Free A5 Planner Printables!!

I’m so excited to announce my very own planner printables.  I decided to combine aspects I really like about Erin Condren Life Planners that I covet, and the Day-Timer Family Plus Planner that I own.  I love vertical layouts for weekly pages.  I love color, but I don’t love how it sucks up my ink.

This design is printer-friendly, colorful and FREE to you until the end of the month.  February 1st these pages will be sold in my Etsy shop.  My hope is that you will enjoy these printables and give some feedback before I start selling them.

I have poured hours and even days making these.  I am not perfect so if you notice something in error please let me know.  I thank you kindly for your input, and hope you enjoy getting yourself organized!!

The calendar features notes and goals.  Each month is a different color.

A5 Cal snip

Calendar A5 (click to download)

I made lists for shopping, books to read, movies to watch, goals and a notes page.

planner lists

planner lists (click to download)

The weekly spread is vertical.  Each month color in the weekly spread coordinates with the monthly pages.

weeky plan

Weekly Planner colored months (click to download)

mystery of history curriculum review

I posted here about all the curriculum we’re using this year.  We are continuing through Mystery of History Volume 1.  I’ll let you know right off the bat, we LOVE it!.  I had a request several months back for a review.  Now that we’ve used it for a reasonable amount time, I’m ready to give you my full review.

Please keep in mind, we haven’t completed the book.  I can tell the system of it now, and that every lesson follows the same format.  The simplicity of this curriculum is one of its greatest strengths.  If your child can read you don’t even need to “teach” it.  It’s written to the child.  The activities are short and common enough (no crazy shopping lists) for us to be able to complete them all.  The only thing I purchased was a sewing board for our timeline.

I love the timeline.  It folds up and fits in compact areas.  Timelines we had in the past never got put up because I didn’t like it all over my house.  We don’t have a school room.

So, here’s how it looks.

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Every three lessons, the timeline and memory cards are filled out.

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There are review tests and pretests.  These are short but impacting.  No over testing involved

 

 

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All the activities we do are filed in a binder, along with tests, and reviews.  The sections we have in our binder are categorized by geographical regions.

The curriculum’s flexibility  is wonderful.  This is designed for K-12.  One book of history for all grades!  You know I love a multi-leveled curriculum. This doesn’t disappoint.  You can make the activities as complicated or simple as you need to.  You can also turn each lesson into a week-long study if that’s what you like.  We don’t.  I usually have books for the week’s topics in every reading level.  They read more in-depth information on their own.  If I’m particularly unorganized or behind, I pull up online articles for the older kids to read.

I don’t say this often but, I can’t see myself ever searching for a different history book for our schooling.  I love that we can do this together, or I can plan out independent study as the kids get older.  There’s just enough written to cover it well, but not to bore them out of the fun of learning history.

We love!  Here’s a link for more information.  There are different volumes.  When you complete one you go to the next.  Then you can circulate them.

I have also done a YouTube video that goes through the book details.  Thanks for reading.  I hope this was helpful.  Please ask any questions you may have.  Have a great day of schooling those babes!

what’s in our workboxes: 4th and 6th grade (using a filing cabinet)

Are you tired of hearing about the Workbox System?  No, you’re not!  I’m not a bit tired about talking of them either.

This video tour shows you what’s now in our file cabinet “workboxes”.  I love this file system for the older kids.  They love it and chose not to get a rolling cart when given the choice to upgrade.

This is great for apartment and small spaces as well.  They key to having them feel motivated in this setup, is to make sure you fill their schedule every time.  The will see their progress and get motivated to finish well.

So without further ado, the video tour.

Do you use workboxes?  What’s your favorite method?

yarn along

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It’s back folks.  My knit mania that is.  I have worked on this blanket for years now.  It’s really turning into a beast.  It’s merely a scrap blanket.  I had some hats and such completed for Christmas, and that lead me to more bits to add in.  I’m loving the memories of gifts I see when I look at this blanket.  Some are from my first projects (which were quite ugly, I assure you).

On the night stand are some great reads.

The Three Musketeers I do love a good classic read.

Sacred Marriage  Not too far into this one, but I love the concepts so far.  Very deep.

Hinds Feet on High Places  I’ve already picked this preface apart on here.  I think you get that I’m into it :)

year of clean 2015

I have already seen many January challenges on blogs, YouTube and Instagram for a month of cleaning and de-cluttering.  If you’re like me, the thought of a daily deep clean in any area is daunting.  I decided to make my own challenge list.

I made myself a monthly, instead of daily, challenge.  Each month I want to focus on a section or topic of cleaning. Here’s my list.  I have also made an Instagram/Twitter handle for any of you who want some motivation and want a place to share your masterpieces.

Use #yearofclean2015 and join me for a peaceful organizational challenge.  I will post updates each month here, as well as videos on my YouTube channel.

Share this challenge with a friend.  Are you ready?

Yearof Clean schedule edit

homeschool favorites of 2014

Some of the following favorites are curriculum, some are resources.  Keep in mind I love switching things up.  I have loved different things at different times, for different reasons.  As I made thins list I only put things on that I have loved the WHOLE year.  What are some of your homeschool favorites?

1.  Apologia Science- I have only used the younger series.

2.  Who is God?- We just started this Bible study this year.  I love it so much!  Even my preschooler likes to listen in.

3. Sue Patrick’s Workbox System- Do I ever shut up about this?  No.  I won’t until everyone I know gives it a go.  AMAZING!!

4.  Composition Journals- We never buy the supplementary notebooks that go with our science and Bible.  We use comp.   books!  We also use them for spelling (instead of have a bunch of loose paper), Math (same reason), and as writing  journals for the older kids.

5.  Spelling Power- Have not regretting this K-12 spelling curriculum one moment.

6.  Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons- great for pre-K-2nd grade.

7.  Teaching Textbooks Math- I don’t think I can ever not have this in my life.  It grades, teaches, and is fun all-in-one!

8.  Purple Cow Laminater- I got this at Costco a few years ago for $20!  I love having a way to reuse printables I find  online.  No homeschool should be without one.

9.  Teachers Pay Teachers- My favorite resource for said printables.  There are endless FREE printables.

10.  iPoint evolution- I budgeted this into our school year.  I really wanted a METAL sharpener that could attach to the  wall, but this one was on sale at the beginning of the school year for $15.  I am actually glad to have this electric one so  the younger kids can use it without needing help.

11.  Confessions of a Homeschooler- This is a site I go to time after time.  She has wonderful printables and inspiration.

12.  Calendar Notebooks- This I have for pre-K through 6th grade.  My favorite FREE Calendar!  There are different  options for different grade levels.

13.  1Plus1Plus1Equals1- An awesome resource for montessori learning.  I love her sight words section most.

14.  You Can Read- FREE sight words lessons from the above site.  I love, love, love it!

15.  Local Library- THE best thing ever.  Free, fun, and a great place to meet other families.  Some of my closest friends  have been through storytime at the library.

I hope you found this helpful.  Please don’t forget to mention your favorites in the comments.

tour our workboxes!

I get asked often what workboxes are.  I can’t say enough good about our system!  I found Sue Patrick’s system through one of my favorite homeschool blogs Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Without further ramblings, here is how I’ve set up Olivia (2nd Grade) and Josie’s (1st grade) boxes.  They Have rolling cart and Isabel and Andre use a file cabinet.  I will be posting all about their boxes soon.

Enjoy!  And spread the word on workboxes with every homeschooler you know.  Life.  Changing.

favorite recipes of the month (December)

It’s no secret that I love Pinterest.  I pin like my life depends on it.  You can follow me by clicking this link.  Every week I look through my pins and pick new recipes to try.  I’m adventurous that way.  Here are our favorite new recipes we’ve been enjoying lately.  None of them were fail.  If you missed my last linked list you can find it here.  I will state that I usually have to triple recipes for our size family.  I made more in each one listed.

Broccoli Pesto Bake

General Tsao’s Chicken

Chicken Terriaki

Cheeseburger Soup

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup

I hope you enjoy these meals as much I we have.  The kids loved the first so much, I made it three times in one month!  What are you favorite finds on Pinterest?  Please share below!

15 goals for 2015

I always have goals lists going on, but at the beginning of each year I like to plan out what I think to be the most important goals to aim for.  Do you do that too?  Link your goals in the comments section and share.  Happy New Year everyone!

