Thursday, January 22, 2015

Making Hospitality Comfortable for the Whole Family

Growing up my family had company fairly often and we all enjoyed it a whole lot. At least that was my understanding of everyone's feelings but at least for the most part I am pretty sure that it was true. We loved to have people in our home. It wasn't until I got older that I realized that having company wasn't something that everybody felt as comfortable with.

 When I was in college I continued on with the tradition of having people over. I was in a small Bible college so every now and then I would have fun cooking a meal and invite over all the other students to eat. I wasn't that great of a cook but we loved to get together and any cooking was often considered better than cooking yourself so many would come.

  When Ken and I first got married and were still in the college life we tended to have company fairly often but later I realized that having company wasn't something that Ken found as fun and easy as I did. As time has passed I have realized more of the reasons behind that. One of the reasons is that I tend to be an extrovert and Ken tends to be an introvert. Being around people is very fun for me and I think crowds are fun. A lot of people tend to wear Ken out and making small talk is simply not fun for him.

  There are a lot of different situations that could make it more challenging for your family to have company - perhaps you or your spouse are also introverts and having people around feels tiring. Maybe your spouse doesn't want you to have company because he thinks it will cost to much (we will address that issue in a later post - talking about entertaining economically), perhaps you have a child with special needs that makes it hard for you to have company.

  I don't know the answers for all the issues that could be had but I thought I would share some of the things I have done to try to make it so we can be hospitable regularly without making it to stressful for Ken.

A Ladies Tea

  1. I have hosted many a lunch date or had people over while Ken is at work. Naturally this would be with women or women and children. That way the kids and I can have fun with company and try to use that time to encourage others but Ken doesn't have to be there.
  2. When we have company over that will be there when Ken is there I try to plan it with him well in advance so he can have time to think about it and prepare for it mentally.
  3. When people are over I will try to steer the conversation towards topics that I know Ken and the guests enjoy so that everybody can have a fun conversation.
  4. A lot of our times with guests involve games as that is something that Ken really enjoys and it eliminates a lot of the need for small talk.

Game night
Those are some of the solutions that have worked for us in our situation. I would love to hear what your family has done to make hospitality more fun for everyone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Goals for Good Health - Having a Stretching Habit

 As you may remember - I am working to develop habits in me and our children that will help us to lead healthier lives. Two weeks ago I talked about drinking more water and last week I talked about flossing. Those goals are both going pretty good. Some days we have very easily hit our targeted amount of water and other days we have to work on it a bit and sometimes fall short a bit. Progress is being made however. The flossing is going good too. I have managed to do it 100 % of the days and the kids are doing pretty good too.

  One thing that we have found both helpful and fun is having some nice charts up to keep track of those things as well as other chores and stuff that we need to get done each day. I found these really nice customizable and printable (free) charts over at my friend Jackie's blog - Blessings overflowing. She has places to put chores/goals and then a box behind it for each day of the week. She also has eight glasses of water printed below each day so that you can X them off or color them in or whatever suits your fancy.
My kids have been spending time on Kahn Academy lately and they think that it is fun on there how their Avatar will grow/change when they hit certain goals and so they thought I should have something like that too for these charts. (Megan's idea but the others find it fun too.) So I drew a plain stick figure on each page and whenever they get 10 marks on their page (for completing a job or drinking a glass of water) then I add something new to their person such as giving them hair or clothes or hands or a hat and so on. Mara has been drawing one for me too so we have all been having a little fun with this.

   I do wanted to get some of these charts made up more permanently by figuring out all our things to work on and then laminating it but so far we are just writing on the paper. We have it on the front of the fridge so we don't miss it but eventually I would like to mount them on the inside of a cupboard door so they aren't quite so much a part of our decor. :-)

  How have you been doing on your health goals?

 The health goal that I have for this week is to get back into the habit of stretching. We used to have a short (a few minutes) stretching routine every morning but that rather went by the wayside with our moving and such this past year. I do know however that stretching helps keep my neck in better condition and the kid's as well. We have been a little tight lately and I think it is time to do some stretching! With the stretching we also work on some deep breathing which is very good for you as well.

 The kids have not been overly found of stretching time but it is still good for them so onward, forward! Would you like to join us?

 Do you stretch regularly? I would love to hear about your routine.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why I believe the Bible is True

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 
2 Timothy 3:16 & 17

"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 2 Peter 1:20 & 21

I believe these verses. I believe that the Holy Bible (all of it!) is true and that it is truly God's word. This would be the basis for the whole study that I am sharing with you this year of "Why I believe". So today I thought it would be very important to share with you a few of the reasons that I believe the Holy Bible is true.

   The Bible is actually not just one book but rather a collection of 66 books. It was written over a large period of time (around 1500 years) and by many different authors (40) and it was written in different languages (Hebrew and Greek mainly) but still in the Bible we find one message the message of a God who created us, loves us and sent Jesus to save us from our sins. All of the Bible points to that one goal. All of this variety in the writing and yet there is one message and throughout the Bible we find no contradictions or historical errors.

   Thinking of history and the Bible - it is pretty neat to start reading about different archaeology that has been done and how everything that is found goes along with what we already have read about in the Bible. Time and again things found just help to prove again that the Bible is true.

  Another thing that I find fascinating is reading about the many stories world wide about Biblical events such as creation and the flood. Over and over again we will find that there were "legends" passed down in peoples all over the world (China, South America, Native Tribes and so forth) about a man (sometime also mentioning his family) and animals who were saved from a huge flood on a boat. Various places also have stories about God creating the world and the first man and woman. These stories though often somewhat twisted from the Biblical account still go to confirm that what is written in the Bible is true.

