"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fall Photos

Hi friends,

I hope you're having a lovely autumn. We have been our usual busy selves around here.

Here's what's been happening in our neck of the woods...

Last month, on October 3rd, my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, only the celebrating had to be postponed. Because unfortunately, on October 1st, my dad had a heart condition that required him to be airlifted to a hospital north of us for pacemaker implant surgery on the morning of October 2nd.
While in the hospital, he very seriously told the nurses, doctors, etc. that they could do the surgery, but they had better release him on the 3rd because he wanted to be home on their anniversary. The family was wondering, "Come home the day after pacemaker surgery???"
Guess what?
He was released on the 3rd!!
Oh, we of little faith!
God is good, isn't He?!
Here's a pic of my parents at their belated anniversary dinner on October 12th:
They are such a wonderful example to family and friends of honoring their marriage covenant.  :)

Meet Raj, the Toggenberg buck...
Our breeder, Mary, brought  him to our property on October 19th. He is one massive goat and is here til he breeds with our does, which hopefully isn't too much longer because he's an eating machine! 
Mary described him as a "gentle giant", and he is...until one of the does goes into heat. Then he morphs into a bull-like, pawing-at-the-ground, head-throwing, furry maniac! That's when we leave the 2 "love birds" alone and let nature take its course.  ;)
As you can see, compared to Helena, he is one big boy!

He has a very interesting curly horn, with a second horn growing up through the middle..

And his beard reminds us of a mane..
We are hoping and praying for baby goats in the spring!  :)

We're still getting plenty of milk from our goats; enough to make raw yogurt..
and ricotta cheese, too. (Sorry! I didn't take a pic of that!)

Our Rouen ducks are getting fattened up for winter. Not that we want to butcher them, because that isn't the plan;  but we are eager to have some duck eggs for baking. And ducklings in the spring would be wonderful, too. They love grazing in the yard and always roost at night close to the goats. They must be thinking that Raj will protect them from predators.  ;)  Here they are foraging near the barnyard as usual, with Helena lounging in the background.

 School days are rolling right along. We have just finished our first term. The children are loving the AO curriculum even more this year than last.
We are enjoying  nature sketching in the beautiful fall colors.
Aaron is sketching under one of our Scarlet oak trees..

Natty is sketching on the rope swing platform.

After sketching, Mimi found some catnip leaves for Kim.

And there is always time for a break from lessons for a basketball game, right?  :)
(Notice Aaron's red boots. He always grabs the shoes/boots closest to the door, no matter who they belong to, since "I don't have time to find my own!"  He's wearing Natty's boots in this photo- lol)

Lately, there has been little time in my life for sewing and crafting. But I was able to squeeze in a few minutes this week to make Natty this skirt from a jumper I got at a thrift store.
But the girls and I have a big sewing project planned for this winter:
making curtains out of this beautiful material that my oldest daughter, Nicole, got for me.
(She lives really close to a Joann's Fabric store and I am soooo jealous! haha!)
I can hardly wait to get started. Come on, winter!  :)

Until next time, my friends.

"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Queen of the Home {16}

"Home is the true wife's kingdom.
There,  first of all, she must be strong and beautiful.
She may touch life outside in many ways,
if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors.
But if any calls for her service must be declined,
they should not be the duties of her home.
These are hers, and no other one's.
Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness
and the highest good of the hearts that nestle there.
The best husband - the truest, the noblest, the gentlest, the richest-hearted - 
cannot make his home happy if his wife be not, in every reasonable sense, 
a helpmate to him.
In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife.
Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere.
Her hands fashion its beauty.
Her heart makes its love.
And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine, that no woman
who has been called to be a wife, and has listened to the call,
should consider any price too great to pay, 
to be the joy, the blessing, 
the inspiration of the home. "
~J.R. Miller, 1874

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What I Learned in Public School

Hi everyone,

Wow - has the summer flown by, or what?! And even though it's technically still summer, we started school last Monday. I know, I know...it's only the middle of August, but we've had his year's school books since last April (yeah - I'm a nerd! lol), and we were eager to get started on our second year of AO.  :)

Every summer as the new school year approaches, I am so thankful to the Lord for the freedom to home school my children. I love to see the excitement on my children's faces as we prepare for a new year. And buying new notebooks, pencils, and other school supplies takes me back to my days in public school, and the excitement I felt as a new school year began.  I also try to remember what I learned academically during those years. But I have be truthful and say that I remember very little of what I learned, from books anyway.

