Budding Fruit ~ an Easter morning conversation

A morning gift in the Easter basket ~ her first Bible that she can read herself.

The Holy Spirit working in her heart ~ 

Me: Lily, please come get your hair brushed before church.

Lily walks out of her room crying. I think, oh no what now?

Me: What’s wrong, honey?

Lily: I’m just so sad.

Me, feeling somewhat alarmed: Why?

Lily: I was reading the Easter story and I just got to the part where God had to turn away…from His own son, he had to turn away from His own son!!!

All week she walks around with this Bible in her hand. She reads it every spare second she can. She reads it to sleep at night. She reads it in her free time in the afternoon. And we talk and share and she asks questions and we talk some more. This morning she just finished the Old Testament. This from the seven-year old girl who thought she could never read. The Spirit is moving in her!

These things I treasure and ponder in my heart.

Linking with A Holy Experience

Perfect Timing

His timing is perfect. You’d think I’d know that by heart after all these years. But still I fret and worry and wonder in vain. Our life is clicking into a lifestyle we’ve been praying for and yearning for yet not believing would come to pass. Yes, there is also the diligence of our hard work and perseverance of staying the course but if not for His perfect timing of seemingly random events all our hard work would not have been enough! So after a day of celebrating the greatest miracle of the Ressurection and contemplating the severity of our penalty paid I feel blessings pouring out in abundance that I must write down before they slip away into the land of forgetfulness.

#391 ~ that I know that I know that His love is for me!

#392 ~ first time Easter egg hunts

#393 ~ fields of yellow spring dandelions

#394 ~ Easter that fits the whole family

#395 ~ marshmellows the size of my fist for roasting

#396 ~ burnt hotdogs over a campfire

#397 ~ camp smoke smell on next days clothes

#398 ~ dressed in Sunday best

#399 ~photo smiles that will tickle grandma’s soft heart

#400 ~ husband who speaks plainly in truth even when I don’t want to hear.

#401 ~ schedules that long to guide our days

#402 ~ a finished menu plan

#403 ~chocolate Easter mouths dripping

#404 ~ the van of all vans to fit our forever family

#405 ~ homemade rainbow popcorn that beats Vics hands down!

#406 ~ bravery reached for

#407 ~ awe at others striving

#408 ~ tenacity to try ourselves

#409 ~ new cousins playing

#410 ~ baby faces growing up

#411 ~ job security and long-term friendships

#412 ~ building community

#413 ~ creative work that feeds the soul

Joining Multitude Monday at A Holy Experience

The Official Spring Break Handbook

When I saw Mud Pies and Other Recipes online I fell in love and started having daydreams about what I would have done with a book like this when I was a little girl. Oh how my dolls and I would have played! So I knew it just had to be on my official homeschool booklist for the year. Play IS school!

And when my precious 3 year old came to me with a handful of the first dandelions of the year, I knew we had to break it out!

Then I remembered visiting The Forest Room and reading about their fun idea of a make-believe stove. So we made one. What better combination! Since I’ve constantly been defeated at trying to put up the Halloween candy tub for next year, I decided to repurpose it instead.

Even the boys joined in the play.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal ~ Fortified Goodness!

How to get a nine-year-old, always super hungry, growing boy who hates oatmeal to eat his oatmeal?

Why with chocolate, of course!

The thought came to me serendipitously while making No-bake Cookies. I had already been thinking about and experimenting with using more blackstrap molasses as a natural iron supplement in my baking. So oatmeal was already on my mind as I had made it using this potent old-fashioned goodie. But as I was baking cookies I thought, “If you added cocoa powder and peanut butter to your morning oatmeal, wouldn’t that taste similar to no-bake cookies?” Hmmm…

And, woila, it does! Even better, he loves it and asked for seconds (this coming from a boy who would rather starve then touch oatmeal).

But the best part is this ~

By making it with cocoa powder, blackstrap molasses, and peanut butter, I actually fortified it with all kinds of goodies!

Now most everyone knows the good-for-you properties of peanut butter but have you ever looked at the label of cocoa powder? ONE TABLESPOON yields 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein and no sugar! Now combine that with the 1520% of your daily iron, calcium and vitamin A, magnesium, copper, and potassium from ONE TABLESPOON of blackstrap molasses and you’ve got yourself a heaping bowl of nutritional brain food for the school day! And the peanut butter with a touch of cream (or whole milk) adds just enough fat to satisfy until lunchtime.

