Friday, April 29, 2016

Homeschool Day

~Sigh of contentment~ I love state parks. 

I've loved them ever since I was a child, probably because my dad's idea of a vacation is to find a state or national park to explore.  My mom's idea of a fun afternoon is to load up the kiddos and head to the state park.

What can I say?  It's engrained in me. 

The love of nature is so closely tied with the love of the Creator, because it is so much a reflection of Him and His splendor, I can't help but revel in the beauty of this earth.

I want the Blossoms to grow up in the humility that brings, to feel their "small-ness" in comparison with a God that ordered this universe and sustains it day in and day out. 

On a glowing spring day, we studied survival skills. 

The mysteries of the compass were finally revealed to the girlies and me. 

Pond life was up close and personal.

And, new friends and old friends were near.  It should be noted that, despite the familiar red and black garb, the man in the picture is not the Rugged Mountain Man. 

Blossom4 and her little pal loved this tree.  I must say, I noted it in Evernote, so that we can use it as a future photo op location. 
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

YouTube Rocks

In my childhood, I'd ask my mom a question and she'd reply, "Let's find out.  We'll get a book on it at the library."  And we did!  To find the answer to a question was a much more time-consuming process than it is today.  Parenting and homeschooling in the age of the information highway we call the internet is an amazing thing I'm delighted to be a part of. 

Since we got up this morning, we determined that the sound we heard at the piano teacher's pond yesterday afternoon really was a bullfrog, as I suspected. 

Unfortunately, we weren't able to catch him for a closer look, as we hoped. 

We finished our paracord survival bracelets from homeschool day at the state park, by troubleshooting with this terrific tutorial. 

The previously stumped Blossoms are now proudly sporting their creations. 

I was able to pass on important girlie playground skills by teaching the Blossoms the hand clapping rhyme "Miss Mary Mack."

The grins and giggles were worth it. 

I'm thankful for resources at our fingertips.  I'm even more grateful for happy times with the Blossoms.  Take time to find an answer or do something together today. 

Happy spring!


Monday, April 25, 2016

The Cherry of the Weekend

As I mentioned on Friday, we headed out to our co-op open house.  Everyone seemed like they were in a celebratory moody as giddiness prevailed, both in the mamas and in the children.  "We did it!"  "It's been another good school year!"  One of the highlights of the open house for me was displaying a photo board of the cooking class I co-taught with my partner in crime, Elizabeth. 

I've mentioned before how social the kitchen can be.  The students learned a lot and we cleaned up A LOT.  We even learned a few things, as they asked some pretty interesting questions.  They asked what Cream of Tartar is made of.  "Ummmmmm."  Elizabeth and I were stumped, but Google says, "Potassium bitartrate, also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, with formula KC4H5O6, is a byproduct of winemaking. In cooking it is known as cream of tartar. It is the potassium acid salt of tartaric acid (a carboxylic acid)," so now we know!

I also particularly enjoyed Blossom3's toothless rendition of "The Sitter" and "The Crowded Tub."  The girlies were pleased as they had a good showing of friends and family in the audience.  I know that touches their hearts.

Another highlight of the weekend was Blossom4's 3rd birthday party.  Not many kids have so many cousins that they can have their own baseball game.  I told the girlies that they should be thankful, as that crowd represented the same amount of kids that lived in the small town neighborhood I grew up in.  My talented sister snapped this shot of the "littles" watching the "bigs" slam the ball downtown.  So sweet!

On Sunday, I try to take what I like to call an "analog day," which means no email.  It also means I focus on resting and hanging out with the family.  I'd literally rested on the couch while the girlies stacked the dishes and then headed down to the creek with the Blossoms just to enjoy its gurgling, bubbly personality.  My neighbor came down grinning from ear to ear and handed me a bag.  I opened it up to find this shirt.  She saw it and decided I needed it.  She was right!  What a great cherry on the top of my weekend.  :)  I was ecstatic and the grin plastered to my face stayed the entire time I lounged in the grass by the creek.
 And now, I'm going to tackle those laundry piles. 

