Monday, February 29, 2016

Geology Rocks

I've shared with you before that more people (especially homeschoolers) really ought to utilize the educational opportunities at their local state parks

We went over a valley or two and attended a 5 hour "Geology Rocks" session.  This turned out to be our best education state park experience yet.  (Previous picture is the group learning about sedimentary rock.  The bottom layer of sedimentary rock is very warm and totally feeling the pressure... the same as the kids as they piled on layer after layer of kids.)

Blossom4 and her little pal agree that there ain't nothin' better than a cozy fire.

I got to fellowship all day with my friend, her little one and my little Blossom4.  The Environmental Center was full of fun educational books, heavy duty dinosaurs, all sorts of stuffed native animals and even aquariums for fun gazing.

Blossom3 was so pleased that her and her little pal got to participate and identify the rocks in the rock collections, even though they aren't 9 yrs old.  (I like it when people are flexible to include siblings.)

Then, when Blossom4 grew tired and restless in captivity, we ventured out to the playground.  The sun was shining and we basked in its rays and its warmth.

The day was a terrific change of pace, packed with knowledge and excellent hands-on activities to "make it stick."

Even Rory and Jake love field trips!  The Rugged Mountain Man came along so that he could do some hiking on the Mid State Trail with the "fellas" (as we call the dogs.)

Plus, Daddy even got to keep an eye on the girlies' Run Your Own Profitable Mine activity.  (Blossom1 tied for first as having the most profitable mine on the second go-round.  She was pretty pleased.)  The activity was quite in depth, complete with a patrolling MSHA officer watching for safety, health and environmental violations. 

I loved getting to chat with Daddy on the ride over.  I thoroughly enjoyed having meaningful mama-friend conversations in the Environmental Center, while putting the same puzzle together (at least) 5 times. 

Never forget that true fellowship can happen just about anywhere - in a vehicle, on a playground, over a puzzle, wherever.  More and more, I embrace the opportunities that come my way.  I appreciate the encouragement that I'm given and the encouragement I can offer.  It's fellowship, even during a Geology Rocks session.  As I used to say in my early (EARLY) twenties ~ "I'm down with that."


Friday, February 26, 2016

Leaving the Comfortable Behind

Society says, "Don't rock the boat."  The Status Quo states, "Don't disagree."  Your co-workers think, "Keep your religion to yourself."

Maybe it's my age.  Maybe it's part of my journey.  Maybe it's all those years of praying for boldness.  Maybe it's the Holy Spirit.  Probably, it's all of those things colliding beautifully. 

I'm coming to a place where I take a deep breath... and disagree.  (In the nicest, calmest way, mostly.)  I push aside the internal shaking, the edge of fear and speak up with the point of view that nobody wants to hear.  I hear the niggling worry of "They won't like me anymore" and remind myself that real friends are just that ~ real.  (Honesty holds a pristine, priceless value to me.)  So, I tamp down the questioning and feel my soul fall to its knees, groping for the right words that trickle from the Throne. 

Sometimes I feel a miniscule nudge toward action ~ to pray right then.  I must.  I've learned that the "little" nudges can get drowned out, if I let them.  Now is better than later.  Inwardly I repeat my child-rearing mantra, "We must learn to obey immediately," and I strive to obey at once. 

The more I walk this way; the more I crave others to do the same.  I gaze back over the meaningful encounters in my life and I can see in my mind's eye, the times people prayed for me, the moments the Truth was spoken "like apples of gold in pictures of silver."  (Proverbs 25:11 refers to a word that is "fitly spoken" truly being the perfect complement to a situation.)  The Spirit worked and spoke because someone broke through the status quo.

It is real Christianity.  It represents genuine friendship.  Holding the Spirit's hand in a conversation that ventures beyond the comfortable, acceptable parameters must surely impact people to the Glory of the Father.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What to do with PB Jars

I decided to surprise the Rugged Mountain Man on his birthday and take out the garbage for him.  As I was getting the gigantic bag ready to lug down the hill, I noticed an empty peanut butter jar in the middle yard.  (Long ago, I learned a dog owner secret from my sister in law.  Just pitch peanut butter jars out the back door and your dogs will be delighted, well entertained and somewhat spoiled!)  Enjoying the fresh air and the early morning stillness, I strolled over to grab the empty and well-licked peanut butter jar.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another peanut butter jar. 

"Great, I should grab that one too." 

