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

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homeschooling Q&A


In which I (try to) answer questions relating to educating at our home...

I'd love to know where you got the colored pencils (in this post)! 

I've been eyeballing colored pencils like these for many years.  I found them originally in the Magic Cabin catalog for sale, but never sprung for them.  Then one day, I was out shopping at Home Goods and they were there!  $5.00 bought the box and NO shipping!  (Good things come to those who wait!)

 I love the reclaimed barn wood (in this post) - it's all the rage right now! Who's idea was it?

You know, I *THINK* it was mine.  But it might have been Matt's too.  Our wave lengths cross often, so I am not sure.  

 Do you also have a written record of what was done which day? If so, when do you fill that in? And do you use a planner?   and
I know you have a lesson plan book, and I'm interested in knowing where you got it.  It isn't a lesson plan book per se, but just a calendar/organizer book that I am using to plan to school year.  I just got it in the calendar/organizer section of Target.  It will be interesting to see if it is what I need or if I will have to come up with something different. 

Having the laminated child-work pages helps tremendously .  I don't feel like I need to write down every single subject/every single lesson( Saxon, page 20)- but more the things I need to accomplish (like get library books on ____________.  Do this science experiment. Laminate poster.  Etc.)

I fill it in monthly (with composer/artist/poet of the months) but my big goal is to set aside a portion of each week (an hour or so on Fridays, perhaps?) to look over the work for the next week and fill out anything that needs to be done/printed/requested/prepared in advance.  This has been a goal of mine for too long, without coming to fruition but this year, I hope to finally implement it.  I am certain it would help me tremendously.

What made you decide to teach your children Latin?  

Matt did.  I'll be frank with you here- I am not looking forward to it.  I don't know it myself so it will be one of those things I will have to learn alongside.  But it is a pretty common thing to learn within the classical community and I have read articles about how valuable it can be....but mostly, I am just doing it for Matt.  :-)

How serendipitous that the barn chairs match your theme- or did they inspire it? 

Ahhhhh, the proverbial, which came first- the chicken or the egg question.  I think it was serendipitous- since I already had the "map" color scheme going. 

What do you have to do as far as reporting to the school district?

Too much.  PA is one of the top five (maybe even top TWO) worst states for homeschooling freedoms and I hate that.   Here are the requirements for our state.

Do you ever worry about the "social" aspects they may miss?

You know, it's funny.  I worry more about the social aspects that they imbibe when NOT homeschooling than the other way around (like when we go to a park and there are a bunch of crazy kids there).

 I think that people often define socialization as having contact with people of the same peer group when in fact, socialization speaks of being able to participate and be comfortable with....people.  In general.  NOT peers, specifically.

I laughed the other day with Matt because, the road on which we live houses many an old-person.  I don't know of any children at all.  We are surrounded by retired people, often in failing health.  And those retired people, often in failing health, are very often visited by my children.  In fact, this summer, it was hard not to become frustrated that the children were always off "visiting" when they should have been home HELPING.

We laughed because I was grumbling that our children were TOO socialized.  (I thought we were HOMESCHOOLERS.)  I always comfort myself, though, that it is not only important for my children to learn to socialize with other people but to have kind and compassionate hearts.  I know the visits mean a great deal to the cooped up elderly on our road. 

Also- I have a large family with lots of little children running around all the time so the children have many friends that way AND we attend a church where the children outnumber the adults by a lot...so my children do not lack opportunity to visit with even their own peers. 

I am going to go on a bit of a soapbox here (but it will be a short one) to say that children who are unsocialized are often taught to be that way by their parents...not by their circumstances.  I better stop there though, or this post will get MIGHTY long!

Do your kids participate in team/group sports or other activities?

One thing I am adament about is that I not become one of those chauffeur moms.  It is important to me that our lives not be a juggling act...but ones in which we have time to pursue our own interests and have time to ENJOY them while not letting them master us or stress us out.  We are only given so much time in a day-I don't want to waste a second of it being frazzled by a hectic and harried schedule.  So I try and avoid too many activities that have us committed throughout the week.

 That said, I'd love to see my children participate in a theater group of some sort down the road-but they are a bit young still for that.

We aren't big sports people here and wouldn't want to participate in games that happen on Sundays- so we don't have the same sports issues as some do.  We choose to be that way.  We play sports as a family and our goal is to eventually have enough for a team anyway (I kid, I kid.  sortof.) so it really isn't an issue for us.

I guess what I am saying is this- if the right thing came along (something that added to our lives, not took away from it) we would be all for it.  At this point though,nothing has really tickled our fancy.

How do you find time/logistics for the occasional "play date" or friendship fostering?

