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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: April 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coming in May... um... tomorrow?

Ok... so how did that happen??? How did tomorrow become May? Or is it the other way around? How did May become tomorrow? That one sounds more like it.

So (since I've procrastinated it for a week or so), "coming up in May"... I'm going to be participating in "31 Days to Clean" with Sarah Mae. I've purchased her new ebook (and looked over it too... it's worth it from what I see!) and I'm ready to go. It may be just what we need to help us along on this Suzy meets P31 project of mine. Regardless... it should help get things clean around here. Will you join me???

(UPDATED: Join over at Joyful Mothering to do this with a group!)

homegrown mom
Also in May is this great series on "homemaking for girls"! This woman has my heart! Just as we've been talking about in Suzy meets P31, so many of us never really learned to keep our homes. This month Homegrown Mom is helping us train our daugthers! YEY for her! Hop over and read her vision! :)

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Friday, April 29, 2011

So Distant!

Photo credit... Generation Cedar

The news is full of pictures of the tornados that have swept through and destroyed so many places in the last week or more. Add this on top of earthquakes and tsunamis the world over and it's easy (for me at least... isn't that horrible?) to get overwhelmed by it all and focus back inward to my own corner of the world. To the parts that are real.

When it's so far away... so distant... it becomes stories. Not real.

Then you learn of someone specific who has been affected. Read more personal accounts. Mourn with them for the loss of a father (to 13!).

Suddenly it's not so distant. I'm sobbing at my computer.

I gather my littles close to me, explain to them a little of what happened, and we pray. Together.

For comfort.

For salvation.





My heart is full for them all... and so many others I now remember are represented by these few stories.

Won't you please remember to pray... give... and serve to help our brothers and sisters in hard times?

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Garden Update... April

Time for another garden update! I can't tell you how thrilled I am with Homeschool Village's garden challenge. I so wanted to share my gardening with you last year... but I really need the accountability!!!

First off, I promised a shot of our grow light. My Beloved captured this for you one night while he had the light on after dark for something. Now you have a better picture in your mind of what we're working with! :)

Daylight now... you can see how our broccoli is growing. You'll also notice our spinach and carrots (not that you can really see the tiny carrots in this pic) and some radish. Under the straw is our potato area.

Better pics below.

Here's a closer up shot of our radishes squeezed under the broccoli plant. We're trying some succession planting this year. The radishes are supposed to be fast, so we thought we'd try to share the space. I'll let you know how it goes! :)

And this is a better shot of the potato area. The straw between the boxes is simply the bale waiting to be used.

Already we've had to stop piling on the potatoes because we're starting to overwhelm the broccoli plants. This is another experiment with succession/plot sharing planting. We'll see if it works out for both plants or not! When the broccoli is harvested, the potatoes will have the space to themselves.

I brought the kids in (from their playing) to see these radishes. We talked a bit about the books we were reading a couple weeks ago, and about root crops and the colors of these. Sweet Pea loves that they are "pink".

And here is our spinach. I'm hoping we got them in the ground early enough to get a good harvest before it gets too warm!!! Like every. other. year!

You can also see our borage toward the back. It's supposed to be helpful to tomato plants... which will live where that back row of broccoli is now when the broccoli is done.

Speaking of those tomatoes... we decided it was time to bring them out of our bathroom (where the grow light lives inside) and bring them out here. They are plenty ready to go in the ground... but their home is occupied by broccoli, so we'll be transplanting them into bigger containers in the next week or so. They'll be living in pots longer than past years... another experiment to get the most out of our little plot of raised ground. Again... we'll see if it works out! :)

And this is our "left" box (or bed). In the back are strawberries. Then you see some garlic (that surprised us by growing up from last year... we didn't know it was there until we came down a month or so ago). Then there's a spot for the peppers... and our herbs.

This is where the peppers will be when we put them in (we could now... just haven't yet.) These are some more radishes. We're figuring they'll be out of the way before the peppers are too big. Another experiment.

One of our pretty strawberry plants. Not all of them look this good. Or have this many flowers... but hopefully we'll get lots!

And this is our herb garden. Some of them are from seed... others we planted from the nursery in town.

Pretty much the ones you can see well we bought already growing... the rest aren't in this picture yet... Tornado and I transplanted them yesterday...after pictures.

And this is a little mini harvest of Horehound. It is a perennial and was already taking over other squares... so I cut it back. It's now hanging in the kitchen! :)

While I was doing some of the more sensitive gardening, the kids were "planting" outside in the tree containers. They pick weeds from the ground and re-plant them here. :)

And one of the most exciting parts of our garden this year... we actually have flowers on our apple trees this year! YEY!

