Friday, November 28, 2014

Onward to the Festivities

We feasted!  We chatted!  We were grateful!  (and I ate Chocolate Truffle Pie - OH YAAAAAAA!)

And now, let the Christmas festivities begin!  Our Christmas Cookie baking day is coming up, as well as our annual Christmas Tea Party.  I am excited about all of those things. 

Today was a restful day.  (Well, it was as restful as "supervising" four children decorating a tree can be.  Daddy was chillin' with us and he commented that he could see why I'm tired at the end of the day.)  The Blossoms were so happy to decorate the tree though.  And Blossom4 was touching E V E R Y T H I N G.  I call it sensory fun (and I didn't even have to dye rice to make a sensory table!)  I did get a TERRIFIC nap today too.  I paid the price though.  Blossom3 didn't take a nap (because Daddy thought she was sleeping, when she wasn't) and now she's bouncing off the walls.  She'll probably fall asleep when we watch the Grinch movie later.  And, I awoke to Daddy escorting Blossom1 into the house with blood squirting from her nose.  Sledding accident.  I told her to be glad it's only Friday.  She doesn't have to go to church for a few more days and by then, the swelling will probably have gone down.  For now, I think we'll call her Rothlisberger.  In any case, it's been a nice holiday thus far and I'm thankful for that. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I think you all have heard me mention the Blossoms' Jake's Cakes venture.  Here they are getting set up for their latest craft show.  Don't you just love that Grinch material?  lol  (I'm actually a big fan of the old animated Grinch movie... not the Jim Carrey one.)  Anyway, it was another terrific learning experience.  (Weren't the pink Santa hats such a nice touch for a Christmas craft show?)

Blossom1 mentioned, "Mommy, it is exhausting being polite for THAT LONG!"  Too funny!

This whole venture is a huge amount of work for Daddy, the girlies and me, but I keep telling the girlies, "Anything worthwhile takes hard work."  That's what I want them to get out of this and so much of our parenting. 

I'm so tired of the mentality that if it isn't easy, don't bother.  If every Christian subscribed to this mentality, no Christian would ever bother with holiness.  Holiness isn't easy.  Conquering the flesh doesn't just happen.  We are given grace to overcome sin.  We have the Holy Spirit helping us.  It takes patience.  It takes doing the harder things.  And, in the end (as in, Eternity), it is worthwhile. 

I like thinking about Eternity - the place of justice.  The time of rewards.  The time of perfect peace.

Eternity makes holiness totally worthwhile.  And that's what we're shooting for.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cold and then warm...

The first snow here was an EVENT.
"'Now!?  'Now?"

Blossom4 was mesmerized.

They were simply enthralled.

It is a bit ironic that after the cold snap that produced the little bit of snow,
it is currently 69 degrees outside.  YAY!!!  :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

the CardDroid Math Flashcard app

When our children start reading like fiends, we buy them a Kindle Fire tablet/device.  Every time we trek to the cabin for a week, and the books don't break my back or fill 3 tote bags because I only have to pack 4 Kindles, I know that the Kindles were a wise and worthy investment. 

We look at Kindles as reading tools.  They aren't gaming devices.  The children are allowed 15mins of game time on Saturday and Sunday.  That's it.  I have a thing against screen time entertainment.  Call me strange.  Or call my parents strange.  Most of my growing up years were accomplished without a TV.


(My mom was addicted to soaps when she got saved, so they threw out the TV to help break the hold on her.  It worked.)

(I call it brave to do something countercultural to achieve an end that pleases God.)

All that to say that I am wary of buffet-type technology.  The value of a wholesome pure mind is so much greater to me than being thought normal by those around me.  Thus, I have the web and videos disabled on the Blossoms' Kindles.  And, they don't suffer for it.  Instead, I hear things like, "Mama, I'm reading Little Men right now.  I'm almost through it.  I love it!" 
"Mama, can you teach me to use my Bible app?"  Days later, she remarks to me that she set up a Bible reading plan so she can read through the Bible in a year.  Now that's making technology work productively for you in my opinion.

