Monday, February 25, 2013

{Using a Checklist to Guide Schoolwork}

When my kids entered their middle elementary years, it was exciting to see how independent they had become. I could place an assignment before them and tend to a younger sibling and, for the most part, they’d be able to stay on task without straying too far. As helpful as it was, I still found that I was interrupted by too many “what should I do now?” questions. So I took the advice of a friend and developed a checklist.

Join me over at The Homeschool Classroom today!
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Saturday, February 16, 2013


I was fifteen when I first read Jane Eyre. My aunt gave me a copy -- along with a copy of Wuthering Heights -- for my birthday. I keenly felt the romance of reading really, truly grown up novels and, although they made for difficult reading at times, I quickly fell in love with the sweeping sagas and the strong female characters. 

Jane Eyre was my favorite of the two, and I found myself revisiting its pages over the years. I read through it again in my twenties, and it was interesting to note how I had changed. Different aspects of Jane's character resonated with my own, and I found her strength and self control to be even more admirable than I had as a teenager. I still found Mr. Rochester to be a trifle old and brooding, but there was a delicious mystery even in that.

This month I once again felt the pull to read Jane Eyre. The span of years has changed a thing or two as I read, but I still envision Thornfield Hall as I did over twenty years ago, and little Adele still frolics about with the same youthful energy. The character that has most surprised me, however, is Mr. Rochester. I eagerly awaited his entrance into the narrative, recalling his dark presence and the vast gulf between his and Jane's years.

I was a bit shocked to recall that he was twenty years older than the eighteen-year-old Jane. Yes, that is a gulf. And yes, he's old enough to be her father. But no, dear reader, that does not make him the "old bachelor" that he declares himself to be. Mr. Rochester, at thirty-eight, suddenly seemed quite young in my estimation. Quite young indeed.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

{The Brother}

"They go through the brother," my dad teased, a knowing look in his eye. My sister and I giggled. We supposed that it was sometimes true. That boys would befriend a brother in order to get to know the sister. But not my boyfriend. Not my Jamie. He truly enjoyed being with my brother. I loved watching them shoot hoops and play catch, loved the way Jamie made him feel special, loved the way my brother looked up to him.

Sometimes I wonder what I would have thought had I been able to take a glimpse into the future when I snapped this picture. If God had whispered a secret to come, a secret that waited down the road about twenty years, I would have seen another picture.

A picture of these boys -- now men, now truly brothers -- in another country.

It would have both baffled and delighted me. (I would have blushed. So we do end up getting married?) Yes, and one day Jamie will go to visit Johnny and his family in a country called Slovenia. The whisper would have filled out the story: Her name is Brooke, and they have a darling little girl named Kinsley. You will love them. You'll get to visit with them often using home computers. It will be called Skype. (You mean like the Jetsons? I'd marvel.) Yeah, kinda like that.

(Why does Jamie go?) The whisper would continue: He'll bring his video equipment to capture the vision. To bring home a picture of the love that Johnny and Brooke have for their God, for this country, for these people. And he'll bring home a heart full of love for your brother, his brother.

And I'd shake my head in joyful astonishment, marveling at the future.

* * * * *

I close the photo album and come to the present, to the now. Here they are before me, proof. The two pictures -- and many more -- each whispering a thousand words. Among those words are the most true, that God is good.

Yes, sometimes they go through the brother. And sometimes they go to the brother. Because that's what brothers do.
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Friday, February 8, 2013

{Mudpie: Wildlife Refuge}

Photo credit: Anniebeth Lawson

Today Bethie takes us on a lovely tour of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge over at Mudpie. Enjoy!
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Thursday, February 7, 2013


She's at it again! Bethie's new and improved blog is now operating over here at Mudpie. Today's post is very . . . sweet. Hop on over to find out why!
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The hunt is definitely part of the fun. Finding it, as my dad used to say about catching a fish, is a bonus. When I find myself in a thrift store, my eye is trained to look for certain items. It comes in handy when I have just a few minutes to zip through Goodwill or the local "This and That." My eye scans the book spines, looking for titles that match my Pinterest lists. My hand brushes over the girls' dresses, feeling for quality, well-made pieces. I glance over the drinking glasses, looking for the sturdy stemware that we affectionately call "Beaver Glasses" (they remind me of something you'd see on June Cleaver's immaculate dinner table).

Don't these just scream, "Milk and cookies!"?

Finally, I crane my neck around the corner to check the bake ware shelf, just in case there's any vintage Pyrex lying around. It's becoming more rare to find them (especially without scratches), but today I had my bonus. Make that two bonuses. There they were, nestled together with the larger yellow one (which I already own . . . again), and at a price that I knew was pretty decent. (I had just seen the green one marked at twice the amount at a local antique shop.)

They had just come in yesterday (did you know the date is printed on the bottom right-hand corner of the Goodwill price tags? Thrifty news you can use . . .), and they were all ready to come home with me. Such happy mixing bowls. I snatched them up, trying not to look too greedy, and wheeled my cart nonchalantly around as though it was no big deal that my day just got awesome.

Happy green. Happy red.

I brought them home and washed them. Hand washed them. Just like my mom hand washes hers -- the bowls that her own mom hand washed, too. We don't want the color to fade or scratch. I wondered if these bowls had once belonged to a young bride. How many dozens of chocolate chip cookies had been whipped up in these bowls? How many eager children swiped globs of dough while their mother pretended to be stern about it? I dried the bowls and nestled them together on the shelf with the yellow one. The kids agreed that they all look very happy together, and can't wait to swipe their own globs of dough.

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