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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad, 
I simply remember 
my favorite things
and then I don't feeel so bad!
 A stack of firewood, and a Sweet Man who splits it.
 An Aunt who gives me, the family heirloom dishes.
 A sweet Girl who has gotten, long awaited wishes. (pony stall cleaning)
These are a few of my favorite things...
 Princesses all grouped by matching sweaters.
 Parents who worked hard, to teach you better.
Home school field trips, that end in sweet treats. These are a few of my favorite things!

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens 
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Getting to the heart of the moment at a time!

I have read/heard how important one on one time with your kids is. But like how do you go about that? I mean seriously? We have tried to schedule mom/daughter dates. They always get cancelled. It seems to me that you just have to take those moments when they come. I can still remember staying home from school one day because I was "sick". When Dad had left to take the other two kids to school, Mom asked what was really going on. I told her how much I had missed her and wanted to just be with her. They were always so busy with the print shop. Instead of her being "put off" by my deceitfulness, she realized how much we needed that day. I can still remember how happy I was playing checkers with her, and having our lunch together. It is one of my fondest memories because she took the time to just be with me.

In the spirit of trying to have my children open up to me and tell me the issues they are dealing with, and remembering how special I felt that day so long ago, I have been trying to capture the one on one time whenever I see it. They are there more often than I realized. It could be a grocery store trip with just one girl. We have been known to stop and get coffee and hot chocolate to sip on throughout the store. It makes it even more fun when they have the little buggies that are a bit easier to maneuver for the girls. Although that does not mean I will leave that store without run over ankles or knocked down cleverly stacked boxes of food, strategically placed throughout the store. ;-) Alone time can also come late at night, after everyone else is tucked in bed. This, I have to admit, is super hard for me. When it's bedtime...I want to be in bed. But, this has also proven to be a time when my oldest Princess likes to share everything in her heart to me. This is a blessing for sure...but boy I am so tired sometimes. 

A couple of Wednesdays ago, Sweet Man had taken two of the girls to church while I stayed home with Princess #2. She had a pretty serious rash on her face, which ended up being poison ivy. But here I was with several hours of that one on one time I was looking for. At first I wasn't sure what we were going to do. We decided on making play dough.

Basic ingredient ratios:

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)

food coloring (liquid, powder, or unsweetened drink mix)
scented oils
Mix all of the ingredients together, and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes. 

When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle.

To get to what is really in my children's heart, one on one time has been the best strategy. It just makes everyone happy. :-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

child like faith.....

  This past weekend, while everyone was Christmas shopping, I had the pleasure of a bright and early hospital visit. My doctor had ordered a two hour glucose test, and I needed to be there at the crack of dawn. Even though I was dreading this test for the obvious reasons, there were two things I was looking forward to. The being out and about early enough to see the sun rise, and two hours to just sit and read. I absolutely love to see the sun rise and greet the new day with all of its magnificent colors. And who doesn't like alone time to read? I had ordered a book awhile back (Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer) and haven't found any spare time to read it yet. Well this day seemed like the perfect one. Besides the fact that I got extremely ill and they had to get me a bed...I kind of enjoyed the little hospital visit. One section of this book hit me so hard I thought I would share.

   "Susan is in fifth grade and she loves it. Typical of children her age, her learning curve seems to be going straight up. She loves making friends; she loves reading books; she loves her mom and dad; and she loves Jesus...sort of. In all honesty, she's not too sure about Jesus right now. Yes, Susan grew up in the church and faithfully attended with her family on a regular basis. For the last several years she has enjoyed the bliss of faith as a child. Now, however, on the verge of adolescence, she is beginning to make her faith her own...or not. Her spiritual life is hanging in the balance and no one even knows that's the case.

  On Monday morning, with a ponytail sticking out from the side of her head and her favorite cartoon character embossed on her back pack, Susan will go to school.

  At school, Susan learns many things. She learns about history, mathematics, language, and science--both observational and historical science. She learns the science from men and women who wear white coats and safety glasses. They use test tubes and Bunsen burners. They dissect animals and use microscopes to look at cells, and they carry clipboards under their arms to record all of their scientific findings. To Susan, they look smart. They do research. They test hypotheses. They prove them with their experiments. Susan knows that these people deal with real things--things that you can touch and feel--the kinds of things that matter. She spends many hours a week learning from these people. And she sees that they are dealing with fact. Because of this, when the same people talk about the history of the universe, dinosaurs, fossils, the origin of life, and the like, and interpret them in a particular way (e.g., millions of years and evolution)--Susan thinks they are speaking with the same authority as when they discuss their observational science that involves what you can observe and experiment with directly. Susan can't discern the difference between observational and historical (origins) science: to her, it is all science. And, that is how it is usually presented anyway.

