What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Q & A !!!

I wrote some of the answers to questions five or six times, thanks to a computer that kept crashing on me. At this point, I am sick of reading my own writing so I will post this and hope that you give me heaps of grace if my answers make no sense or come across wrong. Forgive me.

Erin asked:

How hard is it to can things? And how did you get started gardening? I'd like to try my hand at it sometime.

Canning isn't HARD to do~ the process is a very simple one~ but it can be hard to be motivated to do it as it IS time intensive, especially if you can large batches of things as I do. But it is VERY rewarding and when you are done, those jars make you very proud of your work! I learned to can by getting the Ball Blue Book of Canning and diving in. I think the first thing I ever canned was applesauce-my, how far I have come. I just recently got a new pressure canner (well, last fall) and have begun doing non-acidic things like meat. That is a whole new ballgame for me-I hope in the next few weeks to can a few batches of dried beans. If I ever get my act together.

And gardening? I got started gardening by just digging in. I knew nothing about it but wanted very badly to have a garden. This was the first year I was married, we were living on a farm where my husband worked and in the yard was a concrete pad where a trailer had once been. Matt built a raised bed on top of it and we loaded it with PURE MANURE *ew* and planted all sorts of things. I still laugh at the fact I planted carrots in about 6 inches of pure manure that year-though blessedly, they never grew. The tomatoes did great though. ;-)

Long story short~ start out small, read up on what you might like to grow and then PLANT SOMETHING! You can even buy plants at a nursery and enjoy the harvest with not as much work (it still saves you money from buying at a grocer.) Just starting is usually the best way to begin. ;-) I guarantee you will be bit by the bug before too long.

How is marriage different for you after being married for 8 years? I've been married a year and a half now, and loving it. I'm curious how it changes as your marriage gets more kids and more years and experience added to it.

Actually, THIS year will be our 10th anniversary so I am even more 'seasoned' than you thought. ha!

This question has so many different caveats, I think I will have to work very hard not to go on and on (always a challenge for me) about the subject. Here are my few (I'll try) scattered thoughts on the subject:

Firstly, I think the first year we were married was the hardest for us (until now) so if you are still swooning and wearing stars in your eyes, you are far ahead of us. For us, it was an adjustment learning to live with another being and different temperaments. It was a somewhat difficult transition.

For the most part though, the first year or two of marriage everything your husband or wife says (or does) is adorable or funny. I think we try hard to impress and please our spouses at that point~ we want to be loveable. It is glorious, being so enraptured with one another.

As the years progress a shift happens~ you begin to feel loved unconditionally. Your spouse has seen your nasty streaks, your unlovely moments, your sin. And s/he has loved you anyway. You begin to feel comfortable around them in a way that you never have before. This is a blessing and at times, a bit of a curse.

A blessing because it is a WONDERFUL feeling to know someone accepts and loves you for who you are, and a curse because it becomes easy take that someone and his/her feelings for granted. You don't have to work hard for love because you already have it. The result can be that husbands stop wooing their wives and wives stop trying to impress their husbands.

It is important to step up, no matter where you are in your marriage, and live for each other again... but especially important during those years when it is easy NOT to.

When children are added to the mix- ohhhhh boy!

If you are like us, at about 10 years you will have many little draws of your attention besides one another. Ours are Corynn, Andrew, Adele', and Judah. (And work. And animals. And land. And a hundred different things. But I digress....) You have to learn to share each other with the children (and that can be hard!) Sometimes it stinks that after Matt has been gone a week, I am the LAST to get a 'happy to finally see you' smooch; he is bombarded with jumping and hanging children before he even pulls in the driveway. It can be hard at times, but worthwhile.

As with the point above, I think it is crucial to get some 'couple' time together. No children, no distractions. After all, when the children grow up and leave-it will be back to just the two of you. How awful to have your other half, somewhere down the line, become a stranger to you.

But don't let me lead you astray-having children doesn't pull you away from one another or lessen your relationship with one another. On the contrary~ it intertwines you both all the more. You'll find great joy in laughing at the little funny things together, staring in awe at the wonder of these little beings that have 'your nose' and 'my attitude'. You will have a connection with your spouse unlike any you have ever had. It is really wonderful to share your life with someone.

How did you make a house a home when you were first married? We are living in a duplex right now, and next year we will be moving to a different state. No idea where, but somewhere. That's one of the difficult things about being military, is that I don't really have much hope of owning our own home until he's retired. We can't really plant roots because we'll be moving around every 3 years. How would you deal with that, do you think?

Well, we sorta lived the military lifestyle these last tens years. Sans military. It has just worked out that we have moved about every two years.

