Seraphina closed her hymnbook and carefully replaced it, taking care to avoid any noise that would obscure the ethereal sounds coming from the choir loft. She took her seat with the permission granted by the Bishop and folded her daintily gloved hands. The voices of the cloistered and concealed nuns seemed to float far above, borne aloft on the heavily scented air of the basilica. 
'Someday,' her heart whispered silently.

Buy Seraphina's dainty gloves here.


Fight, Fight, Fight!

For some Smaller Than Life daily drama, all I have to do is turn
(with relief)to the bird feeder.
This red-bellied woodpecker was minding his own business, enjoying a solitary meal at a usually crowded spot. 
It wasn't long before one of the Evil Starling Mob  peeked around an edge and 
 the game was afoot!
Quickly there were two attackers, but no way did our hero is give up his spot at the buffet bar.

When a third one flew in and put its foot in the woodpecker's face,
I thought they would win, just as they had bullied all the other birds away.
But no!

This leg-grabbing move sent them all squawking.

And they stayed away ... for at least 15 minutes.


Balloon Buddy Tutorial - Meet Henry

  Meet Henry.
 He's been floating around our house since last Friday night, an envoy of all things Valentine. 
1.  Buy any helium inflated balloon at your local Dollar Tree or other super-deep discount store. 
 When I taught first grade, I used to get a Christmas air walker for my classroom - sometimes a snowman, a reindeer, and once - a Santa!  Carried by air currents to visit desks  and perch on bookshelves, occasionally the silent wanderer would drift across the heat vent and go shooting at high speed across the classroom.  
(producing screams and giggles of delight)
2. Use any color crepe paper in lengths of 12 inches or so to make arms and legs. Attach them to the bottom and sides of the balloon with clear tape. I used packaging tape.
3. Cut gloves and shoes from light paper and attach to the arms and legs with tape. I used the paper insert from a box of candy, but you could use construction paper, wrapping paper, a magazine cover, etc.

 An impulse buy at the Dollar Tree, this re-made Valentine's Day balloon has made for some cheap entertainment for my family here at home. I wish I had made these for my kids when they were little! But even as teens, they are enjoying the travels of this little character around our house.  
He does turn up in unexpected places...
We've found him waiting at the top of the stairs and staring into the computer screen.
He's been found by the back door waiting to go out with the dog, and he's 
hovered in front of the TV screen for a better view of Olympic curling.

4. Make eyes from a scrap of computer paper and tape or glue them to the balloon. I traced the bottom and top of a vitamin bottle with a Sharpie marker to get  nice round circles. To save weight, you could draw the eyes (and other features) directly on the balloon with a permanent marker.
It's been a nice distraction from the 

5. He (or she!) should float with shoes coming to rest every now and then. To add weight, attach paperclips to the shoes.  As the balloon begins to deflate, just remove paperclips. You may need to shorten the arms/legs, or trim the shoes and gloves to keep your character light enough to float as the helium escapes.

Extra Thoughts:
- The possibilities for these are endless, and they last for about a week
- Spring-themed balloons will be in the stores soon - a Flower Balloon Buddy?
- A Birthday Balloon Buddy would be a fun surprise to find at the breakfast table. 
- Use a plain balloon and allow a child's imagination and creativity lots of room for expression. How about using some feathers or and shapes instead of gloves? 
 You might add yarn shoestrings for weight instead of paper clips. 
Print photos of real eyes/noses/smiles instead of hand-drawn.
- A Balloon Buddy would make a perfect 'listening pal' to hear stories 
read by an otherwise reluctant reader.
- Have your Buddy hide in the closet of an unsuspecting teenager...
 or behind the shower curtain... in the garage? 

So much excitement - for so little money!


Power Bulb

 One battered amaryllis bulb, on Christmas clearance.
I didn't think it was going to produce. It's happened before - 
bulb just sits there like a flaky brown lump, finally rotting away at the bottom.
Not this time!
Just when the paperwhites were finished ---
a tropical show began in my kitchen window.


Snow ... Again?

This mamma bird looks like she's about finished with snow. 
It's all over her beak, and she can't seem to keep it from piling up again.
Can you identify?
I can.


A Blue Door and Bora Bora

Shabby Charm
A starred, sky-blue door makes this place seem almost livable, don't you agree?
If I was homeless in Indiana, I'd try to get a spot in here, for sure.
Do you think we'll each be given our own mansion in heaven?
The gospel music of my childhood says "YES! A Mansion Just Over the Hilltop!"

There is debate over the meaning of the word 'mansion' in old King James' translation.
In my opinion, being given a mansion to live in  over there  seems almost contradictory 
to what He's been teaching me while I've been living  over  here.  I'm no Bible scholar, of course, 
but I find rest in the plain-spoken truth of these passages:

Matthew 6:19-21

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal."

John 14:2
"There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you 
that I am going to prepare a place for you?"

We've been getting some clarification on our final destination while reading 
50 Days of Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, a short devotional and biblically anchored. I find that 
my teenaged sons are interested, and that this topic is one they willingly ponder.
And personally, I'm finding that when you know where you're going, it gives a certain order to the rest of life
It all started with a trip to Bora Bora and the Price is Right ---

Game shows are a Snow Day Indulgence around here. (And there have been too many of them!)
I'm a little embarrassed to admit to game show watching, but there it is, out there on the 
internet, and everywhere now. ANYway, a lucky, screaming, flapping woman won a 
'once in a lifetime' trip to Bora Bora and in a flush of pure envy, 
I said to my game-show-couch-pals,  
"If you won a trip like that, it would change how you live. You could be thinking, 
'School stinks, but I'm going to be in Bora Bora in a few months!' " 
We went on about how you would make lists and prepare, planning and plotting your
time in this far-away exotic location, completely free of cost. The adventure! The food! 
The sights to be seen which had never even been imagined! The show closed, and 
we sat there in our snuggies, imagining the wonder and excitement that awaited the Bora Bora lady.

I guess you can take it from there. 
As Christians, we DO have a destination of unimaginable magnitude to look forward to
far beyond anything we could dream up, way better than any trip planned by TPIR staff.
Why is it that I forget to keep an eye on that and let it temper every less than lovely thing
 that is happening right now? 

Hence, the Heaven book - it's like a Divine Destination Brochure

More HERE.

Price Is Right clips here and here ... and one more here.
No extra charge.


A Snootful

Every time the snow and ice melts away for a little bit, I check for this -
And every time, I find it in the cracks of the rock patio, amazingly, still growing green.
I long to pluck up a hunk and pull in a big snootful of green freshness 
... that certain sprouting smell that hopeful gardeners cherish. 
I just know it's clinging to the underside of one of those clumps! 

But I'll leave it for a just a little while longer, and pay respect to the tenacity, 
the bulldog determination of MOSS in winter.