I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A house full of readers

We are now officially a house full of readers. I have read to and worked with all of my kids since they all joined our family. Then as each one reached school age I handed over the reigns to the schools to finish the job of teaching our children to read. Our youngest is the first one that I have actually taught to read. He is just beginning his reading journey but it is pretty satisfying to see him sounding out words knowing that I helped him learn that skill. He was proud to show off his new skill to Daddy the other night before bed. Also, during free time, he has started making lists of things in his little notebook sounding out the letters. Things like trcee for turkey and Dnl for his Uncle Daniel. Pretty fabulous if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I am really proud of this kid. It's his fifth year of football and he loves it. He works hard and he's good at it. The team is 6-1 for the season and they are headed into playoffs this weekend. Last year they weren't able to win one single game so this year's hard work has paid off.

He had a personal record a couple weeks ago scoring four touchdowns and rushing for more than 220 yards. The icing on the cake was that Grandpa and Grandma got to be there to see it. He is very strong, so much so that often when he is tackled he drags the defenders with him for another few yards. I'm not just saying that because he is my son, other parents tell me it really is amazing to watch. (I tend to agree partial as I may be.) The season is almost over and to be honest I am ready to be less busy. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't say that I would miss watching this guy play every weekend.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trading ashes for beauty

For me autumn always seems to usher introspection in with the colors. I felt the shift a few weeks ago. Everything around me takes on deeper meaning, highs are higher and lows lower. At times I welcome the depth of emotion and stay there awhile. Other times I avoid books, blogs and passages of scripture that challenge my core knowing it will go to a place I am fiercely protecting. I deny the journey for a moment convinced I will drown in the darkness.

It was a cold and brisk fall day when I went into labor much too early with our first daughter. The colors were changing and Steve was woodcutting with family. The smells and colors of fall bring it all back in an instant. I'll turn the corner on a country road and the autumnal display of reds and yellows will make me catch my breath as the reminder brings it all rushing back. The smell of a warming fire or the sound of crisp leaves under my feet is all it takes.

It was the following fall when we welcomed our second daughter into this world, this child we would take home to keep. I spent the nine months fighting grief refusing this child I carried to know only a crying mother. Her arrival, however, opened my heart to joy once again but also to the grief of my loss that snuck in the same door. A joy we desperately clung to, this child of grace who brought healing to our hearts. Unaware her joy and grace were a salve to our wounds, a sling for our hearts and a safe place to let go.

It was that same fall it became clear to both of us that God had plans for us still. Plans for us to prosper, for a hope, for a future. Our little family of three would not be the same. Our little girl was just five weeks old when we made the decision to accept the call on our hearts to open our family to two little children across the ocean. The prayer of my mother's heart she prayed on our wedding day coming to fruition that we would be blessed with children and a blessing to children. Life is a gift we said, one we have now with no guarantee of tomorrow. Now is the time.

It was again fall the next year when those little round faces joined our family making us a family of five. Three more years and two more little faces born to us, now a family of seven. Each change of the seasons bringing more and more life as the grief slowly faded.

Watching the colors change this year I am once again reminded of my grief. Once again I feel it washing over me but it does not overtake. When I catch my breath and look around my table, I see the blessings of my children that are my beauty from the ashes.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Works for me Wednesday: Organizing our school

I decided to take a different approach for the kids this year. With two sixth graders in the house this year, I wanted to start teaching some organization as well as the basics. I picked up these binders at a back to school sale and they were just $.75 each.

I bought a variety of stickers trying to hit on an area of interest for each of my kids. They look a little strange in the picture below but those are dinosaur eggs.

Inside the binders vary slightly for each one but some things are the same such as an assignment page, journal, beginning/end of year statistics sheet and book lists.

Organizing this way does several things. The most important one for all of us is that it allows the readers in our little school to start without me. They can look at their assignment sheet and start on their independent work while I work with youngers on their handwriting and math.

I can slip worksheets in for each day if needed and the younger two have weather graphs that they are working on in the front of the binder. Every day they get their binder out and it's the first thing they see.

We are more than a month in and it is still working!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Soup Season

Just about the time we end birthday season around here (five kids in seven weeks), we round the corner into soup season. The leaves are starting to fall, too early in my opinion, and we get the call that our half of a beef is ready at the butcher.

I pulled out a gem of a recipe book last week, the absolute best engagement gift ever. My grandmother put together a list of family favorites and hand copied all of the recipes into a book for me. I have used it over and over the last thirteen years. It was a rainy day and I was looking for something warm and easy for lunch but more special than the standard grilled cheese. I came across one of my favorites that she makes, Corn Chowder. It was perfect for a mid-week lunch. It's easy to make and is fast, too.

Corn Chowder (serves 5 well but I like to double it for my 7 and have a few servings leftover)
Cost per serving: $1- $1.50


1/2lb bacon, diced 3 1/2 - 4 cups potatoes diced up

1/2 cup chopped onion 1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped celery 1/8 tsp pepper

2 Tblsp flour snipped parsley (optional)

4 cups milk paprika (optional)

2 cans creamed corn shredded cheese (optional)

In a large saucepan fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon(set aside) and all but 3 tblsp of drippings from the pan. Add onion, celery and potatoes to drippings and cook until the onion and celery are tender. The potatoes will finish as you go. Remove pan from heat and add flour. Blend flour in and add milk. Heat to boiling and boil for one minute. Stir in corn and seasoning. Heat through. Stir in bacon. Serve and garnish each bowl with snipped parsley and paprika or shredded cheese.

This soup is so good with a dense bread or baguette. Let me know if you try it. Enjoy!!!