Are You Lookin' at Me?

Wouldn't this make a great greeting card?  My Middle Son took this of himself and I found it later while scrolling through photos. Too funny!  That's my Middle Son's specialty - doing things that make us all crack up. It's a gift to our whole family!

He's older now, and things are not as funny - - - at least not for him.  We still  find ourselves cracking up, usually not when  he's trying to be funny, but when he, poor soul, is being a typical teenager. What was upsetting/puzzling/baffling when we experienced life with our first teenager is not affecting us as dramatically this time around, and we are able to laugh a little more at our circumstances. 

It's laugh or cry, people, am I right? I'm choosing laughter!


Lovely Lavender

My lavender is going the other way now, but I took this photo a couple of weeks ago, when it was at its peak. It blooms at the same time as the coreopsis, and the purple and yellow blooms make great partners.  This  lavender, I believe it to be Munstead,  grows right at the foot of my biggest tepee - you can see its leg in the background. 
During the morning and afternoon, all kinds of bees and butterflies hover around it. By late evening, when these were taken, only a few very persistent bees are still hanging around. This guy just would not stay still enough for me to get him in focus!
These two, though, had plenty of time for a portrait...  A lovely place for a tryst - right in the middle of a lavender bush!


Mom Among Men - Twine Pot

In dealing with my men, I am most often perplexed, but I have learned that I have to (respectfully) voice  my needs/wishes/requests, even though they seem to be as plain as the nose on your mamma's face. Men truly don't read minds. 

Case in point: It seems to me that angry body language, including plenty of huffing and puffing, should indicate to them that I HATE IT when they lose my garden twine after having "borrowed it" for "just one thing". But that doesn't ever work. My men don't seem to pick up on angry gestures OR lend them any appropriate attention, even if they do notice my ridiculous behavior. 

"Please - Don't take the twine out of the greenhouse!"  
After 15 years of use in this greenhouse, for the first time, I am successful at keeping my twine at hand.  My Sons frequently have an urgent need for string. Anybody's string. My string, of course, since they've lost whatever string they did have which met their last urgent need to tie something up, together, or down. Somehow, the desperate act of writing my request on the twine pot seems to have worked! Respectful and self-repeating! Maybe I'm on to something...

For more photos and lots of words, go visit Angie for Wordful Wednesday!


Antique Mall Adventures

My Handsome Husband and I celebrated our 21st anniversary in Lebanon, OH!  We had a great time, and took a few photos of ourselves with Dear Husband's camera. It's an iPhone camera, but they came out pretty nicely! This is the best one I have to share with you all in the Blogdom:
After we had some benne brittle and a little overpriced, yet delicious chocolate, we browsed antique malls. It was a Tuesday, so we were virtually alone in the mazes of booths, except for some retired-age couples who were also out to see some sights.  This frightened me, but I assured myself that My Wonderful Spouse and I were not in the same "group" as them, neither of us being retired or wearing orthopedic shoes. 

Aside from kissing, which is, of course, what you must turn to when you re-discover that everything is way too expensive in antique malls, we also took some photos of interesting items for sale. 

This 'dolly' was found in the basement, in the clearance section - my favorite part of any antique mall. It was innocently placed among the owner's other items.  Yes, it was also expensive - unbelievably! The dealer should offer to pay any person who is willing to take this away, burn it and scatter its ashes.

But this is just a WHY? I did feel embarrassed for this mannequin, but couldn't resist a picture. Why the shoes and socks? Hmmm???


No Effects Necessary

YES, I'm envious of all you photographers who have 
Photoshop CSblahblah215 (or whatever #) and can manipulate photos to be wonderously, outstandingly unbelievable! Over here, I use my little  iPhoto "adjust", "effects" or "enhance" tools - I use the bottom out of them!  BUT --- on this photo ---

I didn't have to touch a thing! Outstanding color provided by the Lord God, not enhanced, effected or adjusted, not even a little bit. 

(It's an Endless Summer hydrangea, special because it blooms on old AND new canes!)


