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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Beginning of the Gathering Together...


For man, autumn is a time of harvest and gathering together. Edwin Way Teale 

The end of our summer was marred by the loss of a beautiful soul, Robin Williams, this post is not about him - but I do think he was brilliant gift to humanity and I am thankful for the laughs and thoughtful art he left behind. This poem has stuck with me from the very first time I watched Dead Poet's Society. Robin is quoting Virgil I think... To this day it's one of my favourite films... and this little bit, one of my favourite parts of the film. While I was pulling together this blogpost, it kept floating thru my mind again...
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry;
For, having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

I don't know if it was way back then that the idea of "Making the Most of Time" began to take root in my soul, but I know that for most of my life I have endeavoured to do just that. Savour it, gather together my heart, my people, my thoughts and memories, and express love and gratitude in the moment. I don't always succeed, but when I do, I find I have few regrets from that period of time. Sometimes it's expressed in the events I plan, sometimes in decorating the house, often in my food, sometimes in intentionally giving a gift or direct communication... it manifests in many ways... and I'm always trying to listen to my heart and to the Spirit for direction for the present...

Since yesterday was technically the beginning of Autumn, this post is a "gathering" in of sorts for me... before sharing with you how we're celebrating fall here, I need to share how we said goodbye to what honestly was an almost perfect summer. 

Farewell Thee Summer

The second half of our summer went out in a flurry of fun, work and memory making  for us... 

  

 

 

Our Chinese "daughter" Isabelle is with us for high school

They were days full of baseball tournaments, summer dresses, frozen treats, beach days, BBQ's, canning, clearing the garden, drying herbs, prepping the school room, hosting guests from Korea, welcoming a daughter from China, bike rides, pool parties, campfires... late nights, sunny humid days... we relished every moment of our summer and then rode the gentle wave that changed the season and the rhythm of our days... but first, we had to say a proper goodbye...with a party of course!

The Heaslip Family Farewell Thee Summer Potluck and Campfire...

  
 My first attempt at a DIY  Banner
 Entertainment was simply the company of good friends - new and old, the trees, the play yard and the trampoline...and of course the fire.
 Lot's of yummy food! Love potlucks!
 The decor was multi-coloured lights borrowed from the Christmas bin and flowers cut and gathered from the property in mason jars...

 
The Smores Station was a big hit!
 
 The "optimists board" - both summer and autumn had alot of great qualities... 

 We finished the night with a summer sparkler send off...baby girl loved it!


Back to School
We're officially a family with kids in traditional school, and kids in school at home, so we celebrated the "first day" with relish.


Check out our special Ceremony here.

First Day Photos - The kids in traditional school

 
Grade 9
  
Grade 6 & 7

First Day Photos - The Home Schoolers





  

First Day Treat Bags

 


The Greek Festival

For me, the real sign that summer is over is the Niagara Greek Festival. In one way or another my sisters and I all end up there and share memories of our dad with amazing food, music and dancing. It reminds me of the times I travelled to Greece with him and the village always had some festival or another, the smells the sounds the laughter and the heady end of summer  heat and nostalgia really help me get centered on what really truly matters as we head into the busy and beautiful season of fall. 


mmm... Greek Donuts (loukoumades)...a treat we only indulge in twice a year, at the festival and on Christmas Eve.


Elaina and Yaya enjoying the traditional Greek Dancers
 Another farewell...We bid our Korean boys (Alex and Mark) a sad farewell just after the begnning of the school year. Our family loved every minute with these two - the 5 weeks flew by and were filled with many great laughs and precious memories.
All the best Alex and Mark! We'll never forget you.

Transitioning to Fall...

In our home, the transition includes a deep cleaning of the house, clearing out the garden, canning the last of the tomatoes, putting away the summer decor. One day in the week after Labour Day I pull out my autumn books of poetry, cookbooks and magazines to get inspired (or I surf around Pinterest for a while) - while drinking spiced coffee or cider of course. Then the bins of decor come out (just like Christmas but smaller) and I slowly look for where I want to add the flavour in.

I walk around the yard and neighbourhood collecting hydrangea blooms, branches, pinecones and other interesting bits of nature to pull into the house and front step. I usually buy at least one mum (and there's a super cheap place that sells amazing mums by hubby's work for next to nothing - score!) and well, then we're ready for a fall house tour. But that for later this week. So come on back for that and the rest of my gathered thoughts as I've fully embraced the fall... in both my heart and home.

XOXO 
Tammara

Friday, July 4, 2014

My "Summer Kitchen"


We've been having a lot of fun around here, living over blogging. Though I love the writing, and I often think, oh, I'd like to blog about this or that topic that crosses my mind...but then we get on with living. I plan hope to write more this summer. The word wall above kind of says it all, some of them we've checked off the list, some we'll do again and again, and some we've yet to do! 

Anyways, a fun-though sometimes hectic spring passed us by, and the HOT summer days are upon us and summer around here, is all about FUN. I have my summer reading list, my summer to do list, my summer playlist, summer movie list and now, a Summer Kitchen. What is that you may ask?  

