Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Living. Lovely. (Late) ~ A Spot for Beauty (or Function)

(It's never too late to live. lovely. but my challenge fell through the cracks last week. We're back up and running, though.)

Did you reclaim a spot in your home for beauty or function
this past week or two?

I'd love to hear what you did (and see pictures!) if you care to share. Be sure to scroll down for next week's living. lovely. challenge, as well.

Oh, and if you have any ideas for living. lovely. challenges, I'd love to hear them!


I have several spots around my house that have become mini disasters. The thing about mini disasters is that they seem to infect the neighboring spots and spread like wild-fire.

I could have chosen any number of places to reclaim, but my porch was really bugging me. Fallen leaves from our willow, toys and shoes strewn about, sidewalk chalk decorating the tables, stray blue 'moon sand' (I hate that stuff) in the cracks of our door mat, and a million other things that set a bad tone when arriving home. Definitely not a porch that said 'Welcome!' to friends and guests, either.

I 'let' the boys get in on the action. I filled a pot with warm soapy water and had them scrub to their hearts' content. Recess, right? I tried to include a before photo, but forgot until I had some of the toys and junk put away.

Porch Clean-Up

We put away the toys, swept, scrubbed the porch floor and railings, hosed off the front door mat, cleaned off the tables, and added some fall decor we had just picked up at the local produce stand. I even grabbed a bundle of corn stalks from our tiny garden, tied them together with copper ribbon, and propped them up by the front door. Ahhh! I'm inspired to get to a few other spots this week....

Porch Welcome

Next week's living. lovely. challenge:
Send someone a hand-written letter... Snail mail.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Find those places inside that jump for joy...


You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on.

~Ray Bradbury

It's possible to forget how alive we really are.
We can become dry and tired, just existing, instead of really living.
We need to remind ourselves of the juice of life, and make that a habit.
Find those places inside that jump for joy,
and do things.


Look, I really don't want to wax philosophic, but I will say that
if you're alive, you got to flap your arms and legs,
you got to jump around a lot
you got to make a lot of noise, because
life is the very opposite of death.
And therefore, as I see it, if you're quiet, you're not living.
You've got to be noisy, or at least your thoughts should be noisy and colorful and lively.

~ Mel Brooks

Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty,
fall flat on your face, and then reach for the stars.

~Ben Stein

Monday, September 28, 2009

Field Trip #3

The Scenic Route

We're on a roll. Apparently we will be adventuring about on many field trips this school year. Last week we registered for the homeschool day at Evergreen Aviation. We attended one of the monthly classes last spring, and I decided we would go ahead and enjoy the classes this coming year.

Evergreen is a bit of a drive so we had to get our sleepy heads up a little earlier than usual, but the scenic route is incredibly gorgeous. This particular morning we enjoyed the glowing sun as it rose in the sky and pockets of morning fog hiding in the rolling hills, fields, horse farms, orchards, and vineyards. Happy sigh.

I knew my plans were slightly ambitious, taking all 3 boys and having no friends or family along. (Y'all are coming next month, right? Right?!) We did our best as the boys started out in a class, and then moved on to (even more ambitious) group engineering projects. Whew! A bit much for this introvert to juggle, I'm telling you, but we survived. Luckily we had an hour for lunch al fresco. The boys spent every moment on the incredible play structure while I soaked up some sunshine.

Rocketry Class

Team Engineering Challenge

After lunch, our group met up at the IMAX theater to watch a 3-D movie about astronauts landing on the moon. Leif cracked. me. up. with his little 3-D glasses, snatching them off with wide eyes whenever something appeared to be coming straight toward him. The boys got a little antsy toward the end of the documentary, but they did well over-all.

Next up, we headed to the side lawn to launch our pop-bottle rockets and our 'eggstronauts' (we each got an egg for an astronaut, and the purpose of the exercise was to use various supplies to protect our egg from breaking when the rocket landed). It was suddenly very, very warm and blindingly bright.

Flight Testing

The boys needed to let off some steam before we headed home, and I didn't feel like corralling them inside the museum, so they worked up sweat again on the play structure with a new friend.

Blast Off!

