Happy Birthday Maggie!

My Maggie girl is 5 years old today. Five years ago this last night I was at the hospital attempting a VBAC. I spent most of the night getting to, then stalling at nine centimeters. I was in so much pain, but my contractions were not doing anything. Shane was with me through the night, and my Mom, and at some point Heather came. When the sun rose the next morning, I was ready for a c-section. Maggie was so big! The doctor joked about giving birth to a toddler. She weighed 9 pounds, 6 oz. Her Daddy called her the joy that came in the morning.She was a content and expressive baby. She was my only baby who would rather explore then cuddle. 100_0560









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She grew and grew. She is curious about the world, observant, and happy.Thanksgiving 052

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I love you Magdalena Buttercup! Happy Birthday!


A Full and Thankful Heart

My heart was not full and happy when I drug myself out of bed this morning to care for a neighbor’s animals. It was tired, grumpy, and trying to think of a way to redefine complaining so that it wasn’t sin. I was also hoping the kids would still be asleep when I got home. It was not to be.
On my return to the house, I was greeted by my feisty, energetic two year old. She was full of early morning sparkle and emphatic instructions. “Mommy, Annie needs you!. I didn’t get to snuggle you this morning! You didn’t give me a kiss!” She won’t be this small and cute and totally reliant on me forever, but for now she leads me up the stairs by the hand and curls up next to me in a tiny, warm ball.
Daddy has the baby, with her huge grin and shining eyes. She reaches for me. We cuddle together, we three, while Shane gets ready for work. Each of the younger children visit my room in turn to give me a quick snuggle and to kiss “their” baby.
When I finally got up to make Shane breakfast, I found Emily on the couch working on her devotional. After breakfast she started her chores without even being asked. Right now she is helping the littler people through their morning routines. It is such a joy to see what a mature and responsible young woman Emily is becoming.
The coffee is starting to kick in, I may take some quite time instead of a nap. The kiddos are getting ready to watch some Drive Thru History on the computer. Life is good, and sweet.
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Cooking with Kiddos

8 month old finds a frozen lima bean that was dropped and promptly shoves in in her mouth. I worry about her choking and try to fish it out. I have her turned upside down as I swipe her mouth, but it is lodged in the roof of her mouth. Finally I get it.

So, anyway, cooking with children

“Mommy can I have an animal cracker?” (times infinity, no really, my almost three year old keeps repeating herself regardless of my answer). 8 month old has found some of that foamy gap filler stuff that she can tear off and chew. Finger swipe. 8 month old to high chair with some animal crackers, almost 3 year old revs her request to a piteous wail EVEN THOUGH I AM HANDING her animal crackers. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. When did my almost five year old start trying to get my attention? 13 year old looks bored. 7 year old is tearing up because I’ve just raised my voice.

So… cooking with kids…

We are making trail mix for snack this week. They can pick something to go in and help make it. I may chase them all out of the kitchen when it’s done.

A new recipe we tried last week:

” Crap, I need to go to the grocery store” Red Thai Curry

1 bag raw coconut flakes fished from the back of the cabinet (should be coconut milk)

1 can sardines (should be anchovies)

curry powder, garlic salt, basil. cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, ginger (should be fresh herbs with some lemon grass thrown in)

brown sugar



3 peppers

1 sweet onion

chicken or pork

Put the coconut flakes in the same amount of water and boil. Add spices (play with the quantities), sugar, and chopped up sardines (with juice). simmer for a while. Strain, you want the liquid, and maybe some of the coconut. Add milk. Keep to side.  Put rice on to cook. Cut up peppers, onion, and meat. Fry. Add fried meat and veggies to liquid. Ladle liquid over cooked rice as you serve. It actually tasted pretty good.

