Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

We said “No, thank you” to everything we could this summer. Library reading programs, and classes for the children, and fancy vacations. After a hectic year where we had something going seven days a week, plus frequent trips to the dentist for the Professor’s retainer (Yay! for the middle school years!), and frequent trips to the natural health doctor for me (a real, true Yay! to finding out why I’ve been so very tired for the past decade), I was ready to say “No” to those things. This made us able to say “Yes, please” to a lot more of what we needed, body and soul. Hikes in the woods. Trips to the beach. Sitting on the porch eating popsicles and playing Yahtzee. And Vikings. We said “Yes” to Vikings, too.

38516100_2060417473992184_6649892465622908928_n

We’ve never studied a topic over the summer before, but it worked out just perfect. We had loads of time to read all the books, watch all the documentaries, make all the costumes, and best of all–build a Viking Longship in our playroom! My boys soaked it all up, and we had loads of Viking battles fought in the back garden (and sometimes in the house!) as they re-enacted what they’d learned. I’d love to share with you the resources my four wee men and I used during our Viking summer.

The books we read–

  • Leif the Lucky by Ingri & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire ( a GORGEOUS picture book telling the story of Leif Erikson, son of Eric the Red. If you aren’t familiar with the D’Aulaire’s books, you’re in for a treat).42124199_295240854406877_305622047352946688_n
  • The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway (a living history chapter book that weaves the details of Viking life into a story on the life of Leif and Eric). 42201333_476219392878002_208868442902626304_n
  • The Story of the Vikings Coloring Books by A.G. Smith (a detailed coloring book that includes descriptions on each page, and quite a broad history of the Vikings).

Those days we had to travel and couldn’t read, we listened!

  • The Dragon and the Raven – The extraordinary adventures of G.A. Henty (an enthralling audio drama with an impressive cast, including actors from The Hobbit, and British drama Call the Midwife). That can be purchased here. 42185898_652046728529508_3880848254421696512_n

Our study also made them curious about the countries of Greenland, Iceland, and Norway, and so maps were studied, and documentaries on YouTube watched. A couple of good videos I found can be found here and here.

I purchased all of their Viking helmets from Amazon. I decided on the plush kind, since the hard plastic hats often don’t stay on, and get cracked so easily. My favorite is the brown plush hat. The link to that can be found here. We also made a miniature longboat to sail at the park.

42147853_1022922367887241_1406338357620899840_n38668161_640284566341090_6049284032791838720_n

Emerging ourselves into the world of the Vikings sparked all kids of creative play in my boys. It caused many a village to be plundered in our back garden, and many a sea to be sailed and new land explored in the Viking longship we built in the playroom! They set up Viking villages, and wanted to read our Viking books again and again. I’d recommend this kind of focused, immersive kind of play-learning for any topic (especially history or literature, or science related) that you want your children to not only enjoy learning but also remember!

This autumn our focused study will be about the first explorers of North America (after the Vikings, because of course we know they were really the first!). So for more ideas, and to follow along with our life of 1 Scottish Daddy + 1 Writing Mummy + 1 Rambling Victorian House + 4 Rambunctious Boys, follow my blog or find me on Facebook or Instagram @happylittlesigh.

Avonlea xo

Happy Little Sigh 

Finding beauty in the everyday

Read Full Post »

We sat across from each other at the table for two. Busy Friday night hum. Instruments and speakers toted past as a band set up for a live show. Between us, two gluten-free Greek pizzas, lavender drinks, and so much to say.

We met on Valentine’s Day, age eight. Instant friendship. From then on, we were sisters–she, and I, and her twin sister, and her cousin. Four kindred spirits. Through the rest of childhood and the teenage years, we shared it all. Our secrets. Our dreams for the future. Our clothes. We blushed over boys. Cried hard tears on each other’s shoulders over heart-breaks and family drama. Made plans for many more adventures together.

38199988_10160558109135527_2379216967778172928_n

Then early adulthood, and choices were made. And we went our separate ways. I moved to Scotland. With an ocean between us for years, it wasn’t hard to grow apart. That, and we each had our demons to fight. But then I returned, back to the USA. We saw each other once, twice, then several times. And with each meeting came more trusting, more sharing of the parts of our stories we’d missed.

38022294_10160558108735527_6669327566299463680_n

And as we sat in that noisy restaurant last Friday night, we spoke again of the particulars of our lives. Of our mistakes, our regrets, and how we’d grown. She said something nice about my house. I smiled dreamily as she spoke of her daughter–something I’ve never had. And it occurred to us both–occurred to us that we can never see our own life as it looks from the outside. Did you hear that? Other people will naturally and unknowingly take what they see on social media, what they know of your possessions and your family, and the personality you portray in public, and for better or worse, will construct a movie-trailer-like idea of your life. And this, they will think, it what it must be like to be you. And we, in turn, do the same for them.