We had a lovely drive home, stopping at a roadside produce stand and store for ice cream cones. I'm looking forward to our trip up next month (though I might be leaving little Leif-man with his grandma...).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stunning Talent and Artistry

Since I'm not getting around to the posts swirling in my head, I thought I would share this video I came across today. I was mesmerized!! What do you think?

For the Locals...

A Moving Sale

590 W D Street
Lebanon, OR

Sunday, September 27th

2pm - 8pm

(Everything under $40 will be 1/2 off after 6 pm)

Dressers, tables, dishes (new and old), general housewares,
aprons, clothing, home decor, etc.

If you have any questions, email me at heidi (at) poetsgarden (dot) com.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I have a crazy day planned tomorrow, so I'll be postponing this week's living. lovely.
I'll try to get it up sometime on Friday or possibly Saturday.

Medieval and Renaissance Life

How fun it was to attend the Renaissance Faire while we are in the middle of studying that time period in our history lessons! I thought I'd share just a few of the books and movies we've enjoyed in the past month, or so.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village is a gorgeous, thoughtful book. It contains 19 monologues and 2 dialogues, each from the perspective of an inhabitant (child) of a medieval village. Will, the plowboy. Isobel, the lord's daughter. Nariot and Maud, the glassblower's daughters. Giles, the beggar. Pask, the runaway. Jack, the half-wit. Simon, the knight's son.... When needed, the author includes background information on subjects such as falconry and the three-field system. This time around, we are treating it as a read-aloud, but I would love nothing more than to have a group of kids each choose a monologue and put on a simple production. I hope to give that a try on our next history rotation. Fabulous book!

The Making of a Knight follows a boy from 7 year-old page, through 14 year-old squire, and onto knighthood at the age of 21. This is a beautifully illustrated picture book for younger children.

I'm not sure how, but I came across a series of books by Gerald Morris, retelling the Arthurian legends. I started with The Squire's Tale and am looking forward to proceding through the others. The writing is surprisingly effortless, fresh, and witty. I was quite drawn in. I think my boys will particularly enjoy this series when we revisit Medieval history on the next go-around.

A Knight's Tale is one of our favorite family movies. I'm happy to have it finally fit in with our lessons, so we can watch it during school hours (grin). (Warning: some language, nudity, and romance. There is one scene in particular that I fast-forward through for the boys.)

We've been enjoying various non-fiction books on knights, arms and armor, and medieval life.

Castle Diary is one of my favorite books on medieval life for children. Do try to find the oversized hardback edition for the full-page color illustrations. They are fabulous. The story itself is humorous and chock-full of details about life in a castle over the course of a year from the perspective of an eleven year-old boy.

While at the library the other day, I stumbled upon this most excellent retelling of Don Quixote. It is a hefty 350 pages, but very straightforward prose with hilarious illustrations. Levi and Russ were laughing out loud as I was reading. Extremely entertaining, the humor particularly resonating with boys (small and large). (Speaking of the illustrations (brilliant, I tell you), something about them felt very familiar. It suddenly dawned on me that Chris Riddell also illustrated the above Castle Diary.) I realize that Don Quixote is not set in medieval times, but there are so many references to the 'age of chivalry' and 'knights errant' that I certainly think it qualifies!

Cinderella meets Leonardo da Vinci... I've loved the movie Ever After, and now is a perfect time for re-watching it. I can't wait to begin our studies on Leonardo da Vinci, especially after seeing the traveling da Vinci exhibit at OMSI earlier this year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Renaissance Faire

Ren Faire #4

This was our third year attending the renaissance faire. The day started out very wet and gray at our house. I was unsure what we were in for, but hoped for the best. After two years of unpleasant hot weather (90s), we were in for a treat. By the time we arrived, the sky had cleared and blue was showing behind the fluffy white clouds. The temperature was perfect. The location itself is fabulous. The middle of nowhere in a huge field.

Faire 3

Walking through the faire, it is astounding the number of costumed actors and attendees. People-watching is the number one activity. In general, the costumes are fabulous and everyone is very willing to interact or pose for photos. (There are certainly a few strange birds mixed in, but overall the quality is high.) I felt very out of place in my jeans and t-shirt...