My advice would be to embrace each home you live in as YOURS (even if it is temporary!). Don't say "Well.... I won't do this because we will not be living here long anyway...." I can tell you for a FACT-it will be worth the time if you enjoy it for two years.

Be creative

If you love gardening-but can't plant perennials, pot them! OR- plant it anyway and justify it as you leaving your mark on the world. If you don't like the walls of a home but can't rewallpaper or repaint, I have heard of people putting fabric up with starch (it comes right down in the end). If you can't put holes in the walls, make collage type things (varying high and low pictures) on a mantel or table. As much as I have yearned for permanence in my own life, there is something wonderful to be said for the adventures of a blank slate now-to-you home. Embrace that.

Oh-and one more thing: Fill your home with things you LOVE. Things that make you HAPPY. Don't fill it with stuff you don't....no one wants to move things they don't love and CERTAINLY not every three years! :-)

Where do you find all the books you want to read? I'm an avid reader, always eager to find good books. We have a library here, but it's a very, very small one. Any books you'd recommend for how to be a good housekeeper? What about good books on raising children?

Any library, no matter how small, has an interlibrary loan option from what I understand. You request books from other libraries and they send them to you. Living in a small town, our library is also very small. So what I do is I go to Amazon.com and search for books. If I am interested in a particular topic I will search that topic and on the bottom, Amazon offers suggestions of other books you might like. I go NUTS with this feature. Instead of buying them, I just borrow them from the library. And I have a running wishlist of to-reads which I add to whenever I hear a good one. I really need to share mine....be on the lookout for it one of these days.

Brenda asked:

How do you clean your eggs? When do you clean them? What do you clean them with? Curious how you go about using them after you collect them? And do your other animals like your dogs or cats bother the chickens when they are roaming? We want to start letting ours roam but I am afraid the cats or dogs will go after them?? Any words of advice you can offer on egg cleaning and protecting the chickens from the other animals?

We don't clean our eggs unless we have to (if they have poo or have straw or yolk -when a naughty chicken eats one- on them...) and then, we just use water to scrub the nastiness off. The beautiful looking ones I don't bother with. If you are nervous about that and feel you ought to clean them-wait to clean them until right before you use them. Eggs have a protective coating on the shell that keeps them fresh-if that protective coating is washed off prematurely, the eggs lose their freshness more quickly.

Our cats don't bother the chickens at all. It was funny-when they were teeny little kittens, they would shake their rears and pounce on the chickens backs but it was just a game to them. As adult cats, they don't bother them at all.

Ruby, our dog, when she has been tied up for a long time (in winter she is tied up more than in summer when she basically runs free) has gotten naughty a few times recently and has pestered the chickens. I have had to scold her a number of times for catching them. It looks at first glance like she is going to kill them but I think she is just playing as the chickens usually just ruffle their feathers and move on. I am trying to break her of it. When she is loose all of the time, she is fine. It may just be an attention thing.

For the MOST part, if animals are around chickens they won't bother them in the least. If you are introducing animals to chickens for the first time, I would keep the chickens caged up and let the animals get used to their presence before you let them roam. When you DO let the chickens out in the open, be around your other animals to scold them if they begin to bother the chickens.

Another great thing for protecting chickens is to have a ROOSTER. They are fabulous! They are like watchdogs and really do protect their harem. ;-)

Bobbi asked:

what books to you recommend for home schooling prep? My daughter is 15 months old and we are just reading board books ect, but id love some christian inspiration!

My suggestion would be to read all KINDS of books. Poetry. Fiction. Non-fiction. Goofy. Who needs homeschooling prep anyway? The goal should be to establish an infatuation and LOVE of books. You got that, you've got an easy homeschooling road ahead of you! :-) And a love of books only takes READING them!

Read with an animated voice. Make different sounds. Make her point things out on the page. Make her point things out on the page. Ask her questions like "Where's the duck?" Scream when the character screams. Cry when the character cries. Moo when the character moos. Keep her engaged.

Remember that children can understand a LOT more than they can communicate themselves-so I would say 15 months old isn't too young for actual stories. Paraphrase the story if she gets squirmy before the words on the page end. More than anything-just read! And often! If she loves a certain book (My kids ADORED the Icky Sticky Frog) than read it. Over. and Over. and Over.

The goal right now is just to get her interested in books.

Maybe I will make a list of good books for different age groups in the coming weeks.... I wonder if that would be helpful to some?

Mary asked:

Please forgive the nosy question. If you are making meals like this without going to the grocery store, what are you buying there that you need to go often ?

