Monday, September 29, 2014

Where Oil and Water Go

Once upon a time, I used to lead a youth group, which meant that weekly, I was using what some Christians refer to as a "preaching gift."  An outsider might look in to my life and wonder what happened to that gift.  In some ways it lies dormant, but in one way, it doesn't.  My husband once encouraged me to preach to our children.  And, I thought, "Why not?"

I've read some old-time literature about the non-loving, dry individuals that used every opportunity to tell children that they should be seen and not heard or else they'd be popped into a special naughty children bag by an ogre (or some other such nonsense.)  Strange.  And, I am not that type of person, nor do I recommend that for healthy Christian child-rearing.  That's not the kind of preaching I'm talking about.

I do recommend seizing every God-given opportunity to speak a timely, Spirit led word. 

Children ask great questions.  Their imaginative conversations naturally lend themselves to interesting topics.  There is nothing wrong with a little "preach" in those conversations.  In fact, there's a whole lot right about letting the Spirit lead our conversations with our children.  God's Word is the ultimate final say.  It's the go-to on every topic.  It's the lens we filter every topic through.  It's the weight that helps us weigh what is appropriate and what is not, what is holy, what is not, what is good and what is not.  I'm not presenting a bunch of religions to my children for them to choose.  I'm leading them in the Truth we live for.  That's how we do it here.

So, when the Rugged Mountain Man walked in on the tail end of Mama passionately preaching (at the kitchen sink) about how sinners don't mix with Christians, Daddy wondered what Mommy was talking about.  Mama said, "Oh, Blossom1 wanted to know why oil and water don't mix."  The Spirit led and I followed. 

Light and darkness don't mix. 
Bad company corrupts good character. 
There's nothing in common between a sinner and a Christian. 
Never marry a sinner...
it all just started to flow out. 

Don't pass up on these precious opportunities.  If you don't speak, who will?

Friday, September 26, 2014

The (Cold) Days Ahead

I love the scenery around here.  I sweep my gaze across golden soybean-laden fields and I know, there is a God.  It's reassuring.  And something about it just resonates in my spirit.

You all know that I've been trying to walk more and every now and then the Rugged Mountain Man watches the girlies so just Jake and I can set out down our country road. 

I find these times so refreshing... not so much the being away from the Blossoms.  I've never been one that believes that a Mom always needs to get away.  (If God called you there, why do we spend so much time trying to get away or be away?)  It's more than that.  It's more like my front door opens into my prayer closet.  In the stillness I find when I'm walking, I know that He is God. 

And He speaks to me.  I was casting my cares the other day, confessing to Him that I wasn't sure I was ready for colder weather.  I know that seems like such a little thing to say to God, but I was being honest and humble before Him. 

The ease of summer for a mama is so refreshing and it's a good thing in its time.  But, God gave us four seasons.  After my little confession, He reminded me of the virtuous woman.  Proverbs 31.  A chapter I adore. 

She smiles at the days ahead. 

I thanked God for that timely word.  He'll help me to be prepared, both in all the little details I, as this family's domestic engineer, must attend to, AND in my attitude.  Summer isn't the only time of carefree joy for a mama.  I'm thankful that those cold days ahead are times of joy too.  He has so much grace to lavish upon me to do what I'm called to do.  Thank the Lord for that. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Very Hungry (Plastic) Caterpillar Who Eats Felt

We love The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, so why not create our own little caterpillar?  Pinterest doesn't get credit for this little project; my friend, Red does

Except Red's story didn't turn out so well.  She made this little project out of a Parmesan Cheese container.  Her youngest son at the time LOVED it.  She must've read the book to him about twenty times that day and he wanted it read to him one more time.  I remember her saying something about responding to him, "Not now, Honey.  I gotta do the dishes."  Next thing you know they were headed to the Emergency Room because he got his finger stuck in the smallest hole of the Parm lid. 
Gulp.  What.A.Day.


Just some eyes and a mouth on our caterpillar.   (I used an almonds container simply because that's what I had!)


Evidently Jake loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


So there you have it.  Cut a few shapes from leftover felt and use them to correspond to the story.  The whole project took less than five minutes.  I love that Blossom4 gets color practice and fine motor skills development when we read the story.  (Oh, and please admire the holes in my Swiss cheese slice.  Blossom2 specifically requested them.  "You can do the holes too, Mommy!") 

Monday, September 22, 2014

A substantial investment

Such a great weekend!  Full of time with family and a few little spurts of creativity. 
We drove approximately two hours and went to see the elk. 
(This pic makes my mama heart go pitter-patter.)

