Hiking the Great Smoky Mountains

On our fall trip to Gatlinburg, we stopped to enjoy a "quiet walkway" - an easy, but lovely walk over a mountain path.  Beautiful, isn't it?

Soon, though, conversation drifted, no matter how hard I tried to bring it back.  It drifted away from birdcalls, tree identification and woodland aroma (tried and true home education topics) - toward....throwing rocks.  Yes.  It could be MUCH worse conversation, believe me, I am not ungrateful.  See below, the rock-throwing conversation begins with something like, "I can hit that tree way over there."  Inevitably, "No, you can't!"  One of them is already in motion to try.
Dear Dad leading the way...
Middle Son trying to top Dad, as ever....


My Sitting Place

My special sitting spot.  It's called the Mother's Chair by all at our house.  I found this chair at a yardsale for $20. After trying to convince the seller, a husband (!) to take the chair back into the house, I hauled it away, knowing he would someday regret letting it go.  A wonderful friend, too creative for words, reupholstered it for me in exchange for a week of meals for her family (there are more than 7 of them).  I chose the fabric, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it, even though it is a large floral print which is surely going to be seeming gaudy to many at some point.  I plan to have my daughters-in-law say in hushed whispers behind their hands, "Why doesn't she get rid of that chair!" But I never will! Hee-hee-hee! It has a footstool, also, the top of which comes off and reveals a wonderful storage space just right for stationary!  I like how the doily is rumply in this photo, and I wanted you to see the evening light coming in to the left.  Ahhh!  Feel the peace coming in!


REALLY Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie

There was a LOT of teenager drama going on in the house when I was preparing these pumpkin pies for the big Thanksgiving gathering. On one of the pies, I had to crimp the edges twice to get them to be perfectly lovely....OK, to get them to be quite passable. They had the right consistency, baked just fine, and smelled heavenly! I thought how impressed my in-laws would be with my pies!  

Yes, pride DOES go before the fall!  I did not eat my own pie at the Thanksgiving gathering, since there was pumpkin cheesecake to be had - TOO DIVINE! But when I got home, I did have a weensy slice of pie.  First mouthful - UGH!  I knew right away what I had done - no sugar.  How could I forget the sugar???  How could they mix and bake so nicely without all that sugar in them??? Let's just blame it all on those pesky teenagers!

My sister-in-law took home two PLATEFULS of the pie -  told you it did look good!  I called her tonight to let her laugh at me, but they hadn't eaten their pie yet.  They planned to eat it after dinner tonight....I didn't warn her.  She'll find out soon enough.  My mother-in-law, God bless her, ate a piece and didn't say a word!  Thanks, Mom Simpson!


Jerusalem Earring - A Novel Idea

If this is not an idea for one great historical novel, then I'm a monkey!
JERUSALEM - Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old gold earring beneath a parking lot next to the walls of Jerusalem's old city, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Monday. The discovery dates back to the time of Christ, during the Roman period, said Doron Ben-Ami, director of excavation at the site. The piece was found in a Byzantine structure built several centuries after the jeweled earring was made, showing it was likely passed down through generations, he said. The find is luxurious: A large pearl inlaid in gold with two drop pieces, each with an emerald and pearl set in gold. "It must have belonged to someone of the elite in Jerusalem," Ben-Ami said. "Such a precious item, it couldn't be one of just ordinary people." 
Read the full story at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27643317/


High Meditations

A dear friend sent these thoughts from good ol' Spurgeon to meditate on -
"...God has determined the end from the beginning. He has left no screw loose in the machine, He has left nothing to chance or accident. Nothing with God is the subject of an ‘if’ or a ‘peradventure’, but even the agency of man, free as it is, as untouched and undisturbed as ifthere were no God, even this is guided by His mysterious power, and works out thoroughly His own purpose in every jot and tittle.
In the end we shall read the whole of God’s purpose as on grand poem, and there will not be one verse in it that has a syllable too much, or a word too little. There will not be one stanza or letter redundant, much less one that is erased.  But from the beginning to end we shall see the master pen and the master mind drawing forth the glorious array of majestic thoughts. And with angels, and seraphs, and principalities, and powers- shall burst forth into one mighty song: “Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  The Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”  We shall see how from the first even to the last, the King has been ruling all things according to His own will."

For more on Spurgeon, go to: http://www.spurgeon.org/ 


My Dream Job (one of them)

Wouldn't it be fun to be a team mascot??
Just put on the costume and get out there...
jumping, dancing, waving to all the folks!  So much fun to have children excited to see you, getting to shake hands and pose for pictures that will definitely end up in some scrapbook somewhere - too much fun!  Even these other mascot jobs would be fun - I'm not sure why the gator has on swim trunks, or why the banana is all dressed up, but  that doesn't really matter. What fun to be out there meeting and greeting without any of the usual expectations bogging you down. Expectations based on how you look, how old you are, or what you're wearing. (I have a feeling that this "dream job" of mine may be an indicator of a deep need for some sort of intensive therapy....)