Ren Faire #5

Ren Faire 2

Ren Faire 1

Ren Faire #7

Ren Faire #6

I'll continue tomorrow with photos of the jousting tournament and chivalrous knights. Grin.

Sunday, September 20, 2009



It's candid week at i heart faces.

I don't know if this qualifies for candid, but I captured this image of a knight
while watching the jousting tournament at the Renaissance Faire this weekend.

Lots more photos coming up this week...
as soon as I get my nose out of a book...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Don't Bother Me... I'm Reading

I have lots to say. Really. A million thoughts, ideas, recommendations swirling in my head. But I can't stop to share them. I'm actually reading. Finally. But why can't I do everything at once? Like keep my house sparkling clean, apply my creative talent to decorating projects galore, fix scrumptious meals for my husband (and children who don't appreciate them), guide my sons through vast worlds of knowledge, nurture their little (disobedient) souls, share all my wisdom and insight (cough. cough.) with the blog-reading world, AND devour books? Nope. Not capable of doing it all. So I'll content myself with basking in each season as it comes, knowing another is right around the corner.

While you're waiting for my read-fest to wane (if you are), you can enjoy my mom's stunning photos of her trip to France on the two-year anniversary of her travels with my sister, Shannon.

Anyone attending the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire tomorrow?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Living. Lovely. ~ Random Smiles

Random Smiling in Public

Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love,
a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.

~Mother Teresa

A smile costs nothing but gives much.
It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it
and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.
Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen,
for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much
as he who has no more to give.

~Author Unknown

I wanted to post every quote from this page, but I felt the above two quotes most eloquently expressed everything I hoped for with this past week's challenge.

Did you step outside of your own world, look someone in the eye, and give them a genuine light-filled smile this past week?

Did they smile back? Did it affect your own attitude, outlook, or focus? Do tell!


Next week's living. lovely. challenge:

Reclaim a spot in your home
for beauty and/or function.

Do you have a spot in your home that used to be pleasantly functional, that now is a disaster?
It can be small (a junk drawer) or large (the spare room). I know I have several.

Let's reclaim one of those spots this next week!!
(May I request before and after photos?!)

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful.

~William Morris

Homeschool Day at The Oregon Garden

Oregon Garden 2

Yesterday was the homeschool day at The Oregon Garden. What spectacular weather (sun and gorgeous blue skies, and a little hotter than I expected) and what a huge turn-out! We spent the day roaming the gardens and learning stations with our best friends (Char, McKinnon, and Monet), but saw countless other friends along the way (it was so nice to see Heather and her family... it's been ages!!). It was one busy place, but luckily quite expansive.

Oregon Garden

Oregon Garden 3

Oregon Garden 4

Oregon Garden 5

The kids spent a bunch of time at the wonderful play area, while Char provided a picnic and I sat in the shade. By the time I had the boys rounded up and hiking toward the entrance, we were hot, hot, hot. The boys had discovered a fountain at the beginning of our day, which I managed to keep them out of, but we passed it again and I thought, Why not? Why not, indeed. In they went. I watched them whistfully. Why do I have to be the sensible adult? (That, and driving all the way home with soaking wet jeans didn't appeal to me. Luke didn't seem to mind, though.)

Fountain Fun

Homeschoolers have all the fun. Grin.

Fountain Fun 2

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meet the L Family

L Family

Does it get any more beautiful that this?
Not to mention that these kids were some of the easiest kids I've taken photos of...
Four models in the making. They've got the camera thing down.
I'll share more this next week, but we'll start with these.





Friday, September 11, 2009

Meet the Students...

...of Mt. Hope Academy!

Leif ~ Sept 2009 ~ Age 3

Leif, Mr. Exuberant, is the youngest student at barely 3 years old. He is a pre-schooler this year, but don't let that fool you. He is determined, competitive, and eager. He is also rambunctious, loud, and often disruptive. But he is so cute, he is always forgiven.

He knows his letters and letter sounds, his numbers, colors, continents, and oceans. In the coming months, he will be working on shapes, blending letter sounds, and listening to and looking at many picture books. He will listen in on Latin, Bible memory, poetry, geography songs, and more since he doesn't play well independently and is often stuck in a car seat while fascinating CDs (songs, stories, poetry) are being played. His teacher is hopeful that he will work on his ability to be quiet while the teacher is reading and talking.

