Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Back to Butler's for blueberries.

Just-picked, warmed-by-the-sun morsels of deliciousness.

I am sure Peter ate a quart of them.

A picnic lunch with friends in the shade. Several trips down the slides.

Ending with blueberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream.
All the makings of a very good day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Summer Evening

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.

- John F. Kennedy

An after-dinner bike ride around the neighborhood.

A break to swing at the end of the street.

Loving these lazy summer evenings.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Well-Watered : 1000 Gifts

When the heat comes, we run searching for refreshment, splashing and soaking ourselves in His good gifts. I turn another page in the gratitude journal, my cup full to overflowing...

Clean water.


Wet, grass-clipping-covered children.

Just hosing them off - a summer shower.

Colorful towels drying on the line.

Watching the flowers perk up after a good soaking.

Godly, fun, energetic camp counselors.

Camp-tired kids.

Pizza at Faccia Luna with four dear friends.

Easy conversation.

Laughing so hard you cry.


A lunch date with my husband.

And his willingness to sit outside a dressing room.

Stacks of clean laundry. Carefully folded by Will.

When my wise husband says around six o'clock, "Let's just order pizza."

Summer rest and refreshment.

Day by day, showered by His grace.

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:11

holy experience

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Week with Peter

Hannah and Will have been in camp this week, so Peter and I have been doing a lot of nothing and loving every minute of it.

The house has been quiet. We've cleaned, baked, shopped, gone through old photos, read books, and had a few of Peter's friends over to play.

Today we went shopping for sunglasses. It is easy to have fun with this kid.

Oh, the selection is so overwhelming.
Mom, these are the ones.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Trying Something New

We have followed the same chore schedule for about a year now. It has worked well for us. The kids don't flip over their chore cards anymore, they know them by heart and we just have a rhythm to how it all works.

But lately, I sensed my three needed a little boost. I wanted something that made chores happen quickly each morning, without me reminding them to get it done. I wanted them to get a little excited, and help them see there is blessing in work and obedience. So, now we have marbles.

In the Back to School 2009 issue of Family Fun Magazine, I read a great article about chore rewards called, "A Fistful of Dad Dollars," where the kids had dad dollars waiting for them each morning on the counter if everything was completed by a certain time. And the most recent issue of Family Fun offered another creative way to handle chore boredom using jars of marbles. So, I married the two ideas. While I liked the dad dollar idea (you print real looking money with dad's face in the middle), I knew the boys would not keep track of slips of paper.

How it works for us:
Do your daily chores and receive marbles. Their morning chores have to be completed by a certain time to receive the marbles (I give them a 30 minute warning to help my non-clock readers). Also, good table manners at dinner can earn you a couple marbles. I don't take marbles out of their jars for any reason. Discipline issues are completely separate. My hope is to keep this light and fun, not burdensome.

With morning/evening chores and table manners each of them can earn up to six marbles, and sometimes more. When Will told me today that he matched all the white socks that were piled on my bed (seemingly just for fun), I happily blessed him with a couple extra marbles.

The kids then get to spend their marbles on some fun privileges. Here are a few examples... and most are divisible by 3 - in case they want to pull together to buy something...
  • a late night reading pass (extra reading time in bed) - 10 marbles
  • 30 minutes of screen time (computer or tv) - 12 marbles
  • a trip to the playground/hike of your choice - 15 marbles
  • treat at the pool snack bar - 15 marbles
  • after dinner bike ride - 18 marbles
  • out for ice cream - 30 marbles
We are only a few weeks into this and they love it. I am always thinking of things they can do to earn a marble or spend marbles... and they are, too.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Father's Love : 1000 Gifts

Thankful for my heavenly Father, who surely gives good gifts to His children, the list continues...

Summer evening light.

A pool membership.

Happy waves to me from the diving board.

Water guns.


Blue hydrangeas.

"The tests results all came back normal."

The Frog and Toad books.

A summer Bible study at church. The time to be a part of it.

My annual homeschool review behind me.

Pink for summer.

My parents. Married 39 years.

Her lemonade stand.

And meeting neighbors.

Legs that can run.

And feel sore.

Water fountains.

Celebrating dads.

Sunday evening calls to our dads.

Uncontainable excitement to give Dad their Father's Day gift.
(A new soccer ball - World Cup replica ball)

His excitement in receiving.

How much he plays with them.

And the ways he loves each one.

Daughter taking long notes on Daddy's sermon.

My heavenly Father. Romans 8:15.

Knowing that I am a beloved, adopted child of the King.

"Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into His family and fellowship, and establishes us as His children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the father is greater."

J. I. Packer, Knowing God

holy experience

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Thankful for the WONDERFUL dads in my life...

My dad. My kids' Grandpa.

