Friday, January 27, 2012

Making Paper Beads

Rose brought home some beautiful jewlery from Africa last fall.
Some of the colorfully beaded necklaces were made from paper.
Inspired, she got on Utube and found a how to video so that she could make her own paper beads,
just like the ones she saw African women make.  
It may have turned into an obsession.  She is certainly motivated. 
Rose can now manufacture 40 beads per hour.  Around 80 beads are needed for each necklace.

First, we weeded out some old magazines, and she cut them up into long rectangles, 
from 1 cm on the wide end, going all the way down an 8x10 sheet, 
to 1 inch on the wide end.
The wider the paper, the longer the bead.

Then, she rolls the paper onto a toothpick, starting with the wide end, 
and making sure the paper stays centered, and tight. 
At the end of the triangle, a little glue is needed to stick the end down.

Rose stabs her toothpicks through a cardboard box while the bead dries.

Once the beads are dried, Rose paints them with a craft varnish. 
Clear fingernail polish works really well too.  
Once painted, they are stuck back into the cardboard to dry, then they are done.

For stringing the beads, Rose uses a craft filament, placing eye beads in between the paper beads, 
and securing the necklace with a clasp hold.  
We have found that our children under 8 years old are not really able to make the beads,
and that 1 year olds LOVE ripping up magazine paper.

Thicker paper produces fatter beads. 
The African's paper of choice is cat food bags.
Really, any paper will do.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wintery Walk

Every afternoon we can watch the deer crossing the meadow just below the house.
This day I counted 17.

With beautiful blue sky overhead,
my dear sweet husband insisted I get out for a walk down the freshly plowed driveway.  
Ahh it was good. 
I do love a walk in the afternoon. 

Refreshed, I am ready to face the rest of the day,
the demands of the little ones,
the responsibilities of so many tender hearts. 
It is easy to feel overwhelmed, 
torn in 10 different directions with the needs of those I live with.
  But I know in Whom my strength is, 
and I know that though my flesh fails, God is the strength of my heart. 
I am reminded that for eternity's sake, I must persevere when I feel like giving up.
And too, that if I have a clean house and homemade bread,
but have not love:  kindness and patience and gentleness...
I am not getting anywhere, I am accomplishing nothing.

As I walk through the door,
there they are,
the adorable little ones clamoring for my attention, 
all of them at once. 
How I can get grumpy with such lovable, wonderful children is suddenly a mystery.

Nearly every day we bake something or other to keep the littles from starving in midafternoon,
or so they claim.
Inticed by the aroma of fresh baked cookies,
Gabe comes out of his fort,
which today, he says, is Africa.

It is so important that we live each and every day to the full,
making the most of every moment.
Which means not giving in to the constant temptation to be snippy, grumpy, or irritable.
I am grateful for this perspective.
I know that the mother's role in the home is powerful,
I know that every moment matters.
and yet, I find I need that refreshing,
that time to get ahold of my attitude and renew my focus.

 This mama of littles is often drained by the challenges and relentlessness of parenting.
  But,  I am thankful that a mama's love is also instantly recharged
with a heartfelt smile from her child,
or a glance at the sleeping babe,
or the wet slobbery kiss of a three year old.

I have heard it said that the greatest reward for our work
is not what we get paid for it,
but what we become by it.
Thus, the Lord sanctifies me through my children,
and that is just one more reason they are a blessing.

It is amazing what a little walk can do.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dinner and a Blizzard

Large fluffy flakes of snow have turned wet and icy,
diminishing our three feet of snow into a heavy compact of white, 
still falling yet, on day four,
frosting our winter wonderland in beauty, 
the kind of beauty one prefers to watch from inside. 
We are perfectly happy to spend these days home, 
all meetings and goings having been canceled.

Outdoors, a slippery, thick mess,
difficult to shovel and plow, 
sliding off the roof in thunderous heaps that shake the whole house.

