Saturday, June 30, 2018

One of my greatest joys is hanging out with these people I call family.  So we took a few days recently to go away together enjoy each other before the demands of the summer press in again with VBS and strings camp and all sorts of work needing to be done.

We started with attending Die Fledermaus at Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point.  The cast joked that the name should be "perspiration" point, but the evening was lovely and breezy.  While in college, Aaron and I played our cellos in the pit for this opera, and it's one of our favorites.

Watching our kids get excited about music thrills me.  Our options are so limited when we are living overseas, so it's a treat to indulge in as much music as possible when we are back in America.

We went back the second night of our get-away for The Barber of Seville.  We absolutely rolled with laughter at this version set in the Roaring Twenties!

We stayed at the Sherwood Court, which gave us ample room for our morning "Jesus Time" as well as a beautiful space for family games.

We introduced the kids to Trivial Pursuit, since it was a version from the 1990s, we got to introduce our kids to all sorts of people like Cal Ripkin and Milli Vanilli.  Lots of laughter could be heard while we played in the bits and pieces of time when we weren't running around doing other things.

Like floating the Buffalo National River.

If you look closely, you can just see the kids in the picture above as they round the bend.

Our kids were in their element.  Paddling away in canoes.  It's called "floating" the Buffalo, but our kids are used to having a paddle in their hands as a method of transportation, not entertainment.

So they paddled constantly, sometimes standing, like our neighbors in the village.

After a long day on the river, it was nice to come back to Sherwood Court and the beautiful vintage dishes!  I found out just a little bit about the Universal Potteries of Cambridge, Ohio, and a little bit about the National Brotherhood of Operative Potters whose stamp is on the bottom of this little pitcher.

Now I'm going to keep my eyes open for this sweet morning glory pattern.  The kitchen (which was very well stocked - much to Sarah's delight!) has several of these pieces as decorations up around the tops of the cabinets.

When we got ready to load the van and leave after less than 48 hours, the engine began billowing smoke and smelling like an electrical fire was about to break out.  My wise husband (who probably didn't know that the rest of us had circled up in the living room and begun praying for him) chose to call the tow truck instead of trying to drive to the mechanic.  Everybody was super helpful and within four hours, we were on the road home with a new alternator.  Thankful for God's perfect timing!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Herbs Gone Wild - Mint

My herb garden that started so tiny and inconspicuous has now exploded.  Overflowing the bricks that used to so easily encircle those cute little seedlings.  So, I've gone on a search for recipes that use the abundance of herbs in my life.

And I'm offering free herbs to anyone who wants to come by and clip a fragrant bouquet!  We just tried a new recipe, Minty Cucumber and Cantaloupe Salad.  Fruity and refreshing, we served it as a side dish with supper, but I would love it all by itself for lunch, too.


  • 1 large ripe cantaloupe
  • 4 medium cucumbers (or 2 large ones)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
  • About a dozen medium-sized mint leaves, very finely chopped

  • For the Honey-Lime Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Cut the cantaloupe in half and scoop out the seeds. With a melon baller, carve out as many balls as you can get out of your cantaloupe. Chop the cucumbers in thin, quartered slices. Place the cucumber slices and melon balls in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, toss gently with your hands. Place the colander over a bowl and allow the juices to drain for about 20 minutes. (Keep the juice for smoothies!) 

Place the cucumber and cantaloupe balls in a salad bowl. Add the cubed feta and chopped mint. Place all salad dressing ingredients in a lidded jar and shake vigorously. Pour on the salad, toss gently, and serve cold.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Life Long Learning (or how much fun it is to find new books!)

I'm determined not to let my teaching certificate expire again.  I don't anticipate needing it in the near future, but I certainly didn't think I would need it for last year!

Part of the fun is all of the professional development I get to do.  Obviously, my content area is music, but I can choose any classes I want to take.  We have a great co-op, and the most recent class I took opened my eyes to the book awards that Arkansas gives every year:  The Charley May Simon Award for 4-6 grades and the Arkansas Diamond Award for grades K-3.

You are NEVER too old for a good picture book.  So part of our summer life-long-learning is to read through as many books on these lists as we possibly can.  I'm asking each of us to write a brief impression on a post-it note and then stick it to the poster.  

