Friday, July 29, 2011

What is she doing?

I don't know if this is the first time she's hung out here, but it's the first time I've seen it.  This is a metal cart on the back patio where I keep milking and feeding supplies.  She's been back in there a few times today.

I looked after she left and there's no food there to attract her, nor any type of "nesting" material.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monument Valley

These were taken a few weeks ago when we drove to Colorado.  The audio is our Treasure Island audio book, sorry.

The rain storm made for an interesting background, and I'm thinking the quality is pretty good considering it's taken from a moving vehicle through the closed windows.

Monday, July 25, 2011

AFHE Annual Home Educator's Convention

Tony and I went again this year.  It was very inspiring and motivating last time, and who can't use a boost of those on a regular basis?  This year was just as good.  Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis was the keynote speaker and had workshops throughout the day.  Tony went to most of his workshops, and I attended other great ones. 

My schedule on Friday looked like this:
  • Keynote:  Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World by Ken Ham
  • Mother, More Than Just the Heart of Her Home by Rachael Carman
  • Smart Kids Who Hate to Write by Dianne Craft
  • The Angry Child-What Ticks Johnny Off by Mike Smith
  • Education is Discipleship:  A Vision for Homeschooling by Brad Melton
On Saturday I attended:
  • Keynote:  How Do We Measure Success in Homeschooling?  by Mike Smith
  • Learning to Think Biblically by Ken Ham
  • Incorporating the Charlotte Mason Method in Your Homeschool by Carol Shippy
  • Missional Homeschooling by Heather Haupt and Colene Lewis
  • Creating Your Family's Best Learning Environment by Carol Gary
Tony was able to attend these workshops on Friday:
  • Keynote: Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World by Ken Ham
  • Genesis:  Key to Rebuilding the Foundation in Family Culture by Ken Ham
  • The Power of Praise with our Children by Mike Smith
  • The Origin of the Races by Ken Ham
Saturday looked like this:
  • Keynote: How Do We Measure Success in Homeschooling? by Mike Smith
  • Learning to Think Biblically by Ken Ham
  • How to Reach Today's World with the Christian Message by Ken Ham
  • I'm Not Ashamed of Natural Selection:  Do Animals Change?  by Ken Ham
  • Strengthening Your Marriage by Hal & Melanie Young
During the breaks we strolled the aisles in the Exhibitor Hall exploring the gazillion options available to Home Educators these days.  There are so many that I would thoroughly enjoy, but Goober Gus wouldn't even want to sit down with me to work on them, so they'd be a waste since I've already completed kindergarten!  We did buy a few things and learned about a mission that saves you money on cell phone services and then asks that you use the difference to support orphans in Tijuana.  After we verify motives and legitimacy, we'll be joining that.

We learned of a free movie that can be watched online called Divided.  It appears to be a discussion on the merits of separating youth from their family during church service.  It's something we're exploring, as the Bible does not mention age segregation.  Is it Biblical?

We bought 2 DVD's produced by home educating families, but haven't been able to watch either one yet.  One is the first of a series that uses the Indiana Jones adventurer style to teach character traits with Scriptural reference.

One thing I noticed and wondered how common it is at other state homeschool conferences is that our governor, a US congressman and state senator all showed up to address the audience of approximately 5000.  Does this happen at your homeschool convention? 

Love & Respect: A Book Review

My husband and I attended the Love & Respect seminar a few years ago and having the book around is a wonderful tool to refer to. I especially appreciate the biological approach that shows that men and women are wired differently. That doesn't make one right and the other wrong, it's just different. Dr Eggerichs explains the "crazy cycle" that so many of us fall into and how to stop repeating it so that both husband and wife get what they need from the relationship, bringing about more of what the other needs and turning the crazy cycle into a healthy one.

I also appreciate the Scriptural basis for the logic and reasoning, as Christ is the center of all good marriages. Buy this book and follow its principles and see how your marriage is healed and made better!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

