Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Just Drag 'Em Out

Labor Day was a real treat this year.  The weather was quintessentially autumn, which is to say, it was glorious!  We spent a leisurely morning around the house as a family, tying up the loose ends that are ever present on a micro-farm inhabited by so many humans and critters.  Then, we loaded up our bicycles and journeyed to a local rail trail spot.

I get the question often how do we get the girls to do this stuff?

I usually turn to the Rugged Mountain Man and ask, "How do we get the girls to do this stuff?"  

Much of it has to do with our own interests.  The Rugged Mountain Man and I love the Great Outdoors.  It's our idea of a good time, a healthful time even.  Just like everything else in our parenting philosophy, we take our children along.  

This is just how our family is and this is how we are... together.

We try to keep our outdoor expedition to mostly age-appropriate lengths.  However, it's stuff we deem age appropriate, which I realize is a stretch from the typical American vision of what children can handle outside.  I was raised to be doing stuff outdoors, as was the Rugged Mountain Man.  That's how he became rugged!  

We've been doing this stuff with the girls since they were little.  The desire to be with us seems to spark their interest early on.  It keeps them going until their own interests kick in as a fierce motivating factor.  Meanwhile, we're thrilled that their endurance is growing.

It never hurts to motivate with a little bit of good food.  I'm always armed with water and good protein packed snacks, plus a little treat.  Also, we occasionally hit up an ice cream parlor after a particularly victorious family adventure.  A little ice cream goes a long way to motivate little legs, let me just say!

The Blossoms know that when we say we're doing a hike, we're doing a hike.  It's the same basic lesson we've been driving home from the very beginning.  Whether schoolwork, chores or hiking, it's all rooted in obedience. 

This obedience makes family life, all of family life including our family recreation time, 
much more pleasant.  

After all, unity is pleasant!  

Every hike and bike adventure isn't riddled with perfect attitudes, but usually anyone who may not be 100% on board eventually comes around.  It's hard not to when everyone else is having a good time.

I don't mean to offer overly optimistic advice for how to get kids outdoors; I've got enough on my plate wrangling our crew out the door!  Suffice it to say, I'm happy that all the foundations we've been laying for a while, are starting to pay off, making our family recreation times delightful.


PS - While I pulled Blossom4 in a friend's bike trailer, we did 15 miles on Labor Day.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Walk in the Woods, Walk Away and Walk with God

This fall, our co-op has ventured a bit into forest-schooling.  We went out on a limb, since my co-leader and I believe strongly that to experience the creation, brings one closer to the Creator.  It's science doing what science was meant to do ~ unveil the powerful, creative God we serve.

The students have been soaking up the fresh air, as well as all the outdoor related knowledge.  Compass/navigation skills, knife safety and a little bit of fire-building are a few of the fascinating topics and skills that we've covered so far.  

They've all been met with enthusiastic reviews by the students.  

From a mother's perspective, I really want the girls to be able to handle the whole gamut of situations.  I want them to be prepared in life to have dinner with the President, survive if they get lost and any situation that falls in between.  

Considering the outages and calamities our nation is currently experiencing, thriving without power in unusual situations seems like a handy skill to have.

Co-op has been good for other reasons too.  The fellowship we mamas experience ranks high on my lists of reasons for being involved in a co-op.  The idea extends beyond something that applies only to homeschoolers.  It's this:

Find a solid community.

Plant yourself in it.

Be a thriving and integral part of it.  

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to linger a bit afterward while the Blossoms enjoyed the fresh autumn air, picturesque scenery and friendly interaction on the playground.

My friend and I soaked up the stillness and delved deeper into the matters of motherhood.

The funny thing is that our situations are not exactly similar.  Her children are a bit older than mine.  She has some in different school situations than mine.  She also has ventured into the world of adoption, a life choice that I greatly admire and find highly intriguing.

