Category Archives: Family Ties

Miracle on New Year’s Eve 2012

My husband and I were up at the barn milking the cows when it happened. Screams, distant enough that I shoved my hood back and strained to distinguish whether or not they were in fun or in terror. I’d just been watering the livestock at the back of the dairy barn, humming “Let it Snow,” thinking what a gorgeous adventure I was having, helping the love of my life milk ye old cows, tromping through 3 inches of white stuff, and just loving the calm still of a snowflaked world on New Year’s Eve. Inside the house, a table piled with our favorite finger foods awaited us, special movies hand picked for bringing in the New Year, and a roaring fire in the fire place. Life just didn’t get better than this.

Until my heart stilled at the sounds of all three of my girls screaming for help. My husband jumped away from Gertie, our Jersey-Guernsey cow that he was finishing up, and asked me if something was wrong out there. I was still in denial, hoping there wasn’t.

“I think they are just playing…I shut the chickens in early tonight, so they let Guiney out to romp in the snow a bit.” I hurried through the barn, heading for the door that was nearest the commotion.  Guiney is our female Australian Shepherd, my 12 year old’s special pet, a great dog…but one with an affinity for eating my laying hens. We dare not let them out at the same time.

When I reached the big sliding south door of our dairy barn, all doubt as to the seriousness of the situation vanished. My 8 year old was hysterical, hardly able to talk she was wailing so loudly. “Mommy! Daddy!” her screams were punctuated with chest-shuddering sobs, “Guiney’s head is caught in a trap, she’s going to die, come quick!”

My husband took off running, I’ve never seen him fly over the snow so fast. Later we looked at his boot prints…all a good four feet apart. Down the long hill, past our horse pens, around the fledgling fruit trees we planted last year, and across the small pasture where we keep our broiler pens…I prayed he’d make it in time. Adrenaline pumping, I hurried to free the dairy cows from their stanchions and turned them back into their part of the barn where they could munch alfalfa and not get into trouble. I hurried to my youngest, still wailing as if her heart had broken into a million pieces, bent over in the snow, rocking and praying to God to please please save Guiney.

My own emotions were threatening to pull me under. This couldn’t be happening. If only the girls had asked before letting Guiney out. But how could they know that there was a trap set down by the field pens, set to catch the elusive critter that’s been after the chickens here of late? I hugged my youngest close and we prayed together, loud desperate pleas to the only One who could work the miracle needed a quarter mile away.

Youngest didn’t want to go near the scene, she just knew Guiney was dead, and couldn’t bear to have it confirmed. I sent my delirious little sweetheart trudging forlornly to the house, and headed down to the rest of my family. When I got within view, my hubby was heading back this way…I hollered down to him, thinking he might need something and I could save him some steps. He gestured with his hands in a way that I thought meant, “She’s gone. She died. It’s over.” The tears I’d been fighting rushed out, my rip-tide of emotions finally collapsing when all hope was gone. But then I saw Guiney, up and walking around, a ghost of a dog…as if nothing had happened. What?

I immediately thought of my little one, who had just gone into the back porch. I turned back and hollered, “She’s alive!” I had to yell it several times.

She stumbled out, in disbelief, a little nymph all bundled up in coveralls and her red “rooster” ski hood that covered her face with eye-and-mouth holes. “She’s alive?”

We were both so broken up with relief, and tears flowing, that we could hardly communicate. We hugged, our first thought after the relief was that God had graciously answered our fervent pleas. Then we headed down the snow-capped driveway to the rest of the family and Guiney-the-wonder-dog met us. Has any dog ever been so lavished with love as this precious blue-merle Aussie? I hugged and hugged my second-born daughter, Guiney’s owner, and we thanked God over and over for saving her doggie.

My oldest told me the story. She’d seen the killer trap snap around Guiney’s neck. Guiney died in her arms, having first passed out from lack of oxygen. When my husband got there, he pried open the trap with his bare hands, usually not possible. Part of the miracle. He confirmed that Guiney was dead. But not one to give up easily, he decided to breathe into her nose and work on her heart. Minutes crept by. He kept breathing for her, but her eyes were rolled back, and she should have gulped in air the minute he’d gotten the trap off. He sat her up against his chest and moved her around, hoping to stimulate things. The girls were standing a little ways away, praying, hoping against hope, and hearing their daddy pray out loud  in between breathing for our dog. He was about to call it quits, when Guiney’s eyes moved slightly.

The girls were just sure it was all over. All they knew was that their daddy had gotten quiet. But when they heard him say, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord!” they looked at each other in amazement. Could it be possible? Guiney moved a bit gingerly, but soon was up walking around. By the time youngest and I got mid-way down the driveway, Guiney was jogging to us, as if nothing was wrong. Not a dot of blood even smeared her lovely white collar.

Tonight we have much to be thankful for…we’ll always remember the miracle on New Year’s Eve 2012, when God raised our dog from the dead. This is the kind of faith lesson that will loom over all of us in future hard times, a monument to a mighty God who sees each sparrow, and dog, that falls, and who holds all of our lives in His hands.

