Sunday, July 31, 2011


Today I rejoice that my family is once again together under one roof. 

Would love to hear what you are rejoicing... 

Maybe its easy for you to think of a something...

Maybe... today is a day when rejoicing will be an act of your will choosing to hope, choosing to see, choosing to give thanks in a place not comfortable... 

Today my rejoicing is easy, but I've been there... when rejoicing felt like a sacrifice of my heart; when choosing to be grateful for things unseen, unknown, felt like carrying a boulder up a hill.

There is joy in gratitude... 

So tell me. What are you thankful for today?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quilt Accomplished

"Listen! My Lover! 
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the 
bounding over hills.
My lover is like a gazelle or
a young stag.
Look! There he stands,"

~ Song of Songs 2: 8-9

 He comes home today. After a week of leaping mountains in northern New York. 

In my Bible I have the scripture above underlined, and in the margin is written: Reminds me of The Mister!

I don't know when I wrote that note. Which is strange, I almost always write a date... but I guess that's how love should be... timeless.

While he was away, I had several goals - make dinner every night (when he's gone I'm tempted to eat toast or cereal for dinner), watch lots of movies with the kids, and finish the 16th Anniversary Quilt. 

I managed to accomplish all three. (Smoothies are a meal, right?)

I'm most excited about the quilt. My mountain-man enjoys a good back-packing trip. He loves his ultra-light and warm sleeping bag on the trail, but at home he enjoys a good quilt.

Several years ago, he kept hinting that I hadn't made anything for him, and that he would love to have a quilt for his office. So I made him this one....

Its not beautiful or fancy, and it isn't even "quilted" but its a favorite and often in the winter on weekend afternoon, I'll peek in his office and he'll be napping on the floor... wrapped up like a quilted burrito. 

Makes me happy

This week I only needed to bind the Anniversary Quilt. I tried to do it the "correct" way. By hand. But in the end it was all machine sewn. I'm a quilting newbie... plus, I was running out of time and just wanted it to be done.

When the last stitch was sewn I put it on the bed, just to see what it looked like...

...and, of course, take some pictures...

I kept thinking to myself... I can't believe it I did it... I can't believe I finished it... I can't believe it all came out... just the nearly the way I wanted...

Its made from fabrics that have been repurposed so its already amazingly soft and light.

I spent a good chunk of time looking at it, admiring it. Wondering if The Mister will like it too...

...and then I took it off again.

Because I won't sleep under it until I'm with him.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Taking My Own Advice

It always happens around this time of year.

I get asked for homeschooling advice.

This flatters me and makes me scared all at the same time.

What makes me nervous is when I hear: You must be so organized... You always have it all-together. Or more recently, You seem like you're a pro!

Oh that those things were true!

But they aren't.

Which is why I get twitchy.

Unfortunately my response to this young mom was probably not what she was expecting, and in re-reading my reply, was more vague than I intended.

Homeschooling isn't half as romantic as I thought it would be, but its ten-fold the blessing, which I never expected! Remember that some days are going to be AWESOME! And some, well, they're just gonna be hard and you'll wonder if your kids will end up dumb as stumps... but its ALL worth while!
 I think its great that you are going to homeschool! As far as advice... practice grace - with yourself, with your kids. Expect things to take less time and more time, all at once! Remember that home education is not like traditional schooling... your kids will learn so much more than their A-B-C's, things that cannot be measured or tested, and many won't understand...but that that is OK! 
Prayer is the one thing that gets you through, and the first thing you'll set aside... pursue prayer! You can't live without it! (that is true for traditional or home education!)  
What I should have said was this:

On more days than not every table in the house is covered with something...

it might be books,

or laundry,

or (many) unfinished projects.

(I act like it doesn't bother me... often it does.)

There are usually clean dishes left drying on the stove top (which is a terrible place to dry your dishes... but I do it anyway.)
... not to mention open cupboards and popcorn on the floor.
Organization happens, but it isn't done quickly, and is often done in short increments of time over many days... like this pile of new school supplies that have been laying in the hall way.

Most days... I can't find my red pen (even though I have a dozen):

I don't often wear make-up when school keeps us at home,

... but I wear a furrowed-brow more than I should...

You may have to click on the picture to see the furrow-ness... it's there, I promise.

I'm impatient.

Quick to assume the worst.

I fail to see the good things when there is so much good to be seen.

I make schedules that I can't always keep.

My projects often don't work.

I waste precious time on things that aren't important.

But the biggest mistake I make every blessed day?

