Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Garden Time


I was so excited to find this website. It will send us weekly reminders (email) about when to start our seeds for the garden. I do not have a green thumb, but I think that the kids and I will learn as we go and have fun watching things grow together.

Tomorrow: Start our broccoli seeds


Sunday, January 29, 2012

about making my son cry on his birthday...

"Why did I ask you to do this mom?!!"
Holding an icepack on your face while opening gifts.

A Texas Donut Birthday cake made you smile again.

Dear Ben,

I love you. You are the best of boys. You bless my life on a daily basis. You are a gift.

Yesterday we celebrated your ninth birthday. Yes, nine, already. You mentioned to me the other day that you were, "so done with eight." Truth be told...you were born old. We could see it reflected in your newborn eyes...a kind of "knowing look."

You know about compassion.
You know about friendship.
You know about humor.
You know about faith.

And, as of yesterday, you know about pain.

Yes, your own mother made you cry on your birthday.

I'm sorry.

I don't think that we will be doing the "extreme food birthday" again in the future.

Maybe the "habenero wings challenge" wasn't the best idea for a party game.

I'm sorry buddy.

(all photos courtesy of Jennifer Palanuk...thanks for bringing your camera:)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Writing...Old School

We have being studying ancient civilizations, specifically the Sumerians and Egyptians. The kids have loved "pretending" to write in hieroglyphics and cuneiform. Yesterday I had them write one word in their own "alphabet". Ben's said, "Pandas" (of course), and AbbySue's said "God made animals." Zibby had fun helping out too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


No, my daughters did not make these....I did, and I'm proud of it, okay. (smile with me)

Honestly, I love making things with my hands...but the problem is, I'm not a rule follower.

Consequently, I shy away from patterns.

Still, I think these turned out sweet.

You can't go wrong when it comes to hearts...right?

Here is the pattern I (kind of) followed for the crochet hearts.(http://www.craftsy.com/project/view/How-to-Crochet-a-Heart/21252)

They are comforting to make on a rainy winters night, cozied up on the couch.

I've been hanging these little babies everywhere...even at other peoples houses.

I'm kind of riding this craft-wagon for a bit....at least until the sun comes out again.

Oregonian Family Rules...

1.) When it rains...play in the mud.

2.) When it floods...build a boat...or maybe even a submarine for that matter.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


for "Balantines Day" ~Zibby

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It would be wonderful...

"Wouldn't it be wonderful to take a ride on a snowflake? Imagine falling like that...slowly. It would be beautiful."~AbbySue

You know what else would be wonderful?

Going sledding with our Massachusetts friends.

We miss you.

Photo: Our front yard in Massachusetts.....now that was some serious snow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Time for Tea

It was just the girls and I yesterday. Ben was happy to play with his buddy Tyler all day...a welcome break from a house full of females I'm sure.

AbbySue and Zibby are six years apart. One is getting ready to leave the elementary years behind while the other is getting ready to start. One is baking cookies on her own in the kitchen, while the other can't keep her fingers out of the frosting. One loves a dress with as many frills as possible, while the other prefers jeans and a t-shirt. One is flying down the hill on her bike into town, while the other sticks to training wheels and the driveway.

I used to worry that they might struggle to be close because of the difference in age.

I was wrong.

It seems like the six years apart has created a relationship based on admiration on the part of Zibby and adoration on the part of AbbySue. (But, not without a little frustration on the part of both now and then.)

Sisters are a mystery to a mommy who grew up in-between two brothers.

I love to watch them...and find myself envying them a little now and then too.

Uncovering Outside

Uncle Garth is working on a white picket fence for the front yard.
We uncovered this part of the yard last week....about a dozen wheelbarrows full of leaves.
Uncovered pathway

More treasures we discovered in the garden.

More paths.

When it's not raining, or snowing, or (like today) doing both, we get outside. For the past two weeks we have been cleaning up layers of soggy leaves.

The yard here reminds me of the Secret Garden, (one of AbbySue's favorite books). We are always uncovering some kind of pathway or treasure. The trees are old, most likely older than the house. Their limbs, like arms, seem to stretch out over everywhere. It seems like this yard has a personality of it's own and one that's full of humor and surprise.

