So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90.12

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

How Many Kings Would Do This?

A couple of our brothers in the Lord sang this song at our Christmas Eve meeting, accompanied only by acoustic guitar.  I think I prefer their version to the original, but the words really struck me.  How many kings would do all this... for me?

  Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords
1 Timothy 6.15

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

-Charles Wesley

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I was rather alarmed to overhear my daughter tell one of her little friends on Sunday that we don't celebrate Christmas at our house.  My jaw just about hit the floor!  She then followed that tidbit with "We celebrate Christmas at Nana's house."

Nana's house is where the Christmas tree, piles of presents, and the Christmas dinner is.

Is that what my kids think "celebrating Christmas" is all about?  I was almost ready to cry.

We exchange presents at Thanksgiving within our own family.  We started doing this a few years ago when the "Christmas craziness" got overwhelming.  So, we don't give each other presents at Christmas, but we still give gifts to people outside our immediate family.  We send out cards, mainly because that is the only time we have contact with some of those people on our Christmas card list.  I put up a few decorations at home, mostly snow themed, and I don't take them down until we get tired of winter!  I do special crafts with my kids and we try to think of a few fun things to do outside the house as well.

It rather grieves me that my daughter seems to think we don't celebrate Christmas because we don't do the same things as other people.  We remember that Christ came into this world.  He didn't come to be a cute little baby in a manger, as many people like to picture Him this time of year.  Christ came to suffer and die to purchase our salvation.  We remember his death every Lord's Day when we gather for the Breaking of Bread.  My husband made an interesting point the other night in a message - Christ only spoke once of His own birth (John 18.37), but many times of His death.

When we remember the Lord's death, we sit in a large circle around a small table on which is the bread  and the cup.  It is simple yet meaningful.  Why can we not remember His birth in a simple way as well?

  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 
2 Corinthians 9.15

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Waterless Snow Globes

This is a really easy craft I first saw on Salt Tree blog.  Go check out her photos for her step by step directions.  I did this craft with a group of 4 kids aged 3-7 and they loved it.

I had to tweak the directions slightly because I couldn't find the exact supplies she used, but here is what I did:
  1. Take a small Mason canning jar and take the ring apart.  Glue your miniature (I used little trees like you would put in a Christmas village) to the metal side of the lid with hot glue.
  2. Hot glue cotton balls around the base of the miniature (this is your snow).  Set this aside to fully dry.
  3. Take your jar and add some large flake glitter (either silver or gold) to it, enough to cover the bottom of the jar well.  Then add as much fine or super fine glitter as you want for added colour and sparkle.  We used gold, silver, red, royal blue, green, purple, pink, and light blue (everyone picked whatever colours they fancied).
  4.   Take your lid and insert the miniature into the jar UPSIDE DOWN.  Then put the ring back on the jar and tighten securely.  You may want to glue it shut if there is a possibility someone might get it open ;)
  5. Turn over, shake and enjoy!

You can see the glitter a little better in this photo.

Thanks for visiting!

Buried in Cards

I have made a lot of cards recently (over 60!), so I thought I would show you one of the designs I have created.

These were made using a French postcard image from The Graphics Fairy (the one on the bottom is the one I used on this project).  These were very simple cards to make - ivory card base, a piece of diagonal plaid paper, postcard, postage stamp, stamped sentiment (details will be below this post).

And yes, those are real postage stamps.  My husband collects stamps as a hobby and he gives me all the damaged or extra stamps to use in crafting.  In the first individual photo, the stamp is of our dear King George VI (from the 1940's I believe).  The second card uses an old French stamp and the third uses a stamp of our present Queen, Elizabeth II.

Thanks for visiting today!

Card Details:
Card bases - ivory, Recollections (Michaels)
Postcard image - The Graphics Fairy
Patterned paper - diagonal red, black, and cream plaid  (?)
Vintage postage stamps - kindness of Robbie
Merry Christmas sentiment - clear acrylic stamp set from Michaels $1.50 bin
Ink - black pigment ink from Michaels $1.50 bin

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

It's a Special Day!

It's hard to believe our little boy is 5 today!  It doesn't seem possible.

Happy birthday, Laddie!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Remembering Mum

Carolyn Ann Downes Hardcastle
5 December 1951- 3 October 2003

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
In His cross my trust shall be;
Till, with clearer, brighter vision,
Face to face my Lord I see.
-Fanny J Crosby

Monday, 28 November 2011

How Do You Measure Success?

For awhile now, I've been thinking about our society's preoccupation with success, education and information.  Success is generally calculated by how much money you make, which is determined by your level of education, which is determined by how much information you were able to cram into your head.  Sadly, even many Christians have this skewed sense of success, which is often detrimental to their spiritual life.

