Tuesday, August 31

overflowing influence

"There is something infinitely more important than the mere recent performance of duties.  There is an unconscious influence that hangs about every life like an atmosphere, which is more important than the words or acts of the life....  When the results of life are all gathered up it will probably be seen that the things which have made the deepest and most lasting impression in our homes and upon our children have not been the things we did with purpose and intention, planning to produce a certain effect, but the things we did when we were not thinking of training or influencing or affecting any other life." ~ J.R. Miller

Thumbing through my journal looking for a particular quote, I stumbled across this one from a couple of years ago.  Perhaps it caught my eye because it seems like the last week of August is much like the last week before Christmas.  Life is incredibly busy as I'm wrapping up so many things from the summer while intentionally preparing for the fall.  Every moment is filled with a task that needs to get done from the summer to fall list, yet there is still daily living that needs to happen....three meals a day, laundry, picking up the house, and tucking children into bed.

Reading this quote made me stop and think.  What is the affect on my children as I go through such a full busy time?  How does my attitude affect my children?  Am I making time to connect with them one-on-one face-to-face or are they only getting a passing whiff of me as I go from room to room talking over my shoulder?  Are they seeing a mom who is content and peaceful as she goes about her tasks or a mom who is struggling and stressed?  

Stop and think and know that your influence as a mom goes beyond those intentional quality moments and travels into the busy quantity moments, too.

Stop and think and know that ALL moments of your life need to be influenced by God's Word.  As you fill up with Him, you'll overflow into the lives of others in ways that will bring glory to your Heavenly Father no matter what the day or week or season of life!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Monday, August 30

don't use pen

"Write your plans in pencil and give God the eraser." ~ Author Unknown

When I woke up this morning after a restless night of sleeping in a much too warm house, I knew I needed to spend some time praying over my day and the day ahead for family.  Once I did that, I was ready to start my day and I checked the list that I set next to my computer last night.  It's a long busy list for the day ahead.

But apparently I wrote my list in pen.  Nothing is going well and I'm really feeling way out of sorts.  Ever have one of those days?  The kind where you'd like to go back to bed and start over again?  

So, I decided to start over again.  Yes, there are definite places I have to go later today, but I've decided to write my morning in pencil and let God direct me since MY plan definitely isn't working well.  I'm anticipating my day to turn the corner now.


How about you?  How's this last week of summer going for you?  Do you have a list a mile long, too, as you prepare for the fall?  Remember to use pencil!


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~
  

Saturday, August 28

don't forget to nourish!

Wasn't I just talking about prayer this week?  Here's a section from my devotional this morning that speaks about it, too!

"It is not part of the life of a natural man to pray.  We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray; I question it.  What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer.  When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it.  Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished.  Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament.  We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself." ~ Oswald Chambers

Yes!  This is true!  As we nourish that life within us, we learn much more about the character of God.  His faithfulness, His steadfastness, His mercy, His grace, His love, His trustworthiness, His goodness, His comfort, His peace, His healing.....and the list could go on and on and on because God is more awesome than our minds could ever grasp through a lifetime!

Spend some time in your garden nourishing God's Holy Spirit who lives within you and learn more about Him!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

 

Friday, August 27

shifting from there to here

It's been a week of working through a time of transition.  Just as it takes some time to adjust when you bring a new baby home from hospital, there is also a time to adjust when that baby has grown into an adult and leaves home.

The house becomes quieter.  The meal making becomes smaller.  The laundry becomes a less often task.  The chores become passed on or shifted.  The bedrooms become switched for someone else.  The activity level lessens.  

All of that plays out in interesting ways.  Our littlest kept wondering where her older brother was whenever the guys came home from work or it was supper time and would smile with a "oh yaaaaaaa" each time we reminded her that her brother had gone to college.  The other night I threw my hands up in the air when a couple of the kids were on a youth outing and I had to prepare supper for four.  How do you cook for four?  We did frozen pizza.  My daughter has been waiting for a favorite pair of shorts to come through the laundry, but I still don't have a full load of laundry in that color.  Combine colors?  Unheard of here!  What about the nights that he was scheduled for kitchen duty this month? No one is ready to switch that chore until the calendar flips to September and I wonder if the littlest able to be added to that full duty yet?  Three bedrooms have been in disorganization all week as we've been painting, carpet cleaning, and sorting through boxes of items that it seems everyone has outgrown and which have been  put into the kitchen for mom to sort through. What to do with those awesome wooden tops that were spun on the downstairs concrete floor with a string wound by one of five brothers?  No longer hearing the old car zoom out the driveway in the early morning as a son met up with his disciple group or hearing it zoom in the driveway after a late evening movie with friends.  Instead there's the sound of discussion about that car with a newly licensed driver who has to earn the privilege that an older brother got as he grew in responsibility.  Patiently answering questions over the phone as a son figures out life away from home and realizing I have to figure out life once again at home. 