Hmmmm.  I am going to sound really weird here (brace yourselves) but we don't do "playdates".  If we do anything, I get together with women I enjoy spending time with and my children play with their children, whomever they may be, as we adults chat away .  I usually get along best with women who HAVE children so usually, my children have plenty of playmates.  (Here again- a good way to get your children properly socialized is to force them to get along with other children who (gasp!) may not be their own age!)

The end result becomes my friendships with other women often initiates my childrens' friendships with other children.  Generational friendships, if you will.  One of my closest local friends has children my own childrens' ages and her children are some of my own childrens' closest friends too.  We also happen to go to church together.  In fact, after church tomorrow, they are having a sleepover at their house- I should pack their bags.

When we get together with other people, it is only occasionally and usually during the week (so we can be with Matt as often as possible when he is home on the weekends) so we try to make up for our schoolwork in the afternoon and/or double up the next day.  It works, but it can be a hassle, which is why our visits are only occasional.

I'd love to know what you use for/how you go about teaching spelling.

Last year I used Spelling Workout books and internet lists of words that such-and-such-graders should know.  I printed lots of spelling sheets from edhelper.com.  This year, for the first year ever, I bought the books Wordly Wise 3000.  It is actually a vocabulary workbook not a spelling book.  It introduces new vocabulary words which I will use also as practice for spelling simply by having them write the words a couple of times.

Also, if I see consistent misspellings in writings/dictation/copywork/journals...those words will become spelling words.

 Just wondering what grammar program do you use? 

So far, I have used printed worksheets from edhelper.com.  I had a few Shurley books given to me so I might try them out too.  Apparently, they are supposed to be the cats' meooooow.

What phonics program do you use?

Veritas Press' Phonics Museum.  Pretty big initial investment, but when it can spread to all of your children it isn't so bad.  It has great beginning readers that are about REAL things like Benjamin Franklin (Ben and his Pen) or the Wright Brothers.  It comes with awesome phonics puzzle pieces that can help the child put sounds together in a tangible way.  And we read a lot of Bob books.  ;-)

 I would love to know how YOU get everything done in a day! (Miranda~who are you KIDDING?  You are just LIKE me!  Likely, a whole lot more productive!)  Do you follow a routine to your day or have a schedule? Do you have it written out like the kids?

 I don't really have a schedule (outside of breakfast, lunch, rest time for children, snack and supper- those things all happen around the same time.) and I don't follow a routine for my housework.   Mainly because, my life changes so dramatically from day to day.  I have to do applesauce when I have apples.  I have to do laundry when the weather is nice.  I have to mop when Judah decides to dump his entire milk cup.  (That sort of thing.)

 What I usually do is make to-do lists at night before I go to bed, listing all the things I have to do AND want to do- and putting stars next to the HAVE TO's.  Sometimes I don't even get all of those done.  But lists help me stay on track and help me accomplish a whole lot more than if I didn't have them.

What do the littles do while you help the others?  and Do you have a "schedule" for your preschoolers? How do you keep them occupied while you work with Corynn and Andrew? 

The depressing answer:  Ugh.  It can be really hard.  They, of course, want to be right with us in the school room (which is small, by the way) and it can be very distracting. 

The less depressing answer: 

Adele' really enjoys coloring and can color/draw for long periods of time so she often does that and those times are really helpful.  I have certain "secret weapons" like Play-Doh, puzzles, shaving cream and stickers that come out only at school time.  I might revert to Letter Factory movies occasionally, when we are working on difficult concepts with the older two....just so that we can get through them.

The truth is, it varies from day to day.  Some days are incredible, when the littles play nicely in the other room and the biggles get loads of work done.  Other days, it is incredible that we get any school work accomplished at all. 

There you have it. 

I hope I answered all your questions. 
I also hope that you can see that I don't HAVE all the answers. 

Homeschooling is a process- one that you can mold and shape and make your own in order to meet the needs of your own family.  And that is precisely why homeschooling is just.so.cool.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The "Be Inspired" Board and How We Tackle the Arts

Because I have been asked by several people, and because it is fun to talk about (much moreso than MATH), I wanted to answer a few questions about how we cover the Arts in a separate post.  (Get ready.  It's a long one.)

Here is my philosophy, in a nutshell:

  To that end, I created the BE INSPIRED board.  

If you notice on the school schedules for the year, we study a Composer of the Month, an Artist of the Month and a Poet of the month.  Obviously, that doesn't cover very many in a years time- but I like just having one to focus on so that we can experience (and by experiencing, hopefully, remember) that persons' gifts more extensively.  We look at a LOT of that artists paintings, we read many of that poets words, we listen to many beautiful works of music all through the month.  Much better than a quick gander at a few paintings that will likely not root seeds of appreciation.

The object, in these early years, is just to introduce things- create mental "pegs" to hold information.  Someday as more mature individuals, a painting or poem or orchestral work might move them deep in their soul, and it might feel as if they have known that painting or poem or song all along.  THAT is what I am going for.  