Here’s a video about each of my goals if you would like to hear them explained:

 

 

Goals for 2015

1. 2 YouTube Videos a week

2. Weekly blog posts (here)

3. Keep up my cleaning routine

4. downsize ans organize the house

5. Run another 5k

6. Stay Gluten Free 80% at least

7. More homeschool fun!

8. Get serious about guitar lessons

9. Read at least 20 books this year

10. Bible Studies

11. Get back in the garden

12. Have kid dates

13. Finish Josie’s quilt

14. Keep up my Thankful Journal

15. Submit to God’s will day by day

 

penny

I mentioned a few days ago that our sweet little poodle Luke died.  We have all been so sad.  Luke had his faults, but he was a great family dog.  He never hesitated to lick and love on us.  He always laid next to the under-the-weather family members.  He stuck like glue to Josie’s side while she recovered from surgeries.  He was a wonderful dog for all these kids.

He tolerated anything these kids dressed him in.  He always had energy to play.  He was a lover of face licking.

I silence fell upon our house when he was gone.  An energy was missing.  I’m sure we could never forget all the laughs and comfort Luke brought.  Our house hasn’t been the same since.  It’s quieter.  I like when it’s quiet, but this is the sort of quiet that feels like a void.

A month and a half has passed.  We decided we’re ready for a new puppy fluff.

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The energy is back full-force, I assure you.  We haven’t laughed or smiled this much for a while.  Penny came to live with us Friday.  If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen this tiny ball of fun.  We are all so excited about our new puppy.

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If you don’t think she’s cute, you are heartless.

Her faults include: being too much fun to focus on school work, being too cute to stop holding, acting as the perfect distraction from housework.

These are also her strengths.

Some seasons in life are best gotten through by using a tiny, fluffy, energetic pup as a Segway.  We are thanking Jesus for bringing this little girl to us in the most likely way, in perfect timing.

Oh, Penny.  You are just what we needed.

thankful journal: count your blessings even when it’s hard

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Have you ever gone through a season in your life where it seemed like nothing was going good?  I feel like we’ve been in and out of those seasons so often over the last couple of years.  It’s easy to cry out, “Why me?”

It’s hard to stay thankful and grateful.

I admit to doing both quite well.  I always want to be thankful and count my blessings.  I don’t always do it.  Even with the most well-intended fantasies of being that perfectly content and loving person, I FALL SHORT.  I get bummy and grumbly.  I forget what I already have and whine (in my heart) about what I don’t.

Over the last month I have done something to remind myself each day that I have so many things to be thankful for.  I made a little thankful journal.  It’s a sentence or two everyday.  It takes less than a minute, and it really helps me to see that even on the worst, most stressful, heart-breaking days, there is always at least one thing that caught my attention.  One thing I can say, “Thank you Lord.” for.

I just read through it before I wrote this post.  It’s amazing how many things I already forgot I was blessed by.  Isn’t that just like us humans?  We are so quick to remember the hardships and trials, and so quick to forget just what God has done good.  I would like to to challenge all of you to “Count your blessings.”

Write down a moment or a thing you are thankful for everyday.  Write it in a fancy journal.  Write it on a notebook.  Write it on the calendar.  Just pick a place and put that paper somewhere you won’t forget.  Somewhere that you will see it and not forget.  You might have to put it in your purse and take it with you.  Perhaps stick it on your nightstand– you get the idea.

There have been a few days I missed.  I try to think back and write what I remember.  Don’t beat yourself up if you forget a few days. The point is to walk over a write your thoughts as soon as you can so you don’t forget the little things that blessed you.  You may have to dig deeper some days.  Hey!  Some days are better left forgotten, but try to find even the tiniest gift for those days.  One of my days said, “Isabel made breakfast.”

I remember that day.  That and the breath in my family’s lungs was truly about all the good that happened.  But that is a blessing, isn’t it?

So, do it!  Comment what you’re thankful for below if you want.

Thankfulness isn’t just for this week.  It’s a life choice to be grateful and blessed by the lives God has placed us in.

Difficult times may be all you know.  I realize some of you have had trials I couldn’t imagine.  I know God is faithful, and maybe ALL you have is him.  Praise him for his presence.  He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving.

Always.

printables and links for december homeschool extras!

I have be gather some resources to integrate into our school room for December.  I found some sites and printables I’m pretty excited about.  I thought I’d share them here with you.

1.  We have done The Jesse Tree for the last few years.  It’s a printable booklet and it has ornaments.  We save our ornaments to use each year.  We also have an add-on so we can use the Jesus Storybook Bible for the younger ones in our family.

2.  This link is from Teachers of Good Things.  She has a great linked list of ideas and printables to keep Christ in your December homeschool.  This is a GREAT list!

3.  I found a great unit study Homeschooling Through the Nativity at Intoxicated On Life.

How do you switch things up for December in your class?  I love the fun and excitement of this time of year, don’t you?  Have festive weekend all!

8 things we need to know about grace

I love a good second chance.  I need them everyday don’t you?  In the Christian world we call this grace.  I thought it would be fun to look at ten things we need to remember about grace.

1.  Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.  It’s a gift we don’t earn.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

2.  We are to freely give grace, just as Jesus has freely given it to us.  We can’t expect people to earn grace from us.  It’s a gift, remember?

Romans 12:3

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

3.  Grace comes with a price.  Jesus paid that price for us.  Sometimes for us to show grace is a sacrifice that doesn’t come easy for us either.

Ephesians 5:2

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

4.  There is a call to action.  Be graceous!  Give back what the Lord has given you.

Psalm 111:4

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

5.  We need it daily.

Luke 9:23

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

6.  Grace is choice we have.  Have you ever heard someone described as gracious?  I’m not just talking about floating across the floor flawlessly.  I’m glad that’s not the definition.  My clumsy self would have no hope in that.  We can choose to BE gracious towards others.  We can be gracious in our thoughts.  In our hearts. In our actions and words.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

7.  True grace only comes from the father.  Either to us or through us.

8.  It’s not easy for us, but He can give us strength.  Sometimes His grace is all we have.  It’s always all we need.

2 Corinthians 12

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

9 misunderstandings about motherhood (i wish someone told me this)

If you’re a struggling mama, a new mama, or a soon-to-be mama, a never-ending, or a super mama, hippie mama, corporate mama, stay-at-home mama, unschooling, homeschooling, public schooling, private schooling mama…this list may be for you.

1. Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural.  Okay, this ends up being mostly true, but it’s starts out blisters,  crying (mama from pain), and ends in biting and more crying- ’cause mom doesn’t want her baby to  grow up.  Somehow your child will live- even on formula *gasp*.

2. Stay-at-home moms don’t do much.  Excuse me?  They have time to do everything perfectly that working moms never can.  Being a SAHM is easier.  For me, I think my mind and emotions would rather I get a job.

3.  Motherhood comes naturally.  Disagree.  Selfishness comes naturally.  Motherhood is a life of service.

4.  It gets easier.  So far, no.  The change of physical demands and no sleep to bra shopping and  hormones- ’nuff said.  I have heard enough from mom’s with adult children to know that season has it’s struggles  as well.  Like I said- life time service.

5.  If you read a bunch of parenting books, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect and how to deal with  it.  Don’t worry the formula works for everyone…said no mother ever!

6.  You have to be able to juggle house, schedules, and bake cookies all the time.  Give yourselves a break.   We mamas can seldom muster up the will and motivation for for anything other than keeping the young  alive.  It’s okay.  If you’re a ball of energy, that’s awesome.  If you’re not, don’t fall into the trap of looking  around you.  Assume you’re friend’s Instagram picture of perfection was the only moment of peace that  day held, and she documented it.  Assume that all the Pinterest pins are looking more like the Pinterest  Fail blog.  Just love your babes and do lots of deep breathing and praying.  You’ll make it to the next  stage.

7.  Your friends are sweeter, more peaceful, and never complain about anything.  They have it all figured  out.  They are better than you.  Yeah right.  They are likely struggling just as much- maybe more.  Have  honest conversations and be a friend who understands.  We are all figuring things out as we go.  YOU”RE  NOT ALONE!  Surround yourself with godly women who you can relate to.

8.  If you don’t feed your child organic from scratch food, on a plate that’s BPA-Free in a chair you bought at the thrift store and painted with chemical-free paint, while strumming your guitar to a song you wrote especially for him– he’ll grow up hating you and thinking that you neglected him.  Give that kid some chicken McNuggets and let him play in the ball pit of death germs.  He’ll love you more.  Just kidding. Do what ever you want, but remember that he only wants you.  Not your food or your up-cycles.  Just your presence and love.