We look at other women, and so often we see only what she has that I don’t. That child. That house. That career. That husband. That body. That confidence. And we think because she has some of those things that we don’t, she must be happy. She must feel complete. It’s easy to miss the in-between bits. The hurts and the struggles. The tedious times. The longings each of us have. The depth of each human soul.

38055981_10160558107320527_350919903487721472_n

It’s easy to forget all that. Easy to forget that others are praying for what we already have. That we, ourselves, once prayed for the many blessings we now enjoy. So today, instead of comparing your life to the false picture you’ve concocted of someone else’s life, let your mind dwell on the many blessings in your own life. For comparison is nothing but a thief of joy.

Avonlea xo

For more inspiration, bookishness, and mad stories of life homeschooling 4 wee men,

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com

happylittlesigh.com

Finding beauty in the everyday 

 

Read Full Post »

I grew up with William and Harry in a way–sitting on our brown living room carpet at age 5, popping out clothes for my Princess Diana paper doll. Or flipping through the glossy pages of my mother’s Princess Diana fashion books–page after page of her glorious clothes. Page after page of her holding her little princes with her radiant smile. And I watched those princes grieve their mother. Watched them go off to school, then college. Watched dreamy-eyed the romance between William and Kate.

Fast forward a few years, and it’s 6.15 A.M. on a Saturday. And I’m dashing through pelting rain, hopping into my car, driving across town to my mother’s house because it’s Harry’s turn now. He’s getting married.

Yes, they are two people on the other side of the world whom I have never really met. But since I have watched them, I care for them. And as I have friends who personally knew the Queen Mother (the present Queen’s mother), and spoke so well of her and her faith, I now care for her family. I also have great respect for the Queen, so I do. I became a British citizen a few years ago, so I suppose she is my Queen–and maybe that means William and Kate and Harry and Meghan are my Princes and Duchesses too 🙂

Royal Wedding

So, my lovelies, here are my favorite misty-eyed, ear-to-ear grin, happy little sigh moments from the wedding (plus pics of our Watch Party Breakfast Tea!).

  1. What They Said (mostly) Without Talking – The secret smiles, the whispered words, the subtle interactions. William and Harry grinning at each other. Kate leaning to whisper to William. Little George and Charlotte with their mum and dad. The bride and groom’s adoring stares. They may be titled, wealthy, and famous, but they are real people–mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, brother, sister, husband, wife. And their genuine smiles and obvious affection for each other warmed my heart. When Prince Charles passed Meghan over the Harry, Harry whispered, “Thank you, Father,” then turned to his bride and said, “Are you okay? You look amazing.” What did William and Kate and the others whisper to each other? We can only guess, but their faces tell much.
  2. The Bower –  Roses, peonies, forget-me-nots, all tumbling down wild-like, and glorious, and jubilant around the church doors. How long these arrangements took (while keeping the flowers fresh), I can only imagine. They were beautiful! 33057851_10160286659270527_1335233580602753024_n
  3. The Dress! – Our questions have now been answered! Meghans’s dress was satiny, her hair was up, and her nails were pale pink, just as I guessed. And the veil–sigh… delicate, yet breathtaking. The only thing I didn’t glimpse was her shoes! Prince+Harry+Marries+Ms+Meghan+Markle+Windsor+pyLSu8O5Nvzl
  4. The Message – Wasn’t it great, friends, to hear the name of Jesus? To hear said in so many words that Christianity is not obsolete? And didn’t Bishop Michael Curry’s exuberance make us all smile? Especially when he said, “and with this, I will sit you down. We’ve got to get you all married,” (and then proceeded to keep talking). I think I need to watch again. 😀 33032557_10160286682715527_2424621536670384128_n
  5. God Save the Queen – And this was where I cried. With news circulating that the Queen will be stepping down this year, we won’t have many more times to sing this song. As Queen Elizabeth II has been reigning since 1952, she’s the only Queen many of us have ever known, and I sometimes forget she won’t be here forever. It’s a fact I’m sure her family feel even more keenly, and it was seeing their faces (as they sang of their mother and grandmother) that made me cry. I love the Queen. 33066087_10160286682790527_3662319480882593792_n

And here’s how we watched–

Guests – My mother (the hostess), my mother-in-law (visiting from Scotland–she brought the fab Harry & Meghan biscuit tins), our friend Pat!

