Monday, December 31, 2012

A Kindlier Dozen

And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast,
And been bow'd to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury -
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
~Thomas Hood


A dozen. 12. An easy number. Not too big and not too small. Even and clean looking.  
Pleasing to the eye is the number twelve. 
Easily divided, multiplied and added.  
An able goal can be 12 lbs. Or 12 thank yous. 
Twelve more smiles in a day.
Good things come in twelve. 
12 eggs.
Dozen donuts.
Twelve hours and 12 dollars.

A Year. Twelve Months. Twelve new beginnings every single year. 
Twelve last-day-of-the-months to assess how it went. 
Twelve turns of the moon to watch it shift and change, grow and shrink like shadows.
Twelve months to enjoy our seasons flowing into each other like ripples on the lake.

Twelve chunks of time linked together and filled with mundane chores and beautiful moments of grace. The days run together in succession of do this-es and do thats and occasionally we pause for a moment and watch our children be the amazing creatures they are. 

Sometimes life feels on top of the world like you have your own personal ray of sunshine from God warming you into cat in the windowsill complacency. Oh how we like that sunshine and those easy peasy days.

Sometimes it feels like if that one more thing happens just one more time the thin thread of sanity might just break. Sometimes those threads are stuck straining and holding you together for far more than just one moon cycle. It can start to feel a bit tiresome hanging over that pit for so long. Two months? Four? A year?

Some years are just like that.

To God Be the Glory in those days.
 When you cry yourself to sleep from fear.
When your head swims with unpaid bills.
When your stomach turns because of relationships that worsen instead of strengthen.
When the house is constantly in need of repair...
and the children are fighting out their emotions...
and the teenagers are struggling with growing up lessons...
and your friend is possibly sick with cancer...
and your own health is in question...
and your husband is gone so often you feel like a single parent sometimes...
and there is a death in your family that you just can not wrap your mind around or fix your heart from quivering at the thought of his last days...

Some Years are just like that.  God can still get the Glory.

A dozen months to feel kind of miserable in a self wallowing, private, pity party sort of way. To lament your troublesome life. A whole year to hang on to that fraying thread of...

Honestly, Hope in Jesus is all you really have. 
When all else is out of control and wrong. 
He is there.
When there are no answers and no way it seems out of the situation.
He is there.
When you stop relying on yourself.
He is there.

There are no promises for a top of the mountain sunshiny spa day. So frankly, some years are going to just stink. The LORD uses this though. He uses our human messes and our frustration. He uses our lack of understanding. He uses our life experience and asks us to trust Him. Have Hope in Him. 

18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.  ~Isaiah 43:18-19

That wasteland can stretch forever. One thing after another until you feel the breaking point. Until it seems you may never feel calm again. But the wasteland is real. It is part of our journey here.  It is integral for God's plan in your life. Embrace it and learn from it. Trust in Him. He is your Hope.

1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,    a time for war and a time for peace, ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Dear Lord, please give us a kindlier dozen this year. I'm ready for some sun.

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)
Verses all from

Possibly Linking With:
Cornerstone Confessions
Wisdom Wednesdays and Link Up
No Ordinary Blog Hop
Frontline Moms Friday Fun
The Welcoming House

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Attempting Organized Planning

I love planning. I like lists of any kind. I love beautiful, crisp pages printed with lovely colored designs. I like to see headings and titles with lines to fill in. I am a sucker for binder with quotes and calendars. I like to color code things and have labeled tabs and dividers.

Those are quotes and a couple love notes from my boys. :)

I like to search out the best of the best for planning pages provided by other planner type people. I have been known to even make my own if I can not find what I am looking for. I poured over websites all summer trying to find ways to make myself more organized. I printed and printed and printed some more! Determined to Be Organized.

Isn't it pretty?
With a family of seven, kids coming and going, husband working out of the zipcode most of the time and a homeschool I Need Organization.