9.  If you’re a single mom you have failed.  You don’t see your kids enough and they will turn out horrible.  Don’t believe that for a second.  You can do it, and you will realize one day how amazing you are for raising a child with no help or relief from a spouse.  I think single moms are amazing!  God will get you through to your next season.

Moms!  You are important.  What you do everyday is doing something.  Every stage of motherhood you look back on and see the growth in your person, your relationship to the Lord.  Every stage is teaching us something.  Don’t believe lies.  You are a mother.  You are amazing.  You may not feel amazing, look amazing, or act amazing (mommy-ka-boom!), but if you love your children they will know.  

Sometimes a, “Mom, MOM, MOMMY!  I love you.” Is enough to remind us, right?

Do not grow weary in doing good.  The Lord provides the strength you need.  Just be the mom He wants you to be, not the one you think you should be.  

 

homeschool, housework, and sanity

Let me clear things up for you before they get murky from the beginning.  This post is more of a question and guide then an answer book.  I in no way, shape or form have “it” all together.  I have picked up a few tips and frames of mind along the path of schooling the kids over the years.  I’m simply passing along personal experience.  I also ask myself if I’m on task daily.  Is there a more efficient or effective way to do things, ect.  In a nut shell, it’s an ever-evolving balance.

Every morning I get up and have personal time with Jesus.  Sometimes this happens when everyone is still sleep.  Sometimes, I sleep through my alarm (a lot) and this happens while the kids are doing morning chores. This is my best advice to anyone.  That’s how I prepare for my day.  After this time happens, my day begins.  The following is how I function through the rest of the day.

First, you can’t do it all and stay calm.  Choose the order of your priorities.  This has changed and been a huge struggle for me every year.  My biggest quandary is sticking to my own standards.  Your list may look different, that’s okay.  The concept remains. This is the order I pour my daily energy into.  This isn’t necessarily a priority of life.  It’s more import that my kids eat that learn.  It would be hard to learn if you’ve staved to death right?  This is the order I pour out my time and energy to.  If I have left over energy after #1, I carry out something in #2.  If I did something in #2, I may take longer or do something special for #3.  You get where I’m going with this.  I do each category everyday on some level.

1. School the kids (This is my number one priority!)

2. Cleaning (I’m putting this as the second because I lose my mind when things get too messy or backed-up)

3. Meals (We all have to eat.  I’m talking about whether we’re eating frozen meals or home-cooked)

4. Extracurricular (For me this is knitting, hanging out with friends ect.)

I’ve given up the ghost of being perfect and doing it all.  I was losing my mind people. I was also not perfect.  I was grumpy.  What’s important to me is being a good mom.  I want to feel they learned all they could.  Was I patient?  Do they feel loved and important? If the house is a wreck and we eat frozen pizza at the end of the day, I’m good with that.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I have slowly cared less and less about whole organic food.  I haven’t made a pie crust in over a year.  I simply don’t have the time or energy to accomplish everything to perfection.  To be honest, I was burdening myself with DIY everything.  Food, cleaners, projects.  I was using every spare moment of my day to do something.

I found a more realistic approach to life freeing.

When the kids are done with school I sneak in a load of laundry.  Sometimes I can start dish while they’re reading or busy with an assignment.  I am mostly on my feet the entire school time.  We do school from about 930-12 noon.  The afternoons are when older kids read or finish independent work, and younger ones rest.

I try to relax on some level here.  I read or watch a show while folding laundry.  I need a bit or a recharge.  If I don’t get one, it’s a frozen meal for dinner.  If I feel more energetic, I make a more time-consuming meal.  I do meal plan, but often re-arrange the planned meals for the week, depending on my energy.

After I have my quiet(er) time, we do afternoon chores.  Here’s the link to our schedule.  We are doing great with this.  I find it to be the least burdening chore chart we’ve tried.  Our house always looks generally clean now.  If I’m really in the mood to clean that day, I pick an organizing task or other project not on the list.  I also will take extra care washing linens and putting clothes away.  That’s if I really feel like cleaning that day.

When the day is done, or nearly so, I have extracurricular time.  They have free time until 5 pm.  While they play outside or entertain themselves I usually read or knit.  After they’re in bed, I read or watch TV with Nick.  I paint my nails, shower, ect. during this time.  The general point of this category is to take care of myself in some way, and RELAX after a long busy and often stress-filled day.  I go to bible study in the evening, and try to schedule hangout with friends (the no kids sort) at or around dinner time.  Nick can watch the kids, and I don’t feel behind the next day.

How do you organize your time and priorities?  Link your blog below, or comment.  Have a beautiful productive day!

 

 

 

i’m addicted to everything

I simply can’t help it.  I think I’m addicted to every sort of craft and hobby idea I see.  Maybe I’m too much of a dreamer. Perhaps I’m hiding from the reality of poop on the toilet seat and crumbs stuck to my bare feet.  Whatever it is, I have a hard time stopping it when it needs to be stopped.

I tried to make a promise to myself not to knit, sew, or cross stitch.  I did a good job of it these last few months.  I found myself hopelessly lost in every book in our house that interested me instead.  I’ve read nine books in five weeks.  Nine. That’s a record.  There never seems to be an end in sight when I get on (what I call) a binge.  This month it’s books.  What next month brings, I know not.

Do you do that?  Am I the only one?

My family has been enjoying the TLC show Cake Boss lately.  It’s been a teasing reminder my former passion for cake decorating.  I keep seeing visions of piped butter cream dancing in my head.  I’m pretty sure I’m a hobbyist.  Of everything. Perhaps it’s my need to be constantly busy doing something.

I can really get myself going.  So much so, that I loose steam.  Big surprise, right?  It’s true.  I do this constantly.  I get going so fast that I lose sight of my true purpose.  I want to honor Jesus with the life he has given me.  Sometimes I put unneeded pressure and tasks on my plate that He never asked of me.  I want to do His will.  Often, I find myself doing mine.

I’m certainly the sort that needs to be gently reminded by the Lord to just sit.  Be quiet.  Be Still.  I want to hear from Him. That requires turning off the list of actions I constantly have running through my head.

Just listen and wait.

Do you need to hear this today?  I sure did.  I have a sneaky feeling that many mamas share the same struggles.

Patience.  That’s always been a tough one for me.  Something amazing happens when I’m still.  I hear.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.  Hebrews 10:36

saying goodbye

There has been a dead silence here, hasn’t there?  Our family has gone through some major changes.  As such, it’s hard to be consistant in this place.  We have said goodbye lately to some huge areas in our lives.  I’ll tell you just a bit about them before we move along to normal blogging.

First, we have sold our milking does and all our babies.  I have been in desperate need of some stress relief.  Not being a slave to milking every 12 hours has given me time to re-evaluate, and settle into a new life we are entering.  This brings me to the next HUGE change in our lives.

We are no longer in charge of the church we started.  It is very bitter, and a bit sweet.  Now is certainly not the time to go into the details, but I will say that I haven’t minded the extra family time.  With both if these changes, neither Nick nor I feel as “tied down” as we used to.  We have been enjoying the ability to have more family outings.

Another goodbye that was purely out of our hands is the complete loss of our garden.  Our humble little patch barely made it through a hail storm.  I was hopeful that the few leaves left would be enough for at least a small crop.  A larger more devastating hail storm blew through just a couple of weeks later.  That left us with nothing to work with.  It also ruined our roof, and damaged our vehicles and pop-up trailer.  It was a bummer.  A big one.

It has been a month full of sadness and change.  I can truly say that I will continue to praise Him through the literal and metaphoric storms that we have been in the eye of.  He is good and faithful no matter our lot in life.

We are all looking forward to the start of a new homeschool year.  I’ve been flying around organizing and planning.  The kids are actually looking forward to our beginning next week.  I really love back-to-school shopping.  The house has been filled with the smells of new crayons and pencils.  We’re locked, stocked and ready to fire away.

What have you been up to?  I do hope you have been having fun and growing closer to Him.

recipe links and reviews

Last month I planned all of our June meals.  We are in the middle of the month right now.  What better time to give the links and reviews for new recipes we’ve tried out.  I’d like to do this once a month for you.  It’s nice to have someone (me) be the test rat so you don’t have to worry about whether that beautiful Pinterest meal tastes good.

