Friday, September 28

Homeschooling in a tree

Two weeks ago Jedd got it into his head that he really wanted to build a tree fort. Thom told him to consider a design and then the two of them worked out something that would fit our tree, in our yard. It has been astounding to watch; sometimes from a distance, sometimes right in the tree helping hold down wood while Jedd saws. There have been several nights where it's black outside and the boy has flashlights and lanterns hanging from various branches and angles.

There is a swarm of bees in one of the trees that Jedd learned wouldn't bother him, as long as he didn't ever again spray them with yard guard! Now they busily work together in harmony:)
~He has taken to bringing books out there and doing schoolwork or just reading, whenever he's run low on supplies and can't do any "real work". He calls his dad at work several times a day to see if he's found any usable scraps or if he'll be home early to help. His brain has been working non-stop on new configurations. In the photo you can see a big ramp up the front. While there are wood rungs nailed to one of the trees ladder-style, he built this yesterday in the hopes that his 136 pound dog might be able to ascend the tree with him. (nope). But it works well for kids to scamper up more quickly. And a lovely addition to the yard landscaping don't you think?

~He has plans for a trap-door, with a tractor seat pulley system, (maybe the dog can get up that way?) windows , and exit onto the shed roof (there was brief talk of a bridge to Thom's shed roof as well, I nixed that)

~ Note the basket pulley system. He's rigged the clothesline to the shed roof. The green line to the basket is what he uses to pull the basket up to the roof with whatever tools or ipod system he's stuck in it. The red line is what I pull to bring it back down when he needs a snack up there! Clever eh?

The twins are happy visitors in all this, but he lets them know, it is his fort!
Just think...2 weeks ago this was in his imagination, now it's his good is the life of this 11 year old? And isn't this just the way it should be?

Thursday, September 27

A Going Home

This past Monday my mom called from Vermont with the news that my Uncle Bill had gone to rest a bit before attending a big bash that night with my Aunt Janet. When it seemed that it was past the time when he should be getting ready my aunt went to wake him up. I'm sure you've already figured the rest out...Uncle Bill had died in his sleep during that nap. He was 73. He was overweight, but still active and in good health.

I made arrangements to meet my brother, Chris, at his home in N.J. so we could drive up to Connecticut together. It was nice to spend uninterrupted hours together on the ride.

We met up with my mother at a Chili's restaurant first (where all you Office fans will be happy to note we shared an "awesome blossom...extra awsome". They're pretty horrid actually, greasy and all that:( . ) From there we drove to the funeral home, where my brother ,Jeff, was waiting for us. An impromptu family reunion in the parking lot and then onto the rest of the family inside.

~ My aunt did not expect me to make the trip and since I couldn't make it to my grandmother's funeral this summer, was surprised when I walked in. I was enveloped in those wonderful auntie arms and hugged for a fabulously lengthy time. I treasure hugs. I hadn't seen Aunt Janet or any of the cousins from that family since the last family re-union which was at least 7 years ago! And might have been yesterday.

~We all connect like there has been no time put between us. God must make that happen. We laugh over old stories and what are now family legends. My family knows how to put the "fun" back in funerals. Later some of us carry over to a local restaurant and keep the laughter going. And then it's on to a cousin's home from the other side of the family who has generously offered to put us all up for the night. Gosh, going home is wonderful.

The next morning Chris and I go to a local florist and pick up mums, pumkins and gourds and head over to the Ellington Cemetary. Our father, who died when I was 8, is buried there among his people. It is a beautiful spot. Actually, Ellington is simply a lovely place to have lived. So many memories rush over me as we drive. While other towns around there have grown and changed so dramatically I have no recognition, good ol' Ellington is still as quaint and lovely as ever.

~We dress up Dad's grave and then our grandparent's. They'll look nice when the funeral party comes with Uncle Bill.

As we walk a few yards away Chris brushes away grass from a small 6"tile sized square imbedded in the ground. We call my mom over, who has met us there. "Look at this. It looks like a pear engraved on this. (We think that's funny, since my mom and sister have The Pear Tree shop and I have Pear tree South.) As my brother further brushes grass away in the upper right corner it says" Mema", the name the grandkids all call my mother. Very strange! We all laugh, my mother a bit nervously. I snap a photo.

~Onto the little steepled clapboard church where my brothers attended nursery school much to my envy at the time. The family are already gathered inside and in the parking lot. We head inside and take our seats, pull out hymnals and open with Amazing Grace. Then the pastor says a sermon deeply imbedded with the gospel. All 4 of Uncle Bill's kids offer words of praise and thanksgiving to their dad. Giving him a send-off he'd of been so proud of. Especially the thanks for making them go to church in their youth to give them the firm footing of Jesus Christ as their savior and the Bible as their guide. Wow!

~ We had to leave for home right after the service, but I'm so grateful for the time I was able to have with everyone. We are planning a new family re-union down by the Snipsic Lake, where we can show a new generation the island with the Indian burial ground, tell the stories of supposed hidden treasure, and boy are there ghost stories! We can share with them what was once family stomping ground. It all took place on Mountain Road, many of us lived there, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents. I lived in the farmhouse my dad grew up in and his mother before him. More cousins lived just a hillside away. It was once pretty much all family land all the way down to the lake and we had free reign. Well, unless the cows were loose...then they had free reign.