Things are going pretty well this year... so far. We're still organized. Weeds aren't too bad yet. There hasn't been much sun this month as we've had lots of rain. The greenhouse has been great for protecting our little plants from huge rain storms... and the light has been running extra to make up for the darkness!

Something has been nibbling on our broccoli too... don't know what yet, so hopefully we'll figure it out before it really takes over!

Also linking up at:

Do you have a garden? How is it going so far? Join Homeschool Village in sharing how things are going!


Monday, April 25, 2011


Do we seem stuck in a rut here?

Why haven't we taken that next step in this series?

Well, I mentioned some struggles I've been working through. That has slowed me down some. But really, the main reason we haven't taken the next steps here is that I haven't taken the next step *here*... in real life.

So why not??? What's the problem?

Truly, the main problem comes down to the original problem. Laziness.

I'm lazy.

I hate it... but I am. I've not yet been able to put off this sin. It's a tricky one to put off too... and you know why? Because I have to put off laziness in order to put off laziness.

That's right. I have to get up.

Then I have to stay up.

I have to "do it enyway!"

Sitting back down to read one more blog is easier than getting everything out to mop the floor.

Thumbing through a catalog is way more fun than washing toilets.

Searching online for encouragement in housework is less work than actually doing it.

Seeking out other's suggestions for child raising and spiritual growth takes way less faith (and sometimes time) than sitting quietly before the throne of the one who knows the answers and seeking them for ourselves!

A couple articles I've happened upon in the last day or so have helped me see this and I wanted to pass them on for your own edification!

Rising to the Challenge
Lara's Dos and Don'ts (I'd read through these soon... she's fazing out her blog and has already deleted much of her archives.)

My goal this week... my number one focus... isn't on keeping my schedule (though that would be great!) and isn't getting everything done. This week my focus is on getting back up... working hard... and not eating the bread of idleness!!!

Linking to...

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christ is Risen!

Happy Resurrection Sunday to all of you!

This past week we made these little Easter Lilies from the kids hand prints. Assuming we (I) don't forget them in the morning, the kids are going to hand them out at church.

Sadly... that's the only special thing we got to for Easter this year. That, and talking about what it means. And tomorrow we will worship and talk about it some more!

What did you do with your kids to celebrate the resurrection?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Making time for Time with God... when time just isn't there!

My girl just sitting on the steps out back a week or so ago.

Villagrande, Bolivia
Summer, 2002

I was there to learn, serve... and grow.

I knew this was going to be hard (and I never even expected the culture shock!).

I knew I needed to root my summer... myself... in God's Word. For strength. For endurance.

For survival!

It was great. I spent such wonderful times reading His Word. Praying. Meditating and memorizing.

In the mornings I would make up my bed (straw filled with bedbugs and all), grab my Spanish/English Bible and sit cross legged on top, leaning back against the side wall.

My church back home was reading through the Scriptures in a year and I determined to keep up while I was away. A link to those people whom I called family.

Beautiful times worshiping in song. Praying quietly. Reading those Words.

Sometimes I could just sit there all morning before I had to be anywhere. The Words were nourishment to my soul. More strengthening most days than the Bolivian bread and coffee (which made me sick everyday) I often had for breakfast with my host family.

No, not everyday was perfect. I'm certain there were days I slept in or was among people all day and didn't get/take the time to get away alone with my Lord. But they were the exception, not the rule.

Pennsylvania, USA
Today, Everyday

Some nights are later than others, whether it's because My Beloved was on a late call and didn't get home until 1:00+ in the morning (last night), or because I'm still learning the discipline of going to bed early.

Mornings come early... most of them earlier than I'm ready for. Sometime before my alarm goes off. Then there are the nights I was up once or twice for various reasons.

Showers get skipped. Sometimes I have a second/ take a second to get dressed. Children flood my morning. I nurse (dozing on the couch many times), change diapers, take potty, make breakfast, feed baby. Somewhere in there we say good-bye to Daddy. The kitchen needs recovering. Breakfast dishes.

Some mornings it's 10 before I settle somewhere. By this time kids want to read books, play on the floor with me, etc. By this time, I'll be honest, settling in for some beautiful "devotional" time isn't even on my radar.

Laundry needs to be started. Dinner figured out. Kids and baby calling out from every direction! Later I settle to do some things I *want* to do, forgetting that what I need got missed today.

Before I know it it's night again and I'm falling into bed.

