Watchful and Thankful

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” 

-Colossians 4:2


On this beautiful October day, I am thanking God for all the evidence of His glory that surrounds us in nature and for the many gifts He’s given this past week.

I am thankful for a quiet hike through the woods.


I am thankful for the leaves above glowing all golden in the warm sunshine.


I am thankful for the leaves below that softly crunch as our boots shuffle through them.


I am thankful for the cute pair of just-the-right-size rain boots a dear friend gave to my youngest.


I am thankful for the cheerful Black-Eyed Susans still in bloom.


I am thankful for the fallen tree that makes a good resting spot.


I am thankful for the little collection of leaves my oldest carefully gathers up to treasure.


I am thankful for the lemon-verbena that smells oh-so delightful.


I am thankful for the dazzling dahlias in bloom.





Oh, the dahlias make me smile big!


I am thankful for bright orange pumpkins and bright-eyed girls with big smiles, too.


I am thankful for our annual family outing to the apple orchard.



I am thankful for the girls’ favorite wagon, Lacie, and all the memories it holds.


I am thankful for the delicious harvest of apples to fill our pies and dumplings.


I am thankful for the pumpkin patch nearby and determined pursuers of perfect pumpkins.



I am thankful for God’s amazing creation and how it points to His goodness and glory.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17


Beauty to Behold


“I do believe that deeply rooted in every human heart is a longing for beauty. Why do we go to the Grand Canyon, the Boundary Waters, art exhibits, gardens? Why do we plant trees and flower beds? …Is it not because we long to behold and be a part of beauty? We crave to be moved by some rare glimpse of greatness. We yearn for a vision of glory.” -John Piper 

Looking for beauty to behold, we made another trip to the arboretum last week. The big sister came along this time and had a turn capturing the gardens with the camera.


It was the tulips’ turn to shine.


This orange one was simply radiant in the spring sunshine.


Tulips long have been a favorite of mine because my mom grew a few of them along the front porch of the house where I grew up.


Also in bloom were the delicate bleeding hearts. These are another one of my favorites because they remind me of a garden my aunt once had.


And, speaking of memories, the delightful redbud trees reminded me of the tree my brother and I climbed frequently with the neighbor boys. When playing cops and robbers on our bikes, we pretended the redbud tree was the bank and every leaf was a dollar bill!



The captivating crabapples are almost blooming, and I’m looking forward to smelling the lilacs soon, too. Isn’t spring like a little glimpse of heaven?

“We should live every day of our life promoting the glory of God.” -John Calvin

Let Heaven and Nature Sing!

Joy to the world! The Lord has come

Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room

And heaven and nature sing!

Joy to you this Christmas!


Nature sang in 2015 as God blessed us with many memorable outdoor adventures like snowshoeing,

midwinter 070x

snow skiing,


ice skating,



upnorth 495x



and hiking.


We delighted in God’s amazing creation while watching Trumpeter swans on the Mississippi River,

gloriousSwans 133

spotting dolphins in the wild in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston,

texastrip 433x

texastrip 448x

feeding wood ducks in the backyard,

canyoucanoe 021x

backyard 046x

gazing at the gorgeous lilacs

grandmashere 029x

and the dazzling dahlias at the Arboretum,

danceANDarbtrip 070x

being wowed by a pair of red foxes up on the Gunflint Trail near the Boundary Waters,

upnorth 628x

and admiring some of the 18 baby snapping turtles that hatched in our front yard flower bed.

00turtle_appledays 061x

00turtle_appledays 066x

We tried to subdue some of God’s creatures during our too-close-for-comfort encounters with a snoozing nighthawk,

birdwatchin 067x

bandit raccoons,

racoon 005x

a sleepy bat, an angry squirrel, a peeping goldfinch,

00peep 016x

a topsy-turvey mama snapping turtle, a strong-minded chipmunk and a brave back-to-school mouse that trapped itself inside our basement wall! Eeeek!

We also marveled at God’s wondrous creativity while gazing at the brilliant autumn colors,

fallfunonphone 092

fallbreak 0680128x

picking juicy apples,

appledays 157x


and plump pumpkins,


and most recently, while picking a lovely-smelling balsam fir tree to decorate for Christmas.



