Two year old idiosyncrasies..
It is not a baby…
It is not a doll…
It is not a dolly…
It is a baby dolly.
Of Course…why didn’t I think of that?
What do you do when your work never leaves you?
It is truly a blessing to be a stay-at-home mommy yet sometimes the amount of work can start choking the life out of you. It is always there…always a constant. You do and do and do some more but there is always one more mess…one more thing that needs to be done.
I was feeling suffocated.
I needed out.
So I walked away.
And, as the Lord is EVER so good, He met me where I am and blessed with fresh perspective.
A evening stroll ~ blessings # 568 ~ 590
~ walking with the littles who are still so excited to be with mommy and daddy
~ allowing the older two to spread their wings a bit with the first tastes of freedom at home alone
~ a grouping of oak leaves striving for that summer green but remaining in a beautiful fall coat
~ milkweed on the side of the road
~ the anticipation of looking for monarch caterpillars on said milkweed come August
~ unexpected wildlife…
~ watching a meadowlark sing
~ seeing a woodpecker in his glorious black and white and red coat searching for evening insects
~ the deer peeking out from among the brush
~ the quench of thirst from a pit stop for soda
~ searching for tadpoles
~ seeing how a yarrow flower is both one beautiful big flower head made up of hundreds of tiny, perfectly detailed flower heads
~ a meadow in our own back yard
~ picking flowers for mommy
~ finding a mommy and daddy goose with their gosling
~ watching the chase
~ seeing the prize
~ finding a prairie coneflower amongst the weeds
~ the gift of picking wildflowers
~ the walk back home
~ legs tired from muscles working the hills
~ the land spread out in front of me
~ a glorious sunset
Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you hightest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
ligtning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and maidens, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
What do you do with leftover strawberry tops after making strawberry jam?
Well, the sensible thing to do would be compost them.
That is, unless you have a three and five year old in your home. Then it seems much more sensible to play with them!
Pretend gardening anyone?
Harvesting with your “tractor”.
I see the kids emulating us…playing Adam and I as we embark on this journey to grow all our own food and buy only local, in-season food.
Sometimes, especially after watching an episode of Sid the Science Kid, I long for my children to take a school lesson and run outside to “play” it, allowing the learning to sink to that deeper long-term memory center of their brain. Occasionally a history figure will capture them like Sacagawea and they do play what they learn, but mostly not. That’s not to say that they don’t use the concrete in play…like letters and numbers and reading…they most certainly do…just not those stories of history and science and art and music that I had hoped would captivate them. While they enjoyed their history, no one was outside “playing” Statue of Liberty last week!
That said...playing is an integral part of learning and it reaches us in a way no other learning can. Do you know what a three and five year old play? They play what seems of value…what is important…what they want to do and try when they grow up. Why do you think dolls never go out of style? They see and sense what is really of value to us as an adult. We can say one thing with our lips but they are much more intent on watching our actions.
This is the secret that the unschoolers embrace and are not afraid of. This is the truth that us homeschool listmakers who want to track progress usually fail to grasp. And even if we know it we are mostly afraid to allow our children to live it. I know for myself there is comfort in the checking off of the yearly school list.
But if playing gardening and composting is where they are at, I think of what their futures hold and I smile and relax. I am teaching the important things even if they weren’t in a school lesson! Maybe my kids won’t remember everything I taught them about history…okay…most definitely. But maybe they will be a part of history, changing it for the better and passing that down to their own kids. That is a lesson worth teaching!
I’m sitting here smelling strawberries simmering down on the stove top. There is no other smell like it in the world. I can only describe it as scrumptiously heavenly. The childhood memories it evokes…grandma’s house, strawberry shortcake dolls, summer playtime, childhood foraging…is probably as strong as the deliciousness of the smell. And today it reminded me that I had taken some previous pictures of canning strawberries and forgot to post about them.
My strawberry jam is kid-friendly…by that I mean no chunks!!! You know how texture-oriented kids can be. But the best part about this jam is its versatility in my kitchen. Not only is it good on PB & J sandwiches, biscuits, or morning toast, we also use it on pancakes, in crepes, and as our natural sweetener for homemade yogurt and ice cream. The no chunks translates well to all other applications making them kid-friendly as well. So I’ve tweaked the original recipe which I swiped from the book Jams and Preserves under Classic Strawberry Jam (lovingly given to me as a gift from my mother in law) and have made it my own.