I need a plan. I need a piece of paper I can checkmark things off of to say I accomplished something today other that brushing oatmeal out of Petunia's hair and duct taping the sink hose together. I need some guidance that says in non-threatening terms 'Number three under cleaning isn't checkmarked! Please clean the sheets this week!' or 'Prince Ray really needs to clean the cobwebs from his entire room and since he is out of underwear perhaps he could pick up his dirty clothes and place them in the laundry room.' I need to be reminded that the four loads of dishes, 3 loads of clothes hung on the line, bathroom cleaning, meals made, devotion read, homeschool lessons half finished and a moment of scheduled quiet time is A Great Day.

One of 10 calendars in my School Planner... yes 10.

I love lists. I have made lists since I could write. I suppose it helps me break down the million things that are in my mind into useable and workable mini-goals. Then I can systematically check them off or postpone them if I am feeling a bit like Scarlett O'Hara and don't want to think about it till tomorrow.

I do organizing chaotically. Often I have three list going at one time. Not the most productive to some folks but things do get done. Especially when I make Kid Cleaning Lists! :)

The problem is that I love the pretty printables but I can't make them all work. Out of all those beautifully colored daily goal sheets I printed in August when I was determined to break up my day and use every minute wisely I have used two. I couldn't schedule in the time to fill them out! I ended up changing my homeschool weekly planner sheet three times and I am still not completely satisfied. I have tried to plan menus and I just can not be disciplined enough to follow through! What if I don't want to make beef stew on Thursday?! What if we have unexpected company or the basketball game goes late and I can't make spaghetti and sauce?! I have then failed to follow the schedule and then I feel like I have personally failed. I need to find a chaotic-friendly, flexible, organization sheet. For everything.

Notice its is only half filled out... December was a bit lax...

With the coming of the end of the year and the continuation of our homeschool year starting up again in January I got the organizer itch. AGAIN. I'd like to challenge myself to do some more during the day that I want to get done and be okay with what I don't get done. I want to hone those three lists down to one I can manage.

So is planning is it not?

So I began the search and thought I'd share what I found!

If you Blog, here is a nice, simple, free, weekly planning sheet from Living Locurto! Or you could just sit down and write completely unplanned stuff like me....

Find it here.

This is a pretty basic Daily Goals sheet for free. Find it at Life's a Journal!


Plan of Attack for your day! I love these and they are customizable! Thank you Jessalyn at Desiring Virtue!

They come in many colors, too!

Also customizable are the Daily Docket sheets from Money Saving Mom!


Gricefully Homeschooling has a Mom's Everything To Do List!

A sweet looking little list sheet. I like it!

This is the one for me. I have fallen head over heels with the simplicity of it. And it prints in black and white. ;) Thank you Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience for the freebie.

Planning Love.

I will sip my morning coffee and fill out my Day's Draft.

I will set daily goals.

I will try to finish it all in the few hours we have during our turn in the sun.

And if I don't complete it... God will forgive my messiness.

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)
 This post was featured at:
The WholeHearted Home!

Possibly Linking With:
Cornerstone Confessions
Wisdom Wednesdays and Link Up
No Ordinary Blog Hop
Frontline Moms Friday Fun
The Welcoming House

Friday, December 28, 2012

Baked "Hard Boiled" Eggs *Recipe

My sister, Rosie, has been baking her hard boiled eggs since before Easter and she swears they are the best she ever made. At our Easter celebration last spring as he was struggling over the sink to salvage some part of his beautifully colored, hard boiled egg that I had brought, Handy Randy, her Hubs, even told me I have to bake them. I take this on good authority because he is a male foodie. (We don't call it being Picky around the Fam, it is referred to as High Taste, Foodie, or Connoisseur. *wink*)


If there is one pet peeve I have about hard boiled eggs is that you never know if it will peel into perfect eggy goodness or if it will look like a foreign body usually found under the microscope. Not attractive when making deviled eggs. Or when your brother in law is trying to eat one at the Family Easter Dinner....

I thought that it would make a nice easy Christmas week breakfast so I decided to try out the baked "Hard Boiled" Eggs! 
I used a muffin tin as per instructed to hold the eggs in place. I did not preheat the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. That is it! EASY!


