Please note: All images on this blog (except where noted) are original works of Miki Baxter and cannot be duplicated without permission. Also, if you're inspired by a project featured on here, then please link back to me and give proper credit. Thank you!!!


Sisters, With a Voice

Several months after I had the baby last year, I invited my sister to visit and attend a poetry workshop with me. The theme was about women finding their voices, and the workshop was held in a yoga studio in the historic part of the city. As we opened our hearts and allowed our emotions to flow through words, our bond as sisters deepened. We'd been estranged for a number of years for various reasons. But this experience melted the years away and brought us face to face again, heart to heart. She sobbed with me as I read a poem about our grandmother who'd been such a loving influence, and I offered my support as she shared a poem revealing the struggles she'd had during a dark period of her life.
Several months ago I wrote about being disowned. Growing up, I was often the one singled out whenever rage exploded. And beat. Then ignored. Months passed before my presence was acknowledged and I was a member of the family again. There was a price to pay for anyone who didn't participate in the silent treatment. My sister snuck food out to me when I was dragged to the door and put out in my pajamas, for some infraction on a Saturday morning. Rage seemed to simmer on days when the outlet of work wasn't available. Unfortunately, my sometimes-rescuer worked two jobs, probably as his own escape, and didn't have enough of a voice to stop the madness.
My sister sent me a poem she'd recently written as part of a class she's taking. I can barely describe the impact it's had on me. I realized that for the first time, I am not alone on the outside of the family. She has been banished as well. And understands what I've gone through.
We are here to help one another continue to heal and grow. To unveil the gifts, talents, possibilities and potential that we have to offer. To celebrate the beauty of the women we've grown into from the inside out. To love one another freely and without repercussion. Sisters. Too long torn apart by the jealous rage that demanded all the attention and the lies told to keep us separate. Rage is a hurting person who continues to lash out.
Sisters. Determined to live with integrity and courage, to embrace joy and express love. Sisters. With strong voices and peace in our hearts. Her poem, below, references so much family history and tragedy - perhaps one day I'll be able to share more. My husband once said that it'd make an amazing book or movie. Beyond the stories and more importantly, my focus is on the God that transcends every experience. His Love that never wavers, His touch that always heals. His Word that comforts and is Truth. He's here with us.
With fluid grace she danced the histories of samurais and geishas
as she hid the shame of her sister's Yakuza.
She painted her face with the triumphs of her daughters
and tucked away the shames her daughters reflected within.
She withers in her created sacrifice,
blind as her daughters conquer the world.
Her stew of self loathing and regrets still emits the scents
of our rich history.
As the cherry blossoms fall,
the memories of the flowering tree live on...
and her legacy, the myriad of beauty and disease,


Happy Campers

My first camping trip.  Ever.  And with a group of girls from Missionettes (a program similar to Girl Scouts).  Thank God that Butterfly and I did a trial run of putting up our tent the day before, because it was dark by the time we got to the campsite. Forgotten supplies, latecomers and an accident on the road delayed our arrival about two hours.  Butterfly was awesome, pulling out the poles and tent stakes for me.  At one point, I even held the small flashlight in my teeth in order to find the parts to secure the poles to the tent.  Inwardly, my competitive nature had kicked things up a notch, and I was secretly racing with the other two leaders setting up tents.  They’ve been camping numerous times before, but I did beat them!  our tent_Page_0After gathering by the main fire, singing worship songs and hearing a short message about the weekend’s theme, I was put in charge of making S’mores with the girls.  Hello?  Novice camper here – and you want me to be close to the fire with giddy eight year olds?!?  Thankfully, just a few girls decided to make the treats, and I was only poked by burning marshmallows three times.breakfast camp_Page_0 Butterfly and I curled up in our cozy tent, and she fell asleep right away.  Chattering girls and the newness of the experience kept me awake for another hour.  I lay in the tent, wondering if it was going to rain and if any animals would wander close to our tent, which was closest to the woods.  I had already killed one spider.  I was ready to address any other creature that would try to invade our space.beach_Page_0The following day was filled with hiking, crafts, making breakfast, lunch and dinner outdoors, and breaking up the drama that some little girls insist on creating…  My sweet Butterfly flitted from one activity to the next, mireille_Page_0

looking out for her friends – I was so proud of her as she stayed to encourage and pray for two girls who were struggling with the memory verse.  We partnered together to each help a girl and shouted when they finally received their rewards.mireille star_Page_0

Camping was a delightful experience.  There’s something special about being away from everything and communing with nature.  Butterfly and I got to see one another in a new environment, and working together brought us even closer, deepening our love and appreciation of each other.  God has truly blessed me with a precious and wonderful daughter!


