Thursday, April 10

Tending the Garden!

Jim and I have been dreaming of having a proper garden for years.  Oh there have been potted plants here or there, but never have we had the space or stability to invest ourselves into a 'proper' garden.  Jim is now jokingly calling the back yard our farm... and yes, we are definitely dreaming of urban farming.  We now have three rhubarb plants, three blueberry bushes, four grape vines, half a dozen brambles (a mix of blackberry and rasperry), a plum and peach tree (Jonah's requested birthday gift from my parents last year - love it!) and now... drumroll please... we have a five foot circle waiting to be made into a herb spiral, mounds waiting for squash and melons and seven raised beds.

So the past two weeks have been full of preparing a space (thanks to my Dad who arrived with a chainsaw ready to tackle the horrid bushes on the sunny side of the yard), testing soils, sorting and starting seeds, building beds, and a dump truck load of dirt that was delivered into our alley.  (Oh, what a lovely memory I will keep of being eight months pregnant and trying to shovel dirt madly into the wheelbarrow so we could make a reasonable path for cars to get by.)

We are a bit sore and tired, but mostly, are just so very pleased to see all of this coming together.  There is still lots of work to do, but the beds are ready for planting later this week and the weather has turned warm and balmy warming the soil for our precious seeds.  We may be a bit crazy (especially considering that baby will probably join us in about a month).  But, I'm comforting myself that we could be crazier, I did decide to put the chickens off till next spring.







Tuesday, April 8

Lent

Well this is a long overdue post...
Thursday morning after Ash Wednesday Jim and I flew to Texas to attend a retreat for ministers to artist (yes, without children! And, no neither of us are technically ministers to artists, but combining art, imagination and theology is just our thing.)  We got back and got settled just in time for spring break, which was devoted to a big project we've been dreaming of for years (I'll share later this week, I promise!)  And in the midst of all of this Lent has seemed scattered and difficult to bring into focus.

That said, there are a few Lenten activities that have been progressing and reminding us daily (even if they aren't always practiced daily) that we are in these lenten forty days.
Jim and I have been enjoying Walter Wangrein Jr.'s book Reliving the Passion.  The book follows the passion narrative with a reading each day of lent.  I am behind and have been reading in spurts, but it is a wonderful book that invites one to imaginatively enter the passion.
A lenten tree: the idea was to add a leaf a day through lent as we read through Mark's gospel.  But, this has ended up being in spurts too.  We just aren't finding a rhythm right now that works regularly for these readings.  We've traditionally gone through the life of Christ in Lent, but I think I want to attempt to do the Life of Christ next year during Epiphany and then spend the forty days of Lent focusing on the passion (the above Walter Wangrein Jr. book is inspiring me).
I'm hoping to add flowers and maybe eggs to the tree on Resurrection Day.

I've been trying to keep some purple on the table.  (This photo was taken a couple weeks ago, thus St. Patrick and his boat are there as well.)


Tuesday, March 18

Purim

Happy Purim!  We've never celebrated Purim before, so this year was a bit of an experiment.  I won't pretend to know much about Purim.  I did some research and, as we just spent a couple months studying Esther in adult education at church, the story was fresh in my mind.  

We shared a meal of Persian stew with friends (this recipe: good, though I think the 6-8 is servings is very optimistic.  If you are serving it as a main, I'd say it serves 4.)  We also had ham and cheese hamantashen for the kids (using puff pastry) and traditional hamantashen for dessert.  For me, the highlight of the evening was Jim reading this picture book of Esther with the children all booing and playing shakers at the name of Haman and cheering at the name of Mordicai.

I'd love to go all out, dress up and do a play some year; but for a first attempt, our little Purim was a fun celebration.  We all enjoyed a wonderful Biblical story, and in my mind that is a success!
Hamantashen translates as Haman's pockets, but these cookies are also held to look like his three cornered hat.  In Israel they call them 'Oznei Haman' meaning Haman's ears.


The kids loved the hamantashen and Jonah took some to his class at school today too.

Thursday, February 27

Flannel-graph Fun

You can see Isaac's toes peeking out from under the blanket on the right.  He fell fast asleep while watching the stories.
I heard once that we should look to what we loved to play in childhood to find our passions.  I don't tend to take this sort of thing too seriously, but looking back, I do laugh to think that two things I spent countless hours doing were first, taking care of my babies.  And second, using my mom's Sunday school supplies (flannel graph, signs for songs, and teaching manuals) to teach my stuffed animals.  Mom encouraged this play by buying me an attendance chart and stickers so I could make sure that all my animals showed up for their lessons.  She also bought me a couple sets of my own flannel graph (Esther and Moses).  When I started teaching sunday school lessons at age twelve to the twos and threes at church, it didn't even occur to me that I was young, I had been doing this regularly for years (all be it with stuffed animals).

Another find from the bins from my childhood were the three felt bible scenes (palace, outside and small home) and all the flannel graph I used as a child.  Oh my, we had so much fun on a snowday using the Moses set together and Rowan spent a long time with the David set (mostly playing with the arrows.)  I'm looking forward to getting more out and I have a couple boys who really want me to buy some white flannel to draw some more scenes (the Moses story calls for a dessert and mountain scene, which we don't have.)

