Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hummingbird Fun

When I got home today after a quick run out to drop off some things at Good Will, all of the children that I had left at home were in the garage yelling at me not to pull the van in.  As it turns out, a hummingbird had made it's way in the garage and could not get back out.  It kept trying to fly up in order to leave and bumping into the ceiling.  We tried to gently corral it toward the door, but it just flew over it and sat on the runner for the door.  Closing the big door and trying to get it out the small door didn't work either.  Finally Bree had the ingenious idea of tying one of our Elefun nets onto the end of an old broom we had.   After that it was fairly easy to catch it and take it outside. 

Isn't it beautiful?  I love hummingbirds.
I'd just rather they not be in the garage.

Here's Bree's solution.  I was a little afraid
that it was going to slip lose and fall down,
bird and all on my head, but it held together
beautifully.  Thanks Bree!

Bree did want me to add that she tried several times (quite unsuccessfully) to suggest the net/broom solution, but we were apparently too busy chasing the bird to listen.  She finally just went inside, made the contraption herself and brought it back to the garage.

I'm sure the bird was very much relieved to get away from the crazy females that were chasing it with brooms.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

9 Simple Words

At least, they seemed simple to the child who was saying them.  In fact, they were said in an attempt to reassure me.  But, the sentence, "It's okay mom, I've done this a thousand times." when uttered right after the request to "Come see this!", is not at all reassuring.  But, before I could even begin to ask what exactly "it" was, said child was launching herself (on roller skates) down the handicap ramp in the garage and then grabbing the front quarter panel of the van, so that she could careen around the front end, sliding between the van and the garage door.  Hmmmm.  Even watching her sucessfully conclude this little display did not really reassure me that this was a particulary safe activity.  Maybe having the olders ones clean the garage can have a down side.
But I must add that this little trick did pale in comparison to looking out the back door and seeing the 12yr. old hanging off the very top of the swing set the other day.  And don't think regular, store bought, metal swing set here.  Think homemade, heavey timber, why in the world did my dad make this thing that tall (and WHAT was he thinking to put a ladder like area on one end for them to climb up) sort of swing set.  Well, I guess I can't get too upset about the ladder thingy, since Bree was hanging off the other side.  The one that required her to climb over the rail that he put up around the platform for the slide, before she could hang off the top in order to change the height of one of the swings.  Getting her oldest, much taller sister apparently never occured to her.  Not that Kay could have reached it from the ground, but she could have reached it from the slide platform, without climbing over it.
Oh well, they are all still very much alive and my very sweet oldest daughter has informed me that supper is ready (have I mentioned that I'm blessed?), so I must run.  I'll have to blog about the mattresses on the stairs another day.