Not everyone does things the same, or even values the same things--but since you asked, this is what *I* do.  Or rather, this is what I *TRY* to do, when I am self-disciplined enough to do it and/or when life isn't throwing me too many crazy curveballs.

Composer Studies:

The nitty-gritty:

On Mondays we talk specifically about the composer of the month.  (1st Monday  we introduce that artist.  Following Mondays of the month, we review information we learned (name, date, birth place, important facts) and then follow up with other supplemental sources.   
Thursdays the children listen to an episode of Classics For Kids (there are usually enough for the month).  The rest of the week we just listen to some of their works--can be during school time, or while I am making supper or more often, while we eat supper.  We like to listen to classical music when we eat. 

Some  helpful supplemental sources:

Great Composer by Piero Ventura (a great book for elementary children that introduces the reader to many of the most famous composers through a chronological history of music.  Our library has this and Great Painters and last year I borrowed it, renewed it, borrowed it, renewed it so many times I thought I needed to get my own copies this year.  So we did.  Now the rest of the library-goers can have a chance with them!)

Stories of the Great Composers by June Montgomery (this one comes with a cd that has one classical work of each composer.  Good stuff.)

Getting To Know the World Greatest Composers by Mike Venezia (A great series of biographical works on famous composers.)

YOUTUBE.  At the start of the month, I search YOU TUBE for my composer and see what they have to offer.  Sometimes it is part of an opera, sometimes it is the music set to animation, you never know what you will find- but usually there is SOMETHING good.

 The Classic Cat (a free source of tons (6,000 or something crazy like that!) of classical works to listen to, organized by composer.)

Dover Great Composers Coloring Book.  I photocopy the pages instead of letting them color in the actual book.  That way, I can use the coloring book for ALL my children and not just one.)

Ambleside Online has a wonderful selection of links and resources for Composer studies (and art studies.)

A great link I found there was a series of  Music Talks with Children.  (and no, no relation to the e-text guy there.)

Art History and Artist of the Month:

The nitty gritty:

I want the children to not only be exposed to art, but to be able to look at it whenever the fancy strikes.  I'd love to see them really LOOKING at a painting-without me telling them what to see-so in the beginning of the month, I print out some of the Artist of the Months' most famous (or profound) works and laminate them.  That way, they can handle them ALL they want.  We hang 'em up on the board, but we take them down each week to look at them again and try and remember the name of the work by playing little games and having little contests.)

Mondays: Introduction to Art and Picture Study (We read a chapter of the book Introduction to Art or look at famous works.   Sometimes, Mondays don't happen (it is grocery day after all) and we kind of incorporate picture study into Fridays.

Tuesdays: Art Project, Craft Project, Drawing With Children.  Tuesdays may or may not correlate with the artist of the month.  There are great sites that have pictures to color of some major works of art which are good to do for our Artist of the Month.  There are plenty of good ideas swirling around the internet of how to recreate art in a similar fashion and using similar techniques as your Artist of the Month or to make projects related to him/her.  (This is a great book along those lines and another one of those books I should really just BUY instead of hoard from the library.)  But sometimes, we just want to do something frivolous.  A themed project.  A seasonal craft.  So, it all depends on our mood.  Some just-random art fun comes from this blog and this one.  I'd love to find a book that offers lots of projects and ideas of different art techniques to try in one place.  Maybe THIS one

Fridays: Artist of the Month (We spend time learning about the artist of the month; we spend it learning and/or reviewing the important information (Name, date, type of art, some of his famous works.)  We play guessing games with their works as review. We read books on them.  I go on Amazon and search for books on that artist, borrow them from the library and read them.  (Not just biographical books, but fun KID books too.  Like this one.  Or this.) Also, this is a great source of free lapbooking stuff for Artist Studies.

This is where I find most of my artist works to print and laminate.  It requires free registration, but they are very kind and give permission to print anything you like for homeschooling purposes if only you ask.  In fact, when I asked, she sounded downright thrilled!  I love people like that.  Plus, I totally agree with their philosophy.


This is the easiest of the bunch.  Basically, get a good Childs Anthology of Poetry and go through it.  Pick a poet, then spend the month reading poems!  

Poetry For Young People is a wonderful series of books, with each book covering the works of a famous poet.  Many wonderful choices.

I have quite a few books of poetry but even so, I would really love to get my hands on this book

Here is a good Introduction to Poetry for children.  When the time comes to start trying to write poetry, this book is a handy one to have.  It teaches the different poetry styles as well as offering examples of good poetry and short biographies of a few poets.

The Grammar of Poetry is a classical DVD course for older students (6th-9th) that seems stellar for "some day".

 Sometimes we use poetry for the childrens' copywork, sometimes it is poems that the children read aloud to me, sometimes they memorize poetry other times they just listen.   No matter what, they are becoming familiar with the beauty of the written word and learning to appreciate it.  And, that is the goal.