I have the flannel-graph downstairs, but in a place where the boys can get it out (though one story at a time is the rule) and bring it up to play with it.  It is such a joy to see them playing with the biblical story.  Seeing them play with the stories (even when they are playing with arrows and changing things around,) I am reminded so beautifully that it isn't just any story, it is their story and my story, a story in which we are called to play a part.

Wednesday, February 26

The Little Boys Room

I've promised some friends and family after we moved in that I would post pictures of our new house, which isn't feeling very new anymore and is feeling so very much like home!  Forgive me if I do go on a bit, but I want to document some of the items in the room for the boys sake when they want to remember this space later in life.  

I posted pictures of Jonah's room and the library over the summer and am pretty sure there are decent pictures of the living room and kitchen mixed into other posts.  So that just leaves the sewing room/guest room/train table room/study (yes, this one small room has many functions and thus needs some help :o), and the two upstairs bedrooms.  

 I totally fell for the two upstairs bedrooms when we looked at the house.  They are spacious and have sweet little nooks.   I do believe that this fall/winter we've gotten the little boys room to a good place.  I would still love to add some artwork and eventually paint the room, but those will have to be longer term goals.  I'm also still looking for twin beds for the older boys, which I hope will surface soon, but am on quite a tight budget which makes it trickier.

Over the past few weeks we've had several snow days and Jim and I used the opportunity to cut boards for a set of shelves to make a reading nook in the little boys room.  They aren't anything to speak of craftsmanship wise, but they fit the space well and are sturdy.  And, they look a whole lot better than the heap of books that were in the corner till now.  I also brought up some beanbags that made their way to us from Seattle (they were in Jim's grandparent's home in seattle)  I'm not sure if they were meant to come to us, but they are perfect in this space!
Ike's bed was a thrift store find and he loves his little Christmas quilt, so it will probably stay through the winter (I don't really have anything else I want to use so there may be another quilt to make?)

The little shelves in this picture were made by Jim and I for our very first apartment.  At that point they held pitchers, dishes and cookbooks.  It is funny to think about putting anything breakable on this level now!  The rocker in the corner was Jim's mom's when she was a girl.  The doll high chair was a thrift store find a couple weeks ago.  The ironing board and table were gifts for Isaac's birthday (thanks grandparents and great-grandparents!)
The little red hutch was mine when I was a girl; it was made by my grandfather, which makes it doubly special.  My parents brought it soon after we moved in.  It was unfinished wood and was looking pretty beat up, so it received new glass knobs and a couple coats of paint.  The kitchen was given to Jonah our first Christmas in Scotland and holds such sweet memories of that magical time.  The market stand was Jim and my gift to the boys at Christmas.  It was quick to make and inspired by the one in this book.  We are hoping to paint it white at some point, but as it was made Christmas Eve it has yet to be taken away to be painted.

And so you know that Rowan has a bed too... or at least a mattress and springs :o)  I love that this rocker I sit on each night as I read to my wee boys was my grandmother's.  I have dreams of putting a coat of paint and some cushions on it.  Oh, I have lots of dreams.

I've always avoided having play space in bedrooms as it does get messy, but I knew when we bought this home that if it was going to work for us the boys rooms, which are good sizes, would have to also have to hold their toys, especially the kitchen and legos.  The shopping cart has been wonderful as we can just toss food and toy plates, etc into it to be sorted when we are playing and I'm just getting used to the fact that there will be some toys about when we tuck in some nights; we try to tidy before bed, but between legos and food and other toys, we don't always have the time or patience to finish up.
This nook which took shape last week is Ike's new favorite spot.  Often if I don't see him for a bit I'll find him up here paging through books (I have another book lover on my hands!)

St. Matthias


Yesterday was St. Matthias' feast day.  He is an interesting figure in scripture.  He was with Jesus from his baptism and saw all that the other apostles did, but is never mentioned before or after he takes over Judas' roll among the other eleven disciples. (Some scholars say he is also known by either Nathaniel or Zacchaeus in the gospels; I need to do some research.)  

To celebrate the day we had a small sweet treat and read Acts 1:12-26 after dinner.  

**Here is my ad-libbed recipe for mini blueberry and lemon cheesecakes.  These were solely the result of the fact I had some broken graham crackers and half a stick of cream cheese that was nearing the end of its life.  We've enjoyed s'mores a couple times over our fireplace this winter, but the second box of grahams I bought were in small pieces.  These little cheesecakes were quite good and not too sweet (with a birthday and Valentines day a week ago we are all sugared out!) and as they were a hit with the boys, I thought I'd share the recipe.

Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 TBSP melted butter
mix and press this into mini muffin tins

Filling
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 lemon squeezed
1 egg
Mix till smooth, spoon over graham cracker crusts, bake at 350 till firm (about 10 minutes I think)

Topping
1 cup frozen blueberries
scant cup of water
3 tsp corn starch
2 TBSP honey
boil, stirring constantly until a thick sauce forms, spoon over baked cheesecakes, refrigerate till time to eat



Sunday, February 23

Confirmed

This has been a long time in coming.  Jim and I have been in the Anglican communion (AMIA, ACNA, Scottish Episcopal and Episcopal USA) for most of the past twelve years and have certainly talked about being confirmed, but it has never worked out until now.  Feeling planted in this city and having found a church in Richmond, it certainly seemed like the right time.  As the bishop prayed over me time seemed to slow down for a moment.  I was particularly struck with the  meaning of apostolic succession and the connection to church history.  Confirmation is such a lovely way to feel a part of the historical church and God's larger story.