Luke ~ Sept 2009 ~ Age 5

Luke, Mr. Earnest, turned 5 just a few months ago and is now starting Kindergarten. Luckily that is a loose description at this school, since he is a whiz at math and reads at a 2nd grade level. He loves projects, games, and one-on-one attention.

This year he will work on perfecting his handwriting (focusing on lowercase letters), breeze through math, and spend time reading aloud as well as independently. He will begin piano lessons. He will participate in Bible, Latin, grammar, memory work, geography, art, music, and science (in varying degrees). He will join in history and literature, increasing and applying (hist teacher hopes) what little attention span he has for those subjects.

Levi ~ Sept 2009 ~ 7 1/2

Levi, Mr. Effervescent, is 7 1/2 going on either 2 or 20 (depends on what minute you ask his teacher). He is officially a second grader, though he reads on an 8th+ grade level and math (sigh)... Well, maybe we won't talk about math. He is sure he knows everything, and sometimes one almost believes it. Almost. He is constantly talking or humming, which must help his head stay clear, but doesn't have the same effect on those around him. He excells in any subject with words, such as debate.

This year he will continue with math, grammar, Latin, Bible, memory work, science (earth and space), geography, history (Medieval/Early Renaissance), literature (tied in with history), piano lessons, music history, and art. He will begin cursive handwriting and a new spelling program. He will read hundreds of books in his free time. His teacher hopes that he will develop an ability to work independently on occasion without getting distracted in the first three seconds, as well as develop a pleasant attitude toward work, instruction, and those in authority.

Boy, oh boy (pun intended),
am I glad there is only a 3:1 student-teacher ratio
here at Mt. Hope Academy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Lovely Lists Displayed

Lovely Lists Displayed

I decided to let my kids in on this 'lovely list' exercise.
We talked about things they love,
and I wrote out a list for them on their chalkboard.
Now we all have lovely lists!
Wait, Russ hasn't made one yet...
We'll put him to work when he gets home. Grin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Living. Lovely. ~ Lovely List

The Lovely List

What says 'lovely' to you?

Did you make a list? Write it out? Print it up?
Create art out of it?

Did you put it up in a place where it can regularly inspire and
remind you of the lovely things in your life?

What is on your list?
Do share!

(Be sure to scroll down for next week's challenge.)


I've made a few lovely (or happy) lists over the years.

My first was an on-going list in a journal.
My second was in paint and covered a whole wall in my bedroom.
My third was written on an artist's canvas and hung on my living room wall.

My fourth is now a collage of images that represent lovely to me
(with a few corresponding words)
printed in poster size and mounted on a large corkboard.
It's resting on my mantel. I'll post photos later today or tomorrow.

Lovely List

Did you know that Costco will now print 20" x 30" posters?
For only $8.99?
I upload my image file at and pick up my poster just a couple hours later.
(Do you have any idea how nice (and expensive)
it is to have a Costco only 2 miles from my house?)

I made my collage and added text at
The creative possibilities are endless.
And at 8.99 and easily changed out on my bulletin board,
I'm going to be experimenting with photo posters often.
The picnik collage wasn't a high resolution, so the large poster size turned out a bit pixelized,
but I wasn't aiming for perfect. I was aiming for
'just do it (without spending a fortune) and enjoy it.'
My single photo images are a higher resolution (even when I edit and add text at picnik)
so those posters turn out much clearer.


This next week's living. lovely. challenge:

Random Smiling in Public

Whenever I'm out and about, I find myself in my own little world.
I'm thinking about the grocery list.
I'm wondering what on earth I'm going to make for dinner.
I'm trying to keep 3 little boys from running through a parking lot.
I'm running on auto-pilot.

But sometimes, when I force myself to open my eyes and look around,
I see living, breathing, unique people. People who have lives of their own.
Their own thoughts, struggles, disappointments, worries,
fears, hopes, plans, desires...
I want to look them in the eye and give them a genuine smile.

A smile that says:

I acknowledge you.
You are a real person who has value.
All I have to give you is a kind smile,
but I am happy to give it.

