Glass Jar Vases - Lilac

My small kitchen has a large window that looks out on the backyard. It has a nice roomy sill that happily holds glass jars. Did I mention that I'm a glass jar freak? Yes, feel free to save them  after they are empty of pickles, olives, pizza sauce or dried beef - and bring them to me! One of the best uses for these is a new career as (very) casual flower vases. I put a bunch out on the sill in the spring, then keep them filled through the growing season with whatever is in bloom.  Today, I'm enjoying some old-fashioned lilac in my window!
To peek into other people's lives with just one look at a blog photo, visit Seven Clown Circus for Wordful Wednesday!


Don't Be a Girly Gardener!

Chinese wisteria seed pods.  My neighbor has them growing along our fence line. They are beautiful when they bloom and wonderfully fragrant. She carefully tended the vines for a few years, and now doesn't keep them so carefully.  These vines have to be aggressively pruned in order to control their invasive nature. If you don't prune them, you'll rue them! Ha - I made that up, and it almost rhymes! I amaze myself...ha.   

Anyway, that's what you get, right? I mean, doesn't it make sense? Extravagant, glorious blooms only come at a high price of sweaty pruning and constant oversight! (and that'll preach, too...)  I'll send you some of these seeds by mail, if you'd be brave enough to try this plant - it grows very quickly, so you'd have a nice plant in a couple of years. Lovely, fuzzy, green twining vines with perfumed, pendulous racemes


The Bookstack

This is the stack of books for My Second Son last year - his seventh grade stack. It's a LOT to get through in the course of one year. In my early years as a home educating mom, I thought that the boys would want to work ahead and finish their books early.  That's certainly how I would've done it! No. That's not how the men roll around this house. It's one day at a time, no extra book-sweat please, and out for the day. Unlike other homeschooling prodigies, no one around here ever started their own cottage industry, built solar panels just for kicks, or raised a flock of tame badgers as a personal  study in wildlife conservation. To quote my teenagers: "Dang It!" I really did want those things to happen; did long to be there when the drive to go above and beyond in their self-education switched on for the first time...Ah, well. They always perform well on standardized tests, and that has its own sort of value. I guess. But let the record show that I did aim higher than this!

All to get around to saying that My Second Son is  on his last book of the bookstack for eighth grade! This son does his work well without being hounded (angels singing hallelujah along with any other home-educating mom who will totally get this). He doesn't like to be nagged, so he does his job, lessons, with as little prompting as possible. This is A Wonder to me, since the other two are Initiative Challenged when it comes to school books.  In a sweet way. OK, it was not really sweet. At all.

Dear Middle Son is on the path to going out to public high school for his ninth grade year, so the one book in the bookstack is very meaningful.  I'm almost finished with his home education!!!!  Joy, sadness, anxiety, appreciation...more joy!  I'll only have one little boy left at home next year for schooling! And that will be weird. But good. Very good.


Spring Annabelles - Coming On!

First of all, the hydrangea vine has come back! I love this vine, since it covers the front of our house. It is vigorous, though, and has to be trimmed back from the windows and front step every spring. Unlike English ivy, it is not invasive or destructive - thank goodness, now that it is tipping the gutters! Yesterday, My Middle Son commented that he wished it would grow to cover the whole house! I understand completely. The two blooms here are pretty spectacular, if you know about hydrangea vines. They take years to bloom!  I thought mine would never bloom, since they weren't blooming, and then I had to start trimming it back from windows. That's when I found out that the blooms come from the trimming!  Ahhh-Haaa...There's a lesson there - just meditate on that... This year the vine has more blooms than ever!

Here come the Annabelles!  They leaf out from bare old-looking wood - it's amazing! Some of the leaves are rolled up and plump. They have become cocoons for some sadly unremarkable moths. I tried squashing all these at first, but have given up. You hardly notice them once the bush is in its full flower, so I can share.

Annabelles from another angle, and you can see the hydrangea vine going up the wall of the house, too.

I started this blog in November, when the garden was already "put to bed", so there hasn't been much garden posting so far. Now that it's growing season, though, that's going to change. Hope garden chat won't bore any readers, but I get excited every year about the new life out there! So cool to see how the beds change every year after a season of cold and bleak weather.


Kentucky Teeth


After all the $ we spend to keep the kid's teeth looking nice....! Hahahaha  
This was taken at a family gathering - My Youngest and his Lovely Cousin. Some funny relative gave these out, and the photo op was just too hard to resist! Don't they look completely real???


