28 May 2011

Memorial Day Weekend so far

Spring has officially arrived here in Boston!  The past few days have been warm and beautiful.  I'm so glad to wear flip flops (though my toes are not really flip flop ready...must remedy) and feel warm all the time.  What a treat!
My house is a wreck!  Cleaning up always means that things get REALLY crazy and chaotic before they get better.  Does that happen to anyone else?  Today I washed a bunch of winter things to get them ready for putting away.
John and I got away last night for a quick date at a lovely little restaurant over in Belmont.  We scored a table on the patio and watched all the traffic going by, and the people walking by with their strollers, dogs and ice cream.  It was a balmy evening and we finally had a chance to really talk without interruption about the future, our hopes, our worries, where we see ourselves in the coming decades.  So thankful for that time.
I love this time of year when all the children are outside playing, the windows are open, I can hear voices floating up to the kitchen and neighbors are outside chatting.  Today was like that.


26 May 2011

Plan for the day

Happy Thursday!  
Last week I wrote about why I love Thursdays so much.  I usually use them to catch up on all that needs to get done (lessons, laundry, bills, cleaning, laundry and then usually some laundry).
All photos are from our recent production of "Esperanza Rising", original script based on the novel by Pam Munoz Ryan.  Photos taken by a parent.
Today I will be at school most of the day, as we have International Day and my two Spanish classes are presenting some Latin folk tales.  Should be a fun time!
Then I have the usual Thursday faculty meeting and THEN I need to stay after school with my colleague.  No, we don't have detention.  We need to prepare for our end-of-the-year Expedition Night!
As I've mentioned, the 7th and 8th graders have studied immigration all year long.  Next Thursday, we will transform the lunch room into a museum space, with lots of student work on display, photos, quotes and reflections, as well as our version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" -- all the questions will have to do with immigration!
Our final product will be a book filled with our work from the year:  narratives from the point of view of Ellis Island immigrants; immigration myth busters, researched in History class; reflections on our presentation of "Esperanza Rising", our school play that dealt with the plight of migrant workers; the stories of modern-day immigrants, based on interviews we conducted this semester; maps of the countries represented in the interviews; and reflections on how we as Christians should treat the "other".  We've invited all our families and the families of our interviewees, as well as the school board to come and see our work.
What do you think?!  For a NO BUDGET production, I think it was AMAZING!
I am proud of the work we've done this year; the children have learned so much, and have changed so much as a result of our studies, readings and adventures.  The funny thing is that there is so much else we could have done!  My colleague and I definitely need to take an hour or two at some point to debrief the year, and think about what we loved and what we would improve next time.
I will be sure to share here the final results of our Expedition Night.  Until then, I'm going to be up to my eyeballs in final drafts, photocopies, glue stick and black foam board!  

23 May 2011

Thankful even though I'm in a blump

John coined a new term last night. 
I told him that I feel like I'm in a blog slump.
"Oh," he said, "you're in a blump?"
Yep.  Feels like a blump.
HOWEVER, a blump is really one of the best times to keep on being grateful.  
This morning, ANOTHER cold and rainy day for us here in Boston, I MADE myself go to the list and write some things down.
It helps; it really really does.

I'm so thankful to the Father this week for these things:

* sleep
* Jesus' energy - Colossians 1:29
* Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians (or, Georgia Electric Power Company, the mnemonic I learned in college to help me remember!)
* one sunny day
* hot water
* plenty of food to eat
* clean water all the time
* our car
* a reliable bus system
* first-world problems
* meeting friends on the street
* showering and getting clean
* new babies stretching!
* Philippians 4:8 - whatever - this blog
* blog beauty that inspires; it's amazing!
* Bobby and Suzanne, our sweet and kind neighbors with four kids, flip-flopped from ours - three girls and a boy!