I'm especially grateful to you Lord, for the safe travel, and fine, fine fellowship. And for the tiny, happy smirk on Uncle Bill's face that let us know he was seeing the angels come to take him home when he died in such peace. Please be with aunt Janet and the cousins in these coming days....

Monday, September 24

clocks, towels and parachutes

Aahhh...It's Monday again:) I just did up the Sunday dishes (extra deep pile this morning as it was Thom's birthday yesterday and I made side-dishes and everything for the Sunday meal!woohoo!) I am being accused of once again giving Thom a gift that is really meant for myself. You give a lactose intolerant man one icecream maker one time and they never let you live it down! (you moms will already understand that when I gave that gift I wasn't really giving an icecream maker per se, I was giving the gift of "quality time" using it with his children for a lifetime of happy memories. Unfortunately , it was from Wal-Mart so it didn't last a lifetime...or even a week.)
~This year I am giving him a double -sided station clock. He has always been fascinated by time pieces. But, since our house is full of elliptical arches between rooms, I suggested the appropriate and only place to hang it would probably be best in the kitchen, between the kitchen itself, and the small room off it. Yes, that does happen to be my office at the moment. But he does watch the evening news there almost nightly and as he sits almost always says, "What time is it? Is it 6:30 yet?" I think my case ends there don't you? It is a gift for Thom entirely.
~This weekend I washed one load of laundry three times ! The same load! I guess Al Gore would not be happy. I put it in Saturday morning before work, then went off to work and didn't get home till 9 p.m. So it had sat in the washer for 12 hours. It stunk! I set it on delay to re-wash at 5 a.m. thinking I'd put it in the dryer before church. I remembered it at 5 last night where it had once again sat all day, wet, in the heat. I washed it yet again and finally put it in the dryer where even this morning it still sits. I've pin-pointed where I went wrong. I thought someone would check to see if there was laundry in the washer which needed to be transferred. Nobody ever does do they? I know people went in there that day to get clean clothes...I know the downstairs vibrated with the noise of the washer shaking in spin cycle, thereby alerting people to the fact that the washer was in use.
I can't wait for cold weather simply so that wet laundry doesn't grow heat spores and stink when forgotten about. And let's face it, towels are toast once they've been left in the washer on a hot day. They may smell kinda okay when re-washed and dried...but once they're against your wet body...YUCK!!!! I do not understand how my grandmother had the same set of towels for approximately 50 years. They were paper thin and stiff by the end. We could have written secret messages on them and folded them back up, put them away and used them in a spy situation, because who would look in a closet at towels for directions or maps to a treasure etc.?
I have to replace all my towels every couple of years because the stink won't ever come out of them once they've spent a significant period of time in the washer on a hot day. My grandmother always worked full time so it's not that she was home all day. (during the war she sewed parachutes for the soldiers, how cool is that? Some soldier drifted behind enemy lines hanging from a parachute my little grammy sewed!)
~Well, it's 8:30 and time to wake the troops here and get the day started. Perhaps we'll start with a lesson on laundry....

Thursday, September 20

poor me

Today is one of the 2 days a week where I'm car-less. Emma takes one car off to college and then high school. Annie drops me off at work and then takes the van down to Salisbury for volleyball. So far, Emma has been able to fetch me from work, but its been a close call since she sometimes squeezes me in between school and a volleyball game. It's not really that big a deal since I'm only about a mile from home. But I'm an American darn it! I NEED to have a car sitting in the parking lot all day, un-used, to feel secure! I'd get sweaty if I had to walk home and dinner would be late! What if it rains? What if it snows? What if its really really cold and I can't find my mittens and there are no pockets in the particular coat I've pulled from my All American closet that morning in which there are at least 8 others to choose from?
~Yeah... isn't God so very, very wise to take my car away from me?

Monday, September 17

Meandering Mondays

I love Mondays. The store is closed and I can meander around my house, catching up on little chores (I tend to ignore the big chores), planning a trip to the market, etc.
~Emma has already left for school. I've nudged Jedd awake (while his alarm is already being steadfastly ignored while it beeps 6 inches from his ear), put in my 2nd load of laundry and hung some of Thom's shirts. A sink full of dishes has been washed and put away (we don't usually wash on Sundays, I know we're disgusting, but who wants to argue over whose turn it is on Sunday!)
~ As I'm putting away books this morning I read one as I walk to the bookshelves," The Unprocessed Child", and find this lovely quote by Sue Monk Kidd which I want to share.
" I hope you'll hear what I'm about to tell you. I hope you hear it down to your toes. When you're waiting, you're not doing nothing. You're doing the most important thing there is. You're allowing your soul to grow up. If you can't be still and wait, you can't become what God created you to be."
The next time I'm urging one of the kids to sign up for something I think might be good for them, but which they have no interest in, I need to remember this. I actually have three kids who don't require me to fill up their social calenders and days with activities. They are very content and independent. If they're bored they pick up a book.
~I think as parents we need to be very careful we leave time for children to learn to sit and wait. I love to daydream....I'm fascinated by the subjects my mind meanders to and from and the unlikely connection of thoughts that occur:) I wantAnnie, Emma and Jedd to have that time as well.