  The message in the Bible also is proved true because it works. When people and nations follow the Bible things work out much better for everyone.

  Those are some of the reasons that I believe the Bible to be true. I would love to hear what causes you to believe in the Bible.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

We Have Counter-tops!

 This week our counter-tops arrived and I am pretty excited! Our kitchen sinks came at the same time but the faucets and drains aren't getting hooked up until Tuesday so we can't really use them yet.

   You may remember that I really wanted to have slate counter-tops. Well that is not what I got but I am pretty happy anyway. Slate seems to be a pretty hard to come by option in Minnesota. The cabinet guys that I talked to about it were always very hesitant and none of them had ever put it in before and they were unsure of it. Meanwhile I would tell them about all the good reviews that I had read and the pictures I had seen. They check on it for me. The stone holding place in MN was supposed to be getting some in from India (which I was unsure of as I thought it sounded like New England slate would be better). So we waited for the slate to arrive. When it did arrive they were still unsure of it so I drove 3 hours south to check on it.

   When I got there they told me that they thought that the people in India called it slate but that really it was a soapstone. It was an absorbent stone, scratched easily and was reacting badly to acid. Well that didn't sound to good. Then I looked at the slab that they had. It was ugly! It had streaks of purple, green, white and grey and it was done in a leather finish but unlike the other leather finishes I had seen it was not just textured but truly bumpy. Anyway - I didn't want that slab at all.

  As far as my cabinet guy knew there was no other place to get slate closer than Chicago. At this point I just really wanted to get my counter-top and not pay a fortune. I had looked into shipping some in from New England a little but decided to stop pursuing that and just choose something else.

  So we went ahead and went with Granite. I was a little blue about that as I really wanted to have something different then every other stone counter-top that I see but I am actually really happy with it now that it is here.

   We got a granite called Opalescence. I had it done in the honed finish so it is not shiny. I really didn't want the polished look. I think it actually looks a fair amount like slate. It doesn't feel quite as silky as slate but it still feels very nice. I am feeling very blessed!

 The guys that installed the counter-top were really friendly and we had a fun time visiting with them and learning a little about their trade. They deal only in solid stone counter-tops and come from a couple of hours away from here.
These counter-tops can handle hot pots being placed on them and don't require much/if any maintenance. They should last as long as the house. I was told to be careful not to place a cut citrus fruit on them as it will kind of etch them and leave the design of the orange (or whatever) on it. Interesting - it almost makes me want to experiment - but not quite!

  We still need our light fixture above the island put in and the covers for the outlets put on, the faucets installed and the windows cut out better and trimmed and then I think the kitchen will be pretty much done. Hooray!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Homeschool Highlights

 Lately there have been so many different things - a game, a book, something new that we do with the kids and I think "Wow, this is a wonderful way to learn!" There have been so many things that we have been having fun with and yet lots of learning is being done. I thought about sharing everything in one big long post but then thought that maybe this would make a neat series.

  So I am going to try to write a post about each of those things and all the new things that I am sure will come up and I will try to share a "Homeschool Highlight" each Friday. I also might from time to time pull out some of my very old posts about teaching little kids and share some of them too. Since we homeschool I think of learning very often in those terms but I hope that this will be useful to any parent - whether you homeschool or not.

Today I wanted to share with you one of our highlights from last week....
At our homeschool co-op a couple of times a year we have the kids write and present reports. This month they were required to do a report about an artist. We have been pretty busy around here and so we didn't get any major research done on artists but even with a little bit of time we really had a lot of fun learning about the different artists that the kids choose.

  Mara researched and reported on Joe and Beth Krush the illustrators of the Borrowers Books (American editions) and an All of a Kind Family book and others. We have enjoyed their illustrations over the year so it was really fun to learn more about them and their methods.

Jonathan learned about Terry Redlin one of our favorite nature artists who was from our neighboring state and went to art school in MN.

Aaron studied up on Garth Williams (illustrator of the Little House books and many more) and also copied one of his pictures.

Megan learned more about Thomas Moran - drooled (figuratively) over all his pictures and had a report about him.

This learning was fun for all of us as we were able to visit it about it. The reporting is good for their learning how to write things in an understandable way and then be able to present it clearly and without getting stage fright. We have found this to be a very good thing. Even if you don't have a co-op to do this sort of thing in I would encourage writing reports and presenting them at the supper table or when Grandpa and Grandma come over or something like that. I think that this could likely be a useful tool later in life.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Defining Hospitality

Before we truly get started with all the nitty-gritty of Hospitality (how to cook for a crowd, doing it economically, giving things a special touch - etc) I thought we had better first talk about what hospitality truly is.

Here are some dictionary definitions of Hospitality:

  •   An instance of cordial and generous treatment of guests.
  •  Kindness in welcoming strangers or guests.
  • Receptiveness
So to be hospitable we are going to be polite, generous, kind and open to both people we know and people that we don't know. It would seem that normally it would be in your home (they are your guests) but it wouldn't have to be.

When we check out what the Greek words mean in verses like Romans 12:13 which says: "contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality" we find it is that word Philoxenia which means: love to strangers, hospitality. 

What sticks out to me when I think about this is that Hospitality is truly about thinking about others. How can we make them feel welcomed and loved and over and over in what I am seeing the concept of showing this to strangers (somebody we don't know!) is brought up too. So as we talk about hospitality I am hoping to remember to focus on our need to think about others and forget about ourselves (and our house) and also how we might be able to extend hospitality not just to friends and family but also to strangers.

  I would love to hear your thoughts on this!


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