PS. Tomorrow I'll be answering all other questions in a Q&A post...so if you've got a question to ask- you better do it quick! ;-)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The School Room

(Blogger has given me serious issues with posting this School Room post. I don't even want to admit how long I have spent monkeying around with it, but a good clue is that it SHOULD have posted yesterday morning. This is my last ditch attempt to make it understandable. Wish me luck...)

Re-doing the school room was the Monthly House Project (one of them, anyway) for September. The goal was to have it done and in order before school started...and we succeeded by the skin of our teeth. Remember I told you that the one wall was so awful that it couldn't be painted? Remember I told you I was worried we would have to spend money on paneling (which I don't love and CERTAINLY don't want to spend money on) just to cover up the nastiness and then I had a (questionably) brilliant idea to cover it in maps? Well, I have been dying to show you the map wall ever since I put it up. One of the lovely days the free route WORKED.
And then, the OTHER wall, that had water stains and actual, bonafide HOLES? Again- the options were pretty limiting (and of course, required money) until we decided that a perfectly good fix was NOT sheet rocking-but just bringing fallen down barn boards in to cover it all up. After all, we have plenty of them lying around. That too, worked like a charm. With those free fixes and a can of happy-colored paint, the school room looks awfully spiffy, evenifIdosaysomyself. Wanna see?
Well- let's put things in perspective first, shall we?
Here are the before pictures:

Yuck. Need I say more? But here is the new room~
See my map wall? Do you love it or hate it? I love it, primarily for its price tag, but also because it is one-of-a-kind. I love the colors too.
See that little rug by the Dry Erase Board? My Opa made that for my Oma as a present! (That is, my GRANDFATHER made it for my GRANDMOTHER!) Neat.
Clearly, we like books. The small book shelf is full of stories for the youngers. The bookshelf on the right is full of school books/supplies/papers/puzzles and everything else school related. Matt originally built it to house our main LIBRARY, but since I have a new one of those....

School happens pretty much everywhere around here...but it sure is wonderful to have a centralized location to house all the STUFF that goes with home educating.
An ugly brass lamp fits right in after a spray paint bath.
Here is the other side of the room:

The bulletin board is awaiting a whole new year of beautiful school art. ;-)
This little table and chairs were in the barn. Perfect for two littles who love to be doing exactly what the biggles are doing.

This is our Art and Nature corner. The table holds all the childrens' treasures and the bulletin boards holds all the treasures of others. (More on the bulletin board later.)
Are we the only family who collects dead things?
Most of the glass was found in the barns too.
I really love this. I laminated a bunch of pictures and put magnets on the back so that our filing cabinet could serve as a sort of "International" center. It widens a small childs' world and gives the children a good glimpse of peoples who live differently than we do. It also serves as a wonderful prayer board, so that we can pray for different lands and peoples.
So that's it. Our new and improved homeschool room, ready for a good year of home learning.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Middle-of-the-Roader, I am


Homeschooling isn't for everyone, I know that.  But homeschooling is undoubtedly for US.  In my mind, there is no other option for our family

Don't get me wrong...there are days when an empty (or almost empty) house from 8-4 sounds like bliss (think of all the ME-projects I could accomplish!) but the fact is, even if we lived right next door to an amazing classically Christian school and had oodles of money to throw at them for tuition, I *still* would want to homeschool.  Because for me, the best education is the personalized education and schools, even Christian schools (as wonderful as they can be) aren't built that way.   (It's the John Taylor Gatto in me.)

    No bells interrupting personal discovery, no not-so-hidden agendas, no wasted time on school buses or in hallways, no gender confusion, no pushing ahead, no holding back, no peer pressure or bullying, no need for conformity, no hands-off parenting, no godless leadership, no varying values. No children growing up without me watching in awe.

    The unfortunate thing about homeschooling though- is that it requires work.  Sometimes difficult work, often plentiful work, always time-consuming work.

The Number #1 reason we homeschool is because we know that no education is neutral.  Education either speaks of a Creator or a Chance.  Education either points us to God or gods.  And a Christian worldview isn't just important in science class.  The God dilemma shows itself in all subjects...from English, to Math, to History to Humanities.  Because, In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, 'That is mine!'.

Even if that is our number one objective in homeschooling, to provide a Godly education to our children (and it is), that does not give us license to stop there.  Our children need to know the 10 commandments, yes, but they ought to know the 10 times table as well.   Our children shouldn't just end up being Godly.  They also need to grow up to be SMART.  (That's the Susan Wise Bauer/Classical Educator in me.)  Why?  Because God gave us brains, that's why.  Because our brains are a GIFT.