So if I don't remember much of the academics of public school, what did I learn?

In Kindergarten, I learned what it was like to leave that wonderful, secure place called home for a place where you were supposed to learn all kinds of new things....at an age too early to leave that security.
I learned that it didn't matter if I cried all the way to school, I still couldn't go home.
  I learned the only thing to do was play with blocks with bully boys or  play house with bossy girls.
I learned that coloring can be boring, especially if you do it all day long.
I learned that if you are on the swing that another little girls wants, you get pushed off (and laughed at) so she can have it.

In my early elementary years (1st - 4th grades), I learned that if you read to the teacher, she would smile. And if you couldn't read, she would frown, and you would have to sit in a special circle.
I learned to be afraid of a teacher that yelled at and belittled students in front of the entire class.
I learned that the smart, quiet kids got all the positive attention, but they were bored most of the day.
I learned that the busy, noisy kids had to learn to be quiet and still, even if was sheer torture.
I learned that if you needed extra help, you were an extra burden to bear.
I learned that teachers didn't know what to do with smart kids, so they gave them extra work or let them help teachers in the lower grades.
I learned that boys like to kiss girls at recess, and that some girls like to be chased.
I learned that you had to wear the right clothes or have right kind of hairstyle to have any friends at all.
I learned some things from the bad kids that I never knew before - and didn't want to know.
I learned that the teacher had lots of patience with the kids who wore nice clothes. And the kids who were the not-so-nice clothes got very little encouragement.

During my middle school years (5th - 7th grades), I learned to stay away from bullies at recess, and that the "slow" children in my class had to no place to hide from the constant verbal abuse of other students. I learned how to look the other way when those kids were picked on, for fear of the bullies coming after me.
 I learned that the popular girls "go with" the popular boys. And if you didn't want to "go with" someone, you were made fun of, and called "gay".
I learned about sex education - on the playground and on the bus, although I also learned about sex education in my early elementary years, too. And by sex education, I mean the most vulgar and profane form of it... and all the slang terms as well.

In my high school years (8th - 12th grades), I learned that the cheerleaders and jocks were the teacher's pets, and could get away with anything, while the "regular" students had to do every single assignment.
I learned to undress in the girls' locker room in front of girls (and teachers) that I had never met.
I learned to be on the look-out for a certain girl who took photos of girls undressing, then showed them  to other students.
I learned to get a B on my PE report card instead of an A because I refused to take a shower in front of those girls and teachers.
I learned to cram for tests, then dump the information.
I learned to hold my breath when I went to the restroom to avoid breathing in the cigarette smoke from the "smokin' cowd" that congregated there.
I learned to not make eye contact with certain people or they would think I was looking for a fight.
I learned that if a girl got pregnant and had an abortion, she could have an abortion, and still come to school the next day, looking very pale, and pretending as if nothing had happened.
I learned that you could get a big chunk of gum thrown in your hair by a bully, who meant for it to land in another girl's hair.
I learned that if someone didn't like you, they could jam your locker door and make you late for class.
I learned that you could get invited to parties at friends' houses where the alcohol flowed freely. And the hosting parents were ok with it. In fact, they provided the alcohol.
I learned who the drug dealers were, and who their clients were.

There is so much more that I learned. I could probably write a book. And I believe that as much of a sinner as I was (I was not a Christian during my school years),
 it's only by the grace of God that I escaped complete moral destruction.

I realize all public school graduates might not have had the same experience as I did. I can only speak for what I heard and saw. And as you can see, it isn't something I look back on with fond memories.

(And people ask why we home school? Seriously??)

But something good came out of my experiences: they make me even more grateful to be able home school my children.

And those experiences help me to persevere through the tough days, because as bad as it was for me, I can't begin to imagine what's going on in public schools in this day and age. From what I have heard on the news, it is horrific. And hubby and I don't want our children exposed to any of it.
So when I think I'm having a bad day, I just need to think back...and remember what I "learned".
That reminder is all I need to keep on keeping on.

I hope your school year is blessed beyond measure, friends!  :)

"Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.."
~ Psalm 34:11

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nature Exchange

Hi friends,

A couple of years ago, I read an online article out about a fun nature-sharing idea. It's called a Nature Exchange. At the time, there was a woman who was a  mediator of sorts, who would take the names and addresses of 2 families that lived far apart from one another (maybe even in another country), exchange the info, and then the 2 families would gather nature items from their area, and mail them to each other. It sounded like a great way to learn about nature in other parts of the country....or world. 