These two scenarios are so different. On the one hand you have seemingly unlimited time to spend in communion... with no one to communicate with if I wanted to. Not to mention no internet or computer access for a couple miles (walking miles). On the other, "quiet" and "alone" are words only dreamed about most days... and sleep often wins out, waking only to quiet a crying baby or help in the bathroom.

Is there any hope to be back in that place. How can I really cling to God in that same way with so much demanding my attention.

I told you that I've recently realized that this motherhood journey is the hardest thing I've ever had to do (to do it well at least)... and with that I NEED God's power, strength and help! For that I need to be plugged in... need to cling to the rope with both hands.

But with one hand holding baby on hip and the other stirring something on the stove or wiping noses... how can I do that?

Some ideas... (that I plan to work on implementing in my life as well... I have not arrived!)
  • Train yourself to wake up to prayer! From those first moment you are awake, whether by alarm or cries, begin with prayer. Even before you can force your body off that wonderful bed, you can talk to God. About anything. Thanksgiving would be great... but some mornings can start with a plea for the next few minutes. If your heart is sincerely calling out to God to give you the grace to start your day well, I imagine that delights a Father's heart more than forced, scripted thank yous. (Though, don't get me wrong, sometimes those forced scripted thank yous need to come before you are ready to feel them!)
  • Pray throughout! (are you sensing a theme) Instead of thinking or letting your mind wander... learn to focus that energy toward God. Whether worship or asking help for that lady at church who lost her husband, be talking to God... while mixing up those eggs or changing that diaper.
  • Include the children! Some mornings (fewer than I want) I announce "Bible time" and we all grab our "Bibles" and gather on the couch. They "reading" storybook Bibles and I with the Word. At the end I pray quietly by myself (kids are learning that this means they stay quiet) then we read something and pray together.
  • Wake up earlier! This one is on my "to do" list. One of these days I'll do it. I want a shower out of it too.
There are more ideas I'm sure... but I'd love to hear some of yours... what works for you??? Maybe you've got something I haven't thought of yet... and I can use all the help I can get!

Linking to:


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's on the Table Tuesday

Yes... I have been sewing. You wouldn't know it since I haven't shared in 3ish weeks, but I have been picking at it. Sometimes more literally than I would like... ahem!

And in the name of full disclosure, I didn't clear off or wipe down the table before throwing this baby down and snapping a picture. I thought about it... then I decided you deserve to know the truth.

Hey... at least I had my 4 year old clear the dinner dishes this evening. Believe me... it could be worse!

Back to the subject at hand... you've seen this project before. I showed you my "progress" in my last On the Table post. I'm really happy with the way they pieced together.

Then I quilted it.


You can't see it real well here, but...

Here you go. This one shows it a little bit better. And this is one of the better photos.

I've made a new friend in bloggy-land, and in her honor I determined that I would show you this picture.

And then there is this one.

Yep... that's right. I took everyone of those stitches out... determined to try again. What I didn't show you is how badly part of the backing was folded over. Guess I didn't get a pic of that. It was trash it or do it over. One of these days we'll be doing it over!

In other news... I made these adorable bloomers!!! My mom made the skirt, I made the bloomers.

Sweet Pea loves them. I love them!

I'm totally making more one of these days!

Oh, and I said adorable... not perfect. Please disregard that little thread coming off the front!

And in my next big step in "apparel" sewing, I'm tackling this cute little dress for whenever the warmer weather comes around.

Look at that sleeve! I've never done sleeves before... let alone puffy ones! I got this done this weekend. One of these days I'll try the bodice on her and get it finished up. I only ever remember when she's sleeping!

Craving a little quilting, I dragged these pieces out a couple days ago. I'd cut it all out weeks ago, then got distracted by life or something. I'm so excited about this little project. It's going to be a baby quilt. I'm not sure if I have specific plans for it or not. I guess it depends on how it turns out. It's supposed to be one of my "practice" quilts for learning the free motion stuff!

And I've finally brought this quilt back out. I started it this fall for Tornado's birthday (oops). It was never finished when I decided to do the quilting by machine. I did some of the straight stuff, then tucked it away until I felt more sure of my free motion abilities. But really... the kid needs his quilt before he grows out of the tractors!

So I've decided to do these parts by hand as I had started them in December anyway. Isn't that a cute little donkey outline on the backing!!!

Ok... so I know this isn't sewing, and it's really my counter... not my table. But this is what I did today! 16 half pint jars of Cherry Berry and Mixed Berry jam for my pantry... with 2 more half pints in the fridge (from the left overs of each batch!)

And a couple cups of pureed mixed berries (left overs) for making syrup sometime.

The berries and cherries were gathered into my freezer last summer for making jam when all the berries were done being picked. But by that time I was 39 weeks pregnant. You do the math!