Have a wonderful day!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Life Lately

Dear friend,

I hope you've been well lately.  We are thriving here as we delight in spring time.   It's the end of the school year for us - homeschoolers who march to the beat of their own drummer.  We recently squeezed in a homeschool day at the local state park.  The weather turned out gloriously as the Blossoms worked on their survival skills.  (Yes, homeschoolers let five and six year olds build fires.) 

We also wrapped up the Poetry Performance workshop our library was putting on with an entertaining performance by Blossom1, Blossom2 and their cronies, the Kid Poet Society.  It's pleasurable as a parent to watch children with introverted tendencies blossoming and slaying their own giants.  I feel like parenting may be more about baby steps than we all realize.  I'm not trying to make them into extroverts.  There's nothing wrong with being an introvert, but we all must function within society.  My version of parenting an introvert involves helping them tackle societal skills successfully.  I'll get down off my soapbox now.  Back on poetry, I'm a bigger fan of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutzky than I ever was.  I even picked up a book of poetry by Tennyson when I was at the library the other day.  I feel like my own interests were broadened as the Blossoms interests grew.  I like that. 

Tonight we'll venture out for an Open House, where the Blossoms will share piano pieces, more poetry and some other presentations.  It'll be fun to celebrate the end of the school year with previously mentioned cronies, and the mamas and daddies that lead them.  Our eyes will be bright as we think of the conclusion of a whole lot of steady plodding.  You know that leads to good progress.

I've ventured out to the greenhouse to snag some veggie plants, although I did grow some of my own this year.  I haven't done that in a long time; probably since Blossom1 was born.  I'm excited since I also put together some of my own hanging baskets.  I love adding beauty to our homestead and this was my way of doing it the budget-friendly way.  We started planting the garden, so "Gardening The Hollow 2016" has now officially begin.  It's quite the adventure, but every year I learn something new. 

The great "Heat the Hollow" adventure will be kicking off soon.  The girls have been out their splitting some wood already, but I don't dive into my part of getting our wood under roof until the school year officially commences. 

There's been several new additions to our micro farm recently.  We're trying out turkeys.  We are finding them to be super entertaining, mischievous and a bit curious too.  Their fence adjoins the garden fence and they love to strut the length of it, making their turkey noises at me.  The broilers, or "meaties," as we somewhat affectionately call them, are on the premises.  With all the peeping and chick feed, this place feels like spring for sure.  I'm told the next wave of "layers" is showing up on Monday so there's more chicks to come!

On a personal growth level, I've so many opportunities to grow interpersonally.  Have you ever checked all the verses in the Bible on how to treat "one another?"  They are staggering.  It's those "one another" times that I've been experiencing lately.  I've had to be patient, when folks weren't patient with me.  I've had to be kind, when I didn't feel like it.  I've had to extend grace, when I was seething inside.  I don't want you to pity me, but I've marked a distinct season of growth.  It's really just the nitty-gritty of growing more like Jesus going on in my life.  Sometimes it can be painful, this process of becoming more holy, but on the other hand, it's comforting to know that God cares enough about me to help me grow. 

I must wrap up a few more thing before the Open House.  Additionally, Blossom4 is having her 3rd birthday party tomorrow.  It'll be nice to have all the family around.  Blossom4 adores being doted upon as the center of attention, so she's looking forward to it. 



Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring Gratitude

My neighbor decided to use her change stash to bring happiness to our Blossoms.

She hosted an Easter Egg Hunt for the girlies!

This was so sweet, especially since I had no time to put one together for the Blossoms this year. 
(As a mama, it blessed me!)
 They were SO excited to embrace spring this way.

It made Sue and I smile as the girlies ran through the sunshine with Sue's dog, Mitsy, at their heels, barking like a puppy again. 

Blossom4 was comical.  She found two eggs, opened the first, discovered a balloon inside and spent the next 15 minutes inflating and deflating that balloon.  (See the blue balloon hanging out of her mouth as she squats.) 

The only reason she got any other eggs was because her sisters generously made sure she had a basket full. 

As you can see, we are blessed to live in beautiful terrain.