Friends, one of the surest ways to miss out on friendship is to pigeon-hole yourself to people who are only in exactly the same situation as you are.  Oddly enough, this is a lesson that many homeschoolers grasp well. 

In our meandering conversation, we were sharing moments of motherhood weakness.  It was the fleshing out of confessing our faults to one another in the truest and most natural sense.  She shared a very hurtful thing that one of her children had said to her.  Then, she shared that she'd been unable to respond in kindness, so she'd walked away.  

She did not know how much the girls and I have been talking about what to do when faced with times of temptation.  Run from it!  Many parents want their kids to stand up to temptation.  Yes, a truly good thing, but a child isn't always strong enough or wise enough to do that or know what that might mean in a given situation.  We've been discussing that the Bible gives us this option for temptation or peer pressure.  

Walk away.  

One of the simplest tools we can equip our children with, is the power and freedom to know they can and should just walk away.  Practically, in a social situation, that can be as "easy" as going to the bathroom.  

Through the girls' and my discussions on this topic, it has been encouraging me to walk away from temptation, any kind of temptation I face in my life.

When my friend transparently shared her recent tough motherhood moment, I celebrated her victory.  She walked away from the temptation to react in less than a Godly manner!   

The moment was so powerful for me.  Another mom is plodding through this journey, pursuing Godliness in the tiny and the monumental decisions.  Her courage and humility inspired me.  I got up from the park bench and the message of her moment resounded in my spirit.  I felt energized to withstand the temptations I face daily.  



Monday, September 11, 2017


In this neck of the woods, canning season is underway.  Little #canninghacks have been floating through my brain, so I thought I'd share a few things that really work for us.

#1 - Extra Table/Counter Space:
At the beginning of canning season, we set up a 4 ft x 4 ft portable card table right in the kitchen.  The huge water bath canner, bulk boxes of fruits or veggies, extra lids, jars and all the other accoutrements live there for a few weeks.  You'd be amazed what a little more counter "square footage" does for your sanity.  Once, while sausage-making, my husband commented that this extra space really did bring a little more peace into the kitchen chaos.  Plus, in between canning stints, your kitchen go back to some degree of normalcy.

#2 - Glass (Pyrex) Measuring Cups Instead of Ladles:
My little soup ladle just doesn't cut it for ladling applesauce, salsa or sauce into jars.  It takes SO LONG to fill up my jars.  I ain't got time for that!!  Imagine my delight when I realized that my glass measuring cups work perfectly as giant ladles!  And, the four cup measuring cup/glass fills a quart jar perfectly!  (um, because 4 cups equals a quart)

#3 - Pick Up Lid Flats Whenever You're At Walmart:
I've learned that it's much easier to overstock canning lid flats here at home, than to have to run to the store in the middle of a canning session!  #experienceisapainfulteacher

#4 - Make Your Kids Help:
You'd be amazed how much easier it is to have extra sets of hands, for little and big jobs.  Whether it's wiping off rims, turning the handle to the food mill or chopping fruits/veggies, many hands make work light.  A little "industry" goes a long way to keep kids out of trouble.  Don't keep your kids busy with another Pinterest activity; get 'em involved in good honest work!  I have fond memories of shucking corn, snapping beans and picking strawberries with my brothers and sister.

#5 - Wear Sneakers... All Day:
This one's big for me!  I generally wear socks or slippers around the house come autumn time, but definitely not on a canning day.  I realized that I could "stand" a marathon canning session, when I wore good, supportive sneakers.  When your feet don't hurt, all the juggling supplies and millions of trips back and forth to the sink are much more bearable.  

#6 - The No Toys Rule:
I've always maintained a NO TOYS rule in the kitchen.  I don't do it to be an ogre; I do it for the safety of the entire family.  Cooking is like the ultimate multi-tasking stint, sometimes with crazy time constraints and intricate steps.  Tripping over a stray block or doll could have horrible and painful results, which is why this mama goes into super-no-toys-enforcer mode during canning season.

