Monday, January 31, 2011

Learning to learn again



One of my favorite parts of schooling my children is getting a chance to do it all over again.  When I was a kid I was pretty good in school.  Did not have to try too hard to get okay grades, and probably mildly bored.  But since I did not have to try too much, I think I missed out terribly – I think I missed out on much of my education. 

my journal pic


nature journalling


It could be that it was presented in a way that was not exciting – that did not inspire me to dig deeper.

This time though, things are different. 

blessing of friends

It’s my favorite day of the week again!  I love that I get to start a new week every 7 days – I know that sounds silly.  But, you see, I get bogged down often, by goals, by things I failed to do, by life, and instead of getting more and more bogged down, I get a new start on Monday.  At least that is how I feel!


Jan 28 Polly with tongue

This is Polly – one of our sweet puppies!


We had a fabulous weekend as a family – this was Robert’s 4 day weekend.  We get this every 4 weeks and we love these extra days at home together.  It was capped off on Sunday with a wonderful visit to see friends and their home.  When we pulled up there were chickens running around – and be still my heart!  I just love seeing chickens out, doing their thing!  They were attacking every bug they could find, and that precious rooster was keeping his girls together and under his watch!  SO fun!

Jan 28 Cheeks with cheeks

This is cheeks – can you tell why we named her that?  They are getting so big!  I expect eggs soon!


Not to mention the weather here was fabulous!!  You could not ask for a better weekend in Texas in January!  We enjoyed a few walks this weekend down our road, and in general spent as much time soaking up those rays as possible!!  And this week we are expecting snow – TWICE!!  Seriously??  Thank goodness for our sweet friends who blessed us with some firewood yesterday too!!  How sweet!

So, yes, it is Monday and time for the gratitude journal entry ~





0356.  visiting friends and playing

0357. free firewood – cut specifically to fit our little stove

0358. borrowed books

0359. getting 3 weeks of school done in 2 Smile

0360.  starting to get ready for a year of schooling 4 kids instead of 2 and a half

0361.  planning to trek to Grand Prairie to help a friend move

0362.  a meal of the best beef stew I have had, accompanied by the most wonderful “easy” rolls!!

0363.  committing to VBS as the Craft person!!  So excited about that!

0364.  Dave Ramsey & his system

0365.  Getting to the cross road with #364 and deciding to stick with it even though I want to run away and quit!!

0366. hearing a man tell about a trip to far off regions … so excited and so changed!  Seeing God work through his there and here is a blessing!

0367.  the puzzle table ~ a perpetual puzzle seems to be going with everyone helping – that is so fun!Jan 28 Star Wars puzzle done

0368. completing the Star Wars puzzle – the most active participant was PJ – so proud!


PJ with Puzzle

0369. The commission system working so well so far!  The boys all bought their own lego sets with their money this weekend!  This led to hours of quiet for the rest of us!

Jan 30 assembling legos


0370. The start of our Water Buffalo fund-raising.  We have a whopping – $34 so far – the kids all chose to put part of their money this past week toward our fund along with some money we had previously saved up “for such a time as this”– and we are excited to watch it grow!

So, now it is off to school these blessings (AKA my children) and get some bread baking!  It is going to be a full week – but a good one! 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I’m Sold!

Okay.  SO I was not sure at first.  I mean, I have recently heard lots of hub-bub about THIS blog.  So after hearing time after time how amazing she is I decided to take a peek and check out Ree.  Well, I was instantly smitten with her recipes, and her pictures, but not SOLD yet.

I love how The Pioneer Woman shows you step by step how to make her “amazing-looking” meals – and oh my!  They look perfect.

So I tried a recipe.  I am pretty picky about my recipes – and I try to cook relatively healthy, cutting butter and oil as much as possible anywhere I can.  She does not share this goal with her cooking. It is a tad like cooking with Paula Dean – “a little butter is good, but more is better” (my paraphrasing).

Ree aims to cook stick to your ribs meals, every time.  I cannot figure out how her figure stays normal, or that of her husband – must be genetics!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordy Wednesday

As I am trekking along on this journey, there is lots of tweaking – lots of adding to our routine, and lots of dropping of things that are not working.

This week, I have become more aware of my need to be in prayer through my day, not just in the morning during quiet time, or before my feet hit the ground from my bed, or before drifting to sleep each night.  I need to have times in my day I am reminded what is vital to my day.

