For the Love of Books

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Morning, y'all!  I wanted to stop in here, before the month completely got away from me, to share my pick for this month's For the Love of Books post.  In light of my hubby and oldest just getting back from Mexico, I thought it would be fun to choose a book depicting a little Mexican culture and tradition.  I didn't have to look far, as this playful number has graced our home library shelves for a number of years now.  It is written, by Pam Munoz Ryan, for children ages four to eight and cleverly illustrated by Joe Cepeda.
In Mice and Beans, "Rosa Maria lived in a tiny house with a tiny yard.  But she had a big heart, a big family, and more than anything, she loved to cook big meals for them.  In one week, her youngest grandchild would be seven years old, and the whole family would squeeze into her casita for the party.  Rosa Maria didn't mind because she believed what her mother had always said: 'When there's room in the heart, there's room in the house, except for a mouse.'"  From planning the menu and ordering the gift to simmering the beans and picking up the cake, Rosa Maria made her party preparations.  But every day, she mistakenly misplaced things crucial to her success; and every evening, the mouse trap, that she thought she had set the day before, disappeared.  "No importa," she said and proceeded to casually correct her mistakes and set another trap before going to bed.  When the day of the party arrived, she was sure she had forgotten something again but doesn't remember that she failed to fill the pinata, until it spilled sweet treats all over the yard.  "I must've filled it without even realizing!  She laughed at her own forgetfulness."  Then, when she was cleaning up after the party, something caught her eye near a hole in her cupboard wall.  "Maybe I didn't fill the pinata.  Could I have had help?," she asked, as she looked at the leftovers.  "Too much for one person.  And what was it her mother had always said?  'When there's room in the heart, there's room in the house... even for a mouse.'"

I promise to have something a little more crafty, for you all, before the end of the week.  Until then, thanks so much for stopping by, and have a terrific Tuesday, friends!

Casas por Cristo

Monday, June 27, 2016

Welcome to the work week, friends!  Just stopping in, on this sticky, Monday morning, to share the pics of my hubby and Ezekiel's mission trip, to Juarez, Mexico, that I promised you.  It was a smaller group than usual this year with a total of only 14 workers.  As in trips past, which you can see more pics of by clicking on the "casas" label at the bottom of this post, it was their job to build a two-bedroom home, a tangible example of God's love and faithfulness, for a family, deemed in need by their local church.  This year's home cost $5,500, and as always, was paid for, along with travel expenses and food, by the team members themselves.
Here are some of the team members hanging out on the front porch of their living quarters, for the week, on the morning of the first day of building...
and hauling tools and materials to the job site.
They began by creating a form and leveling the ground...
to pour a concrete foundation.
The site was nestled in tight between the home that the family had been sharing with extended family members and a cinder-block wall.  So, among other things, pouring concrete turned into an adventure.
Once the foundation was dry, walls were built, erected, wired for electricity, and insulated.
The outside walls were then covered in blackboard and chicken wire before being stuccoed.  I love this hardworking smile on my big kiddo...
and this rare one of both my boys posing for the camera, while taking a break from the nearly 100 degree temps and hard work.  Ezekiel knew more of what to expect from this trip, since he'd been there, done that once before, and fit in flawlessly with a group of mostly adults.
Once the roof was secured...
the inside walls were covered in sheet-rock; and while many of the teams that do these builds do not tape and mud the sheet-rock seams, this team always has.  They've also always brought an extra ceiling fan.  That way, both rooms, since the Casas por Cristo organization provides the other ceiling fan, can be as comfy cool as possible.
AND this year, a few members of the team attended a church from central Missouri.  That church's congregation raised enough money for the team to purchase and install a swamp cooler, which is similar to a window air conditioning unit.  I'm sure this is going to be the neighborhood gathering place on more than one hot afternoon a year.
The team even hit up the local Star-Mart to purchase more gifts for the family and their new home.
The children, whose home was being built, and their cousins had such fun, during the week, using scrap 2x4's as building blocks.
Their mother and her mother-in-law made scrumptious tamales, for the crew, one afternoon.
In three days, or approximately 19 hours, this once empty lot...
became a cozy home to this precious couple and their two beautiful children pictured, with their gifts, above.
Years ago, a college professor of mine gave me the words of Jesus, that were written in Matthew 5:14-16, scribbled on a piece of paper.
You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
I don't think he'll ever know the impact those words have had on my life.  I'll be the first to admit that my light has, often times, grown very dim.  I've even, at times, struggled to keep my light flickering at all, but these photos and the excitement my big boys shared about their trip has me longing for my turn to take the good news to all creation.  I'm convinced that my God can use me despite my many failings, even if, for the time being, that means pouring His unconditional loving kindnesses, promises, and mercy into the lives my children, church family, neighbors, and acquaintances here in the states and supporting others in their endeavors inside and outside our American borders.
If you'd like to donate to this organization, please click here; and if you'd like to know how you can get involved on a deeper level, please click here.  How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7).  Thanks so much for reading!  Have a blessed week, friends!

Friday Faves

Friday, June 24, 2016

It's Friday, y'all!  Woohoo!  My big kiddo comes home from camp tonight, and I can't wait to hear all about it.  While he's visiting Grandpa and Grandma and even when he's in Mexico with his dad, I get to talk to him nearly every, if not every, night; but the campers aren't allowed to take cell phones or computers or any kind of electronic device to camp with them.  So, I'm really longing for some Ezekiel time.  He promised that he'd take me out to a movie, for my birthday, back in January; but with our busy schedules, we haven't been able to work it in.  I'm thinking, while we've still got some downtime from school, it's time to cash in on his offer and catch up ;).