Changes.  Transitions.  Adjustments.  Not always easy for a mom who prefers a steady rhythm and flow to her days.  And yet....and yet, how often is life really like that when raising a family?  You'd think I'd learn after thirty years....

Perhaps it's time to wander out to my garden for a spell.  My garden which seems like a badly neglected friend that has been cast aside through the busyness of life this summer.  Yes, it's definitely time to pay a lingering visit to my quiet listening dear friend of a garden who always provides me with time to visit with my quiet listening dear Heavenly Father as I ponder this time of transition.

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Thursday, August 26

an extra blanket or two or more

Lately every night after praying with my littlest, she asks if I would please lay down with her for a little bit as she falls asleep.  Often I do well with this simple request by lying for a few minutes, then getting back up to finish up a task or two before bed.  However more recently I've been quite tired by that time of the day and if I close my eyes - even for a moment! - I'm a goner and wake up quite a bit later needing to groggily drag myself into my own bedroom to fall back to sleep.  

Fortunately after last night's prayers and her request, the bedroom was quite a bit cooler which kept me awake.  My mind was thinking about our prayers AND wondering where one of those little quilts was to throw over chilly me.  In that moment a realization about our family warmed my heart.  

Our family's prayers are like blankets covering each other with God's love and protection.  And because of the size of our family, that means there's a LOT of blankets covering each one.  During our morning school devotions we pray for each family member.  During our bedtime prayers we pray for each family member.  During the day we pray for family members as they come to mind.  Those prayers may be more general or they may be very specific as we hear of specific needs.  Those praying times aren't just happening within the walls of our home, but also within the walls of the homes of children who have grown up and left home as they teach their own children about praying for others.  The blankets of the prayers of many covering each one of us aren't heavy and burdensome, but instead lighten our burdens and give us the strength we need for daily life.  


Not sure where to start?  Use God's Word to give some extra power to your prayers for your family.  A few of my favorite Scriptures to pray are Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21, Philippians 1:3-11, and Colossians 1:9-14.  Insert the name of who you are praying for every time you see the word "you".  Always be on the lookout for prayer opportunities within Scripture and don't hesitate to use them as they hold God's power for those you love.

No matter what the season, may you be thinking about throwing a prayer blanket or two or more on members of your family!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Wednesday, August 25

an investment tip

In today's economic times, here's a tip straight from my gardening flip calendar:

"Kindness is the only investment that never fails."     ~ Author Unknown 

Try it!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Tuesday, August 24

blooming through reading

On Saturday afternoon, we traveled to take a son to college.  Once we arrived, we got him checked in, unloaded all his things which were really quite minimal since he is an unpack rat, and took him out for a bite of supper.  Since we had fiddle faddled around about travel plans not knowing what our schedules were going to be until right before we took him, all lodging in the area was booked to overflowing.  So, in the fading light of day after we said our good-byes and watched him walk to his dorm, we hopped into the van to head towards home.  But not all the way home as we stopped at our cabin in the woods for the night.  

Waking up to a quiet beautiful morning, I grabbed my devotional books and settled in at the picnic table.  There was a family of otters splish splashing in the bay and enjoying the morning while I read through some Psalms, then turned to the book of Isaiah.  Looking up again, my littlest was walking toward me with her book.
If you recognize this book, I'm guessing you are in the 40 - 50 year old range since this was a common book found in grade schools when we were growing up.  I found it at a used book sale for TEN CENTS!  What a find!  How fun to watch my littlest reading On Cherry Street now.

But she was stuck.  She didn't really want to read the last section of the book entitled Just for Fun because it looked like it was all about talking animals and she was afraid she'd dream about them at night (yes, we're still having some sleep issues from time to time).  So I told her she could read the stories out loud to me and we'd talk about them if she wanted.  She decided to try it on her own instead and I kind of glanced at the pages as she read.  Of course, I couldn't stop myself from commenting as she went on to the little story entitled, "Gardens by the Brook."
There they were....all the animals planting crops in the garden.  Well, except for Mrs. Bear in the pretty pink dress.  She was busy planting alright, but not a crop.  Nope, she stated it would be something better than that. 
And indeed it was!  She grew a flower garden with flowers of all colors!  YAY for Mrs. Bear!  Of course, the other animals reminded her that she couldn't eat flowers, but she was a wise Mrs. Bear for she knew that the growing flowers brought bees who made honey for her to eat at harvest time when her animal friends were eating their garden bounty.

So, for those who know me, you know why I'm smiling.  Oh sure, I do adore Mrs. Bear's pink dress quite a bit, but I love the fact that she planted FLOWERS in her garden!  Of course, she's much wiser than me since I don't plant flowers for honey, but for the pure enjoyment from seeing them every time I walk into my garden.  