Romans 1:20 says,“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Nature clearly points to its wise and powerful Creator. And that lighted Christmas tree in my living room, it points heavenward, toward the Light of the World.


It points to Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

May we all join heaven and nature in singing our praises to Him this Christmas and throughout 2016!

Merry Christmas!


Embracing the Lilacs

grandmashere 045110

It’s a family tradition to visit the arboretum’s lilac exhibit every spring, just to embrace the beautiful blooms and their lovely fragrance.

grandmashere 025103

This year, great-grandma comes along, too.

grandmashere 081117

grandmashere 030106

She and my oldest daughter compare the various lilac blooms.

grandmashere 028104

My youngest loves the white lilac blooms best.

grandmashere 060111

grandmashere 065112

grandmashere 070114

grandmashere 042108

Of course, the lilacs aren’t the only blooms at the arb. The tulips look incredible.


grandmashere 086118

grandmashere 095121

And the magical crabapples are dripping with blossoms.

grandmashere 139123

grandmashere 137122

The cheerful daffodils dance on the breezy hillside.

grandmashere 092120

And a few magnolia blossoms still linger for our delight.

grandmashere 149126

I’ll close with a throwback of me embracing my mama’s lovely lilacs a long time ago.

Now please close your computer or set down your device and go outside! Find something alive and blooming and beautiful to smell!


A Warm Winter Day

Partly sunny and 42 degrees — January doesn’t get much better than this in Minnesota.

arboretuminJan 05509

We soaked up the warmth at the Arboretum this afternoon — rebelling against winter by taking off our gloves now and then. One of us left her heavy winter coat at home, and another left her coat unbuttoned.

arboretuminJan 08512

arboretuminJan 06910

The girls took turns practicing with the camera.

arboretuminJan 096crop14

arboretuminJan 10616

arboretuminJan 02402

The greenhouse felt warm and lush. What a joy to be surrounded by real-live, green, growing plants with leaves! My youngest was determined to do some sketching, and she liked what she saw from this little bench. My oldest, who is studying botany this semester, liked that this is a “please touch” greenhouse, and she especially appreciated the orange trees and herbs.

I especially appreciated these blooms.

arboretuminJan 03104

Thank You, God, for the gift of this unseasonably warm January day!

arboretuminJan 10817




Captivating Crabapples Win the Day

After our near-meltdown lilac adventure yesterday, we came upon the captivating crabapple trees, all in bloom.


We saw white ones…



and light pink ones…


and dark pink ones.


They were all in bloom together beneath the bright blue sky.


The smell was also lovely, though not nearly as noticeable as the lilacs.


But perhaps the most glorious part of the crabapples in bloom was the abundance of petals. Beneath each tree was a large round carpet of fallen petals.




They felt more numerous than the confetti in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.


So the girls gathered up a handful or two…


And tossed them high!


Also enjoying the beauty of the crabapples was one of our favorite local artists, Jane Ask, who captured the delightful blooms with her oil painting. What a gift to see her work in progress.

And so, with all due respect to the lovely lilacs, the captivating crabapples won the day!

Picnicking and Wilting Amongst the Blooming Lilacs

0001aToday was the first sunny weekday of our summer break, so we dashed off for a picnic lunch at the Arboretum because the lilacs are in bloom.


And anyone who has ever loved a lilac knows (1) the scent of the blooming lilac is the loveliest scent of all, and (2) lilacs don’t bloom very long!



The weather was sticky and hot — in the 80s — and most of the lilac blooms were just a smidge past their prime. But surely our noses never knew the difference.


If only my camera could capture the aroma. Don’t you wish someone would invent digital scents or scratch-and-sniff computer screens?


Did I mention it was hot and sunny? My youngest daughter nearly wilted. She and her sister found a favorite spot under the taller lilacs, but she made it clear that she was still wilting.


So, like any good gardener, I found some water for my little bloom and she perked right up!



For the record, no shoes were lost in the making of this blog post.

Rain Boots and Books for Summer


Remember that rain song in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh? You know the one during which Piglet’s house floods and he gets swept away?

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down

in rushing, rising rivulets,

Till the river crept out of its bed

and crept right into Piglet’s.