My dad-in-law. My kids' Papa.

My husband. The love of my life. My best friend. And Dad to three thankful children.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stepping Stones with Grandpa

When my dad was here last week he made these stepping stones with the kids. We just took them out of the trays (round, plastic, potted plant trays). The kids are so pleased with them. All it took was a bag of concrete, glass beads, 3 plastic trays... and a grandpa. Now to find the perfect spot in the yard... the muddy path where they have worn away the grass? the path to the their fort? by the fairy houses?

Thanks so much, Dad!

And just for fun... this is what Peter is up to today.
He is a constant celebration and combination of sport...

Liverpool soccer uniform, Hannah's soccer socks, Nationals hat and garden gloves while playing a combination of baseball and golf.
I love that kid.

Eat Cake

I have a confession.

I prefer the taste of boxed-cake-mix cake to made-from-scratch cake.

I know. It goes against everything I think good food should be. But there it is.

Could it be that I have not found the right cake recipe? Sure. But nothing beats the ease of that box when you are planning a birthday party, headed to a church event, or want to welcome a new neighbor.

I made this cake for a neighborhood potluck a few weeks ago, and received far more compliments and requests for recipes than I would have had I slaved over a from scratch cake. I feel like a counterfeit accepting compliments that are really intended for Duncan Hines, but I smile and say, "Thank you," in all my fraudulence.

So, in order to come clean, I'll share it with you.

Chocolate Cake (adapted from several different recipes... all with more creative names)

  • 1 package devil's food cake mix
  • 1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 bag (or 2 cups) mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Pour batter into a well greased bundt pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes (or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean). Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Or make a nice ganache - but then you've lost your "easy."

And more cake...

My friend Amy posted a from scratch chocolate cake I'd really like to try. It looks amazing. Maybe it will change my thoughts about cake mix. Maybe she will make me one next time I see her? : )

Also, Mary Katharine posted a recipe for a very similar cake. Her version has milk, no oil, and no sour cream. Hmm... even easier.

Anyone else think it's funny that my last post was all about veggies and healthy eating? Grin.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


We decided to commit to a CSA (half share) and are thrilled to be receiving this weekly box of beauty all summer.

This is only the second week of the season. Already, I have enjoying finding new recipes for all those vegetables that I would not normally buy a the store. Our farm also provides us with recipes to go with what is in the box that week (so thankful for that!). The kids tastes will most certainly be expanded this summer... as will mine. Swiss chard for example - I'm not sure if I have ever had it and I really like it! And I love that it was all grown just down the road... and we even can go there and pick it ourselves.

A few months ago, I mentioned here that I was looking at CSAs and local grass-fed beef/milk suppliers. Cleary, we found a great CSA and are excited about this first season. As far as beef goes, we eat very little meat so buying a share of a cow would be silly. Rocklands Farm may supply beef in the future and I will revisit it then. For now I am buying an occasional pack of grass-fed beef at Whole Foods. I did find a local milk delivery that was already coming to my neighborhood, but it was pricey - more than what I was spending at Whole Foods for grass-fed/organic. So, I'm sticking to Whole Foods for beef and milk. It's oh-so-nice to have one about a mile away.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June : 1000 Gifts

"I wonder what it would be like
to live in a world where
it was always June."

- L. M. Montgomery

My list of gifts goes on. Each one graciously given...

Watering cans.

The colors of summer.


Summer nights with the car windows down.

World Cup cheering from the couch.

Backyard soccer during halftime.

The fun and comedy involved in putting on our school show.

Our first CSA box. New recipes that follow.

Bright colors on the cutting board.

An afternoon of shopping with my mom. Just the two of us.

My babysitter/handyman/dad who lets us go.


Flowers for the teacher. From my sweet husband.

Finding that my husband and Will had folded the mountain of laundry on the bed.

A half-stack of pancakes for the half-birthday boy.

Air conditioning.

My little baseball catcher. And his creative uniform.

And that he occasionally runs the bases for no particular reason.

An afternoon at the playground with good friends.

Finding shade.

holy experience

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mt. Vernon

"No estate in United America is
more pleasantly situated than this."

- George Washington

We had a perfect day to visit Mt. Vernon last week. I had wanted to take the kids several months ago as we learned about Washington in our history studies, but it was covered in snow. I think this time of year was much better. And my parents were able to come with us.

the greenhouse and gardens

We spent a lot of time playing in Washington's front yard.

"Within this Enclosure Rest the remains of Gen. George Washington"

the Pioneer Farm site : A working farm, treading barn, animals.

We all enjoyed the day so much, I payed the extra few dollars per ticket to upgrade to an annual pass. I'm sure it is beautiful in the fall, and at Christmas when the mansion is decorated.

There are so many places in this area... so little time....


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