Sunday, October 31, 2010


My gratitude journal continues... #126-#145

~an extended fall with warm days and cool nights
~slow mornings with hot drinks and jammies over school books
~quiet evenings 
~Sunday afternoon football

~a sweet visit with my cousin
~a spontaneous breakfast date with my man
~laughing with my children
~a great family game night
~Sabbath family rest

~the sweet aroma of corporate worship
~the love of our church family
~being surrounded by loved ones who prayed with us for Chad's upcoming CT scan
~the opportunity to express our appreciation to our pastors this week
~the fellowship my children have in our church body

~His immeasurable love
~the taste of freedom from strongholds
~the Spirit who enlightens the eyes of my heart
~the never ending opportunity to lay my cares at the foot of the cross
~His healing...physical, emotional, spiritual

severe mercy...

Severe mercy...

life changing

bringing with it
a pain like no other

Severe mercy...


where harsh lessons 
meet compassionate love

Severe mercy...


surrendering to the pain
to give Him the fame

Severe mercy...


when your greatest pain
becomes your greatest gift...

severe mercy.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Yuck!... TOS Crew Review

What's in your bucket?


Thanks to Buckets-o-Fun, I had 4 samples of Yuck in my bucket to review for The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Yuck products are fun projects that are essentially various types of slime.  They are made from acrylic polymer and Buckets-o-Fun sells 4 different types... 

chunky yuck which when mixed with water resembles machine ice cubes
saucy yuck which we think resembles applesauce
snowy yuck which looks just like it's name
sticky yuck which we agree with Buckets-o-Fun, this one looks like snot!

When I received my samples in the mail to review, the first person I thought of was my 12 year old nephew, Jake.  Jake loves to watch the reactions of things and I thought he would be a blast to create Yuck with, so I emailed Jake and asked for his help.  Because he's such a great kid, he was more than willing to help and I took my Yuck along on our camping trip to create it with Jake and the rest of the cousins. 

After creating all four samples, here are Jake's thoughts...
         The snowy yuck looks like snow but it is kind of slimy.  The sticky yuck is very sticky.  It does feel like snot and it doesn't wipe off my hands easily (in fact, it took a while to wash it off).  I might purchase the snowy yuck.  If you want to buy the sticky yuck, you might want to do it outside because it is hard to clean up.

After trying all four samples we had some other thoughts as well...
~we would like to see a little more science explanation included with Yuck.  Since we were camping, we didn't have internet access and I did not investigate polymers ahead of time to be completely prepared.  I think most teachers and homeschool moms would appreciate having the research done for them and included with the product.
~the Chunky Yuck takes 24 hours to complete... anything that takes longer than 5 minutes is really too long.  We lost interest watching it.
~all four samples were the same color.  We think it would be helpful if the different dry Yuck products could be different colors so that we could tell them apart as they were developing.  However, once each type was fully developed we had no difficulty distinguishing between the sticky yuck and the saucy yuck.
~creating Yuck in a small group worked well.  I can't imagine how it would work in a traditional school classroom, though.  It would be difficult to keep the mess down with more children involved.

A bucket of Yuck costs anywhere from $16 to $20 for one pound.  While I think it was fun to try Yuck, I can't imagine, as a homeschool mom, why I would ever buy an entire pound of it.  

However, Buckets-o-Fun offers free samples and I would definitely recommend anyone requesting a sample to try for themselves.  Who knows?  Maybe you'll find Yuck in your bucket!

Click here to see what other TOS Crew members thought of Yuck.

**disclaimer... I was sent a free sample of this product for my honest review.  I received no other compensation.

thanks Jake!

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies... Ferrol's Coco-Crispy Cookies

It's 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies time with Abby Sweets again!  I am having so much fun looking through my cookbooks and digging out old family favorite recipes as well as trying new ones.

This recipe is from my college roommate, Ferrol.  She is amazing!  She's always on the lookout for recipes that use whole foods.  She loves to feed her family foods that are not only delicious but are also relatively good for them.

My family usually frowns upon "good for you" things.  However, this batch of cookies disappeared almost as fast as I could make them.  We love them!

If you are looking for a healthier alternative to Christmas Cookies, try serving a plate of these.

Ferrol's Coco-Crispy Cookies

1 stick soft butter
3/4 c. raw sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 c. rice crispy cereal
1 c. rolled oats or instant oats
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut

Blend butter and sugar until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix well.  In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir in cereal, oats and coconut.  Dough will be very stiff and crumbly.  Mix well... it takes a while. ; )

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 12-13 minutes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

my own beauty...