So what is success - REALLY?  The Webster Universal Dictionary has quite an extensive description of success. "The act of having succeeded; the state of having succeeded; favourable termination of anything attempted; accomplishment; attainment; issue, result, outcome; a happy ending; good fortune; prosperity; a person who has achieved success."  My two favourite definitions are "favourable termination of anything attempted" and "a happy ending".

There is such an emphasis on high achievement today.  Everybody wants to be the best.  College/university education is a must, because a degree is essential to getting a good job.  Even when that college or university education is going to put you thousands and thousands of dollars in debt, which will take many years to pay off even if you do get a "good" job in your chosen field, it is always pushed as the way to succeed.

The thing is, we can't all be doctors or lawyers or the presidents of companies or sports stars.  We aren't all meant to be those things.  Some people are but others aren't.  Since we live in an imperfect world, there are jobs that must be done that are not "nice", "good", or don't make you look successful.  Like the garbage collector.  Not a nice, tidy job; not a fun job but a necessary job.  How would our homes, towns, and cities look if we didn't have garbage collectors?  How would they smell?  Our garbage collectors provide a valuable service to us that increases our quality of life but instead of being applauded for their efforts, they are looked down upon.  It's sad.

Being "successful" does not make you "good".  It does not make you a good person, a good husband/wife, a good mother or father.  There are probably people living on the streets that are "better" people - more moral, kind and caring - than someone who has every material want or need satisfied.  Conversely, not being "successful" does not mean you are a bad or lazy person.  Success does not determine the value of your life.  All people are valuable because we have all been made in the image of God.  God plans different lives for each one of us according to His great wisdom.  He puts us in our families for a reason.  He doesn't make mistakes and nothing happens by accident.  We don't always understand why things happen (or why things DON'T happen, as the case may be).

It would be nice, in a way, for my children to grow up and get jobs that would mean financial security for them.  However, I would not want that to happen at the expense of their spiritual and moral lives.  I would far rather see my child working cheerfully for the Lord as a garbage collector than to see them as a highly successful professional who did not honour God.

I first began writing this piece quite some time ago, and recently came across this quote:
"Too many of us treat education as a competition, with some idea of success as the objective.  This approach is bad for the "winners" and bad for the "losers", who only see themselves more or less as failures.  Such a narrow focus ignores children's strong points, their gifts.  For instance, taking a rather extreme example, a child has Down's syndrome, and yet her personality shines with love and loyalty.  What family, group or community can do without these valuable qualities as an example for others?  We have turned into fools when it comes to appreciating what is really worthwhile in life - proud fools with no understanding of what God treasures.  We live in a worldly generation that encourages a blind pride.

What would happen if everybody planned for their children to be business executives, lawyers, scientists, or academics?  Where would we be without the honoured homemakers, craftsmen, artists and musicians?  Where are those who are good at pastoral care?  Who will care for community needs - tend the sick, plow the fields, and, yes, collect the garbage? (Garbage collection, water purification, home construction, and similar activities are arguably more valuable to our human communities than the work of many of our CEOs and star entertainers.  Salary and educational attainments mean nothing in themselves.)      -Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, When Children Love to Learn p.35 (general editor Elaine Cooper)

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Friday, 25 November 2011

The First Big Storm

The snow we had last week was pretty much gone within a day.  Then on Wednesday, we got this:

8 inches/20 centimetres of snow in 12 hours or so

I'm afraid this snow is here to stay.  It took us about 2 hours to shovel out our lane (oh, my kingdom for a snowblower!)  Our mailbox has had its first injury of the season too.

I promise I won't write a post EVERY time it snows this winter.  That could get depressing.

Thanks for visiting today!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Welcome, Winter

This is what we awoke to this morning:

My kids are so excited!  Me, not so much.  I do like the look of snow and winter activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides.  However, snow = shovelling.  Snow = the snowplough knocking over our mailbox (there is a joke here on the Island about snowplough operators thinking there is a bounty on rural mailboxes).  Snow = me getting the car stuck in the lane every time I leave the house.  Oh, well, that's life!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembrance Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- Major John McCrae, May 1915

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
We Will Remember Them

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Thank You!

Just want to say welcome to my new readers and also thanks to all my readers.  I appreciate your comments so much!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Few Fall Photos

Just of the photos I've taken recently:

Spider web on the clothesline

A little closer

Maple tree starting to change colours

Another kind of maple

This morning's frost!

 Tonight's moonrise and sunset (not a great photo, sorry!)

Sun setting behind spruce trees

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Busy Times

It's been fairly crazy around here lately.  Homeschooling, housework, speech therapy, Bible studies, teaching French, Sunday School, homeschool support group, and potluck ("Providence Dinner") at our chapel last night.  Also, my husband's grandfather fell last Friday and is in hospital.  Grampie is 88 and a veteran of World War II.