We’ve been in Colorado for the last several days and while we haven’t been at the top of the Rockies at all, we are now staying in the midst of one of the mesas. I believe our elevation is about 6000’ and we’re in a little valley full of rolling, grassy hills with views of higher mountains in the distance. I’m enjoying a rare bit of peace with quiet. Our hosts have taken the majority of this party out fishing. I thought more were staying behind, but I think there are just 3 of us women here. All men, children and a few other moms and young ladies are gone.
This is a stark contrast to last night, when the band Tony came to Colorado to play with set up on the big back porch of our hosts’ home and played for hours to a crowd of close to 100. A temporary dance floor was set up over the gravel driveway; food came from all over-as did the multitude of family members of the hosts. The children were loud, the music louder. Some danced, some chatted, some continued to eat, some played horseshoes, kids played whatever their imaginations could dream up. Those so inclined drank. And drank. And drank some more.
It was the kind of scene that causes me to long for it when seen in a movie or the pages of a magazine. Being in the midst of it was different. My original perspective was one of “how long will this take?” However, once the music started (and not even music that I choose to listen to at home) my discomfort eased a bit into realizing precisely what I just stated-this is the real deal. This is what goes on all across the country when large families gather for good times and good food.
The fact that I am not part of this family and knew not a single one prior to arrival (except one guitarist whom I’d met on one occasion in the past, though would not have recognized him passing him on the street) made it a bit uncomfortable for me. Not for Goober Gus though. He was in heaven with all those kids to play with. They ran all over the upper and lower yards, used a discarded length of plastic to slide down a short dirt hill, teamed up and played spies, danced from time to time and likely all assortment of other childhood activities.

To my credit, I did try to strike up conversations with a few women, but that was a challenge when the music was playing. That challenge was not made any easier by the fact that since this was a family gathering, they all knew each other and already had connections and things to talk about. They probably wondered who this strange lady was at their event. I would have thought the same thing had roles been reversed. I did manage to talk to one woman that homeschooled her 5 children, 2 of which were adopted thru foster care. We got to share a bit about the horrors of the foster care system and the hurdles that families are required to jump prior to adopting a child. The unfairness of the process to the child involved. The struggles that families face when resolving issues created by far less than desirable living conditions that the adopted child was removed from. I felt a bit cheated when she left without saying goodbye.

I thought once night settled in and it was too dark to see that the kids would come down off the hill they were playing on and spend time in the grassy yard next to the band. I was wrong. They got out flashlights and continued to play. Most would run through the crowd from time to time and I kept waiting for Gus to make his appearance. I got a bit distressed when he never did. I thought about trudging up the hill to look for him, but having not been up there with daylight to orient myself, and not having a flashlight of my own, I decided against that approach. I searched for one of the older kids to do my searching for me, but could not find one that was old enough to follow through and return with the desired news. I decided I’d wait until the next band break and have Tony go with me. Just prior to that happening, here comes my sweatshirt-with-the-hood-up wearing son. Crying. Profusely. He’d been playing spies with the older boys of the lead guitarist, they are 10 and 12, I believe, when some of the tween girls came looking for dance partners. Gus was assigned the task of guarding the fort until the boys’ return and also given orders to misdirect any future girls seeking dance partners. Apparently he took his orders quite seriously and patiently waited for more girls to come looking, while also anticipating the return of the boys. But he could wait no longer. It was dark. He was alone. He wasn’t sure how to get back to the crowd, though he obviously figured it out. After holding and comforting him and hearing his loud description of what had happened, amidst great tears, the band took a break. Dad came over to help out. The father of the boys stopped to see what was wrong and was pleased to get the inside scoop on what was happening between the girls and boys. Gus felt sufficiently reinforced to traipse out into the dark woods again. Pondering what had happened, and feeling bad that I hadn’t gone in search of him, it hit me. I think he was more upset over not getting to carry out his orders than he was scared of being left in the dark.
By now it was about 10, but since we’re in DST, really just 9, but past his bedtime either way. I knew I’d never convince him that it was time to go to sleep while there were kids still playing. I began to wonder just how late the other kids would stay up. I then realized that the other kids-or many of them anyway-would be leaving to go home to sleep. Not us. Our bed was scarcely 100’ from the amplified band, if that far even. The reality that getting him to go to bed before the band was done began to sink in. How long would the band play? It was already approaching 11, but by beer drinking, concert going, partiers, that was nothing. I was long past ready for sleep, but also realizing it wouldn’t likely happen while there was music playing. It was about this time, while the band was on another break that my son approaches me and asks when he can go to bed. “Who are you and what have you done with my son?” was my first thought. Gratitude my second. Mixed with a bit of disbelief that I’d even heard what I thought I’d heard. OK, so off to bed it is.
Sleep on the other hand was an entirely different story. The band only played one more set, but that didn’t mean the party-and thus the noise-was over. The last time I checked the clock, it was just after 3AM and there was a crowd of men outside talking-which was OK, but apparently whatever they were talking about was worthy of hearty laughs approximately every 45 seconds. Exhaustion must have finally taken over because I don’t recall anything else until the sun started bringing light to the windows. That had to be 530 or 6, though I didn’t check. I stayed in bed until nearly 9, Gus had been awake for a while and there was no convincing him that it was too early to be up. I learned that hardly anyone else got any sleep either and so didn’t feel singled out. :-)  The plan the night before had been for the guys to leave around 9 to go fishing. They left about 115.