So when you are out and about this next week,
I challenge you to brighten a stranger's day with a smile.
Not a cursory half-hearted smile, but a true light-filled smile.

You might find that it brightens your day more than you expected,
and you will do it over and over again. It's addicting and contageous.

Give it a try. Even if you think it's silly. Really. Trust me on this one.

Need some encouragement or inspiration?
Read here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thought for the Day

And now, what does it all matter? It matters more than anything else in the world.

The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life

is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round)

each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance.

There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made.

Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection.

If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire:

if you want to be wet you must get into the water.

If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life,

you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.

They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone.

They are a great fountain of energy and beauty

spurting up at the very centre of reality.

If you are close to it, the spray will wet you;

if you are not, you will remain dry.

Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?

Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?

~C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, as quoted in A Year with C. S. Lewis (emphasis mine)

Monday, September 7, 2009


Everyone has their vices, no? Sure, I have a few others.... Dr. Pepper. M&Ms. Sleeping in. But my most embarrassing vice? I love romance novels. If I read strictly for pleasure, without thought of what a steady diet of romance novels (and absence of other fare) would do to me, I would rarely read anything else. Sigh.

But that isn't the worst of it! Gasp. I want idealistic, satisfying endings with emotional closure. I want a dashing hero. I want a morally decent story line. And if that comes at the expense of good writing, it doesn't always matter to me. Hanging head in shame. I know some of you are gagging, but will you still love me?

It started in middle school. I read Janette Oke and Grace Livingston Hill. I still have a weathered copy of Crimson Roses, which I've read a thousand times. I read countless others not worth mentioning (though, luckily, the middle school library was stocked with relatively age-appropriate material). I continued reading romance novels through high school. Oh, sure, it isn't like I didn't read Uncle Tom's Cabin, Les Miserables, The Deerslayer, or The Count of Monte Cristo, but I craved a good romance above anything else.

Over the years, I've developed a healthy appetite for quality literature and non-fiction. But what I'd really love is quality literature with a love story. And a happy ending. So, I've stooped to enjoying stories such as E. P. Roe's From Jest to Earnest, written in 1875. Yes, the author does hit the reader over the head with his message. No, it isn't subtle. Or complex. But, golly, it is sweet. And clean. You know? Or, there's The Harvester, written by Gene Stratton Porter in 1911. If you're looking for a(n unrealistic) guy to swoon over, look no further. Seriously, that is one romantic book. (I can see my mother shaking her head now.) And we can't forget the romance novels of George MacDonald.

What really makes my day, though, is a story that is subtle, complex, full of rich character development, well-written, fascinating, and compelling. With romance and a happy ending. Is that too much to ask? I'm thinking North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (actually, the BBC movies will more than suffice).

Wives and Daughters, also by Gaskell... meh. The movie didn't entrance me (I think I didn't care for the lead actress), and the book was so disappointing at the end. Why didn't anyone tell me that the author died before finishing it?! A romance is nothing without the ending!!

Dark and depressing doesn't do it for me. Wuthering Heights, no thanks. Maybe not even Jane Eyre. (I'll let you know when I re-read it next month.) Tragic doesn't work for me. Open-ended leaves me unhinged. (Think Rebecca.)

The Little French Girl by Anne Douglas Sedgwick is way up there on my list. The epitome of subtle and complex, with diverse and rich characters and situations, the book does not preach. The author doesn't do the thinking for the reader. She weaves a spell. And a satisfying ending. I suppose a more dashing male character would have detracted from the over-all story, so I won't complain.

Okay, this is the point where I ask for suggestions. To re-cap: relatively clean love story, masterfully written (whether modern or classic), complex, subtle, full of rich language and fascinating characters, compelling plot, happy ending. Not too idealistic. No heavy-handed preaching. Not dark, depressing, or tragic. {Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!!!!!!!!!!} Are you up to the challenge?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mt. Hope Academy

Mt Hope Academy 2009

Education is simply the soul of a society

as it passes from one generation to another.

~G.K. Chesterton

I heart faces is having a special Mr. Linky up this week for
'back to school collages.'

As homeschoolers and young guys, my boys don't do much back to school prep.
We also started our school year in January,
so I thought I would share a collage of pictures taken earlier in the year
which give a little glimpse into school at our house!