For starters, I’d like to say that our family isn’t too picky.  Josie is the pickiest of all, but does that surprise you?  Not me.  Lol.  I printed a monthly planner from Money Saving Mom.  What I like about this is that is has breakfast lunch and dinner areas.

Now for the recipes.  I looked on Pinterest at meals I’ve been wanting to make.  Some were crock pot, some quick, and some regular or more in-depth.  These are my picks and what I thought of them.

Korean Beef (Quick meal)

Everybody really loved this one.  You can make it spicier or sweeter by adding more chili sauce or sugar.  The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of veggies.  Next time I think I’ll add snow peas or broccoli.  Maybe both :)

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

These were A-Maz-Ing!  For reals!! I had a strange craving for french dip sammies for weeks.  This hit the spot!  I made double and we ate it later that week as well.  I couldn’t find french onion soup, so I used the dry soup mix.  It was AWESOME!!!!  It was also extremely easy.  I took about 5 minutes to put in the crock pot.  I’m salivating just thinking about this.

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I wanted to liven up our breakfast menu this month.  This was soooo great.  I made a double batch and put it in a 9×12 pan.  It worked great.  Imagine a slice of a muffin/scone hybrid.  Yeah.  It was yummy, yummy.

That’s all I have for now, but come back soon for my end of the month list.  I can’t wait to share with you the other delicious dishes we’ve been gobbling up.

Have you tried a new recipe recently?  Please share a link or recipe in the comments below.  I LOVE comments!!!

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest to see what else I’ve been pinning.

 

 

chore/allowance system that will blow your mind!!!

I’ve done my share of printing and laminating chore charts.  Some have worked better and longer than others.  All have failed at some point or another.  Nick and I decided we wanted to work on cleaning as a family instead of having everyone assigned different areas/tasks.  We came up with something that blew our own minds.  I’m so excited to share this with you!

First, a word on our chore philosophy.  We don’t require much.  We want them to learn to be responsible and accountable, but we are not slave-drivers AT ALL.  Secondly, we have never had set allowances.  Occasionally, we’ve paid various willing children to help us with big tasks- all voluntary.  We expect everyone to do something to help around here.  They are part of a family.  Families work together.

About allowance.  I’ve never liked the idea of trying to come up with a payment plan.  Who gets what?  When? How often? Seems like just more info I’ll forget or flake out on.  It also made me nervous about strife, competition and fighting among the kids.

Here’s what we came up with.  I’m still wondering how this idea came to our heads!  Thank you Jesus!

Click here for our PDF.  family contributions chart PDF  Follow this video link for the “normal” household chart.

beating the heat

IMG_1619 IMG_1623 IMG_1617There is a heat advisory in our area now.  As if anyone who lives here needs to be advised that it’s totally stinkin’ hot.  Naturally, it was the perfect time for our AC unit to break.  Yeah, not so fun.  I know that there are people who live in the jungle and never have air.  If you’re not raised that way or you’re not on the mission field, it’s difficult to be at ease with the inside of your house reaching 90 degrees. I’m so thankful that Nick found such helpful people to walk him through the fix.  It took two full days to get our house cooler.  We have it rigged now, but the cold air’s blowing.  All this yucky heat led us to break out the swimming pool that was given to us a few months ago. This kids didn’t seem to mind this route for cooling off. What are some of your ideas for cooling off?  Popsicles are another one of our favorite beat-the-heat treats.

choosing to trust

Yesterday was a rough one.  The three younger children have the chore of putting away the dishes.  They were fighting and arguing constantly.  Each attempt to redirect and reason was met with more arguing and more fighting.  By 9:15 AM I was ready to hid in my room and read with a locked door.  Do you ever have a morning that seems to let you know the rest of your day will be and uphill battle?  I called it yesterday.

I didn’t call it out loud.  I pleaded with God that it wouldn’t be.  I prayed we could turn it around.

That didn’t happen.

It’s hard for me to see the good in times like that.  Suddenly, I’m worn out.  I become very unproductive.  Nick and I had a dinner date that night.  Right up until we left the fighting continued.  I was to meet him after I dropped off the kids.  I was running late because of all the talks and attitudes that resulted.

I felt bad that I was even leaving them with their grandparents.  Naturally, they were no trouble for them at all.  I was relieved, but sheesh!  I would have liked to enjoy a bit of that.

By the middle of dinner I was ready to give up the farm and move to the city.  Won’t it be easier if there’s less work? Wouldn’t it be nicer to be closer to supportive friends.  To say it lightly, yesterday was a bum day.  I real bummer.

This morning; however, I woke at 5:15 (usually I get up at 6:30), and things seemed up.  I read my Bible, had a cup of coffee, and milked the goats before Nick rose.  The kids are still sleeping.  I’ve even thrown in a load of laundry.  Here I sit typing away as if yesterday’s woes never were.

Isn’t that just like us humans?  We are such emotional being.  One day, we’re giving up the dream, and the next we’re enjoying every moment.

I was a bit busted this morning as I did my Bible study in 1 Samuel 8.  How many times am I just like the Israelites.  I praise God and worship him.  I want to follow His will.  The next moment I’m complaining about what he’s given me and rebel against Him.  I don’t want his little “gift” anymore.

Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Psalms 40:4

Today, no matter what those hooligan kids of mine throw at me, I want to choose to trust God.  Since they’re not up yet, I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.  I’m ready though.  I trust Him logically, but not always emotionally.

Friends, are you feeling like you relate?  Is there something or someone(s) you’re letting rule your emotions?  I want you to know you’re not alone.  He is with you.  I don’t want to believe the lies that I can’t do it (life).  I can if I tap into God’s strength.

God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. 2 Samuel 22:33

I pray I’ll be content with whatever great things or whatever struggle comes at me.  I will follow Him.  How about you?  What encourages you when the weight of life is on you?  Do you know He loves you?  He does.  We mamas have so much pull in every direction.  It can be overwhelming!

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

humble homesteading: our garden prep

Over the years, I’ve attempted gardening on several occasions.  I’ve grown things in tiny peat pots, bought from the nursery, and direct-sowed.  Varied success has resulted.  This is our third spring here at the farm.  I think we’ve finally figured out what works for us and what works in our area.

First we till and make ditches.  Luckily, our neighbors are gracious enough to loan us their machine.  We then flood each ditch and fill in low points.  I also like this done because planting is easier when it’s wet.  It’s also better to plant in moist soil.

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Now for planning.  I like to sketch up the plan so I know what and where I’ll plant.

Planting time comes next.  After each row is planted I flood the ditch again.  Notice we plant in the ditch- not the hill.  This give the plant a great soaking.  The soil stays moist for 3-5 days (depending on the weather), and it catches all the rain during monsoon season.  We stomp the hills down to make a sturdy walking path.

We have a few garden boxes set up.  I’m making one of them the permanent strawberry patch.  Onions are in one, and the other will have pole beans soon.

We spent two eight-hour days in the garden this weekend.  I’m so glad it’s almost fully planted.

I filled the rows with seeds.  Every child had some part in the prep and planting.  Little ones love dropping seeds into the holes.  Nobody likes pulling weeds.  Me either!  IMG_1567IMG_1587IMG_1589IMG_1594

We have found through trial and error that I can’t grow peppers or tomatoes from seed too well.  I’m working on it.  For this year we decided to buy plants from the nursery.  I buy bulbs for onions and garlic.  Everything else is seed sown directly into the ground.  I’m worried about the carrots coming up.  I had no success last year.  Any tips for carrots?

Here’s our list of what’s in the ground right now:

pickling cucumbers, corn, tomatoes (variety), peppers (sweet and hot variety), bush beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, romaine lettuce, blue dwarf kale, zucchini, spaghetti squash, onions (red and yellow), garlic, asparagus, herbs (variety), pie pumpkins, and eggplant.

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By the end of next week I hope to add:

potatoes, blueberry bushes, raspberries, black berries, pomegranates, strawberries, pole beans.

What are you growing?  How do you adjust for your climate?

 

 

 

exercise your spirit

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As a mom of many, I have found that the best time of day to have a quiet time to fill my spirit has varied greatly over the years.  Some of these moments didn’t happen until naptime- sometimes not at all.  Often they were snuck in while nursing a babe in the wee hours of the morning or late into the night.  Now that the kids sleep though the night (unless they sneak into our bed), I have had to find my way back to a purposeful schedule of study.