Just lookin' for those elk...

Bingo.  The visitor center boasted 40 elk and we could see them up close!  Have you ever heard elk bugling?  It is best described by watching the caribou scene on "the Polar Express."  THAT'S what elk sound like.  High and musical.  I've actually heard elk from the campfire at our cabin once, although I've never seen the elk there.

In between that field trip, I squeezed in some painting and polyurethaning and such for my sister's upcoming baby shower.  And, I almost broke my husband's radial arm saw. 
Prayer works.  That's all I'm saying. 
We also took a field trip to a local ministry to troubled boys.  A wilderness camp!  So inspiring and such a great work that they're doing there.  It was also good to chum around with our local homeschool pals.
The time with family this weekend was so refreshing.  I happened to run across the story about the professor and the golf ball object lesson.  It's so true.  All the little details can take over everything.  Choose the most important things and let the other stuff fill in the cracks.  The Rugged Mountain Man and I choose to make a substantial investment in our children.  Time.  Time in the truck.  Time at the grocery store.  Time building domino courses.  Time making bracelets.  Lots of time together.  That's how they'll catch what we've got. 
Oh yes, and time for food. 
I love that my husband's hobby includes a smoker and our own micro farm-raised chicken. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

A lot of people ask...

What do your little ones do while you homeschool? 

That's the most common question I get, by far.  I thought you'd enjoy a humorous look into my daily life.  I've found that "Littles" abide by their own set of rules and I spend my days, helping them to bend to my set of rules (We'll get to that in another post.  For now, some humor.)

Their rules are as follows:

- If it can be dumped, it will be dumped. 

- If it can be climbed, it will be climbed (even if you have to stop your business in the bathroom for a rescue)

- If it has a point on it, it will bitten, chewed and digested.  (leaving you with all non-working markers, no pencils and definitely no erasers)

- If it is hung on the wall and within reach, it will be yanked down.  (So don't buy expensive maps)

- If it is hung on the wall and within reach of any furniture, it will be down.  (Yes, hanging something high, is never high enough.)

- If it is in a stack, it will be scattered.  (Ahem. Sorry, Honey.  That's why the printer paper is all wrinkly.)

- If there is a button, it will be pushed.  Not once, but repeatedly.  (Now we keep the computer closed at all times.)

- If it is small, it will go in the mouth.  (Remember those really cute holiday magnets???  Who thought that was a great idea for a schoolroom?)

- If there is a group working together on the favorite red couch, there will be crowd-surfing and giggling.  (Get a visual of a 16 month old falling backward from the couch arm, onto school books and laps and then wriggling down to run and do it again.)

- If it is a served snack, it will not be eaten.

- If it is a discovered snack, it will be devoured.

- If a Little's naptime would help school time, they'll fight it like sleep would kill 'em.  Then, they'll conk when it doesn't do your school time any good.

- If it can be opened, it will be opened... but never closed. 

- If there is a sippy cup, it will always be missing.

- If there is a favorite toy, concept of previous rule applies.

So, there you have it.  I know what I want the "Littles" to be doing while I work with the "Bigs."  The "Littles" know what they want to be doing while I work with the "Bigs."  We spend the day meshing those two together, coming up with a semblance of order that lets the "Bigs" concentrate, the "Littles" develop their imaginations and Mommy satisfied with everyone's educational progress. 

Another time we'll talk about my real life strategies for getting school done.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

That nasty word

That nasty word.


Colossians 3:18 says for us to submit to our husbands as it is fit in the Lord.  The trouble is that so much of the society has filtered into Christian marriages, that many of us don't know what is fit in the Lord anymore. 

I like to simplify things as I teach them to the Blossoms, so we simplify submission in to this:

Daddy's the boss.  Then, there's Mommy and then, there's the girlies, but Daddy's the boss.  They know the chain of command.  They know that Daddy reports to God and nobody else. 

I tell them that in a happy way.  It doesn't bother me.  I'm glad to live in the structure God set up.  Why do Christian wives struggle with this so? 

This Mommy doesn't boss Daddy around.  Or, if I do, or am tempted to, I apologize.  Because that's me falling into sin.  (Yes, insubordination is sin, because I was commanded to submit to my husband.)  Hey, I was the oldest child of four.  I'm good at bossin'.  It's one of my "mad skills."  It has served me well as a mother.  But, I don't boss Daddy. 

