest has inspired us to use what we've already got
to beautify in simple ways. 
Happy Pinteresting, friends!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Our Own Taffy Pulling Bee

Remember how we coordinated history curriculum with our trip to the historic triangle? 

Studying colonial life was fascinating.  We thoroughly enjoyed that trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

We learned that many times the colonists would band together
in gatherings referred to as "bees" to work and play.
The girlies just wouldn't let me forget that the colonists had taffy pulling bees.
Taffy pulling sounds like sticky sweet fun, right?  Sign us up!

I can hardly blame them for their fascination with taffy pulls, as I'd read a Christmasy novel that involved folks pulling taffy for old-fashioned fun and it picqued my curiousity as well. 
I mean, taffy-pulling sounds like something everyone should try at least once, right?

When Daddy was away slaying deer for the family freezer,
we decided that a nice, quiet evening was perfect for pulling taffy.

Keep in mind, I've never pulled taffy before and I don't have a fantastic track record with candy that requires a candy thermometer.  (Too many distractions around, perhaps?)

We utilized this recipe.  Can you tell Blossom4 wasn't thrilled about pink slime on her hands?

Grammie called right in the middle of waiting for the candy thermometer to reach the right temperature.  She remembered putting powdered sugar on her hands when pulling taffy as a kid.  This proved to vastly increase our enjoyment of the whole experience. 
We were sure to share a bag of taffy with her!

Oh, the giggles, friends!

What a kick we got out of smooshing
and stretching
and pulling
and demonstrating
our pink slime to each other. 

Blossom4 was "done" almost immediately and resorted to handing me taffy candies for wrapping. 

The rest of the girlies eventually pulled their taffy into ropes and we came out with plenty of taffy to share with their friends.  Of course, it didn't even compare to yummy saltwater taffy or the I Ching of taffy, a huckleberry flavor shared by some cross country road-tripping friends.  Perfection is never achieved the first time around, but it sure was fun aiming for it anyway. 
It should be noted that Blossom1, true to form, said we should sell taffy.  I doubt that the recipients of our pink taffy would agree with her. 
Blossom2 vastly exaggerated her stretching dramatics, causing us to double over in laughter. 
Blossom3 was particularly enthralled with slicing the taffy ropes into bite-size pieces with my nifty "scrape shovel" kitchen utensil. 
As for me, I was astounded that no one got it in their hair.

Friday, December 9, 2016

An Artsy Autumn Afternoon

Clearly on one of the last warm days of autumn, we decided a project was in order. 

I like to save Sunday afternoons for resting, for family, for refreshing our focus, for thinking, for breathing, for starting fresh.  There's even room for family fun.  I think Daddy was napping in front of a football game.  Craft projects with girlies make naps for daddies much more realistic.

Which is why, I told Blossom1 and Blossom2 to get out their craft kits they got for their birthdays. 

Then, digging into my "stash," which is alternately a life-saver and on other days, a clutter disaster, I brought out some plain white t-shirts, which turned a two girlie project into a project for everyone!  (insert my Chance voice from the Homeward Bound movie... "there's plenty for everyone!!")

Y'all, I can't stand messes inside.  As a good friend of mine jokes, "They make me twitchy." 
But outside, they don't seem to bother me, which is why this table was cause for celebration.  I could totally picture crafts happening here!  When mama chills, everybody enjoys themselves more!

With stencils, puffy paints, plain t-shirts and tote bags, the girlies were happy campers.  Well, they were happy as long as I scrupulously supervised Blossom4, thereby preventing her from methodically squeezing each puffy paint pen into enormous puddles of paint on her t-shirt. 
The thing that I loved most is that the crafting inspired generosity too. 

Blossom1 and Blossom2 used their leftover supplies to craft a sweet little Winnie the Pooh library bag for their cousin's birthday!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Remember to Forget the Elf

It's Christmastime and our daily Follow the Star tradition has recommenced.  The girlies are loving it!

Here's the quick and realistic version for all you busy mamas:
#1 - Let your kiddos make a popsicle stick star. 
#2 - Clean up the glitter, scraps, ribbon and glue mess from said popsicle stick star craft, after perpetrators have mysteriously disappeared outside. 
#3 - Tell yourself that it really is ok that it doesn't look a traditional Star of David.
#4 - Explain to the kiddos that you'll hang it after they go to bed each night, thus silencing the howls of rage over who gets to hang it first and then, each successive evening. 
#5 - Laugh as they come shooting out of bed the next morning and pound through the house like a herd of elephants in search of the star.
#6 - Proclaim that it's okay that they all found the star at the same time!
#7 - Close your eyes and hold your breath as your little ones "carefully" move each wise man and camel to the site of the star.
#8 - Smile and remember that amidst all of the things you're not doing and you're not keeping up with, you ARE helping them to learn what Christmas is really about. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Smiles and Costumes

My co-leader and I gave the all the students in our homeschool co-op a choice for spirit week:

- Nerds vs. Rockstars
- Occupation Day
- Favorite Team
- Favorite Book Character

Favorite Book Character day won by a landslide. 
And the conversations at home began.  Who to be?
Much to my surprise, Nancy Drew was thrown out because all you need is a magnifying glass and where's the fun in the that costume?   I should've figured.