I've re-written this post three times today.  My heart is heavy with thoughts and my mind can't find cohesive words to express them.
The jist of the issue is this... I see beauty all around me but can't see beauty in the mirror.  
In countless ways and over countless days I have blamed God for this.  I blame Him for creating me in a way that I think is less than stellar.  Most recently, I also blame Him for the 40 lbs I gained in 8 months after my hysterectomy four years ago.  I have hated the way that He created me for so long, I can't remember ever feeling any different.
Quietly... kindly... softly... gently... He is pursing my heart through prayer, Bible study, His creation, blogging and through my friend Lisa's blog.
I'm learning the choice is mine... surrender my thoughts and trust the thoughts of a God whose ways are higher than mine and whose thoughts I could never even come close to comprehending... or continue in my path of self-destruction.
I will choose, this day, to see beauty in the mirror because blaming God has gotten me no where but more miserable... He is God, I am not.
But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? 
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 
'Why did you make me like this?
Romans 9:20

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

down memory lane...

I'm joining up with Jenilee for Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane.

If you were to ask my son
"what is the greatest accomplishment
your aunt has ever done"

he would enthusiastically reply
"Drew and Jake!"

only 13 months separate these
boys in age

and they have been best friends
from the beginning

Eric often jokes with me
that if he ever runs away...
I will know where to find him

with his cousins

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

pictures of grace...

My sister finds the neatest blogs to follow.  I love reading about who she has found in the blogging world.  Today I'm joining in a linky party that she has joined in.  Years ago, she may have accused me of copying her... today, though, I'm hoping for some grace...

Emily at chattingatthesky is hosting snapshots of grace-a linky party.  Emily has asked those who want to participate to link up a photo or series of photos that represent grace to each of us....

undeserved merit or favor...

God's grace is as faithful to me as a sunrise...
somedays hidden behind storm clouds
not to be seen by my own eyes
yet felt by my heart and
sensed in my soul...
without fail day in and day out

Grace has been given to me by others 
along the narrow way...
sometimes cheering me on,
sometimes joining me in the narrow path,
sometimes praying me through the tight spots

Grace by a friend
is there in the pain of life,
not flinching at the sight of my
beaten and battered soul
but gracefully and 
faithfully loving me through the pain

aside from God's grace,
the greatest grace is given in families
journeying life together
year in...year out...
life seasoned with love, laughter
and a lot of grace!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

for these things...#101-#125

for these things
and more
I am grateful...

#101- #125
~a family who lets Mom rest
~another vacation paid for as we went
~healthy children
~laundry finished before the week begins
~finding myself "caught up" on life before beginning a new school week

~the smell of fall in the air
~the sound of my daughter and mother crunching through the fallen leaves on a beautiful fall day
~the palate of colors displayed by a most creative Creator
~the taste of fresh, cold apple cider purchased at a roadside farm market
~the feel of a soft fleece on a cool morning

~a million and one memories
~evenings where 3 generations drew close around God's Word and His Throne
~close cousins and great cousin time
~connecting with my sisters and brothers around a campfire
~listening as my mom read aloud to my kids just as she did 35 years ago to me and my siblings

~backyard football, pizza and extra cousin time
~a new cousin on the way
~a husband and son who knew how to fix a broken axel part on the trailer 
~and 18 year old camper that continues to hold together
~safe traveling over 1500 miles

~for a God who created me beautiful
~for the lessons He's teaching me in this regard
~for the soft, sweet whispers of His truth to my deceived heart
~for the days that I can see beauty in the mirror
~for His Truth that will set me free

Saturday, October 23, 2010

free HLA membership!

**note... I'm not getting anything from HLA for passing along this info... I'm just letting you all know because I'm just that kind of nice...

For years Chad and I have debated on whether we should join a homeschool legal group.  We've never faced any legal issues and Indiana is a very homeschool friendly state but an attorney friend once told us that it would be smart to join and have legal representation if we ever needed it.

Today I was catching up on some blog reading and came across my blogging friend, and fellow crew member, Blossom's post on a free 1 year membership to HLA.  I don't know how long this code will last but here's how to get your free legal representation for a year...

~Go to and click "join today"
~Fill out the simple application... no credit card required!
~choose "membership with code"
~use the code CLA
~that's it!  Sign in with your username and password

Click here to see all the benefits of an HLA membership.

vacation recap...

**disclaimer... yes, I realize that this is a long post.... yes, I realize you may be quite tired of reading my blog... and, yes, I also realize that you may be quite tired of hearing about my vacation.  If so, please feel free to stop reading.  However, if you are one of the people who said "tell me all about your vacation"... read on!
(...this is why this is a long post.  Mt. Washmore has taken over my laundry room. I just started load #9 and there are many more loads yet to go.  I'm enjoying a quiet Saturday morning doing laundry and blogging...)

I have already alluded to our vacation in pictures and numbers.  I didn't intentionally leave out details... they just didn't seem to fit in the posts I was writing.  So, here are a few details of our vacation....

