I can smell autumn in the air, in the hefty breezes swaying the trees today. A flickering flutter of dry leaves on the roadway tell me that the season is indeed turning.

Autumn has always been my favorite season, but then I grew up in the south, where the season lingers. Here in the Midwest, the colors are also beautiful, but short-lived, while rains and cold temperatures take over far too quickly. In the Midwest, my favorite season in summer, with the warm sun and expanse of green and colorful flowers. I love color, and white and brown and black seem to go on forever in winter!

Either way, I’m in the midst of two lovely times of year —summer and fall. And I’ve much to share in thanks and gratitude on this Monday.

I’m also in the midst of a busy season in life, as we resumed homeschooling this year, and started back last week with the daily school schedule. I have 3 different levels: 3rd, 5th, and high school freshman. There isn’t too much we can combine, with each child at such a different level. Each day I need God to help me get through the tasks and still I cannot accomplish it all, the laundry is still piled high, dishes stack to overflowing each day, and we all need to eat, too! 🙂 We’ve just begun our season but I’m thankful we have options, a few classes to attend, and music lessons.

Now onto the weekly list of thank-you’s (382-408):

–          A sister reading aloud to her brother

–          Strawberries dipped in chocolate. My daughter remembered I have a fondue set. We pulled it out a few nights ago, found two Hershey bars in the fridge, melted them and had an unexpected delicious dessert.

–          While trying to use up tomatoes from the garden—I made spinach stuffed tomatoes, mushrooms stuffed with bacon and cheese, and bruschetta topped with fresh tomatoes mixed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a few other things, for dinner one night. I was expecting my boys to balk, since they do not like to eat fresh tomatoes, but they loved it. And one of the boys, who does not like mushrooms, even the stuffed mushrooms. The bruschetta also tasted fabulosa. It was a success.

–          Debate class for the high-schooler— she’s been asking for 2 years to go to this class, and finally it worked out!

–          Listening to the orchestra and worship choir in church, it was amazing. I wish I had a recording of it here. Each time they took the key a step higher (I forget the correct musical term for this), I thought they were going to reach the throne of heaven. I had to close my eyes to stop the tears. It was a tribute to those who lost lives on 9/11. The song was called “Lord Have Mercy”, a beautiful, moving song.

–          Weekend at a family camp, the kids went horseback riding, and all kinds of boating: kayaking, paddle-boating, row-boating, canoeing. Despite the rain, we still did as much as we could. I took a walk through the woods on a “medicinal plant hike”, and learned of various plants and bark that can be used for common ailments, and even plants that can be eaten. (Did you know that you can eat lichen??? I can’t wait to write a post just about this hike. Makes me want to get a degree in herbal medicine. Seriously.)

–          One of the boys with mild asthma having a flare-up, just when it looked like he might not need the medicine. I’m thankful since it shows he wasn’t quite ready yet to forego his medication entirely. Because I had cleaned out a closet recently, I knew exactly where the nebulizer paraphernalia was.

–          Watching a movie on Netflix called “The Way Back”, about a group of people who escaped from a Siberian prison in 1941, and traveled thousands of miles on foot to freedom. A true story! True! They traveled through snow storms, blizzards, mountains, a desert, a sandstorm, and watched some of their fellow travelers die on the journey. An incredible story. Made our lives look so easy. Even one of my kids said the next day, “At least we don’t have to  hunt for our food every day!”

–          Taking a walk alone in the woods

–          Seeing the stars and moon on the lake at night, reflected in the water, a magnificent sight

–          Getting home and finally sleeping in my own bed after three nights of tossing and turning in a sleeping bag in a musty cabin… it was fine and fun and enjoyable all around but so happy to sleep finally through the night.

–          Biking all over the campsite

–          2 ½ hours of horseback riding over 2 days which my daughter enjoyed this immensely.

–          All the kids enjoyed rifle shooting and archery at the camp

–          Finding crockpot recipes online

–          Falling asleep while typing on the sofa

–          The camera is working, once again!

–          Wildlife spotted over Labor Day Weekend: a loon calling on the lake; a bald eagle swoop across the lake, looking for fish; deer; and wild turkeys on the way home in a field by the side of the interstate. The camp director said he saw two black bear cubs over the weekend on the road.

–          My son, 8 year old Elijah, was baptized in Lake Michigan on Sunday. He had talked with me a number of months ago about Jesus, and wasn’t ready to be baptized back then. But on Sunday, it was the biannual trip to the lake for the baptism, and the pastor said that even if you haven’t been through the baptism class, he’d be willing to baptize anyone who felt they wanted to, with a few short words with him to make sure. Well, little Elijah did want to do it. And so he did. A spontaneous baptism, on 9/11/2011! So I will remember 9/11 for a reason other than the tragedy that occurred that day.

–          A fun picnic on Sunday night, meeting other parents who take music lessons from the same teacher. I met several new people, and it was delightful to have conversations with them. People have fascinating stories to tell; we all have stories inside.

–          Thankful for a broken oven, and a broken lawn mower, because I have so much to be thankful for! I continue to be amazed that I have plenty of food, while in other parts of the world, children are dying of starvation. I am blessed. I even have choices. And not only that, while mothers across the world are watching their children die, I see mine growing taller. Terribly sad, and I don’t have an answer for it. I do know that I have a responsibility to teach these kids to love– even better than I do, and I pray that they will learn what I cannot teach, from a God who is bigger than all of my mistakes.

–          The first of week of homeschooling behind us. Only a gazillion more to go. LOL!!!  J

–          Meeting new people after the baptism and talking with old friends

–          Beautiful September weather so far, not too hot and most definitely not too cold! I’ll take the hot over subzero wintry days any day….

–          Resuming piano lessons

–          A breezy, warm Monday

–          Owning a crockpot