32949020_10160286801275527_9090124121060147200_n

The Breakfast – Quiche, sausages, fruit salad, scones with cream and elderberry jam, tea, coffee, and the highlight–lemon muffins with elderflower syrup in honor of the royal wedding cake (where does one get elderflower? my mom is amazing).

32947078_10160282447895527_2000285910356197376_n-1.jpg

The decór – Bunting, fresh flowers, floral globes.

33027126_10160286810660527_8701742121247309824_n

What we wore – Check out the hats and fascinators that we made!!!

The wedding brought us all together. It was a reason to dust off the good china. It was a reason to make new hats! And no matter what, it was worth because of that. Praying every spiritual and good blessing on Harry, Meghan, and the entire royal family.

Avonlea xo

For more royal fun, bookishness, and mad stories of life homeschooling 4 wee men,

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com

happylittlesigh.com

Finding beauty in the everyday 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

A ginger-headed Brit and a dark-haired American–sound familiar? Yes, Harry and Meghan, but not so long ago this dark-haired American married her own Brit.  Apparently fair-headed British guys can’t quite resist us brunettes, American or not (we won’t mention the fact that Meghan and Kate are probably a good six inches taller than I 🙂 ).

@happylittlesigh (16)

But in case you’re somehow clueless about what I’m going on about, Prince Harry, grandson of the current British Monarch, and American actress Meghan Markle’s wedding is coming up this Saturday, May 19. Another wedding as grand as this one won’t be seen until wee Prince George gets married. So whether you consider yourself an Anglophile or a fan of the Royal Family or not, no one does pomp and circumstance quite like the British, and I’m sure the wedding will be full of fairytale magic aplenty–though all in tasteful British style (unless Meghan decides to add a bit of American sparkle to the affair!).

So just for (so much) fun, my friends, plus a few tips on throwing together your own wedding breakfast tea party to celebrate, here are a few facts and speculations about Harry and Meghan’s upcoming big day . . .

1The Location – Harry and Meghan will be married at neither Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Catherine Middleton said their vows, nor St. Paul’s Cathedral, where Princess Diana and Prince Charles wed. Nope, Harry and Meghan’s “cozy” wedding will be at St. George’s Chapel, and the reception (for around 600 guests) at St. George’s Hall, both at Windsor Castle, a royal residence in the south of England. No Buckingham Palace means no iconic balcony kisses, such as we saw with William and Kate and many royals before (awww). And while royal weddings are traditionally held on a weekday, they are also breaking tradition by getting married on a Saturday. Following the reception, around 200 have been invited to a private reception given by Prince Charles at Frogmore House on the castle grounds (where Harry and Meghan took their engagement photos). 

 Your own living room, dining room, or sun porch will be just perfect for your wedding tea party (somewhere you can see the T.V.!). Don’t forget to add some British style bunting for a real British tea party effect.

@happylittlesigh (11)

A snap I took of Windsor Castle and gardens when we visited before emigrating to the States

2. The Decór  –  London-based florist Philippa Craddock was chosen by Meghan and Harry to design their flower arrangements. And the bouquet? White garden roses, peonies, and foxgloves (two of the flowers I chose for my own wedding day!). The flowers will be locally sourced, in season, and reflect the wild and natural landscape of the surrounding English countryside. But one thing Meghan will have that I did not is sprigs of myrtle–from the very same plant used by Queen Victoria for her own wedding. Quite the family tradition! And of course there are speculations as to whether Meghan’s bouquet will pay tribute to Princess Diana’s.

 For your own wedding tea, why not gather wildflowers that reflect the beauty of your OWN local countryside?

@happylittlesighxt (5)Princess Diana, Harry’s mother, at her 1981 June wedding

3. The Reception  –  Though we won’t get a balcony scene to ogle over, Harry and Meghan will have a carriage procession through Windsor immediately following the ceremony. Afterwards, rather than the sit-down lunch for 650 guests that William and Kate held for their guests at Buckingham Palace, Meghan and Harry have chosen “bowl foods” for their wedding reception, with “mini main courses” (not sure about you, but if I were somehow lucky enough to be invited, I’d be terrified of dripping something down the front of my dress!). But a standing reception will allow Harry and Meghan more of a chance to mingle with their guests compared to a traditional sit-down event. I was a little surprised at this choice for a royal wedding, though it reflects Harry and Meghan’s less-fuss approach. And it seems that as sixth in line to the throne, Harry and his bride had more flexibility.