Being that I'm a hardcore flashcard homeschooler, I've found another way to make the Kindles work for us - the CardDroid Math Flashcard app.  It's my favorite!  Here are the high points:

- It was free!  (PS - now that I see how much I use this app, this would be one of the few apps I would buy.)
- There are flashcards for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- I can adjust it so the Blossom that has only learned 3 families of multiplication so far can practice only those families.  I can adjust it to drill whatever math facts I want! 
- I can time them.
- I can hide the clock or show the clock.
- I can give them as many or as few flashcards as I want.
- It saves my parameters so I don't have to pick a thousand options every day.
- It gives me a report instantaneously.  I can see what they got wrong, how many times it took them to get it right and how long it took.  (If your children KNOW that you will check those reports, they won't tap/click and guess their way through.)
- I can change the background.  I can change the sound!  I can customize, customize, customize!
- Best of all, it gets results.  The Blossoms are repeatedly and consistently coming in under the time limit of the timed math drills their math curriculum assigns.  Please note the words repeatedly and consistently.


This app sees daily use here and I'm such a firm believer in it, that I wanted to share it with you!Check it out!  Download it for your kiddos today!

(It seems that it is available from the Amazon App Store and available for iPhone/ipad and android users too.) 

PS - Don't you love our new to us leather couch?  I'm so pleased with it!  It's like a grownup version of a hand me down.  Gotta love Craigslist!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Craigslist safety

My brother shared this link with me because he knows that I love craigslist.  (I'm currently trying to convince somebody to take $30.00 for a guitar I'd like to snag.)  I thought you all might like to take a look at these pointers for safer transactions!
I have broken some of these rules, but I've also applied many of the pointers.  I try to be safe, smart and savvy.  It usually pays off, as in the case of my caramel colored leather couch!!!  :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Version of Planting

There's a concept known in the interest-led learning world as "planting."  Though I am not an interest-led learning type of homeschooler, I apply some of its strong points to our education in progress here.  For example, when Blossom2 showed an interest in rocks, we read books about rocks, looked at pictures of rocks, googled rocks and visited a cave.  This isn't extraordinary parenting behavior; in my book, it's just good parenting.  (I believe that amazing things demonstrate our Amazing Creator.)

Back to "planting," interest-led learner parents will "plant" objects/books around their house to intentionally pique the interest of their children.  The children might awaken to a grocer's scale in the middle of the living room.  When the child shows an interest in the object, the parents then facilitate further learning in that direction.  While it makes me laugh a little, I like making knowledge and information readily available to the Blossoms.  I told the Rugged Mountain Man that I was experimenting (successfully) in this area. 

For weeks now, I've been rotating the books and objects on the dining room table.  I always do this very inconspicuously and casually.  The above pics shows an adult reference guide to Perennials, a classic (well-loved) Pollyanna book (Read the original, unedited book. It's a terrific Christian classic very suitable for children!!!) and a pamphlet about the Constitution.  I never limit the books to age specific reading levels.  Children can glean tidbits from reference books and pamphlets of all reading levels. 
My version of "planting" could be referred to as whetting their appetite in a variety of subjects. 

This is always the result.  I love it! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Good Times at Favorite Places

The Rugged Mountain Man and I love taking the children to places where we spent time in our younger days.  The Blossoms were itching for some horseback riding, so we headed to an old friend's house.  A friend that's known me since I was fifteen. 
(Being that I'm going to turn 34 in less than a month, that is 19 years!) 
(Side story: Blossom3 proudly announced that Mommy is TORTY-TREE!!!  Mommy quickly corrected her that Mommy is THIRTY-THREE!  And this is the reason that I would not tell her how much I weighed today, though she insisted and thought I was joking.  I'd rather not have that announced to everyone.) 
But, back to the fun little visit we had over to the Narrows. 

The creek is ALWAYS a drawing card for these country girlies.  I had about all I could manage keeping Blossom4 out of it.  She just didn't quite understand that the water would be COLD.  I think that this may have been the trigger that set off the fit we dealt with for the next hour or so.  In the end though, Daddy had her calm (and obedient.) 

Many a time have I sat on this very same porch swing with friends, chatting and soaking in the beauty of a place called, "Ironwood and Roses." 
(Another side story: Before we were dating, the Rugged Mountain Man brought me a rose from a rosebush here.  It was the most fragrant rose I have ever breathed upon.  Its fragrance has never been matched, thirteen-ish years later.)
(Yet another side story: This is also the place that my friends and I slept out on the deck in December at a women's retreat.  We loved that we toughed it out for bragging rights.  It SOUNDS really impressive.  DECEMBER... OUTSIDE... We just usually leave out the fact that it was unseasonably warm and probably never got below 55 degrees that night.)

Mommy's role was one of corralling the littles and whoever wasn't riding, but I did manage to give Dancer a little love.  The Rugged Mountain Man is the real Dr. Doolittle though.  That is because he scratches all horses' ears.  His relationship with equines are immediately a sealed deal, for life.