When we have increase, we tithe 10%, because He gave it to us, he commanded it and it is good.  If, instead, we were to squander that increase (poker night, anyone?!), it would be clear to everyone that we didn't really VALUE that increase enough to be good stewards of it.   If our children are super excited to receive a special toy on Christmas morning, only to find that the next morning it was left out in the driveway and been run over with the car- we know that they didn't really value it enough to take care of it. In the same way, when we decide that our children loving God is enough and that they don't need to know history or how to express their ideas thoughtfully, it would be clear that we didn't value the brains that God has entrusted us with.

Raising up children who adore God and live to please Him is our ultimate goal.  But for them to be glorifying to God, they need to be grateful for the gifts He has given- including their brains.  Our Christian mandate is to Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  If we are to speak and act in His name- we had surely better do it well!

That said, I often feel that education can often be restrictive and forced- and that the value of education truly comes with learning to love the process.  I believe that children need time to discover things themselves, pursue their own interests, explore on their own terms and be given the freedom and time to do those things.  That is, children need to be children.  I don't think it is coincidence that God gave children an amazing sense of wonder and astonishment at His creation and I don't think it wise to put those awe-inspiring, tangible things only into facts for their minds-but also into their hands to experience.  (That is the Charlotte Mason in me.)

So you see, I am a bit of a middle of the roader.  I am a "take the good from it, leave the bad" kind-of girl.  

My goals for home educating:

~ I want my children to grow up loving God and being constantly amazed at His work; At His story of the world and of peoples, at His art and creation, at His mathmatics and His poetry.  I want them to notice it, admire it, love it.  I want them to try to recreate it in their own poetry, in their own art, in their own history, in their own world.

~ I want my children to grow up LOVING the process of learning.  If they learn to love to process, they will never be limited by me or anyone else.  If they become lovers of knowledge, who can stop them?! 

~ I want my children to grow up valuing life because God created it.  Whether that life has Down syndrome, only one arm, in a wheelchair, dark skin, white hair, dirty clothes or smells funny.

~ I want my children to grow up valuing themselves because God created them.  I want them to love the skin they are in, to be able to wear weird clothes without caring what other people think, to love things that maybe other people don't love.  To be different and unique and individual and lovely.  

~ I want my children to grow up prepared for LIFE.  I want my children to grow to be hard workers, to be diligent and enthusiastic with their tasks.  I want them to know how to cook, to sew, to grow, to care for creatures, to make things from scratch, to use ingenuity in solving problems.   I want them to know how to do real things and to value doing real things.

I want them to be exceptional readers.  I want them to get lost in books, to go to different worlds, become different people, to experience new things.  I want them to love the written word.  

~ I want them to be courageous.  Strong.  Chivalrous.  Trustworthy.  Kind.  I want them to know where to turn when life is dangerous or hard, I want them to know where their Comfort lies.  I want them to find Joy, outside of circumstances.   I want them to be Joy to others.  I want my children to have character.

I want only the best for my children- and for our family, the best way to get there is through homeschooling.

Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it. ~William Haley

Monday, September 24, 2012

Home Educating Week (and the weekly schedule)

1st Grade
 This week is School Lite week here at Hopestead.  October 1st we will be diving headfirst into the deep waters of Home Education, but for this week we are just dipping in our toes to see how the water feels.

The main objective for this week of "Schooling Lite" is 1) For the children to become accustomed to a more scheduled, daily routine after a long summer of uninterrupted play and discovery.  and 2) For me to see how much they retained from last year, where to review and where to move forward.

I will also use this week to do as much monthly prep work as I can.  Ultimately, I would like to have each months' work prepared in advance, rather than scrambling last minute to get everything together in time (something I have always hoped to do, but never actually been able to accomplish.)

I thought, why not have a Homeschool Theme for my blog as well?  So this week, I'll be posting (as I am able) about homeschooling in our house.  (If you have any homeschooling questions for me-let me know and I will try to answer them this week!)

To kick things off~ here are the school childrens' weekly schedules for the year.

I laminate them and then, as we accomplish things daily, they cross them off with a dry erase marker.  The children enjoy knowing what they need to do each day and at the end of the week, I know just what we accomplished (and, incidentally, where we slacked off!)  Then, we just wipe them down for a fresh start to a new week.

The corny animals and hearts are slots that are free of that subject for the day.  I alternate history and science subjects for different days to ease the too-much-school-today blues.  Too much school in one day is just as problematic as too little.

 It is the third year of using this system and it works like a charm for us.

4th Grade

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Stuff

Instead of the bullet posts, today I am just going to summarize.

In summary.... I worked in the Granary all day.  I finished switching over cold-weather clothes for all the children.  I moved big heavy things from the top to the bottom of the granary so that the only thing in the upstairs of the granary was attic stuff (no garbage, no barn stuff, no random stuff).  I looked in too many bins, through too many clothes, for too many minutes hours.  I brought baskets of clothes back to the house.  Basically, I worked like a dog.