22 May 2011

Anna Banana

Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting up with a childhood friend who I hadn't seen since probably middle school or maybe high school (in passing).
Anna and I were in church choir together for years.  We never went to the same school, maybe had one or two play dates that I can remember.  Our connection was church choir and the wonderful director we had for many years, a man who taught us so much about music and lead us to become a group that could really sing.
I remember when our choir director told us that he and his family (who were also good friends) would be moving far far away for a new job.  I remember several of us shedding tears of bewilderment.  How could he leave us after all that we had learned and achieved?  It was heart-breaking for us.  I think Anna and I would have been in middle school at that point.
Anna and I connected on Facebook a few years ago, so I feel that I've been able to meet her family, at least a little bit.  She has a handsome husband, and two sweet little girls.
Meeting up with her felt as though no time had passed.  We chatted easily, laughed together, she showed me some of the work that brought her to my city.  It was an encouragement to me to connect with her after so many years.
Our original plan to meet up on her very short trip was foiled by a flight delay.  On her last afternoon, she called to say that she had a few hours before her flight (delayed again!) and could I meet up?  I hemmed and hawed internally for a little while, as John was not home and I would have to cobble together some way to take care of the children while I snuck away.  
"Is it worth the effort?" I wondered.
"Are you kidding?" was my own reply.  "You may never have the chance again to meet up with this sister from your childhood!"
Our parents still live in the same town, but odds are so slim that we would ever visit at the same time.
Anna is a gem, JUST the same as I remember her.  I'm so very grateful for the time to see her again!  What a gift!

21 May 2011

Favorite Muffins

I made muffins this morning.  I used my go-to recipe, the one that I cut out from Cooking Light lo many moons ago, and the one I use again and again.  I like that it's quick and easy and that I can vary it depending on what I have around.
Most often I make banana/allspice muffins, but pear/cinnamon comes in a very close second.  I don't tend to make berry muffins because there are certain members of the family who will not eat muffins with CHUNKS of anything.  
But if you like chunks, you could try one of these:  blueberries and lemon rind; chopped apples or pineapple with cinnamon; and cranberries with orange rind.
I'm going to include the basic recipe here, with a few caveats.
One, I've had success with using half white and half whole-wheat flour.
Two, the more you mash up the fruit, the more moist your muffins will be.  Also, if the batter seems a bit dry when you first stir it, add a bit more milk, or buttermilk, if you have it on hand.
Three, I don't often sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top, as in the picture above.  But when I do...yum.
Oh, and I had planned to post a picture of the finished product but they were ALL GONE before I could get a picture!

Basic Muffin Recipe
adapted from Cooking Light

2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar (you can try less)
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. chopped or mashed fruit
2/3 c. milk (any kind you have)
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 t. of flavoring (either the citrus rind or spice)
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and your spice flavoring, stirring with a whisk.
Stir in fruit, and make a well in the middle of the mixture.
Combine milk, butter, vanilla and egg in a separate bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.  Do not over-mix!
Spoon into muffin tin.  If desired, sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 400 to 18-20 minutes, or until they spring back when lightly touched.


18 May 2011

This is how we do it

Lucy's and my school held it's annual Jogathon this past Saturday.  This is one of our main fundraisers of the year.
Theo and Clayton decided they wanted to gather sponsors, as well, and run for Covenant School.  So on a cool and cloudy morning, the Covenant community gathered for its 20th annual Jogathon!
I have to admit that our first year being involved with Covenant, I did not have a very high opinion of the Jogathon as a smart method of raising funds.  But I very soon discovered that the Jogathon is much more than it seems on the surface.  
The strengths of such an event are many:  students set goals for running and goals for fund raising; whole families can participate, no matter their age or ability; older students set examples for and encourage the younger students.  
Jogathon is a great day of community and encouragement.  This year, Clayton really rose to the challenge and ran 5.75 miles.  Theo ran 3 miles and Lucy ran 3.5 miles (even though she was PRETTY grumpy and complaining for the last 30 minutes of the run).

16 May 2011

Getting late on Monday, but it's been a few days and I wanted to share here my list.
Still counting the Lord's blessings in my life.  Here are some from this week:

* coffee in the morning
* lilacs from a neighbor in a jar on my porch - unexpected gift
* lilacs on my kitchen table!
* pizza for dinner and everyone is happy
* too much to do, too much to do
* being able to rest and breath deeply and trust
* sermons that challenge
* keeping warm in May
* seeing oldest son gain confidence 
* watching younger brother admiration for older brother
* looking ahead to SUMMER!