The Blossoms couldn't leave the place without a little ingenuity.  They wanted to fish.  A long stick, some reeds tied together and voila, fishing rod.  I liked telling them that one day when I was a teenager, I fished here for hours while my grandparents lounged on the porch and chatted it up.  I don't remember catching much of anything, but the day remains a happy memory, especially since my grandfather is now gone. 

The sunshine was gorgeous, the location amazing and the fellowship wonderful. 
It was just another day for us to relish the beauty, rather than the "busy." 
Sometimes you just gotta stop and smell the roses, which I did, by the way.  He doesn't call it, "Ironwood and Roses" for nothing.'

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday silliness

Some Friday silliness!

Apparently Kitchen Aid flour shields work well as Mrs. Jetson type skirts!

Blossom2 doesn't want to admit that she's been influenced by the Little House books that she has been reading.  Combined with the other Blossoms' love of all things Little House, we brainstormed this week and did our best to convince Daddy to take us to Malone, NY next Summer to visit Almanzo Wilder's homestead!  We'll see if it works out!
By the way, see that ugly red couch in the picture?  We scored an old leather caramel-colored couch on craigslist last night.  It's worn, but at least, it's a classier "worn" than the ugly red "worn!"  HURRAY for craigslist free ads!!!

Ahem, the true caption for this pic is, "Please don't feed me spaghetti, Mommy."  (What a squirrel!!!)
However, if Daddy captioned this, he might say, "Oh no, not another craigslist adventure!" 
Hope you all have a terrific, productive AND restful weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Breakfast Kits

It easy for a wife to let caring for her husband fall by the wayside.  After all, it isn't like all she does all day is eat bon-bons and watch soaps.  There's tons to do, and he can take care of himself, right?  Well, he may actually be able to take care of himself, but we wives are called to be our husband's helpmate.  The needs of children are all up in our faces every day and so our husbands just slide into a back seat, so to speak.  I've realized that I have to be purposeful about serving my husband so he isn't forgotten.  Loving my husband is such a good example for our children too! 

Sometimes I stand in the middle of the kitchen and say to myself, "What one thing can I do today that would bless the Rugged Mountain Man?"  (Yes, I look strange doing this.  I have that blank look on my face that says that I have a million things to do and I'm not sure what to tackle next AND I'm not sure what Blossom4 is doing at that moment!)

It's funny.  A husband might verbalize, "The garden really needs weeded."  To which a wife might respond, "I'm so busy.  I don't have time."  The irony is that she has time for playdates, Pinterest, facebook, chocolate and phone calls.  But she doesn't have time for the one little request he may have made recently.  I have to try REALLY hard to pay attention to those things he mentions, even though I have great excuses for being busy (FOUR to be exact!). 

Recently I was thinking that I needed a breakfast solution for the Rugged Mountain Man.  You see, we have lots of eggs here on this little Micro Farm,

so Mommy lays out Daddy's bowl and fork the night before and Daddy eats eggs every morning.  I get bored just thinking about eggs EVERY morning! 


I cooked up a variety of mix-ins - sweet peppers, hot peppers, onions, ham, sausage and cheese.  Then, I packaged them in snack size Ziploc bags so all the Rugged Mountain Man has to do is mix them in with his morning scramble!  I also cooked up a few breakfast sandwiches to change it up a bit.  It didn't take long at all and what a nice little way to bless my husband! 
What can you do today to bless your husband? 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ain't nobody here?

Growing up, my parents and our church talked a lot about excellence - doing everything as unto the Lord.  Do whatever it is in the most excellent way possible, be it small or big.  I think that the temptation as a housewife is to think that nobody's watching.  Nobody is here but me and the kiddos.  So, housewives can get in a slovenly rut. 

Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord.

Housewives and stay at home moms are tempted just to throw on some clothes, to slap some food on the table, to avoid the hard and dirty work whenever possible, to do the bare discipline minimum.  Why?  Ladies, we buy into that when we think nobody is here. 

Somebody is here. 

He is watching. 

He is watching what you put on your body.  He is watching how you interact with your husband.  He is watching how you raise and discipline your children.  He is watching all those loads of wash that you do and all those meals that you cook.  The Almighty is in my home and He is watching me.  That thought alone is a thought that propels me from the slovenly rut to the "heartily" side. 

Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Life Lately

"Got anything good to eat in there?"