The girlies are happy that spring is here.  They've done well embracing each season in its turn, which is part of being content year round.  It's also part of being a virtuous woman, one that smiles at the days ahead.

Yesterday, the big girlies went on a 6 mile hike with Daddy and the hounds and the little girlies and I spent some time absorbing the beauty of the creek.

They dangled their toes in the water, threw in dandelions and squealed in delight at pebbles, glistening water and birds flying overhead.  As I lolled around the creek with our little treasures, I couldn't be anything but thankful.  Just thankful.

Friday, April 15, 2016

That's It?

It's 9:45am and I've walked 2.22 miles already. 

Yep, I'm just a stay-at-homeschooling mama-wife who eats bon-bons and watches soaps all day.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

5 More Thrifty Ways to Bless Your Husband

Twice now I've shared five things you can do to bless your husband that don't cost a dime.  Once again, I'm inspired to rattle off a few more thrifty blessings.  This is something that I brew on when I turn my attention toward being purposeful in blessing the Rugged Mountain Man. 

#1 - Get your man some fresh reading material.
Some men maintain that they aren't readers, but they'll read the whole newspaper or an article on their favorite slice of the hunting world, so I believe that most menfolk actually do like to read, if you find them something that grabs their attention.  To do this the thrifty way, I drop by my local library.  In this case, I asked around for book recommendations, browsed genres I know he likes and looked for authors with a similar bent in their writing.  Notice it took my time, but not my money to find him something fresh.  Libraries lend out copies of magazines too!  Another friend gave us a whole stack of a magazine the Rugged Mountain Man likes, so I simply rotated the stock in the bathroom.  He enjoyed the new reading material and it makes me smile every time I see him reading something I chose.

#2 - Anticipate something he needs to do and do it.
The Rugged Mountain Man wasn't feeling so swift the other day and I noticed.  Realizing that he had an out of town meeting, several chores to do that evening AND it was garbage night, I did the garbage for him.  That's really not a big thing, but it blessed him.

#3 - Clean your coat rack or coat closet. 
At first glance I'm sure that seems silly, but the coat rack or coat closet may very well be the first glimpse he has of your little slice of home-paradise.  Even though warmer weather is on the way, why not do a quick little tidy-up and take the load of clutter off his mind?  And hey, c'mon mamas, no excuses.  I finally tackled mine and it literally took three minutes. 

#4 - Give him kids who listen. 
I realize you now have a rock in the pit of your stomach after reading that.  I feel you!  Our family is a work in progress, just as much as yours is.  I was recently inspired to redouble my efforts to train our children to obey immediately.  God expects this immediate obedience of me; why not train the girlies that this is right and good, especially in regard to listening to Daddy?  It's a blessing to him and less stress in a day.  I may not see instant results, but I can persevere in an effort not only to please God, but also to bless the Rugged Mountain Man.

#5 - Fix something for him.
Ok, sewing on buttons and mending are not one of my favorite things to do.  I do like to sew, but mending doesn't count, does it?  The Rugged Mountain Man was walking around with his slipper flopping off lately, all because one little thread came loose.  One.  So, I fixed it.  Did I particularly enjoy it?  Nope, but I did enjoy thinking about how it wouldn't annoy him anymore.  What about your husband's favorite shirt?  Does it need a new button?  How can you use your domesticity to bless him?  Not all of us have a Seamstress Extraordinaire Mom to teach us how to mend, but most of us have access to the internet.  You can find out how to do everything on the internet.  Everything. 

Sometimes we just need to buckle down and bless our man, whether we enjoy the actual task or not.  I believe it's called self sacrifice.  The more I die to self, the more Christ can live in me.  And the more I can bless my husband.


Monday, April 11, 2016

More Planting

I think you might remember when I talked a little about "planting" previously.  Some folks call it "strewing."  Mainly, I like to put items or books around the house to pique the girls' interest.  I love watching the Blossoms' interests change, grow, ebb and flow. 