Indoors, we are warm and cozy, and,
on a creative streak.

Rose has figured out how to make paper beads, like they do in Africa. 
She and Jim spent the better part of the afternoon
turning old magazines into beautiful beads 
that Rose can fabricate into colorful, long necklaces.

Anna set up a new sewing area near the fireside 
and made a much needed new apron.
It is so handy to have everything right at hand and organized,
that I sewed up two skirts for Bethany, something I have been going to do for months.

There are many lures of country life, 
but one must also consider the hardships of working outdoors in nasty conditions
to keep the road open, the paths to outdoor buildings to be shoveled, and the wood box filled. 

Then too, living in a wood heat only home
means that next to the fire may be the only warm place in the house.  
The farther one gets from the stove, the cooler it will be. 
Living on solar power during a four day storm means there is little natural electricity made,
and the generator and batteries will have to be turned on, watched, and turned off, 
the electricity usage in the house managed tightly.  
Therefor, the comforts afforded are all the more appreciated. 
When daylight fades, everyone starts to slow down and relax, 
looking forward to the pleasure of a good meal and a warm fire. 
The hearty, savory flavor of beef stew, or elk, in our case,
combined with Rose's beautiful honey oat bread 
made for an especially delectable dinner to close the day. 

We have been reading aloud in great lengths these long winter evenings, 
with one light spared to be on after dinner. 
The Little House series provides just the right occasion for all to gather near the fire, 
listening about that terrible long winter,
the great grasshopper weather,
and life in a soddy as only Laura Ingalls can tell.

Pa was right, I think, especially in a snowstorm, that

"Mid pleasures and palaces
though we may roam
Be it ever so humble
There's no place like home."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sharing a Friend

Today I was perusing a friend's blog and thought it is too good to keep to myself,
so I simply must share.
My friend, Sherry, is a kindred spirit and a most inspiring domesticator. 
I encourage you to go over here and have a gander.
If you love Jesus, 
  or creating a beautiful life for your family,
you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Beauty of Snow and The Beast

Our long awaited snow is here!
... and it appears that winter is making up for the lack of the glorious white stuff
these past few months.
We have over two feet of new snow in the last 24 hours. 
It is not supposed to stop until Thursday. 
The children were so excited that I let them go wallow in the snow for a few hours 
before beginning school today. 
Then, this afternoon, they got to go out and help daddy
plow the driveway with "The Beast."
The Beast is our old highway snow plow, given to us by friends,
that allows daddy to keep our 1/2 mile long driveway manageable every winter. 
What a blessing she is!  A little terrifying, but a blessing.

Inside, Olivia stands on a chair watching it all through the window.  
She hollers at the children outside in her unintellible dialect. 

Everyone, except maybe the cat, is excited about the beautiful snow.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Quiet Day

Today is one of those very rare occassions;
it is a nice, quiet day,
as opposed to our usual nice and loud, busy day. 

Several family members are out and about this weekend, 
leaving me with only 5 children home, 10 yrs and under.
  I chuckle at this, because when I first only had 5 children,
I was almost always overwhelmed with life, and now, 5 seems so simple and quiet.
  It is especially quiet just now since the three youngest 
have made nests here and there to snuggle down for a long winter nap.

Olivia, now still as a bug asleep on my lap, has been especially busy today,
taking dirt out of our poor abused Amaryllis,
strewing an entire package of diaper wipes across the house,
finding herself an arms length of toilet paper and taring it into tiny little pieces,
and attempting to climb just about everything.
  All the time jabbering away in her own little language.
Every once in a while an intelligible word escapes.  I question her and her word,
she grins and giggles, and goes on with her toilet paper.
 Today, I don't mind, as long as she is safe and happy, I will gladly pick it up later.

