Thursday, August 30, 2012

Parents and Children

 I'd like to nap all day today because it was "Back to School Night" last night which meant a loooooooooooong day at school.
We hosted a lot of  nice parents and they looked so eager sitting in the science room, waiting to hear us tell them what their child would learn this year.  
 When our Brad went to school, I was SUCH an eager beaver parent.  I waited in anticipation for the moment his teacher would figure out how amazing his brain is.  
 When Kelli followed two years later I knew her teachers would love her.  I remember how proud I felt of our kids and I tried to look at the parents closely last night.  I sensed their loyalty to their precious offspring.
 Jeff thrived at school.  He tackled the academic  piece with finesse and he whole-heartedly used every moment of recess to be a boy.  He had the cutest freckles!  
 When Jenny went to school, I missed our morning "sofa time" and our early lunches together.  She made friends quickly and started playing soccer on the playground right away.  It's hard to leave your baby at school.  

The responsibility of 120 students, each one representing a mother who adores them, gives me the shivers.  I've always been more of a one-on-one person as opposed to a crowd person.  Sometimes standing in front of the class seems equal to jumping out of an airplane.
I sense God's HUGE grace every day at school. It's such a privilege to speak into children's lives.  When the parents were all gathered at school, I kept thinking about going home because I was hot and tired.  Home refuels me and that's why we get up so early.  Bill and I sit in our green chairs and talk and then pray together for our kids, our extended families, or neighbors, his appointments and the people he meets with, and my students.  
This reminds me to walk in faith.  It reminds me that I am a very small little heartbeat on this floating planet.  
Whatever He has for you today, that "something to do" that presents itself, I pray that you would understand  that you are blessed to do it, even if you don't understand the "why" or if you struggle with "the how".  
May our "self talk" be holy.  May it take the form of "breath prayers" and may you know unexplainable love.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Homekeeping Words

 There is a lovely passage in The Shell Seekers where one of Penelope's children refers to her house as a place where there are sumptuous meals and soft beds.  Would you like your house described that way?  Years ago, when we had a lot less room and a lot more overnight guests, I would go to a department store and wander through the bedding aisles.  I liked buying towels, pillows, and sheets when I needed them.  I found myself inspired by the whirring of the washing machine and all the smoothing and tucking of making up the guest bed.  Making beds is a humble task and I like knowing that women have been making beds for centuries, preparing the resting spot for the people they love.  That's good stuff.  
I promised some delicious domestic passages and I shall deliver.  I crave cozy descriptions and if you ever write a book entirely filled with the magical details of homekeeping, I'll buy it and read it a hundred times.  
 Fires so lovely that one turns into a child again, or a Girl Scout, or a picnic diner (not dinner!), or an Irish grandmother, shawl around her shoulders and a strong arm extended to lift the enormous tea pot .  . .  (I just watched The Secret of Roan Inish, MK!)
 Is there anything better than homemade macaroni and cheese for making a hungry little person feel attended to?
 When I make cinnamon rolls, I feel proud and purposeful.  Sometimes I forget that  my hands are very good at creating food because they spend so much time on keyboards.  Gulp.
 "Christmas Day passed very quietly.  the men had a holiday from work and the children from school and the churchgoers attended special Christmas services.  Mothers who had young children would buy them an orange each (my mother did this, too!) and a handful of nuts; but, except at the end house and the inn, there was not hanging of stockings, and those who had no kind elder sister or aunt in service to send them parcels got no Christmas presents.
     Still, they did manage to make a little festival of it.  Every year the farmer killed an ox for the purpose and gave each of his men a joint of beef, which duly appeared on the Christmas  dinner-table together with plum pudding  (is this why we had roast beef after church EVERY Sunday?) - not Christmas pudding, but suet duff with a good sprinkling of raisins.  Ivy and other evergreens (it was not a holly country) were hung from the ceiling and over the pictures (I do this!); a bottle of home-made wine was uncorked, a good fire was made up, and, with doors and windows closed against the keen, wintry weather, they all settled down by their own firesides for a kind of supper-Sunday."  Lark rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
 It's the little pleasures that give that full-hearted happy feeling, don't you think?
 My favorite passages in The Wind in the Willows include talk of tidy living spaces.  Remember when Ratty agrees to go back to Mole's house and then remarks about how "capital" it is? Mole DOES love his home.

"The weary Mole also was glad to turn in without delay, and soon had his head on his pillow, in great joy and contentment.  But ere he closed his eyes he let them wander round his old room, mellow in the glow of the firelight that played or rested on familiar  and friendly things which had long been unconsciously a part of him, and now smilingly (great word!) received him back, without rancour.  He was now in just the frame of mind that the tactful Rat had quietly worked to bring about in him.  He saw clearly how plain and simple - how narrow, even - it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one's existence.  He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage.  But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome."  The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

From Little Women:
"People who hire all these things done for them, never know what they lose; for the homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them, and Meg found so many proofs of this, that everything in her small nest, from the kitchen roller to the silver vase of her parlor table, was eloquent of home love and tender forethought."  
So you see, there are so many inspiring and homey literary gems!
Another cup of coffee for me and then I'll go to school and prepare for the super stars.  Thank you for reading along with me, paying attention to my dreamy ramblings.  You're a nice person with a squishy warm heart, I think.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunflower Faces and Cookie Talk