I'm super excited to have a ready-made book list (Arkansas has a teen book award list, too, I just haven't delved into it yet).  This is going to be such a fun project!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


"Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional.  Our only choice is a question of engagement.  Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection."
~Brene` Brown  "Daring Greatly"

Stepping back into the classroom last year felt like one of those dreams where you walk out on stage with no clothes.  Every day, I felt vulnerable.  Living in the Solomon Islands is the same way, each hour of the day I must be willing to live with authenticity and vulnerability and find my value in Him if I want to survive and thrive.

But moving back to America, one of the culture shocks for me is the tendency to be "brave".  Unbreakable.  Rock hard. The middle school choirs this year sang songs like "Clay" and "Titanium", hammering home the old adage that "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me".  Our American culture tends to encourage hard hearts, but I find that keeping a soft heart is actually more difficult to maintain.

Brene` Brown's name has repeatedly come up in conversations both on social media and in my real world, so I decided to check our library for her books.  The first one that showed up on the hold shelf with my name on it was "Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, Lead".  This book has given me some new terminology and clarified thoughts that have been simmering on the backburner of my brain.  I can't wait to dive into her other books that I just checked out for the library (and have learned that other people have already put them on hold!), but I find that I need time to chew and ruminate on her words.  The Lord is already working to grow me through this author.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

So what's the big deal about State and National Parks?

One of our goals while we are back in America is to take advantage of the (usually) free resources in our lovely National and Arkansas State Park systems.

With six different people and six different schedules living under the same roof, finding a time when we are all available has been quite the challenge,

but we made it out to nearby Wooly Hollow State Park for a few hours.  Aaron and I haven't been out here since before we got married, and the park had recently renovated.

We discovered we were a little rusty on our paddling skills, so this may be the training ground to get us back in shape for the Solomon Islands.

In addition to honing our water skills, we also hiked the beautiful Huckleberry Trail.

To help us track our park hopping, we've begun tagging the state map with photos from our visits in the last year.  

In previous years, we've visited Fort Smith and Blanchard Springs, but our map only includes trips we've made since we returned from the Solomon Islands last year (like Central High School National Historic Site, Pea Ridge National Military Park, Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, Jacksonport State Park, Devil's Den State Park, and the Crater of Diamonds State Park.  We're hoping to add several more pictures and tagged locations before the family heads off to individual pursuits in August.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Fabulous Frittata

When Sarah went away to college, and I began working full-time outside the home, I quickly realized I hadn't done a good job of training my youngest two children in several different skills - especially cooking.  Now we are working as a family to equip each individual with what he or she needs to thrive. 

One of the things that Aaron and I need to thrive is time to exercise in the mornings.  It's good for our bodies, and it's also good for our marriage.  This gives our younger two the perfect opportunity to hone their cooking skills, and, at least this summer, our older two kids are there to help troubleshoot.

Enter the fabulous frittata.  Quick.  Easy.  Delicious.  Healthy.  Win.

Fabulous Frittata
6 servings

8 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (2 oz.)
2 Tbsp butter
2 medium bell peppers, chopped (2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, pressed

Beat eggs, salt, and pepper in medium bowl with whisk until well mixed.  Stir in cheese and set aside.  Heat oil in a 10" skillet (one that can go in the oven!).  Cook peppers, onion, and garlic until tender.  Pour egg over peppers and onions.  Cover and cook 8-10 minutes or until set.

Uncover and place under broiler until golden brown.  

We enjoyed ours with zucchini bread, coffee, and fruit here at the Choate B&B, and my somewhat scattered meal plan includes this yummy recipe just about every week.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gettin' real!

Now that Aaron has plane tickets, we're beginning to move through the long list of what we need to do so that he is ready to go back to the Solomon Islands right after school starts.  I'm collecting material to send back to the lovely ladies in Marulaon Village.

We've also begun the process of renewing passports, scheduling physicals and shots.

Even though we still aren't at 100% of the budget Wycliffe has set for us while we live in the USA, we're prayerfully counting on God to provide what we need financially now that I'm not teaching school any more.

And we're doing our best to be good stewards of our resources - for example, our money, bodies, mind, time, energy, and home - so that when the time comes for the whole family (minus our college students, of course) to return overseas, we are ready.

Yesterday, we fortified the work crew with quiche, cinnamon rolls, bacon, and berries straight from the farmers market.  God gave us a perfect cloudy day with overnight rain, so the temps were low and the ground was soft as the shovels dug in to dislodge the concrete holding posts in place.