  On Sunday morning Susan's mom and dad will dress her up and take her to church. For two hours or so, she will enjoy the company of friends under the care of committed Christian volunteers. To Susan, they look nice. They read stories to her. She is not sure if they are true or not--but they are nice stories. They don't really connect to reality and they come from and old book anyway. They help her with her crafts. They sing songs together. Susan knows that these are good people and that they are teaching her about things that can't be seen. They tell her what to believe about many things. She actually has a 90 percent chance that her pastor and teachers will tell her that God created everything.

However, there is a very strong likelihood she will get the idea she can believe in millions of years. Yes, this is a bible-believing church after all. Or they will tell her what the bible says, but they don't tell her why to believe. No charts, not time-lines, no experiments. She's learning about things that she can't touch or feel, and she's not entirely sure anymore that these things really matter. All in all, Susan will get about ten minutes of focused, spiritual input from adults this week at church, and none of it will include science. And she knows that they are dealing with faith.

  Over the next few years, Susan's "worldview" will be formed. She doesn't even know this is happening, but connections and assumptions are being made in her mind that will determine how she interprets everything that goes on around her for the rest of her life. By ninth grade or so, she will be able to articulate her worldview to herself and others. She will even think she came up with her worldview herself, but that's not true. Her belief has mostly been shaped by all of the input that she has been getting throughout her childhood. What has she learned? She has learned about the facts that supposedly govern the world, and she has learned about the faith that supposedly governs the heavens. The problem is that many of the "facts" that she has learned seem to contradict her faith--but no one talks about those things at church."

Many people ask me why we home school, and I always have a hard time summing it up, for there are so many reasons. It's not because of bullies, scary school lunches, having to vaccinate, or fear of letting my kids out of my sight. It is absolutely NOT because I am an genius and think I can figure out math problems better than anyone else...or where to put a stinkin comma. ;-) All though those are all wonderful reasons for some, they are not what motivates Sweet Man and I to choose this life style.

  I can still remember my fifth grade Science fair. I won on my school level and got to go to the finals. What did I do it on? The evolution of horses. I was raised in a Christian home; went to church every Sunday; prayed before meals ;-), but somehow still didn't understand that we didn't evolve from things. Or that the universe took millions of years to "happen". How is this possible? My teachers told me so, that's how. And I was taught to listen to them... after all they were the "educated" ones.

   I am finding out just how much time it takes to lay a good foundation of faith for my girls. If they were in school I don't think I would be able to do it. It is exhausting. It is confusing. It takes patience...which I don't always have. It has turned our school days upside down. If a faith question comes up, all other school books get put away. After all, what are we here for? To honor and glorify God. Bible times have taken precedence over all other school materials. Do they do that in public schools? How about Christian schools? No. I went to both of those. Our Christian school had a bible class, but it left me more confused than ever. They were not able to talk about doctrinal issues, or anything that might be know...didn't want to upset anyone. Most of the time those bible classes were used as study halls. If Sweet Man was in that class you better believe the only thing I was studying....was him. ;-) Am I saying that home schooling is the only way to be able to teach your children these truths? Of course not. I just don't think I would be able to juggle it all if they weren't home so much. I don't have to worry about tardy slips, or unfinished homework. ;-)

I guess the thing that startled me the most was the statistics in this book. The rate that children are leaving church as soon as they are old enough, is so sad. The percent of parents that leave all biblical education for their children, up to just the church or Christian school, is even sadder. We need to take a more proactive role in teaching our children not just the stories of the bible that are easy to read, but the why's and the how's. The trip to the Creation Museum was a huge help in this area. For the kids to be able to actually hear from the Christian Scientists and Architects made it that more "real" to them. Isn't that what we want? For Jesus to be real to our children?! After all...their child like faith only lasts for so long....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mad Scientist Party

I am a firm believer in the fact that learning should be fun. It should be exciting, adventurous and sometimes spontaneous. It should be shared with friends, and of course food. ;-) So, when I was cleaning out my bookshelf last week, and came across this book.....