I forget that I am called to this gig with dual purpose... I am not to simply teach my kids, but to train them. Teaching is when I impart my knowledge (or that of the text in front of me) and it is important.

But training is when I come along side them and actively help them  to "develop habits, thoughts and behavior by discipline and instruction" and it requires (a lot of) time, (a lot of) grace, and (a lot of ) repetition.

Training is often where I fail.

Time, grace and repetition are places in which I am the most greedy, the most selfish... and its what my children need of me the greatest.

I am quick to compare, and slow to prayer.

Oh! the struggle is fierce in this place, not just in my role as a mother and an educator, but personally as well.

In the midst of all that is imperfect, I forget to be thankful.

I stumbled across a blog post this week that expressed much more eloquently what I was trying to say...

When we give thanks, we gain joy. All of us. These daily lessons looking for grace is the way we see God even here.
Because what will the math really matter if they are bitter? If the house is immaculate — but my attitude a mess? If they can count — but they don’t know how to count all things as joy? If we get the lists done, but have lost happiness in Him? How can any grammar skill outweigh the fact they don’t know the language of grace and thanks? What good will it be if they can recite all the major British battles — but they don’t know to see beauty? What am I teaching our children if I’m not living simply, quietly this: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). Focusing on what is beautiful, good, true –isn’t this the truest education? - Ann Voskamp
Ultimately I want my students, my children, to learn what they need to know to be successful in life, but if I do not train them to see the Joy in life, to see passed the to-do lists and the syllabus, then I have failed them. Those things are chaff on the wind, here today and gone tomorrow, they add nothing to the value in the hearts of my children. Or mine!

If I'm honest I must tell you that I struggle with these things. I want the romance of homeschooling, and I am surprised when it is not. I want the facade of the clean house and perfect kids, but it just doesn't exist.

This is my homeschooling reality. Its my life.  And you know what? Its been an amazing experience for our kids, our family, for me.

Still looking for advice?

Me too.

This morning I'm right here with you. Refilling a prescription to my own medicine:

The romance of homeschooling is in the hindsight vision... but the joy of homeschooling is giving thanks in advance.

May I live this out in the coming year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Little Yellow Schoolhouse: 2011-2012

Well, its official.

The Little Yellow Middle School is open.

First year without any elementary aged children... and it feels weird. If you have preteens/teen in the house you know what I mean.

For the record, I am enjoying this age and stage with my kids. I know a lot of people don't consider these awkward middle school years their "favorite." I get it, I do. But, I think this stage is kind of fun; most certainly, its funny.

Yesterday, I took the obligatory first day of school photos.

The Girl, who is VERY excited to be starting school again was up and dressed and ready to go.

It just goes to show that wether schooled traditionally or home-educated, fashion is still of utmost importance to the preteen girl.

The Boy, isn't quite ready to be back...

He asked me to take pictures of him looking sad/mad about going back to school.....

He couldn't keep it up for very long... he's a smiler, that Boy. (He's is looking so much like my youngest brother these days... its kind of spooky!)

So there they are the 2011-2012 middle school class.

One sixth-grader.

One eighth-grader.

One teacher.

Living on a wing and prayer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Scathingly Brilliant Idea (and it wasn't even mine)

She wants everything to be blue.

I'm not sure why.

I mean, since the moment I knew she was a girl-child I bought-up every pink hair bow and outfit I could find.

Maybe its 'cuz I painted her nursery and several rooms pink without even asking. 

Maybe its 'cuz blue is the farthest you can get away from pink.

 I don't know. I just know she's all about the color blue.


Blue hair streaks, blue bedroom walls, blue curtains.

She likes her blue.

I still dabble in pink here and there - in fabric, in yarn - but I've learned that where The Girl is concerned its better to allow her own style shine through. However, when she came to me and told me that she wanted to paint the table her Poppa built for her over a decade ago in her favorite color.... I. just. couldn't. do it.

She loves that table. I tried to convince her that she should get a desk to match her bed and dresser. That toddler size table doesn't quite fit anymore. But she doesn't want to give it up. Not yet... she just wants it to be blue.

So, I was thinking of how could we change the color without permanent damage when The Girl approached me with a scathingly brilliant idea!

(ten points if you can name the movie that quote comes from...its one of my favorite movies (and quotes!))

Nowadays duct tape comes in all sort of fashions and colors. She figured we could cover the table with tape and someday, if she ever loves the color pink purple. We could change it. Or if she will ever allow me to haul it out of her room for a bigger desk and chair, I can uncover the blue tape, take some alcohol wipes to the duct tape stickiness, and have a white table for the grandkids to play on in the (longtime) future.