I have been an advocate of the outdoors for as long as I can remember. Give me grass stained jeans with holes in the knee and blonde curls full of moss and twigs over "perfectly put together" any day of the week.

That is why this yard is a gift to us. God knew that we would love it....every inch of it's perfectly imperfectness.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Birch Wreath & Instagram

Loved making this wreath for the front door today almost as much as I loved taking pics with my new instagram app. (click the new instagram button link to take a peek at daily life here at the Old House.)

Friday, January 13, 2012


I was eighteen years old when I took a part time job at Roth's supermarket here in Silverton.

Roth's is known for its service and I was a "bagger". Whatever the weather, we were trained to spring into action at the words, "one to go!"

It was just me and my green bow tie, pushing a cart full of groceries out for every customer.

Rain pelting me in the face, hands frozen red, loading bags into the back of a pick up, listening to stories of sick dogs or lost cats, undercooked holiday turkeys, and lonely TV dinners.

I just listened and learned to "bear the load" in more ways than one.

So, tonight, when the words "one to go!" brought a "bagger" my way, I gave little thought to my customer service past, until the boy of barely eighteen asked,

"How was your day?"

It would have been easy to just say what we all say, "Good. How 'bout yours?"

But I didn't.

"It was awful to be honest." I threw the words over my shoulder, half hoping they didn't hit their target.

"Oh, I'm sorry." the teen replied, sincerely.

And that's when I realized why people used to spill their guts out to me. I was Switzerland. I was completely set apart from their problems. I was a neutral party. Without judgement. No strings attached. I was in their life just long enough to listen, load up their groceries, close the door, and send them on their way a little lighter.

So, I spilled my guts to the poor kid.

"Yep, it was the worst day ever! First of all I go to the DMV to get my Oregon drivers licence only to find out that I had to take a drivers test, seriously!? So, I failed the test, mostly because I was starving and I cannot think on an empty stomach. The questions were so lame too...like 'what do you do to pass a horse on a rural road if the rider is raising her hand ?' ... Anyway, on my way home my stomach started eating itself so I stopped to get a burrito only to have it explode all over my lap. The rest of the day went downhill from there. Did you notice it was Friday the 13th? I don't believe in superstitious stuff like that, but today was pretty bad."

This was where my rant ended, all the while the "bagger" listened and unloaded my "burdens".

And then, he said,

"That is a bad day. I'm really sorry about your burrito." He smiled...

and I laughed at myself.

I watched him run back into Roth's with my empty cart.

And I felt a little lighter too.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

yep...gonna try again.


the mountains are calling...time to run!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

the chicken whisperer

While I was correcting schoolwork at my desk yesterday, I looked out from the window to check on the kids. I took note of Ben, crouched up in a tree, (which wasn't surprising in the least), but as I looked a little closer, I noticed that one of our chickens, the one we call "Star", was sitting up in that tree next to him. It appeared that they were deep in conversation. I can only imagine what one talks about with a hen. I later asked Ben if he followed the chicken up the tree, "Nope", he replied, "She was following me all over the yard, and then I climbed the tree, and she came right up too." I've never really heard of a chicken that acts like a dog, but, I have a feeling that "Star" may be spared the chopping block come spring.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When it's Mommy's Birthday

Aaron gave me this balloon attached to "Burt's Bees" foot lotion. Guess who got a foot rub for her birthday while watching the season premier of Downton Abbey? (very creative gift honey....thank you:)
Hot pink icing, sprinkles, and my name written on it....thanks Mom. (I have no shame in saying that this has been my breakfast for the past two days...and it's been delicious.)
AbbySue made me this wreath....so lovely. Ben gave me a comic strip. And Zibby made me about 10 cards, including pictures of ice cream sundaes, birthday cakes, bicycles, and the entire alphabet.

Everyone was warming their hands by the glow of all my birthday candles. I may be older, but for some reason I feel younger than when I turned 19. Family singing, kids running all over the house, Tim Tebow & the Denver Broncos giving us all a reason to cheer....It was a great day.