Beach Breeze or Central Air

Wish I was going to be seeing this soon....
...but we bought a furnace instead. (I'm trying to smile...) Really a big deal, since our new  furnace has an air-conditioning unit included. This is the first time either of us has had central air in a home --- ever! I'm amazed to be so comfortably cool on the hottest day of summer so far. I guess central air is almost as good as the beach, but I'm not completely convinced.

(OK, one of those kids is not mine...)


Ten Years Ago Tonight...

Ten years ago tonight...
My Youngest made me a mom for the third time. He's teaching us to laugh in an entirely different way than the other two have - it's amazing how different the Lord fashions each one, isn't it?
Happy Birthday, Sweet Son of Mine! You're a gift from God!


Rabbit Snack

Every year, the rabbits come out to do battle, eating the vines that make my summer garden into a happy place! They come along and snip the topmost, tender parts of the growing vine and leave the rest. Usually, I just stomp around leaking Yosemite Sam explicatives and plant new seeds. But this year, I developed a weapon—homemade cloches. I've always admired the beautiful bell cloches that are only seen in carefully-kept, English gardens, but who can afford those? So I turned to the many empty pop bottles, leftovers of the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law. I washed them out, cut them up, pinned them down, and I thought I had those rabbits beat. But no. They must've stretched their scrawny necks and snickered as they stood up to nip out the tops of these hyacinth bean vines...right out of my pop bottle cloches. Turns out I should've made them with the pop bottle neck still on, like these.


Baby Picture Sunday - Silly Smile

For more silly smiles go visit the Bouf Family for Baby Picture Sunday!

It's that goofy, "I'm happy to be a baby" smile! 


Things I Hope They Remember We Said

When they were little, we made rules that suited the situation: NEVER unbuckle your carseat buckles while the car is moving, don't ever touch a plug, stay in your bed during nap time.  I had to work hard to remember some rules from those dimly-lit toddler days, OK? - that was a few years ago, folks! Those rules were transitory, right? Thank goodness there's no car seat now, they touch plugs and every other audio/visual opening, and there's no (small sob) nap time. 

However, early on in parenting, I noticed adults I respected occasionally saying something like, "My dad always said..." - - - or mom, or parents always said. It made me think about having a few rules/sayings (when do rules turn into sayings?) that these boys would take with them into manhood. So in addition to the temporary "rules", Their Wonderful Dad and I tried to intentionally come up with some things we hope will fall into the Keeper Column, the "Dad always told us..." category, eventually (please, Lord) changing into, "Always remember..." as they speak to their own children! After Jesus' command to "...love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength"*, and likewise higher Biblical commands, we concocted a few to go underneath. Thought I'd share a few, in three occasional posts, that have transitioned well from Toddlerland to Teenland.

Oops! Before that, I want to emphasize two teacher-y things. If you're planning to pass on a few Life Rules to your little people, make sure to say them  when they apply to the situation  and  always say them the same way. These methods create nice, clear memory paths in the brain, sort of like a path through a field of grass. Think of how your learned  'i' before 'e', except after 'c'  ...  same principle applies here!

Accept Responsibility - This goes all the way back to ol' Adam in the garden, doesn't it? How much would our lives be different if he had accepted responsibility for that first sin instead of trying to blame his dear wife? So when ours were little, this rule came out when the toothbrush was found in the toilet, later - when a backyard gate was left open and the dog ran away, and now -when the computer history shows something it probably shouldn't. If God asks, "What is this you have done?"**, we shouldn't hesitate to follow His example by giving them an opportunity to take responsibility for their deeds AND ALSO a chance to repent for those same deeds.

Do The Right Thing - It's all about choices! So many choices at so many points during a day - 'I'm plum wore out!' (Elly May Clampett) If we could catch them in contemplation, just furrowing their wee, tiny brows, trying to figure out what to do --- that was the teachable moment! The chance to whisper in their ear, "Do the right thing!" Which might've equalled putting peas in their mouth, not  up their nose, later - choosing not to use mom's flowers as targets for bow and arrow practice, and now -saying 'no' regarding a party that will include alcohol and minors.  We want to equip them to "Choose life.." ***