Pumpkin Softies!

Check out my creative blog House of Beauty and Culture for more on these adorable pumpkins!

Happy September Bulletin Board

School has always meant cheerful bulletin boards to me, the smell of sharpened pencils and the bright bouquet of markers. I've wanted to create a large bulletin board for our homeschool but have lacked space, funds, creativity or all of the above. Last week I saw this bulletin board kit on clearance at Michaels and knew the time had come for our house to be christened with a seasonal bulletin board of our very own. One that'd have pumpkins-turkeys-snowflakes-hearts-shamrocks-flags all over it. Be still my heart! I can't describe how giddy I was as I approached the register, part of me fearful that they'd claim it was a big mistake and that I'd misread the clearance sign.
The kit (including the calendar, monthly banners, numbers and seasonal cutie tags) was originally like a gazillion dollars marked down to $3.97. I HAD to have this. For this price. All of my warm, fuzzy childhood memories and the future of my children's was at stake here. My relief was tangible as I forked over the money. And that night, long after the children were in bed, I lovingly unpacked the kit and assembled my first bulletin board, using a recycled (code word: stolen, er...borrowed) board from the basement of the house we're residing in. (It had been abandoned, I swear. A poor, lonely, orphan bulletin board.) I used red school-themed scrapbook paper behind the calendar and push pins to keep the interchangeable parts in place.
I feel like the value of our homeschool just shot through the roof with the addition of this oh-so-happy bulletin board to greet us daily, telling us the date and keeping us on track. Actually, it was a boost to me as a teacher, helping to create the "right" environment for school. See, though I am extremely passionate about homeschooling and am convinced that this is what God wants us to do and that it's the best for our family, there are moments that I feel sad for the things they may not experience because we homeschool. Riding a school bus. The excitement of that first day of meeting a new teacher and the other kids. And the awesome bulletin board - now we have our own. Happy sigh. If you are a school bus driver and you see a crazy woman flagging you down, begging for a short spin around the block with her embarassed kids, that'd be me and I would appreciate it if you would stop.


What a Week... It's only Wednesday

This has been. a week. And it's only Wednesday. Not a bad week, just days that you feel like you're running through thick molasses. Lots of effort, snail-paced progress.
I love church. I hate the germs. Though my children rarely get sick and we try our best to make sure they eat well, sleep well, take their vitamins, etc., one of them occasionally picks up a bug of some sort that inevitably spreads to the rest of us. And having a toddler who knows only one way to express their displeasure or discomfort is NOT FUN. He's refusing to sleep in his crib and wakes up early fussing when he discovers that we transferred him during the night.
Though we're down, we are certainly not out for the count as far as homeschooling. I picked up some books from the library and have had the children reading a lot while resting. and coughing. They've managed to tackle some creative writing and are total troopers about doing whatever I ask them to do. And they manage to keep the giggles coming, even with stuffy noses and ouchy throats.
The foggy area in the general vicinity of my brain clears on occasion to get some real work done - I've managed to make a detailed schedule for each of us to post on the walls and am working on weekly menus to streamline grocery shopping. We've also gone back to using cloth diapers while we're home, a huge money savings. When the fog rolls back in, I catch up on reading blogs, playing online Hanafuda (a Japanese card game), flipping through design magazines, and jotting down notes for our church's upcoming tea party. I'm on the design committee and am working to come up with something fabulous as if I was auditioning for "Design Star." Which is what my husband keeps saying. I say I have VISION. And so maybe I am channeling a little Candice Olson from Divine Design, my favorite designer ever from HGTV. I digress...
In the midst of all of the above, I have had moments of pure contentment. Moments that I stopped and whispered a "thank You" to God. Things are still as uncertain as ever. But He's providing for us. I am thankful for our little family, snuggled together through this season, riding the highs and lows, laughing at the goofy moments that happen unexpectedly. Dancing together at determined parties to celebrate the expectation that God will open the right door for us to get settled. What's true about a challenging season is that new adventures and opportunities abound: How will we respond? What will we do in the waiting time? What can we do?
One major new adventure for me: Butterfly and I are going camping with her Missionettes group (kind of like the Girl Scouts.) Friday to Sunday. In a tent. Hiking. Campfire. I am both excited and concerned...don't like bugs and rustic bathrooms (how did I survive being a missionary to Africa - I know!) But mostly I am excited - time away with my beautiful Butterfly experiencing something new, curled up together in our tent and taking on the wilderness together - ha! I may come back a changed woman! More on this later...