Thursday, September 13

dreams of a cold kitchen

This morning has a the crisp feel and ever so slight hint of a coming autumn about it...are you as delighted as I am about the prospect of a season change?
I wish I could stay home and bake today. Since I'm wishing, I also wish I was staying home and baking in my dream Aga Range. (I'm trying to figure out how to place a picture here, but since the twins are in Georgia with Keith Franklin and a vanload of other "college searchers" I've noone here to assist in that) It's a dreamy classic English cooker that is constantly on. There are various ovens and you just open door #1 for a 275 degree slow roast, or door #2 for 325 baking, door#3 for 375 and door# 4 for 425. You set them all for your desired temps when you first get the stove, then just insert food at will and bake. It also keeps your kitchen toasty all winter. I'd keep an old- fashioned drying rack that raises and lowers from the ceiling in front of it and when the kids come in from playing in the snow...presto! lower the rack , place wet clothing over it to dry and pull a tray of brownies out of the oven!
(I grew up in New England remember, so there is still lots of winter in my brain)
The last time I checked the price of the model I want, it was 15 no worries about coming to my house and being over-heated in the kitchen in August.

Tuesday, September 11

Trinity Sunday

Lord, who hast made me out of the mud,
And hast redeem'd me through thy blood,
And sanctifi'd me to do good;

Purge all my sins done heretofore,
For I confess my heavy sore,
And I will strive to sin no more.

Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me,
With faith, with hope, with charity;
That I may run, rise, rest with Thee.
~George Herbert

Sunday, September 9

Today, September 9, 2007 our pastor, Jason Shelton, gave a challenging and thought provoking sermon which I highly recommend going online and listening to. It can be found at:
~ Be ready to be stirred to attempt to live the life that Jesus desires and commands you to live. Who have you specifically prayed for by name today? Who will you specifically pray for by name tomorrow?
What will I sacrifice for Jesus today, tomorrow, and any and every tomorrow I'm given after that?
Casting Crowns has a beautiful song titled If We Are The Body and the chorus should fill many of us with shame for our overall lack of outreach to the world....
But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?

I'm not saying that none of us does these things... I'm saying I personally often use the excuse that it's not "the season" of my life right now to do these things.
So I guess I'd ask you to name me in your prayers..ask Him to move me in His direction....

I'd also ask you to look at some friends who have followed in faith, and be inspired:
I know they'd appreciate your prayers greatly as well.

Friday, September 7

coffee, essays & "The Office"

~We're finishing up our first week of September, not a cool breeze or drop of rain yet, but hope springs eternal... I'm happy for the shop's first shipment of autumn coffees. Pumpkin Harvest blend puts me in the spirit mentally anyway.
We're also finishing up the first week of school. (Marianna, Annie and Jedd did end up coming back home) Annie has realized that the video courses for Algebra 2 and World History weren't going to work for her, so last night we ordered different curriculum and added a few new things for both she and Jedd.
~Emma is doing fine. She's turned in her 2nd college assignment and is contemplating a topic for her research paper. It has to be a persuasive argument on a subject within her home county (sic) OR a totally different country. Which is more difficult than it would seem. For instance the idea of writing on whether or not New Orleans should be rebuilt with government dollars would be a great paper written from either viewpoint. But...since it's not a foreign country or Emma's home county, it's not allowable.
~On a different note...I have finally seen the bottom of my dirty laundry basket. The problem now is that the clean laundry basket at the foot of the dryer is now overflowing...
~Our living room at this moment is also overflowing in the happiest way...with children. The twins talked Thom (at a weak moment) into buying the Season Three Office episodes on DVD which came out this past Tuesday. They've hoarded it until tonight and now are having a marathon 9 hour viewing with friends. They forced me to eat choclate covered ice cream and watch it with them, but after 2 hours I had to seek shelter in another room. Yes, I love The Office as much as the anyone, but I'm old and need to move my muscle-spasmed legs occasionally. Plus the crash from the chocolate was making me nod off....

Saturday, September 1

Christmas in September

Last year I ordered Christmas things in August to be delivered to the store in mid-October. When October came and went I called companies looking for my stuff. I was surprised to find they hadn't held it for delivery...they'd sold it to others who could take immediate delivery. hunh! So, a little wiser this year, I requested immediate delivery when ordering at the NYC show. It has arrived. Those of you who've been to my shop know there is NO storage. So I discreetly put out vintage styled houses covered in 50's glitter, up high on shelves and hid the glitter covered pastel reindeer behind them so they couldn't be seen. Glass ornaments went into cubbies deep in the recesses so as not to offend anyone by their early appearance.
Today, this first Saturday of September, people found, dug out and bought 3 of the 5 houses, 2 of the 4 reindeer, 1 of the 6 ornaments. I'm no longer feeling guilty. They're asking when more selection is arriving...
Also one glittered halloween card and 2 cast iron scaredy cats of fright.
I'm not complaining, mind you...I'm smiling widely:)