And, in the pitch that won the game she said, "Its like a craft project we could work on together!"

That Girl, she knows me.

How could I say no?

We bought the tape and rushed home.

We wiped down the table and let it dry. Then we turned it over and started with the legs. This part was more difficult for her to do on her own without the tape bunching up (it was difficult for me too) so she worked on another project until I could get that done.

Then we turned it over and started with the top.

The whole process took about an hour. And we didn't have to prime or clean paint brushes after!

The Girl and I were so excited about it that we are trying to figure out how to do the chairs as well---although honestly, they look overwhelming with all their spindles and curves.

Maybe. Maybe chairs...

We decided to do the legs and trim in silver to give it that 50s formica feel.

She loves it.

And I may have a new crafting obsession...

When The Mister came home and saw our completed project he applauded our efforts in that quiet way he has -- I looked at him with a twinkle in my eye and said, "Yeah! what else do you think needs covering with tape?!"

To which he chuckled and said, "Uh oh. Here we go again..."

At $3.50 a roll, its the cheapest of craft supplies I own!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Birds of a Feather

Weeks ago I read a blog post that solved my Great Dilemma.

I have a daughter who is cultivating a two-year fascination with mermaids.

Two years ago we saw a movie called Aquamarine about a mermaid of the blonde persuasion who had a lovely blue streak in her hair.

This little blue lock of tress made quite an impact on my (then) nine-year old and the campaign for azure adornment was born.

For two years she was denied.

Just when she had nearly worn me down I came upon this post and instantly I knew: Feathers were the answer.

So I did what any mom of a tween-ager does: I Googled it.

Within days I had The Girl sitting in a posh salon where, for three-minutes and twenty-bucks, you could have your blue streaks... and your feathers too. It's quick, and easy, and best of all not permanent.

I watched the stylist put this thing in her hair and the mantra I have on a day-to-day basis began to chant in my head: I could make do this!

All it took was a feather, some hair, a small crochet hook, a pair of pliers and a special bead to attach it with...I had everything but the feather and bead.

So I came home and ordered some.

They've been sitting on my bathroom counter for a couple of weeks.

One of the great joys of my life is to think up things to do and say that will make my kids laugh.

Yesterday morning after drying my hair I had a brilliant idea: put one of those dark feathers in your hair and see how long it takes for the kids to notice.

(This was going to be WAY more fun than that time I put googly eyes on their toothbrushes.)

As I was putting in my purple plumes I had a flashback to my college days when I had come home and was searching for snack in my parents kitchen. My dad walked in and asked about my day, when i looked up he had a small gold-ball piercing... in his nose.

In the moments that passed (that felt like hours) I contemplated my response... this was the man who told my brothers that if they ever came home with a pierced ear they better be wearing a dress. This was the man who had long let us know that his preference was that we keep our tattoos and piercing down to a minimum... but here he was with a ring in his nose.

But before I could say anything he started to laugh in the quiet way my daddy does... laughing, laughing laughing... while I wondered if he was having a crises. Oh, he was tickled with himself.

Turns out he had found a magnetized earring and bought it. Hours later I was in my room studying when I heard my brother walk in the front door and say, "Dad! What is that in your nose?!?!"

And the laughing commenced... still makes me laugh today.

All feathered and ready I ran downstairs waiting for someone (anyone!) to find it.
They are subtle...
Nobody noticed until late in the night and by that time I had forgotten.

They laughed (a little), and declared it looked "cool."

I guess for big laughs nose-rings are best.

I had decided I would take them out, but The Boy said, "Why mom? I think they look nice." So I am going to keep them for a day or two... or at least until co-op starts in September.

Who knows? Maybe I'll start a trend with all the other housewives and home-educators. You know what they say.....birds of a feather.

PS: It was recently brought to my attention that I make a "funny scrunchy-face." When I asked The Mister if this was true he said, "Oh yeah, that's classic Kellie."  So Becky, this is for you:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Never Smile at a Crocodile...

The words to that old Disney song are true: 

Don't be taken in by his welcome grin, 
He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin.

But my Crocodile is the friendly-sort of crocodile.

I'll prove it: 

He does dishes...

He folds laundry...

He keeps me company while working-out and surfing the net...

The best thing of all? He's agreed to do all my lesson planning for the rest of the year.
No crocodile tears here...