I’m a believer of survival study.  When you have infants and your exhaustion is at its peak- read when you can, so long as you do it.  I’m not in this place anymore, so I don’t have many excuses to give myself.  It’s so important for me to rise before the kids.  I’m not a morning person- depite what people may think of farmers.  I have never been one.  I am; however, a gal trying to seek the wisdom of the Lord.  That requires sacrifice.  I feel more “ready” for the demands of schooling and parenting when I wake, instead of getting woken.

I have tried over the last month rising before anyone else.  I’ve done a decent job at it.  For that I thank God, for he has woken me up even before my alarm most days.  It has come in the form of our big dog barking, annoyingly loud birds, crop dusters, and neighbors wanting to go for early AM walks.

The reality of this need to get up early came when I realized trying to read while the kids ate breakfast was more like trying to read while serving and cleaning up after tables in a restaurant.  Not so peaceful and filling.

I have, even today, skipped out on walking so that I could put the Bible first.  I know exercising my spirit is more important than my body.  I’m not overweight.  I try to eat healthy all the time.  Exercising is great for me, but not a medical necessity.  Maybe it is for you.  Maybe it will be for me some day. Right now, I know my spiritual health is more important.

I mentioned last week that I am going through another one of those mama phases.  The one where you look around and think, “Can I do this?”  I need the strength of the Lord.

Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore! 1Chronicles 16:11

I’m still sifting through loss and grief.  How can I help those going through the same?  The wisdom and comfort of the Lord alone, helps us press on.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

I thought I was going to be some sort of marathon runner.  Turns out, I’d rather run into His arms.  Running has it’s place, but what can take to place of the Lord?

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for a imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not asone who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.  1Corinthians 9:24-27

surviving supermom

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I heard on the radio last night a phrase that stuck with me.  It was Charles Stanley speaking about how every disobedience we commit towards God is us saying that we don’t trust him.  The phrase was something like, “How many of us Christians have tried to be good Christians with all our might and have failed miserably?”

He was saying that when we take control and do things how we think it should be done, we are saying to God, “You’re not doing it right.”

I thought about that so much I barely heard the rest of the sermon.

I’ve been there as a mom for sure!  I often feel that God wants me to do a lot.  I have it in my head that He expects perfect and excellence.  If you’re a mom you know the name of the perfect excellent mom.

I never set out to be Supermom on purpose, but I’m enticed by the thought of her. I mean, who isn’t?  She bakes and cooks food her children love.  Her husband brags about her perfection.  She teaches her children with patience and diligence.  Her house is well-kept.  She is one who serves her neighbors.  What carbon footprint?  She does everything right.  She sews everyone’s wardrobe and brings income to the household.

If Supermom is these things, she sounds great.  I’m not her.  I cycle between being focused on the house cleaning, focused on the kitchen, turning my attention to the laundry, honing in on exciting school lessons, planning/organizing.  I personally do these things.  Never, ever all at once.  I have fought against feelings of failure in every area.  I can’t do it all, all at once!

I’ve tried with all my might and failed miserably.

I’m still learning, but I think I’m surviving Supermom.  She loosing y’all.  It’s not for lack of trying though.  She’s put up such a great fight over the years.  I can’t tell you how often her moralistic and Martha Stewert whispers have filled my ears.  She always wants to mesh my spiritual health with my outward appearances.  Lady, I’m sick of you telling what others are doing and trying to get me to go along.  I don’t have time to clean with Q-Tips.  I can’t muster another once of energy for alphabetizing spices.  I don’t have the money to put everything in our house into clear, plastic bins.  That’s not what the bible meant by “keeper of the home”.  They didn’t even have plastic back then.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t spend the time I need in prayer and the Bible, and still have the energy to sustain our schooling, farming, ministry, and family needs perfectly.  Things may get disheveled.  I’m just going to look around, take a breath in, and hid in the laundry room to pray.  Won’t that serve my family better?  Are you drowning right now?   You know what?  I don’t care anymore about Supermom.  I don’t have the desire to keep up with that energy ball anymore.  If that means I don’t cook gourmet meals and I don’t press every shirt before it’s hung, so be it.

I don’t desire to exercise at 5 AM, because that’s the time slot open in my life.  I’m not the sort who cares more about my looks than I do my sleep.

I’m here to tell you, put Supermom to rest.  You don’t need to be a perfect mom and wife on the outside.  You only need to be a surrendered one on the inside.  Surrendered to God’s grace and mercy.  Focusing on our spiritual health and our ministry to our children’s hearts is a better use of our time.  Doesn’t that sound more freeing?

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  Psalms 1:1-2

I’m not saying be a slob and abuse your body.  I’m not saying to stop trying in life.  I’m not telling you that if you enjoy crafts and such, you shouldn’t.  Just be the mom and wife God is calling you to now.  By now, I’m saying today. Maybe tomorrows wife can handle organizing the cabinet.  Today’s just survived no sleep with an infant and toddler. Maybe she’s just nice to hubby when he gets home, and that’s all she can do that day.IMG_1532

Don’t be so busy scrubbing baseboard, that you push your kids away.  Yep.  That can happen here.  Well, maybe not baseboard.

I just want who God wants me to be.  Don’t you?  I want to cultivate a passion for playing with my children and reading to them when I’d rather do something else.  I think in order to survive Supermom I’m going to have to consciously humble myself instead of exalt my deeds and accomplishments.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  James 4:10

I’m aiming for a victory over Supermom, not to become her.  How about you?

P.S. Supermom isn’t real.  So just be you.

our curriculum picks

Another school year is winding down for us.  It’s that time of year that we look at our budget and needs.  It’s time to pick out our curriculum!

Many hours scouring the internet and making plans have been had this week.  There are so many options that it’s always overwhelming to me.  I tend to look at a few things when I buy curriculum.

1.  Price.  We simply can’t afford to spend more than $500.00 for ALL the kids combined.  This may seem like a lot of money, but many popular curriculum like Abeka, Calvert, Alpha Omega and Sonlight can be much more than this per grade.  Honestly, if money was no object I would go for Sonlight or Switched on Schoolhouse, past grade 3.  Money is an object here though.

2.  Multi-level options.  This makes is easier for me, and everyone else seems to like being in-sync.  We normally do these subjects first then split up for individual work.  We do history and science together now.  Next school year we’re adding Spanish, Spelling and Bible.  More on this below.

3.  Ease of use.  Self explanatory.  I teach four grades.  If each grade is complicated and requires lots of my time, we’ll never get through the day.  I look for books that are self-teaching.  This way, they can read the lesson, and I help re-enforce.

4.  Short but rich lessons.  I’m not of fan of dry long explanations.  The kids aren’t either.  Short certainly doesn’t mean that it’s not enough.

Please note:  Our new Workbox System helps us stay organized and get done with school by lunch time.  That’s right.  Lunchtime.  We generally start around 9AM.  Instrument practice is separate.  Very rarely, the older two take until 1PM. So don’t pass out when you read our list.  I don’t lock them up all day :)

With all that said here’s our list divided by grade:

Isabel (6th grade)

Math- Teaching Textbooks grade 6.  CD program grades as they go,  with video links and workbooks.  I bought mine off Ebay and saved $50.

English- Rod and Staff English 6- Can seem a tiny dry, but they are short lessons and extremely thorough.  You can      reproduce the worksheets and tests, or buy a new set for the next kid for $6.

Music- Clarinet lessons at a local school.  Sports and Music programs are free to homeschoolers in our state.

Sites we plan to use as tools:  Khan Academy, Dance Mat Typing, and Free Rice.  These are all free.

Andre (4th Grade)

Math- Switched on Schoolhouse grade 4.  I would’ve gone with Teaching Textbooks, but I found a better deal with SOS.

English- Growing in Grammar (already had), Winning in Writing (also had).  If we didn’t have these I would’ve gone with Rod and Staff 4.  We love JacKris, but I’m moving away from consumables past grade 3.

Music-  Guitar with Little Kids Rock (free You Tube Series).  Already have a guitar, and he always asks to play.

Sites for tools:  Khan Academy, Dance Mat Typing and Free Rice.

Olivia (Grade 2)

Math- Sylvan Super Math 3/1 Workbook grade 2.  These are fun and colorful and they are a great price.  I saw them at Costco and thumbed through them. $12

Language/Math- Daily Learning Drills grade 2.  I saw these in person too.  They are huge 412 page books and cover all subjects.  They cost around $10.

Reading- Bob Books sets 3&4, Continue working through the free sight word sets at 1+1+1=1.