Last week I let Vacation Bible school and assorted day trips be an excuse to feed my kids a lot of junk. This week we are putting the PB and J away and eating a bit healthier. Meal plan for this week:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, cheese, tomato slices, grapes OR hard boiled eggs and yogurt

Lunch: bean and cheese burritos OR bagel Veggie Melt/  banana, yogurt

Snacks: Trail Mix, fruit


Tuesday:  pork BBQ, coleslaw, fried squash

Wednesday: Super burgers (topped with lots o veggies) and fingerling potato fries

Thurs Chicken N dumplings, fried squash

Fri: roasted chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, succotash

Sat: Zucchini casserole

Sun:Tortilla chips topped with ground beef, cheese, salsa, sour cream

Rome Week Lesson Plans

Roman week plans

Latin Word of the Day/ Watch Drive through History episodes on Ancient Rome

make  mosiacs

Roman cheescake

Roman Numerals

Put on a Roman circus: beast hunts, gladiatorial water balloon fight, recitals, a play

Modern Roman Libum Recipe (serves 4)
1 cup plain, all purpose flour
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
bay leaves
1/2 cup clear honey

Sift the flour into a bowl. Beat the cheese until it’s soft and stir it into the flour along with the egg. Form a soft dough and divide into 4. Mold each one into a bun and place them on a greased baking tray with a fresh bay leaf underneath. Heat the oven to 425° F. Cover the cakes with your brick* and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden-brown. Warm the honey and place the warm cakes in it so that they absorb it. Allow to stand 30 minutes before serving.

*The Romans often covered their food while it was cooking with a domed earthenware cover called a testo. You can use an overturned, shallow clay pot, a metal bowl, or casserole dish as a brick.


Country Roads…Lead me Home

Our family will be celebrating our last week at Covenant Reformed Church next week. After that, we will be visiting churches in our own community -there are about 10 churches in a 5 miles radius of our home . We have had a growing conviction that we should be worshiping with our neighbors. Even if we can’t agree on every point of doctrine, we’d really like to pursue those relationships.
We will very much miss being at church with Papa and Gramma Shank. We do look forward to attending church with other families that have children. We still a Reformed, definitely Calvinist, homeschooling family. I am still a charismatic. We are just hoping to continue in the faith in the place where the Lord planted us.

Thoughts on “The Fosters”

There is a show on ABC family that showcases the struggles experienced by children and families in foster care. A trendy gay couple deals with hurting teens in a loving and empathetic manner.

Where is the church?

Have we spent so much time worried over our neighbor’s sin, and so little time being the kind of salt and light that clothes the naked, feeds the hungry and gives shelter to the fatherless, that we have become irrelevant?

Where is the church?

Are we afraid? of what?

Where is the church?

The need is real. SOMEONE needs to stand in the gap. Where is the church?

Making Lemonade

Every time we pull up the driveway and I see my house with fresh eyes. White against a verdant green, stately walnut trees shading the yard, the beautiful stone chimney. I love my home.
The new laundry room has inspired me to find ways the organize and beautify other areas of our home. I look at the peeling paint in the dining room, the kitchen drawers that are beyond repair, the wilderness that I call a yard, and I dream. A part of me wants to run right out to the hardware store and fix it right now. The reality is: it will be several years before we can remodel the kitchen/dining room, and major landscaping isn’t in the budget. I have a chicken coop get up, a garden that I can’t seem to keep up with, and am really missing my buddy A who enjoyed weed eatin’. The past couple of weeks I have slowly found ways to make lemonade.
Discounted plants in planters on the porch
painted rocks, plants that a good neighbor gave me, and sunflowers on that bank I hate to mow
Last week I got inspired and scraped the peeling paint off the windowsills in the dining room. I found some of the blue paint I had used in the kitchen and painted the windowsills. The old wood had a roughness to it the reminded me of painting an old row boat. Shane had a bunch of ship pictures and brick a brack that we weren’t using. So I took down all my school charts and painted random stokes of blue on the white dining room walls then hung the ship pictures. The blue paint covers the marks and dinginess of the old white wall. I need to find a way to cover the old gingham and heart border (I think I will run some cloth stamped with anchors). It won’t look especially pretty or professional- but it will look better then it did before and hold us until we can remodel the way we really want it. It cost nothing.
In the kitchen, I took out two broken drawers. That’s two less hen boxes to build. Emily took out the wood separating them and made a nice low cubbyhole for a wicker basket where we will store all the children’s plates and sippy cups.
What do you have lying around that could make your world a little brighter?