"Are those chicken treats you're making?"
"Sorry, Rhoda, these are DOG treats!!!" 
The girls have started their baking for their "Jake's Cakes" craft shows.  This is our third year and we were only scheduled to do one show.  A lady had picked up their business card and called and asked them to set up at another one.  The Blossom were SO excited.  So, they've been baking up a storm!  Although it is hard for me to watch my tidy kitchen turn into hurricane aftermath, the things they learn while being independent in the kitchen are amazing. 
(It is also entertaining to hear a 9 year old and 7 year old whine to their Grandma about how Mommy needs to buy another "decent" rolling pin because they are tired of one or two girlies having to use a little kid rolling pin.)

Blossom4 Never likes being left out, so she helps herself to a sampling of the Peanut Butter Biscuits! 

Jake is not pictured, but believe me, he is ALWAYS nearby when the girlies are baking dog treats.  He KNOWS that this stuff is (sorta) for him.  Blossom4 got to a tray of cooling treats and promptly helped Jake to a goodly number of them, much to the other Blossoms' chagrin!

So, tomorrow, we'll be sitting out in the cold, learning the lessons of entrepreneurship.  I'm glad we have opportunities to do stuff like this.  It brings back memories of my sister and I selling homemade hats and "fancy fans" with our Mom. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From Grandma's Rocking Chair

My grandmother is a very wise lady.  She was the wife of a farmer.  Together they raised TEN children.  Ten children who are hard workers.  Ten children who are generous and kind.  I love to hear about my dad's childhood.  It brings perspective to the entitlement mentality I see in this day and age.  For example, my dad didn't go out to eat at a restaurant until he was EIGHTEEN years old.  For real.  He used to say that to us when we'd whine about something at a restaurant.  And now, I tell the Blossoms that.  Here's a relevant piece of advice from Grandma.

"It's not the high cost of living; 
It's the cost of high living that gets people."

That and, just add more water to the soup pot if you don't think your soup will stretch far enough.  Then, it's stretch every time.  :)  Thanks, Grandma.

Monday, November 3, 2014

How She Got a Cell Phone or Rock On, My Little LG Tracfone!

The Rugged Mountain Man and I were able to go out on a little date this past week.  Wings, fries, chit-chat, coffee, ice cream... it all melded together for such a pleasant evening.  Mammas and Daddies NEED to do this often.  I know firsthand. 

We usually joke that our small town boasts few activities for date nights.  We enjoy walking along the river and shopping at the little shops, but other than that, the options are usually limited.  Imagine our delight when we stumbled upon some pretty good coffee shop music to go with our coffee and (Hershey's) ice cream.  So relaxing and fun!

Of course, in a nod to tradition, we made a stop at Lowe's and Walmart as well.  I realize most folks fail to see the romance in that, but we are eager to savor the slower pace and peaceful quiet of being together in any store... just think, we can finish a thought process and speak without interruption! 

At Walmart, the Rugged Mountain Man treated me to a cell phone! 


We've been a one cell phone family for many years now.  It worked well for us when the girlies were all little and we were always home.  If not, Mommy just had the phone that day.  Nowadays, Daddy's carpooling colleagues aren't so excited to hear a feminine voice answer when they are searching for Daddy's whereabouts or trying to discuss a work-related emergency.  The Blossoms are now older and Mommy has to drive more - piano lessons, 4-H meetings, co-op class, miscellaneous errands...  Additionally, throw in two close calls in the last months, (getting run off the road by a local construction company semi and narrowly missing a power company pole as well as this adventure!) and Mommy was anxious for an emergency phone.  I realized, "Yes, I still don't need that unlimited text package or an iPhone."  Honestly, that doesn't fit our single income budget.  I'm not trying to share too much information here.  Rather, I'd like you to see what it made me see.  The fancy phone package is rarely a need and usually a want for most folks.  I realized that I had previously pestered my husband for a text package and had no good reason for it (other than wanting what everyone else had).  I changed my attitude and my tactics.  Eureka!  I researched what would truly meet a need for our family. 

Long story short, here I am, considering writing my husband a thank you card because I'm so stinkin' tickled pick with my $9.88 LG flip phone that literally has approximately 20 minutes a month on it.  (I did the math, it's costing us a little under $7.00/month.)  When I'm carting around these beauties, I'm grateful for the little extra peace of mind.

And, if you can get a little encouragement out of my offbeat cell phone story, please get past the, "Welcome to the 21st century, Dominique" and take a little helping of contentment too.  It's surprising the satisfaction it brings to be thankful and content over something so small.