Perfect eggy goodness.
Those Beautiful Brown Speckles are normal.

All photos are courtesy of Sara Rose Nissen. You can check out her stuff over at as seen through my eyes

Now time to officially fess up. On my trial run of The Baking Of the Hard Boiled Eggs my eggs did not set.... because my oven has apparently given up its bottom coil. Pesky electric ovens! Before it blew up, the coil not the oven, my eggs were on there way to perfection. I shall retry when we are recoiled and heating again. :)

Let me know how it goes!

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

Possibly Linking With:
Cornerstone Confessions
Wisdom Wednesdays and Link Up
No Ordinary Blog Hop
Frontline Moms Friday Fun
The Welcoming House

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Quotables!


Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder


At Christmas
A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season's here;
Then he's thinking more of others than he's thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime...
~Edgar Guest
Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.  In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.  ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas
Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!  ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.  ~Norman Vincent Peale
He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  ~Roy L. Smith


I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  ~Charles Dickens


Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.  Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.  ~Francis C. Farley


When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness.  ~Bob Hope
Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance - each beautiful, unique and too soon gone.  ~Deborah Whipp


It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.  ~Charles Dickens

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.   Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas from my Family to yours! May the LORD Bless You and Yours Today and Every Day. May His Spirit live in you and transform your life!
Christmas Blessings! 

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :) 

Possibly Linking With:
Cornerstone Confessions
Wisdom Wednesdays and Link Up
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Sunday, December 23, 2012

5 Days of Christmas Poetry~ Day 5

Christmas Trees 

Robert Frost

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.
He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.


Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

Poem Found:


Friday, December 21, 2012

5 Days of Christmas Poetry~Day 4

A Child's Song Of Christmas

 Marjorie L. C. Pickthall

My counterpane is soft as silk,
My blankets white as creamy milk.
The hay was soft to Him, I know,
Our little Lord of long ago.

Above the roofs the pigeons fly
In silver wheels across the sky.
The stable-doves they cooed to them, 
Mary and Christ in Bethlehem.

Bright shines the sun across the drifts,
And bright upon my Christmas gifts.
They brought Him incense, myrrh, and gold,
Our little Lord who lived of old.

Oh, soft and clear our mother sings
Of Christmas joys and Christmas things.
God's holy angels sang to them,
Mary and Christ in Bethlehem.

Our hearts they hold all Christmas dear,
And earth seems sweet and heaven seems near,
Oh, heaven was in His sight, I know,
That little Child of long ago.
Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

Possibly Linking With:
Cornerstone Confessions


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lest You Think I'm Perfect...

In an effort to be as honest and open with my three readers as I can possibly be I thought it best to not let you think I am too perfect.  (wink.. Snort) The LORD likes to keep me humble and provides me daily the things that will keep me from thinking too highly of myself. I mean, when we start to think we have got it all figured out, then we begin to rely on ourselves.
 Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!

Today is as real as it gets in my world.

As mentioned in my post a couple days ago, I am trying to put The Lord first in my life. As part of our homeschool, we read the Bible every day. We actually read out of it several times a day because it is truly the most important textual document your children will ever read and I want to ingrain it upon their hearts from early on. This is not enough though for me, however, as I am an adult and should not be satisfied with the just the playground at the bottom of the knowledge mountain. I need a guided study of my own as well. So this year I have been reading through my devotion every morning, or afternoon, or at least before bed. I have not mastered an every single day the same time quiet time routine for myself because everyday is different. I have absolutely had some dry spots where I slip up and miss a few days weeks but I always hop back on the devotional trail and start backpacking up that mountain again. And it is good!

That being said, just because I want to spend that time with God doesn't me it isn't a fight some days.