But it did make me wonder.  Was there a subliminal message planted back in my mind way back in grade school?  That it's okay to plant flowers in a vegetable garden?  That if you are a Mrs. the color pink is a good color to wear?  I guess we'll find out someday if that subliminal message thing works if my littlest someday wears pink after she gets married and plants flowers in her vegetable garden!

Guess it's a good reminder to all mothers who have reading children.  You never know what they'll pick up from the stories they read!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Monday, August 23

hopping through our day

Welcome to my entry for the Heart of the Matter Online Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop and this week's theme....a day-in-the-life!  It's an opportunity to share what YOUR homeschool day looks like.  Feel free to participate in this fun Blog Hop by clicking on the links!

Our homeschool days have always had a basic framework through the years which flows with our life around here.  The kids have grown to know the routine which keeps things running fairly smoothly.

As a mom who is an early riser,  I like to be up and getting myself ready for the day while my children are still nestled in their beds enjoying sweet dreams.  A devotional time, some exercise, and a quick shower begin my day.  Once I'm ready to go, then it's time to make sure all the students are awake and moving in the right direction as they get dressed and eat some breakfast.
Our school day always begins around the kitchen table around 8:30 AM when we do our devotional time.  We read a devotional book, then I'll read a chapter in the Old Testament and each day a different child reads a chapter of the New Testament.  We close this time with prayer committing our day to the Lord and each student goes off to their place of schooling.

This year we have two high schoolers who will work independently in their rooms as they are using a DVD program for their coursework.  They'll emerge again when they get hungry for lunch. The two grade schoolers will be doing their seatwork at the kitchen table as our school cabinet is in the dining room area.  I'm looking forward to this time being a little easier as we begin a new school year as my littlest has become an avid reader and I won't need to sit continually by her side all morning, but should be able to bounce back and forth between the two of them. 

Most often we're all hungry around 11:30 AM and will break for lunch and free time until around 1:00 PM.  It gives the kids time to get outside for some fresh air and allows me some time to take care of household stuff as well as eating my lunch and catching up on emails, etc.

Since our mornings are our primary seatwork schooling time, the afternoons vary.  The high schoolers typically still have some work to do, but it can be a more open time for the grader schoolers.  I would like to schedule in some art, music, or "girl things" (like cooking, baking, sewing, handcrafts, hobbies, etc) in our afternoons this school year.  Our formal schooling is easily done by 3:00 PM except on Fridays when I work on correcting all the high schoolers work for the week at the end of their day.

Our school schedule is quite simple, looks traditional, and has worked well for our family for years.  We tweak it when life happens that requires some flexibility.  I think back to years ago when the bulk of our schooling was done in the afternoons since that was when the little ones were napping and the house was finally quieter with fewer distractions for mom and older kids.  

Arrange individual schedules for each student, too.  Sometimes kids like to get their hardest subject done first making the rest of the day go smoother.  Some kids like to save their hardest subjects for last, but trust me, I don't recommend that approach or you can be still be doing school at bedtime!

If your school day is being affected by some outside factors (moving, sickness, travel, bad weather, etc) which are throwing your days off, hit a bit of the three R essentials - Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic - and know that even during these times your children are learning about life in ways that books will never teach.


Realize that your homeschool day will reflect your individuality as a family. Find what works best for you and go with it. And always always ALWAYS cover your day with prayer!

If you are a homeschooling family and want to share about your homeschooling day, stop over at the Hop!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Saturday, August 21

fitting the pieces

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." ~ Confucius
As I've spent this week piecing together a quilt, it gave me time to refresh what my vision is for my children as they leave home.  It's simple.  May they wholeheartedly love and serve the Lord AND may they find an occupation that they love (and no, I'm not a fan of Confucius, but he surely said it well!).
Piece by piece the foundation gets laid in their life.
A variety of experiences are pieced together one by one.
Once the pieces are all put together, the final stitches are made and off they go.  
As we take a son off to college this weekend, my heart ponders all my parenting regrets along the way as I fumbled through trying to figure out what works best with this one.  And yet, I also see the focus and strengths that he has developed as God's grace covers that which we don't do well as parents.  Ultimately, HE is their best parent for He sees the whole picture and He'll use what He needs for His purposes that have been built within the foundation over the years.  Knowing that, I'll let go and look forward to watching his future as he loves and serves the Lord while learning about an occupation which he'll enjoy!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Friday, August 20

a mom's GPS

It's typically one of those mom moments when YOU know better but your child is quite certain they know best.  Sometimes you stand your ground and sometimes you give them a bit of leeway.