Floral Headbands & A New Blog!

How cute is my sweet Butterfly? She inspires me to create and is my design partner for headbands and other hair ornaments. I've started a new blog called "The House of Beauty and Culture" to share art. culture. crafts. furniture makeovers. make-up tips. photography. poetry. etc.
To make these headbands, I wrapped ribbon around plain headbands, securing the ends with glue and making sure to wrap ribbon over them. For the orange headband, I glued the flower to the top of the headband and then used thread to additionally secure the flower onto the headband. I pulled the green flower apart and glued each layer onto the headband, including some of the larger petals. I used rhinestones for some sparkle to the center of the green flower. My daughter wore the green headband to church today and looked adorable! To coordinate with her, I pinned one of the green flowers onto a black cap with a large safety pin.

I couldn't resist showcasing the headbands with some artsy photographs. Come on over to the new blog - my artistic soul wilts without a creative outlet, so the new blog serves as a place to gather the things that make life beautiful and delightful.



"How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!" Psalm 133:1
Little Man takes after his brother in his love of football; in fact, it was one of his first clearly spoken words (after Mommi, of course!) I love how patient QB is with his adoring little shadow - did I mention that the two boys were born on the same day? Though my due date was a few days after his birthday, QB prayed that his brother would be born on the same day. We were all getting restless to see Little Man's face, especially Butterfly and QB who had prayed that we'd have another baby. Sure enough, my contractions kicked in right after midnight!!!
Little Man has been a wonderful blessing to our family! He is full of joy and personality, can you tell?


Back To School

Our first day of school was actually mid-August, and we took the kids out for a special treat that night to celebrate. Butterfly is now in third grade while QB officially enters his elementary years as a first grader.
I'm trying a new approach this year - we are keeping things very simple and as relaxed as possible. I am a recovering perfectionist and have been too regimented in the past with our schooling to the point Butterfly was ready to drop out - who quits school in first grade?! And she is a highly motivated learner, but I was driving her batty. So I did a lot of reading to learn other ways to homeschool and to meet her, and QB, in the ways they learn best.
We start the morning off with Bible time together as a family with Mr. Nice Guy leading the discussion. Then the boys go off for a devotional and prayer time while the girls have their time together (we're going through the book "Just Mom & Me Having Tea.") After an enthusiastic greeting of "Good morning, students!" and "Good morning, teacher!" (something the kids requested), we dive into Language Arts. The children each have a grammar workbook and do one lesson after I go over the topic with them individually. Next is spelling. I print out a spelling list weekly for them, which they write out for practice for a few days, then we go over the words orally. Finally, the kids practice handwriting, a little lesson daily, in a workbook that has them writing out a Scripture verse by the end of the week.
For Social Studies, we are doing a yearlong Geography curriculum called "Geography Matters." Both children have shown a great interest in globes and maps, so I thought that learning detailed information about the places in the world would be an awesome foundation for next learning the events that have taken place in the world. This curriculum has three levels, so we can go deeper after a few years of History to learn more - I really like the idea of alternating the subjects every few years.
Science is a free flowing subject for us this year. I'm letting the kids' interests dictate the topic we learn about. We are checking out books and looking up information together on the Internet rather than following a textbook. I did purchase a science experiment book at Borders ($2.99 on sale!!!) that features a variety of science topics (Physics, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry) in the experiments along with a clear, easy to understand explanation of each one. The items needed for most of the experiments are things most people would already have around the house or are easy to acquire. So far we've learned about insects, volcanoes, and Mr. Nice Guy incorporated the events of 9-11 into the Science lesson for last week.
We changed the Math curriculum again this year, going back to Rightstart Math, somthing we first tried a few years ago. It's a phenomenal curriculum based on the Japanese approach to math, and Mr. Nice Guy was going to take over the teaching of this subject 'cause he's the math guru. Unfortunately, business travels have made it difficult for him to keep up with it. We are in the reviewing process as I get more comfortable with this way of doing math.
The other subjects required by our state include Art, Music, Health and P.E. I'll discuss what we're doing for those subjects in another post. All in all, our school day zips right along, with the kids not remaining at a table for more than a few hours and not necessarily at one sitting. Along with an hour of daily reading time, it's important to me that they have plenty of time for creative play. Little Man requires a daily nap, so the kids have free time and choose a variety of activities to amuse themselves including playing dress up, choreographing dances or routines to show us after dinner, playing with toys, art projects, writing stories, etc. School is off to a fantastic start, and I am really enjoying it.