Clean Up Your Mess - Ah, the constant refrain! This one was a struggle for me, because it seems easier to just not make a mess than to clean one up. I know, that is not realistic, and neatnik - sorry. Occasionally pointing this fact out is a good thing, though, since teenagers must keep this very thing in mind - it is easier to keep your grades at 'B' or above than it is to turn a 'D' into a 'B'. When they are little, everyone uses this, right? "If you got out all the blocks, then Clean Up Your Mess and put them away!" Later, when they unwind all the hoses to irrigate a pond at the very back of your property for the GI Joes to swim in - it is soooooo hard to wind them back up! But they will consider whether or not the fun is worth it, or maybe how to have easier-to-clean-up-fun, if they have to Clean Up the Mess.

Sure would LOVE some feedback on this - I know other more brilliantly phrased sayings are lurking out there! Post  your  Things You Hope They Remember You Said, maybe in the comments area? Or, if you're all finished with your kids, what do they say you always said ?  I hope mine don't only remember the oft-repeated rule: "Pee IN the toilet, not ON the toilet!"
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
*Mark 12:30 - Jesus called this the greatest commandment....
**Genesis 3:13
***Deuteronomy 30:19-20 "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him."


Catch a Turkey

If you ever go to Gatlinburg, TN, I hope you visit the Sugarlands Visitor Center, just outside of town. You pass it if you're driving into the mountains from  the downtown Gatlinburg  area. They have an extensive nature museum displaying stuffed and mounted creatures commonly found in the Blue Ridge Mountains; also in cases, are lots of plant life replicas. Last year, Steve and I went to Gatlinburg on a tiny trip for our 20th anniversary. We wanted to go somewhere more glamorous, but at that time my health was too poor to risk going anywhere very far away from the safety of home. It really was a miracle that we still marvel at, that we were able to spend three days away without any major  incidents - I was healthy the entire time! I'm still amazed - that was a really bad time for me physically, but the Lord gave us those three wonderful days!  He a generous Lord! 

We visited the nature museum at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, as we always do, where groups of people mull around, looking at the displays and talking in hushed tones to one another. But this time, this visit was different...     

I don't know if we were just overflowing with joy/relief/happiness or what, but these pictures just started...happening. "Let me get a picture of you that looks like you're right next to that wild turkey!", turned into My Dear Husband pretending to be about to catch the poor, stuffed creature  in glass in the case. My laughter just encouraged him to be more and more outrageous...

...as he posed next to this wild boar. We hadn't had some unhindered, unweighted, childish laughter in many months! I still smile as I look at these photos! Because of the circumstances, they are a priceless reminder of God's gifts to us that anniversary weekend - joy and unexpected physical health.

For more priceless photos, visit the Seven Clown Circus for Wordful Wednesday!


Fast Friends

This is a photo of My Youngest and his friend, Mikey. It was taken at the birthday party for My Youngest. Our sons each got a surprise birthday party when they turned eight years old. He was so glad to see Mikey's face yelling, "SURPRISE"!!!  They met during a winter session of Upward Basketball. If you've never heard of Upwards, you should check it out. It's a basketball league for boys and girls that focuses on sports fun and Bible learning. We've probably been spending the first eight Saturdays of every new year in the gym for the last six years or so. I found out that I'm a yelling mom at a sporting event in which my child is participating. NO, I don't yell rude things - - - only encouragement! Really. 

These two boys struck up a friendship right away, and we've really appreciated that!  It's a blessing when your son finds a good friend. We've always prayed for each of our boys that the Lord would lead them to be and to have friends in the same spirit as David and Jonathan in the Bible. We're watching Him answer those prayers!



Hey!  Someone was more than generous and sent me this blog award:
That was very thoughtful, Momma D! A little positive reinforcement from a pal is always a good thing! Thanks! 