So, since I always have my phone near me (even in the school building in the back) I decided to set an alarm to go off twice a day.  Just a simple reminder to stop what I am doing and lift up those in need of prayer (myself most of all), and just offer some thanks.  So about 10am and 2pm, an alarm will sound to remind me to pray.  Turn my heart to Him, settle my thoughts, settle my day. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kids & Money

Our world seems to be going so much better this week!  {Yes, I know it is only Tuesday, shhhh}

We have finished 2 weeks of school since Monday of last week!  And we are adding more into our weekly system as we go!  We started a simple Latin workbook this last week – Critical Thinking.  This book introduces the concepts of Latin root words.  I am not sure my kids really need to learn Latin as a language, I am happy if they can learn what some of the words mean though, so they can ace their SATs, someday!

pinecones a

We are getting back into our nature study too.  Check out  Our Nature Blog to see what we are doing this week!  It has been fun!  I think  it will become more routine too!

My oldest has started a blog too.  This has been fun to see him take ownership (with lots of moderation on my part) and decide what he wants to write about, what pictures he wants to post and so on.  I am looking forward to watching his writing improve dramatically, plus he is having to really plan it all out.

The other new thing we have implemented in the last week and a half is Commission.  This is a Dave Ramsey~ism.  We have heard it a while ago, but honestly the kids were not old enough.  They are now!

So, our new system is this:

J : $5 a week                  breakdown : save-$2, store-$2, and church-$1

P : $4 a week                 breakdown : save-$2, store-$1, and church-$1

E : $3 a week                 breakdown : save-$1, store-$1, and church-$1

A : $2 a week               

                      breakdown : save-$0.50, store-$1, and church-$0.50

ABC Learning Bank (with parents' guide on CD-ROM)

They have the Crown Financial Industries Bank so they have 3 sections for each part above. (ours look different, but this is the one they sell now)  Then come Sunday they get their money (they earned) and choose between giving it to church or giving it to our Water Buffalo fund*.

They each have chores they need to accomplish or they lose money come payday.  There are only between 2-5 that they get paid for, the rest are expected (without pay – the cost of living here)

We are excited to see how this works out.  The kids can use their money (store) for whatever they want, but they have to tell us what it is & how much it is, before we go shopping.  Makes them think it out and not impulse buy in the toy department.

So that is what is new here.  Life is moving right along in our home!

More chickens due here in 2 weeks!  Lots of pictures to come!!

*We are hoping to save enough money to buy a Water Buffalo this Christmas for Gospel for Asia!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

An Old Friend

I have recently been reacquainted with an old friend.  You know how it is, you were one inseparable.  But then, life happens.  Time goes by, and before you know it you have not seen each other in, well, ages.

That is how it was for me.  At one point we saw each other daily.  We never missed a day.  But then, days go by, you miss one day, and then another.  Maybe see each other every other day for a season.  But before you know it, you have not seen each other in months. 

Who was this old friend?  Naptime!

For years we had daily naptime – and boy, I loved it.  Many months I took part in naptime, while I was pregnant, or nursing little ones.  But then, these children got a bit older.  Seemingly, “too old” for naptime, so we let it go.

But recently we have become reacquainted with our dear old friend.    We have re-established naptime in our home, but for this season it looks much different than it did ages ago.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Summary

Today we were blessed to have sweet friends over to play, eat and talk with!

We enjoyed our slow-cooked pork loin as pork tacos, Spanish rice, and even some homemade tamales!  I may have to post some pics from those and my recipe.  They were not as superb as the ones I made in November with my mom and Louie, but they were okay.  Our friends thought they were great, that inspires me to make some better to show them I really can make some decent tamales.

Thought I would organize my week tonight and look back over my meal plan, get my oatmeal in the crockpot tonight for breakfast in the morning and get some beans soaking too!

Here is my meal plan for this week {nothing fancy – but cheap}

24 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

25 ~ Tuesday: Meat Loaf

Saturday, January 22, 2011


are for:

~ Sleeping in (with earplugs)

~ Snuggling while watching a movie

~ Sleeping again (naps)

~ Sewing (while others sleep)


What a blessing to cross the yard and retreat to the school building to sew, while the house sleeps. 

A great Saturday is one where no one rushes, hobbies are renewed, and relationships restored.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blog World

I enter into the blog world at different times each day.  Most days it is not until my morning quiet time, breakfast, and kick start to chores and such.  Other days it is not until after schooling with little ones, or really just life. 