I’m not going to go into all the canning process…you can read about that in any good canning book or visit Freshpreserving.com. I’m just going to share the process of my recipe. And, I must note, this jam is ideally made with strawberries that are locally in season where you live…not the grocery store chain variety. But, I will sheepishly admit, mine are made with the grocery store variety due to price prohibitions. I am taking baby steps to that local, food-sustainable living thing but that is not the baby step I am on. I buy my strawberries when they are in season and go on sale for 99 cents per pound. That makes canning them economically work for me. Canning is cheaper than store bought jam and avoids that nasty high fructose corn syrup…the greater of two evils at the moment. (My cost is about $2 per pint jar. I try to buy my sugar on sale too.) And yes, I know strawberries is one of the dirty dozen yet I also can’t afford grocery store organic variety. So you work with what you have. This I will garauntee you…it will still be the best tasting strawberry jam you’ve ever eaten! My kids won’t eat any other variety.
Now…on to making jam!
Step 1 ~ Get all your equipment ready to go.
Step 2 ~ Wash your fruit thoroughly. I use about 4-6 one pound containers.
Step 3 ~ Cut the tops off your strawberries (a steak knife works great for this), cut away any bruises, and halve or quarter. I know, I know…what a waste…use a strawberry huller! A) I don’t have one. B) I’m lazy. I put my diced strawberries straight into the pot I’m going to cook them in. One less bowl to wash. Did I mention I’m lazy?
Step 4 ~ Compost your strawberry tops (or let your little ones play garden with them!) and rinse and recycle your containers. (See…those tops didn’t go to waste. They are soil builders…yeah, soil builders!)
Step 5 ~ Dice up (with skin on) into 1/4 inch pieces 2 granny smith apples. This creates natural pectin. Have you seen the price of pectin? Outrageous. With kids we always have apples on hand. You can make your own pectin which I’d like to try some year…not this year. You can also use rhubarb if you have it available. It is the in-season fruit to use but I never have it on hand.
Step 6 ~ Add a splash or two of lemon juice (acidity helps with preservation) and simmer the whole thing over medium heat for about 20 minutes…or until berries collapse. Take the opportunity to clean your kitchen while inhaling this oh so yummy aroma. Or blog like I am. You know…whatever.
Step 7 ~ Blend your berries in a blender, food processor or with an immersion wand. Just a quick blend will do. This helps further mix that apple in with the berries and obliterates the chunks making it kid-friendly.
Step 8 ~ As you add it back to your pot, measure it. Then add 1 and 2/3 cup sugar for ever 2 cups of strawberry liquid gold. You don’t have to be super precise with this part. Ball park it.
Step 9 ~ Simmer again for 15-20 minutes. Skim off the scum. This helps the jelly to be clear, not cloudy. I don’t know if this is kosher or not but, yes, it is okay to lick the scum spoon. It tastes heavenly and why let a good thing go to waste?
Step 10~ After about 15 minutes check temperature with a thermometer. If it is just at 220 (setting point) then you are ready to can. You can do the gel method test but I’ve never been good at this and ended up way over-cooking my jam so I just stick with a concrete temp. Allow to cool on stove top about 10 minutes and skim again.
Step 11 ~ Ladle into jars with a canning funnel. Make sure to wipe rims clean and check for air bubbles. Lid jars with new lids…learned this the hard way! Although, I’ll be checking out these new reusable canning lids soon! If you have a jar that is only half full then allow that one to cool instead of canning and use first (refrigerate).
Step 12 ~ Water bath can in boiling water for 10-15 minutes (start timer after your water comes back to boil when putting jars into the water).
Step 13 ~ Turn off heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so. Take out with canning tongs and move to cooling rack. Allow to completely cool before putting away. Remember to check for proper sealing. If one didn’t seal right, just stick that one in the fridge and use first.
This makes between 2-4 pints.
Step 14 ~ Enjoy for lunch on fresh homemade bread and stirred into plain yogurt. Use again on biscuits at dinner because it was so good that you thought that making breakfast for dinner was a good idea. Plus, you were too tired after canning to think of a clever dinner.