Yesterday was one of those leeway moments that I regretted as soon as we started driving.  A daughter was going to a friend's house to hang out for the day and since we had never been there before I asked her to first call her friend for directions.  She gave me one of those "Awwww, Mom" looks and she instead suggested that we look up her friend's address in the phone book and then google it. I countered with the suggestion that I just give her friend's mom a quick call to get directions and got the second "Awwwww, Mom" look.

Okay, okay.  Leeway.  Google made it look easy.  I knew the road and it looked like it would be the first house on the left.

Now, before you begin wondering why this direction stuff would be such a big deal, let's just say that we don't live in the city with nice blocks to travel.  We live in the woods with rural roads which often fork off or twist and turn with options of branching driveways.  And I have NOT found Google to be very accurate in these situations.

Did I mention that feeling of regret when we got into the car and started driving?

So off we went easily finding the road we needed and once turning assumed the house would be right there on the left.  Hmmm, not the right house number.  In fact, as we went down the road none of the house numbers on the left were what we needed and verified that with family name signs hanging by the driveway.  Finally pulling into one of these driveways, I unusually had my cell phone still in my purse from the day before (I'm NOT a cell phone user at all except when I travel), so she was able to call her friend hoping she remembered the phone number correctly.  (Did you hear me catch my breath on that one?)  Her friend answered and said that she lived on the RIGHT side of the road, so we went back to the beginning of the road only to discover it wasn't the first house on the right since it wasn't the right house number and went up to the next driveway which didn't have a house number by the road.  Yet through the woods we could kind of see her sister out in the driveway.  Whew!  Finally found it!

That little bit of leeway cost us some frustration, too much valuable time, and hopefully a lesson learned that sometimes, yes sometimes Mom can be right. 

We can so easily be pulled here or there to accommodate others, but often we need to stand firm on the wonderful gift God gave us  - INTUITION - and what it is telling us about a situation. Truly, the gift of intuition that mothers have could easily be compared to a GPS.....only much better!


Be sure to use it frequently in your garden and avoid getting lost!


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Thursday, August 19

exchanging whoops for woo hoos

"We little dream, sometimes, what a hasty word, a thoughtless speech, an imprudent act, or a confession of unbelief and fear may do to hinder our highest usefulness, or turn it aside from some great opportunity which God has been preparing for us..........God wants fit instruments for His power--wills surrendered, hearts trusting, lives consistent, and lips obedient to His will;  and then He can use the weakest weapons, and make them mighty through God." ~A.B.Simpson

Whoops!  Another blunder.  Another "open mouth, insert foot" moment. Another impulsive response.  Another bit of panic.  Another instant of laziness. Another reminder of how we'll never measure up and be useful for God's purposes.

Whoops!  Another example of how easy it is to believe the lies of the enemy and allow a wall to go up between us and God.

Not a single one of us will ever be useful to God if we allow our imperfections to keep a wall between us and God.

Not a single one of us will ever be perfect while living on this earth, so there's absolutely no sense in waiting until we have our acts all together before we can come before God and say, "Use me!" because we'll never have our acts all together. 

What God is looking for are those who will humbly fall before him when they blunder or fear or do plain old stupid things.  He is looking for those who will surrender all their weaknesses and sins before Him by laying them at the foot of the cross with a longing in their heart to completely trust Him to be their Savior, their strength, their song.



"For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." ~ Second Chronicles 16:9

And there's no time like right now to do it, so just do it!  He'll help you!  Allow God to take those whoops of life and make them woo hoos for God!


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Wednesday, August 18

tall enough for Jack

The warm summer which included much more rain than we've been used to over the last several years has allowed my garden plants to grow incredibly big and lush. 
Like these sunflowers that are truly reaching up to the sky this summer.  Hmmm, don't think they are really that tall?
Well, even my garden sunflower house has greatly exceeded expectations.  Can you see my two daughters peeking out in the middle?  The tallest daughter is about 5'3" tall and I'm guessing that the tallest dark orange sunflower on the left is a good five feet taller than her. 
The flowers along the pathway have grown so full that the pathway is very narrow and you almost have to push your way through the flowers.  Even the zinnias are very tall this summer.


I guess if Jack can't find a beanstalk to climb, he could always climb my sunflower stalks!


Enjoy your summer garden!


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Tuesday, August 17

the M cat

Our cat went in for a rabies vaccination this morning.  It seemed to be an ordinary appointment until the vet put his hand under the cat's chin and said, "See the 'M' on his forehead between his eyes?  He's a Maine Coon."
We've always thought he was just a big long-haired cat who enjoyed his cat chow, but Scooter's family line actually comes from one of the oldest natural breeds of cats found in North America. It was quite fun to read the article on Wikipedia about the Maine Coon as it described our cat quite perfectly....soft flowing coat, fascination with water, large body structure, big paws, playful, gentle, relaxed around dogs, and known for their intelligence (one of my sons always says that Scooter is the smartest cat he's ever seen and is quite certain this cat has super powers).