I try to be very discriminate of the blogs I read.  I try to choose ones that will encourage me along on this journey.  Convict my heart, but not add onto the guilt that I already carry.  Words to inspire whether through fabric, glue, a sewing machine, food, or even books.  Those are my favorites.  My most favorite is Ann’s simple, humble and yet amazingly PROFOUND blog.  I could live on her blog.  I could just stay there and bounce from current post to past posts, just drinking up the words that spill from her keyboard.  I feel inspired, encouraged, and loved there.  How?  Because this sweet, simple woman loves the same ONE that I love so much, that she opens herself to allow him to fill her up, her days, her home and her words.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

hither and thither

This afternoon as I started to put together a blog post I was quite dejected.  It seemed like things were unraveling like a ball of yarn being chased by a cat.  As though I could not get ahead of it, the cat just kept going and going and the yarn the same.

But now, tonight I have a quiet house, the fire heating the house up nicely, and reflecting on how things took another turn later in our day.

Hither and Thither – we read this often in our school books.  Not a phrase we hear much these days (unless you read some of the books we do that is!).  But it still has defined my day – in a sense.

Sometimes I read something that can be so “encouraging,” but  instead of encouraging me, it really just piles on a few more suitcases of guilt to drag along on my day.

I think that is what led to this day of crazy, topsy-turvy turns.  I began the day after reading a very inspiring message meant to inspire us homeschool mothers.  Instead of feeling inspired, I felt like I have been failing in many areas.  I think it pointed out the origin of a fundamental problem I am currently dealing with, and the pointing went to my actions. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another New Beginning

Here I am again, the threshold of a new beginning.  It’s Monday!

I love Mondays.  I seem to get my act “back” together on Monday.  It is my morning to re-group, look at the new week before me, start my lists, and start off!  I love to make lists.  I am enjoying using a template from Simple Mom the “Daily Docket” – to manage my  day .  The best part of this template is the MITs on the top – Most Important Tasks – this has been great because it really helps me focus on the 3 most important things I need to accomplish today.

My other favorite list is my gratitude journal.  I have thoroughly enjoyed Ann’s free download for this journal as well.  I go through all my lists in the morning after I read my Bible.  I keep them all on one clipboard.  I also have a copy of her Joyful Mother Manifesto – that I like to read over it each morning.  I have not come close to mastering any of those points, but reminding myself each morning helps to focus my thoughts for the day.  It offers a bigger picture type of goal – what is this really all about.  Not so much the to-do list, but the long term goals for sowing seeds into my kids.



Today, as I sit in my warm kitchen and see the fog through the window, hearing the voices of my children playing outside, I am thankful for ….

308. getting to know new friends better through time together

0309. rain, for days, to fill the pond, to water the ground, to make the fish happy

0310. keeping up in my Bible reading (even getting ahead a bit)

0311. counting dollars, knowing where they are going

0312. a new classroom to decorate

0313. others who graciously moved my classroom while we did 4H

4H Food Comp 004

0314.  our first 4H competition, the joy of competing and his first ribbon

0315. the promise of sunshine today, after missing it for many days

0316. remembering an old plan, dusting it off and getting it out again

0317.  getting a boy his own blog, to record the joys of his adventures and to help him remember these precious years as they fly by

0318.  an accountability partner to help store up precious words so deep in our hearts they cannot be pulled out – and a shared excitement

0319.  saying No – even if you have to repeat it for others to hear – and knowing it was the only answer

0320.  that it is Monday and I get to start many things over again – and do better this time :)


I have to admit, I think one of the reasons I embrace my Mondays so, is because that is when Ann calls us to share our gratitude.  I get to wake up and start my list, think about the many things I have to be thankful for.  Not the list of past failures, or incomplete projects (oh, there are too many of those right now) – but NO – a list of things we are thankful for.  I think that kicks my Monday off to a fabulous start – when it begins with gratitude!  So, thank you Ann for inspiring this!  I cannot wait to get my book this week -




Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting there


jan 13 sunrise

Project 365 – morning sunrise


So, I was failing in the meal planning zone of my life.

I have been really good at this in the past.  But lately, well, lately I cook what I feel like about an hour before we eat it.  This is not a good way to live.  Do you want to know why?

1. It stresses most people out

2. It costs more than when we plan

3. It stresses me out

Okay.  So in the past did well, lately not so well.

But then, we decided to be serious about money.  In the past we have always been a bit serious about money, but now we are “Dave Ramsey” serious.  What does this mean?  It means we are honestly counting each dollar – watching where it goes and not spending it if we do not have it – or until we have it.

So today I went grocery shopping.  I did come up with my meal plan for the next 3 weeks or so.  I knew I needed to plan before I went.  Why?  because I knew Robert was counting the dollars.  Each of them.  Bummer!  Let me tell you, the food costs are so different when you are actually watching where it is all going!