Music- Piano using the free Hoffman Academy videos.  It does ask that you buy the PDF downloads for $20.  We have a  keyboard already.

Sites for tools:  Starfall (my favorite for little ones), Dance Mat Typing.

Josephine (Grade 1)

Math- Sylvan Super Math 3/1 Workbook grade 1.

Language/Math- Daily Learning Drills grade 1.

Reading- Bob Books sets 1&2 plus Sight Words set.  Sight Word sets from 1+1+1=1, Bible Reader from My Father’s World (We’ve had this for years).

Sites for tools: Starfall, Dance Tap Typing.

Desmond (Pre-K)

I’m way relaxed with this level.  Play is best and best received, but he needs a little something to fight wigglies while the others get through their work.

He listens and colors while we read science and math.  He does puzzles, busy bags, and watches learning shows like Super Why, Wild Kratts, and Word World.

I did buy him a few things so he felt like he was starting school too.

Daily Learning Drills grade K

Leap Frog Learning DVD set

Bible- Seeds Family Worship printables.  These are verse coloring pages to go with a CD of music we have.  They are free.

Sites for tools:  Starfall.

All Grades Together 

History- Mystery of History Volume 1.  We LOVE this.  Short lessons and activities that we ACTUALLY do!  They are easy  and fun.  We used this for our current year.  Really this book could take years to go through if you extend every lesson to  a week.

Science-  Apologia Science Zoology 2.  This is Marine Biology.  The kids really wanted to do this one.  We did Astronomy this year.  We are almost done and we all LOVE it.  We don’t buy the journals.  We do just fine with a composition book.

Spanish- Spanish 1 (K-5) and Spanish 1 (6-8).  Haven’t received these yet.  We also have a Drive and Learn CD set that we’re going to actually use. LOL.

Bible- Apologia: Who Is God?  This is a study book.  There are journals to buy separately.  We are going to buy the journals for the older two and the coloring books for the next two.

A couple more things to mention in this super long post: I supplement.  I find free games and worksheets if a kid is struggling.  We always have a book we’re reading as a family.  Either Nick or I are reading to them.  We go to the library weekly.  They pick books that interest them.  I make the older read a chapter book.  Normally I choose these so I know they’re reading great literature. They daily reading to themselves for 30 mins.  When they finish a book they write a report.  They journal for 15 mins a day.  I randomly ask them to write reports and do research.

I’m always on the look-out for teaching moments.  All those questions they ask, I try not to fluff off.  I look it up for them or hand them a book with the answers.  I’m not perfect at this, but I really try to seize those moments.

Even the TV they watch needs to feel like they’re learning something.  Not always, but mostly they watch enriching shows.  I loath Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, and Nick.  There are VERY few shows they can watch on these channels.  I make them play outside.  This is great for all people in my opinion.  Nature and Vit D does everyone good.

Occasionally they each get App time on my phone.  These are always learning games that are free.

Lastly, we farm.  Lots of chores, knowledge and lessons that go along with that whole operation.

What are your favorite learning tools or curriculum?  Please share for others to see.  Do you have any questions?  Please ask.  I love to see what others are doing and I love helping out newbies.

mother’s day reflections

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Tomorrow celebrates mothers.  This past year I have been struggling as a mother.  This morning as I write before anyone else wakes, I am humbled by the love and forgiveness my children have for me.  I have made many mistakes.  I have yelled.  I have been selfish.  They love me anyways.  I think they believe me the best mama.  Thank God for that.

You know what?  I think it goes both way too.  They drive me to edge of sanity.  They fight and disobey.  I love them anyways.  I believe them the most creative and wonderful children I could ask for.  Thank God for forgiveness.

We are a family.  Families are crazy.  At least, mine is.  Families can hold grudges and self-serve.  Family never seems to quit though.  In the darkest times, family is what you lean on right?  So, if families are so unstable, I suppose it’s no surprise that daily life can feel overwhelming.  Talk about emotional ADD.  In surveying these thoughts this morning, I’m drawn to the conclusion that at the end of it all, there is love.

We love each other.  Despite all our failings, we truly love each other.  We forgive because we love.  We help each other and serve each other because of love.  I’m in the process of being a more attentive, sacrificial mother.  It’s not easy.  It basically goes against every bit of my natural tendencies.  An upward battle is still worth fighting.

Instead of desiring material things this mother’s day, I desire to be a fighter.  I want to fight for my children.  I want to fight for their souls, their future, their character, their hearts. By fight, fight against my own will and serve them.  I certainly wouldn’t mind gifts, but what I want more than anything else are children who love Jesus and serve him in their lives.

That’s worth all the buggery noses, diaper changes, vomit clean-up, long talks, games of chess, monotonous days, resistance to authority, math word problems, laundry, mopping and smart-aleck remarks we mamas face.

The great thing about it, is that the Lord is our source of strength.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

Psalm 28:7

He also gave us each other the battle in the trenches with.  Let’s seek Him.  Let’s encourage a mom that’s struggling.  Let’s be honest when we need encouragement.

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:4-5

Let’s go be better moms this year.

I don’t mean bake more cookies and sew more clothes.  I mean let’s be kinder, gentler, more attentive mamas.  I speak straight to myself when I say this.

Being “mama” matters so much.  I want to honor the Lord in this role.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas.  If you’re not a mama, thank yours.  It’s a very humbling and hard job.  Maybe she failed you. Love her anyways.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  Colossians 3:13

ruby dress and top

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I’m in love.  I found the Ruby Dress and Top pattern on Made by Rae.  This is a PDF download.  No waiting in the mail.  I used the video tutorial for the yoke.  Love.  So much love that I made two dresses and a top.  I have another top cut out and waiting.  There are only three pieces to cut, so the simplicity of this pattern is very appealing.  Each item took me about two hours.  Saturday, while Nick was outside with kids most of the day, I made the two dresses and cut out the tops.  Sunday I made the top.

The last thing to do was to whip stitch the bodice.  I did the dresses Saturday night while watching TV, Sunday night for the top.  This was not included in the sewing time I mentioned.  Still, three garments in two days is pretty great.  I have never sewn anything for myself that looked this professional.  I have experience with gathering and bodice yokes, so that helped me greatly, but the outcome is thrilling.  Did I mention that I LOVE this?

The top is made of fabric that was given to me.  It’s vintage.  Yellow dress is Walmart $1/yard fabric I bought years ago.  The last dress is made of Amy Butler Daisy Chains and scrap blue that I think I also got for $1 per yard. (I have used this blue for Desmond’s Treasure Pocket Pants last year.  Pattern is found in Sewing for Boys.)

No zippers or buttons!  Hurray!  I’m am definitely not good at those skills yet.

Another feature I love about this pattern is that you can use any sort of fabric.  Woven, knit, silks, voile- anything works.  Different fabrics can make this look casual or dressy.  Very versatile look as well.

I love shopping in my fabric stash, don’t you?  Really.  Make this.  I receive no perks for pushing this pattern, except that any reader who makes this will be very pleased.  From one friend to another, you won’t be disappointed.

 

sewing frenzy

Lately I’ve been on a sewing frenzy.  I am working on clearing out my mending pile.  I’ve completed most of the projects I started and never finished.  I even started and completed new projects.

So far, I completed the following projects:

Four maxi skirts (a black one is not pictured)

One T-shirt skirt (not pictured)

Two mended buddiesIMG_1495

One patched pair of jeans

One April Bag

We have been experiencing lots of yucky wind, so I’ll be hitting up the sewing machine lots more this week.

What are you sewing?  What’s on your wish list?  My husband has been asking for a shop apron.  I think that is coming soon.  I do believe it’s time to finish Josie’s birthday quilt.  I thought I’d finish it last August.  :/  I have bad timing.  I admit it.

 

 

safe house for hens

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We have worked very hard this week.  We finally made a huge yard for our chickens.  After two years of them pooping on our porch, and all over the concrete barn, they are fenced in.  They are still free-ranging by definition.  The decision will also make it safer for them and easier for us.

I went back and forth about this.  I wanted them to roam, but I wanted them to stay out of my garden too.  They had free-range on our whole twenty-acres, then five, but they never utilized more than a hundred foot areas anyhow.  So space didn’t seem as important anymore.  Safety was also a concern.

There are many, many coyotes where we live.  We hear packs of them almost every night.  The hens now have a yard within a yard.  Double safe.  Now that they are laying solely in the coop, our Pyrenees dog Leia cannot eat their eggs.  That’s her favorite.