With cousins here for the weekend to play with, 
the boys have spent much of the day outside, playing games on the frozen pond.
  Rose is babysitting this afternoon,
Anna at a friend's house,
and John has been gone for over two weeks.
  Even daddy is out of town for a few days, so you see, it is strangely still,
and I have endeavored to relax and do nothing,
except the absolutely necessary,
which of course means changing diapers, making and eating cinnamon rolls, and drinking tea.


John, you see, is adventuring with a friend out in the wild, trapping for bobcat.  
They have set up camp some hours from here, with 74 miles of trap line. 
Reports are that they are doing fine, with 6 coyotes and 4 bobcat between them thus far. 
They will remain out for another week or two. 
Makes me cold just thinking about it! 
I love the outdoors, but, with nighttime temperatures in the single digits,
I will gladly crawl underneath my down comforter each night in my warm house 
and give thanks that I am not living underneath a tarp.

Happily and contentedly stuck here in the rocker next to the fire,
baby asleep on my lap, with plenty of time to ponder,
I find myself gathering a list of things to be thankful for.
There is always something, if one looks.

  Fuzzy socks on cold wood floors,
candles lit on the coffee table-a feast for the eyes,
chubby little fingerprints on the windows, 
a restful day.

All those little things are worth listing, 
just as much as the big ones, 
such as a loving God who has my best interest in mind,
a savior who atoned for me,
a God who forgives again and again, 
a Creator who gives hope to everyone who believes.  

Rocking in the growing darkness, the list goes on and on....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ministering to the Military

Imagine 200 cots in a large, florescent lighted tent.  The roar of airplanes landing and taking off just outside, night and day, non-stop. Your work shift is at night, because war is 24/7/365, so you sleep during the day... or try to.
Most of us go through life blind and deaf to the effort and sacrifices our military makes to ensure our safety.  Once made aware of even a bit of it our Christian response should be some thoughtful showing of our appreciation.  Most of us realize that sacrifices are being made, big ones like the giving of a soldiers life for the cause of freedom.  But it's the little sacrifices that rake my heart.  Leaving their home for small, nondescript, bug and rodent infested living quarters, leaving behind their family and friends, their churches, community, and freedom, they serve and protect our freedom and our happy, warm homes.

Perhaps the thought that there is nothing I can do has kept me from reaching out.  But a friend showed me there is something I can do.  Regardless of whether I know a serviceman personally, I can send a deployed soldier a box of homey comforts and a note of thanks and encouragement.  Truth is, someone I know likely knows someone overseas.

So, I got my free flat-rate Priority Mail box at the post office and began filling it.  My friend gave me some tips of what to include for our destined pilot.

We sent beef jerky, and some prepackaged snack foods.  These guys work in high stress environments and burn a lot of calories.  And... well... my love language is feeding people; either that or it is my spiritual gift :-), so food is a must for me.

 Next, a few enlarged photos from Rose's portfolio to decorate with.  Third, some Christian magazines to share in the latrine and break room.

  Fourth, an herbal salve that Anna made for dry skin, something that the soldiers suffer from greatly in the desert (lotion would be great as well).

 Last, a picture of our family as an introduction and a personal note. 

 But one doesn't have to stop there.  In the past we have sent a blanket, Christian literature, a DVD, food, more food, books, and hand drawn pictures from the children.  For us, it is great fun.  I think about how much we like to get packages in the mail, and imagine some unsuspecting person receiving our box in the mail in little more than a week.  A small token of the gratitude in our hearts.
I mean to inspire you to join us in showing a bit of brotherly love to our soldiers.  Here is a most helpful link to get you going:
God Bless and Godspeed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Celebrating Epiphany

Epiphany is the celebration of the wise men arriving in Bethlehem, giving gifts to the baby Jesus.
This day is traditionally January 6, which is also the last day of the twelve days of Christmas.
In honor of this day, we have invited over friends for a regular feast.
The joy that Jesus came,
the miracle of the star of Bethlehem that led the wise men from afar,
 and the fun of catechizing the family with the twelve days of Christmas
makes for a most joyous occasion.
To me, a great deal of the pleasure is in planning and decorating for the festivities.