So I walked around with my phone in my hand calculating how much I was spending as it went into the cart.  It is remarkable how much that changes EVERYTHING!! 

I can tell you I made 3 impulse purchases.  No, it was not a magazine at the checkout.  Not even chocolate chips (which we happen to be out of, but do not NEED).  No, my impulse purchases were a big bag of Masa, 2 cans of green chilis, and some frozen corn so I can make some tamales.  And you know what?  I felt bad about those because they are not on the menu for a few weeks, but they are just so good!!  I knew that we could work them in for lunch a couple times and then freeze the rest. 

Wow.  I feel so much better now that I confessed my transgression.

Really though – try it.  Make a plan.  Have a set amount you can spend – and be serious.  Then walk with the calculator and shop.

NOTE : Do not take kids.  If you do require that they are older than about 8.  I did have JB – but he does not beg, whine or throw fits    pay a lot of attention while shopping and it not so bad to manage when it is just him.

I really think we have turned over a new leaf.  Well, I have.  We will see if this is going to last.   I know that with all our dollars being accounted for, there will not be as much extras in the pantry – so I will not be changing up the plan because I do not feel like making what is scheduled.  We are going to be a lot more consistent I suspect!

So here is my meal plan for the next few weeks :

{keep in mind, we like beans and rice, and have decided to eat them often to lower our food costs – we do vary it up, even though it may not be noted}

14 ~ Friday: Beans & Rice

15 ~ Saturday: Sandwiches; Baked Pasta

16 ~ Sunday: Fried Chicken {w/green beans & salad}

17 ~ Monday: Mexican Mountains

18 ~ Tuesday {veggie} : Grilled Steak {with sautéed Shitake Mushrooms}

19 ~ Wednesday: Sweet Potatoes, Sautéed spinach, salad

20 ~ Thursday: Loaded Burritos

21 ~ Friday: Pizza (make your own)

22 ~ Saturday: Spaghetti & Sausage

23 ~ Sunday: Soup

24 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

25 ~ Tuesday: Meat Loaf

26 ~ Wednesday: Veggies

27 ~ Thursday: Chicken & Dumplings

28 ~ Friday: Pizza

29 ~ Saturday: Slow Cooker Pork Roast (with Root Beer)

30 ~ Sunday: Pork Tacos

31 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

1 ~ Tuesday {veggie}: Chicken Fried Steak

2 ~ Wednesday :

3 ~ Thursday : Chicken Alfredo pasta bake

Words Matter

They matter.  Sometimes we tell ourselves they do not.  Sometimes we let some slip out that we hope do not.  But they do.  They all do.  Words go right into our soul.  Whether we read them, hear them, or speak them. 

Have you ever thought just how much they matter?

I listened a while back when someone far wiser than me was talking about the words we dwell on in our minds.  Do we listen to ourselves, or do we talk to ourselves?  One {listening} is passive, we let our mind control our thoughts – we let those doubts and insecurities drive our thoughts.  But when we talk to ourselves, we are taking control of our thoughts, and we need to speak words of truth. 

But what are we filling our minds with when we are not talking to ourselves?  What are we reading that is depositing thoughts into our minds?  What are we watching (on t.v. or movies) that is going to deposit things as well?

The more I spend time reading the Word each morning and going back through Genesis and reading about Eve, and Jacob, and Isaac, and I see so many things I have forgotten, or maybe never saw before.  I see connections made, how the sin of one man almost mirrors the sin of his son or grandson.  We repeat so much of those who go before us.

When we choose to turn the tv off and not plug into it for a couple hours at night, I find my mind goes to better things.  Whether I am reading a good book, bouncing around on some great Godly' blogs, or talking with my husband.  Rarely can we find something on that wonderful box of electricity and pictures that will encourage our hearts.  I mean, there is some entertainment factor – but how entertaining is it to really watch some of that stuff?

So, back to words.

Our words come from within us, and they are fed by the things that go into us.  While I have been dwelling in Colossians, verses 1-4 of chapter 1 right now, I am constantly reminding myself of those words.  I am working to memorize the book of Colossians this year with Kristen and Ann – and I am being challenged – but thoroughly enjoying it.  I am finding, the more time I am intentionally putting my mind in Him, the more times he pops to my mind throughout the day. 

