Joy Dare :: Unframed Art

Unframed art is really prolific around here. There are stacks and stacks of the stuff everywhere you look. Messy art projects are not something I am naturally thankful for, but I’m trying to not let the chaos bother me,

But recently, all the children have been branching out extensively in their artistic endeavors.


Sophie is the queen of all art forms. She’s not afraid to try her hand at anything, and is generally quite pleased with the results.



Kinsley seems to show some aptitude in the sculpting department.


Our charming penguin family was a gift from my creative mom. The kids love getting these guys out each Christmas season. They like to imagine all sorts of “clever” conversations taking place between the three gourds.

And the art behind them is by my awesome brother. I asked for an Ansel Adams style crayon art piece, and that is what he made me.



Puzzles, another art form we are certainly thankful for.  Especially these two.

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Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Shining

The kids and I are loosely following along with the Joy Dare that Ann Voskamp does. I say loosely, because I never finish anything.

But we’ve got the December dares on the fridge and we’re keeping our eyes open for things that we are grateful for this month.

Three Gifts Shining.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset(please excuse the cell phone picture – I was too lazy to get the real camera out…)

Truxton and Kinsley both thought of the Christmas tree. Having a Christmas tree in the living room is pretty much the single most exciting thing these guys can imagine. Does it really get any more cozy than that?


Gillian thought of our candles.

Those are supposed to be advent candles there in the middle, but, uh, someone forgot that there were supposed to be five when she bought them. Also, the afore mentioned someone had intended to come up with some clever way of denoting the first three as lavender and the fourth as pink, and has yet to do so.


And Sophie, never one to be hindered by what she can actually see at the moment, thought of the stars.

“Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.'”
CS Lewis


Wrapping up November


Reflecting back on November, there is really so very much to be thankful for.
Mainly coffee.


I kid.

Kinsley has done very well on her prednisolone course, and amazingly, we’ve stayed essentially healthy.


We have seen the tender hand of our God relentlessly working on a situation which we have prayed about for ten years.


And as always (but even more obviously to us this last month) He has provided in extravagant and surprising ways.


Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23


Joy Dare Blog

Nature Study – The Oppossum

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Nature study is an area that consistently suffers in our schooling, even though I was determined not to let it slide.

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So when the Xplor magazine showed up and peaked Kinsley’s interest in opossums, I decided to roll with it, mostly to assuage the guilty feeling of failure.

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The Handbook of Nature Study didn’t have anything on the opossum (Did I miss it? Are they not blessed with these chicken eatin’ varmints across the pond??) so we turned to youtube. Where we basically got distracted by cute possum videos for 45 minutes. I suffer from shiny object syndrome.

(I actually kind of feel like that mama possum sometimes.)

We learned that baby opossums are about the size of a kidney bean when they are born and that an entire litter can fit in a teaspoon. The gestation period is only 13 days, and they nurse without stopping for two solid months. They are the only marsupials in the US. Fascinating!

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Then we sketched us some ‘possum (this is acceptable grammar when discussing a possum, I believe).

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Then Kinsley read to us from The Adventures of Unc’ Billy Possum.

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She is quite the expressive reader!

I am motivated to do better at nature study again. For now.

Happy Colors!





This last is gift from my sweet sister-in-law,  Amber. She and Jared even hung it up for me when I was gone one day.  It is the perfect thing for my kitchen, and we all really love it!

Last night Sophie was gazing contemplatively up at it and said “All of our aunts and uncles are such amazing artists!” So true, Sophie Lou.

Thoughts at a concert

Last night we attended a Christmas concert performed by the 399th Army Band from Fort Leonard Wood.  It was very good, and the kids danced the entire hour away.

Halfway through, one of the sergeants invited the audience to join her in a moment of silence to honor those who had lost loved ones that morning. Afterward she commented that music connects people of every creed, race and religion, and how if we focus on the beautiful, it can prevent the ugly things in our world.

I was struck with sadness at how utterly hollow those words must seem to those who had lost their loved one to any kind of senseless violence.

The sergeant then began to sing beautifully one of my favorite songs “What a Wonderful World,” and the song struck me as almost ludicrous to follow up the moment of silence designed to commemorate such carnage as some families had suffered.

Maybe I really over thought the entire thing, but as I listened to the words: I see trees of green…….. red roses too… I began to think of how all the ugliness of this world must make a heart hunger for what is not ugly, what is Light, and Beauty and What is Utterly Good. As Ann Voskamp penned in her book 1000 Gifts:

That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him.” 

I see skies of blue….. clouds of white…  And I thought, maybe this song is more fitting than I first thought, especially to those of us who have a Hope.  God has given us so much beauty, and yes, it is a wonderful world, because He is a wonderful Creator God.

We are here, in this undeniably imperfect and hard world, but we can choose to see the beauty with the ugly through a lens of true thanksgiving and remember that God is with us and for us. He weeps with us, treasures our tears, and He is good.