I was eager to get to my book-the one whose first chapter (only 6 pages) I had barely finished the night before, and I started reading it when we checked in to our hotel Wednesday night! The one that I was certain I’d be able to get a great start on, given that I thought I had two entire nights with nothing else to do but read. Yeah right. I joked that I could have had 5 more chapters read had I not been waiting for them to leave prior to opening the book again. Oh well. I did read 3 after they left, amidst a good nap too.
Is there a moral to this story? What I’ve learned is to come prepared for the best. In this case, bringing 4 books (not that I’d finish them all, but to satisfy any mood), a planning notebook, and laptop for blogging, but allowing for unplanned and unforeseen schedule changes and taking advantage of those “un’s”. I’m not so good at the last part. I go to the Murphy’s Law way of thinking and mutter that had I not brought anything to do I’d have far too much free time. The other lesson is to seek out the person in the crowd that appears to be uncomfortable or lonely and ask about their day. I challenge you to do the same, you just might bring a bit of missing joy to that lonely soul.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Before and After

I read a guest post today from Kitchen Stewardship that reminded me a lot of my own food journey so I thought I'd share my story.

If we look at life about two and a half years ago, meal planning consisted of thinking it'd be good to have fish once a week and trying not to have the same type of meat twice in a row-in other words beef, pork, chicken, lather, rinse, repeat.  We ate out several nights a week, as well as every Sunday after church.  Fast food was a regular part of our diet.  I tried to make sure we got a variety of foods but that was about the extent of making healthy choices.

Had you told me then that just about everything we eat would be made from scratch-by me-I would have laughed literally out loud.  Yeah, I enjoyed cooking and baking, but not to the point of making bread on a regular basis or homemade crackers.  I baked cookies when we were in the mood, not because it was a better choice health wise.  Probably the biggest reason for my disbelief would have been that I just don't have the energy to do all that cooking and baking.

In January of 2009 my chiropractor suggested that I have adrenal fatigue.  I'd never heard of it, but a bit of research lined everything up.  A bit more research and we started applying a few changes:
  1. Bought baby chicks so we could have farm fresh eggs (then added two adults because we didn't want to wait!)
  2. Discovered how expensive raw milk is and decided to buy a couple of goats to have our own fresh, raw, milk.
  3. Learned to make yogurt and chevre with the raw milk.
  4. Eliminated HFCS and hydrogenated fats.
  5. Added coconut oil.
  6. Reduced sugar intake (refined white).
  7. Cut back on fast food consumption.
  8. Started trying to buy non factory farmed meat.
  9. Learned to milk a cow that didn't want to be milked.
  10. Began following the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 system for buying produce.
  11. Began trying to avoid GMO's.
  12. Discovered son was sensitive to food chemicals and started avoiding them.
  13. Learned that I'd have to make a lot of things from scratch to keep from eating foods with chemicals.
    1. Cookies
    2. Ice cream
    3. Crackers (wheat thin style)
    4. Bread
    5. Sour Cream
    6. Buttermilk
    7. Graham Crackers
    8. Granola type bars
    9. Marshmallows (who can give up s'mores??)
    10. Meatballs
    11. Bread crumbs
    12. Mayo
    13. Ketchup
    14. Tomato sauce
    15. Granola
    16. Toothpaste
    17. Mouthwash
    18. Laundry soap
    19. Deodorant
    20. Dishwashing soap
    21. Insect repellent
    22. Household cleaners
  14. Stopped enjoying eating out-the flavor just isn't there when you no longer eat processed foods all the time.
  15. Realized that I've come a long way when I cringe at nearly everything available away from home and when others point out how much I do.
No wonder I'm still tired all the time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Books and Clutter

You may be wondering how these go together.  Or maybe you already know.  In my house, books are treasured.  Not always read, but still treasured.  Their mere presence can cause two types of clutter:  physical and mental.  The space they take up, especially with a young child, can be overwhelming in a small house.  Goober Gus has 5 plastic bins for storing books-I got this idea from an organizational book I read.  Pre-readers can't tell what book it is from the spine, so storing them the way a library does on a shelf causes angst for them and the one who has to put them back after that child has moved all to the floor to get to the desired book.  This method has worked well, we've just run out of bins and places to put them.  I also try to have a specific place for library books to be kept so it's easier to find them when they're due back.