When Ann tells us to dismount stress with gratitude {Here – with her free printable on Joyful Mothering}, because I can only feel one feeling at a time, Man!  It works!  When I get frustrated with the energy of my children or a series of blunders by a number of them, I have chosen to defuse the building stress by simply saying (in a whisper to myself, but out loud so my ears can hear) that “I am thankful that I have these 4 children and for enough milk to have to spill it all over the table.”  It sounds ridiculous – really in a way it is.  I mean, more spilled milk on the fresh table cloth.  Or whatever mishap we are dealing with.  I am grateful I have  these kids to have mishaps, my house would be quiet and empty without them (the mishaps and the children).  But honestly, it reminds me that I am thankful for them – despite the situation we are facing.  It is working!  Choosing gratitude!

It helps to have so many parts of my day being filled by Him.  It helps to disarm my anger and frustration.  When it starts to boil up, there is a quick mental reminder (more from the Holy Spirit than from Janelle) to stop and choose.  Choose the emotion wanting to take over, or choose gratitude.

I do not always make the right choice.  I probably never will.  But each time I choose gratitude I feel joy inside, I feel like I won that mini-battle of the mind and of words.  When I am choosing gratitude the ugly words do not come out. In fact, they don’t even come to mind.  I can only think one kind of word at a time and if I am thinking words of gratitude, how can I speak words of anger?

Again,I do not have this figured out.  But after printing Ann’s Manifesto on Joyful Mothering, and reading over it each morning before I dive into my real world, I get a little stronger.  I find it a little easier.  Not easy!  Not always.  But sometimes a little.  And everything starts with a little.  Right?  A little pick leads to a bathroom make-over.  A little easier to say thank you instead of yelling in anger.  A little.

Yes, words matter.  Those we speak to our children, friends, family, strangers, to everyone.  Those words we think in our minds.  We need to speak words of truth in our minds to ourselves – everyday - to give us the strength to speak the words we choose in our day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday {that feels like a Saturday}

january 2011 049  


I am so glad it is Monday!  I am so glad I get to start another week over – well start a new week.  I am failing in a few areas I really hoped to do well this year, but then doing well in a few more important areas.  My problem overall?  I tend to be an overachiever at times – sad, I know – and I want to do great in all the areas I am trying to improve.  Whew!  It is tiring!

So, today I am glad I get to start a week fresh, new, clean, no failures or disappointment.  A new week!!

And Robert is off for 3 days on top of that, so it feels a bit like a Saturday (big breakfast, warm fire, and Robert home) and yet like a Monday – a new clean week!

Today I am going to manage to cook quite a bit while schooling these kids and enjoying our Monday/Saturday.


january 2011 062


We did wake to snow falling.  What a site!  The funny thing is I got up early (something I have been doing well this year) to read my Bible – while reading PJ came out to join me (we are all reading along together).  So as we sat and read, and I really was thrilled to have him across the table at like 6:45 reading with me, another child came running in to tell us it was snowing!  So fun!


january 2011 065


After a bit more reading – the kids took off to play while it was still snowing and sticking (which did not last long – the snow was gone before breakfast).  They came in to a hot cup of tea and were out again. 


january 2011 055

AG trying to get Shasta to watch the news & see the snow on TV – he tolerates so much from her!


january 2011 075


So, what is working? 

1.  Daily Bible Reading – following the Manna plan

2.  Daily prayer time – going through my cards each  morning and praying for family and friends.

{note I started with many blank cards, and as I continue to pray for those people, god has gently laid a few specific things to pray for them as I go along – that has been fun!}

3.  Playing with the kids and reading more for fun – we are enjoying Kidnapped by Stevenson illustrated by Wyeth / and playing Qbitz quite a bit!


What is not working?

1. Exercise is a BIG failure right now – and bugging me… oh well

2.  Meal planning – something I have done well in the past is not going so well – I need to resolve this quick!

3.  Money – we are planning to save a lot this year – and it just stinks – it stinks when you want to save and you spend and when you want to spend and you are supposed to save.  It stinks.

We did start Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey through our church yesterday – and I am excited and grumpy about it all at the same time!  Grumpy because it is going to hurt some days and excited to see how much we can really change our lives and the lives of our children!

But more than anything, I sit here grateful, for so much.  For an amazing year already!  And thankful that Ann inspires us to journal our gratitude and keep track of 1000 things to be grateful for each Monday.  SO here is my list for today


0276.  Keeping up in my Bible reading (even getting a bit ahead)

0277.  Seeing my sweet son get up early to read with me

0278.  First snow falling – and delighted children squealing outside!

0279.  A fireplace Robert can manage to get really warm

0280.  Dave Ramsey and his heart to share his wisdom

0281.  A husband who forgives me when I start taking wallpaper down – when it was not in the budget

0282.  quiche on a Saturday/Monday morning with the family; devouring almost 2 whole ones!