Saturday, September 26, 2009


Sept. 26

Do any of us really think of the messages we're sending our children?  Target has now joined ranks with other stores in producing commecials aimed at telling our children that we don't want them around.  Yes, I'm referring to back to school commercials - like the one from one of the office supply stores that shows a father gleefully skipping and riding a shopping cart through the store, tossing around school supplies to the tune of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  The newest Target ad was talking about a women being able to get back to her routine, which, of course, included being able to save money at Target, now that her child was back in school.  It hinted at her being able to be more stress free.  She could get things to give herself a facial, and indulge in a little "color therapy".  (Don't even get me started on the irresponsibility of encouraging women to view shopping as therapeudic.  It should always be viewed as a necessary evil - but I digress.)  The close of the commercial assures us that all will again be well with her life now that things have returned to normal.  I kid you not, they actually used the term, back to normal.  
So lets see what message we are sending to our children.  The biggie of course would be that my life cannot be "normal" unless you are spending 8-10 hrs a day away from me.  But the others would be;  I can get back to my routine once you are away from me.  I can relax and give myself a facial (because heavens knows you can't wash your face with a child at home).  And, of course,  I can't receive my necessary (weekly?) dose of 'color therapy' unless you are somewhere else.  Hmmmm - there seems to be an awful lot of I's in there, but, once again, I digress.
This is just one example of the way we show children we don't really want them around.  One of the things I found disturbing about attending 'regular' church (we go to a family integrated church now) was the conversations that went on among the women.   I couldn't tell you how many times I listened to women complaining about their children.  I would hear them make comments, while dropping their child(ren) off in the nursery, about them (the kids) being their (the workers) problem now.  Or saying that they just can't concentrate on the service with the kids there.  And several times, during mid-week services, I heard mothers rejoicing over the fact that the kids were going to Grandma's for the weekend.  Ohhhh, they were sooooo going to enjoy the weekend now!  Ohhhh, how I got to where I hated hearing that kind of sentiment being expressed.  One of the first times I heard it (we didn't always attend 'regular' church) I went to my girls later and appologized for ever having said that I would really enjoy a weekend they were going to spend with my mother.  The girls assured me they could never recall me saying anything thing like that (thank you Lord!), and that, while they knew I did enjoy the time of rest I would get when they were gone, they never felt as though I didn't want them around (again - thank you Lord!).  It's not really bad to show that you will enjoy some quiet time, especially if your spending time with your spouse, because it's good for your children to see you enjoy special, one on one time with their father.  But, the constant griping and complaning, and continually expressing a desire to do things without your kids, or conversely, complaining about having to do things with your children around is damaging.  And yes, I know this doesn't just happen at church.  I once had a aunt that walked into every family dinner complaining about her children.  Literally, from the moment she arrived, she complained about her sons.  I always felt incredibly sorry for them.  It's just that #1, as christians, we should see children as a blessing, not a burden (and if you can't enjoy them because of their behavior, then do something about it); and #2, for the most part, you'll see church members much more frequently that you will extended family.  The damage from this type of behavior is not just limited to your own children either.  The example this sets for younger women is inexcusably bad, and in direct violation to scripture.  As the sidebar of my blog shows, the older women are to show the younger ones how to love their children.  We should show them the example of enjoying time with our children.
We should strive to constantly remember how the things we say could potentially be interpreted by our children.  I never want mine to think I don't like being around them.  Our world is rife with examples in everyday life about how children are a burden.  From politicians espousing the belief that we should limit family size during these 'trying economic times', because of the potential financial burden children will bring (please - a little logic here people - if you have children you will evariably boost the economy to some degree, because you have to buy a certain amount of stuff for them), to, as we've discussed, advertising that will assure us that we will be much better off once someone else has the apparently unenviable task of spending the day with your kids.
As christians, it is our responsibility to show the world a different example.  A biblical example.  We should be showing everyone exactly how wonderful it can be to have and spend great quantities time with our children.  We are to invest our time willingly in the children God has entrusted to us.  They did not ask for you to have them - you did that on your own, and, while I don't really believe children have a lot of "rights", the one I think they should (but too often don't) have is the right to have parents dedicated to raising them in the way God would have them to.  Being willing to sacrifice everything (including those 2 new SUV's) so that you can devote your time to them, because that is what they need the most.


Thursday, September 24, 2009


Sept. 24

Today was one of my contented days.  This certainly does not mean everything went perfectly, but it does mean nothing really heinous happend.   It was a bit more relaxed today than it sometimes is.  We had a fairly light load of school work for the day, so it only seemed taxing to the two who wanted to spend over and hour fooling around while their math sat untouched (or barely touched) in front of them.  Hey, it was their play time they were wasting, because the chores will be done regardless of how long it takes them to finish their math.  But all in all it was one of my "I'm very satisfied days."  It's not that I'm usually unhappy, or dissatisfied, it's just that, oftentimes, I'm too busy to really think about , or appreciate it.  I like these days.  I want to tuck them away like jewels in the back of my mind and pull them out when I'm having one of the really awful days.

Now, most of the work is done and chicken and dumplings are bubbling away while the two youngest are playing with scraps of dough I gave them while I was rolling the dumplings out.  I made bread and butter earlier today, so we had them both fresh for lunch with some cheese and a few other odds and ends.  The girls love that particular lunch.  I also made some laundry detergent and started a batch of yogurt in the crockpot (well, in all honesty, I directed someone else to do that while I was wrist deep in dumpling dough).
When I finish with this we'll eat supper and then I can work a little more on those mitered corners while I choreograph tonights showers with the running of the dishwasher.
Let the contentment continue!!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sewing and Such