#7 - Do Dishes...All Day:
Don't wait til the end to do your dishes.  Remember tip #4?  You've got minions!!!  Even a four year old can wash a few dishes while you chop something nearby.  When we stay on top of the dishes, it makes everything keep running smoothly AND keeps us from becoming buried in sauce covered pots and tools at the end.

Hopefully you found a #canninghack or two to help you out this season.  

I'm grabbing my apron, putting my hair into a messsy bun and we'll get this canning done.  Next up, hot pepper mustard!  Since the Rugged Mountain Man was so enthusiastic about my trial run, we'll see if I can pull this off.



Thursday, September 7, 2017

Throwback Thursday - Reptiles and Budgies

How's this for Throwback Thursday?  Along with a bunch of pals and a cousin or two, my girlies and I ventured out on a field trip in May... yes, May.  Even though that was "light years" ago, I've been wanting to share a few of those snapshots with you.  I adored the parakeet exhibit because the wide array of colors were so beautiful.  Plus, the whole exhibit brought back memories of my sister's pet parakeet, Festiva.  He provided loads of entertainment for us in our growing up years!

Other than that, I thought you'd enjoy the "scenery" as I share what I've been brewing on lately.

I'm finding that a large amount of happiness depends on contentment.  This should come as no surprise, as "Godliness with contentment is great gain."  

Living for Christ has its own rewards. Most notably, I think realizing that this world isn't "it" is one of the largest rewards.  

I forget and sometimes I succumb to the deceptive thoughts that this world is all there is.  The pace of the American life pulls quickly and strongly.  I forget and I run on the hamster wheel, just like everyone else.  

It's continually turning my heart toward Home that keeps Eternity at the forefront.  

My morning quiet times are essential for maintaining an Eternal mindset.  

Couple that with contentment and I live a rich life.  Humbly I share that, mostly to remind myself yet again of the richness and the beauty of this daily life.  

Contentment is reveling in the ordinary.

Contentment is retaining joy when things are haywire, when things are breaking, when texts are flying, when emails are pouring in, when the doorbell is ringing and your kids are dumping water on the floor in the name of a tea party.  

Contentment is dealing with your kids' mysterious attitudes and being glad you're the one dealing with them.  

Contentment is seeing your home as a haven and not a prison.  

Contentment is feeding your crew, without slamming the pots and pans.

Contentment is making lemonade out of the lemons that roll through your life.

Contentment is embracing being Godly in this "mundane" life and soaking up all the joy that is there as a result.  

I can't seem to separate Godliness, contentment and joy, but I'm savoring it.

Thanks for listening to my thoughts and perusing a Throwback Thursday post. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Special Times

Today was a special day for Blossom2.  She's ten!!!  

She was happy as a lark when she received her new bleach tee.  Bleach tees are a super easy way to give some attitude to a Walmart bargain shirt.  

1. Wash and dry the shirt.
2. Stick a piece of cardboard in the middle of the shirt so the bleach pen doesn't soak through.
3. Use chalk to make a rough draft of what you want it to say.  
4. Use a bleach pen and go over your design.
5. Let it dry.
5. Wash and dry as usual.  

Voila!  Shirt with attitude!!!

Blossom2 also enjoyed her requested Lemon Meringue pie.  The girls all made supper so that I would have time to make her pie.  I'm glad they are showing consideration for my time constraints.  They know that multi-tasking and lemon meringue really don't get along.  The girlies love our tradition of letting the birthday girl pick out the meals all day.  I'll never argue with tacos or mac and cheese!

Speaking of birthday traditions, they also love getting to skip one subject each in honor of a Blossom birthday.  That definitely boosts morale around here!  

There's also a lot of excitement because we're prepping for our first day of a nature co-op session tomorrow.  Look at all that stuff!!!  

I'm thankful for such a precious daughter.  I'm thankful for a day of blessings for her.  I'm thankful for considerate little (big) girls.  I'm thankful for time outdoors tomorrow.

I'm just thankful.