On Monday, October 11, 2010, we drove northwest to the state of Wisconsin.  My parents joined us with their fifth-wheel camper.  I'm sure we were quite the sight... 2 big trucks and 2 big trailers tooling down the road (especially on the many times we ventured off the beaten path...).

We camped along Lake Michigan for a few days.  I love the Great Lakes!  Though our campsite wasn't on the water, we could hear the surf as it pounded the shore.  What a wonderful sound!

Field trip #1~ we explored the harbor of Port Washington, WI, including climbing 90 steps to the Port Washington lighthouse.  Chad and I had discovered this beautiful harbor town last spring and it was fun to show it off to the kids.

Washington Island Harbor
Field trip #2~ Before we left the Port Washington, WI, area, we spent some time exploring and discovering on the Lake Michigan beach.  

we found gull prints in the sand...
lots and lots and lots of empty zebra mussels
and even a washed up monarch butterfly
On Wednesday, we left Lake Michigan's shoreline and ventured north to Door County (Door County is on the peninsula of Wisconsin that juts into Lake Michigan and creates Green Bay).  

Field trip #3~ on the way to Door County, we discovered the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, WI.  
we played in the museum
and toured the fully-functioning WWII
submarine... Cobia
Field trip #4~ While in Door County, we ferried over to Washington Island and toured the island.  

We toured the Double K-W Ostrich farm (and sampled a taste of ostrich), the Washington Island Farm Museum and Schoolhouse Beach.  Those were fun stops on the tour but the most amazing stop was our last stop... Stavkirke...

Walking up the path to Stavkirke
the gorgeous interior and altar at

Unfortunately, my pictures don't even come close to portraying the beauty of the Stavkirke.  When we left, Ellen took my hand along the path and said, "Mom, I wish we could come back to worship here on Sunday!"

Our tour was much too short and we've all agreed that we'd like to go back to Washington Island some day with our campers and camp for a week!

Before we left the area... we did try a Fish Boil.... have to say, we liked it!  The entire process was fascinating and the fresh Lake Michigan whitefish was amazing!

On Friday, the 15th, we traveled south and inland to meet up with all of my siblings for a weekend of camping!  My sister has lived in Wisconsin for 18 years or so and found a state park for all of us near her home.  

We carved pumpkins together, played together and had Cousin's Church together on Sunday.  
cousin #11
cousin's pumpkins
cousin's church with G-ma
Our cousin time was extended by the hospitality of my sister and brother in law.  We pulled our 2 trailers into their driveway for one more night of cousin time... laundry... and a shower.  By the time the cousins left for school Monday morning, we were clean, restocked with clean clothes and ready to hit the road again.

Field trip #5~ where the Wisconsin River meets up with the Mighty Mississippi... aka Wyalusing State Park.  

We camped at the top of a gorgeous ridge overlooking both rivers and the Wisconsin town of Prairie du Chien.  This is now my favorite state park... breathtaking views!

Field trip #6~ Mississippi River Lock & Dam #9.  We ventured up the Mississippi river from Wyalusing and found this river lock and dam.  We pulled in as a tug was pushing through 12 barges of grain.  A few years ago, my parents owned a boat and did the "Loop" from Florida up the East Coast through the inland waterways to the Great Lakes and down through the rivers to the Gulf of Mexico.  It was so fun learning about locks from their perspective!
Dad doing some explaining...
coming into the lock
We spent the remainder of the day driving up the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi... crossing over to Minnesota and then returning down through Minnesota and Iowa.  We were able to say we visited 5 states while on our vacation.

Field trip #7~ after leaving Wyalusing, we stopped in Lancaster, Wisconsin to stop and stretch.  While there, we did a quick visit to their beautiful 100+ year old courthouse.  We saw the architecture, learned some history of the region and quickly found out that "Lancaster" is pronounced differently in Wisconsin than it is in Pennsylvania.
Grant County, Wisconsin courthouse
an inside view of the dome
Field trip #8~ Starved Rock State Park and Lock and Dam... our last stop on our fabulous trip.  We hiked up to Starved Rock and read the sad story of how this ridge on the Illinois River was named.  According to Indian lore, the Ottawa and Potawatomi starved out the Illini Indians on top of Starved Rock.

Papa took us on a paddlewheel cruise up and down the Illinois River and we were blessed to see a pair of bald eagles perching high above us.

While on their cruise years ago, Mama and Papa locked through at Starved Rock, so we visited the lock and the visitor center with them.  Just as we were there, a tug came through and we watched it rise 18 feet!
the view of the Illinois River
from Starved Rock
waiting for the tug to enter the lock
and go up 18 feet
exploring how to captain a tug
...and on Friday, October 22, 2o1o, we left Starved Rock State Park and the company of Mama and Papa and drove home... bringing with us a mountain of laundry and a million and one memories of a great 3 generation vacation!