 It's Sunflower Land around here!  I love how sunflowers usher in September.  One more week remains of this toasty hot month of August and then the lovely romantic month of September arrives, my birthday month (that's why I think it is lovely and romantic!)
 Each sunflower hangs her head a certain way.  Isn't the yellow miraculous?  
 They have surrounded the Wendy House!
 Out the back window of the Wendy House grows one green "Envy" zinnia.  She made it!  Soon she'll bloom.
 I'm still waiting for you to drop by and take a seat on a toadstool.
 The petunias I bought at the farmer's market are the prettiest white blooms I've ever had.
 Here is a fuzzy tomato photo for you!  Pick one!
 Sorry for the sideways shot, but I would like a tiny round of applause because I CLEANED OUT MY FRIDGE!  Yes, I kept thinking that my refrigerator was new (we've had it two years now) and therefore, I really didn't need to take it apart and clean every corner.  Hmmm.  Well, I have decided that this refrigerator was a GREAT purchase.  Everything comes out so I could scour the pieces in the sink and then click it all right back inside.  I know we have weird things in our icebox.  It's just the two of us now, so the contents have changed drastically.  

 Using the super powers that came from doing a big job, I decided to make cookies.  I found my most beloved and tattered cookbook because that's where the staple chocolate chip recipe lives.  A friend from college introduced me to this recipe and I like looking at my 30+ year old notes.  
 YUM!  Perfect for tea today.  I have a lot of school work to do this afternoon.

 This morning as I held my butterfly wing shawl around my shoulders I was filled with thankfulness AGAIN that I actually made something so useful.  I have knit many garments that didn't turn out so well, but this shawl was fun to knit and is cozy and comforting every morning.  Yay!

 The air was a bit nippy so I also put on my fur slippers that I ordered from Zulily for fifteen dollars.  Warm!
 I found some of last year's drawings.

 Wait!  This is a "this July" drawing.  I copied her from a magazine.
 I made a list of the essential housekeeping tasks,  so that even though I get overwhelmed with school work, I might remember how to keep our nest feathered.

 A friend sent me Streams in the Desert.  It's good to get back to a day-by-day devotional.  
 Cheers for weekends!  I'm refreshed and ready to go back to the students.  They really are sweet and responsive.  There is A LOT to teach them and it's challenging trying to figure out how to make the learning stick, but day by day the wisdom comes.  Whew.
So, I leave you with more sunflowers because they want to wrap their leaves around you and give you a welcome hug.  Labor Day is next weekend and then all the fall holidays begin coming our way.  Holidays are so sweet with families.  I like cooking holiday food for our kids and grands.  
My next post is going to feature domestic passages from three of my favorite books:  The Wind in the Willows, Lark Rise to Candleford, and Little Women.  These particular passages have warmed my heart and I think they will warm your heart, too.
 I do hope that this day holds simple joy for you and that you are looking ahead at your days and feeling alive and loved.
Thank you for poking your head in and saying hello!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lisbeth, Jane, and Beatrix

 I know I use this image a lot.  The black tights and billowing aprons appeal to me. Lisbeth Zwerger's artwork is so fluid and warm.  You can read more about her here.
 Look at these six cutie pies.  Don't you love the green blanket and the red striped pajamas?
 Some of her work is mysterious.
 I love Jane Dyer's use of color.  Don't you wish you had a couple of bug friends to help you with your beauty routine?
 I could make you a crown of sunflowers and cosmos.  Please wear your rosy red corduroy dress.

 Here is a tiny painting of Beatrix's house.  Look how snug she looks in her wools.  
 Do you have a doll house?  Doll house bookcases are nice and I've seen a few reasonably priced on the Internet.  Maybe we should ask Santa for one and then we could purchase furniture, little by little.  Our dollhouses would be easier to keep clean than our big girl houses.
Day two of school is finished and the eleven year olds are very nice.  They've been struggling with their lockers and schedules, but soon they'll get settled in.  All of the teachers are tired because it's hard to get back in the game after a nice lazy summer.
I'm reading Little Women again.  What are you reading?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gardens, Books, Bunting, and Bunnies

 What's the story, Morning Glory?  What's the word, Hummingbird?  Would you like pink?  Purple?  Both?  

 Feel free to hide in the hollyhocks.
 I'm sorry, but Pie Face is feeling a bit shy today.

 Reaching for the sun and sky!
 Here it is, August 19!  I cut out the buntings for my classroom.  I already have bunting hanging all over, but these are for the window and my desk.

 Now, I have had Beatrix on the brain lately.  Birdie has the book below, A Visual Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter.  I love it!  I borrowed it last night after we babysat the girls for a few hours.  Earlier we had looked through it slowly, savoring all the newsy information and relishing the pictures.  I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking of all things BP.  I got up and feasted on it again.  One delightful page in the book mentioned that Beatrix's characters are always busy. 

  • they raise children
  • they do housework
  • they take in laundry
  • they sell produce
  • they work as gardeners
  • they cook
  • they work as gamekeepers
Aren't those delightful ways to work?
My mama sent me the tea cups, saucers, and spoons she and my sister used for the tea party at Guemes Island.  I gathered my precious BP things and took a photograph for you.

Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is my favorite.  We both iron.  I must make myself a blue and yellow striped skirt.  It looks so nice on her.

Tomorrow the students arrive.  
I will be back to let you know that the first day of school came and went.
Thank you for looking in on me today!
I wish you gardens, books, and bunnies.