That’s our theme song this spring. Forget the sandals and shorts. Our wardrobe has shifted from winter coats and snow boots to rain jackets and rain boots.


The flowers love the showers, and my little girls sure love the puddles. Somehow rain boots make you brave in a splashy sort of way.


A big sister’s steady hand also helps encourage a daring little adventurer across the rocks. I won’t mention who got wet this time.



The last day of school is Friday, and that will wrap up our sixth year of homeschooling! I love getting to share the many adventures of daily life with these two precious girls, and we are all in a hurry to shift into a slower speed for the next few months.


Bring on summer! I am looking forward to spending more time outdoors, especially on the lake, and I am also looking forward to relaxing with some great children’s books. If all this rain keeps up, we will have plenty of time for snuggling up on the couch with our books.


Here’s what’s on our homeschool list for summer read-alouds:

  • Hitty – Her First 100 Years by Rachel Field: We already started this chapter book about a delightful wooden doll who writes about her own exciting adventures. I am surprised already by the non-stop action in this story, which was the winner of the 1929 Newbery Medal.
  • The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars: As a devoted fan of E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and a huge fan of Trumpeter swans themselves, I am eager to read this compelling story that received the Newbery Medal in 1970, although I haven’t yet figured out how swans figure into this tale about a 14-year-old girl and a younger brother who is missing.
  • Old Yeller by Fred Gipson: Maybe you watched the movie in elementary school, too? I don’t remember if I ever read the book, but I do remember this story about a boy and his dog is a tear-jerker. I tend to confuse it with Wilson Rawl’s Where the Red Fern Grows, so I hope reading Old Yeller will help me distinguish the two. Published in 1956, Old Yeller is a Newbery Honor Book.
  • Abel’s Island by William Steig: This is another Newbery Honor Book, and it tells the story of a mouse who is swept away from his wife in a rainstorm and must learn to survive alone in the wild. Steig is also the author of Brave Irene, a fantastic picture book about a girl fighting a snowstorm.
  • The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson: This story is about an old hobo and the friendship and adventures he shares with a group of children. Published in 1958, it is also a Newbery Honor Book with delightful pictures by Garth Williams, illustrator of the Little House series and many, many other classics in children’s literature.


Of course, if the weather turns out really lovely this summer, a few of these books might get bumped to fall. Flexibility is this homeschool mom’s favorite tool.

What’s on your reading list this summer?

Dancing with the Daffodils


Most of last week I spent chasing after girls as we ran to and from dance lessons, dress rehearsals, and dance concerts. It was all quite lovely, really, but this week we shifted gears and decided to chase a few flowers instead.


At the Arboretum my camera caught some dancing daffodils fluttering in the breeze of mid May.


Yes, some years we have daffodils in March, but not so this year.



Daffodils always remind me of this poem and this daffadowndilly day a few years ago.

After dancing among the daffodils, we tiptoed through the tulips.


This lonely little tulip was one of our favorites.





We do indeed have a slight obsession with tulips, which goes back several years.


The blooming azaleas were simply captivating, too. Azaleas always remind me of my husband’s grandma, who has such a lovely display of azaleas at her house in the spring.




What’s blooming in your neck of the woods?

More Maples and Springy-ish-ness


Last week we spent the first afternoon of spring at the Arboretum, exploring the tapped maple trees there and also looking for signs of spring.


The Arb uses different equipment for tapping trees — most notable are the bright blue bags, which make it easy to see the sap inside.




They also run these hoses between taps — and use the law of gravity — to collect sap from multiple trees. The Arb collects a lot of sap. Last year, they made 111 gallons of syrup. And if you figure that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, that means they collected nearly 4,500 gallons of sap last spring. That’s quite impressive!

Another impressive tidbit to share concerns our watch for signs of springy-ish-ness. It’s impressive how much snow has melted since our Arboretum trip two weeks before this. Remember how we couldn’t find a single bench to sit on?


And remember the magnolia tree with the nearly invisible bench?


Well, the snow is melting and the girls found multiple places to sit!



Also, the tips of the magnolia’s branches are {maybe} looking a tad bit fuzzier.


In closing, I must credit the cranberries for their bold color contributions while we await the arrival of spring flowers and all.


Thank you, cranberries. And happy spring, y’all!