Anyhow, I know you all didn't come here to read my jabber.  So, let's start this month's Friday Faves with this darling Hugs stamp set from Concord & 9th.  This stamp company is new on my radar thanks to this post from the uber talented Jennifer McGuire; and now, I'm seeing goodies from their shop popping up all over blogland.
So much so, that I had to add their Sophisticated Script and Sophisticated Script Uppercase alphas to this month's lineup, too.  You ladies sure make lining up all those fancy edges look like a cakewalk.  Plus, the word, name, and phrase possibilities here are endless, y'all.  I'm thinking about Christmas gifts.  Hmmm?
I absolutely love the country appeal of Photo Play's Fresh Picked 12 x 12 Collection Pack.  The muted palette, tags, woodgrain elements, and that fantastic, floral truck are screaming my name.  Plus, how is one to say no to gingham, plaid, polka dot, and flower prints all packed into the very same collection?!  This ensemble would be perfect for scrapping pics of my vegetable gardens.
Speaking of vegetable gardens, I'd really like to get my hands on these Ceramic Garden Markers from 3 Dandelion Seeds.  We keep trying to use plastic tags or Popsicle sticks in our gardens, but they don't hold up to the elements very well.  And while there are a lot of markers on the market, most of them don't offer the variety I'm looking for and even more of them are super costly.  I love that these ones fit within my budget and can be customized to suit my needs.
This happy, little collection, of Wooden Mini Bowls, from Willful Goods, totally puts a smile on my face.  They come in sets of two, but I'd love to have one in every color.  Swoon!  And the colored part is food safe, soft rubber, which makes them durable and non-slip.
Finally, I couldn't resist including Sweet Auburn Studio's Brass Pineapple Bangle.  I adore that scrumptious pineapple, but it looks even more delicious nestled in amidst all those Set Stone Bracelets.  And check this!  Each one ranges in price from only $9 to $12.  You can't beat that, folks!
That covers things, for this month, friends.  I hope you found something here to love, too.  Thanks for stopping by, and have a truly fanciful Friday.  Hugs!

Family Update

Thursday, June 23, 2016

So much has happened since my last family update, that I'm not even sure where to begin.  It seems like a lifetime ago that we were watching Adina's last soccer game...
and beginning Ezekiel's baseball season...
and even longer ago that Ezekiel wrapped up his semester of homeschool band with a spring concert.  He's still thoroughly enjoying it and already looking forward to his fall semester.
Grandpa and Grandma came to watch the concert and enjoyed a dish of ice-cream with us after.
We celebrated the last day of school with dinner at Red Robin.  We started the school year there way back here, and thought it only fitting to end it the same way.
Just as soon as we had wrapped things up; I had finalized all the grades; and we had sorted, tossed, and filed the last of my kiddos' school papers and projects, next year's curriculum arrived.  I love that my kiddos get so excited when these boxes arrive, even when we just finished for their respective years.  They spend hours looking through book after book, as they anticipate all that the next school year will hold.
They also went to work using our entire living room to build and play with our wooden train set.
Up until recently, when the weather turned really hot and the only comfortable place to be outdoors is in the pool, we had really been enjoying our backyard.
I've got more pics to come soon of my hubby and Ezekiel's mission trip to Mexico...
but just before they were out the door, we had a week of Vacation Bible School.  There were over 800 children and 350 volunteers.  We raised $3,800 for missions, and numerous decisions to follow Christ were made.  I taught Kaden's two-year-old class, simply because Ezekiel was going to be helping with crafts, and Adina would be with her class.  So, I thought that I might as well stay, too.  I felt like it was far too long of a morning, from 8:30 am to 12 noon, to leave Kaden in a classroom.  So, I went with teaching his class.  It was much tougher than I ever imagined it would be, and I doubt I'll be doing it again anytime soon; but I re-learned that I truly was made to be a teacher and loved every minute of sharing the love of Jesus, with the children, through songs, crafts, stories, and just playing.  And although we picked up two more whales before the week even began, I couldn't resist showing you all the way I decorated my classroom door.  Gosh, I wish I'd had a Cameo back when I was teaching kindergarten years ago; and I know you can't tell, but those white bubbles were dazzling in glitter.
We had a blast at our Sunday school picnic...
and my hubby celebrated his 38th birthday.  As always, he wanted a carrot cake.  I should really just stop asking...
and we spoiled him with lots of BBQ goodies and tools.  Ezekiel wouldn't let me leave the grocery store without purchasing this HUGE Tabasco.
They got home, from Mexico, just in time to celebrate Father's Day with a relaxing day of church, swimming, grilling, and gifts ("Best Daddy Ever" Jelly Bellies and a new baseball cap, not to mention lots of handmade treasures).
Before I'm off, I had to pass along this amazing recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes.  I made them for myself to help celebrate Mother's Day.  Yum!
And because my hubby had it on his phone, I completely forgot to share this photo from way back when we attended this year's homeschool conference in April.  Adina got to meet her first grade, video teacher.  Miss Weiler asked lots of questions about herself to see how well Adina really paid attention in class, and Adina knew every answer.  She even did a few teacher spins with Adina, which totally made me cry.  We took far too much of her time, as she was helping with our curriculum booth, but she was super kind and went out of her way to make my girl feel extra special.  It totally made Adina's year and is a day she will not soon forget.
My big kiddo is at church camp, in Arkansas, this week; and I'm limping around in a little boot, as Focus T25 kind of got the best of me.  My doctor says, "It's probably not broken."  I guess foot x-rays are difficult to read.  So, hopefully, it's feeling better in a couple of days, or we'll be right back where we started.  But we're happy and healthy and looking forward to, or at least crossing our fingers for, a much less eventful July.  I've got my monthly, Friday Faves post coming your way tomorrow.  Until then, thanks so much for checking in on us, and have a great start to your weekends!  Hugs!