I suppose we'll now have to treat him like royalty around here since he's an official breed of a cat instead of just a plain old cat as we've thought for the last few years.  I knew there was a reason I thought he should be named Prince.....

May he live out his nine lives well!


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Monday, August 16

down to four

Welcome to my entry for the Heart of the Matter Online Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop and this week's theme....student pictures!  Feel free to participate in this fun Blog Hop by clicking on the links!

After having five students in our homeschool off and on for several years, we are heading into a new season of losing students and no longer gaining new students.  At the end of this week, our oldest at home will be packing up and leaving to move into a college dorm a few hours away. 
That will leave us with four students when we officially begin our new school year in a couple of weeks.  Still quite a range of ages as we'll have students in grades two, six, nine, and eleven....yet I'm looking forward to a school year where every student is finally at the point of READING well!  Yay!

If you are a homeschooling family and want to share pictures of your students as they are busy learning, be sure to join us in the Blog Hop!


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Simple Woman's Daybook for August 16

For today August 16

Outside my window.....the skies are blue, it is very breezy, and the temperature is in the cool mid-50's this morning.

I am thinking....about how we are already halfway through the month of August and all the things I'd like to get done before we start our schooling at the end of the month. 

I am thankful.....for the blessing of praying friends.

I am wearing.....a denim skirt with a hooded sweatshirt and fuzzy socks on my feet.

I am hearing.....the leaves of the trees rustling in the strong wind.

I am creating.....a quilt for my college bound son which needs to be done by Saturday.
 
I am going.....to finally get out in the garden today since the heat has definitely left town.

I am reading....In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart by Ruth Graham
 
I am praying.....for a friend and her family as they have had a devastating unexpected loss.
 
I am remembering.....how trying it can be when boys are making the break from home to college.

I am hoping.....that there will be a good crop of tomatoes for canning this summer.
 
On my mind.....are options for ministry this fall.
 
From the learning rooms....there are boxes of books in the kitchen from an order that is all wrong.  I have to wait for mailing labels and lists of what needs to be sent back and do some re-ordering.  I'm trying hard not to be frustrated that the company made a major change and didn't highlight it on the main order page.  However, the two youngest already have all their stuff and are doing a bit of schooling.

Noticing that....the green green woods of summer is starting to fade with some yellows already appearing.

Pondering these words....."Partial obedience is disobedience made to look acceptable." ~ Author Unknown

From the kitchen.....the meals have been light and scant with the hot weather.  Perhaps the cooler weather will re-motivate me to cook some real food again!
 
Around the house....it's fairly clean as our household has been quieter the last couple weeks.  It won't last long though as next week we'll be switching bedrooms around.

One of my favorite things.....is looking at family pictures as they pop up on the computer's slideshow.  

A few plans for the rest of the week.....include garden work, a vet appointment for our cat, soccer practice, a volunteer day at the pregnancy resource center, quilting, getting a son packed up for college, meeting with a friend, soccer games for the girls, and taking a son to college on the upcoming weekend.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you.... 
Although they've been splattered with dirt by the hard downpours of rain we've had recently, these little pansies keep smiling under my garden bench.
 
Thank you for stopping and visiting my daybook on this day. If you'd like to visit others who are participating during the month of July or write a journal yourself, please stop over at Peggy's at Simple Woman's Daybook

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Saturday, August 14

be a winner

"It's not true that nice guys finish last.  Nice guys are winners before the game even starts." ~ Addison Walker

What a true statement! It was displayed this morning at my daughter's soccer game when our eight team members were standing on the sidelines ready to start the game.  One problem though.  The other team only had four players which was below the five players needed to play the game.  So I gathered my team together and asked if a couple of them would be willing to be players on the other team to help them out for this game.  All their hands went up!  Wow!  Their overwhelming response warmed my little heart!  Talk about displaying true sportsmanship which made each one of those little players a winner on my list.  


Isn't it much the same with the game of life?  Those who follow Jesus Christ as their Savior may not always finish first by worldly standards, but they are winners every time they serve and love someone else who is in need of their help no matter what the sacrifice.  And why not?  Their victory is already set in eternity, so they can run the race with perseverance raising their hands when the Lord calls for their help wherever it may be needed in this world that is so lost and without hope.


How about a "Yes, Lord!  I'll do it!".....He's waiting on you!


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Friday, August 13

sudden storms

Woke up to light rain which was the forerunner to an unexpected good old fashioned lightning and thunderstorm.  The lightning brightened our bedroom as the thunder shook the house.  I smiled with a "YES!" knowing that lightning does a wonderful job of combining the oxygen and nitrogen in the air into a glorious form which rains down and fertilizes plants.  