“…the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.”
― Ann Voskamp

The sergeant may speak of an overly simplistic view of life, perhaps because she failed to acknowledge God where we most need to see His face, but as a Christian, I was thankful for Louis Armstrong’s reminder, intentional or no, of the beauty that abounds here, and how much we do have for which to be  thankful and joyful.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  Phillipians 4:8

Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Ice Cold

I have NOT really been looking forward to being thankful for anything cold as ice. Cold is not really my thing. In fact, this first gift of cold comes to you courtesy of Dan. I was snuggled up with a fuzzy-sleeper-clad baby under three blankets and a down comforter.

Winter Morning Beauty

photo credit – Astro Bob

This morning it was cold. This I can personally attest to. Apparently it was under 20* when Dan headed out to work. But the sky was clear and according to Dan the crescent moon was gorgeous and there were three planets all in a row.

I am sure if getting up early in the frigid cold is your kind of thing, you would have loved it. I am thankful that my husband gets up and goes to work to provide for the family who is all snuggly and warm in bed.


When we did get out of bed this morning, the children and I enjoyed the sight of thousands of tiny diamonds sparkling on everything. A picture really can’t do it justice!

Sonic Ice


A good friend of mine told us about Sonic Ice, which has been a life saver for teething babies, children with sore throats, and lazy mamas who don’t make ice in trays OR unload children from a van to buy ice from a service station. We just pull through the drive through, ask for a bag of ice, fork over a buck-seventy and that’s all there is to it. Handy-dandy.

Cool Touch Kleenex


I accidentally grabbed a box of these Kleenex the last time I made an emergency kleenex run, and boy, were they a treat for the nose!

This post ended up being quite commercial in the end!

Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Ugly Beautiful

My mom has an explanation of what Ann Voskamp meant by Ugly Beautiful posted on her blog, but since I had taken the photos for this Joy Dare before I read that, mine aren’t exactly the same idea, but that’s okay, we were thankful for these things today!


We raked leaves from the front yard yesterday (or at least Dan did, while the rest of us sort of offered some form of moral support) and the kids and I were talking about how the dead leaves sort of fit the idea of Ugly Beautiful in several different ways.

Kinsley brought me the piece of evergreen which had come from a shrub in our yard and said “Can you believe that this is really, truly golden?? It’s so pretty!” She was right, though I probably never would have even noticed that little dead twig as beautiful.


Our chalkboard and the never ending to-do lists are both Ugly Beautiful. Where would we be without either? 😉


Can you see the grubby little hand prints? We have lots of those. If I forget that they shouldn’t be there, then they are actually kind of charming and beautiful. At least that’s what I will tell myself when I contemplate adding “window washing” to mo to do list.

Joy Dare :: A Gift Hung, Held, Heard

A Gift Hung


My black and white crayon art was a birthday gift from my super talented brother Jacob. I asked if he could pull of an Ansel Adams feel, and he sure did! It’s one of my most favorite pieces of art.

A Gift Held


I had to include Gillian here, since she makes certain that she is the main thing I find myself holding. That’s okay though, she’s pretty cute!

A Gift Heard


When we snagged our bird-songs clock from a neighbors yard sale, I was thrilled that both the kids and I could learn some of the bird calls in such an easy way. Unfortunately, I neglected to make sure that it was accurate, and after several months of me calling the name of each bird at the top of the hour, Dan pointed out that the clock must be set wrong, and I realized that we had learned all the wrong songs to all the wrong birds. Oh well. We’ll get around to bird songs someday.

Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Shining

Three Gifts Shining. Hmmm. So close to Three Gifts Bright.

Kinsley thought about this assignment and suggested the moon.


“Oh, is it pretty tonight?” I asked her.

“Well, it’s actually pretty EVERY night.”

Right. The moon is certainly something to be thankful for!


We love our aquarium which was a gift from Mom and Dad when we moved into this bigger house. We all find it to be very relaxing, and soothing. One certain child finds it to be a good antidote to sleepless nights.


And the fish are shiny, right?


Our twinkly fairy lights. I am very thankful for them. They are not only cozy to look at, but they have saved me many a stubbed toe and cracked shin as I stumble about the house running various errands for various children who apparently have more pressing things to do at night than sleep.


When I asked Dan what shining things he was thankful for, he immediately thought of my ring. “It’s the shiniest thing I have ever bought!”

I am very thankful for it, too. I am thankful for the wonderful guy who was old fashioned enough to ask my parents for my hand in marriage. I am thankful for the beautiful August evening nine years ago when he presented me with this ring in the middle of a field of tall grass waving gently in the breeze.

I am thankful that I seem to be able to wear my rings again, since every once in a while my body decides to rebel against them and I develop a terribly itchy rash that persists until I take the rings off my finger and put them away for a while.

And I am thankful for all the blessings that have come after the above shiny object was installed on my finger!