Sept. 23

We have a little break before we finish our canning since the pink lady apples won't be ready to pick for at least a week, so I decided to try and catch up on my sewing.  Actually, I don't know that catch up is really the right term to use since, with so many of us, there seems to be a never ending list of things that need to be sewn.  Some time ago, I chose to make cloth napkins so that we would quit buying so many paper towels and napkins.  I took some of our dishes to the fabric store so we could match the fabric to the dishes.  The dish  pattern has flowers and butterflies, and the occasional lady bug, so we had many different fabrics to chose from.  The girls helped, and we made four selections.  I just finished two sets and I have two more with the hems ironed so I can mark for the mitered corners.  I may work on that for a bit tonight.  I also have pieces cut out for a dress for the littlest, slips for the younger two, and edging pieces for Bree's quilt (and of course there's mending - there's always mending).  I'm anxious to get these done because I bought fabric earlier this month for dresses for me and Kay, and skirts for the rest.  The littlest one chose a dark blue denim with bugs and lizzards embroidered on it for her skirt.  I thought the one with roses embroided on it was cute (and maybe I tried, just a little, to get her to chose it), but no - bugs and lizzards it is.  On the up side, the bugs and lizzards are several different colors, so she'll be able to wear just about any top with it.
In other happenings, the older three cleaned out the garage today - YAAAAAYYY!!!  We can now walk around the van without tripping over things, back into the garage without running over things, and actually walk out the regular door, instead of having to open the big door.
Also, Ri had the great idea of acting out her newest Lit lesson, Shakespear's A Comedy of Errors.  I agreed to forego the usual paperwork since she'll be rewriting it (with Kay's help) in order to make it something that can be performed by a six member, all female cast.  I told her to do what she wants as long as the general gist of the play remains the same.  We do have to keep a few male parts, most of which Kay will be performing since she is the tallest, and she did change the part of the mistress so that she'll no longer be a mistress.  She was quite creative.  I can wait 'til she's done.
All in all, things are going well and we have a lot to be thankful for.


Saturday, September 19, 2009


Sept. 19

One of the elders at our church recently sent out a list of questions that would be good to ask our children.  They were all great questions.  Things like where they are with their bible reading, or how they were doing with their prayers, but there were three in particular that made me flinch when I read them.  They were:
1) Are you more aware of my encouragement, or my criticism?
2) Is there any way I've sinned against you that I've not repented of?
3) Does my relationship with your mother (father) make you excited to be married one day?
Of course, the best time to start thinking about asking your children these questions would be before you ever bring them home from the hospital (maybe keep them posted on the door of the fridge so you're constantly reminded about the outcome of your actions), but we can still do our best to turn things around if because we've messed up somewhere along the way.    Spending some time in prayer before going to your children, and then praying with them is a good way to go toward correcting things.  Ask the Lord beforehand to help you resist the temtation to get defensive.  Then, when you're done, ask the Lord to help you remember these things every day.  I've sat down with mine before and confessed to handling something wrong, or behaving in a way I would not want them to.  It's humbling, but much better than trying to act as though you're always right (they know better anyway).


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Talley

Sept. 18

I'll be adding the date each time I blog until we can figure out how to make it pop up automatically.  And for those of you who know how to do this, yes, we clicked on the button to chose that option, but it's not doing it.

We finished with the apples and corn we bought last week.  We have the corn put away in the freezer (I forget exactly how many bags, but a lot), and we canned all the apples.  I wanted to try everything just to see how it would all turn out so we have apple pie filling, plain and cinnamon applesauce, plain and cinnamon apple jelly, and apple butter all tucked away nicely in the cabinets.  Now I want some more apples.   It may seem like a lot when you stack it all up (and it certainly was a lot of work), but there are enough of us here that it really won't last all that long.

We have enjoyed nearly every minute, and the girls have been excited to see all their work turn into delicious food they can eat themselves and share with others.  Here are some more pictures Ri took:

On Wed. we made more applesauce and
we canned the apple butter.

On Thurs. we finished up with the apple
jelly and another batch of pie filling.

Making use of that cabinet above the fridge.

And what better use for a jelly cabinet.
Of all the things I've used this cabinet for,
I think this is the first time it's held jelly.

With the stove covered for several days,
we had to get creative with where
to cook supper.

You'd think we would be tired of apple
stuff, but no.  Ri made apple crumble
for us last night.  You should have
been here.  It was good.

Tomorrow I plan to blog about something other than food, but when you're knee deep in the stuff, it's kind of hard to think about anything else.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Petticoats canning

I don't think I have ever seen so many apples in my life!  Two and a half bushels, and we're are planning on getting more as soon as they come in season.
We have also shucked corn.  Thankfully we only had one ear of corn that had corn worms (and it wasn't one of mine).  I think I would have freaked out had there been more.  I Don't mind the regular worms, but please, no corn worms!
Well, here are the promised pictures.  More to come when we finish canning apple jelly and apple pie filling.