The BackStory
We are very fortunate to have a house with 2 kitchens. Sometimes the basement is rented out to boarder so we haven't really made use of the basement kitchen until now. I guess I need to explain, my house is unique in that our regular kitchen/family/school/etc rooms are on the second floor (and the bedrooms are on the ground floor with a sitting room) of our Chalet style house. I love, love, LOVE my unique house, but the drawback is that the summers are very HOT upstairs, even when it's not hot outside - great for our COLD winters, not so much in summer. We have ceiling fans, but the vaulted ceilings just seem to hold the heat IN. 

So this year, my hubby convinced me to move our kitchen/living space to the basement. Since we're all basically in one big room down here, it feels like we're at a cottage. I'm actually loving it, because even though we're not going away (except to visit my grandma for a few days up north) - it's like we are away from home.

I call it my summer kitchen after a friend reminded me that in the old days (as in a couple generations ago) it was very common to have a second kitchen... I looked it up...
Cooking in an open fireplace in summer can cause the kitchen to become extremely hot, so in Early America it was common for people to build a separate building called a "Summer Kitchen" where much of the food would be prepared during the summer months. The summer kitchen would contain a large fireplace with an oven, and usually a large table which was used as a work surface.
The purpose of summer kitchens were to keep the main house cooler in the summer by putting the cooking and cleaning duties in a separate building.
It has been fun, we've basically "closed" the upper floor of the house (meaning we can turn the AC down or even OFF-yay! I have direct access to the backyard (aka my garden) from here, and canning down here is WAY better. Love to be able to use my home to it's fullest potential.





Here we are, all cozy in our "cool" summer kitchen. Hope you are enjoying your summer as much as we are!
 
 

Friday, January 17, 2014

What I Read in 2013


I realize it's been a LONG time. Far too long in fact, since I have had a post on what I've been reading. The last time I posted, was in MAY last year. Yikes. I've spent all my time since then reading and not blogging about it...sorry, and I will try harder in 2014.

I did not read all the books that I had written down on that list, but I did read a ton of books that I came across through the months.

Tam's Top 5 (Based on the fact that I learned the most, read more than once or simply is timely based on where we are in our life's journey)
üWhen Life & Beliefs Collide...James  *   I absolutely love books that make me think, question myself, challenge what I believe and examine my foundations and motivations. This book was one of those, it helped refine what I think and how to convey it.
üRevolution The Story of the New Testament Church (the first 17 years)...Gene Edwards 

Honourable Mention goes to:
üGod's Favourite Place on Earth...Frank Viola*   I loved this book. A really different take on the house in Bethany and it's role in the life of Jesus then and now.
üEducating the Whole Hearted Child...Clay Sally Clarkson
   This is a must read for all homeschoolers, and one to go back to again and again through the process.


Books I read cover to cover (the ones with stars I recommend)
üRoaring Lambs...Bob Briner 
üThe Alchemist...Paulo Coelho
üThe Gospel of Ruth...James 
üLost Women of the Bible...James
üDumbing Us Down (The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling)...John Taylor Gatto
üLast Child in the Woods...Richard Louv *             
      I read most of this. It's definitely one to keep on hand. Such a good book to come back to when you are trying to change your family habits of being indoors so much.
üWheat Belly...William DavisüSame Kind of Different as Me... Ron Hall and Denver Moore's
üThe Fall of Rome
üA Place Called Freedom...Ken Follet
üThe Silas Diary...Gene Edwards 
üThe Titus Diary...Gene Edwards 
üThe Timothy Diary...Gene Edwards 
üThe Priscilla Diary...Gene Edwards 
üThe Gaius Diary...Gene Edwards 


Books I STILL check in on Every Year
Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
Simple Abundance - Sarah Ban Breathnach
Grace Based Parenting - Tim Kimmel

Currently Reading
The Happiest Toddler on the Block...Harvey Karp
Orthodoxy...GK Chesterton

Up Next
The Way they Learn...Cynthia Tobias
When the Church Was a Family...Joseph H Hellerman
Jesus Manifesto...Frank Viola & Leonard Sweet
The Key to your Child's Heart...Gary Smalley
Hind's Feet on High Places...Hannah Hurnard
Emma...Jane Austen
The Guests of War Triology...Kit Pearson

Einstein - Walter Isaacson
Prisoner in the Third Cell-Gene Edwards
A Briefer History of Time  Stephen Hawking
A Short History of Everything - Bill Bryson
The Pursuit of God – A W Tozer
The Works of Charles Dickens

The Big Ones I Hope to Tackle someday...
Confessions or The City of God....AugustineMere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Divine Comedy by Dante
Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
The Odyssey by Homer
The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

To All Little Sisters...

                     

Little Sister

I know life seems dark and overwhelming right now. It seems lonely and like you’re trying so hard with so little results. It’s not fun, I get it. Hang in there.

You are in a season. Seasons last only so long and before you know it, the next one is upon you.

It’s ok. Take a deep breath.

When we fight against the seasons, we will never find a true rhythm and rest in life. That joy and peace that is present in the wrinkles of the wise who have lived through many seasons and embrace them in their fullness.