0283.  The promise of a yummy supper : Cheeseburger Soup

0284.  A day of school by the fire

0285.  cars that work

0286.  hugs from boys too big – growing too fast – eating too much – and one little girl

0287.  chicken in the freezer

0288.  the ability to remember God’s word – and the desire to remember more

0289.  God’s word and how it speaks differently each time you read it

0290.  friends who love; near and far & the joy of praying for them

0291. watching my kids take pictures of life and each other

0292. Boys who will see to the chickens and puppies on cold mornings.

0293.  starting a book with one child and having all three others, join in the journey, just because

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It started with a pick

Have you ever messed with something, again and again – until, well, until you  have to actually do something about it now?

I have.  Now, I am paying for it.

When we first moved in to our house, we made lots of changes.  We redid just about the entire kitchen, we painted all the rooms, we even put down new flooring in the living area.  We knew that we would make some changed in the bathrooms, but not now.  Not even necessarily this year.  But it started with a pick.


This is what I started to pick at:

master bath redo 005

master bath redo 007

I picked at a section of wallpaper and tore it off.  Then a few days later I picked again.  Then, again and well, you get the idea.  Before I knew it Robert and I were tearing pieces off in huge sections.  And then decided to commit.


I picked at a section of wallpaper and tore it off.  Then a few days later I picked again.  Then, again and well, you get the idea.  Before I knew it Robert and I were tearing pieces off in huge sections.  And then decided to commit.

I pulled all the paper down on Friday and then on Saturday removed all the glue paper.

 master bath redo 006

After getting it all off we realized that we could not just paint it – the walls were a mess.  They were never primed prior to the wallpaper – the wallpaper was put directly on the raw drywall and the removal can be damaging to that drywall.  So, I decided to do another faux finish – this time a bit more subtle than the kitchen.  Today I started with the first layer of the plaster stuff I usually use. 

master bath redo 003

I put up all we have, so now I need to get another box/bucket before I can move forward.

master bath redo 009


I tried my hand at spray painting the awful light fixture – just to hold us over until we actually budget some money to get a new one.  Not sure I like it, but it is an improvement.

It started out like this (above)

And ended up like this (without the glass globe thing, I need to put it back on…)

master bath redo 027

Still to come is painting the cabinets – the one that will go back in the bathroom and those under the sink.

This one will go back in the bathroom once I give it a facelift-

master bath redo 004

I think I will paint it then distress it – time will tell….


Another great improvement was the addition of 3 bookcases!!  A friend was getting rid of these and I was blessed to get them!

Nothing fancy, but with all our books, having space is very important!!

One will be for the boys Hardy Boys books and their other fun books, the bottom will hold educational fun books – spider books, other bugs, and those fun resource books kids love to read. (still room to spare)


master bath redo 023

The next one is over by the toys for the 2 younger ones to put their books on – the top 2 shelves are for ED to store his Magic Tree House books, and the Box Car Children books we have!  Below on the lower shelves AG will store her books that she loves to sit and look at – our other kids books.

master bath redo 021

Here are AG (above) and JB (below) checking out their books.

     master bath redo 018


And here is the last bookcase – this one will be dedicated to  our Good Reads – our living books, the Free-Reads for Ambleside and others we acquire along the way that are just great books!

master bath redo 020

I am just thrilled to have some organization to my books.  I have never had enough room to spread out and have a system!  I am looking forward to knowing where a book should be instead of looking from book case to bookcase or room to room.  Yeah!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


{read at your own risk, and the risk of your dinner table – graphic pictures and descriptions below – don’t yell at me if you do not heed this warning, I warned you}

my BIG boys

….it was a crazy day for me.  Lots of excitement and lots of driving. 

Our first stop was to take our chickens to be processed (which Jennifer prefers to killed – she is hoping she is processed at the end of this life instead of dead).  This was an experience. 

First, you get out the car and you KNOW you are in the right place and it has nothing to do with the address, your GPS or the sign.  You know you are in the right place from the smell.  It does not smell like anything else you have smelled, unless, well, you have done this before, which I had not.

Then I wander in looking completely out of place – looking for anyone who can offer me a clue.  Finally some young man has pity on the lost woman – and offers to help – but without speaking, since we do not speak the same language.

First he assumes I am there to buy their chickens, although I keep pointing to my car and trying to explain I brought my own.  Remember, he does not speak English.

Next we figure out I have some chickens in my truck, so we start with the Dog carrier that has 4 in it – and then he assumes we are done and indicates I need to pay.  It takes a bit longer to relate that I still have 8 more in the BIG box in my truck that we need to get.