Now here I am~ my fingers are numb, my arms are limp and my feet are sore.  And I am wondering if pizza two nights in a row (this time, store bought) might be in order for tonight.  Sitting down Driving to pick up a pizza sounds wonderful right about now.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I will just say "Have at the cereal, y'all." in my best redneck voice and then pass out on the couch.

Come to think of it~ I can't pass out just yet.  Somehow, I will need to muster up enough gumption to get these children bathed.  And bake bread for communion tomorrow.  Oh yeah....and made a batch of homemade toothpaste because I PROMISED my eager children that it would be done by the end of the week.  ugh.

Tomorrow is the sabbath so I don't intend to work any more than I have to.  After church, I will likely write a letter or two, crochet a bit, possibly fall asleep, and just plain chill out.

The Lord is good to us to give us sabbath rests. 

You have yerselves a good weekend, y'all. We'll be a seein' you folks come Monday.

(I've become terribly good at redneck since marrying Matt.  HA!)


 Edited to add: You'll be happy to know (or rather, I am happy to SAY) that I did, in fact, rustle up food other than pizza OR cereal for my family and not only did I bathe the children, make communion bread (and a loaf for us) and make homemade toothpaste...but I also shredded six zucchini to freeze, made muffins and breakfast bread for tomorrow morning, put all the clean laundry away, took all the kitchen equipment I have been using lately (roaster oven, canner, pressure canner, Foodsaver, crockpot, etc.) back where they belong AND did the dishes.  The realization that it MUST be done can be very motivating, it turns out.  Having supper helps too.

Friday Happenings

Still eating the stevia
  • Made breakfast ( scrambled eggs)
  • starting the cooking down process for the tomatoes and stirred throughout the day
  • made a triple batch of homemade laundry soap (that should last me a bit!)
  • did three loads of laundry throughout the day, hung to dry
  • jarred up the "sun-dried" tomatoes from last night
  • sorted through and put away all the stuff I crammed into the dryer right before last weekends' party.  (What?  Isn't that what dryers in the summertime are FOR?!?)
  • repaired a book
  • worked on a puzzle with Adele'
  • untangled yarn skeins that Judah tangled and hauled around the upstairs (thank you for that, Judah.)
  • made lunch (leftover stew and crackers) and read Bible to children
  • When children went down for rest time, I headed to the Granary to keep working in there.  Spent 2.5 hours out there- got a few cool weather things for a few of the children (totally not done.) and continued to organize.  The bins are now sorted by gender and in chronological ages/size.  The time got cut short when I heard Andrew call "Mama!  Judah is out of bed!" and I said "Well, tell him to get back INTO bed." to which he replied "I can't.  He is at the treehouse!"  Well then.  I guess rest time was over.
  • Took kitchen garbage outside and replaced the bag.
  • Got all the laundry from the line
  • Brought in all the dried tomato dishes from yesterday (I washed them outside and left them to dry)
  • Made snack for childer.
  • Emptied all the vases around the house (all nine of them!) and then replaced them with a few fresh ones.  (I can sense that the end of the season of fresh (and abundant) flower vases scattering the house is drawing near.  sniff)
  • Made pizza dough and set it to rise for supper-- It's pizza and a movie night after all!
  • washed day dishes (and jars for canning) and set the canning pot on to boil
  • Canned the spaghetti sauce.  Turned out to be 10 qts. canned with sauce left for the fridge and pizzas.
  • Made supper (veggie pepperoni pizza and plain cheese pizza, carrot sticks and wheat berry salad.)  Watched family movie.  (Around the World in 80 Days)
  • Did dishes (again.) 
  • Tucked kiddos into bed
  • vacuumed living room rugs
  • folded laundry while Matt and I watched a "grown up" movie after the kids went to bed.  (Mrs. Brown)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Doings~

  • made breakfast (cinnamon and brown sugar oatmeal with raisins)
  • defrosted frozen tomatoes
  • chores
  • made a new batch of tea (raspberry mint because I didn't have enough teabags for my usual plain mint) 
  • took burnables out to the barn
  • began tomatoes (the big item for the day).  Washing.  Cutting.  Squishing.  Pouring. Washing.  Cutting.  Squishing.  Pouring.  Washing.  Cutting.  Squishing....you get the idea. For about four hours.
  • While I did tomato-ey things, I listened to a lecture on Winston Churchill.  I think, if the Lord ever gives me another baby and if that baby happens to be a boy, I may be very tempted to name him, at least in part, Churchill.  Strange, but true. 
  • talked with a neighbor who stopped by.  Very superly, amazingly, wonderfully excited about what they had to say.  It involves a miniature horse.  (shhhhhhhhh-don't tell!)
  • talked with my mother-in-law who stopped by
  • fixed lunches for children (pb&j sandwiches-elegant!)
  • ate lunch.  Barely convinced myself to get back up out of my chair.
  • But I did.  I used rest time to go across the street to the Granary and organize/sort   (An impossible job with an awake Judahbear.)  Did this for about two hours.
  • After rest time was over, headed back to house and started the last of the tomatoes and then, the tomato clean-up.  This took about another hour.
  • Made supper.  (Chicken quesadillas topped with sour cream and fresh salsa and wheat berry salad.)
  • played hangman with childer and husband
  • Did supper dishes.
  • Wiped down dining table, counters, etc.
  • Prepared cherry and pear tomatoes for making into sun-dried tomatoes (via deyhdrator)
Tomorrow I will be canning the sauce I made today, among other things.