Seasons are not just in the passing of months and days on the calendar. They are in seasons of life. You will have seasons in relationships, in spiritual growth, in your career, in a greater calling, in parenting and in personal growth and maturity. Sometimes, when you are in one season in one part of life, you are also in a different season in another area, sometimes they converge… the point is to embrace them. To  live through each taking the good and the uncomfortable of each, knowing they produce one thing. A Life. YOUR LIFE.

So, look around you. What season are you in? Is it dry, is it barren and maybe even cold? Does everything and everyone seem to be buried? Out of reach?


Welcome to WINTER.

What a beautiful season!

It’s a much needed one. It is a season of rest, of SLOW, of quiet and separation and preparation. It is a season of peace and calm.

Winter is the season for reflection and introspection. It is one where on the outside, not much growth is visible, but underneath the surface, the roots are going deeper and getting stronger.

In winter, you can hear better. There is not as much fighting for your attention.

In winter, the skies are clearer and the air crisper. Unless there is a storm. There will be storms.

The snows and winds, the winter storms come to cover the earth. To blanket her, and provide a means for cleansing in the spring thaw. In winter, the fat is burned. The excess gets used up, or frozen and discarded. This is good. In winter, things die off. These things need to die, to make room for the new growth to come.

There is such beauty in the winter season of life. Sometimes it seems like relationships are hard, maybe it’s time to back off and rest for a bit. Everything is harder to do in winter. That’s why animals hibernate or migrate. We could learn from them if we watch them. Sometimes we hit those dry patches, we feel like we’re not learning anything, nothing seems to “catch us”…that’s ok. The ground is hard, impenetrable. The creator is at work in the ground of our hearts. In winter, we reflect back on what we’ve learned in the past “year”, and we plan…knowing the energy and excitement of a new season will come, it always comes. The warmth of the sun will touch our skin again. But then winter will be over.

Or perhaps you are in a SPRING.


Spring usually comes slowly. If we have truly embraced winter, and loved it. We will see the signs of spring and not grow impatient. They will encourage us. In spring, the thaw comes as slowly the position of the sun changes and the warmth and light extend into longer and longer stretches. The ground opens up. The waters wash away the debris. There is work to be done. Time for reflection and planning has passed. Hopefully, you used your winter well. It’s time to plant, to raise up seedlings, to turn the soil, to open the windows and sweep away the dust.

In spring, everyone seems to begin to tentatively venture outdoors again. They open up their lives and hearts again. Spring is dirty. It is wet. Sometimes it is uncertain. We aren’t sure if we need a jacket or a tshirt. So we wear both. We hear lovely birdsongs again. We see green sprouting and flowers bursting through the dirt and patches of snow. Spring is full of new life, rebirth. Ideas abound, hope is high. Love is easy, new life is celebrated and welcomed with great joy. Summer is on its way.

SUMMER

Oh the days of summer. Summer arrives in glory! The joy of days of fullness. Some harvesting, some playing, long days. Fruitful days. Food is abundant. Summer is noisy, full of song, laughter, shouting and greetings. Getting together with others is easy. Connecting with ideas and being productive is second nature. Celebration is common. Even work is fun.

As summer passes, the calendar fills up. The days become so full, they pass quickly, and thus summer seems to be short. It’s no shorter, just busier. Not as busy as fall mind you, but a different kind of busy. Everything is growing, until it isn’t. Then it gets hot. And DRY. Uncomfortably so. Enough to make us look forward to the cool winds of autumn. But not yet. Despite the heat and dryness, there is much work to be done, and the last of the summer fun to be had.

AUTUMN
In the midst of the busyness (and often the longing for more summer) people don’t even notice the early changeover of fall. Often, because of regrets in not living well in the preceding seasons...

But autumn is MAGNIFICENT! Many times, people lose the full benefits of the fall. It becomes rushed and harried…they lose their joy.  But regardless, it comes and speeds by with the harvesting and the people, everywhere people. Too many to be able to really take care of, but many hands make light work.

Thanksgiving. The reasons for a heart full of gratitude and praise are everywhere. There is beauty and abundance everywhere. While harvesting, the preserving and the setting aside the seed for the next spring. 

The cleanup, so much clean up. There is anticipation of a joyous celebration at the end of the autumn in the holidays. 

The autumn has shorter days though, and the weather and circumstances are always uncertain. It is windy, and the beauty can be blown away quickly. The Harvest rains come, to prepare the earth for the rest of Winter…but by then we are usually already inside, preparing for the celebrations that ease us from one season into another and mark the passing of the circle of time bound in a growing year.

Little sister… look up. Behold the season. Behold the passing of time. The ONE who has quietly observed the passing of the times and seasons through the ages, HE is with you. HE holds your days. Your moments in the sun and moments covered in the snow. Your moments caught in the storms. He is HERE. HE is HERE. In your heartbeat, In the breath of heaven that created us, that we use to walk on the earth.  In the still small voice. In the rising and setting of the sun. Calm your heart, still your mind. REST.


He is HERE. HE IS HERE.



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