Right now, Blossom4 is major into floor puzzles.  The same floor puzzle is on the kitchen floor for about four days being disassembled and reassembled constantly.  Then, she moves on to another.  I like to "plant" a new one around when I think she's getting bored.  Puzzles are outstanding for developing spatial awareness!

This past Saturday morning, when the bigger Blossoms were fishing with Daddy and Blossom4 slept in, Blossom3 and I had an impromptu Mommy date.  We sipped our tea and hot chocolate and I taught her how to play Cat's Cradle.  Now, the three older Blossoms are all totally into Cat's Cradle.  I can literally feel the wheels turning as they try to invent and learn new Cat's Cradle patterns.  Did you know that you can find directions on for Cat's Cradle and other string games?

Going right along with their Kid Poet Society class, I've been planting miscellaneous poetry books on the dining room table.  The interest even led to reading poetry at an impromptu dinner with my sister, brother-in-law and my nephew.  Poetry has become a little bit of a family thing.  Maybe your kids aren't into it.  Grab a copy of Runny Babbit, by Shel Silverstein and the giggles will start.  They just might get hooked!  I know we are thoroughly enjoying Runny Babbit as our current lunchtime read-aloud. 

So, I'm off to my regular Monday "stuff."  Hope you choose to embrace and delight in your kids' current interests. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Early Hours

"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a mama, healthy, wealthy and wise."
Oh, and can you see what we'll be doing as soon as school is out in a few short weeks? 

Yep, stackin' wood

Bring it on.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Sweedler Nature Preserve & Good Silence/Good Chatting

These pics were snapped barely two weeks ago, but this trip already feels like a dream. 
That's one of the reasons I like to take so many pictures;
to solidify memories for the Rugged Mountain Man and me.

On this particular day, I was pretty thankful for google.  We knew that several of the local state parks were either closed or had trails closed.  We'd already hiked many of the trails that remained open.

Through a google search for "waterfalls near Ithaca," we discovered this gem.  Sweedler Nature Preserve is privately owned by a land trust, which means less signs.  Less guidelines.  More hiking with less closed gates.  You know that's a little more our style anyway.

One of the things I loved about this trip was its reminder to enjoy companionable silence.

I've mentioned that the Rugged Mountain Man and I have been friends since I was 16 years old.  We've long been able to be chatty or silent together.

With children though, there's so much noise and chaos, that the companionable silence gets mistaken for unfriendly or unwanted silence.

Driving to church is sometimes quiet between the two of us or sometimes chatty.

Either one is good and acceptable. 

When you live with a clear conscience before God and an open heart toward your husband, the times of quiet or the times of talking are good, good things.

But the noise, noise, noise, NOISE can make the silence seem broody or distant. 
I felt reminded. 
Thinking is good. 
Talking is good.

Together is good.
And I wondered how many wives are nagging their husbands for chit-chat, when he's just enjoying the companionable silence between the two of you? 
Quiet husbands sometimes get a bad rap.  Or a discontent wife.  Precarious is the balance.

I felt newly reminded to revel in the companionable silence and the conversations,
just as much at home, as I did here in Ithaca.

Of course, I realize that it's easier to do when there's no housework, no whining,
no bickering and no cares. 

But, I can still take that thought with me back to the homestead.

 It's just another link in the whole chain of the two of us growing closer to Jesus
and each other every day.

As for hiking, you can see that I'm a details person and a grandeur person. 
I adored the frosty details on the waterfalls and the grandiose rockery.

At this point in the hike, we met "Rob," a man who'd jumped fences and gates at numerous places we'd hiked during our concurrent stays in Ithaca. 

He also confirmed my suspicion that we are a conspicuous couple in our hiking boots, lumberjack plaids and ruddy outdoor complexions, since he recognized us from eating at the same restaurant the previous night.

It was nice to meet a fellow who hailed from our state.

I have to say, Ithaca, NY is rapidly becoming one of my most favorite places in the entire US.

Maybe a little dream is blossoming in my dream-prone soul:

to own a little cabin there someday.  Maybe, someday...

Oh, and, just a quick stop at Buttermilk Falls on the way back through town to see how the flow was a little bit higher than last fall.  Totally worth it!