I straightened and gazed around our yard once more, only to discover that there were no less than FIVE empty peanut butter jars awaiting my pick up.  This produced a chuckle in my throat and these thoughts in rapid succession:

A. We eat a lot of peanut butter. 
(And I can't just blame the Blossoms, as it makes a perfect smoothie or a wonderful remedy for that bottom-of-the-barrel milk chocolate stuff.)

B. We need to work on the Blossoms taking the "initiative." 
(Shouldn't those jars have been picked up by now?  They WERE in the middle of the yard and the Blossoms are outside far more than I am.)

C. If I had to be a dog, I'd want to live here.
(This is completely self explanatory.)

D. We really ARE country people, if I think it is normal to pitch empty peanut butter jars out the back door.

Take your pick... or your laugh. 


Monday, February 22, 2016

Thought-provoking, indeed

"On matters of principle, stand firm as a rock. 

On matters of taste, swim with the current."
~ Thomas Jefferson

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."
~ Romans 12:18, NASB

"I force people to have coffee with me, just because I don't trust that a friendship can be maintained without any other senses besides a computer or a cell phone screen."
~ John Cusack

Musing with you,


Friday, February 19, 2016

Simple Things, Simple Counting

You know, when you're far from home, sometimes it just the simple things that bring happiness.

(photo credit to my very talented, even with a baby clutching her leg,
a bouncing toddler niece and an iPhone sister)
Blossom4 was delighted when we opened a door upstairs at my aunt's house and came across a bouncy horse.  She kept saying, "Mama, dis is pitty cool!"  Her little cousin was equally thrilled, though not nearly so skilled a rider.  (By the end, Blossom4 looked like a professional jockey, standing up on stirrups and doing one-sided fancy rides.) 
For my part, I was thrilled with the simple pleasures of Starbucks (almost) every day, inside jokes with my family, silly songs my aunts taught me when I was a little girl, familiar familial sites, thoughts of Christmases long, long ago, old pictures, mementos of the love of other generations, silly texting with my husband and a surprise Dr. Pepper. 
This post is really just a subtle way to count my blessings.  What can you count today?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Life.  A balance of all things important and those things not important.  And precarious is that balance. 

I'll never again tell another mother that "she just needs to prioritize better."  Precarious is this balance of priorities.  Education has priority!  Good, hot meals have priority!  Time with God has priority!  Clean clothes has priority!  Family devotions have priority!  The Rugged Mountain Man has priority!  Mama's self-care is a priority!  A shower has priority!  This list goes on (and is in no particular order, so don't judge.) 


The balance of discipline is precarious.  Too firm.  Too loose.  More love.  More firm.  Harsher consequences.  Tired children.  Early bedtime.  Earlier rise time.  Sleep in.  More chores.  More practice.  Precarious.

The balance between life and death is precarious.  Breathing one moment, gone the next.  Hoping.  Sadness.  Celebration.  Precarious. 

Precarious is the balance of work.  Tackle the clutter or play Tell Tale?  Bark out orders or read a book?  Fold the clothes or let them wait another day?  Precarious.

I've always had a plan in place for the balance of time, the balance of discipline and other such things.  Life sometimes has a monkey wrench thrown in the midst of it all.

It's essential that we mamas keep on keepin' on.  We scratch our heads and make the best decision at the time.  We humbly whisper a prayer as we assign extra chores for a small one's rotten attitude.  We call our husbands for his advice on what to do with another small one's dilemma.  We ponder life.  We meditate on love.  And we keep going, walking humbly with our God, knowing that He keeps His fingers on the precarious. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Winter Whiteness, Road Trip & Back to the Tender Mundane

Hello friends,

Hope you have been enjoying and embracing winter.  (Do you need help with that?  Check this out!)  I'm typing at my laptop, gazing out the window at the winter whiteness winding its way down from the heavens.

I've been "gallivanting" about the country.  We got a call on Super Bowl Sunday, that my 92 year old grandmother passed away.  As a result, Blossom4 and I travelled over 1400 miles roundtrip with my parents, sister, nephew and cousin to attend the funeral.  One of my brothers flew in and stayed with us as well. 

It's with a light heart that I speak of the weekend.  After all, Grandma lived a full life.  She raised ten kids (yes, TEN) on a dairy farm in the Midwest (and liked it!)  She was an amazing lady whom I admire very much. 