I don't make final decisions.  My husband values my opinion highly and listens when I talk.  But there's a time to be quiet and quit giving my opinion.  The Rugged Mountain Man makes the final decision.  God holds him accountable for those decisions and the results of those decisions. 

I don't direct this family.  We go in the direction that the Rugged Mountain Man leads.  Yes, I definitely have an opinion.  (C'mon, you all know that I always have an opinion.)  He has taken that into consideration so much so, that we doggedly pursued a house that I loved and was convinced was meant for us... as in, totally a "God thing."  It wasn't.  I was wrong (or the timing was wrong - still not sure on that).  We pursued, but in the end, I KNEW that I must go with my husband's wisdom, even though I was in love with that house.  I coul
dn't deny the checks of the Holy Spirit or the things I knew my husband was right about.  I don't direct this family and I am not the Holy Spirit.

Some people think that a Christian husband who is being submitted to is getting off scott-free.  That's so untrue.  The Rugged Mountain Man is being held accountable to God for a family of six!  SO MUCH WEIGHTY RESPONSIBILITY. 

You know what?  I don't want to be my husband's Holy Spirit!  It's freeing to submit and follow with a Godly attitude.  I'm responsible for my attitude.  I'm responsible for how I submit.  Did I do it with a happy heart?  Did I do it willingly?  Submission only feels like a nasty word because we've let society tinge it for us.  If God told me to submit, it's a good thing.  I don't care how old-fashioned or stone-aged it sounds.  I'm gonna submit, by God's grace.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Learning Styles & Switching Curricula

There's a frequent misconception amongst homeschoolers and even parents of non-homeschooled children.  It's this: 

If my child does not grasp a concept immediately,

my child either has a problem
my child is in need of different curriculum.

My mom RARELY changed curriculum, even when homeschooling four completely different children with four diverse learning styles.  (I can only think of ONE instance off the top of my head.)  Why?  She realized that a curriculum is just a framework.  Use it as your springboard and supplement for learning styles as needed. 

I was introducing the concept of alphabetization of 4-6 words to Blossom2 and I could tell that she didn't grasp it easily.  She needed something she could touch and hold.  She needed something hands-on.  I didn't throw out her PACE (the insiders' name for a little workbook from Accelerated Christian Education.) 

Instead,  I whipped out some construction paper and jotted down the words.  She could rearrange them as needed.  Problem solved.  Hurdle cleared.  Alphabetization is now cool.

I'm not bragging on my own creativity.  Hardly.  In fact, what I'm trying to say that is that it doesn't take much to help your child adapt to all sorts of curricula.  Just stay on it and think, think, think. 

Of course, maybe she was just having trouble focusing because there was some packing for Grammie's happening in the background. 

That, and a few other "shenanigans."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Welcome Autumn or Just Walk Already

I'm endeavoring not to stay a "jelly body."  I've met with some surprising resistance, resistance within my own ranks.  As if it's not enough to battle the traditional, I-know-I-need-to-exercise-but-there's-so-much-to-do or I-really-don't-have-the-energy, my own Blossoms have spouted some interesting remarks.  Blossom1 stated, "I would think that all the walking back and forth through the house would be enough exercise.  Besides, you ARE in shape." When I expressed that the fresh air would be beneficial for me as well, she returned with, "You can sit on your porch swing and watch us play."  Then, Blossom3 flat out told me, "You don't need exercise; let's just stay home."  She's the same child that finally had to be told on our brisk trot/walk to stop whining because this is not about her.  Mommy needs to get healthier, so stop being so selfish.  (Whining effectively silenced.)  Blossom2 chimed in that Mommy IS healthy.  In any case, Mommy is inwardly rejoicing as I've walked half an hour a day for FOUR days.  Don't be hatin' (as we used to say back in the day).  FOUR days in a row is miraculous.  Really.  I'll be the first to tell you these (un)surprising facts:

#1 - You really do have more energy after you exercise.  FOR REAL. 

#2 - Your outlook is better, probably because you have a chance to think two full thoughts in a row.

#3 - No, you will not have time to exercise.  Every day, without fail, there have been countless chores waiting for me.  And I needed to stay home and work, but I also needed to go take a walk.

Last night, the Rugged Mountain Man was home early so he watched the bigger girlies while Jake, Blossom4 and I ventured forth to walk a still faster rate to bring on the burn.  I was enjoying the autumn breezes and vivid wildflowers. 

(This picture was not staged and probably best represents why I chose walking - Blossom4 is strapped down and contained!)

May the adventures in a little exercise continue! 