She is 100% trust-worthy with the hens, but boy does she love eggs.  She is patrolling happily, and making the safety of our animals even more secure.  She is a sweet and clumsy thing, but her bark is ferocious; she knows those coyotes are bad news.

The kids find it more convenient to check eggs when they know exactly where they’ll be.  Those hens used to lay everywhere.  In the hay, in the coop, in the back of Nick’s truck, in buckets, in twine, everywhere.  Easter egg hunts loose their excitement when everyday is hunting day.

Guess what?  I can now plant flowers to my heart desire too.  Things are always coming along here at the farm.  What improvements have you made lately?

humble homesteading: unexpected tractor

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Mr. Nick, the unexpected farmer was gifted a tractor.  Yes, free.  He can already imagine himself doing all sorts of projects.  His excitement has been dulled by the integrity of the mechanics.  He has worked every spare moment trying to get it to perfect running conditions.  It’s runs, but not well.  He’s been employing the advice from friends and family.  What a blessing this gift is for us.  We were thinking of buying one in about six years.  I like those sorts of plans getting changed.

With most hours devoted to this endeavor, I’ve been on my own with my thoughts.  This is a dangerous thing for me.  I’ve mostly been thinking about what to plant and where.  When, too.  He’s been busy like a regular kid in the candy store.  I’ve been thinking too much with no husband to dump my every idea on.  So, I’ll dump on you instead.

First, these chickens need their own big yard.  We’re all tiring of the poop on the porch.  They’ll have a huge yard.  Don’t worry about that.  I can hardly wait.  I haven’t had flowers planted yet, since those little feather fluffs like to dust themselves in my pots.

My next quandary is what to plant in the garden yard and what to plant next to the house.  Have you a herb garden?  Nick suggests next to the house for easy picking, but I know the fragrances are good insect repellents.  Have you tried herbs as repellents before?  Do they truly help?

The Winter is over, and I feel so behind the farming tasks.  Tilling and weeding and planting have barely started.  I’m feeling the pressure to get things into the ground.  I have many seeds to go through.  It’s time to make some decisions.

I made an impulsive purchase of strawberry roots the other day.  I find myself wondering where I want a permanent patch.  Don’t impulsively buy perennials.  I have eighty onion bulbs and some herbs into the ground now.  Yay!

What are you planting?  Perhaps nothing if you live East.  I for one am feeling that I’m a bit behind.  This Winter has been the warmest I’ve ever experienced.  I pray the summer won’t be brutal.  Lord knows, as soon as I get everything in, we’re going to need some good rain to keep it alive.

 

 

redeem your dirty laundry

I can’t tell you how often I see people complaining about others “airing out” their dirty laundry.  Many of those same complainers are themselves doing the same.  Whether it’s a complaint about a spouse or friend on Facebook, or a conversation about co workers over coffee, stop airing and start washing!

Seriously, why would anyone literally air out dirty laundry?  Do you know how much time it takes to hang clothes on the laundry line?  Why waste your time?  They are no cleaner, and not a bit less work.

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Redeem your laundry.  Instead of airing out dirty laundry, wash it in the blood of The Lamb.  Cleanse it once and for all.  Fold that up and put it away!  Wear it with confidence, knowing it’s clean.  Don’t wear your clothes to show off either.  It’s not so much, “Look what I did.  I’m clean.”  It’s more like, “God created the water I washed these in, provided the money for the soap and clothes, then he gave me the idea to wash it.”

Forgiveness is a sacrifice of love.  God is love.  True and total forgiveness comes only by the strength and power God gives.

There will always be someone who has or will offend.  Period.  Some of you have been deeply and forever wounded.  Jesus can redeem even that.  Do you trust Him?

Forgive others, for He first forgave you.  Stop spreading the rumors, no matter how true or false.  Be the first to forgive and the last to harbor bitterness.

Can we make an earnest prayer to redeem our laundry?  No more slighting our spouse, complaining about our kids, telling everyone how horrible our boss is, posting petty murmurings on Facebook, and going “off” on tangents.

It’s very unbecoming.  It’s harmful to ourselves and those around us.

Trust me, I’m guilty as well.  It’s so easy to air it out and call it clean.  I want to take the extra effort to offer the sacrifice of love.  To cleanse.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things

.

What a breath of fresh air that would be.  

how small children do chores

IMG_1304 IMG_1307The blurriness of these pictures drives me crazy.  That said, it couldn’t be helped.  Josie would not, for any reason, sit still.

The point is, children doing chores is messier and takes longer than you doing the same thing.  It must be done though.  We want them to clean up after themselves when they grow up right?  The only way to learn is to make a mess first.  I guess.  I do wish it weren’t this way, but alas, it is.  

This is Josie putting her bedroom trash into a bag.  Yeah.  Someone didn’t put a bag in before they filled it with trash.  That someone will go unnamed.  

It wasn’t an adult.

Raising young ones is tough on this recovering OCD mom.  I’m self diagnosed by the way.  Wed MD has saved me many trips to the doctor.    

Let go mamas.  By mamas, I mean one mama.  Me.

After all, Isn’t parenting about teaching?  If I do it, she learns nothing.  

If she does it, she learns that making a mess is fun not fun.  She will learn to be a productive member of the family.  Helpful, responsible, orderly are words she will live by.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

What are you letting go of?  

humble homesteading: soapmaking

IMG_1296 IMG_1298I’m no expert when it comes to soapmaking.  I made four batches a year and a half ago.  Only two turned out well.  That gave us 30 bars of soap.  I noticed a couple of weeks ago that we only had 5 bars left.  So, this week brought on my annual soapmaking frenzy.

If you want to learn all I know about soapmaking, check out Soap Queen TV and Bramble Berry for supplies.

Four things I’ve learned are non-negotiable with making cold-process soap.

One- You must have a scale.  Must.  Measuring volume is way off.  This is why I had 50% success last time.

Two- Patience.  Lots of it.  It took me an hour to stir each batch.  Best done while listening to Pandora.

Three- Thermometers and Lye Calculators are your friend.  Exact temp are imperative. So are Lye amounts. This can make or break it.

Four- Keep the kids away.  Naptime, bedtime are great times to make soap.  It can be dangerous.  If you’re hollering at kids the whole time, the fun is lost for you.

I am so pleased with the success of these 3 batches I made this week.  One didn’t turn out.  That compelled me to finally get a scale.  This is the third scale I’ve bought in four years.  I’m hiding it from children’s reach this time.

All was not lost though.  I grated it up.  I’ll be using it for laundry soap.

Have you ever made soap?  What are your favorite resources and recipes?  I used the “Lots of Lather” recipe from Bramble Berry.

yarn along

Click the above button to link up with Small Thing’s Yarn Along.

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It’s been a while. I honestly haven’t been knitting as much as usual.  When I have, it’s been on a buttoned-up version of my “Stripe the Squares, Baby!” pattern.  I’m excited to offer this for sale in the future.  My knitting skills have improved greatly over the last four years.  I can’t wait to share the new version.

Books, well, haven’t been read too much lately.  Do you count organic body care books?  Beekeeping books?  Elementary school books on space?  Oh, well then.  I guess I’ve been reading quite a bit.  I did get Little Men from the library.  I hope to start that tonight.  My babies have been so sick lately, it’s been hard to do anything leisurely.

What’s on your needles/hook?  What are you reading?  I do love a great book list.

humble homesteading: heritage breed pigs

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We’ve done it again.  We now have four happy pigs at the farm.  They are Large Blacks.  We had a hard time finding a heritage breed close to us.

These pictures were taken in the first few days of us having them.  They weren’t used to a hyper lady trying to get up in their faces with a big, black, scary camera yet.  Perhaps they never will warm up to that idea.

If you recall, we’ve done this before.  It was a bit of a nightmare.  We were inexperienced and naive.

I’m not concerned about these guys getting out this time around.  We had quite the time getting our operation under control when we had pigs a couple of years ago.  This was solely due to farmer-error.  I’m not saying we’re experts now, I’m just saying we have a better plan than we had before.

The last plan was to make a pen…the night before I picked up the little devils.  This plan was more along the lines of making an impermeable fortress.  What a difference!

The problem with pigs getting out of their area it that the eat everything.  Dog food, chicken food, goat grain, eggs, jack-o-lanterns- everything.  Seriously, everything.  All things eatable.  That costs us around $20 every time they got out.  Crazy expensive pork.

It was delicious though.