Apples cooking down for apple sauce.  Isn't that alot?
Actually, this was one of the smaller pots!
Almost apple sauce!  Can't you just taste it?
All done and ready to can.  (We made cinnamon too.)
Apple pie filling!  So nummy.  Last night I made a pie
out of a can that didn't seal.
The line up. 
The little one shucking corn.  She got really
good at this, since Grandma taught her a trick.
Just started shucking, see how few husks are on the table?
The twelve yr. old hadn't yet learned the trick.
Me chopping corn into thirds.  (Obviously I wasn't
responsible for taking this picture, the 10 yr. old is.  Didn't she do a good job?)
My personal favorite picture, because it shows you how
creative you can be when the need arrises.
Necessity is truly the mother of invention!
We will add other pictures later.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I am finally sitting down after a very full day.  Actually, I did sit down a few other times, but it was to shuck corn, or fold clothes, or peel apples, and maybe once to eat.   But, we had such a great time today.  Yes!  It was a lot of work, but we really enjoyed it. 
We went to an orchard and a farm stand Sat. and bought apples and corn in bulk.  We spent today shucking corn and getting it in the freezer, canning applesauce and apple pie filling, making juice for apple jelly, and finally, putting the beginings of apple butter in the crock pot to cook all night.  We kept each other in stiches.  Split apple bags that send apples all over the floor, an apple that shoots across the table when you try to cut it, or an ear of corn that flips out of someone's hands; things that may be irritating when you're doing a job alone, are extremely funny when shared with a group.  We all laughed the hardest when Ri somehow threw an apple at Grandma when she was trying to put some on the table to peel.   (BTW - Grandma caught it!)  Of course, misspoken words are a constant source of amusement.  Grandma shared stories of corn shuckings where everyone would gather around a huge truck load of corn that they had dumped out on the ground.  She said the main attraction was getting to sit there for hours next to someone you liked while you all shucked corn and threw it over in another big pile.  She also told of putting up apples with her Grandmother and how her Grandmother used the apple peelings to make juice for apple jelly.  "She didn't let anything go to waste."  We could all use lessons like that.  But, I would rather do the whole 'use the peeling' thing with organic apples and not ones I knew had been sprayed.  I'm content to let the majority of the pesticides go to waste right along with those apple peels.
We concluded our day at 7:30 with a mad dash to tidy up the house (especially the kitchen) and get the mountain of laundry that had steadily accumulated on the sofa during the course of the day, folded and put away.  Truth be told, I'm glad we didn't have unexpected company.  For a few hours minutes there, it resembled a tornado aftermath shot.  Well, maybe not the whole house, but certainly the area around the kitchen table (and the sofa).  On second thought, company may have been welcomed - we could have used a couple of extra hands, and laughs.  I'll have Ri upload the dozens of pictures she took today so we can choose a few to post.
We still have over a bushel of apples to turn into applesauce and apple pie filling (I think I have enough Granny Smiths and Winesaps to do another 7qts. of pie filling), and we still have all that juice to turn into jelly, but it will have to wait until Wed. since tomorrow is milk day.  There is the apple butter that will be ready tomorrow, but I can jar it up and put it in the canner when I get home.  It already smells wonderful.
I frequently repeat to my girls that age old mantra, "Many hands make light work.", and we've experienced it before.  Like when the girls and I picked over 30lbs of strawberries in just over 30 min.   But today held special meaning with my Grandmother sitting there with us.  You can see how it's not just that the work load is split between other people.  It's the time spent together sharing stories, and laughter, and working together to accomplish a goal.  One of the girls made the comment that when we make an apple pie this year for Thanksgiving we can gladly tell everybody that we ALL made the pie.  


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm So Blessed

Well, I thought I'd write a blog about the wonderful way my oldest and my 12yr old blessed me by refinishing a small cabinet.  And I may get to that in a minute...but first I feel the need to give you a peek into the everyday drama that pervades our home.  For the most part the girls are not overly girlie.  They have their moments, but I often hear things like, "No pink.", or "No bows or flowers.", and my favorite, "NOOO glitter."   All of them will mess with bugs to some degree.  Even the 17yr. old, who dislikes nearly everything creepy and/or crawly, will handle worms.  But, they are all extremely afraid of spiders.  So that brings us to tonight, and one of their moments.  I was starting to blog, with the help of the 17yr. old, when I spotted a spider at the top of the wall near the door.  The ceilings are quite high, so even if I had stood on a chair I would have never reached it.  I called in our oldest.  That, of course, brought everyone in to see what it was.  The littlest one ran under the door, ducking (it apparently didn't matter that the ceiling is 5 ft. over her head even when she's standing upright), and two of them peeked in, squealed and left.  The oldest one brought the requested chair and spent a couple of minutes gathering her courage.  Did I mention that it was a rather large spider - I would have left a small one alone.  Anyway, she climbed on the chair while the 17yr and the youngest took up postion behind the desk chair I was sitting in.  She reached up to squash it with my shoe and it climbed over my shoe and across her hand.  Needless to say, the room went berserk.  The little one climbed up her older sister and jumped on me.  The oldest maintained her position on the chair.  The spider was just trying to escape, which is exactly what I did not want him to do.  Somehow the youngest kept climbing up me even though I was doing my best to dislodge her so I could kill the spider.  I was shouting for someone, anyone, to kill it since I couldn't get rid of the little one, but no one was getting any closer to him.  Finally the 17yr old pulled the little one off and I was able to get up and squash it with my other shoe.  It still took a couple of minutes for sanity to make a comeback.  Girls - all the way!!

