Jesus Loves Me This I Know (For the Snow Days Tell Me So)

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Life has been exhausting lately.

These days I spend nearly forty hours a week at work with a group of seven to eight one-year-olds. After work I head to another six to ten hours a week of class, depending on the week. When I finally come home, there is always a chapter (or two) to read, a paper (or three) to write, an article (or six) to read and respond to, projects to create, and lesson plans to write. Not to mention dishes to wash, laundry to clean and fold, a menu to plan, groceries to buy, a house to clean….

When Friday afternoon arrives and I step out the door at work, I feel an exhilarating rush of relief that the weekend has finally arrived.

But then the weekends are packed, too – with class or trainings, collective, helping friends move, cleaning the house, birthday parties, homework, concerts, catching up with friends, teaching the Boiler Room kids, preparing lunches for the week, doing the laundry that I never found time for during the week….

And suddenly I realize with dismay that it’s Monday morning again and I never really stopped to rest.

Last Sunday I felt particularly crushed under the weight of this constant activity and said something along the lines of, “I feel like I need at least two weeks off to really feel rested again!”

I think God was listening.

I had Monday off of work for President’s day, followed by a shorter day on Tuesday for our staff in-service, then a second shorter day on Wednesday. And then a blizzard closed both school and work for Thursday and Friday.

I was so starved for rest that when they announced a snow day for Thursday, I felt a little giddy.

I turned off my alarm clock and slept in.
When I finally woke up, I watched the snow out the window, still wrapped in our blankets.

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I drank coffee, then cooked a big breakfast for Derek and I and ate it in our pajamas.

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Later we bundled up in several layers and took a walk, snapping pictures of the still-falling snow.

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We stopped by the house of some nearby friends, joining them for lunch and talking about gardening.

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We walked some more, stopping to swing on some snow-covered swings.

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We dropped in for tea at the house of some more friends. A few more friends joined us there and we walked part way home with them afterwards, our heads and shoulders and coats adorned with the fluffy, thickly-falling snow.

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I cooked a hearty potato and kale soup for dinner.

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That night Derek and I snuggled together on the couch and watched a movie together.

And I didn’t do any homework or housework or anything productive that day. Not a single thing.

It was such a perfect day.

And that perfect snow day was followed by another snow day, during which I cleaned the house, caught up on some homework, shoveled a little, and made homemade pretzels. That snow day was followed by the weekend, with collective, a little more homework, church, lunch with friends, and plenty of time to rest.

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Now it’s Monday again and they closed work early today because of the coming storm. School is already cancelled for tomorrow, gifting me with another day off. Though it has not quite been the two weeks off that I longed for, these unexpected days of rest have refreshed me and energized me to push through the rest of this final semester of school.

A Little Winter Craftiness

Today is snow day #9 in the past month (with school already canceled tomorrow as well). The limited days of work are still stretching my faith in uncomfortable ways (but we were able to pay rent yesterday, have bus passes to get to school and work, and should be able to pay utilities in a couple days — God is providing).

But that said, I’ve been using some of my ample free time to do some sewing and other crafty sort of stuff. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been working on:

1) Flower Necklace

I actually made this on New Years Eve (before all the snow days hit), but was finally able to take pictures of it just recently. I’d seen all sorts of fabric flower necklaces online for a while and had been wanting to try making one. A New Year’s Eve dinner seemed like a good excuse to try, so I pulled out my stash of freecycle fabric, which includes several different colors of sheer, silky materials that work really well for this type of stuff. I loosely followed this tutorial from Jolie, making smaller circles and only two layers for each flower. After I cut and melted all the petals, I sewed them to a piece of thicker red fabric (also from the freecycle stash), adding the beads as I sewed. I sewed three metal loops on the back for the chain (which I found on the ground walking to work one day – ha!) to go through, but it still needed more stiffness for it to lay right so I added a line of wire along the top to help it hold it’s shape. I ended up making a hair flower to match, too, but don’t have a picture of that.

2) Recycled Mittens

This has been another project I planned to do for a while, mainly for practical reasons: I consistently lose at least one mitten a winter, sometimes more. This winter I’ve been wearing one brown glove and one rainbow glove, because I’d already lost the matching mates to both in previous winters and my entire pair of mittens last winter. I knew that when really cold weather hit I’d need something warmer than the thin knit gloves. One of the girls from the Boiler Room makes these lovely, creative mittens out of old sweaters and when I saw them, I thought I’d try to make a pair, too. I did some research and found this simple pattern and instructions online. My first attempt (made with a hand-me-down sweater that I’d never worn) didn’t fit right, though, and was shedding black lint everywhere. So I set it aside, meaning to alter the pattern and try again.

When the snow hit and we planned our sledding outing, I decided that now was the time to try again. This time I cut apart a fleece sweatshirt that I’d worn for awhile but that never fit right. I lengthened the finger area to give some more room this time and left a bigger seam allowance.

For the lining I used….the sleeves from my work shirts! (I’d cut off the long sleeves of two of my shirts this summer when I first got my sewing machine, because there was no way I was going to wear long sleeves in the heat of a Missouri July). It’s not as soft as the fleece that the pattern suggested, but it’s kept me pretty warm so far.