That’s why we have them again.  The suffering and expense was worth it.  The first bacon we had we said aloud, “We’re doin’ this again!”

The farm is filling up again.  I’m so thankful for all we have and do here.  It’s so much work sometimes, but it’s a good sort.

yarn along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

From Small Things

IMG_1227 IMG_1218This week, I’ve busied myself with pattern writing.  I can’t quite share them yet, but soon enough you’ll see my surprises. I’m still reading The Buried Book.  I still know I’m a nerd.  I’m okay with that.  Join the yarn along!

humble homesteading: catching up

IMG_1244 IMG_1249 IMG_1238 IMG_1234 IMG_1232 IMG_1226 IMG_1225 IMG_1219We’ve all been scurrying around lately.  Though we’ve enjoyed winter weather in the 70s, the last load of firewood needed cutting and stacking.  Certainly, the sound of a chainsaw will forever remind me of my cousin.  That builds up emotions.  I found myself in the perfect place for emotional outlet.  Pulling weeds.  Still.

The toddlers “helped” with this.  Half of the onions are planted, along with a bit of garlic.  Most of a second garden bed has been freed of the entangled, cursed grasses.  My hands are blistered, but by golly, we shall have onions and garlic.

We enjoyed some gluten-free pumpkin spice muffins.  Pumpkin from the garden taste better, do they not?  I have four more gallons to use before the next planting begins.  Perhaps we don’t need ten plants this year.

Our ladies (goats) are swelling.  There is just nothing more pleasing to me than assisting in the births.  It’s so precious.  It’s also a gooey mess, but in a wonderful way.  We are all excited to have milk again.  Last year’s season was cut short.  This year we plan on expanding to cheeses and such.

The farm is rearing and ready.  I can’t believe it’s still Winter though.  Will it ever get cold here?  This knitting mama gets robbed of wearing woolins far too much.

How’s your Winter?

humble homesteading: plans and dreams

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Oh, Winter.  The time here on the farm to make plans for the rest of the year.  We have some grand plans for this year.  Gathering knowledge these past (almost) two years has been beneficial.  We have wanted to jump into everything, but thought it better to bide our time.  We finally have a way to get a beef cow.  We are preparing for honey bees.  The pasture has a plan for expansion for more goats.  The chickens are gearing up for their very own yard.  And (Lord help us) we’re making calls to buy pigs again. Many talks have happened here.  The funding is seeming to come through.  Nick has side jobs one after another.

Our neighbors who have had many head of cattle in the past have offered to host one cow of ours.  This is grand news since we haven’t ventured that far due to fence mending we need to do.  Nick is as happy as a clam.  How ever happy that is.

I’ve read no less than four books cover to cover this week on beekeeping.  I stay fascinated by bees.  They are intriguing creations.  I have a feeling they will teach us all some important lessons.  I’ve made calls to local pros and really honed in on the Africanized Bee dilemma.  I am making plans on the best ways to keep them from invading our future colony.  While they really aren’t as scary as the movies dipict, there are reasons why they can be.  We will be keeping bees on our property.  That calls for extra measures of caution.  Any breed of bee can do damage to people and livestock to the point of death.  This is rare.  It can also be nearly preventable by being observant and educated Apiarists.  I don’t take this topic lightly.

Nick has spent the better part of a particularly restless night planning the expansion of our goat pen.  We want our ladies on pasture as soon as we have the funds for the materials.  We are also getting real serious about keeping another one-two girls this year.  We just never seem to have enough milk between ourselves and customers.  I really want to venture into selling goat milk products (soap, cheese ect) this season.  More milk please!

Bottom line with the chickens– I’m done with them pooping on my porch.  They’re getting a nice big yard this year.  Just last week we were late to the library because a certain tiny girl placed her special box on the porch steps while making her way to the car.  I can’t accurately describe the wailing that ensued when she discover it was covered in chicken poop.  Ahhh, the things you never think of when you start a farm from scratch.

This brings us to the pig talk.  I am semi-confident they won’t get out of their pen this year.  Semi.  We’ve learned not to make definitive statements when it comes to this topic.  The plan is do get 4-5 pigs and sell meat this year.  With all the hub-bub going on about pig illness on the East coast, we think the demand will be good for us.  I’m on the search for Heritage Breeds in our area.  Just pray.  Pigs are all they said to be in movies and books.  Except Wilber.  Wilber was a good pig.

Do you have plans and dreams?  Move forward.  These plans are subject to change depending on the provision and direction of God.  We pray and think plenty before we make plans, however we know who’s running this homestead.  We try to stay humble as we keep that in mind.

yarn along

From Small Things:

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~  


IMG_1212I’m still knit one little row at a time on my Canary hat.  This week’s book is The Buried Book.  I’ve just cracked it open, but I’m really into the concept.  It’s like a buried treasure story; all about a book.  History nerd alert!

What’s on your needles and shelf this week?  Join the yarn along fun!

it’s not about the notepad

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When you first bring home a little bundled up infant, you can never really know how much your life will change.  I took to some of the changes easily.  There were still other adjustments that took much more time.  I still feel like I’m adjusting.  Yesterday I had a break down of pitiful note.  I knew it was silly.  I knew it didn’t matter.  I realized I finally answered a question I’ve asked myself for years, “Why can’t I have anything nice?”  I mean, why can I not have things that kids don’t mess up?  I don’t have the answer yet.

I’m about to be candid with you.  I am not perfect.  I have so many flaws.  I am daily grateful for fresh starts.  Sunday, I showed myself just how petty and selfish I am.  After church we came home, ate lunch, and started preparing for dinner guests.  I went to the store while some stayed home and napped, and others tidied up the yard and house. When the groceries were put away, I strapped on my apron and started to get busy.

The bathroom needed Airwick refills and cleaning.  Done.  The floors needed sweeping; even though I did it twice yesterday.  Done.  The kids needed to pick up their rooms.  This was attracting some resistance.  I needed some coffee.  I looked out the kitchen window to see shoes left on the ground.  I didn’t dare interrupt the small amounts of progress the kids were making in the room.  I went and fetched them myself.  That’s when I saw it.  There in the dirt, disassembled, written on with permentant marker, in a certain child’s writing; my special little notepad– ruined!  There were still salvageable pages, but it was no longer in perfect condition.

I fought anger, which turned into saddness.  I was actually ready to cry about my notepad.  I walked in the house and just handed it to Nick.  I leaned against him and then I did cry.  Parenting is the most humbling experience.  I never knew how hard it would be.  Everything changes.

Maybe you’re thinking that I over-reacted.  I agree.  I know it was a combination of hormones, exhaustion, and emotional over-load.  Not to mention my regular self.  It wasn’t about the notepad.  It was about that feeling of being completely out-of-control.  I have no control over my stuff.  I try, but children don’t always listen.  Since we’re dealing with so many personalities it’s inevitable.  Things will go array.  They simply will.

Let’s remember here that in less than thirty minutes we were about to have dinner guests!

I don’t always cry, but when I do it’s the worst possible moment and over the dumbest things.  In this case we have a notepad that happened the last straw.

I went to the bathroom and looked myself in the face.  Obsurd. Red-eyed puffy-faced mess.  Sitting on the toilet I prayed to God.  Give my the strength to endure. I know this is so stupid.  Help me get over my selfishness.  Things don’t matter this much.  Don’t let me shame and scold (the child) but make it a kind teaching.  I soaked my face with cold water.

Exit me.  Enter said child.

Thankfully I pulled it together and was able to loving explain how taking others’ property is not respectful.  Not asking is like stealing ect.  I was also, by God’s grace, able to get over it. This is not my first response normally.  I have a tendency to react instead of direct.  I share this story for a purpose.

Things huge and minuscule happen to all of us.  It’s so easy to give into our emotions and act out.  God’s plan is so much better.  He wants to teach us and grow us.  He wants us to forgive and love and teach those around us.  Mom’s need to have to focus of service and love in their child’s lives.  We all make mistakes.  Treating our children from the perspective of teaching and loving helps us tremendously.  It helps the ones we need to approach even more.

Will you join me?  I want us to look ourselves in the face before we act.  I’m going to walk up to the mirror and look at myself a lot.  When I’m angry, flippant, sad about silly things;  what do I look like to the one I’m about to approach?  Do I look like a loving teacher?  Is there any Christ coming out?  Do I need to sit on the toilet and have a praying time-out?  Do you?  Let’s serve our homes in love.

It’s not about the notepad.  It’s about what we do with the torn up pieces.