May I just say that I suck at growing cilantro.
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but there are no other words to describe it. This is the third year we’ve tried growing this supposedly easy-to-grow herb. The first year it died within the first month. I thought, ‘too much shade…more sun next year.’ The second year it bolted too soon and died within the first month. Too much sun? This year I tried it in two different spots. I planted one in a container with rich dirt. The second I planted among the other herbs in full sun with compost worked into the existing soil.
Results: bolted and died.
My other plants? Doing fabulous. the thyme next to the cilantro in the container is thriving and so is the endive on it’s other side. The basil and parsley in the ground…nice and bushy.
How is it that I can’t seem to get this one plant right? I’m up for anyone’s advice.
It’s that time again. Little guy is getting bigger and his appetite is increasing. Time to start putting aside some baby food.
Sure, I could go to the store and pick up some food. Seems pretty cheap in a jar. Seems to be nutritionally sound…just some fruits and veggies, water, and ascorbic acid. They even carry the organic stuff so why not?
I’ve done both ways, to be honest. And, yes, it’s easy and convenient to go to the store. But it’s also easy and OH SO MUCH CHEAPER and nutritionally fresh to do it yourself at home. The easiest way…work it into what you’re already doing in the kitchen.
Making supper for the family? Throw on a pot of extra veggies for the baby.
Doing dishes at lunch? Simmer down some fruit for the baby.
Passing out bananas at breakfast? Mash down a half for the baby.
Easy as pie.
Do you ever resist change because you just want your way to work so badly?
I have resisted moving our school time to the afternoon. I was hanging on to this notion that our afternoons needed to be free. But as I felt the prodding of the Lord upon my heart I gave that up this past week. We are now schooling in the afternoon only (from 1:30-4) four days a week and a burden has been lifted…a burden I didn’t even realize I was carrying.
The benefits of afternoon schooling ~
They say you are what you eat.
We joke about it with witty quips about not wanting to live till 100 if it means cutting out all the fun stuff.
Until you see it literally staring you in the face.
I first noticed it when I made a quiche out of the lovely free fresh farm eggs we received the other day. It’s not like, in my head, I didn’t know they were better. I had occassionally splurged on some cage free eggs at the store. Yes, they were a bit deeper in color than regular eggs. But even a store cage free egg can have many meanings and not necessarily mean a chicken free to eat its natural vegetation. Which is why I couldn’t justify paying triple the store price for a very small, almost impercievable difference. (Watch a video from the Cornucopia Institute here.)
Oh these eggs were beautiful. All shades of brown, some light, some dark…no bland uniformity here. The yolks were fat and plump and this deep golden butter yellow. They made me happy to be making dinner instead of dreading it. And the quiches…oh my. What a rich golden color it came out. They looked (and tasted) like I had added all this cheese. Nope. Just a small sprinkling of parmesan and mozzerella in one and a smidgen of feta in the other. Not a drop of cheddar. But the taste…oh the taste was divine. Even my kids, who are not huge quiche fans (they are skeptical of anything that is not a scrambled egg), loved these eggs.
So I decided to capture the difference on camera. I wish you could’ve seen it in person. I actually think the picture shows the store-bought eggs reflecting the color of the fresh eggs. But even so you can tell the difference. My kids noticed it. They said they wanted the yellow eggs. They were sure I had screwed up making the other eggs despite them being the same eggs they have eaten for years.
“Did you put cheese in these eggs?” asks Gabe, my cheese lover.
“Mom, how come those eggs don’t look right?”
“Mom, can I have the yellow eggs, not the sick ones?”
Out of the mouths of babes…but very smart babes!
So, what makes the difference in color? And is it nutritionally superior?
Check out these stats for yourself.
Mother Earth News did a study with fourteen farms and compared it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs. They found that the pasture-fed, free range chickens had these qualities compared to conventional store-bought eggs ~
SuperMarket Egg Pastured Egg
Vitamin E .97 3.73
Vitamin A 487 791.86
Beta Carotene 10 79.03
Omega 3 .22 .66
Cholesterol 423 277
Saturated Fat 3.1g 2.4g
That’s some good eating!
Summer essentials to do before we run to the safety of our air conditioners in the heat of July.