Maybe I Laughed Too Loud...

Yes, dear ones, it's all fun and games ... until your mammo comes back "unclear". 

I went in for my first mammogram last week. Screenings of any kind freak me out as a general rule, since I've already heard the c-word once in my lifetime, and that is enough.  Sooooo, I recruited some incredible (willing) friends, and we went as aMammo Party. Yes, I took photos and we made fun of each other's gowns. The technitians were cracking up too, and we all had a good time while getting any fullness we might have had left in our breasts, completely mashed away. Lunch afterwards - a great day!

Then I got called back for a repeat. Yes, some cosmic payback for going in that somber place with a camera and laughing out loud. I didn't laugh on my second trip, and I didn't take a camera. Let's just say the second screening is VERY THOROUGH. They mashed everything, consulted the on-staff doctor, and mashed again. Yeesh! 

Result: I have to go back for further squishing in six months so they can look again at some miniscule calcium particles that have made themselves at home in my body. There was the suggestion of a biopsy, but it was only a suggestion. I bypassed that since I believe that I've had my fair share of biopsies so far

I know it's not a cosmic payback.  Our steps are ordered by God, nothing happens by accident, He has a plan. Yes, I know those things to be true and have staked my life and well-being on them. But it did feel like just a little bit of PAYBACK.


This Guy Loves Me!

Look how he's looking at me! This is my father-in-law of 22 years - he's known me for 26 years, if you count the dating years! That's a long time; plenty of time for his gaze to dim toward me. I'm not a sterling person, as we all know. And it's not like I could hide my faults from him all this time! He knows me, and still, he beams at me like this. This, friends, is very precious to me. 

I don't see myself as a "face reader". Most of the time, I believe that people can hide their true feelings from the world with a pleasantly blank, bland expression. (This is not a talent of mine, unfortunately.) But I do believe that all of us search the faces of those we love, looking for signs. Signs of happiness or sadness, signs of laughter or anger, signs of health or illness, contentment or restlessness, approval or disapproval...

So many signs to look for! Sadly, I'm always ready to see signs of some negative emotion in the faces of others, when I really look. Don't know why, I'm just confessing. Believe me, I've examined this attitude in myself, and asked the Lord to turn my heart in the right direction. I've found that His word says that I need to seek His face, and stop looking for signs of love in the faces of all the other imperfect people that surround me. The Bible says that His love toward me is perfect, and unfailing. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God..." 1 John 3:1  For this I am so grateful, and it is a daily effort to train my mind and heart to really believe this - all the way down on the inside!

But, listen - just look how he's looking at me! 


Sand Dollar - Wordful Wednesday

Goofing off at the beach!  At Hilton Head, you can reach down into the surf and scoop up little sea creatures like baby sand dollars. Which, to any boy, might be useful for making all the other guys howl with laughter, if applied to a certain area. Like so:

See more photos and lots of words at Angie's:  Seven Clown Circus Wordful Wednesday


A Little Luxury - Shower Curtain

One of my favorite little luxuries - a shower curtain with suction cups:
I hate it when the cold breeze comes into the steamy warmth of the shower stall! Of course, this happens when someone comes into the room to ask a question, take a leak, brush their teeth, or retrieve an item. That just ruins the sauna-like atmosphere that I'm going for, not to mention the oh-so-valuable solitude! 

Last year I was at Kohl's with a 30% off coupon clutched in hand, when I passed by these shower curtain liners. ($14 after coupon) Plastic liners were always what I had stuck with, throwing them away when they got sufficiently mildewy. yuk. So I was in the market for something new - the package said "mildew resistant" in the strongest terms, and was a nice striped cloth that I could wash and reuse. Don't anyone say I'm not green! (BTW, they do mildew, and have to be soaked to get cured, but it's worth the effort!)

When I got it out of the package, I wondered at these suction cups - two sets on each end of the curtain. JOY! Fasten these babies at the beginning of the shower, and your steam is locked in tight. No random frigid breezes sneaking around the edges now!

It's the little things that matter. 


The Empty Tomb

At Dominoes last week, some of the Ladies were discussing travels in the Holy Land.  They had been there with their parents, and it was wonderful to hear all they saw, did and ate! As a sufferer of extreme Traveler's Envy, I was trying not to bite off a finger or pound the table in my coveting of their experiences. Wow - tough!