See you on the flipside!


Tomatoes in real time and My Summer Kitchen

I had several epiphanies this year in regards to tomato sauce making and just canning in general.   The biggest one was the day I decided to do the canning work in a makeshift "summer kitchen".  Yeah-so what if it was just two sawhorses and some boards.

I have a lovely large, centralized space to work, instead of utilizing small bits of every counter around the kitchen (and then walking back and forth from one to another a million times.)

I can enjoy the beautiful sunshine and last warm days instead of being cooped up in a kitchen, pining for them.

I can keep a better eye on my twenty-mile-an-hour children when I am outside with them.


All the seeds, juice and mess that inevitably splash all over the kitchen happily splashes in the grass-where I do NOT have to mop.

It has worked splendidly well for every every canning occasion thus far.  I can't believe it has taken me this long to figure it out.


You know what braids and bandana days mean...
Me without makeup.  Brave girl.
 I noticed earlier this month that my tomato plants got late blight and began rotting.  I gathered up as many tomatoes as I could and set them to ripen away from the garden. This photo was from a week ago or so~ most of them were ready for saucing today PLUS, I was able to get a whole other batch (several large bowls) of tomatoes from the garden one last time.  Busy, busy.

I had help, you see.   Made things so much more pleasant.  Even if he made me wet.


Chickens love canning days.

The two other things I figured out this year were:
1)  If you freeze your tomatoes first, they go through the strainer so much more easily!  Also- you can choose when to can without fearing them going bad--meaning, you can wait for a cooler day when you want to warm up the house.  The other benefit, of course, is that if you have smaller batches, you can continue freezing until you have enough for a LARGE batch.  I would rather get everything out for a large batch then to get everything out several times for smaller ones.  Finally, the water in the tomatoes separates so you can strain the pulp without nearly as much water, leaving a lot less water to boil down!


2) My green peppers always fizzle out before my tomatoes are ready so I would always buy green peppers to put in my salsas and spaghetti sauces.  THIS year, however, I dehydrated my peppers!  Then, when it was time to make sauce, I threw a bunch in and by the time my sauce was thickened, the peppers were rehydrated and lovely.  And no need for storebought!

I don't know why it has taken me so many years to reach these conclusions.  I am a slow learner, apparently.
This picture right here is of the kind that are nothing special, but you just KNOW are going to melt your heart twenty years from now.  Or even ten.  Awww, little bitty  Judah.   I love you so.

Ahhhh....it felt good to sit down and write this post.  I'll be back later with my to-do list for today.

How is your day going today?  What'cha up to?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Leisurely Wednesday

~ Woke up.  Made lunch and english muffin for Mattie.  Gave him a smooch and sent him on his way.
~ Two babies woke up to see him off too.  They "helped" me brown ground beef and get a Crockpot meal underway.
~ woke up big kids.  Made breakfast (granola cereal)
~ Children did chores, I did watering.
~ Took a hot, steamy shower and did.not.want.to.leave.  (Seems like it was my first hot shower since springtime!  Can it be?)
~ gathered up school books for a visit with another homeschooling Mama
~ went visiting and while out, picked up my orders of coconut oil and lye (I'll give you three guesses what I will be making!).  Got home at 4:15.  (So yeah- today is not going to be terribly productive!)
~ put books away
~ replanted all the perennials the neighbor dropped off and put sawdust around them for mulch
~ harvested lemon verbena and hung to dry
~ harvested last of the tomatoes to ripen inside (it will likely frost tonight.)
~ Got supper around (Crockpot beef and veggies, leftover corn casserole-I made a double batch yesterday!- and Caprese Flatbread like Olive Gardens.  Did you know they are kind enough to share recipes?)
~ played a game of chess with Matt. I lost.  :-(
~ sorted and dated eggs, tidied mudroom a bit
~ did dinner dishes
~ cut Matt's hair
~ swept kitchen floor
~ heading to bed now to crochet. 