Now, back to the cabinet.  As I said, two of my daughters blessed me by offering to refinish a jelly cabinet I had in the dining room, after the oldest heard an off-hand comment I made about it last week.  I think they did a really good job.  All I did was explain the process and check on them in between steps.

I wish I had thougt to get a 'before' picture, but..
This is what it looked like after they had it all sanded down.
It wasn't much darker before.
All finished!
Didn't they do a good job?!
I am so blessed to have these girls!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Gratituesday!  What am I grateful for?  Being able to can.  Finally!  I think it's only appropriate to mention Laura at heavenly homemakers because it was after reading one of her e-books that I finally pulled up enough courage to really give canning a try.   I love my mom, but she had a strict, if you can't freeze it, we won't save it policy.  But!, now I love canning.  My first try was a surplus of tomatoes from my brother.  Now, keep things in perspective here, his surplus was from a few tomatoes he grows in buckets on his deck, but it produced four pint jars of tomatoes and I just loved it.  Next, I pulled out the strawberries that we had frozen whole after a trip to the u-pick farm, and canned 18 half pints of strawberry jam - yum!  I can't wait to get ahold of some apples later this week.  I see applesauce, apple butter, and cinnamon apple jelly in my future. 

Don't those look yummy?
Don't worry, we haven't eaten that much jam yet.
Just wanted to give you all a sample.
Now I understand what all those other women are talking about when it comes to the satisfaction they feel as they hear that thunk when the jars are cooling, or seeing all the cooling jars lined up on the counter.   Just makes you feel GOOD!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


We have had a couple of friends let us know that there has been a problem posting comments.  We have reconfigured the section to use a pop-up window and this seems to have resolved the problem.   I apologize for any trouble you may have had and will keep up with it for the next little bit to make sure this really fixes everything.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Country Girl Supper

I don't know about you, but when I think country, I think beans, corn bread, and fresh veggies.  Well we had that for supper tonight, and I just felt like blogging about it.  See, although we all love a supper composed of the aforesaid foods, we don't all like eating it the same way. As you can see from the pictures below:

Super mom juggling my dad's (unfinished) plate and bowl.
Picky little sister's plate - rest assured that she
doesn't usually get away with eating so little veggies!
Not so picky, sister's plate. As you can probably tell,
she isn't nearly so "neat and orderly" as the little one!!
Our supper table. Not exactly prim and proper,
but "homey" none-the-less
Me making the corn bread featured in the pictures above!
(This is kind of off topic, but I thought I'd add the picture anyway!)
Hope you enjoyed the peep into our country supper!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Many Thanks

A great big thank you to my (sometimes) patient daughter for helping me set up this blog.  Actually I can't count the times she said, "Just move over and let me in there!".  I love her anyway.  She'll contribute articles from time to time.   Probably the really pushy ones.


My teenager made me do it.

After several months of pestering  suggestions by my 17 yr. old, I have finally set up a blog.  Actually, she did most of it - from over my shoulder.   I'm pretty sure she'll be the one to update, change, delete, fix, etc. , everything on here.  I'll just ramble on and let her sort it all out.  As an aspiring photographer she'll probably be responsible for most of the photos we'll put up too.  Especially since I tend to crop out people's heads, or at least half of everything I really wanted in the photo.

This blog will be about a little bit of everything.   From our adventures in cooking - trust me, teaching all these girls to cook has been, and continues to be an adventure, to our experiences learning old-timey skills, to learning more about obtaining and cooking with organic/locally grown foods -soaking grains etc.

I may even jump on my soapbox from time to time about homeschooling, politics, or having to drive to another state to get raw cows milk for my family.

I hope you enjoy my blog.  Please note that all comments will be moderated by me, and I will exclude any that I feel are tasteless, crude, or hateful.  We are Christians and intend to comport ourselves as such - this will include what we'll allow people to say on this blog.