Oh yeah, and he's a vegetarian. Good thing my tomatoes are a-plenty in the garden these days.

Would YOU like to have your own friendly crocodile? 

Of course you would! 

Click on over to the Cult of Crochet. I found this post yesterday and immediately started to work. She has written an excellent tutorial for a Crocodile Scarf. This was my "prototype". Which is fancy way of saying: The compulsive crafter that lives in me had to make that crocodile ASAP!, so I started without any thought to having enough yarn to complete it. (Which is why he is only a foot and half long and has a different colored snout)

Instead of scarf he's just a friendly crocodile...

Monday, July 18, 2011


The young people in this house aren't happy.

Well, I should say that the oldest child in this house isn't happy, but I think he's gonna live.

Late Saturday evening I was doing my yearly calendar count trying to figure out how the school-year was going to play out. I like to get 180 days of school in each year. This year we will travel to AZ in the fall for a couple weeks and have will VIP visitors in the New Year.

The good news?

With the holidays listed above and Christmas and Spring break we get to take nearly five weeks of vacation this school year, and still finish by the third week of May. 

The bad news?

School starts next week.

So there is a bit of mopey-ness going on around here.

My favorite part of starting school?

School supplies.

I am a serious office product junkie.... serious.

But who can resist a new red pen, a fun folder, or a set of post-it notes in an array of colors?

Not me, that's who.

Secretly, the switch has flipped for me - eight weeks ago I was so done with school. Now I am ready to get back at it. Ready to have some routine.

Which makes me very unpopular.

The great news? The pool will still be open through August so we can count swimming as PE class.

Silver-linings... sometimes they aren't so hard to see.

I just have to convince the kiddos.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Making, Doing, and Thinking: A Rambling Post

My apologies to those who visit the blog because I make things.

I know you have been sorely disappointed.

I've been so busy, you know. Laying around at the pool and chatting with girl-friends is seriously hard work.

Actually, this summer has been busy, but its been wonderful.  Its been a time to lay aside the fabrics and yarns to sit face-to-face with people I love. To pour tea, to laugh, to listen... to reconnect, heart-to-heart and enjoy the making and keeping of friends.

I have also enjoyed time to be with my kids... as their mom, apart from the role of educator. Its the same (after all ALL moms are their child's first and primary teacher in life!), and yet, so very different. I sometimes miss it during the school-year.

As a family we've had  a lot of cooking-out...

and eating al fresca... on the deck, yet in the Ring of Fire.

We have five citronella candles on the deck that we light. Its a win-win: they add ambiance, and the bugs stay away.

I do have a few projects on-the-hook. I'm in the middle of a Tea Cozy like this one...only in black/red/white. I'll be sure to post pics when its finished (its hard to photograph black yarn.)

I  had need of some color last night, so I took a black-yarn break and started this real quick before I went to bed....
I'm not sure what this will be, nor what I will do with it... but playing with my favorite colors makes me happy.

I've also been baking: banana bread, carrot-cake cookies, and bread.

I tried my hand at some Five Minute Artisan Bread...mine didn't turn out quite as pretty. But The Mister, said, "This is delicious, did you make it? It tastes like its from the bakery!" Which, as you can imagine, made me very happy...  Hopefully the next batch will look like it was from the bakery too.

My poor neglected garden is so sad. The rabbits ate all my cucumber, and my bell peppers have been poorly from the get-go.  But the tomatoes love this North Carolina heat. I picked three red ripe 'mater's yesterday, and ate them before I could take their picture.

I also had two green ones fall to the ground before their time. If I was a bettin' gal, I would say I see Fried Green Tomatoes in my future. (Can you believe I've lived in the south for nearly 15 years and have never had a fried green tomato?) Anybody got a good recipe?

My bee-lady (aka - local honey supplier - who is also my fresh chicken egg's lady) brought me a dozen yesterday.

I know they are just eggs... but look at how beautiful they are! You can't tell from the picture, but the white ones in the back row are actually blue. They are so fresh there is still a feather on one. Can you see it?

I haven't been as creative in the office this summer, but there has been more room to stretch, to think deeply, to ponder, to read.

This week I have been pondering this old hymn. The words are just so beautiful. So True.

May the mind of Christ my Savior
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and pow'r controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of Christ dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His pow'r.

May the peace of Christ my Savior,
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me,
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing, 
This is victory.

May I run the race before me, 
Strong and brave to face the foe, 
looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

The fourth verse is my favorite...