Art Week

Summer 2013 Art Week
This was Art Week! Each day we have chores, devotional time, reading time and special activities.
On Saturday we had Gracie and Maggie’s birthday party. Playdough was made. It accidentally turned out a lot like model magic, but it won’t dry.
On Monday we started piano lessons back up and worked on cleaning up from the weekend
Tuesday- Emily went to the water park. The rest of us started watching the Old Dr. Who
Wednesday- Clay Play Day hosted by Barbara Fairweather in Lacey Spring .She opens her home most Wednesdays, and it is free :)The kids had so much fun! Emily made a mortar and pestal. The kiddos made pinch pots and Christmas ornaments. Millie made a coffee cup for Daddy.
Thursday: We learned about still lifes, practiced sketching, and did water resist drawings.
Friday: flower collages on wax paper (my yearly excuse to break out the iron.) Monet. Cartoon drawing exercises. Movie night.
We also found out about a group starting up at Covenant Pres on Thursday nights 3-5pm. It is a worship sign language group that desires to minister to the deaf community. We won’t be able to participate, but it is open to all ages and sounds like A LOT of fun. Check out http://www.signsofthespirit.org for more information.

What is your Homemaking Groove?

I know a mommy who irons. My children are convinced that an iron is related to the hot glue gun- something we take out for art projects that rarely turn out they way there are intended to and end in Mommy trying not to curse as she burns her hand.
Over the few years I have been homemaking, I’ve printed up all sorts of lists and binders to get me organized and make sure I don’t miss anything I am supposed to be doing. Some involve things I couldn’t imagine doing on a regular basis (dusting lampshades every week?); some don’t take into account the fact that I have children (I WISH I could get away with only sweeping and mopping the dining room on a weekly basis). So I am coming up with my own “minimum requirements” for cleaning. Mine leave my house just clean enough to not be dirty, but still very much lived in. This is my comfort level. What do you do? I’d really love to hear it and try to compile a general consensus!
* these are what I try to do daily, weekly, whatever- does not mean it always happens
Wash dishes, wipe counters, and sweep kitchen and dining room at least twice a day
Keep up with wash (Em sorts and folds, everyone puts their own stuff away, I am not picky how it turns out)
Beds made and rooms picked up once a day
Living room picked up as needed, swept once a day
Kitchen and Bathroom trash emptied daily
Bathroom sinks and mirrors wiped
spot mop as needed
sweep porch ( I should do this)
clean high chair after every meal and really well after supper

Empty other trash cans
sweep steps
Bathrooms cleaned (thanks Joelle!)
Floors swept and mopped well (thanks Joelle!)
dusting (thanks Joelle!)
bedrooms/hallway vacuumed (thanks Joelle!)
pick some clutter to organize
wipe something off that looks grody (this week it was the dryer and the area behind the woodstove)
mow/weed eat/weed flower beds
Take high chair apart and clean it
grocery shop

Every other week (sooner if needed)
wash bedding
check/resupply quantities of paper products and toiletries

Monthly (I should do these things monthly)
clean light fixtures
clean behind woodstove
look for cobwebs on ceiling and out of the way places
clean windowsills
go through/reorganize children’s toys/clothes
clean under beds

wash windows
clean vents
clean out/go through storage areas

Making Memories, not Perfection

blowing bubbles Summer 2013 022 playdough Sisters!

Company arrives. Doubt assails me. Though we have been in a generally good routine with keeping the house up, suddenly I see every job unfinished, every blemish, every disorganized space. I am serving hot dogs to children, and not the good kind either. I don’t measure up to some standard that I can’t even fully articulate. None of my food or activities are Pinterest worthy, I am tired and overwhelmed before the party even starts.
Somehow, the weeds in my garden, the playdough cooked to the bottom of the pot, the clutter in the office have made me less.
Only I am not less. I am me. The person who plays on facebook while she nurses the baby. The one who gets easily distracted from her work. The one with a pretty high tolerance for kids , who likes to do the fun stuff, who has an inner drill sargent that makes her children groan . The one who tried to make a rocket with vinegar and baking soda, and got vinegar in her eye. I could be more diligent. I should probably follow the recipe, and only time will tell what kind of parent I was- but in the process of getting there, I am not less.
And in the process, we do make memories