Blessing # 558 ~ 567
~ homemade ice cream
~ garden hose sprinkler
~ bare feet through grass
~ evening visits on the porch
~ cool summer beverages
~ shortcakes with berries and ice cream
~ ice play
~ scooter riding
~ learning new tricks
~ scraped knees and band aids
Adam ~ this is dedicated to you!
We’ve been doing a little playing around here. Red is the name of the game.
I’ve tried red before but because of the dark, dark color of my natural hair it turns out purplish dark red at best. I was resistant to dying it…don’t want to ruin my locks…they are one of my favorite features! But then I found this killer blog called Killer Strands. I soaked up the information from a person who is a professional and loves what they do…just read a few posts and you will see what I mean! It was a hair education for me…chemistry but fun!
Did you know that blonde hair has no pigment? So when you are “dying” your hair blonde you are really taking pigment out of it. It is a fascinating process.
But the best part about this site is that it is the only place in the USA that carries a gentle, top-quality, oil-based bleaching kit. I ordered that for step 1 ~ take the pigment out of my hair to be able to put a new color in.
Step 2 ~ dye it a red color that Adam can see (he is color blind).
That was accomplished by watching this lovely tutorial by Luna who, Adam and I both agree, has the most fabulous red hair color.
I admit, I was scared to go through with it today. What if I totally messed it all up and had to cut everything off? Luckily, thanks to quality products and a great tutorial, it went off smoothly.
And…if we are going for dramatic, how ’bout adding some bangs? Don’t think I’ve had bangs since the 90’s when it was cool to curl it under and tease it out.
What can turn a boy into a man?
How do you instill responsibility without being a naggy mom?
Allow him his first pet that he buys with his own money.
Meet Mike the hamster.
And how to weave into our homschool week?
A pet project ~
It wouldn’t be summer without strawberries. And as I am contemplating real food and where our grocery money is allocated to, I felt like we just had to experience picking our own berries from the farm.
Where we went: Bellevue Berry Farm in Nebraska
Lessons learned ~
I have continually found that when you pray before embarking on a shopping trip of any nature, the Lord will tend to bless you in ways you couldn’t have imagined before starting. As weekly blessings tend to go, this past week was a biggie! With the garage sale behind me I am finding places for our new things and realizing how amazingly God provides in one day.
Birthday Money = $125 – $11.00 kids allowance = $114
Blessings #422 ~ 557
Most Lucrative Find ~
Baby Gear ~
~ Clothes ~
For Baby Eli ~
For Ivy ~
For Delilah ~
For Luc ~
For Lily ~
For Gabe ~
For Mom ~
And the surprise we found in that new bag ~
To which Lily confiscated the Hello Kitty Lipgloss, Vanilla perfume, and notepad and Lilah took the mittens and necklace.
In the Home ~
In the Kitchen ~
~ The Home Book of French Cookery
~ The Farmers’ Almanac Cook Book
~ Homeschool ~
~ $5 Bookshelf ~
Phonics & Writing ~
Social Studies ~
Nature Study ~
The Classics ~
The Bible ~
For Fun Books ~
This week’s wrap up takes us up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty. We shall soon be traversing the waters of the World Wars and the Great Depression. I figured the Statue of Liberty and immigration would be a good segue from late 1800’s homesteading into a more industrial world full of people and problems.
I really planned this week on the fly. I knew which book from our home library I wanted to use and I requested some from the library that looked promising. Other then that, I did a quick google search the night before our study and found some cool free notebooking pages. During our reading we had a question come up about the patina so we did a spontaneous search and found a really cool (cool for me = easy to do, nothing to buy) science experiment. It was that kind of study that just came together in a nice way during the middle of our very busy week. I like those days!
This study covered literature, history, copywork, science, and a little math.
Books we loved ~
Liberty by Allan Drummond~ This was a fun book. You have to read the author’s note in the beginning. This is where the bulk of the historical fact is at but, more importantly, it is where he sets up his stage of awe-inspiring imagination with the kids. Usually my kids hate author’s notes. Not this time!
The other interesting thing about this book is the reference to the only two females allowed at the opening ceremony. It is mentioned enough times that it caught Lily’s attention. And she repeatedly interrupted me to find out why only 2 girls could go. It was a wonderful intro to discuss the women’s suffrage movement and I think it will be the next thing we study for history. It segues nicely from this study.