Celebrating Autumn!

Of all the seasons, I would definitely describe myself as Autumn. I love the oranges and browns, the scent of pumpkin and cinnamon, the crisp air and even the melancholy trees as their leaves drift off. Fall is the time for apple picking, sweaters, nippy mornings, pumpkin carving, lots of baking, early evenings, diving under soft comforters, and homemade soups. These are among my most favorite things in the world!
To welcome the season, I gathered our Fall decorations and put together some Fallscapes by pulling apart an old wreath and topiaries I'd made previously. Two of these huge glass bowls were lying around the house, and I alternated pinecones, small pears and apples, sparkly fruit and pumpkins with floral stems as filler. One Fallscape is on a floating shelf in the living room while the other is on a table near the entrance. I added a few drops of a cinnamon-clove oil to the arrangement to make them smell like Fall...mmmmmmmm!


Pumpkin Bliss, Pressing Questions and a Farewell of Sorts

The cooler weather has been sheer bliss for me. Nights curled up under a cozy comforter with the window wide open to let in that crisp air. Watching movies and sorting through boxes of history and memories. Wondering where these same boxes will be unpacked next. Where, Lord?
The intensity of that question rose as our status quo took a hit yesterday. Ouch. My heart hurts. My head hurts from processing the deluge of emotion and questions. What do we do next? Where should we go?
Speak, Lord.
We've quieted ourselves and are listening.
Quite frankly, I am tired of people misbehaving themselves. I'm not talking about my young children. It's the over 30 crowd that should be further along the path of life and experiences and taking responsibility for themselves and not so quick to lash out at another person. If you were a stranger, I could and would walk away, and quickly. You are not a stranger. And I'm not sure you realize the extent of your damaging ways. Plus you throw in religious talk as if that justifies the words spoken, the destructive acts. It takes so much energy to deal with you and to make sure this heart remains free from bitterness. I forgive you and have forgiven you, really I have, but I cannot and will not continue to participate in this circus. What do you gain by speaking such demeaning words?
See, I am well aware that our current circumstances are far from ideal. We are treading water, in get-by-day-to-day mode, not our choice. But we are actively seeking and doing the best we can, finding joy in simple things, enjoying our family and keeping the laughter going as often as we can. I have no shame.
My emotions are riding kind of close to the surface, unusual for me. I desperately need true comfort, not a temporal one that cannot adequately soothe the deep places. I want to be held in the arms of One who knows everything, so that I don't have to explain. Heal my heart, Lord. Give me wisdom and clarity to see and do. what is right. in Your sight. Ultimately, that's what matters most.
I can limit my exposure to those who abuse. the blessing of relationships. Maintain healthy boundaries around me and my family. Cultivate the relationships that are genuine and true. Keep my heart pure before the Lord. Engage in lots of prayer. Soak in the Word of God. I hear You, Lord! But can You be more specific about our next move???