I sent the mediator our info. Long story short, we sent a family a wonderful box of nature goodies, and got nothing in return...no nature treasures, not even a thank-you note. My children were so disappointed.

So I gave up on that idea for awhile.

  But being the nature-loving children that they are, they brought it up a month or so ago, asking if we could try another family.

I decided that we would not use a mediator again since I have so many wonderful blogging friends to ask.

I made a mental list of the ones that I thought would be interested. There was one friend who is so busy, she can't possibly participate this time around. I completely understand.

So then I thought of my dear AO friend, Silvia, who although she doesn't live in another country, she lives far enough away that our climates and native animal/plant species are vastly different. 

I mentioned her to my children and they were very eager to learn all about the nature in Silvia's state.

So I emailed her to ask.  And she said, "Yes!"
 The gathering frenzy commenced. The children worked really hard to find things they thought Silvia's family would enjoy. If I had $1.00 for every time one of the children asked, "Can we send this in the box?", I would be a very rich woman.  :)

When the frenzy had subsided and we had enough to fill a box, we wrapped everything in bubble wrap,
 labeled them, and carefully packed them in a box. We also included a short letter introducing our family and telling a little bit about what it's like to live in our area.

We securely taped up the box and mailed it. 

We hope they have as much fun opening it as we did sending it.  :)
(And btw, we had so much  fun and learned so much about nature in Silvia's area, we're planning on doing it again later this year!)

Now, for the 2nd best part of this whole thing...would you like to know what Silvia's family sent us?
I thought you'd never ask! ;)

Take a look at my children (and oldest granddaughter) tearing into the box...

Here are the treasures that were in the box...
They sent us beautiful shells...

Pecans (we LOVE pecans!)...

A stick with smooth bark and a wonderful smell...

Prickly Sycamore pods (we love these, because we have only the smooth pods!)...

Lovely duck feathers...

A huge mushroom...

They also sent us a sweet treat - delicious figs! Yummy!  :)

They included a pamphlet listing mammal, insect, and plants species in their area. My children have learned so much from reading this! It has been so informative.

Last, but certainly not least, they sent us this lovely nature book.

It has the most beautiful illustrations, don't you think?
Now, where in the world should we keep our nature treasures, we wondered.
We knew it would have to be a very special place.
Well, on a shelf in our school room is where they found their home.
What a treasure trove of goodies!!!
And every time we look at them, we'll think of our dear friends from Texas.  :)
(We also received beautiful bookmarks, but my children whisked them away so fast, I hardly caught a glimpse of them. At the moment, they are safely tucked away in some of my children's favorites books.  :) )
This is one of the most fun-filled, learning activities that our family has ever participated in. We truly loved every moment of it!!
Now...want to know what we sent Silvia and her family??
Head over to her blog and see for yourself!

What about you, friends? Is there a family you'd like to have a nature exchange with? It's a wonderful experience. You'll want to do it again and again. Trust me.

"Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done.."   ~ Psalm 40:5

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mealtime Geography

Good morning, friends,

I've been trying to think of a away to expose my children to more geography. We have plenty of maps, but no wall space. So I decided to use the dining room table instead. 

Here's how I did it....

I went to the fabric department at Walmart and bought a piece of  heavy duty, clear  plastic to fit our table. It was really cheap - only $2.77 per yard. So the entire piece cost about $8.00.

Then I chose the maps I wanted to use and arranged them on the table. And covered them with the plastic. (You can secure the corners of the plastic with tape to prevent it from moving around.)

Our dining room table went from this...
To this...
Not very Martha Stewart-ish, is it? 
But we love it!!  :)

Here are some of the maps I used...

I also included a cut-away of the Old Testament Tabernacle...
And some works from Renoir...
And the parts of a flower...
I alternate the maps after a week, and add new ones. But the possibilities are endless. You don't have to use only maps;  you could use math charts, science posters, timelines, etc. Anything printed on paper will work!

And the most important part is that your children will love it!
You will find your children pouring over the table,  having fun and learning - all at the same time! And mealtime conversation will be very interesting. :)

Some of my children's comments have been, "Mom, we just saw a fly walk all the way across the Sahara Desert!"