What will I do when the weather turns cold?  I think we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now, I'm determined to walk again today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bring on the Pico

One of the Rugged Mountain Man's favorite summertime traditions is a culinary masterpiece my sister shared with me called, "Pico De Gallo."  I've tweaked to make it our own, but it's a mainstay here.

I've never found another recipe that can so easily showcase the garden's best produce as well as our beloved "Pico."

This time of year, the Rugged Mountain Man says we ought to buy stock in the tortilla chip companies.

(Above photos - credit to my sister,
below photos - pitiful attempt to be like my sister)
I've also learned that if I want some "Pico," I'd better get it before I even put it in the fridge.  Because, yeah, that Mountain Man o' mine, he can slam some "Pico."

I came out from putting the children to bed and there he sat, with an empty bowl of "Pico" and a guilty expression. "Sorry."  We laughed together. 

I tell my family all the time, "Come to my house and eat my food, because if you don't, that's one of the surest ways to offend me."  It makes me happy just to see the Rugged Mountain Man's eyes light up when he opens the fridge door and sees a big 'ole batch of "Pico." 

Pico De Gallo (aka Fresh Salsa)
- 5 Whole Tomatoes of differing varieties, chopped according to your preference 
(I puree mine in a food processor and then drain off some of the juice)
- 1/2 Large Onion
- 1/2 Green or Red Sweet Pepper
- 2 Chile Peppers (but we like it kinda hot!)
- 1 bunch Cilantro (I harvest mine in bulk in the late spring and freeze it for such a time as this!)
- 1/2 T. Minced Garlic
- Juice of 1/2 Lime
- Course Salt to taste
Chop everything small.  (Break out your food processor!)  Throw it all in a glass bowl.  Stir lots.  Taste it often.  Best when refrigerated for a little while before serving.  Break out the Tostitos and see if you can get yourself to stop eating it!  (I normally double this recipe.)
Enjoy!  :)
PS - This recipe is terrific stirred into mashed avocadoes for an awesome Guacamole!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A week and some grace

The past week or so has been such an eclectic mix of emotions and experiences that it's hard to solidify a topic or two into a clear blog entry.  I trekked to Wisconsin with my Dad and Blossom4.  Twelve hours in the car on Sunday.  Grandpa's funeral and a few whirlwind visits and then leaving at 2:30am on Tuesday morning to sojourn back home.  Twelve more hours in the car to arrive home by 4pm on Tuesday to the squealing girlies and a very relieved Rugged Mountain Man!

Big breath.

Back at it.  I literally didn't sit when I returned.  (After sitting for 12 hours, I really didn't want to sit.)  I unpacked immediately while fielding a slew of questions from the Beautiful Bountiful Blossom Bunch.  Wednesday we'd be back at it for school and wash and all the usual stuff.  Friday dawned with Blossom3's 7th birthday and all the additional special cooking that that entails, plus school, plus the daily chores, plus some planning for the long-awaited birthday party happening on Saturday.  Then, making the birthday party come to fruition and Sunday, rest, rest, rest.

And somehow, I can't seem to sum up my emotions and I'm not sure that it matters.  I feel overwhelmed by the wealth of things to do this week.  So much garden harvest to deal with, but that's something to be thankful for.  Then, there's some disciplinary issues to contend with, but thank God for girlies.  It oughtn't to a burden, just another part of my job as the mama.  And my own journey to exercise patience is on my mind.  God is still working in me.  The temptation is to drag and be down, but God only disciplines the child He loves!!!  Then, the amount of cleaning and chores to do impose upon me while I'm tempted to cower in the corner, but thank God for such a nice house!  I'm glad He chose me to be a steward of it.  The devil wants me to see the massive amount of these things; God wants me to see the opportunity for obedience and excellence in them.  Additionally, there's the opportunity for His grace to surge under me like a tide.  Without His grace, without the Holy Spirit's power to do God's will, I run to the corner and watch all this stuff mount larger and larger.  With it, "I can run through a troop; I can leap over a wall... Hallelujah, O, Hallelujah!" (If you'll permit me to quote one of the old songs...)

Now, off I go, to engineer the littles to naptime, the lunch remains to their rightful places and the bigs to a little more schoolwork. 

Grace to you, my friends!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Want a bite?

Apparently, erasers are a delicacy.

Nobody has erasers around here because somebody likes to bite them off.  (She shall remain nameless, but let's just say that she was born 4th in the lineup...) 

Mommy solved the problem by buying eraser sticks. 

She thinks those are tasty too.