Category Archives: learning

In and Around the Cottage

Homing::  After moving things in and out and around Maddie’s room (which is still not quite done) I had a chance to make some changes in other corners of our cottage. One of them was moving a tall bookcase out of Maddie’s room and into the little girls’, which made the coziest of reading corners. Made even better by moving two rocking chairs and a sheepskin. This is now one of their favorite nooks.IMG_3857-1

Learning:: With all the sewing I’ve been doing lately (no, Maddie’s quilt is still not done) the girls have all been watching intently. Grandma’s sewing machine has now been relocated to Maddie’s bedroom. I’m hunting for the perfect sewing/crafting/schooling table for her little space, but I haven’t found it yet. I did see one on Craigslist about 2 months before we needed one, but at the time the need wasn’t there and I couldn’t justify the purchase. Hmph.

My back up machine was brought out for the little girls’ to practice some machine stitching. Just on paper right now, following paths and lines and curves to learn how to control the machine, but Emma is quite anxious for some fabric and a project.  Soon, baby.IMG_3973-1

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Out of doors::  We’ve had quite a mix of weather this fall. One day brisk and breezy, the next rainy, then a treat of balmy and practically warm for these parts at this time of year, then a flurry or three whispering of things to come. My almost every morning routine (unless one of the Middles goes for me) includes donning happy boots, fetching water, either from the hose or the house depending on how frozen things are, spending time with the goaties, and then taking a brisk walk around the field, through the trees, up to the garden and back to the house, grabbing an armful of firewood on my way in which usually lasts until afternoon chore time.IMG_3825-2-1I do think that these goats have the very best view. Luckily, they willingly share it with us when we visit. IMG_3822-2-1

In the kitchen:: After a bit of a cooking slump, I revisited some of my favorite cookbooks for some menu ideas. I’m doing a much better job of meal planning and carrying out those plans, assisted by a weekly trip into town where I have two hours to run errands all alone. Thrifting? Yes, please! Grocery shopping? Why not.   Tonight’s supper was boeuf bourguignon.  Perfect on this chilly night.

Making:: I’m still working on Maddie’s quilt. I had a bit of trouble with the machine quilting. After stitching along just fine for a whole lot of the quilt, I was suddenly faced with the thread breaking over and over again, and then the needle breaking. Rethreading, cleaning the machine, changing the needle and even switching to a different thread didn’t solve the problem. After sleeping on it I realized that the weight of the quilt was pulling too much. So I adjusted my sewing table and propped the quilt up better. Problem solved! And I’m getting oh-so-close to being done. I’m not sure who’s more excited, Maddie or me. IMG_3989-1

Nature Table Fail

I love the look of a Waldorf and Montessori style room. They are so warm and welcoming. The rooms are designed not just for the sake of design, but for the exploration of the child who lives in the space.

IMG_3558 The amazing autumn that we’ve been having, combined with my love for the look of these naturally styled rooms had me planning a nature table. You know, just like the ones that Waldorf and Montessori mom’s do.

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This is what a nature table looks like. It’s just what it sounds like. A small table or tray with bits and pieces of the outside brought in and placed at the perfect height for a child to explore.

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Source: montessorimum.com

I mean, really, that can’t be too hard at all right? That’s what I thought too.

I collected a few little pine cones and some fallen acorns along with some pretty leaves and placed them oh-so-neatly in a little tray and put it on a low cabinet so the Littles could see and play and touch.

It lasted for about 5 minutes. As soon as Silas saw them, he began to use the pine cones as a hammer. Banging and banging them until they were shattered all over the cabinet and floor. Not too bad, I thought. He is, of course, touching and playing. Right? Well, the next morning my older son, Zach walked by our little nature tray. Mom? He says. What are these little white crawly things? What! Yuck!! Yes. Our acorns had little stowaways that hatched out in our nice warm house. Fortunately the didn’t wander far from the acorn, and they were easily disposed of.

The weevil larvae that had burrowed inside the acorns were a little too much nature inside my home, so the rest of the contents of the tray were promptly tossed back outside.  I am not a Waldorf Mom. I am not a Montessori Mom. And from now on,  we’ll be exploring nature outside. Where it belongs.

My Love/Hate Relationship with a Bible Verse

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I love this verse. I meditate on it frequently. But I also hate this verse. I have a tendency to only read and meditate on part of it. And that gets me into all sorts of trouble. If I focus only on the first part, I can do all things, well, just read my last post and you’ll see what happens! That’s what happens when we take verses out of context. We miss the point. The point of this verse isn’t doing everything and asking God to bless our doing. We need to rely fully and wholly on Christ first. He is the one who gives us strength. 
When the entire verse is read in context, the meaning becomes so much clearer. Paul is talking about contentment. About making the decision to be content in all circumstances. When full or when hungry, when we have plenty or if we’re in need. The true meaning of I can do is I can be strong or I have the strength to overcome.  I find the strength in Christ when I give him my life. He tells us that His yoke is good (the translation says “easy”, but the Greek really means “virtuous” or “good”). 
It’s when I add to His yoke that life gets crazy and I start to feel overwhelmed. It’s when I start focusing on myself that I might start to feel depressed. If I get my priorities straight, everything falls into place. It may not be easy as we define things, but He never told us it would be. He told us to follow him. And to be content in all circumstances. Even if those circumstances keep me running from sun-up to sun-down. Even if those circumstances aren’t always what I’d like. So I’m going to try harder to get things in the right order. Jesus gives me strength, and with His strength, I can be strong.

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve, the day before the second most celebrated holiday for Christians. The stockings are hung, the tree is strung with lights and decorated, there are presents wrapped under the tree, whispers and secret comings and goings, closed doors and smiles of anticipation all around. Katie and I are finally baking Christmas cookies – yes, its late, but its better than nothing. Josh will be heading to church early to practice one last time for tonight’s Christmas worship service.

We all still seem to be searching for that elusive peace that Christmas time is supposed to bring. Instead we’ve found the busy-ness that so many of us discover during this season. We’ve been shopping and wrapping and cooking and driving and preparing and unpacking and settling in to our new home. We’ve been so busy that the day has sneaked up on us. I guess we weren’t looking.

It makes me think about what’s really important.

The day we celebrate Christ’s birth on doesn’t matter, but HOW we celebrate it does. It’s not about the presents, or the cookies, or the lights. It’s about realizing that God sent us His Son. He sent him to earth as the most helpless creature we humans can be. Its also the least intimidating form we can ever be. Who could ever reject a precious baby? And yet, that baby grew to be a man who died for us all and that’s when He is rejected. How sad. So many celebrate Christmas and yet reject the One its about. It doesn’t make sense to me. Its like celebrating someone’s birthday whom dislike, or care nothing about. Who does that? All He asks of us is that we give Him our lives in return. We don’t need to just believe in Him, but we need to live for Him. So simple, and yet so hard for so many.

I’m so grateful for my husband and my children, and my new son-in-law. What precious gifts they all are. Each one unique, each one loved. I’m even grateful for being busy. The inner peace is there, the outer peace will come in January.

May the joy of Christmas be with you all, and if you don’t have peace yet, stop searching so hard – He’s right there, just waiting for you to chose. God’s grace (grace – a gift we don’t deserve) is there for the taking. Once you take it, open it. And may Grace and Peace be with you.