The instructions attached are to post the award, link to the person who gave it, and pass the award on to 15 other bloggers who you've newly discovered. Momma D set a bad example for me and cut her list down to 15 from 45, and I'm going to only post 10! (The garden is calling me, people!) So here is a list of bloggers that I've newly discovered, mostly through peeking at other Wordful Wednesday posts:
1.  Momma D - first among several blogs that I've been bookmarking that are by moms who have all sons - like me!  Her banner says it all:  "A blog by a stay-at-home mom of four sons about everyday life in a male dominated household."  Check out her latest post on homemade laundry detergent.
2. Girl Outnumbered - Another Mom Among Men (she took my button!), her blog is a hilarious account of her life as the only female in her home.  You can tell right away that it's going to be funny - her banner asks: "Who are all these boys? And why do they keep calling me mom?" - something I've wondered at least weekly! winkwinkwink My favorite recent post is about her family's outing to an outdoor wedding.
3. A Familiar Path - A blog by another home educating mom!  Her blog always has such lovely photographs, and she has a personal style of writing -- which I admire! Go visit Melissa and enjoy the peace on her pages.
4. Postcards from Wildwood - Janice has two teenage sons, just like me....but.... she lives on the Isle of Wight off the coast of southern England. The photographs she posts make me wish for a plane ticket! Not to mention that we share a love of seeds...
5. My Home in Wellingtown - Written by Scrappy Sue, mother of four (!) daughters!  Sue posts interesting things about Wellington, New Zealand, and give peeks of her daily life. Gets me wishing for another plane ticket!  Sue posts the most lovely photos of cupcakes--- yum.
6. Courtney and the Boys - This is one of the first blogs I found and bookmarked, returning often to see what was up at Courtney's house.  Not long ago, she began to participate in something called Vlogemotions - a video post centering on some kind of emotion. I'm fascinated by the courage it takes to sit yourself in front of a camera and not stammer!
7. Muthering Heights - It was the title that kept me coming back - that and the lovely, vintage images of flowers in the background! I really like how she speaks (writes!) about her husband and mentions Biblical submission in a positive way!
8. Shallow Thoughts from Iowa - Maria has several things on her blog that you might enjoy, too - especially if you are a birdwatcher or a quilter. I've always wanted to quilt something - - - but don't plan  to get to that until 'later' - But I can take a peek by visiting Maria's blog. Love the Mini-Almanac in the side-bar all about bird sightings in northern Iowa!
9. Brenda's Blog from Paraguay - This is one blog that I visit to watch and pray as a sister-in-Christ weathers the trial of cancer. Having experienced cancer on a much smaller scale, I feel a kinship with her that is beyond ordinary. Visit her to be encouraged AND to encourage!
10. The Vintage Moth -  Abbie posts beautiful vintage images and clipart that are free for use - no guilt! The images are so beautiful and useful for so many things - cards, notes, headers, scrapbook pages....and other things I've not even thought of!  Check it out - it's a gorgeous blog!



Twenty-one years ago today...

"So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
Matthew 19:6


Nothing New

Funny how some things about family portraits seem to stay the same over the generations. This is an old photo of my maternal side of the family. The mother in the grouping, Nellie, is my great-grandmother. Note how she is giving instructions to someone standing with her just as the photo is taken. Such a typical 
mom photo! The father, John, my great-grandfather, is blissfully unaware of whatever is bothering his wife and is just smiling away at the camera. The baby, of course, is struggling to get down! There's always at least one child who doesn't want to be in the picture! My "Grandma" is the oldest daughter, also smiling brightly. Finishing out this photo op is the kid sitting nearby making fun of his captured friends, and the dog slinking into the bottom of the picture. Some things just never change!

'That which has been is that which will be, 
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun." 
Ecclesiastes 1:9


A Mammoth Beauty

This is probably the best flower photo in our whole cache. Out of ALL the flower photos, and there are a blue bazillion, this is the one My Handsome Husband took.  sigh I'm completely jealous! If you can, click on it to make it really big. Hidden in the petals and head of this Mammoth Sunflower are wee-tiny insects and water droplets!  It makes a fun "finding" game for the little guys.  I always have trouble growing the sunflowers - - - a flower that every grade-schooler plants with success. Even if I get them to a plantable height in the greenhouse, the hateful rabbits come along and lop them off after they are settled in the big garden.  Does anyone else out there sympathize with Mr. McGregor?

This one, out of the dozen planted last year,  just happened to make it! I've got a bunch more planted out there for this season, but no luck yet!