Thursday, October 30, 2014

a few of my favorite things

I do love raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and especially brown paper packages tied up with string, but a few of the other things that I love aren't found in The Sound Of Music. Crisp autumn mornings, for instance. Early mornings, with roosters crowing outside my window, my robe wrapped around me, and a steaming cup of coffee in a locally made, hand thrown mug in my hand. Hand thrown pottery definitely makes my list of favorites.

The Andy Griffith Show. This has been our nightly entertainment lately.

Watching my kids play together.

Watching my kids eat (and enjoy!) collards from the garden and lacto-fermented pickled okra. How weird am I, that beneficial bacteria make me so happy?

Health food stores. I dream of owning one someday.

Yarn shops. I dream of owning one of those too. Or maybe a health food/yarn shop combo. How cool would that be?!

Walking through falling leaves.

Homeopathic cough syrup that actually works.

My husband. He definitely tops cough syrup and yarn shops.

Apologia science. We are doing sea creatures this year and it is fascinating. Cetaceans. Pinnipeds. Benthic animals. See, I like it just because I can use big words and sound really smart.

Thanksgiving. The best holiday. Faith, family, food, falling leaves. And our annual traditional 1,000 piece folk art jigsaw puzzle.

New baby calves everywhere.

Leggings, tunics and tall boots. These had better never go out of style, because I'm pretty sure I'm committed for life.

Blogging. I'm not the greatest or most polished blogger out there, but I do it for the sheer joy of the creative process. To anyone who reads my ramblings here...thank you! You are one of my favorite things too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


The longer I have shetlands, the more I love them. So far, there is nothing that I don't like about this breed, from their size to the incredible color range of their wool to their hardiness and the fact that they look like little stuffed toys.  Each one has so much personality! Gandalf, my grey wether, is the friendliest and will follow us around, begging to be petted. When we oblige, he half-closes his eyes in ecstasy. And oh, the wool! Fellow spinners will understand my excitement over these fleeces. Already they are about four inches long, with beautiful crimp. It takes all of my willpower to keep from getting "just one more" sheep, because I know that one more will lead to a few more, which will lead to an entire herd. And I simply do not have the time to deal with the wool from more than just a few.
Truth be told, I've been in a bit of a spinning and knitting funk lately. I don't know why, unless it's just that wool and warm weather don't mix too well. But now that crisp autumn days are on us, I feel the urge to pull out my wheel and make some yarn. Bring on the rainy days and the cold temperatures!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

draw a dinosaur

We like to draw around here. I mean really, really like to draw. We go through art supplies like most people go through bread and toilet paper. A few favorite themes are superhero comic strips, cowboys on horses, knights and dragons, Star Wars scenes, butterflies, and dinosaurs.

That's why I was excited to receive a review copy of Draw-a-saurus, by James Silvani. The minute I saw it, I knew that it would be a book that my kids would love.

The great thing about this book is that it not only provides clear, step-by-step instructions for drawing all kinds of dinosaurs in all kinds of poses, but it also provides tons of dinosaur facts and pictures that make it a fun book to just sit down and read. Which is another favorite thing to do around here.

Give us a few good books and some paper and markers and we could be happily stranded on a desert island.

Christmas is coming and this would make a great gift for the little (or big) artist in your life.

For more information, click here.

To learn more about the author, click here.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


There are days that the weight of the world threatens to crush me, to overwhelm joy with its blackness. Heartache and pain, friends with cancer, babies who die, people who make wrong choices, ebola, the implosion (both morally and politically) of the country that I love, uncertainty of what the future will hold...they become a spiraling whirlpool of negative thoughts.
 I stopped listening to the news several years ago because I felt that it did nothing to help me to focus on what is good, lovely, pure, true, honest, and of good report. I still manage to get a pretty hefty dose of current events through my facebook feed, but I even try to keep that to a minimum. I like to know enough to stay aware and not become a complete ostrich with my head in the sand, but at the same time not immerse myself in darkness that I cannot control. When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I take it as a sign that I have lost perspective. Time for a reset.
Nothing resets me, rests me and reminds me of the good and the wholesome things in life like a walk with my girls down a quiet country road. Curly ponytails, tiny mud boots, drifting autumn leaves, the incredible cloud-scudded sky overhead...I soak them all in and I remember that the One who made all of this is the One who holds me, my family, my friends, the world in the palm of His hand. He spoke it into existence and He ultimately will bring beauty out of ashes and pierce and darkness with His light. "Therefore", as Scripture says, "We do not fear".
I return home with the quiet assurance of His presence and a resolve to embrace and enjoy the good things that He has poured out on me...the man that I married who is my hero, the five little people who call me Mama, my home, fellowship with good friends, a good book and my hands wrapped around a warm coffee mug.  Does the darkness grow? Oh, you and I both know that it does. But we rest in--we cling to--His provision, His hope, His goodness, His light. In this crazy, broken, shifting world, it is the one thing that that has never changed and that never will.
We become what we dwell on. If my mind is consumed with the ugly, the bitter, the sad, the frightening, then I will be bitter, ugly, sad and frightened. But if I dwell on the good, the joyful, the true, the beautiful, the faith-filled, then I will be a beacon in that ever-growing darkness.
The choice is mine. I choose joy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