The merriment begins when friends arrive. 
 Children are excited, and thus noisy. 
 Mouth watering aromas are wafting from the oven.
Finally the candles are lit and everyone called to the table,
which is heavy laden with food and all sorts of good things,
including the best donuts I have ever had..
I am sure the recipe can be found on my good friend and dinner guest,
  Enola Gay's blog,  Paratus Familia.

Having eaten too many donuts on top of a scrumptious dinner,
 my belly is as full as my heart;
grateful beyond words for the Divine occasion we commemorate on this night,
 relishing the good fellowship of friends.
 The night goes by all too quickly, and before we are ready,
 our guests are headed down the road in a fine mist of snow.

Ah, today has been a most triumphant day.
The Lord is good to all.

Feast at His table.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Not So Wintry Winter

The boys have been working on fortifications up in the woods a few hundred feet from the lodge.  Any given day, warm as they have been,
stepping out on the porch, you will hear hammers ringing and hand saws at work. 
The little construction crew/warriors must be about done
since they have used nearly every spare board on the property.

Reportedly, their work has achieved the three of them 
the ability to hold off five young men in a paintball war.

Contrastingly, the ladies may pleasantly amble through the paths of the surrounding acres
in relative peace and quiet, only the rustling of dry grasses and an occasional bird song occurring.

  This weather is odd, but we are all enjoying it....although every so often I think a nice howling wind or blizzard would be very romantic.  
Ah, well, we will take it as it comes, each day at a time.

Maybe if I put all the snow clothes away in the attic,
 it will snow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Vision for a New Year

The Lord is so faithful and good to answer prayers.
This was evidenced early this morning. 
I awoke early this morning to the sound of my husband's voice down stairs.
He is such a morning person.  Up at 5 am, stoking the fire, making coffee, starting his day.  
At 6 am, he reads aloud to the oldest four, who are sitting bleary eyed, 
coffee in hand before the roaring fire.
  It was Rose's idea, and a very good one. 
Brian's desire to disciple his children, combined with early mornings,
before the littles are up to interrupt and distract,
along with a book highly recommended to us,  Equipped to Love,
are making for wonderful mornings the older children look forward to.

When our day does finally get underway, I read to the children from The Gospel Primer,
a wonderful gem recently sent our way. 
In it, Jerry Bridges is quoted as saying that we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.  Brian and I agree, which is why we are using this primer as family liturgy,
daily focusing our minds,  our children's minds,  to the truth of the gospel. 

As I prepared last week to begin a new semester, 
I decided to do something I have never done before in 15 years of home schooling. 
With new vision and inspiration, I mapped out an extended school day 
with a 2 hour block of free time right in the middle. 
I have never been able to keep going through the late afternoon with school, 
and have therefore, not always accomplished those "it would really be nice to.." things. 
Giving myself a break in the middle to recharge and regroup is working out really well so far,
and we are getting a lot done. 
The children are taking advantage of the time to play outside in the unseasonably warm weather.

In the evenings, we are reading aloud from the Old Testament, 
stories such as Jonah and Sampson, David's Mighty Men, and other  favorites.  
The boys always have questions, it having been a few years since we read to them this way,
they forget, or were too small to remember. 
It has been good to revisit and reaffirm God's story from way back.

What does all this have to do with God answering our prayers? 
Well, a few weeks ago, Brian and I went away over night to pray for our children 
and plan deliberate ways to infuse their lives with more training and instruction. 
These new habits are product of answered prayers from that time away.
  I am constantly amazed at how God listens, cares, and responds to our requests, big and small.

With renewed energy, new vision, and coffee,
I am excited about what the New Year will bring.

Living Counter Cultural: Femininity

Popular culture has a decidedly feminist bent.  Recent movies, tv shows and prominent women  are displaying heroins as   to...