And on the menu? According to royal chef Mark Flanagan, Meghan and Harry have “been involved in every detail.” And apparently the local vegetables are all doing their part and coming into season just in time to land on the royal wedding table–er, in the royal wedding bowls. While the exact dishes to be served remain a secret, Mr. Flanagan did say that tried, true, classic foods will be most likely. One thing we do, know, however is that Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake, which will also be served to guests, is lemon and elderflower with a buttercream frosting and fresh flowers to decorate. Sounds delish, and much nicer than the traditional British wedding fruitcake!

The wedding will be early in the morning for us here in the States, so why not serve lemon pound cake or lemon poppyseed muffins (as tribute to the lemon wedding cake), along with fruit salad, sausages, quiche, and other breakfast foods for your guests to enjoy? You could also try to locate some sparkling elderflower juice for something new!

@happylittlesigh (13)

Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s 2011 wedding cake

4. The Dress  –  The style and designer of Meghan’s wedding dress is undoubtedly the biggest secret of the day–and the most fun thing to speculate about! In a Glamour interview about her Suits television character’s wedding dress, Meghan said, “my personal style—wedding or not—is very pared down and relaxed. Classic and simple is the name of the game, perhaps with a modern twist. I personally prefer wedding dresses that are whimsical or subtly romantic.” I’m willing to bet her dress will have less lace and beadwork than sister-in-law Kate’s–but will she be modern and relaxed enough to go for silky fabrics and a skinnier silhouette? There is also debate about whether or not Meghan will be wearing a tiara. I hope she does–a fairytale wedding wouldn’t be complete without one! And what about her hair–up or down? So much for us to wonder about, so much for us to look forward to seeing on the big day. 

A few things we do know–one tradition the couple will be keeping is that Prince Harry won’t see his bride in her wedding dress before she walks down the aisle. Also, Meghan will probably have two dresses–one for the ceremony and one for the reception. And last, but apparently not least, Meghan–along with Kate and the Queen–will most likely be wearing pale pink or clear nail polish. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a photo of Kate Middleton with red fingernails (although she sometimes wears it on her toes 🙂 ). And reportedly, the Queen has been wearing the same pale shade of polish, Essie’s Ballet Slippers, since 1989. A small thing for a girl to give up in exchange for being a royal. 

@happylittlesigh (12)

William and Kate’s balcony kiss

You may decide to watch the royal wedding with your favorite mug . . . and in your favorite PJs. But if you are throwing a wedding breakfast tea, don’t forget to dust off your hat (or pick up one from a thrift store). You can always add lace, netting, or flowers. Or buy a headband and make it into a fascinator, taking inspiration from Prince William’s cousins, Beatrice and Eugenie. Don’t forget to paint your nails a delicate shade of pink!

@happylittlesigh (15)

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie at William and Kate’s 2011 wedding

Whatever ends up inside those bowls of food, whatever the shape of the dress, whatever the color of those soon-to-be-royal nails, the day is sure to evoke a few wistful sighs from us all. I’d so, so love to hear your thoughts and best guesses for the day! Also, I’ll be joining a few friends to celebrate, and would love to have you along! Comment below, or find me on Instagram or Facebook @happylittlesigh. 

@happylittlesighxt (4)

Me with my ginger-headed Brit on our own May wedding day

Avonlea xo

 

happylittlesigh.com

Finding beauty in the everyday 

Read Full Post »

A new royal baby, and isn’t it wonderful? And aren’t we happy for Prince William and Kate? But wouldn’t we all like a closer look than what the web or magazines let us see? A closer look at life behind those royal stone walls? And wouldn’t it be fun to imagine being invited to one of the royal homes–say Buckingham Palace?  What would one would wear? What would one do? And most importantly, what would Her Majesty be serving for lunch? Well, read on to find out. 

 I can’t claim to have extra info on the royal baby or what the new prince will be called (though I’m rooting for Arthur). But during the years spent living in the United Kingdom, I met more than one person who ran into a member of the royal family, or even got to meet them face to face. So for the rather charming little tale of my husband meeting the Queen, plus stories of run-ins with Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, check out Meeting the Royals – Part 1. And for today, I’ve reserved some rather exclusive pics from two other royal events—the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and her Annual Garden Party. So join me for a peek inside the walls of Buckingham Palace for tea with the Queen. 

Buckingham Palace

First off, we need an invitation, or we’ll not be let through the gates.

Certificate of Completion

Now what to wear? The Garden Party requires more stately dress–for ladies, a pretty spring frock and hat or fascinator (pictured above) would be appropriate. For men, a suit and tie or dress uniform is a must. The picnic lunch in honor of the Jubilee, however, allowed for more casual summer attire. 

And what shall we do while we are there? Clearly the Queen doesn’t wish her guests to be confused, and so provides a handy timetable for the afternoon of the Garden Party.