This was our first year to celebrate the Biblical feast of Sukkot. In case you aren't familiar with what this is (I wasn't, until recently!), it is an 8-day celebration during which we remember the time that the children of Israel lived in tents in the wilderness, a reminder that everything in this world is  temporary, and a looking ahead to the time when Christ will return and "tabernacle" or dwell with us here on earth. It involves staying in a "temporary" dwelling (AKA a tent), which for us was just camping in the backyard. A fire pit, hot dogs and marshmallows, glow sticks...we had a blast.
Unfortunately, a massive thunderstorm that blew the tent down, shattered the tent poles and soaked sleeping bags, air mattress and bedding cut our camping excursion short. Then we got sick. So we didn't make it for the full eight days. But this isn't about perfection, it's about making memories, focusing on the important things in life, and teaching our children...both about the past and the future.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I'm sick, for the first time in months. It's nothing terrible, just a head cold that leaves me feeling stuffy, tired and irritable. I was supposed to go to a rodeo with my family this evening but a late, damp, chilly evening just didn't seem like a good idea, so I'm home with the littlest girl.

I can think of a million things that I should be doing. The house looks about like you would expect a house to look with five children in it on a rainy day. But tonight I choose to give myself what I need most: rest.

I drank a cup of herbal tea with honey. Played with my baby. Watched a video on healthy eating (we are getting ready to revamp our diet--stay tuned!) and worked on a menu plan for this week. Walked around outside. Sat and drank in the quiet, grey, October stillness.  I'm planning an early bedtime.

I still feel crummy, but also somehow rejuvenated.

be a yes mom

One of the best pieces of parenting advice that I received right after I had my first baby was to be a yes mom. What this means is that when my kids ask to do or have something, unless I have a good, concrete reason, to say no, I should say yes.

It’s amazing how hard this is. My automatic response is almost always no.

“Can I paint a picture?” No.

“Can we make popcorn and watch a movie?” No.

“Can we go for a walk?” No.

“Can I wear this pink flowered shirt with these blue and green striped leggings and mud boots?” No.

I don’t mean to suggest that we should never tell our kids no. There are plenty of things that they might want to do that are not a good idea, or at least are not a good idea at the time. I am not going to buy a twenty dollar movie every time I go to the grocery store, neither am I going to let them eat ice cream thirty minutes before supper (at least not on a regular basis). There are times that they want me to play a game or go for a walk and I am simply too tired, or I have too much to do, or I just don’t feel like twister or candy land.

But I try to say yes more than I say no. I try to stop and ask myself, what would it really hurt for them to paint right now? Is it just because the mess would be inconvenient for me? Why don’t I want to go for a walk? Is it because I would rather waste time online? What would it hurt for them to wear an outrageously colored outfit? We’re going to be home all day and it’s a mix-mash of their favorite clothing items.

Most of the time, I say no to their requests because I just don’t want to deal with whatever they want to do. It’s too messy, too time-consuming, it requires my time and attention when I would rather be doing something else or feel like I’m too busy to give it to them. Sometimes I say no and I can’t even give a reason for saying it—it’s just what comes out of my mouth.  And most of the time, when I say yes, I am so glad that I did.

These days, these crazy, exhausting, beautiful days fly by so quickly. Already my ten-year-old is showing signs of maturity, is pulling away from me a little as he grows up. I find myself taking pictures almost frantically, trying to capture and preserve this outfit, this expression, this funny pose, this moment on the swing set, this day of perfect play. I don't want to say no to one beautiful moment.

Yes, let's make a memory today.