After much deliberation, I give you:
Blossom3 as Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor (illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser).
Blossom2 is Queen Blossom from the Kingdom of Fantasy books by Geronimo Stilton. 
Blossom1 is Queen Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. 
Blossom4 is Jesse Bear by Nancy White Carlstrom.   
We made a five dollar trip to the thrift store (Boom, baby!!!) and another trip to the dollar store.  Blossom3 needed a feather boa and a boatload of beads! 
Blossom1's costume began with a brown flared dress about ten sizes too big and a set of burgundy curtains.  Blossom2's costume began with a blue shirt off the quarter clearance rack and another set of curtains. 

After about an hour or so at the sewing machine, we had ourselves some medieval style sleeves and our costumes were definitely looking good now.  The girlies were so tickled with how their costumes turned out. 

Blossom3 borrowed the red wig off her Grandma, who won it at a Mary Kay party several years ago.  Her wig was the first to go from her costume, because wigs are hot, but she made a pretty convincing Fancy Nancy.  And an adorable Fancy Nancy, if I do say so myself!

Blossom4 as Jesse Bear didn't even make it into the group picture at co-op, because her Nittany Lion snow suit turned bear costume was "SO HOT."  That's life with a three year old, but I expected that, so no biggie.

There were just so many smiles with this whole costume thing... smiles of anticipation.... smiles after the fittings... smiles checking out their pals' costumes... the smiles of childhood fun.  And I'm glad.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Favorite Bookish Parts of My House

I do chuckle a little about home tours.  The homes are so perfect, it doesn't seem possible that a family could actually live there!  Blossom4's overflowing book basket is proof that we really do abide in our abode.

While I find other people's homes inspiring, there comes a point that it just doesn't do anyone any good anymore.  My sister says, "When Pinterest stops inspiring and starts making you feel bad, it's time to get off."  Very wise.

Which is why I thought you'd enjoy the stack of mail, half full fruit bowl and our latest read-aloud on counters coated with a sheen of wheat flour, with dirty dishes in the background. 

And why not include some nooks that make me smile?  It's like my mini bookish home tour! 
It goes without saying that the Rugged Mountain Man and I are passionate about reading. 

It reflects in the culture of our home.  I'm always arranging tempting reads on the dining room table in order to whet the girlies' appetites for something new, old, different or challenging.  I myself love to reread my favorites over and over again. (Hello Pride & Prejudice, again.)  The little figurine in the middle of the table is something my Mom always had around our home when I was growing up.  It gives me warm fuzzies, reminding me of the special times of reading to our Blossoms. 

Whenever I step around the dining room table, I have to watch my step, because they, especially Blossom2, are always snagging a few moments of cozy reading time in their bean bag chairs, leaving the books upside down like this.

And here's Blossom3's book basket in her bedroom.  She doesn't know it, but I'm drawing her into longer books with curated selections.  I love when she emerges from rest time clutching her latest read and grinning.  She happily rattles off what she read and begs me to add it to her book list. 
So, this is just what you'd see if you come on over.  It's us.  It's our home.  And yes, it's bookish.  Happy Friday!


Monday, November 21, 2016

Hearts, Hurts and Hypocrisy

I've heard of passive aggression, but now I've experienced it. 

Passive aggression has been unmasked to me for the hypocrisy it is.  

When words are used to hurt people under the guise of kindness, it's wrong. 

Wrong, wrong, wrong. 

When you walk away from a "nice" conversation and you feel icky.  It's because you were meant to feel the dig.  The words were designed to put down, to wound. 

When you leave and wonder how something "pleasant" could bother you so.  It's because the motives of the heart have shone through another's words.  You heard the words, but truly, you got the message, loud and clear.

Those nice words from a mean heart or motive are completely un-Jesus. 

Jesus was genuine in His interactions with people.  People were drawn to His love.  He didn't fake it.  He talked straight.  He loved and He acted on that love.  In this journey on Earth, I'm aiming to be just like Him. 

Have you found yourself saying inane things with a mean motive?  I caution you.  You could lose friendships that God has ordained

"A man that has friends must show himself friendly."

Are you crafting conversations from ugly sin in your heart?  Is it jealousy?  Is it insecurity?  Is it impatience?  Is it bitterness?  Jesus is calling us up higher to the law of Love.  The cause of the Gospel is being damaged when Love is not the rule... 'cause ain't nobody wants to be a part of a Family that works like that. 

What if you're finding passive aggression where you expected fellowship? 

We can recognize the fakery, no longer partaking in the hurt.

We can pray.  Really pray for the perpetrator and the receiver. 

We can still walk according to the law of Love. 

And if the opportunity arises, we can speak the truth in love.

Let's end the hypocrisy.

Friday, November 18, 2016

On Provoking

We recently took a jaunt to one of our favorite state parks.  The fresh air was invigorating, as was the "mom time." 
The girls soaked up the learning opportunities with their pals, finding the geocaching and GPS instruction to be especially interesting.

Everywhere I go, every path I walk in a day,
I'm listening through the noise of walking out my calling.

I want the Lord to show me how to serve Him better.

One thing I've been listening to the Holy Spirit's whisperings about is provoking my children. 

He's putting His finger on this, showing me there are times that my response to their tiffs, arguments and such is provoking them into further sin.

I am human and I feel frustration at their struggles and sins.

Sin is never an excuse for more sin.  Period.

As they come to me in their own frustration and/or anger with/at each other,
I'm thankful to be feeling the "check" of the Holy Spirit. 

"What will you say?  Will you join in their sin?  Will you add to it? 
Will you provoke them to (further) anger?" 

Or will it be a soft answer? 
Believe me, I've noticed that the softer answer helps everyone simmer down.
God is always still working on me.
"A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger."
Proverbs 15:1 NASB
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 NASB