And, "Oh, I just love Renoir's Le Grenouillere!"
By the way, for all you AO moms, this is great way to study artists. Next year, I'm going to print the pictures for each term's artist study and put them on the table. 
Have a blessed day!
"Show me your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths." ~ Psalm 25:4

sharing this week at The Modest Mom

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lavender Jelly (Re-post)

Happy Friday, friends!

Ever heard of lavender jelly?
I made some about 2 years ago, and we loved it! And while I was in my herb garden yesterday, I caught a whiff of my lavender, and remembered how delicious the jelly was.

So for those who missed it 2 years ago,  here's my recipe for lavender jelly:

Lavender Jelly

3  1/2 c. water
1/2 c. dried lavender flowers
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 box  (1 3/4 oz.) powdered pectin
4 c. sugar

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat.  Add flowers, cover and let steep for 20 minutes.  Strain mixture into a deep kettle, discarding flowers.  (Your house will smell wonderful after this!)

Stir in lemon juice and pectin, making sure that pectin is dissolved.  Over high heat, bring mixture to a boil; add sugar.  Stir well.  Return mixture to a rolling boil; let boil for 4 minutes.

After boiling, ladle hot jelly into clean jelly jars, leaving 1/4 in. headspace, wipe rims, adjust lids and rings. Process in hot water bath 10 minutes.

Makes about 5 1/2 pints.
"Ointment and perfume delight the heart..."   Proverbs 27:9

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sprinkler Art

Hello, friends,

I hope you're having  a wonderful summer! We have been enjoying our time off from school lessons, although I try to keep the children somewhat engaged in during the summer months. 

We do Math once a week so they keep the concepts fresh in their minds. We participate in our library's summer reading program. And we also do some crafts. 

One of their favorites is Sprinkler Art. It's super-easy, and the children create a masterpiece and cool off in the summer heat - all at the same time!  :)  All you need is a sprinkler, paper plates, and food coloring.

Here's what you do...

 Set up the sprinkler, and turn it on. Keep the pressure on low.
I put our sprinkler on a chair so it's easier reach.

Then, take a paper plate and put several drops of food coloring on it. 

Next, run the paper plate through the sprinkler.


Lay the plates in the sun to dry.

How easy is that?! 

Here are some of masterpieces that we created....

We're going to hang these beauties in our school room. :)

Now for some tips....too much food coloring makes all the colors run together and look like one big ugly blob (ask me how I know), so 3 or 4 drops on each plate is plenty. And contrasting dark colors and light colors works best.

Also, running the plates under heavy water pressure makes a GIGANTIC mess on your arms, hands, etc. (ask me how I know - I still have green hands). So keep the water pressure on low.

And lastly, use real paper plates - no styrofoam, or coated plates. I used cheap ones from the dollar store.

Have a blessed day, everyone!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eating Daylilies

Two years ago, I posted about eating daylilies and I think it's worth another  re-post. The lilies are in full bloom here at our house and we're taking advantage of that by having them for lunch with egg salad and chicken salad. Yum!  :)

So, for all my new readers, here's the post..

Daylilies for Lunch??

Imagine the looks on children's faces when you serve up a platter of these beauties for lunch!  They are quick and easy to prepare, and are delicious stuffed with egg salad, tuna salad, or chicken salad.

But first, some nutritional info about the daylily.  All parts of the daylily are edible. The buds provide more vitamin C than green beans or asparagus,  have more protein than these two vegetables, and contain lots of Vitamin A. The flavor of daylilies is similar to lettuce - crunchy and slightly sweet.

In the Orient, daylilies have been considered medicinal. The roots are known to have pain-killing properties. And they have been used to treat various illnesses such as jaundice, fevers, and some tumors.

NOTE:  When you harvest daylilies, only harvest the ones in your garden - not roadside daylilies, as they are usually treated with chemicals and pesticides.  I am referring to daylilies only. Some other lilies contain alkaloids and should not be eaten. Daylilies can act as a laxative or diuretic;  so please eat in moderation.

So all you need to do is gather daylily blossoms from your garden. Wash them in cold water to remove any insects or dirt. You can wash the pollen off, as well, unless your children don't mind the orange powder on their faces.  :)  Gently dry the blossoms with a paper towel.  Stuff each blossom with a heaping tablespoon of your favorite lunch salad.

As you can see, my children had no problem with eating flowers for lunch................

You can Google "Daylily Recipes" and find lots of other ways to prepare the beautiful flowers.  Happy flower - eating!

Luke 12 :27  "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

Have a blessed day, friends!