Finally... jam!

(The jars in the background [this is another one of those "glimpse into my real life" pictures] are all my beans and grains so I don't have to dig out the big containers when I need them.)

Feel free to ignore the other clutter!

So that's it for me today! Hope you enjoyed your peek!

How about you??? Do you have anything on the table??? (I say on the table because that's where I do my sewing... on our kitchen table. Your "table" could be in your craft room, in your lap, or anywhere else.) Are you working on any little projects? I'd love to know about it... and if you have posted on it, leave me a link so I can check out!

Linking up to:

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Grabbing the ropes again!

I know I'm not the only one. Sometimes we all just need a little re-boot! We rarely (never!) plan on things falling apart. Sure, we may know it's about to happen... we may even have a contingency plan, but we never say, ok... now are going to loose control of everything.

Um... no.

Sometimes, something else is just more important! And there were some of those things last week that just needed to be more important than blogging about how badly I'm keeping my schedule! Suzy had to wait!

Of course, with that lack of focus here, came a lack of focus overall. It was a bit of a stressful week for me. Emotional. Rough. Growing.

But good. We need to reach the bottom to see how far we've come. How low we are.

It's always funny (not haha funny) to me that we can't tell we've let go of the rope until we are free-falling toward the hard rocky ground.

It amazes me how bad things can get inside us before we realize something isn't quite right.

The summer of 2002 I lived in Bolivia... far from the city in a mountain village of Villagrande. I was there as part of a missionary training program for back country/ pioneer missions. I was part missionary that summer, and part trainee. We served, ministered and learned. It was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do.

We (me and two others I'd never met before this trip) took Spanish, immersion style, from a woman who knew no English and couldn't even tell how the Spanish text book was to be used. We served in a church, learned to slaughter chickens, took long weekend trips to more remote villages where bathing was something done in the creek and you walked until to couldn't see people anymore before you "used that bathroom" behind a big rock.

I lived with an elderly couple that knew no English and took my meals with deaf Bolivian girls in the "dorm" across the street". At least there I could communicate as their language is very similar to ASL.

During that summer, I knew I needed a rope to get through... rather, I should say I needed the one who held the rope! And I clung to it.

I knew I wouldn't make it day by day without first having my time with God. I knew going in that I needed to make it a priority. I spent every morning reading God's Word and talking with him. I chose a big chunk of Scripture and worked on committing it to memory. I was holding on tight with both hands. And these times weren't just done to cross off my list... they were part of me... and I them.

And what an awesome summer of growth and communion with my Lord!

But doesn't it always happen this way... that when we return to what we know, we loosen that hold. Maybe only hold on with one hand. Or, worse... let go all together. We can do it ourselves after all!

It occurred to me this past weekend that I've been missing something in this journey through motherhood. I live each day like the rest. I wake up, go about my tasks. Sometimes things go well, sometimes they don't. I struggle to do a good job. I spend weeks at a time "disciplined in my quiet times", only to fail in them for longer between.

It has never occurred to me before now that I'm in the thick, now, of the hardest thing I've ever had to do... and I need to hold on tight with both hands!

Being a godly woman, a submissive and respectful wife and consistent, loving mother are the hardest thing I've ever had to do. And I'm doing them with only one hand on the rope... sometimes letting go altogether.

I truly need God's help to do this thing right... to make it through each day... to raise these children right!

To be continued...

258. A call to come back

259. 6 ounces gained in a week

260. safety through the storm (a literal one!)

261. a husband that makes decisions

262. time to quilt

263. fresh sheets

264. three square meals... finding more things he'll eat

265. the Holy Spirit's work in my life

266. time in God's Word

267. Tornado's growing understanding of the Gospel

268. a special lunch

A little list from the other day...

269. a baby to cry

270. diapers to change

271. a house to tidy

272. dishes to wash

273. an oven to clean

274. children to train

275. food to prepare

276. a family to feed

277. a table to clear

278. a boy to watch... with smiles

279. a smile growing in my heart

280. my sweet encouraging husband!

Also linked to:

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Preschool Corner: Gardening Unit

Tornado is 4 years 4 months
Sweet Pea is 3 years 1 month

We've been working on a garden unit the last few weeks. (Thanks Jolanthe for the activities!)

We read plenty of fun books!

In addition to the reading and talking we did about gardening, I worked in the Parable of the Sowers as our Bible focus. There is a pdf story available online here that we really enjoyed!!

Then we used Jolanthe's garden activities a number of times too!