A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting ~ This was a book even my nine year old boy enjoyed. It is told by a boy about that same age as his family takes their yearly traditional Lady Liberty picnic. His grandparents were immigrants so this statue is very important to them. The thing that makes this book stand out is the realism. The boy deals with his own why-do-we-have-to-do-this boredom of tradition. It made my kids laugh and will probably be the book they remember best.
Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen ~ This was interesting in that it was a dual story. One side of the page told an immigrants story of coming to America and receiving a new name. The other page told the story of how Bartholdi came upon his idea for building the statue and his journey in bringing that vision to fruition. Yolen does a good job at interweaving the two stories together that doesn’t lose young readers along the way.
Books the older two read independently ~
Lily and Miss Liberty by Carla Stevens ~ Perfect for our Lily. This is a starter chapter book about a young french girl in school who is helping to raise money for the Statue of Liberty. A great story for my girl who is interested in French! This was Lily’s first time doing independent history reading. She did very well with her narrations.
Building Liberty: A Statue is Born by Serge Hochain~ Gabe wasn’t thrilled with the idea of independent historical reading…he rarely is. Yet he ended up reading this book two times. It is a picture book put out by National Geographic with fabulous detailed pictures of how Lady Liberty was put together piece by piece. This story is told from different perspectives by four different boys who each had a hand in building. Although this is a picture book it is definitely geared toward an older student. You could use it as a read aloud if it was your only read aloud for that day.
Free Statue of Liberty Resources ~
Turning Pennies Green ~
We found this ultra cool experiment on how copper reacts with acid. This is a perfect instant gratification experiment that costs nothing and is a perfect demonstration of that beautiful sea green patina covering Lady Liberty. One of my favorite experiments that we’ve done thus far. We did the first part of the experiment that only involved the pennies.
How I incorporated Math ~ Since they already had to measure for the experiment, I capitilized on Lily’s learning fractions this past week and purposefully pulled out the wrong measuring cups and spoons. I gave her the chance to figure out how she could multiply or divide to get the right measurement. Real Math. We like that around here!
And I’ll leave you with this food for thought…
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Joining Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @
HAPPY 36th BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!!
My life is full and sweet and filled with my favorite people. My Lord Jesus Christ woes me daily. There is no other gift that I need or want.
But there is one tradition that is a sweet spot for me every year ~ attending that once-a-year neighborhood garage sale in my in-laws subdivision. Every year it falls on that first week of June. With my birthday being June 2nd, I get that wonderful grown-up gift of cash in the mail…the perfect currency for taking to a garage sale.
I used to garage sale all the time when I was little. I grew up with a thrifty mom and she passed that love down to me. Now with my own six kids, attending garage sales is a lot harder yet it benefits us as a family more then ever. I love the hunt. It’s like following a treasure map. You’ll never know what the new year will bring but you do know that you will walk away with something just right for your family needs.
So what does a homeschool mom of six children look for in a garage sale?
Sometimes I utterly feel the hole in my holiness…that is to say I realize how lacking I am in striving towards righteous living. I know that is not a bad thing because it is what drives me to my knees and helps me stay grounded in my need for my Saviour. Yet as a mom it can seem daunting to raise your children up in the Lord. There are so many what-if’s to life and I never feel like I’m doing enough.
Then moments like these come. Your 2 year old picks up your Bible and, while reading it upside down, prays, “Thank you for the food, thank you for baby Eli…in Jesus name, Amen!” She excitedly tells you she is reading her Bible and you didn’t even know she knew the word for Bible. You whisper a thank you and believe again in His promises.
Then your almost 4 year old tells her daddy how God makes the plants grow and He lives in her heart. And did daddy know that He lives in mommy’s heart too?
And your five year old excitedly runs to get his sister’s Bible and show you a picture of Pharaoh because he knows what Pharaoh looks like and he wants to make sure you do too after reading about Moses and the plagues.
And the lady whose name you don’t know comes up to you in church and gushes about how sweet your children are because they all went to Bible class and immediately sat down and opened up their Bibles. She could tell how much they treasured their books and she doesn’t see that very often.
It is these grace moments that lift me up so that I may keep walking this holy road.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)