Here is my recipe which fed me and five children with a bit to spare.

  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • twice the amount of water

Cook to desired consistency. Then add ~

  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 2 T blackstrap molasses
  • 2 T peanut butter
  • a touch of cream or milk
  • sugar to taste

Extreme Couponing or Eating Real Food on a Real Budget?

Extreme Couponing

C’mon….you know you all watched it! How they know us so well in what will wet our guilty pleasure appetites! Extreme couponing. I was amazed by what I saw. And, frankly, I was tempted. I want to buy $600 and only spend $5.97!!! I shouted to myself. But then my husband came home and I got a reality check.

That’s not savings…that’s addiction, he said.

Look at what they’re putting in their carts, that’s not real food, he said.

It’s all processed junk, he said.

You see lot’s of coupons for bread but not a single coupon for flour or any of the staples that allow you to make bread, he said.

And he is right. And I know that. So why was I almost duped? Because this economy is lousy. Because food prices are rising. Because my family of six kids are actually eating which makes my theory of a grocery budget obsolete.

We’ve been talking a lot about living by our principles. What do you believe? Do you live what you believe? So easy with kids to slide down that slippery slope into crackers and processed colored fruit ringed cereal and orange-died mac n cheez. They love it, they ask for it, commercials bombard them with images of it, and grandparents dote on them with it. It is hard to swim against that tide of false love.

So how do you do it? How do you set a realistic budget for real food? How do you cook from scratch, homeschool and still have time to sleep? How do you wade through the political mumbo jumbo of grocery store and organic politics? How do you eat with common sense and not get sucked into the latest dietary fad? My brain is fried trying to balance it all.

Adam helped me set up a menu plan. Now it is my job to figure out how the numbers work. I haven’t figured it out yet.

In the meantime, I will be reading some pioneer women who seemed to be paving the road for me.

Simple Bites

Nourishing Days

Keeper of the Home

Live Renewed

Chicken Tender

and, if the budget allows, maybe perusing this book:

Real Food on a Read Budget











Music to a Homeschooling Mother’s Ears!

I’ve officially kicked the kids out to the curb this week! Weather has turned a corner and sunshine is pouring in. I’ve scooted all littles out the door for fresh sunshine and free play. Meanwhile hubby and I have been spring cleaning inside…especially the kitchen! Amazing how much more you can accomplish when there aren’t little feet right under you to undo it right away!

Daddy splurged on new bikes for the 3 and 5 year old and even one for himself. So now everyone is exercising and, really, who doesn’t want to ride on their new princess bike in their most beloved princess dress?

Just because we’ve been outside does not mean school isn’t getting done. Math still went on…all week…no matter what else was happening.

But the most taken-to task of the week ~ reading! Reading while eating, reading before bed, reading instead of chores, reading while outside, reading to siblings, reading in comfortable spaces, reading during all parts of the day. I realize that getting to the library more is starting to become an actual priority. Gabe went through 5 books in one day. Seriously??? He is so his dad! But even Lily is tearing through 2 chapter books a day. And we were worried about her late reading. Phish!

Favorite series of the moment ~

Music to a Homeschooling Mother’s ears ~

  • Mom, I know I read fast but sometimes I do like to read the book four or five times because then I understand it better.
  • Mom, why would God bless Jacob even though he lied and did wrong???
  • Mom, I’ll do my math in just a minute. Luc wants me to read to him.
  • Here mom, [handing me the literature book selection I picked to read last week] can we read more of this?
  • Mom, I read that whole book in a half hour!
  • Mom, look! I balanced it. Now both sides come out equal.
  • Mmmm…mom, these taste great! [after eating a molasses wheat peanut butter cookie]
  • Mom, did you know that we are mammals. What? Really, we are!!!
  • Mom, I did math your way and it was so easy!
  • Mom, having more than one wife equals chaos! [The word chaos being drawn out dramatically for emphasis!]
  • Mom, I want to catch worms. Can I have a jar, some of that hole stuff and a rubberband?
  • Mom, look at the perfect circle I made with all my homemade fans!

Book Finds

There is no greater joy on a Saturday afternoon then coming home from the library with a bag stuffed with new books…that is, unless you also hit the bi-annual library sale and happened to walk home with 15 new living books for $13.50!!!!! Especially when 13 of the books were hardback and library bound (i.e. see kids can’t chew corners), 5 of the books we’ve already checked out several times and loved, and one of the books was a Nature Journal that has been on our Amazon wish list for a year!