We decided to do just that! To throw a Science party with only three days notice (spontaneity), invite our friends, and have everyone bring a dish (food). Learning is also more fun when you can make a mess, so old clothes were the attire for this get together. Don't you just love old clothes? There is so much freedom in old clothes. I am a firm believer in wearing them everyday. ;-)

What an awesome day this was. We made volcanoes, made a jar of water go BANG (literally, scared some of the children half to death ;-), made water change colors, had a lemon blast off with balloons, and made rock candy. All of the experimenting was topped off with a good ole fashioned game of farm hide and seek. Not to be mistaken for normal hide and seek. Oh no. You get to hide in places like: goat houses, barns, dog houses, under bales of hay...or even under cars. :-o After that, an amusement park was concocted with rides, and of course a petting zoo. One of the things that is most amazing about children has to be their imagination, and they were free to exercise that today. 
See what old clothes can do for ya?!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The ups and downs of horse ownership.

There are so many ups and downs to horse ownership, which I weighed and thought through very carefully (like at least for 5 minutes) before we agreed to let the girls get their two little ponies. The way they nicker at you on a frosty morning when they see you coming, has to be one of the highlights of our day. The thrill of knowing that when school work is done, you get to brush and walk these magical beings, has helped to motivate us to get our work done. That has been a bonus I didn't even consider.
There is one thing in particular that all horse owners fear. It's the C word. It can come out of nowhere for no apparent reason. It can become deadly, expensive, and cause extreme exhaustion to horse and owner alike. It's Colic. I lost one of our big horses to it several years ago, and lost my savings account to it not long after, when one of our previous ponies (Fry's chocolate Brownie) had an episode of it. It took 3 different farm call visits from our vet, and numerous hours of me "working" on the pony. So, when my oldest Princess and I were walking our "new" ponies through the woods the other day, and I noticed something "off" with our little bay, I became concerned. By the time we made it back to the barn I was pretty sure he wasn't going to make it. I called my friend from THE BARN, and she came straight over to help me diagnose what was going on. Yes. It was COLIC!! We gave him a shot for pain, and she left with the advice to ask Sweet Man to dig a hole. A pony sized hole.
 This brought back all of the emotions of loosing my other horses. "Why Lord? This is going to hurt so much...for me AND the girls this time!" We did everything we could..without calling the vet in. We took turns walking that pony for five hours the first day.
We let it roam around the yard, eating fresh grass, hoping that would get "things" moving in its gut. We took turns being 'on watch', which was a great opportunity to catch up on some reading. ;-)
Three days of alternating between walking, watching and giving pain shots, I do believe we saved our pony! It was scary and a tad bit exhausting, but several good things came out of it. We got a whole lot of exercise, and we now have a pretty tame pony. :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hiking with a......Turkey????

The days are getting shorter and colder. We are trying to cram as much outside time in that we can. Yesterday's weather was just perfect for being in the woods. We planned a hike, met some buddies half way between farms, and set out for our adventure.
 That's the thing about never know what you will find. It could be a new path, new plants to dig up and add to the garden, or how about a TURKEY?!
 This guy didn't have a chance. When our two families hike, we are normally joined by our dogs. Between the two families their are five dogs. That is a whole lot of sniffers and teeth. While walking down the path the kids startled this turkey. 
 He flew over the bank, and like a flash this little golden retriever grabbed him. It was a quick kill that left no blood shed. Which left us trying to figure out if it was really dead. I was reassured by one little boy in particular that "It was dead".
 Home school farm kids. You gotta love them. They started plucking feathers for crafts, ink quills and decorations.
 "No wait guys! Do you really think it's dead?" ..this is where I pipe up reassuring this little boy "It's dead".
 Bring the vet technicians in to figure out cause of death.
 Clover: "It wasn't me!!"

 The turkey was carried home to be skinned and eaten.
" I know it seems strange darling. But Mommy was just looking at free range organic turkeys at the's the same thing but without the packaging. Would you like for me to shrink wrap it for you and stick it in the freezer for eons?"
 We took turns carrying the turkey back through the woods, and made a pit stop at my Dad's cabin, where he was spending his day laying chimney brick. He strapped the bird onto the four wheeler for easier transport.
That was one "recess" that I am sure the kids will not forget for quite some time! ;-)

Monday, November 7, 2011


Oh wait....I mean HAY!!!
 A barn full of hay and kids just go together. So many nooks and crannies to hide/fall in.
 What do you and your Sweet Man do with your good friends? Well, we get hay with ours. ;-)
Hay= Happy kids and happy farm critters! :-)