On the homeschooling front, we are struggling through math, zipping along in reading, and behind in literature (we're using Ambleside Online Year 2).  Science is kind of hit and miss right now.  Bible and history is going quite well.  I'm grateful for a "core" curriculum that that integrates Bible into the daily lessons.  I am also thankful for the flexibility that we have while homeschooling.  We couldn't be doing half the things I listed above if we weren't homeschooling.

When I get really frustrated, public school flashes into my mind.  Then I remember how horrible last year was in so many ways.  So, my best course of action for being frustrated is to take a break, remember why we're doing this, and relax.  And have some chocolate ;)

It's pretty chilly here this morning (0 Celsius) and we had a hard frost last night.  I've got to hurry up and get my tulips planted before the ground freezes.  I already pulled out our winter jackets and such last week.

Thanks for visiting today!

Monday, 31 October 2011

"A Mighty Fortress is Our God"

 1. A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing;

Our helper He, amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing;

For still our ancient foe

Doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and power are great,

And, armed with cruel hate,

On Earth is not his equal.


2. Did we in our own strength confide,

Our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side,

The Man of God's own choosing;

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth, His name,

From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.


3. And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us;

The Prince of Darkness grim --

We tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure,

For lo, his doom is sure,

One little word shall fell him.


4. That word above all earthly powers,

No thanks to them, abideth.

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Though Him who with us sideth;

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also;

The body they may kill;

God's truth abideth still,

His kingdom is forever.

-Martin Luther-

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 

Psalm 46.1

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Coming Soon...

A group of us homeschoolers are going apple picking tomorrow!  Stay tuned for photos.

I forgot my camera!  :(  So no photos.  We had a wonderful morning, though!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 118.29

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A Stormy Week

We have been going through a very bad storm this week.  It is finally beginning to calm down.  The last two days have been constant, pounding winds and torrential rain.  It got really cold last evening and it has been raining/sleeting/snowing today.  I'm pretty sure our apple tree is permanently over to one side from the wind.  Remember our appleless apple tree?  It doesn't look like that anymore :(  My peonies and gladiolus are all smashed flat (good thing they're all finished for the year).  A lot of branches have come off the trees and our garbage bins are laying flat on the ground (nothing fell out thanks to my raccoon proof bungee cord).  We are thankful there hasn't been any serious damage here and we haven't lost power.

In other news... we are under squirrel invasion again.  It's the time of year when the squirrels realise you no longer have a cat around and decide to take over your property.  Those of you who know me personally know about my long history with squirrels.  I had one living with me for at least a week, sleeping in my bed when I went to work.  Said squirrel bit me twice when I finally captured it.  I've trapped at least 10 in a humane trap and released them far out in the woods.  We've had a squirrel in our bathroom.

Squirrels are cute where they belong - OUTSIDE.  Squirrels are not cute when you're staring them down in your house.

Hopefully, they'll just stay outside, relaxing in our lawn chairs and scampering across our roof.

And now for your viewing pleasure, a clip from our storm.

Hope you're somewhere warm and dry tonight.  Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Yarn Inheritance

I have received a LARGE amount of yarn from a lady who is 94 and going into a nursing home.  A LARGE AMOUNT.  As in THREE garbage bags (yes, sir, yes, sir 3 bags full).  If nobody wanted it, there was a dumpster waiting for it.  So now it's in my living room.  It's not entirely yarn, there is some crochet cotton and rug making stuff as well.  Oh, and a kit to make a clock.  Guess I've got my "spare time" this winter planned out...

I found a pattern at Dollar Store Crafts for the World's Easiest Crocheted Scarf and decided to give it a try.  It is extremely easy.  I had never crocheted before and was able to make this without any difficulty.  The only stitch you need to know how to do is the chain stitch and there is an excellent video posted along with the pattern showing how to do it.  Pretty simple.

 Crochet a bunch of really long chains (8-10 feet long) out of whatever scrap yarn you have (this is a great way to use up yarn).  I think I had ten.  Make sure they're roughly the same length.

 Decide how you want them to go together.

 Knot them together every 8 to 12 inches or so.

 You can trim and reknot the ends once you're finished to neaten it up.

Ready to wear!

As I have said, it was very easy and quick to put together.  The chains took me 3 evenings to do (I didn't use all I had made because they didn't look right).  Actually putting the scarf together took about 10 minutes.  I'm certainly going to be making more of these - I've got a lot of yarn to use up!  Thanks for visiting today.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Last Weekend's Trip in Photos

Here are a few photos of our weekend trip up to the Gaspe.