Eventually he gets all my chickens, I pay and the wait begins.  You do not leave, there is no waiting room with ripped chairs and a tiny tv.  There is not a Starbucks on the corner to grab a cup of coffee.  There is a big room where you stand and watch your chickens get “processed”.  Did I mention everything is wet & made of stainless steel?  Yeah, it is.  And did I mention it smells?  Inside and out.  Not the same smells though.

And while you wait for him to finish the chickens you get to see the pig across the room being “processed” and the many goats in the adjoining room with the BIG open doorway.  Yeah.  Lots of meat parts – enough to make you choose salad next time.

So here is what my chickens went through -

1.  Pulled out of the carrier/box by 1 leg and thrown into a plastic crate like thing.  Not handled with care like we did it…

  phase 1

2.  Taken out and put into a cone (if they were lucky).  Throat cut, and allowed to drain upside down, I avoided watching this – it was not so pleasant and very REAL

2. (b) – the not so luck ones – well they were tossed, after the throat thing, into a big plastic trash can while they thrashed about and allowed to drain

3.  Finally they were dipped into so hot water and then thrown into the de-feather machine – this spins them and their feathers come out  (I think)

post phase III


Everything still attached – but very naked and now starting to look like what I am used to seeing a chicken look like, still a bit REAL though

4.  Moved the chickens to another area now where they will be cleaned out


Phase IV


5.  Next he cut them open, cleaned them out – cut off some parts I did not want.  Starting to look much more normal and a lot less like my white fluffy chickens.

post phase V   

6.  Lastly moved over to a cutting saw table when they cut up each chicken into parts and I (YES I) put those parts into ziplock bags.  Then into a cooler and Done.

So that was our chicken-processing experience.

Next we did our rounds, Library to stock up on GOOD books, half-price books to look for a few treasures, a friend’s house to get grain, another friend to get 3 bookcases she was getting rid of, a stop at the dentist for sealants in two kids, and then Sprouts.

We did make one small stop for frozen yogurt with a friend and that was a much needed break in my day!

chicken day 2011 010

Can you tell the sugar high has started?

So, what a day.  In a way I cannot believe what happened.  My daughter keeps asking when the chickens are coming back.  :(

But this is life. 

This is reality.

Well, this is our new life and our new reality anyway.


It really all boils down to good stewardship.  How we live our lives.  Do we make the best choices with the resources we have been given?  How do we know what the best choices are? 

First, I do believe there are many grey areas in our lives with regard to choices.  By that I mean, what may be the best choice for me and my family may not be the best for yours.  I think we need to look to where God is leading us (sometimes we lean too much on where we want him to lead us vs. where he is …).  For instance, we homeschool, and I stay home.  But for some families homeschooling is not an option (for many reasons) and so that choice is not black or white – it is really more family dependant.  And I do not think ALL of our choices are Kingdom issues; by that I mean that homeschooling will not get you in, or keep you out of heaven.  So it is not a HUGE issue in light of eternity.


So, back to stewardship.  Lately I have been focused on the stewardship of my healthy – my body so to speak.  You may have read this about my choosing to give up traditional deodorant and have moved to a natural solution.  Again, I am certain this is not for everyone, but I have had some great feedback (Thanks Nicole) and I still LOVE it!  After reading a few blogs yesterday about Coconut Oil I think I am hooked!!   I knew I liked it enough before to order it in bulk, but now I think I am ready to start using it like I order it in bulk!!



I had been using it a bit to pan fry, and well that was about it.  But since reading THIS blog I have ventured out and I used it almost all day! 

Breakfast:  I recently put it in my Steel Cut oats that I cook overnight in my Crockpot – LOVED THIS!!  Instead of butter, I threw in about 1-2 TBSP and it was great! 

Lunch/Dinner : Then I cooked up some spaghetti squash today to make some pancake like things.  I sautéed my onion, peppers, kale in the coconut oil then my pancakes once I mixed them all together! 

Lunch & Dinner : I have used in for rice twice in the last two days and I love the flavor it gives it.  The best part???  This oil is so stinkin’ healthy I am looking for more ways to use it!!

First, I do need to thank my sweet friend Kimberlie who started me on this journey about 7 months ago – she was using Coconut oil as a moisturizer and loved it.  I was not sure I was going to go that route, but I decided to do some research.  I will not go into it all here – but trust me this is a miracle oil.  First, read THIS blog to see what she says.  I buy mine from HERE and you can read more about the oil HERE.  Really I am just amazed at how great this oil is!  And I love to read about how others are using it – and trying it out for ourselves!