They worked hard with only a short lunch break to get that fence demolished.

We want to be good neighbors by keeping our property in good shape, and we want to take care of our renters down the road whenever we return to the Solomon Islands.  It really is about loving the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Laura stopped, aghast.  Suddenly she had realized what she was doing.  Ma must have hidden this book.  Laura had no right to read it.  Quickly she shut her eyes, and then she shut the book.  It was almost more than she could do, not to read just one word more, just to the end of that one line.  But she knew that she must not yield one tiny bit of temptation."   ~Laura Ingalls Wilder, "Little Town on the Prairie"

Katherine and I are working our way through the Little House books at a snail's pace.  We took a break to enjoy Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet, but now we back to loving Laura, Ma, and Pa.  Recently, we came across the chapter where Laura is helping pack up the house when she discovers a hidden book wrapped in winter clothes in a drawer.  I paused as I read aloud to Katherine and asked her if she knew why it was so important that Laura chose to not yield to temptation, even in something as minute as finishing a line of text in a book.

That ten-year-old of mine, she knew right away.  Knew that if you practice self control when you think it doesn't really matter, those "insignificant" choices build muscle memory just like practicing scales on the piano.  Then you are strong to make wise choices and exercise your self control later in life.  We moved on from the teachable moment, snuggled deeper into the chair, and finished the chapter, but reading together opened the door for that brief, meaningful conversation.  As if I needed one more reason to love books.

"The character of any person's life is not shaped by two or three grand, big moments of life.  A person's character is formed in ten thousand little mundane moments of everyday life.  It's the character that is formed in those little moments of life that determines how you think and respond in the few big moments of life that you encounter."   ~Paul David Trip, "New Morning Mercies"

Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Favorite Five

It's time for Friday Favorite Five (you are invited to join me in the comments!).  My favorite music today is "O Love" by Elaine Hagenberg.  I have my sweet Sarah to thank for introducing me to this lovely choral piece.

1)  Fromage Blanc from White River Creamery, just up the road.  Especially the Peach Jalapeno flavor - perfect for summer.

Even Katherine, who always thinks food is too spicy, loves this rendition of our favorite cheese.

2)  The Walk It Out podcast by Tricia Goyer.  Especially #106 which is an interview with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith about different types of rest:

Physical: The chance to use the body in restorative ways to decrease muscle tension, reduce headaches, and promote higher quality sleep.
Mental: The ability to quiet cerebral chatter and focus on things that matter.
Spiritual: The capacity to experience God in all things and recline in the knowledge of the Holy.
Emotional: The freedom to authentically express feelings and eliminate people-pleasing behaviors.
Social: The wisdom to recognize relationships which revive from ones that exhaust and how to limit exposure to toxic people.
Sensory: The opportunity to downgrade the endless onslaught of sensory input received from electronics, fragrances, and background noise.
Creative: The experience of allowing beauty to inspire awe and liberate wonder.

3)  The Great American Read.  What a fun booklist!  I tend to lean toward non-fiction for my pleasure reading, but the one hundred fiction books on this list have me searching the library shelves for the ones I haven't read yet.

4) My new exercise shirt.  Aaron and I enjoy our biking dates in the morning.  Spending time together pedaling is good for our bodies AND good for our marriage.  Though I do wish the shirt said "All I need is Jesus, coffee, and my bike".

5)  Lyrical Learning.  Even if you don't homeschool, these songs are fun and all sorts of facts get stuck in your head!  

From the website:

"We have a “dual brain” system. The left side takes care of organizing, sequencing and analyzing; language skills; mathematics and logical reasoning. The right side takes care of patterns, spatial relationships, and concepts; music, visual arts and poetry; intuition and holistic perception. Because of this, we can better retain and recall what we learn if we combine text with music — the text being processed and stored in the left side, and the music in the right. The concept of “dual-coding” or “multi-modal teaching” deals with using more than one mode (in this case, language and music). Several researchers have found that the use of music, songs, poems, and other musical mnemonics have greatly aided learning for slow learners and learning disabled children. But all of us can benefit from using both sides of our brain!"

Our younger girls were actually singing some of these just the other day and talking about how much they've enjoyed using them to supplement science.  Katherine is super excited that this fall she'll be using the Human Body book.

What are some of your favorite things today?