Tomorrow is going to be a CRAZY busy day.  My to-do list will be short, but the listed items will be BIG projects.  Must get rested up.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Doings

Today it is rainy and dreary and, if the weatherman is correct, will see some severe weather throughout the day.  I knew this, of course, and planned accordingly to hunker down inside for the day.  In a very real sense, the weather dictates a really large portion of my days.  I do laundry on sunny days only, so that I can hang them to dry outside.  I decide when to harvest things depending upon the weather (onions and potatoes, for example, need to dry well after harvesting so you chose a dry stretch to harvest those things.  I try to plan warming things (like baking or canning) for chilly weather (if I can help it!) or avoid them on hot days (again, IF I can help it.  Because I am so often busy outside, I really enjoy rainy days and the feeling of being stuck indoors.  They seem quieter some how and give me a chance to do indoor things that are often overlooked in our busy "outside lives".

Even on the rainy days, there is plenty to keep my busy.

  • Woke up, made Matt an english muffin.  Kissed him goodbye.  Made myself some hot cocoa.
  • Wrote Opa a letter.
  • Made breakfast (omelets)
  • did animal chores
  • put four loads of laundry (from last night) away
  • uploaded (downloaded?) photos from camera to computer.  Blogged.
  • Hung a light fixture in girls' room
  • diced a batch of green peppers for dehydrating (about 16 peppers worth)
  • Corynn made lunch while I~
  • deep cleaned boys room- swept, vacuumed, organized, etc.
  • tidied Matts' and my bedroom
  • harvested a (big) bowl of carrots from garden
  • children went down for rest time and I used that time for important business (and lunch!):
  • put in an order at Veritas Press
  • paid bills for the month, balanced account, filed and sent paperwork, made various important calls, answered a few emails.
  • tidied Spare Oom and office desk
  • swept Spare Oom
  • threaded a needle for Andrew about 20 times as he worked on an embroidery project.
  • had children tidy mudroom before Papa came home
  • Straightened school books into a nice neat pile on dining table (A sad contradiction~ Must.Plan.School.Year.Tonight while Still.Needing.Room.To.Eat.)
  • Cleaned hallway of piles to "put away" from kids' room cleanings
  • Made supper (Italian Sausage and Navy Bean soup with Swiss Chard and some Creamy Corn Casserole to go with it.)
  • straightened living room before Matt got home
  • Gathered garbage from the four corners of Hopestead- Tomorrow is Garbage Day!
  • cleaned sink and counter and mirror in bathroom
  • ate dinner.  Matt read.
  • Did dishes, wiped counters and table down.
  • Swept dining room
  • Children went to bed.  I started school prep.
  • Laminated some school things- including childers' schedules for this upcoming year.
  • Worked on school plans (art and composers of the month) for about 40 minutes and now it is 11:11 and I am taking that as a sign I need to get to bed.
It looks like a lot- but I didn't even get to can the carrots I intended to can today.  :-(   The story of my life...

Autumn Sunsets

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face.
~ John Donne

I did nothing to the photos of this firesky.  It was ablaze all on its' own, sweeping across the sky in gold and coloring the inside of the house in a beautiful orangey-pink hue, calling everyone outside in wonderment.  Pompous autumn, she knows how lovely she is.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Doings

  • Made breakfast (dippy eggs and whole wheat toast)
  • Gave chickens water.  Gathered eggs.  (Children did other animal chores)
  • Pulled last of onions out into the sunshine to cure
  • It is supposed to rain tomorrow so I wanted to get laundry done today: did FOUR loads of laundry, hung them on line to dry.  (All caught up!)
  • cleaned toilet (it needed it!)
  • had children clean their rooms
  • baked Oatmeal Raisin Lassies (the second half of a double batch made last week-so only cookie sheets for dishes!)
  • harvested Calendula, Chamomile, and Lavender.  Set to dry.
  • did dishes from breakfast (and yesterday.)
  • made lunch (peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  Tuna for me.)
  • blogged here and a few new recipes here
  • after the children were done cleaning their rooms, I went in and deep cleaned (because you know their idea of clean is not MY idea of clean) GIRLS room (swept under beds, dusted, purged a few things etc.)  BOYS room will be tomorrow.
  • emptied garbage in kitchen
  • went uptown:  Went to Aldi, Bank, Walmart and Library.
  • came home: put groceries away.
  • Took laundry off the line and put onions under cover.
  • Made dinner (Salad bowls topped with chicken pieces and fries (sans fries for me) with pickled eggs on the side.)
  • harvested more tomatoes from the garden
  • Did dinner dishes.
  •  plucked millions of teeny cilantro leaves from lovely, long stalks of a hugely generous bunch of cilantro a friend gave me.  Prepared them for freezing.
  • Swept kitchen and living room wood floors.
  • Sat down to read a book for herb reference and then got up 20 minutes later...books do that to me.
  • Vacuumed living room rugs.
  • Folded four loads of laundry while watching part of The Help (good movie!)
 Heading to bed now... g'night.