Summer... you are more than half-way through. Onward I go...making, doing, thinking.... stretching.  It all makes me happy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What We'll Do For Love

Young love is foolish.

Apparently, old love is too.

Eighteen years ago I had a summer romance.

At first it was a glance, then a few spoken words, and soon we were holding hands and taking walks and spending time together.

When the days began to shorten and the air began to chill we knew we were in love, but we wouldn't admit it to each other.

Yes, there were love notes and picnic/dinners in the park, but by far the craziest thing I did for love was to wake up at 4:30 am to beat him to the gym.

You see, I knew he got up early to work out. I also had a membership to the same gym (although my favorite part of the gym was the smoothie bar aerobics class.) I certainly had never seen the inside of the building at an hour the birds aren't even awake.

But I had a plan.

I would intentionally get there 10-15 minutes before him, with fixed hair (and the cutest work out clothes I could find) so he would walked in and see my dedicated-self running (all too fast) on the treadmill.

I had the whole conversation worked out in my head -

"I didn't know you worked out this early." he would say.

"Yeah, I like to get it over with. Out of the way." I'd nonchalantly reply, trying to act like my lungs weren't burning in my chest.

He would be so impressed with my dedication, my early morning stick-to-it-iveness... he would like me.

Of course, it never went the way I had imagined. He was surprised but polite, and all business and routine that early in the morning...there wasn't much time for flirting chatting.

Plus, he already liked me. What was I thinking???

Within a couple weeks I realized that my early morning trips to the gym to impress my man were better left to brighter times of day. Getting up that early was hard work! It all worked out though. We declared our love for each other that Christmas and were married 17 months later.

As it turns out that wouldn't be my last early morning trip to the gym.

My mid-morning workout has been lacking since homeschooling put a monkey in the I started to look for an early morning work out partner.

Turns out I didn't have to look far...

The Mister, also desiring to be more consistent with exercise volunteered to work out with me. So several days a week we are getting up before the roosters to enjoy some early morning time at the gym.

I'm thankful. Thankful for a man who is generous and faithful, with his time and with his heart... as well as easy on the eyes. If you're going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning, its helps to have something nice to look at...

The things you'll do for love.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In the Heat of the Day

A heat wave is coming.

I felt it move in on the wind yesterday, the sun melted anyone standing in its way.

The silently spoken promises of the aqua-colored pool were deceiving - for when you jumped in to be refreshed it was as a lukewarm bath.

It's always at this time of year when I begin to have faint longings for fall.

It isn't like the pining away for warmer days in the dead of winter, when my heart and vision cries out for a glimpse of green. It's more of a nudge, a glimmer, a comfort taken in knowing: the scorching heat that wilts and withers will soon come to an end.

Recently I had a conversation about 'heat' with my daughter.

Life offers up moments when the temperatures of living get hot: a mean person, an awkward moment, a difficult choice. Oh, that I could protect her from the heat that threatens to steal her joy and tempts her to believe that she is left on her own in a vast and thirsty land.

And yet, heat is what refines us and makes us strong.

Still, when life is hot we look for shade and feel alone.

The Good news?

God shows up in the heat of the day.

He shelters us.

He cares for us.

He leads us to a living water that never fails; a water that always cools our brow and quenches our thirst.

Best of all... when we are tempted to despair, when we feel all is lost, when our mouths are dry and we can no longer speak... we can trust in His promise.

Its there, in that promise, I will be waiting... in the heat of this warm summer's day.

Never again will they hunger;
   never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
   nor any scorching heat. 
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
   will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
   ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

(Revelation 7:16-17)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saying Good Bye

On Friday morning we woke up from our first, and last, slumber party.

We had had our coffee and a quick bite to eat.

The moving truck was packed. It was time to go.

For the first time in sixteen years it wasn't me who was moving. 

But I was unpacking memories of my own....

I remembered the weeks before our move from Fort Worth. A lady from church encouraged me to be sensitive to those I was leaving behind. She reminded me that I was leaving with my family for a "great adventure" while my friends would have to learn to adjust to life with a Kellie-shaped void.

She was a women I respected and I took her words to heart; tucked them away gently... tiny little pearls I was saving for later... only I didn't know just when.

This was the week-- nearly seven year later.

Things are going to be so strange without my Friday-Lunch Bunch (which this summer turned into an often Wed-Thur-Friday Breaksfast/Lunch Bunch.)

There is a huge void that has settled in the Little Yellow House on The Hill, and its gonna be awfully hard to move around it.

Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them. 

~Francesco Guicciardini