Hmph. Funny you asked...I have been asking that myself this same question all week, thanks to my no groceries challenge. Seems to me- it is for dairy products (we eat A LOT!), fresh fruits and veggies and convenience foods.

And by convenience foods I don't mean the boxed/pre-made/junk foods that really aren't even foods (if you ask me): I am talking about BREAD. Crackers. Cookies. Pasta.

I never really thought of these things as convenience foods before-but it is a real CONVENIENCE not to have to bake bread all the time. Or cookies.

All these things CAN be made at home-but man, is it ever convenient just to pick them up at the store!

Snack time in the afternoon requires a WHOLE lot more forethought. No more opening a ream of chocolate sandwich cookies.

After this no groceries challenge is over, I have some changes that I will be making. Nothing like never buying a box of crackers ever again...but valuable changes that can and should be made.

Sandy asked:

How do you manage your weight when you're always making such delicious, abundant meals?

Well, the short answer is: I am not. I have a pesky 20 (or in my dreams, 30) pounds to lose that just don't want to say goodbye~hey like my midsection too much.

I know the answer- Eat better (quality, healthful, non-processed foods). Eat Less (Americans tend to eat portions like their forefathers generations ago-but without the physical, hard laborous days). Be active more (and here I sit at the computer, blogging!). Simple things really, except in the implementation, apparently! ;-)

As for the abundant meals~ I try to cook healthful foods most of the time. But by healthful, I do not mean skim milk and sald. I will never shirk (and wouldn't ever want ANYONE to shirk) away from real butter, milk, eggs, meat, cheese or even bacon grease. These things are HEALTHY-much more than margarine, egg beaters, or vegetable oil.

-what advice would you give to young mom's who aren't falling pregnant as quickly as they'd like? (I had a miscarriage in august, but am longing for another) My Olivia is already 19 months old and I SO wanted small gaps:-(

I am so sorry to hear about your miscarriage. It seems as though the longing for a child is made more sharp by the little life that you so briefly could enjoy. May God grant you peace.

My advice to young mothers who are longing for children is the same advice I give to myself-and often: That God has a plan for my life and it is currently in motion. I am not doing anything wrong if I do not get pregnant and those who have children aren't doing anything right. It is God who is in control of our wombs and no other.

If I have children-or do not have children-I am living the life that God WANTS me to live and has planned for me.

Sometimes I remind myself of this when I long for more children. Sometimes I remind myself of this when I am overwhelmed with the four I have! Either way, no matter what, God is in control of my life and THAT fact, my friend, gives me GREAT comfort.

When I am pregnant, I try very hard to enjoy every moment, and remind myself that it could be my LAST pregnancy. When I am holding a new little life, I try and soak it up completely-it may be the last new life I can bring forth. When I look at the children I have already been given, I try to remember they may be my only ones.

In this way, I prepare myself for the possibility that I will no longer have children. I would rather be prepared emotionally and be pleasantly surprised, then to expect things to happen just so and then be disappointed.

Because despite was 98.57% of the population using birth control believes, not using birth control will NOT immediately result in you having a new baby every 18 months.

Children aren't a given. They are a GIFT.

- how did you learn to crochet/sew/all the other amazing things you do. I am now living in the middle-of-nowhere! I would love to learn more of the domestic arts but am not sure where to start.

I learned pretty much everything I know simply by starting. Through trial and error, I am STILL learning and am excited to know that I will continue to do so every day of my life.

I did get help crocheting by a wonderfully talented lady who turned into an extraordinary friend simply because I asked. She also helped me to step up from my self-taught seamstressing to do a much nicer job (ironing those seams IS important!). Our get togethers became more about our lives and less about the crafting as time went on and now, it is not only crochet hooks that hold us together.

My advice to you is to pick one and begin! That is where you start. By STARTING.

Books are such a valuable resource and are free for the borrowing at the library. The internet is a wonderful place full of valuable information and learning. Youtube has how-to videos on pretty much every subject in the world. Lovely people provide tutorials on blogs, many with step by step pictures. And there is a wealth of information just a click away at Google.

And if you know of family members, friends, church people or even strangers who have talent in an area where you would like some, then be brave and ask. The worst that could happen is they could say no. The BEST is that you find a new talent AND a lifelong friend!

- Do you read out of a children's bible or just a normal bible?

The Holy Bible. When the children were very young, I read out of a Childrens Story Bible (by Catherine Vos) so many times through that the children knew the stories by heart. At that point, I knew we had outgrown the childrens Bible and began reading the regular Bible using the Veritas Press Bible cards as a timeline.