Quickly I jumped up between the rumbles to do a quick email check as I do every morning to see if there's any word from a faraway son and was instead greeted by an urgent prayer request for a friend who has received devastating news.  A sudden unexpected storm has shook her life like no other could do.  I did not smile this time and instead felt my own rain wash down my face as my heart ached for her.

Beyond human understanding and all our thousands of "whys?" there is only prayer knowing and trusting God to be there for her and her family.  This storm raining down in her life will bring forth growth that will allow her to minister to others in a way no one else could.  Someday.  All in God's timing.  

Until then and in the days ahead, I will pray..... 

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Thursday, August 12

secret shouting

One thing that I am very good at is keeping secrets.  I don't know if I've developed that to an extreme because there's been people in my life who have broken my trust through the years or if it comes naturally.  But if someone tells me something and states it is confidential, my lips are sealed just like this  :-X   Of course, my fear is that someday I'll end up in a nursing home with dementia and spill every bean in the kettle, but I pray not.

Sometimes it isn't easy keeping a secret, but necessary and I do my best with this  :-X   until I get the all clear when I can do this  :-O

So, let me pass on something that a little bird told me.  Truly it was the littlest bird in our family.  This one:
Yes, last Saturday you would have found her upside down under Grandpa's lawn chair at her aunties soccer games.

She very calmly sat at the kitchen table the night before coloring with her aunties and Grandpa when she answered her mommy's question, "What's in mommy's tummy?"  "A baby!" she replied. However, that news could not be shared as I was close to the end of the list of family who hadn't been told yet (yes, I've decided this is DEFINITELY a downfall of a large family) and had to wait to share the news.


A secret that has kept a smile on my face all week long!  


Now that I've been received the phone call with the information that everyone has been told, I'm free to shout, "I'M GOING TO BE A GRANDMA AGAIN!"


And I'm still smiling :-D


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Wednesday, August 11

play it again

Yesterday afternoon our family traveled to attend an evening game for a major league baseball team.  We like to do this two or three times a summer, if possible, having developed the habit with raising a handful of sons who have loved baseball through the years.  
This can be an expensive venture so we've often settled for seats in the rafters needing binoculars!  This year, however, some gas stations throughout the state offered free tickets with six (or was it eight?) fill-ups at their particular gas stations.  When my husband called in to reserve seats with our free tickets, he found the dates we were interested in already filled.  Not to disappoint possible game attenders, they did offer a special deal of $16-a-seat tickets in a typically much higher priced section.  My husband couldn't resist and we were definitely not disappointed as we ended up only 14 rows up near the third base line which gave us plenty of fly balls and the opportunity for my younger ones to get a tossed ball in-between innings while players warmed up.  Truly, there's nothing like a close scoring baseball game on a hot summer night!  What fun!

But if you'd ask my youngest what the favorite part of our baseball adventure was for her, it would have absolutely nothing to do with baseball.  Nope!  Not even the pre-game grilling tailgating meal with family would rank high.  Nope!  The best part was getting a belated birthday present of something which she really really really REALLY wanted but which no one could find for her...until my daughter-in-law stumbled upon it at a garage sale and immediately bought it for a purchase price of much less than a dollar and was finally able to give to her when we met in the parking lot before the game.

Bet you can't guess what it is!

Give up?

Here's a picture.....

A play saxophone!

Here's to sweet notes playing in your garden as God blesses your life with the desires of your heart!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Tuesday, August 10

mess management is marvelous

Last week my three youngest girls were away with their oldest sister enjoying a little mini vacation in the city.  My sons at home were busy working or doing other things so I was able to experience one of those very rare things....a quiet house to myself.  

On those other similar rare occasions in the past, I've often frittered the time away sitting and relaxing and refreshing.  Oh yes, that's often necessary, too, but every time I look back it is with a big sigh as I think.....fritter.

The first thing I did was cleaned the bathrooms, generally picked up in every room, vacuumed the whole house, cleaned up the kitchen counters knowing that the house would stay generally clean until the girls returned. Having experienced a tidy house for a week, I have to say that whoever said that "someday you'll miss the messes your children make" was not being truthful OR perhaps they only had one child who was neat instead of nine children who have lived full wonderful lives in every possible inch and cranny of my house.  Having experienced over thirty years and continuing to experience children living in my house, someday I will NOT miss the messes, although I will miss the children.  'Nuff said about that!  LOL!

Then I got busy on some areas of the house that have been driving me bonkers because they are so messy and out of order.  One of the main culprits of such disorder is the room under our main addition:  the laundry - food pantry storage - toy room.  YIKES!  It took me about three days of uninterrupted time to work my way through it sorting, tossing, stacking, and organizing.  It is pretty much done except for all the ironing I still need to work on (which I love to do so that isn't a problem) plus there's still things stored in the food pantry which I need to decide what to do with since they are odd things that really have no place of their own. There was also some time to work in the girls room doing much the same task of sorting, tossing, stacking, and organizing.  I didn't want to spend too much time in there though as we'll be doing room changeovers in a couple of weeks. 