I Love Teen Bible Quiz

Shhh....Listen...Do you hear that?  It's my Middle Son - he's quoting the fifth chapter of Mark.  He'll quote all the way to verse 21 (!) today and add on another verse every day.  In December, he'll go to a "quizmatch" and answer questions over his chapter, earning points for his team.  The beauty of TBQ is that the motivation to learn God's Word is built in with participation in the activity itself!  Middle Son gets to meet with his buddies to memorize, quote and answer questions together all on the book of Mark.  They have parties and travel together, all around the study of the Word - if you don't have a teen, you can't fully appreciate the wonderful-ness of this!  If you're interested in starting a Teen Bible Quiz program at your church go to: http://www.biblequiz.com/  This is a wonderful program for home schoolers, especially, since they (we) usually  have a Bible curriculum anyway.  If your team does really well, there's the opportunity for travel to district, regional and national competitions!  Check it out - the Word yields eternal rewards!!!  (Psalm 119:11)


Honored Guests

If you ever visit a house where live a family of three (3!) sons with their wonderful dad and mom, and the toilet area is clean.....Not that you would actually LOOK to find out if it is clean, but just if you happen to notice and observe how spic-n-span it is......You should feel like a loved and honored guest!  This did not happen without special attention and effort on the part of your host with you especially in mind.

We are having friends over tonight.

The toilet area is clean!  (whew)


Toddler Grief...or is it Rage?

I didn't take many pictures like this until I had the third child. When my first and second melted down like this, I was overcome with concern ("Oh, is something HURTING him?"), or frustration ("Crying AGAIN?!?), or weariness ("When is it naptime??").  But on this third little boy, I was able to see the humor in it!  And what a relief that was!  Look at his pitiful little self - he's had his baby in hand, and he was ready to go out on his tiny tricycle just when I said, "Time to come inside for (yeah!) a happy-nappy!"  Yes, I did call naps "happy-nappy".  He was devastated.  But, gladly, I was finally able to just kiss his tears, think he was utterly adorable and put him in the bed!  Take heart, younger mothers!  Mothering does get easier as we grow wiser!


Fall Annabelles

Annabelles. This is how mine look right now.

They aren't much to look at are they! Sort of browny-greenish, and translucent with the sunshine coming through the leaves. (That's Middle Son's pumpkin sitting in a place of honor on the front porch...there's some hydrangea vine going up the brick of the house face...you can see a little of the backyard!) Anyway, not much for looks - BUT JUST WAIT! In the spring they are one of the first to show tender green leaves! Their buds come on way before the big blue hydrangeas; also long before the pink diamond hydrangeas! Every year, I consider cutting them off, they look SO dead - and it is the front of the house! But I've never been able to bring myself to do it. And it never seems to matter. They come back better every year, always giving me a baby or two to transplant somewhere else, or to give away to a friend.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5: 10-11.

Thanks be to Him, I want to give Him glory for fulfilling this in my earthly life - He has given me a remission from rheumatoid arthritis! The disease first came into my life (OUR lives - it affects the entire family, really) in 1990, in my second year of teaching first grade in the city, and my second year of marriage to MWH. It did go into remission during my childbearing years, then returned after Youngest Son's birth in 1999. I've been through all sorts of medications and complications, and finally, have been given a reprieve from the pain! I saw the hand of the Lord so many times during these dry, browny-greenish years, but the health of my body was certainly looking dead, just like the picture above! The recent good news of a new remission has me feeling like the Annabelle in the spring - bursting with health and promise!


Buddy Lee

Ha!  This is Buddy Lee, the bobble-head.  Look at his sweet glance to the side - isn't he the most adorable little wobbly-necked thing you ever laid eyes on?!? Besides being wonderfully vintage - I love vintage - he makes me laugh 
every time I see him!  My Dear Husband and I found him at a yardsale for $1.  YES, just one dollar! But my boys don't like him - they think he's "creepy".  (I had perfectly dear looking baby dolls when I was young that started to look suspiciously evil-ish to me, as well.)  This makes it extra fun to place Buddy in unexpected places in the house for them to find.  (insert sinister laughing here) He stands on the windowsill in front of the sink where I do dishes.  What do you think of Buddy - sweet or sinister?  Is he a keeper or would he make a good gag gift for the Christmas gift exchanges?

Visit the Apron Queen's Vintage Thursdays at:


A Blog Named After a Bush

It's not me - Sweet Annabelle, I mean.  It's my favorite hydrangea bush!  These are not mine, but they look JUST LIKE mine!  Really!  I named the blog after these wonderful bushes, my favorites, since I don't want my name out there floating around on the internet.  In case you haven't ever had the chance to live with an annabelle hydrangea through an entire growing season, I'm going to post a photo of mine in each season, starting with their fall photo (coming soon).  It's not their best time; they aren't their most stunning in the fall.  But don't we all have those ugly seasons of life?  When we just aren't at our best?  When it looks like we may have gone and dried all up?  Yup, I've been there recently, but the Lord has brought some wonderful spring into my life!  His sweet blessings have overflowed, and I feel like these bushes in the picture!