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.  


Thursday, August 31, 2017

My Soul is Full

Upon our return from vacation, I'm usually asked, "How was the cabin?"

I normally respond with something like, "Divine!"  

I can't help it.  The silence, the peace, the escape from connectivity, the heightened family connectivity and the spiritual refreshing is a savored gift from Heaven for all of us.  

This year, Blossom4 hiked six miles without being carried.  For the first time ever.  Since the Rugged Mountain Man and I love hiking, we're excited that now our family hiking goals can grow.  

I was also super excited to see elk tracks all around our cabin and on our hikes.  Experiencing the expansion of the elk herd has enhanced the mystique of the surrounding natural areas.

Being at the cabin also brings out the naturalist photographer in me.  I squealed with glee when I captured this inchworm "mid-inch!"

We kept noticing so many caterpillars and creepy-crawlers that I started photographing them.  

When we returned home, our school assignment for the day was identifying and studying these caterpillars.

Talk about fascinating!

I try to say yes to the girls as much as possible at the cabin and then soak up the peace wherever I can snatch it.  It's really a good plan.  I enjoyed so many little moments of peace and beauty that I could've missed.

Whatever part of the creek they were exploring, I'd plop down and just gaze around at the loveliness.  My soul ate it up!  

In those quiet moments, I felt the Lord ministering to my soul.  

Sometimes I swam too and sometimes I just carried stuff, like a good mom does.  

Hands down, this is my favorite shot of the whole week.  Blossom4 is definitely a critter lover!  She doesn't even care if things are slimy or scaly!

She looks thrilled.  The toads, not so much.

A little "talamander" that she adored...

And a frog!  We were all so excited because we saw several frogs during this trip.  Normally the toads are very visible and catchable.  

We never get to actually see frogs!  Imagine our excitement to have seen three frogs and caught two! 

Thankfully, Blossom4 didn't try to catch this hairy beast!  She was about 5-6 inches across and had an enormous egg sac attached to her.  Thankfully she scampered off when I decided to cross on the log where she was resting.  

In addition to all my caterpillar pics, from which I've spared you, I also am particularly fascinated with the vast world of mushrooms and fungi.  We photographed many mushrooms and when we returned home to identify them, discovered how magnificently vast that world is!  

It's much harder to identify mushrooms conclusively, than it is to identify caterpillars.  However, the girls and I are only more intrigued!

Though I don't recommend eating mushrooms from the wild without a mycologist on hand, we did discover that puffballs are one of the easiest edible mushrooms to identify.  According to the information we found about giant puffballs, if it has gills, don't eat it.  If it's purple, black or gray inside, don't eat it.  Apparently, the giant puffballs should be white and creamy inside to be enjoyed.  I don't plan on testing this out, as none of us are big 'shroom fans.  

So many treasures are buried deep in the woods.  From lush flora,

to mysterious and picturesque outbuildings.  My understanding is that this little building housed dynamite for the CCC camps, circa the 1930s.  

We've occasionally found other paraphenalia left over from the CCC days, sparking interest from our resident "geologist."  Mostly, I'm just thankful for all the trails and roads they put in during that time period.  

The Rugged Mountain Man and I were abundantly grateful for the quantity and quality of family time we were able to have this week.  

It's exciting to see the seasons of family life change.  There is more conversation.  

There are more ideas.  There is a wider scope of all-family activities.  

I think we're reveling in our little tiny girlies becoming people, interesting people.  

Passionate people.  

Beautiful people.  

Sweet people.

Family time moves into something more like fellowship.  

You feel "full" when everyone is climbing into bed at night.  

It must be the fleshing out of one of my favorite verses,

"Children are a blessing..."