I woke up late. The schedule is immediately off. Why late? Well Princess Petunia has bad dreams and after a rough several hours I weakly gave in and let her climb into bed. She slept quite well. I slept with her foot in my lower spine and her random arm flailing most of the night. I thought about hitting up my devotion immediately and but then I decided to get my day moving first.
After my shower, Prince Ray had mysteriously disappeared from doing his before breakfast chores and Princess Peony, the ever responsible child, informed me that he was probably napping on his bed. Hmmm.
Make Coffee. {Thank you My LORD, In complete sincerity, for coffee.}
Text a mom note to Pirate Rob who is already at school. Sign it with 'love you' even though it probably embarrasses him.
Wake Prince Ray up. Give him THE LOOK.
Leave Sir Bean asleep. Even though he has ignored his alarm, AGAIN.
Take Princess Peony to School after checking the weather for a possible snowstorm later today. She reminds me of her basketball game... Mentally schedule basketball game and pray I don't forget it.
Petunia needs cocoa desperately for with her breakfast. Please! Please! Please! MOM!
Make a batch of cocoa because it is nearly gone and this little munchkin loves her cocoa.
Make breakfast.. wait! The oatmeal is almost gone! Make oatmeal mix. Then make breakfast.
Pour second cup of coffee while wiping up spilled oatmeal.
Ask Sir Bean to do his chores, again.
Give Prince Ray THE LOOK again because he is still standing around half asleep scratching his tummy.
Fight Princess Petunia out of her princess pajamas and into a jumper that she hates. VICTORY!
Read a story while she tries to pee... And a fight breaks out.
Prince Ray has toppled his brother, Sir Bean, to the floor and rug burned his forehead, eyelid, and cheek. How dare Sir Bean look at Prince Ray's library book. Apparently we are very territorial today. But finally awake!
For failure to accept responsibility for his actions, Prince Ray is sanctioned to his room amid tears and langauge arts research materials.
Petunia screams "I PEED!" VICTORY again!
Sir Bean grudgingly does chores with his swollen eye claiming he almost went blind. We pray on it.
Bible reading with kids and a project for each of them.
Quickly whip up some granola with help from Petunia who steals the sunflower seeds and sprinkles  them liberally inbetween the counter and stove whilst singing, "I can do it myself. Me. Me. ME!"
Give Petunia some watercolors so I can sneak away and read my devotion...
Sir Bean finds me to fix his pencil.
Pencil fixed, Coffee EMPTY!?
Start caramel corn with the intent to listen to a radio broadcast online. Internet goes out. REALLY?!
Finish caramel corn. Catch Sir Bean and Princess Petunia sneaking bites from on top of the counter. Start Bread.
Prince Ray comes up from his room with a half done assignment and apologizes. Then accuses Sir Bean of making him do it. He goes back into his time out. With Math.
Then they are hungry. Heat up leftovers, serve everyone. Forget myself. :/ Commit to eating better tomorrow. Grab a cup of tea and an apple. And some caramel corn.
Finish bread.
Prince Ray comes up to give a real apology and some of his work done. I forgive. Sir Bean forgives. Victory!
Offer a movie for 45 minutes of quiet time. Yes, I bribed with Veggietales.
Finally got some reading and prayer time in. Thank you Lord for Your patience with me. Thank you for not putting me on the back burner. Thank you my LORD for loving me in my imperfection. Thank you Thank You Thank YOU!

For giggles and snorts I took some pics of my day so far..... :)

That is the second load of dishes...

My very messy kitchen table/countertop/schoolroom...

Not sure how the horses were helping with schoolwork...

Who didn't put their apron away?

Petunia's uneaten portion of lunch. She did eat all the green stuff and most of the cookie.

Will the basket help whoever next walks in the door? Why is it in front of the door?

Basket 3 and 4.

How does this happen to my mirrors?

Library Books!

Art project!

Ivy needs a bath. (tomorrow's list?)

Yes, after my devotion they were jumping off the bed.

Just Like Larry Boy.

Thank goodness for broken candy canes to provide a treat, I wonder if someone sucked on these before placing them Back on the tree.

Did the wise men bring candy canes?

Caramel Corn


Backcountry Oatmeal Mix


Homemade Raisin Bread

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

Possibly Linking With:
Cornerstone Confessions
Wisdom Wednesdays and Link Up
No Ordinary Blog Hop