So, for our family we are making HUGE strides in the food department.  We have really tried to make some better choices for ourselves and our children. 

We started raising chickens and our broilers (boy chickens) are going to the butcher today – that will be 12 chickens into the freezer.  We already have a cow in there –  grass fed and humanly raised.  We are loving our organic co-cop but getting ready to plant a MASSIVE garden for the spring/summer.  Bread baking is still a routine in our home too.  So each step has been one at a time, not trying to make all these changes at once, but overall it has worked fabulously for our family.

We feel like we are in a place where we are really being better stewards of our health, better than we have in  along time.  I know there are tons of diets out there touting scripture and God’s plan for our food, etc.  And I know there is some merit to it, but really I think it is about eating better one step at a time.  Not allowing food to be our idol.  To enjoy it, but to be able to walk away at any point.  Not saying I am there with say Pumpkin ice cream, or a few other things, but getting there!


Blogs I am linking up with:





Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Home Life

It is crazy to me how much things can change in your life when you only modify a few minor things. 

Say for instance, a new house, can completely change your routine and schedule.

I am a schedule based (not chained-to) person.  I like to have a rhythm/routine to our daily lives.  In the past school would start while I was making breakfast; the boys would knock out their math and handwriting while I was in the kitchen.  {they were only a room away to do this}  Usually about 8am we were done with breakfast, getting dressed, and moving toward full blown “school.”

These days I am lucky to start full-blown “school” by, oh I don’t know – 9:30?  It makes me cringe to think/type that out.  I mean, we used to be finished by 10:30 or so.  In the morning!  And now, well, now life is different.

We have chickens to let out of the coop & feed and water.  We have puppies to let out of their pen and feed and water too.  We have kitties to top off food and water for, we have LIFE.   Not to mention, school is across the yard now.  This is not something I dislike – I LOVE IT!!  But, doing math during breakfast prep is a thing of the past. 

But you know what?  This is the BEAUTY of homeschooling and why our family thrives in the homeschool world!! 

We can stop school to jump on the trampoline after a hard math lesson.  We can stop reading and go for a walk to see the trees budding (or going dormant as they are here right now).



Today I thought I would share a few things that have worked for our family with homeschooling and living.

1.  Syllabus ~


I love my syllabus.  I make one each year before we start, (sometimes a few months in advance) and I bind it with one of those comb binders. [I bought mine on ebay for $17- with shipping was about $40 – but I have made it up in binding EVERYTHING around here and not paying Staples to do it for me]

My syllabus is a reverse syllabus – that means it is blank when the year starts.  I do not plan out what we are going to do, I simply record what we do for that day.  I do not like feeling like I HAVE to do something – so I like to have a guide for the week and I track daily what we do.


2.  Handwriting/Dictation ~ I have been using the Simply Charlotte Mason style for dictation since I attended a conference last fall.  I hand write out a section from a book we are reading – in very clear and neat penmanship (I do not type because I want their letters to be written and not mimic typewriter font).  I put this on a clipboard for them to get down each day to copy.  Perfection is expected (it is only 2-3 sentences) spelling, punctuation, etc.  Then on Friday we use that passage for dictation, by Friday they usually can write is almost from memory.  This is working wonderfully.  Then I staple that passage to my syllabus to keep.


3.  Card Station ~

card basket

this is something we recently started and I am really excited about it.  We have LOTS of card games and they are constantly being left everywhere.  We now have a little table with a basket and all our card games in it, rubber-banded together.  The kids now know where the cards need to “live” and how they should be stores.  But they are out in the open (not tucked away) and easy to grab for a 5-10 minute card game.


4.  Puzzle/Game Table ~

new years 2011 015

We have a big window in our living room, but off from the TV area, and not knowing what else to do with this area we set a table right up by the window and have it available for games & puzzles.  I try to start a puzzle and then leave it for the kids to work on when they want, and we have a chess game out all the time and some weeks the boys play daily!  So we are making great use of this – again, I think it helps having it out (but neat) to remind them they have options of something to do.

This was yesterday’s work in progress

puzzle in progress

this morning we found all the missing pieces and finished it!

puzzle complete

For those who do not know, we are an Ambleside Family.  We are going through Year 3 right now with my two oldest boys and will start Year 1 again in the fall with the two younger children.  This means we do a lot of reading WHOLE books – books that are interesting, educational and captivating!  Books you do not want to put down, but know you must so you can read the other great stuff.  We use Math-U-See for our math and love it.  We have used How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with all 4 – I currently have 3 readers and one on the way!

So, that is a little about Home Life in our home.     



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