12 May 2011

Why I love Thursdays

Clayton almost always reads a Tintin book at breakfast.  It's the only meal during which I allow them to read (pretty much).
I love Thursdays.  Thursdays are the only morning I don't have any commitments aside from taking kids to school.  I don't usually have to be anywhere til 12:30 or so (weekly faculty meeting) and I LOVE it.
I love not having to work out at 6 am; I can wait til 9...or 10...or even 11!
I love being able to go back to sleep if I want to.
I love having a morning to catch up on the stuff that needs to get done.  It might be bills, or emails, or laundry, or lesson plans (usually lessons plans), or cleaning, or reading, or just BEING.
I almost always have a long list of all the things that are going to get done in the FIVE LONG HOURS I have to myself.  But that hardly ever happens.  Seems like I might usually get one or two things done from the list, and then I'm scrambling to get myself to the faculty meeting on time because I leave my showering, et cetera to the very last minute (anyway, showering is SO very overrated in my opinion!).

It's funny how the years change.  Last year and the year before, I didn't usually have to be out the door at the same time as the children.  This gave Lucy and me some snuggle time in the mornings when we would sit in our favorite chair, covered in blankets, and read.  
I think of the toddler days living in campus housing when my friend, Meda, and I would stay in our pajamas for hours while our four kids (between us) played and played between our two apartments.
Next year, Lucy will join John and two brothers as they go off on the bus and the train to get to school.  I'm hoping that Walter might be able to ride his bike to school next year.  That will leave just me, getting to work or Bible study or...just home.
I DO love staying home!

11 May 2011

PB and J

Some of you may not know that my husband is a music fanatic.  Ask him pretty much any new band, and he's heard of them.  He LOVES music and he loves CDs.  He is old school and buys actual CDs.  I mean, the round shiny things you put in a CD player.  Anyone use those anymore?

Anyway, all I know about popular music I learned from John.  Just ask him anything, I'm not kidding, he'll know!  Try it.  

So we've all been jamming in the minivan to this new record by Peter Bjorn and John (PB and J).  They're from Sweden and so much fun to listen to.
Here, have a go.  This first one is Lucy's favorite song on the album.  I mean, who wouldn't love a song in which one of the main lyrics is "All art had been contemporary"?

This one is Theo's favorite song.  Check out the guy with the blue hands.  Can you dig it?

10 May 2011

How'd THEY get in here?

Very early morning found me making four lunches.  I was half-asleep, as I pretty much stumble out of bed, come downstairs and begin making lunches without further ado.
When I opened up the bag of baby carrots, I came across this:
Excuse me, but those guys in the middle and on the left are NOT babies.  I think it's more like a grown-up and then a few teenagers.  What are they doing in there with the babies?!  
The nerve.

09 May 2011

So very thankful

Ah, spring is a busy season around here.  May, in particular, seems to be bursting this year with concerts, games, practices, more games, lessons, meetings, showers, parties and more.  There is always a choice to make; we can't do all of it.  Four children, one car can make things a little crazy, especially on Saturdays!

I've been away from this space, mostly out of the need to keep some brain reserves for all that is going on as this school year draws to a close.

But I've missed reading all your blogs and commenting and feel connected to all of my bloggy pals!  And I've missed joining with the multitudes to record all the ways the Father shows His love.  I don't want to ever forget!

Keeping our list:

* Theo's first Red Sox game with his Papa, friend Selah, and Selah's dad -- so awesome
* big spills in the kitchen
* paper towels
* hearing good reports about oldest son (while many other things in his life at home are difficult, it is nice to hear something encouraging!)
* friends almost at end of their home study and praying for a baby soon
* spring is really really here!
* blooming trees all around, especially dogwoods -- my favorite
* kids all dirty from playing outside
* kids who smell of dirt and grass
* sleeping soundly
* friends who pray
* really fun writing lessons with my students
* a reluctant reader admitting that he LIKES the book we're reading
* gritty floors
* Swiffers
* neighbors who invite you to dinner when they're having STEAK
* community

02 May 2011

The careful bee

Well hello there!  I know I've been away for a long while.
I had a great trip to Portland; I'll write more about that later.
For now, this is all I've got:

Today Lucy showed me a tiny red dot on her ankle.
"Mama, is this a bee bite?" she asked.

"I don't think so, Lucy.  I think that you would know if a bee had stung you."

"But, Mama, there are VERY CAREFUL bees that could have bit me when I wasn't looking!  So do you think it is a bee bite?"

"Well, I guess, yes, it could have been a careful bee."  That snuck up and bit you and you didn't notice much later.  Maybe it could happen.