Tornado put these numbers in order 1-20 (the picture was after we started cleaning them up... sorry!) and then we hid the trowel under them. Couldn't fool him. He looked for which one sat higher than the rest. I call that problem solving!!!

Sweet Pea is still working on her colors and shapes so these cards are great! We'll probably keep them out longer than the rest.

This is the first time we've used anything like these "first sounds" cards. Tornado loved them! And did a great job!

We tried these matching "vocabulary" cards for the first time too. He's getting pretty good with his reading, so I put all the word cards on one side and the picture cards on the other side. He sounded out the words and found the pictures to go with.

Sweet Pea worked on her number recognition 1-5 and Tornado started learning how to add with these great addition pages from Confessions of a Homeschooler. He loved them and is really getting the concept. Often the mistakes he makes are because of miscounting.

Here he worked on sequencing the growth of a flower and putting together a flower and labeling the different parts.
And tracing... and then erasing. Ok... Sweet Pea really just scribbled on our 1-20 chart.

These are some fun blocks we found for $5 at the thrift store. They are for making mazes to use a marble with, but until we have a marble to use, we are using them as blocks. This past week I introduced the "dominos" concept... very exciting. I even found Tornado doing it with clothes pins later in the day.

And to go with our good soil lessons we planted seeds in "good soil" and in sand to see what would happen.

And a week later, we have a seedling in the good soil. (Sorry about the blur!)

And that's it for our garden unit I think. Have you been doing anything special for spring???

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When you're down with the "D"s

Those dreadful "D"s. I hadn't even thought about it until Little Mommy left her comment yesterday, but most of those words that describe how we're doing when we're not doing so great... they do start with "D".

Words like discouraged, depressed, despair, downcast, downtrodden, defeated, disheartened.

Then there are a whole heap of words that don't start with "D" that are similar. And some days we just feel them don't we? Many days for some of us?

Add little sleep, lots of children, and hormones and we're lucky to have a day that is free and clear of those down feelings!

I hate to admit that I used to doubt what depression really was. I didn't understand why and how people struggled with it. I'm ashamed now to say that I wished they'd just snap out of it... do something about it. Don't just sit there and wallow in it.

Now that I've been on the other side... I totally understand. I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience it for myself. (Does that sound strange to anyone else???) Because I can now understand that feeling of wanting to climb back under the covers and shrink away from the world and everything in it. I can understand preferring to just cry than to deal with the weight of everything pressing in around me.

I get it.


But here's the trick... as believers we do have a way out. It's hard. Believe me, I know. And we don't want to do it. I don't understand why, exactly. But we don't. Somehow we'd rather wallow in our self-pity.

But let me tell you... it gets old. And we're trapped. Unable to get out from under that cloud alone.

So what do we do? How can we make it stop?

It's not easy... but it is simple. Worship.

Start small. Stop if you can. Sit with pen and paper, journal, something. Can't stop? Speak it outloud. Whisper if that's all you can muster.

You are God.

Keep it up!

You made the heavens and the earth.

You are mighty, strong, everlasting!

"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!"

Say thank you!
Thank you for sky, clouds, rain.

Spring time, late snow, blowing leaves.

Thank you for babies. Crying. Tiny spoons. Food on the floor. Diapers. Laundry. Leaks.

Thank you for children. Messes. Cuddling. Lunchtime together. Help with the chores. Conversations.

Thank you for strength. Health. Hands.

Plead. Admit. Confess. Sometimes I think we forget that admitting our weakness in light of His strength can be a form of worship. It all depends on our hearts before Him!

God I can't do this without you.

Please help me.

I need you.

Help me to breath.

*Sob* *Sob* *Sob*
(Wouldn't He rather we do it to Him, bring it to Him, than to fall apart alone... without admitting our need?)


Our God is an awesome God!

I worship you almighty God!

Lord I lift your name on high!

Listen. Can't sing yet... don't have it in you? Turn on some of your favorite worship music. My sweet husband often does this for me before he leaves for work on the days he notices I'm lower than usual. Amazing how hearing someone else worship can be so helpful to encourage our hearts!

Sometimes we just can't get out for ourselves. There is a very important thing you must do on the days you just can't get started with any of these things. Tell someone. Share your heart with your husband, sister, friend... someone, anyone who can act as encourager for you. Someone in the same house is so helpful... someone to turn on the music, open in prayer... pray for you. Hold you tight.

It wasn't until I'd shared my struggles with my husband Sunday that I started to see that my sad lot in life wasn't all that sad after all. From there... worship, communion with my God... hope!

This is what works for me.

What do you do when you find yourself struggling with the "D"s???

Linking to...

It's not of God

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