Now that they are home, I feel a bit like a secret service agent/policeman as I track down the culprit of every mess left behind as they move from one thing to the next.  "Pick up, put away!  Pick up, put away!"  is the battle cry as I came to realize while I was doing my deep cleaning that I had been lax on the younger ones in this area of their life.  

With the summer waning, I have one last major cleaning project I want to work on - what used to be my husband's old work office in the back of our garage which turned into my school book storage area many years ago.  Most of our extra books, teachers keys, and all the storage boxes of my children's school work are kept in this room.  It's also the room where all my extra boxes are kept (you know, for things I need to mail or ship) and I have a file cabinet to store all our family records of bills paid, etc, which was overflowing years ago, so there's papers and receipts in this box, that box and the other box.  A disaster of MY own making.  YIKES!  It will be quite a task, but ohhhh how freeing it will feel to have it done and clean!

Hopefully this will encourage you to JUST DO IT if there's a project that you've been putting off for a long time that is driving you a bit bonkers.  It does feel so much better once it's done  :-)

Enjoy this August day in your garden!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Sunday, August 8

a hammock will do

Welcome to my entry for Heart of the Matter Online's Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop and this week's theme....school rooms!  Feel free to join this fun Blog Hop by clicking on the links!

Where we home school has evolved through the years. We began at our kitchen table, converted a storage building into a school and used that for a few years, came back to a kitchen with desks for many years, remodeled our kitchen, and have settled into what works best for our family now.  Although we may not have an official school room anymore,  we've found that learning takes place comfortably all over our home.

Our school day always begins around the kitchen table for a devotional time.  Once that is completed, each child heads to where they typically do their school work.
 

My high schoolers are currently using a DVD curriculum which they view in their own rooms. They each have a desk with a small TV where they watch their classes and do the required homework.

My grade schoolers work at the kitchen table a majority of the time. All their main books and materials as well as my teachers guides and keys for all grades are in an easily accessible cabinet in the kitchen.  Although the kitchen table tends to work best for seat work, they tend to wander to a variety of places for any reading they need to do.

During the warmer months you'll find children sitting on the front porch or lying on the trampoline or sacked out in a hammock as they enjoy the great outdoors while reading.  During the colder months, they may be sitting in the comfy chair by the woodburner downstairs or snuggled under blankets on the couch by the living room window.  
 
How about you? If you are a homeschooling family, do you have a particular place you like to do schooling? 

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Saturday, August 7

soccer saturday

Starting this morning, our soccer season officially kicks off with the first games!
From the schedule, it looks like my team with my littlest plays mainly the late morning games which means I'll get to watch the two older girls a bit more this year when they play the early games.  I'm looking forward to the soccer season this year!

Of course, this is also a sign that our summer is quickly coming to an end....

Enjoy your August Saturday whatever your activities may be!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Friday, August 6

wise tidbits

Having spent some quality AND quantity time leaning over the toybox as I've been emptying it out, sorting all the millions of little things in it, tossing many broken things, putting away everything that doesn't belong in there, and then replacing everything else neatly back in it (yes, how long do you suppose it'll stay neat? HA!), I discovered a little book about three inches by three inches that once upon a time one of my little girls picked up at the local used book sale and which she used to carry around with her everywhere even though she wasn't even close to reading.  Perhaps it was because it was a book just her size and I noticed her little scribbles and even a little drawing of a person.  The book is Life's Little Treasure Book on Wisdom by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. and it is filled with little tidbits.  Let me share a few....

*Be kinder than necessary.

*Every person that you meet knows something you don't;  learn from them.

*Don't waste time responding to your critics.

*Never resist a generous impulse.

*Resist telling people how something should be done.  Instead, tell them what needs to be done.  They will often surprise you with creative solutions.  (Me - This is a neat concept to apply to older children to get them thinking!)
*Act with courtesy and fairness regardless of how others treat you.  Don't let them determine your response.

*Remember that what's right isn't always popular, and what's popular isn't always right.


*Be bold and courageous.  When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.


*When there is a hill to climb, don't think that waiting will make it smaller.


*Pay as much attention to the things that are working positively in your life as you do to those that are giving you trouble.


Whew!  Have I given you enough things to ponder for the day?  Need some more wisdom?  Consult God's Word which is packed with bigger tidbits!


Enjoy this day in your garden!