(The Family Farm, where my dad was raised.  Photo credit to my brother)

Since she lived a full life and was not ill, the weekend was very much a celebration of her life with family.  I loved hearing about how she played Scrabble with her boys, to help them improve their spelling.  (I finally connected the dots.  I never knew why Scrabble was such a big deal with our family.  It all started more than 40 years ago as her attempt to help her children!) 

I also loved her approach to childhood bickering and foolishness. 

"Oh, you have time to bicker and get in to trouble?  You must not have enough work to do!" 

Then, she'd assign more chores.  Apparently, all ten of the children quickly learned to control themselves and their foolishness. 

(Sunrise in Chicago)

It was a wonderful weekend of fellowship with family, fun Valentine's weekend drinks from Starbucks, joking, celebrating, catching up, and singing.  Family singing remains very high up there on my list of favorite things.  When that harmony lifted up the strains of "How Great Thou Art," my heart lifted up its praises too.  Amazing.

I'm grateful for a pious woman who worked tirelessly during her life.  I'm also happy to be home again, as well, digging back into the tender mundane here. 

Cozy up!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Blankets are Useful

We love football here.  The whole family gets into it.  And, when our teams (Steelers and Packers) are out of the running, we make it about the food.  YUM!  (It's a good consolation.) 

What we do during the Super Bowl (a favorite family holiday) Half Time Show:

Because some things just aren't worth seeing.  (And yes, we missed the "wardrobe malfunction" a couple of years back, because of this.) 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Six Year Old Sweetie

Fun times over here celebrating Blossom3's sixth birthday!

Being that Mommy said Blossom3 could not have another Frozen party, the little girlie had to get creative.  She settled on a Minnie Mouse-Cowgirl-Polka Dot party. 

These pretzel snaps were so fun to make and they ate every one! (as opposed to eating "everyone."  All you grammar snobs are chuckling along with me.) 

Behold the cupcakes that Blossom3's auntie lovingly created.  Blossom3 is STILL talking about them.  (Gotta laugh at photo-bombing, cowgirl hat wearing, Kindle Fire wielding Blossom2, doing what people do now - taking pictures of food with their favorite device.  Blossom2 and Blossom1 whipped out devices this morning at breakfast to take pictures of their green smoothies.  I knew, then and there, that this is a techno world we're living in.)

Our 6 year old sweetie announced in her birthday interview that she loves to cook and wants to be a "restaurant girl" when she grows up.  (She also told someone in the church nursery on Sunday, "I'm not pretending to be a chef, I AM a chef.") 

I'm just enjoying her grin-minus-one-tooth plus the temporary accompanying minor lisp.  Adorable!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Dear Friends

"I like to start my notes to you as if we're the oldest and dearest of friends."
Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly, in "You've Got Mail"
Dear Friends,
What an odd winter we've had thus far.  Just the other day, we got powdered with one inch of snow, when our family members were blessed with 3 inches, 7 inches and TWO feet.  The Blossoms were green with envy (and grass).  I am sure our time will come.

Over the weekend, we ice skated (pics coming another day) as the temps rose from 30 to 50 degrees and the girlies shed layer after layer as they made their rounds on the outdoor rink.  Then, we also capitalized on the 50 and 60 degree Sunday and went for a hike.  Hiking... 
I heart hiking. 
The moment I step off the pavement, release the "hounds" or the "da boys" (as Blossom4 said) from their leashes, my entire soul takes a breath of fresh air and I sigh in happiness.  God made the Great Outdoors and they.are.good.

The Vitamin D.  What an amazing thing that He caused our body to produce vitamin D when we experience sunshine.  I call that miraculous.  I'm marveling as I type!  The only other way to get vitamin D is from supplements, people.  Something scientific happens in your body when you walk outside.  Only an intelligent Creator can explain it.

The Togetherness.  There's no better way to be all there, fully present, to totally "lean in" (or whatever other buzz word you can think of for quality time in your relationships) than to just be together.  Connecting with your family does not require fancy amusement parks or expensive outings.  Just be.  Just live.  Just walk.  Just do (it.) (Thanks,  Nike.) 

The thinking.  Nothing clears my brain, washes away clutter or lets me hear God's voice, like being in the Great Outdoors.  I start to count my blessings, when I've let discontentment take over.  I lean back toward kindness, when harsh words and actions were becoming frequent.  I humble myself before Almighty God, remembering how little I am, when I was starting to think more of myself than I ought.  My joy springs anew, when I felt dry and tired. 

What a winter!  We'll take it, whether snow or unseasonably warm.