 Leaving PEI via the Confederation Bridge on a foggy morning

 Marshes just off the bridge in New Brunswick

Euphemia the rabbit was not amused by the trip

 Some of the interesting names of places we passed in New Brunswick

 Sign for Shediac, New Brunswick - "lobster capital of the world"

 Some fall colour along the highway

 Coming up to "the big green bridge" (to quote my kids) in the Miramichi

 Just outside Campbellton, NB.  The foremost mountain is Sugarloaf

 Entering Quebec at Pointe-a-la-Croix
 Driving along the Gaspe peninsula.  Notice the cliffs at the left.  This road had to be blasted out of the rock.  The roads here were very poor, making the train the preferred mode of transportation, until fairly recently.

 A view of some of the Gaspe coastline

 The huge Catholic church in Bonaventure

Just outside New Richmond

Another huge Catholic church.  When you're driving along the coast, you can see the sun gleaming off the many church spires.

Almost home again!

I think we'll keep going, thank you.

There's our beautiful red island!

This is what is left of the old ferry terminal.  The Confederation Bridge replaced the ferry service on this end of the Island.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Home Again

We're back from a weekend trip to the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec.  I'm hoping to do a proper blog post later and put up some of my photos.  We were on the lookout for moose and deer the whole trip but we didn't see one!  They're smart critters - hunting season has started and they're hanging out somewhere safe.  

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Reasons why I hate the "new" Facebook

  2. Facebook telling me what I'm interested in
  3. Being unsubscribed from my friends' statuses (the only reason why I'm on FB is to READ my friends' statuses)
  4. The annoying ticker on the side
  5. I was already annoyed by the "new" chat feature - mine is always hidden
Those are the 5 that came to me first.  I am so ANNOYED (just realised I've used the word "annoyed" 3 times already).  Facebook has been such a great tool but I draw the line when a computer starts ordering me around!  Google+ anyone?

Monday, 19 September 2011

The First Week at Tamarack Academy

Our first week went surprisingly well.  The kids are getting the hang of the routine and I think they are really enjoying the Workbaskets (they love carrying them out to the kitchen table and looking in the folders to see what's inside).  Lass complains that there isn't enough "fun" stuff in hers (as compared to her brother's), but I reminded her that she is older than he is and able to do harder things than he can.  Every time I turn my back, she's "helping" him with one of his activities.

Lass is really zipping through her My Father's World First Grade curriculum.  I am absolutely amazed.  She struggled so much with everything when we started this back in April.  The lessons are really easy for her now. We could probably go through 2 days of lessons each day, but I wanted to ease back into schooling the first week.  We'll see how things go and adjust accordingly.

Ambleside Online has been a bit of a challenge.  I haven't been able to get some of the books and some books I find too mature for my children (like Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb - I like Shakespeare but I think we can hold that off for a couple of years at least!).  It is a very through programme with TONS of reading - I lost my voice a couple of times this week.  So far, we've been reading An Island Story by H E Marshall, The Little Duke by Charlotte Mary Yonge, Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula, The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess,  and Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.  I thought some of these books would be too "heavy", but my kids love them.  We're also reading an Enid Blyton book as a family read-aloud in the evening and when we finish it, we'll be moving on to Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I loved the "Little House" books as a child and my children are enjoying them as well (we've already read Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy earlier this year).

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better week.  The weather was gorgeous and we were able to be outside quite a lot.  We took a nature walk around the perimeter of the 15 acre field next to our property and gathered lots of leaves, berries, acorns, flowers, etc to create an autumn centrepiece.

Thanks for visiting today!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Day I Pretended I Was a Tourist

Last week, my daughter and I went out for the day in Charlottetown with my sister-in-law who was home from Calgary, Alberta for a visit.  We went out for breakfast, did some shopping, went to McDonald's for lunch (at Lass' request - she loves the indoor playground), and then went down to the waterfront (Peake's Quay).

Cows ice cream!  Very yummy.  Lass had bubblegum (I can't remember their creative name for it - all the flavours have unique names).  It was bright blue and full of gumballs.

One of the many pretty window-boxes that are on all the shops at the waterfront.

My sister-in-law and I had tea (I had Irish Breakfast, she had Dalvay Breeze) at the PEI Preserve Company's Tea House.  We also had some of their famous raspberry cream cheese pie... delicious.  We sat outside at a little table and our tea was served in lovely china.  This fellow was standing guard outside the shop.

 A view of the boats anchored at the quay

On the way home, we stopped at Balderston's Farm Market in Stratford.  We saw some interesting vegetables...

...and beautiful flowers.  Can you believe this bouquet with the vase was only $12!  I love the colours.

They also have a U-Pick flower patch.  It is huge and full of gorgeous flowers of all sorts.  We picked a big bouquet.

It was a lovely day and we had such a great time!

Thanks for visiting today!