Now that I have very young 'uns again, I may break out the childrens bible again and go through it a few times for their sakes.

- Lastly, how old was Corynn when you started having bible/school time with her. What age would you recommend having a set time for those sorts of things.

Christian Faith is the foundation of our lives. It is something that defines every single moment of every one of our days. As such, there was never a moment when we 'began' but it is just something that has always done.

I remember when Corynn was born-September 2nd 2003- the very day we brought her home from the hospital, Matt read to her Psalm 2, 'her' Psalm. I remember watching Matt in that overstuffed rocking chair, holding a Bible and a newborn and thinking how everything I loved was sitting in that chair. It was a beautiful moment and is a beautiful memory.

I read to the children the Bible at lunchtime every day and we talk about things...every day. We have family devotions often in the evenings. We pray. We sing. It is who we are.

As for school, five is when I begin teaching how to read (starting with letter sounds) and write (letter forms). Once they can read and write relatively well, then the 'formal' schooling begins-more complex topics, more time devoted to learning.

Even before that there is plenty of learning going on though-in the form of puzzles, songs, practice, and in life. As with our faith, we have a deep love of learning. And when one has a zealous sort of love of something, it is hard to disconnect it from other areas of your life.

Everything just flows naturally into and around it.


And for the record: The no-groceries challenge continues:



cornmeal mush with maple syrup
(raw) Eggnog

peanut butter and honey on whole wheat bread

Afternoon Snack:
A slice each of Papa's birthday Summer Sausage (Andrews present to him). The last of it, I am afraid.
Dried apples

Dinner: We were syrupping this night, at Matts parents'. My mil made goulash. I brought pickled eggs and beets and snickerdoodles.

and Saturday~

Breakfast: Dippy eggs. Sausage patties. Toast. Cheerios.

Lunch: Peanut Butter and homemade Apple Butter for the children (used the last of the bread)

After the children went down for a nap I made Matt and I chili cheese fries using the last of an open bag of french fries in the freezer, chili using the last of the leftover meatsauce (from ziti night) and some velveeta. (We buy Velveeta cheese MAYBE once a year since it is a naughty treat-but boy, was I so glad I found some of it in the fridge!)

Afternoon Snack: Popcorn and Raisins. Water.

Dinner: Taco night. I used the last of the rice (from the Pineapple Pork Picante night) in our burritos along with meat flavored with homemade taco seasoning. Refried beans. A teeny bit of shredded cheddar (I am hoarding that last 1/3 a the bar!) Lettuce. Salsa. Tomato.

Sadly, without the blissful dollop of sour cream I love so much. :-(



Mary said...

Thank you for answering my question Rebecca. We live in the city and though we have grocery stores a lot, we found out that going to the grocery store once a month is good for our budget. So, this is how we cope.

1. We buy in bulk. Rice, oats, wheat, quinoa and often online.
2. I don't can, combination of being lazy and afraid. We have a small garden, but we freeze a lot. That is one way we buy fresh produce at best prices in large quantities and save.
3. We don't have chickens, don't have the space for meat or milk animals and since we like to buy grass fed meat and free range eggs, it means again large quantity purchases which are frozen. Even eggs :)
4. We make our own yogurt, so we buy milk at good prices and freeze it too.
5. Make it twice, cookie dough for instance. Make it once for two batches and use one and freeze the rest :).

These are some of the few things we do. It has made a difference in grocery prices for us as well as let us afford better quality meat and eggs. Sorry for hijacking the comments, but hope the length contributed something.

Debbie said...

Rebecca...I nominated you for an award because I think you are an amazing momma and wife!

See this post for more info:


Leah T. said...

I loved reading your answers to the questions others have asked. It makes me wish all the more than we still lived close. I really need to sit down and write a letter to you.

Just a few more days until you'll be able to go grocery shopping again! I'd love to hear more about the changes you will be making.

Have a blessed Monday! :)

Anonymous said...

THanks for the answer ... a second question (if you have time)
What resources do you use for yourself reading wise or blogs for home schooling?
I had been wondering about your use of birth control (as we dont use any form either!)
And 10 years!!!! congratulations! thats such a blessing!!! YEAH!
Thanks again

Quinn said...

Great post- I particularly appreciated the wisdom you shared in regard to children as a gift!! What a wonderful perspective! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Rebecca. I found your answers really helpful and challenging. Whenever I have felt myself thinking about (aka worrying about!) having another baby I have reminded myself of your wisdom. And I've set up some ideas for bible reading with Olivia. Thank you so much again.
I would love a reading list if you have time to do one:)