These photos are not taken  at the actual garden tomb of Jesus, of course, but right in good ol' Kentucky! The Garden of Hope has a replica of the actual garden tomb, and is well worth the trouble it takes to get there.  To stand in the Empty Tomb, replica or not, is a moving experience. 
Junior Bible Quiz question (for 20 points): How important is the doctrine of resurrection to our Christian faith?  
Answer: If Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is useless.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6


Eggs and the Resurrection?

What do eggs have to do with the Resurrection, anyway?  Part of our home education is researching the various holidays - origin, customs, modern innovations...etc. Holiday related puzzle and game sites, too, but that's not very impressive, is it, so I meant to leave that out.
What do eggs have to do with Resurrection Sunday? Hmm.... Here's what we found:
*The Romans, Gauls, Chinese, Egyptians and Persians all cherished the egg as a symbol of the universe. From ancient times eggs were dyed, exchanged and shown reverence.
**In pagan times the egg represented the rebirth of the earth.
***The egg was believed to have special powers. It was buried under the foundations of buildings to ward off evil; pregnant young Roman women carried an egg on their persons to foretell the sex of their unborn children; French brides stepped upon an egg before crossing the threshold of their new homes.
****With the advent of Chrisianity the symbolism of the egg changed to represent, not nature's rebirth, but the rebirth of man. Christians embraced the egg symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose.
*****Old Polish legends blended folklore and Christian beliefs and firmly attached the egg to the Easter celebration.
******Decorating and coloring eggs for Easter was the custom in England during the middle ages.
Not very much - eggs don't have very much to do with the real deal - Resurrection Day. 
But they are so lovely! 

( Games and puzzles atFunschoolKaboose,andA Kid's Heart. More information on the history of eggs and Easter found here. )


Frozen Hyacinth

Will these lovely blooms get killed right off in the freezes predicted for the next two nights???

Without a doubt. And that's how spring rolls, isn't it!  
Autumn is kinder.  Fall is my real friend, not spring!


GUEST Mom Among Men

One of the goals for the Mom Among Men thread of this blog is to build community and lend a platform to other Moms Among Men.  Sharing the wisdom as we raise our men - that's a worthy deed, right there! In looking for other moms in my 'position', I found Carol Moxley's blog, She Lives, and a post that seems just right to share in a Mom Among Men installment! Carol is giving advice to mom who is expecting her first son soon.  She advises to raise boys backwards!  Click here to read Carol's funny (and wise!) post on raising sons to men - enjoy!


Ever Feel Like a Freak?

You know what?  Sometimes I feel like a freak.  Different than everyone else around me.  Various reasons.  Mostly this is rooted in some pretty ugly self-pity. "Poor, poor, nobody else can understand me!" - something along those lines...yuk! Yeah, I  know, but I do indulge every now and then in a good pity party! But sometimes its for real, OK? Homeschooling for example - as the only home-educating family on both sides of our extended family - ever, we are ... freakish! Then, as a homeschooling family sending their teens out to PUBLIC high school, we are freaks within our own freakdom! My son, the first out to the local high school, he totally gets the freak feeling. It was actually overwhelming for him at times in this, his second year out of the home school. "I'm tired of being different than everybody else!" Yeesh - I remember that myself, but I was raised in public schools, so what he is experiencing must be excruciating! We have wondered if we're making the right choices in the education path that we've followed for our sons, due to these struggles. Is it right to make him go someplace where he's the "freak" every day? Is this too much to bear? Is it a necessary trial?  

It is a necessary trial! At some point, all of us must leave our soft, warm nests, and get out in the big uncomfortable world. I don't know about you, but I don't have a fuzzy-glow view of the state of society right now. Basically, it's evil.  YES, there are good people out there - points of light, if you will, but mostly, it's just evil. If you doubt, read the newspapers. Consult a school counselor. Ask a cop. We must bear the burden of being different, freaks, and we must teach our sons and daughters to be willing to do so as well when they're ready. Instead of swearing a green cloud under stress, they must be able to handle difficulties with determination. Instead of leering at a beautiful girl, they must be respectful in their gaze and ready to protect. Instead of stepping on others to get ahead, they must be willing to lend a helping hand. And so on.  

Freaks - We're trying to set a really freaky example and encourage them to leap into Freakhood themselves!  

Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

1 Peter 2:11 (The Message)

(The photo above is the Middle Son, who knew how to take full advantage of the dress-up box, even in the heat of summer.)