23798834_1733325653368101_635720821_o

And for her Diamond Jubilee? First, the all import picnic on the lawns of Buckingham Palace. On the menu? Chilled British Country Garden Soup. Diamond Jubilee Chicken &  Tea-Smoked Scottish Salmon (toppings for the Fresh Bread Rolls). Oaten Biscuits with Harvest Chutney and a selection of Cheeses. Crunchy Seasonal Crudités (that’s veggie sticks to the rest of us). We mustn’t forget the Bubbly and Tea. And for afters, Lemon & Caraway Madeira cake, Chocolate Indulgence cake, and Sandringham Strawberry Crumble Crunch. A lunch not to be sniffed at. 

Afterwards, entertainment by a variety of performers, including Sir Elton John, followed by an impressive fireworks display over the palace.

IMG_8727 (1)

IMG_8747

And isn’t it all lovely, and doesn’t it just make you sigh a happy little sigh?

Avonlea xo

For more royal fun, bookishness, and mad stories of life homeschooling 4 wee men, 

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com

happylittlesigh.com

Finding beauty in the everyday ♥

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

You don’t have to look far to find ugly.

It’s there in the news.

It’s there on your computer.

You can find it in the tone of your very own voice.

And as much as we’d like to erase it,

make it disappear with our magic mummy wands,

one day our children will find out about ugly.

Or maybe it’s ugly that will find out about them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My fingers are blue with the telling of it.

All that rolling eggs round till they come up like the sky.

And we said it was like the stone rolling,

opening up that cave-tomb

two millennia ago.

And we speak of the first Good Friday,

and how strange that we call it all good,

when there came then the ugliest ugly

that ever was

or ever will be.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the kitchen window I watch them,

red-breasted robins against the flat, dry brown.

And I know it means winter was beaten,

and I smile at the green that will come.

A great kafuffle and we’re out there,

tramping the brown with our boots.

And I stop them once or twice just to point out

where a bulb or a bud has poked through.

And I’m breathing in the sweet smell of new life,

and I’m thanking Him there’s such a thing as grace.

Because today there was plenty of ugly

In my heart, in my voice, in my face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You don’t have to look far to find ugly.

Ugly always finds some way in.

And how could I even bear it?

Go on pretending that everything’s great

If it wasn’t.

Really wasn’t.

If I couldn’t look them in the eye and tell them

That ugly won’t win.

No, ugly won’t win, precious children.

Because His grave didn’t hold death in.

And the last time we lock eyes

won’t really be the last.

Oh, my sweet ones,

He has conquered death and sin.

 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

– Revelation 21:5

Avonlea xo

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh orFacebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com 

happylittlesigh.com                                                                                                      Finding beauty in the everyday ♥

Read Full Post »

We can wait decades. Sometimes more. Hoping, praying, begging that God would make a thing come true. And you pray, and you wait. And sometimes you recall some sweet blessing, or some specific prayer that was answered in the past, and you faith is boosted a bit–just enough to keep you hoping, even when it all seems to fall on deaf ears.

Other times the seeming silence makes you feel you might crumble right down to nothing but dust. And sometimes dust is just what you wish you could be.

For the waiting, and the longing, they can work away like long years of labor on tender heart, leaving you just . . . tired. And the world, with all it’s beautiful places and beautiful faces can begin to seem like the only comfort you’re going get. And sin is drug-like, and it smiles so sweet, and the lies it tells you never look like lies at all.

Sin can begin to look more beautiful than . . . well, than God himself. And you find yourself wondering if He really is so good.

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.

But I’m here to tell you–as I’m here to tell myself–that whatever it is the world is offering you, it will never bring you the peace and fulfillment you desire. Whatever it is you’re being tempted by, God is better. He is BETTER. And He is GOOD.

Yes, I’m waiting. Long, long waits. And I’m asking God so many Whys–about family, and relationships, and these books, which I’ve written but have yet to land in a reader’s hands. And it’s ever-so-hard when a burning desire–an ability, a gift–we think God has given us, seems to bounce off the ceiling and land right back in our laps.

And I can’t give the answer to that for my own life, as I can’t give the answer to that for yours. But I am determined to choose what is BEST. No matter what the outcome, no matter if I go to my deathbed still whispering these prayers, I am determined to trust the One who gives me breath. The One who made me and placed me just as and where I am. The One who calls me His own.

May God give you the strength to do the same. For the dear ones in your life. For your own self. For the glory of Christ. May you determine to walk the narrow path of life. To “set your face like flint, determined to do His will.” Isaiah 50:7.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

Avonlea xo

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com 

happylittlesigh.com                                                                                                                  Finding beauty in the everyday 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: