Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring at the Hart's House

Here are a few pictures of the flowers blooming around our house. Here in Alabama, we have pretty much the same thing. Wisteria, Azaleas, and Dogwood are everywhere! Except, our dogwood doesn't bloom well here. God certainly knew what he was doing when he created this earth for us! It's beautiful!

Our petite, demure wisteria tree. =)
I couldn't resist the bee.
Joel and I, smiling for Mother

Yellow Jasmine, one of the sweetest
smelling flowers!

One of the first signs of spring. Too bad
it'll be gone soon. :)

Our wall of wisteria across the road.
It goes on...

and on...

and on.

What a wonderful Creator we have!!
I can't wait till Mother gets her new camera. I can get pictures with a lot better clarity.

Monday, March 26, 2007

God's Beauty in Spring

By request, I'm posting some pictures of God's beauties displayed this spring. It's amazing how He's made every little detail so lovely! The pictures really can't convey how beautiful the flowers really are.

Yes, I know that Wisteria is a vine and can get annoying, as it climbs everywhere! However, it's so lovely!

Azaleas are one of my favorite flowers, with their bright colors and fluttery petals.

Our Wisteria Falls. =) It positively drips off of the trees. The petals are already starting to make a delightful carpet...

These Azalea bushes were here when we came; they're just bursting with life!

A dancing Dogwood tree - they're spinning their way all through the forest!

Typical of Alabama, however, the weather is already starting to turn pretty hot. Summer is right around the corner...

Firefighting Pictures

My older brother, Joel, has been going through a firefighter's course (which will be over next week) and been enjoying it quite a bit. Since the beginning of last year, he had been a fire cadet at our volunteer fire station about 2 miles from our house, and at the end of the year began taking classes. Next week, he'll take his State test to see if he can become a certified fireman. I'm confident he'll pass, though. :) Anyway, last Friday, as part of the training in his class, they conducted a live burn on an old house up the road. So naturally, we got to watch them. Almost all of our little community was out watching. For the first hour or so, they lit small fires in back rooms and sent them in by teams, then they would light a larger fire, keeping it controlled the whole time. Then about 9:30 p.m. they just let it burn, standing on the side with sprayers keeping it from spreading.

The whole class getting ready.

Before they lit it.

I like this picture because of the three windows pouring out smoke.

This picture is near the very end after they've done all the inside training.

I always wanted to watch a house burn (without it hurting anyone, of course).

This hasn't been the most edifying post, but since we had such good pictures, I thought I would share it. I quite enjoyed the experience and I know Joel enjoyed his part of the work. Joel is frequently running out of the house whenever his pager goes, beep beep beep. We always get to hear about it when he comes home, and it always interesting (and sometimes sad). Well, I must get on with the day's duties. On to Algebra!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spring's Gentle Breezes

Spring has sprung, and I'm enjoying it immensely! Time spent outside is now quite pleasant; swinging in the warm, spring breeze is now one of my favorite things to do. Carrying a book to read (or, more often book work to do) out to the porch swing, I can sit for hours - if I have the time - enjoying God's creation while studying or reading.

Spring is my favorite season, without question. The warm, sunny days are so nice, especially after the cold, blustery days of winter. The fresh spring smell is one of the most refreshing scents, especially when tinted with the fragrance of lovely flowers. The scenery is so beautiful, with green shooting up all around. The flowers are probably my favorite part of spring, their bright blossoms brightening any dark day. The azalea bushes have burst alive, with so many shades of pink and red. The wisteria is climbing everywhere again, with the purple petals just dripping off the trees and the delightful fragrance permeating the air. The dogwoods are once again dancing through the forest, and the little yellow flowers provide a touch of sun, no matter what the time of day. Then there's the many bushes of white flowers, the perfect touch to many bouquets. Yes, spring is definitely here.

I could take pictures, but they wouldn't do justice. There's nothing like wandering around outside, drinking deep of the lovely sights and smells, or just sitting, and watching the sunlight dance through the flowers and trees. Throwing your head back, and letting the gentle breeze stream through your hair... you can't but help praising our awesome Creator! Yesterday, while strolling barefoot through the luscious grass, then letting the warm sand caress my feet (another wonderful benefit of warm weather!), Psalm 8 just kept going through my head:

"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. . . When I consider Your heavens, the work or of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?" (Psalm 8:1, 3-4)

Our God is so great! To think that He loves us, when He's made so many beautiful and wonderful things - is just amazing.

Sadly, despite the warm weather, I've come down with yet another cold. But, God is good; it's milder than most, and I don't feel quite as miserable as I usually do.

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;

come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God.
It is He Who made us, and we are His.
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;

give thanks to Him and praise His Name.

For the LORD is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations."

~Psalm 100~

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pictures of family

Well, I may not have time for any in-depth posts, but I couldn't resist posting some of these pictures of our family in the past week. It's been so nice to have Lydia and Elijah home on spring break this past week! Also, I look forward to having Maria and the children here this next week; the little ones are so sweet!

From left: Elijah, Lydia, Ellen Hood, Miriam, and Jubilee

Lydia turned 22 on March 15th. We celebrated with Papa John's pizza and Old-fashioned Spice Cake, and watched a movie. Lydia's 22 candles made such a blaze, Miriam had an idea which we implemented on her cake with 27 candles...

James, Miriam and Jubilee roast their marshmallows

We roasted marshmallows! =) Yes, call us crazy, but it was pretty... er... interesting. =)

I'm so blessed to have two such wonderful, full-of-fun older sisters!

Did you remember to wear your green on St. Patrick's Day? Sara Rose looked pretty cute in this green hat! If we don't wear green on St. Patrick's Day, there's a long-standing tradition in this house that you're allowed to be pinched, so all of us manged to wear at least a speck of green yesterday.

Lisa Beth is such a joy! At 4 months old, she's full of smiles and coos, and a delight to hold! I'm delighted to finally have a baby in the house, at least for a while. She's such a cutie!

Well, I'd best go and let the little ones get up from rest time. Have a good week!

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Note from Miriam

I know I'm terribly slack when it comes to posting, but for the past couple of days, I've been feeling a bit under the weather. All I've done is practically lie around all day.
Though our family was not able to actually camp, we did spend a couple of evenings there. It was enjoyable, but not quite the same. I'm looking forward to camping in the fall! I'm getting a little bit behind in my school (something that really annoys me!) and being sick hasn't helped. Mainly, my Algebra is falling behind, so it looks like I'll be doing catch-up work (not fun). :(

Well, I know this wasn't long, but it was just a quick update to let people know I'll still here. =)

Miriam Rebekah

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring Camping 2007

Setting up tents. Playing volleyball. Singing around the campfire. Drinking cocoa and eating s'mores. Having sore bodies. Staying up late. Getting exhausted, but having a blast. All these things are pretty much synonymous with each other at one of our semi-annual family camp-outs!

This spring we returned to camp at Fort Toulouse. Lydia, Jubilee, and I packed as soon as we could, and got to the campsite around 11 a.m. on Friday morning, to find out we were the first to arrive! After some of the Simons and Elijah and Dad arrived, we switched from the small "group campsite" we'd been given to 6 regular sites close together, with easy access to a big field to play on. Us Lofgren girls actually ended up camping on a bluff overlooking the river, and Lydia captured the beautiful picture above. Soon, families began arriving and setting up their tents or campers, and things began feeling like a true camping trip. The Harts could only come up for the day and evenings on Friday and Saturday, but we were happy for the time we did have with them!

Red Rover, Red Rover, send Jubilee right over!

At our camp-outs, there's always many games played. One game leads to the next, and by the end of the day (although that's rather late when we're camping!) everyone is worn out, and very sore. However, the next day, getting up early with the bright sun and chirping birds, everyone's ready to do it all over again. Volleyball is the favorite - we must have played at least 10 to 15 games or more over the course of the weekend! We even tried something new - night volleyball, with a glow-in-the-dark ball, and lots of glo-sticks. It was pretty interesting! =) Red Rover, Spoons, Ultimate Frisbee, Baseball, Capture-the-Flag and Human Pinball were also played with much enthusiasm. With that many people, it wasn't too hard getting up a group to play.

The Human Pinball players

It's always fun to spend a weekend in God's beautiful outdoors, fellowshipping with friends and drinking in the fresh air. It's been a tradition among some of us for as long as I can remember - around 11 years or so! We add new families, and loose some, but we always manage to find at least a few to come with us. This year there were 12 families camping, with more coming just for the day. Even for this not-so-outdoorish girl, it's one of my favorite things to do!

We set up camp, and things function in our tent colony almost like they do at home. There's still food to prepare and dishes to wash. It's always fun seeing what the other is making, sampling leftovers, and getting recipes. The little children play together, with everyone else keeping an eye on them. Sometimes they join in the "big kids" games; it's amazing how many one can cram on a volleyball court!

5 Lofgren siblings at the Point. From left: Jubilee, Anna, Elijah, Lydia, and Miriam.

A trip to Fort Toulouse just wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Point, the place the Coosa and Talapoosa Rivers join to make the Alabama River. We almost didn't go, but decided before leaving, with only the Simon family and us still there, to make the trek together. My ankle was hurting a little, but Daddy lent me his arm, and we enjoyed walking and talking all the way there and back.

Following a somewhat tradition, our family stopped for ice cream at Dairy Queen on the way home, finally arriving home quite exhausted. I could barely move, but I was happy after a wonderful time with friends. I can't wait until the Fall! =)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Glimpses of my life

Life is busy - it seems I start many of my posts with those words these days. However, it's still true! I'm learning to take each day one at a time, and try to accomplish all I can in the hours God gives me. My to-do list has been pretty full these days, but I still manage to take breaks to play a game with Jubi and/or Dad. A little rest is good for the soul!

This weekend is our semi-annual camp-out with quite a few families. I'm really looking forward to it! It's a wonderful time with friends, plenty of games, and an abundance of food cooked in the fresh air. We stay Friday and Saturday nights, singing around the campfire before bed, and managing to squeeze in a game or two of capture-the-flag. We come home exhausted, but it's a wonderful three days!

Packing for camping is the priority today. After choir, I'll go shopping and get all the things on the camping list. Coming home, we'll begin compiling the various tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, dishes, food, and folding chairs, so that packing the car on Friday morning will be a bit easier.

Lydia is due home Thursday evening, and Elijah Friday morning for their spring break! We purposely planned camping this weekend, for it's something they enjoy as well. I can't wait to have two of my siblings back home for a week! It'll add some more life to this big house! Right before they leave, Maria and her children are coming down to stay a week, which will be nice. Caring for my nieces and nephews is always fun! It's been too quiet around here recently...

I taught dance on Monday to make up for the one last Thursday the tornado watch canceled. I'll teach again tomorrow. My ankle has been hurting on-and-off for the last few weeks, so I didn't take my class last night. I'm trying to rest it so it will heal. I wear an ankle brace while teaching, so hopefully it will be okay. Tomorrow's going to be one long, busy day!

So, that's how things are in my life right now. Busy, but good. However, don't expect much from me in the next few weeks. (I know, I keep saying that, but this time it may be for real!) =) I'll be spending time with my well-missed siblings, nieces and nephews, and cooking for a crowd - finally! I keep cooking way too much food for our current small family of four. It takes some getting used to, to make only small amounts! Booklearning keeps me busy as well - which reminds me, I must be off. Science beckons!

I hope you all are having a wonderful week!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ladies Tea

This morning, mom and I had a wonderful time at a tea with the ladies from our church. We went to Gracie's Tea Room in Montgomery - a delightful place! They had wonderful tea and food, and a beautiful atmosphere. They even had hats to wear while you had tea, which was a lot of fun! I have a confession to make... *whispers* I don't like tea. Shocking, I know! However, they had a delicious tea called "Hannah" which was delightful, for it didn't have that "tea taste". =) All in all, it was a fun time - although I was the only teen there!

Mom found a lacy shawl that went perfectly with my purple dress. I always enjoy having the excuse to wear one of my long, full dresses. It made me feel like a princess!

All ready for the tea party

The table mom and I were at. It was so pretty!

All the ladies with their various hats - each one a little different!

After the tea, we spent a day out, shopping and such. I had two different women ask me about my dress, and upon hearing that I made it, ask if I sewed for others! I told them that at this point, I was too busy just sewing for my dance students and family. Maybe one day...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Saving for the Future

When I was 14, mom and dad gave me the wonderful gift of a hope chest. I had been wanting one for a while, and found a beautiful one for a somewhat reasonable price on Ebay. Daddy was kind enough to order it for me as a late Christmas/early birthday present. When it came, he put it together for me. It has been a joy to slowly fill with treasures to save for my future home.I got one that had a cushion on the top, so it doubles as a window seat. It's the perfect place to think, write, or have my devotions in the early morning.

I don't think there's a "right" or "wrong" thing to put in a hope chest. I have a variety of quite different things! I have aprons, two that I made, one my twin made, and three that I got from my Grandma and Grandpa's house this past winter, after they moved to a retirement home. I have hotpads that Miriam crocheted and kindly gave to me, two sets of embroidered pillow cases, an embroidered wall hanging, some pretty hankies, and various other linens. For this Valentine's Day, daddy even got me a Perfect Egg Timer, so that my boiled eggs will never be gooey! =) I was so happy to get it, since for some reason when I boil eggs without it, they always turn out soft. I have a few other kitchen items, though not many at this point. I also have a few special childhood toys and books, including the doll clothes I made when I was 10. One day I hope I'll have a daughter to play with them.

Even though I don't know what colors or theme my future house will be, I figure that I can use things I make now in my house later. I know that when (Lord willing) I marry and become a mother, I won't have the time that I have now to make special things for the home. The above picture is the project I'm currently working on - an embroidered bedside tablecloth. I've already made a dresser scarf of the same pattern, and my sister-in-law Michele gave me two pillowcases and a dresser scarf of the pattern to make as well. When it's all completed (though it will take a while!) I'll have a whole bedroom set.

In addition to practical things for a home, I also save my memories and memoirs in my hope chest. All my journals and letters from friends and family find their place inside.

How many of you girls are saving things for the future? It doesn't have to be in a traditional hope chest - oftentimes one doesn't have room to keep it! However, you can put things away in plastic containers or boxes. A hope chest does make it special, however, if you are able to get one. You may not save a whole lot, or you may save a lot so that your chest overflows. Whatever you do, the time spent is well worth it. In older days, a girl's hope chest was often basically her dowry, consisting of the only possessions she took into the marriage. With today's bridal showers, you may think that saving things for a future home really isn't worth it. But believe me, it is! I cherish hope that one day I'll be able to use the things I make and save, and remember all the memories behind them. When baking with my daughter, I could tell her that the rolling pin we're using came from her Great-Grandma Lofgren's kitchen. When things come out of the oven, I'd tell her again how the hotpads were crocheted by my wonderful friend Miriam Hart. Making the beds, I'd tell how I finished embroidering these particular pillow cases when I was 14. And on and on.

So, do any of you girls have a hope chest or are laying aside things for your future home? I'd enjoy hearing what kinds of things you're saving! Everyone's different, and perhaps we could get ideas from each other!

A great book on the subject of hope chest is The Hope Chest: A Legacy of Love by Rebekah Wilson. It was very interesting to read, and gave me a lot of great ideas. Now, I just need to find the time to implement them!