Friday, January 6, 2012


In science we've been studying geology, specifically, what the four layers of the earth are made up of. So, today we decided to enroll the help of AbbySue's best buddy, Mira, and bake a cake. But this wasn't just any cake...this was the "Layers of the Earth" cake. Judging from the photo above, the cake wasn't beautiful, but it was made entirely by the hands of a 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader...(with a little bit of help from the preschooler too.) From inner core (yellow cake) to outer core (funfetti cake), mantle (chocolate cake), lava (cherries), more mantle, and then to crust (coconut icing) the kids did it all and were obviously very proud of their creation.
Mira pouring in the "lava".
The prompt for writers workshop this week was "Home Sweet Home". AbbySue & Ben wrote about their new home and what they love most about it. They worked on a rough draft, corrected that, and then did their final draft. We cut out the shape of our house from a moving box (we have a few lying around), and then the kids decorated it, including illustrations of every pet we now own. Zibby decided to join in too (notice her drawing above). Next week we plan to give it to Cathy Hopkins as a big thank you for choosing us to be the owners of this beautiful place we now call Home.
My star pupil.
great preschool math game with an egg carton....sorting 15 bean soup into groups by color and shape. This entertained Zibby for almost an hour.

I loved this week.

I could list over a thousand gifts this week has given to me, but here are just a few:

I loved learning with them. I loved praying with them and reading to them. I loved teaching them and being taught by them. I loved watching them from the window, climbing, exploring, & running. I loved that they loved being together. I loved the peace that comes from knowing this moment of childhood will not slip through my fingers. I loved choosing not to rush around like a chicken with my head cut off. I loved worshipping at church on Wednesday night. I loved making beeswax candles and learning about faith with my daughters and new friends. I loved watching Daddy teach Ben how to haul wood from the shed and start a fire in our wood stove. I loved meeting a dearest friend for breakfast with all 5 of our kiddos and actually having a conversation of sorts. I loved watching AbbySue and Mira play together again, and the blessing of a kindred spirit kind of friend. I loved seeing the power of prayer and the healing touch of Jesus in the life of a family so close to me. I loved emails from far away friends that I miss terribly. Oh, and I loved the commotion of a Hamster on the loose, only to find her tucked away and resting in a closet.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oregon Style

Oh how good it is to see my little girl in her hand me down muck boots, a cozy fleece, and one of Mamo's hand knit snow beanies, while trudging through our northwestern mud and enjoying the wonder of her magical backyard.

Perfectly mismatched, rosy cheeked, and ready to get dirty...

this is Oregon Style.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Life Skills

One of my goals while teaching the kids at home is helping them learn life skills that will carry them through college and beyond. This includes, cooking, baking, laundry, cleaning, budget, etc. So, this morning I let them pick out what they wanted to make for breakfast...all by themselves. Ben made some very fluffy scrambled eggs and AbbySue decided to make some changes to our Saturday Pancake recipe. We talked about natural sweeteners and conversions. They were so yummy. Here is a copy of her pancake recipe:

Lil' Magic Pumkin' Pancakes:

1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 T oil
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 T pumpkin
1 T molasses
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of baking powder

Beat egg; add remaining ingredients and beat until nice and smooth. Next, pour the mix on griddle. Make sure you flip them when bubbles appear. Cook to golden brown. enjoy.

(she is so darn cute:)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

getting schooled

Our school room... full of windows and light.
Zibby was so funny. She loves maps and insists on showing us all where we lived and where we live now.
The kids at their desk.
exploring our magical yard

The back of our Old House. Those two windows on the second floor are our schoolroom (right) and Daddy's office(left). He worked from home all day today and we treasured being together.

Today was our first day of home school together. I have to say, it was much better than expected. Yes, it's true, I feel incredibly inadequate and I can only hope that the kids learned something, but overall I think it went well. It was peaceful. I did lose my temper when one of my "students" walked through the house with dog poop on her shoes. I felt sorry for my overreaction and apologized. I have a feeling that there will be a lot of that. But, even still, I loved having them here and I loved learning with them.