Here’s our loot ~

History Living Books

Science Living Books

Math Living Books

And, as if that wasn’t enough, our monthly homeschool group provided a great opportunity to swap out some of my old for something new. And someone else’s old Junie. B. Jones books and Magic Tree House books became my children’s cherished new treasures that are being toted everywhere and devoured at unimaginable rates! Upcycling. Just love it!

New Math, Reform Math…and How Homeschool Moms Measure Up

As I was visiting Parenting Magazine for a completely different reason other then math, a blog post caught my eye. Well…okay, I must admit, the blog picture caught my eye as an obsessed homeschooling mamma. I saw these fantastic flashcards and wanted them! Then I read the article that went with them and my mind started churning.

photo courtesy of Parenting Magazine

New Math. It made me think of the Tom Lehrer song, which had my husband and me rolling on the floor as we listened while shaking our heads, tears streaming down our faces. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that funny. But it was pretty funny!

Is this the same New Math he was singing about? What is New Math? Or Reform Math? Or Inquiry Math? According to the teachers interviewed by Parenting Magazine it is

…a catchall phrase for a group of new methodologies that aim to teach students how to reason their way through a problem instead of simply regurgitating a set of facts and formulas to get the answer…

Sounds a lot like living math. Sounds a lot like homeschooling math. Usually I find homeschooling curriculum trying to find different ways of teaching concepts that a public school teaches. But in this instance it seems we’re on the same page which, I admit, raises my hair a bit.

When I was first looking into math programs for Gabe this new way of learning was exactly what I wanted for him. In fact, when I was introduced to Math U See this is exactly what I liked about the program. It was so different then how I learned. I wanted that for Gabe. I wanted him to never ask the question, “And how am I going to really use this in real life?” So we bought the program and he has done wonderfully with it. Of course, his amazing math abilities stem much more from who God created him to be naturally and less to do with the actual program. This I didn’t come to see until Lily started down the same path. I quickly realized she was blessed in mathemetical abilities about as much as her mother, that is to say not at all! So I was going to have to actually teach her this material. And the only way I knew how to teach was the way I had been taught…the old math..finger counting, carrying the one, borrowing, tens columns, and plain old memorization.

But this week I was reminded that it really doesn’t matter which program you are using or not using or plan to use. It matters that your children understand with the least amount of tears. This week I spent two one-on-one sessions with each of my children and was so glad we homeschool.

Did you ever have one of those lessons where the teacher was asking you to do something that didn’t make any sense and actually distracted you from doing the work the way you’d normally do it? And you know the lesson is to teach you why something is done the way it is but it ends up being more distracting then helpful? That is Gabe’s lesson this week. I admit, I don’t watch the lessons with him. He is mathematically inclined and does just fine watching the teaching DVD then doing the lesson on his own. But today I heard whines of why he just couldn’t get this long division problem and after a half hour of him struggling and only getting four problems done, two of them wrong, I stepped in. He tried to explain to me what the DVD was explaining to him. I had NO CLUE what he was talking about!

But the great thing about homeschooling is…

I told him to ignore everything his lesson is trying to teach him and just work the problems. (Didn’t you ever want to tell you teacher this at least once during a math lesson???) When I realized he couldn’t because of the now mass-confusion swimming in his head, we threw out all he knew of long division and went back to the drawing board. For this homeschool mom going back to the drawing board means doing what works for you in real life. I showed him how I did division and I saw everything click for him. “This is easy, mom!” So much for new math!

And the same went for Lily this week. As she is moving on in money counting to mixing dollars with cents, she was introduced to that pesky decimal point. She already has problems understanding place value so how to explain? I did the same as what I did for Gabe…explained using what works best for me. Once she got it, she really got it.

So my point, you ask? Don’t feel bad as a homeschooling momma that you grew up learning touch-point adding and still find yourself doing that in the grocery aisle. Don’t feel bad that you use a calculator for any two-digit long division number. Math ultimately comes down to doing what works at the time you need it, whether in your head or with a calculator. (Isn’t that what the unschoolers keep trying to tell us?) And you may have invested in some new math program that your kid excels in…or hates, but the bottom line will be how do you, as teacher, explain it so that they get it?

Math U See ~ $65

Right Start Math ~ $50-$150

Teaching Textbooks ~ $120

Your kid getting it ~ Priceless!