All the pieces cut out and ready to sew together:

And here they are finished! I’ve since embroidered a flower on each one, too, and plan to add some leaves eventually. Maybe tomorrow with another snow day….

3) Nursery Curtains

A long-time friend of mine (who happens to live near Kansas City now, too) is expecting her first baby this spring and e-mailed me a couple weeks ago to see if If she could hire me to make curtains for the nursery. Her request definitely blessed us (wasn’t I just praying for provision?) and I was excited to sew something for someone else.

She brought over the fabric last weekend and I spent about four days working on the curtains, a little bit each day. Because I was sewing for someone else, I took the time to measure, iron, and pin (details that I sometimes bypass out of laziness, to be honest).

I was pretty pleased with how they turned out, though, and how (relatively) easy they were. It almost makes me want to make curtains for our house now (you know, like I’ve been planning to since before I made my 101 in 1001 list….)

I also sewed some curtain ties to go with them, basically simple tubes of fabric, ironed flat, with brown ribbon (left from our wedding) instead of plastic rings on the ends.

(P.S. Now that I have a camera again, you may be seeing more sewing and food posts again, because really, talking about food and projects is a lot more fun when you can include pictures :-D)

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I’ve had another string of snow days this past week, which meant more faith-stretching. But it also meant I had the opportunity to go sledding, which I haven’t done in years. A whole group of us piled in a couple cars (after we got them unstuck from our snowy streets) and then headed to Gillham Park.

(P.S. Please excuse the blurry phone pictures. BUT I do have a real camera again, thanks to my parents!)

I Have Such a Short Memory, So You Keep Reminding Me

I turned on Pandora this morning as I was doing dishes and this was the first song that came on. It caught my attention with the first line about “chill and cold and flakes of snow” (for obvious reasons), but as I listened, the rest of the lyrics struck me, too. I really do have such a short memory it seems when it comes to remembering the ways God encounters me every day. One minute He’ll reveal Himself and the next minute I’m distracted by the world again. So He keeps revealing Himself, keeps reminding me.

“Scenes” – Charlie Hall

Chill and cold and flakes of snow
Ice and sleet, and frost and cold
Each storm cloud and thunderbolt
Lifts my mind to You

Every work and every power
Every second of every hour
Fall of dew in sweet rain showers
Lifts my mind to You

The summer wind, fire and heat
Autumn leaves and blooms of spring
Ocean waves and mountain streams
Lifts my mind to you

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you
I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you

As I lay me down to sleep
As I walk on city streets
As I laugh with friends and feast
It lifts my mind to you

As my children play and run
In the news with wars and guns
In the church where songs are sung
It lifts my mind to you

Deep inside the beggar’s eyes
As for sweet love I fight
On the radio at night
It lifts my mind to you

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you

Painting pictures of your love
You lift my mind up
Reminding me of you
My heart comes alive

Painting pictures of your love
You lift my mind up
Reminding me of you
My heart comes alive

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you

Snow Day Pancakes

In honor of my THIRD snow day in a row (which means five days off in a row, plus the four day weekend coming up — pretty ridiculous), I thought I’d post my favorite pancake recipe, which I made to celebrate my first snow day. I think I may have posted a variation on this recipe before, but it’s worth posting again. I find myself using this as a base recipe over and over.

Snow Day Pancakes

Ingredients:
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all purpose flour (I’ve also used all whole wheat before and that works, too)
1/2 c. cornmeal (I think this is the key for the yummy texture)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to taste (optional — but I usually like to add some sort of spice; this time it was nutmeg)
2 eggs
2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. oil

Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, then add the eggs, milk, and oil.  Stir together with a fork to break up the eggs. Pour on a preheated griddle and cook over medium heat until bubbles appear and the edges begin to look dry. Flip over and cook a few minutes longer or until golden brown. Top with your choice of toppings (I like warm applesauce and cinnamon or yogurt and honey; Derek likes butter and lots of maple syrup). Enjoy!

(You can vary this recipe by adding chopped fruit, nuts, or other spices. This time I added a couple tablespoons of leftover pumpkin to the second half of the batch and it turned out great. I’ve also made it with 1 1/2 c. cornmeal and 1/2 c. of flour and added garlic and Cajun spices to make a savory pancake before, too, and topped them with tomatoes and beans. I’d love to hear what variations you use….)

Snow Day

Yesterday I woke up to falling snow and the announcement that the Kansas City School District had closed schools for the day. SNOW DAY! (which we never had as homeschoolers, by the way)

So I drank coffee with Derek, talked about plans and dreams for the future, went for a walk through the snowy neighborhood, wrote a blog, looked through old photos with Derek, and ended the day with pancakes and eggs for dinner. The snow was still falling when we went to bed. I think it was one of the best, most relaxing days in a long time.

And this morning? The sun is shining but the newspaper is warning of high winds and frigid temperatures and schools are closed again. Time for some tea, laundry, and perhaps writing Christmas thank yous….