Well, that's all good until even that space is overrun with more books.  A good friend is in charge of the library book sale and she regularly gives me "special admission" to the sale on non-sale days to preview new donations.  So yeah, the spot for library books technically is holding library books, just ones that don't have to be returned because we've bought them.

Then there's my books.  I try not to buy books that I won't use again in the future, such as fiction.  I also prefer to check a book out from the library before purchasing just to be sure I like it and will refer to it regularly.  There are times though, that I just can't pass up a bargain even if I haven't read it (or at least perused it) to be sure I want to add it to my collection.  I have boxes of books in storage.  You're probably wondering why in the world I'd have books in boxes?  Simple.  We were supposed to be in this house temporarily while we built elsewhere.  That's no longer a plan and I don't have any place to unpack those books.  It will be like Christmas when I do finally get to unpack those boxes!  There are 2 that I miss, The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Parent.  If I could easily access the boxes I'd get them out, but that's not the case.

That covers the physical clutter, now on to the mental clutter.  Time.  Time to read these wonderful books and make good use of them.  I started to clear out and clean a space in our entertainment center that is home to a few books, some scrapbook materials, a beautiful tea set I bought two years ago at a yard sale (and have never used) and office supplies (a whole different love affair).  The books here I haven't even thought about for a long time and most were acquired while I was involved with MOPS.  I was going to sell or give them away.  Then I started looking thru them and realized I need to reread some.  I've been feeling a bit dry spiritually lately and was about to order a devotional book to give me something to focus on, then realized that at least 5 of these can fill that need. 

But when?  Most of my non computer screen reading happens in the moments before bed and I prefer that not be anything to keep me awake thinking.  Oddly enough, I got up close to 90 minutes earlier today than usual, just to have a few moments to read my Bible and pray before taking on the day.  I got dressed and went outside to release the chickens and feed the goats.  Guess who walked outside 2 hours before his normal time?  Yep.  So much for a few minutes to read and pray.  I'll never understand or figure out how kids know the days to get up early when parents want them to sleep in.  He'll easily sleep until 830 or 9 most days and was up at 630 this morning.

But I digress.  My daily schedule needs some shaking up anyway, so perhaps adding in some reading breaks would clear the mental clutter of having all these wonderful books that I want to read but don't.  How do you squeeze in reading time?

These are the ones I don't want anymore.  See one you'd like?  Let's make a deal!  Books for Sale
Adding these to my devotional time.  Got suggestions for more?  Devotionals

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Preparedness Challenge Week 15

Amy at Homestead Revival has been hosting this challenge and I've been enjoying reading about her efforts, but haven't really posted anything mostly because while in this small house I don't feel like there's much we can do to store extra food and water.  However, since it is small steps that get the job done, I do have a few things to share.

A couple of weeks ago we answered an ad for ripe apricots.  We went to the owner's home and he insisted on picking them for us, so we just stood on the ground pointing to what we wanted and taking them from his hands.  We bought 10 pounds and he gave us another 10 that were a bit overripe and ready for jam making.  Tony made one batch of cooked jam and it turned out nicely, I just don't like cooking the fruit if we don't have to.  Online research showed that the pectin needed for sugar free or lower sugar jams wasn't available in my area, so I ordered a box.  It just came yesterday and I haven't used it yet.  I did however, dehydrate a couple of quarts so far.  We've just been enjoying eating them fresh!

A friend told me her neighbor offered her access to their plum tree.  This friend doesn't do any canning so she asked if I could come get some instead, gotta love friends like that!  We were planning to go this evening, but it looks a bit stormy, so that might change.

Finally, our local grocery store has had roma tomatoes on sale twice at prices low enough to buy in quantity, so I've dehydrated several quarts, made stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce, all of which is in the freezer now-except the dehydrated ones of course!

I kind of fall back on the knowledge that we have goats and chickens, so if something happened we'd at least have eggs and milk.  We live along a creek, so there's access to water that can be boiled on the wood stove.  The stove can also be used for cooking.  If we ran out of feed, there are trees along the creek that the goats love, and the chickens would probably fare alright if they didn't get their daily supplemental rations.  Maybe not the best scenario, but I feel like basics are covered.