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Thursday, August 5

be in harmony

"There is no music so heavenly as an Aeolian harp, and the Aeolian harp is nothing but a set of musical cords arranged in harmony, and then left to be touched by the unseen fingers of the wandering winds.  As the breath of heaven floats over the chords, it is said that notes almost divine float out upon the air, as if a choir of angels were wandering around and touching the strings.  And so it is possible to keep our hearts so open to the touch of the Holy Spirit that He can play upon them at will, as we quietly wait in the pathway of His service."  ~ A.B. Simpson

What a beautiful picture of a life turned over to the Lord for His purposes!

May you allow the Holy Spirit to waft through the pathways of your garden and into the windows of your home to hear the music He will play in your life!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Wednesday, August 4

a ticket winner

Hey, ChiGirl!  You're the winner of my giveaway and will receive one free ticket to the Heart of the Matter Conference next week!  They'll notify you by email with all the information you need.    See you there!

Blessings,
Tammy  ~@~

Tuesday, August 3

a daughter's beauty


A Wish for my Growing Daughter

True beauty comes from within, and although you are lovely on the outside, may you be more concerned with developing inward qualities. *To have beautiful eyes, look for the good in every situation. *To have lovely lips, speak words of kindness and exhortation. *To have delicate hands, reach out to help those in need. *To have graceful feet, walk in harmony with your fellow man. *To be eternally young, laugh at your mistakes and retain the exuberance of childhood. *To live life to the fullest, may your heart overflow with love.    ~Mona Dunkin


Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Monday, August 2

the daily way truth life

Welcome to August!
I hope you aren't feeling panicked like I am whenever I hit the last month of summer and look at my summer project list which has barely a thing crossed off!

As I flipped the page, I noted the verse for the month which is so often used when leading someone to the Lord.

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." ~ John 14:6

And yet, what an awesome verse for everyday life!  When you know the Lord, you are shown the WAY to live as you meditate daily on the words found in the most wonderful book ever published - the Bible.  It leads you in the WAY to go through your days to live abundantly.  It provides the TRUTH you need to stand on in a world that seems to have gone crazy with stinkin' thinkin'.  Honestly, sometimes I read the news and think WHAT?! How can educated people often utter the words they do that make absolutely no sense?!  What a blessing it is to open God's Word and know that the TRUTH that is spoken in those pages stands as firmly as it did thousands of years ago.  It gives LIFE not just for eternity, but for NOW.  Our time on this earth is so short, so live it for Christ with passion willing to follow Him on the adventure He places before you.  LIFE will not be drudgery if you keep your eyes on Him while applying what His Word speaks to your heart.  

Now are you ready to tackle the month of August with the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE?!  I am!

Enjoy the day and the month!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~

Sunday, August 1

watching high school

Heart of the Matter Online is hosting a special weekly event through August called the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop  (the button is on my sidebar).  It's a great way for homeschoolers to get excited about the upcoming school year and check out what everyone else is doing as well as finding good resources for their schooling. 

This week's theme is about curriculum....what you like, what you don't like, what you're looking for, what you're using, etc.

Last year when I participated in this event, I shared about a handwriting favorite curriculum we have always used.  This year I'd love to share about the mainstay of our traditional style Christian curriculum - A Beka Book materials - and how they've allowed my high schoolers to do well. 

Although we've used A Beka Book materials from the beginning, we've always used them in a parent directed style to allow us the needed flexibility with our large family.  Using the progressive structure these materials are based on has been important, but I've also liked the option of using the materials in the ways that worked best with each student. 

Then we hit high school with our oldest.

:::::THUD:::::

It wasn't the fact that it was high school that made us stop in our tracks as we had gradually progressed to that point in his education and felt comfortable with the next step.  It was the fact that at the time he had five younger siblings who needed more concentrated attention with their schooling.  It was hard to find the quiet time to sit down and clear my head to help him figure out an advanced algebra problem or a chemistry equation.  So we struggled through it with mom trying her best as the high school years passed and more siblings entered that stage. 

The time came when something had to change and we decided to make the financial jump in our homeschooling to go with A Beka Academy's DVD high school program.  Their high school packages include all student texts, quizzes and tests, and the daily lesson manual (170 lessons per year) as well as the teacher text, quiz and test keys, and record keeping sheets which helps make the transcript process much easier.   All of the student and teacher items come with the DVDs that the student watches on the daily schedule which we've allowed them to set up.  Again, we stayed with the parent directed plan rather than their accredited plan because we wanted to still have some educational flexibility.  Most of the student's work is independently geared with mom giving various quizzes throughout the week and checking their completed week of course work on Friday.

If you are leaning toward a traditional Christian curriculum which is very thorough and progressive in nature, please take a moment to check out what A Beka Academy has to offer.  We will begin our eighth year of using the high school DVD curriculum this fall and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have if you'd like to email me at tam.gardening@yahoo.com

Enjoy your hopping this week!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~
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