Farm Happenings

Well, a whole lot has been going on at our little homestead since I last had time to write! For starters, the girls and I have been preparing for our local farmer’s market for around two months, canning jellies and jams, making homemade cold process soaps and lip balms, crocheting doll dresses and dishcloths and potscrubbers, and trying out specialty cookie recipes such as “Nutter Betters” and “M’Oreos”, Marbled Chocolate Caramel Bars and Graham Crackers.

We’ve also been preparing for the arrival of two family cows! We were able to acquire an older Jersey cow named “Phyllis”–we call her “Philly”, and a 5 year old Ayreshire named “Missy”. They have been a wonderful addition to our livestock family. And on the evening of the first farmer’s market, Philly gave birth to a bouncing baby bull calf! They are both doing great, and yes, I’m so far surviving the early morning milkings. It’s the many buckets and containers that need washed and sterilized that’s killing me over here! ;O) We are huge fans of raw milk, and having our own milk cows is a dream come true, a long time coming! Missy is due to calve sometime around the end of May.

We’re raising baby chicks again, some for laying and some for the freezer. Our garden is double the size it was last year, we have a good stand of lettuce, onions, broccoli, cabbage, rainbow swiss chard, beets and about 60 or more tomatoes–I lost count. Green beans are coming up nicely, and I need to get out there and plant cukes and melons ASAP! Always plenty to do these days, as we finish up our school year, and work on labels for our market goodies.

The first farmer’s market was last week, and it exceeded our expectations and then some. We are trying to figure out how to make more baked goods while maximizing our efficiency. Oh for another stove! My 14 year old is the one baking the specialty cookies, which are very time consuming, but amazingly delicious, and big draws for the public. All of our baked goods are 100% made from freshly ground whole wheat berries…from our butter cookie pie crusts to our M’Oreo cookies.

Hope you enjoy the pics of our little farmstead!

Happy Spring to you!

Winter Fun for your Family

Today a new post of mine is up at Writer…Interrupted, called “Indoor Winter Fun For Your Children”. Check it out for details on some of our family’s favorite snow day activities for all ages.

With temps in the 20’s this past week, we’ve had a lot of indoor fun, breaking out the Sculpey polymer clay and making all sorts of oceanic creatures to fill our Apologia “ocean boxes” as recommended in our recently finished science book, Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.

Every other year or so, we go scissor happy crafting delicate snowflakes, which we then use to decorate our windowpanes all winter. Usually we find inspiration at online sites such as Dave’s snowflake pages, which are incredible, but this year on a friend’s recommendation, I ordered Cindy Higham’s book, Snowflakes: Creative Paper Cutouts. My kiddos keep asking me when we’re going to have our “snowflake day”! The book hasn’t arrived yet, so I keep putting them off…

There are a couple of other ideas for those wintry afternoons when staying inside is just the best idea of all. I hope you go check it out, and in the meantime, share your favorite wintertime family activities in comments!

Blessings,

Mary

Labor Day Pizza

Labor Day is here, and with it, wide open windows and highs in the 70’s! And we’re LOVING it. After all, July’s never-ending line up of 105+ degree scorchers is still very much alive in my memory! Whew. Dare I hope fall is really arriving? Happy dance!

My little girls celebrated by digging out their jackets, and raking up a huge leaf pile. After about a hundred leaf-splattering dives they came inside for hot cocoa and marshmallows! Ahh…the rosy cheeks of fall!

There is something about billowing curtains and chill temps that fires up my creativity. That and my oldest daughter telling me that home-made bread was a must on this day. So out came the grain mill and the prairie gold wheat berries and my favorite pizza dough recipe, which doubles up nicely for rolls or buns, and we got to work. Pretty soon my younger girls were rolling out individual pizzas and adding their favorite toppings, and in the end, we had a delicious pizza lunch and since I doubled the dough recipe, we’ve also got buns for supper. We’ll cut them open, butter the insides and grill them on the griddle, then serve them with bacon and cheesy fried eggs! Mmm! Mine will have fresh basil leaves on it as well…are you hungry yet? *wink*

Here is our favorite pizza dough recipe, it’s easy, FAST, and a real joy to mold around in your hands…just add a little olive oil to your hands first, and fall in love!

Pizza Dough

  • 2 packages of yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 cups flour (I use 100% whole wheat home ground flour, you can also use half whole wheat and white flours)
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with 2 tsp sugar.
  2. Pour into a mixing bowl with remaining ingredients.
  3. Knead (I have a dough hook attachment to my mixer, that’s what I use, and it doesn’t take but 4-6 minutes of kneading for this recipe)
  4. Let rise in a greased bowl, in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Punch down, and use for pizza crust, or let rise again another 20 minutes and make into rolls or buns.

Sometimes we make pizza pockets instead of pizza…those are fun. Roll out chunks of dough into circles, and fill half the circle with  your favorite pizza toppings: hamburger, onions, black olives, cheese, etc. NOTE: NO SAUCE! It will leak out the edges. Fold your circle of dough over and crimp edges to seal. Make a slit in the top for steam to escape and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, and serve with sauce for dipping. We love these.

Happy Labor Day!

First Day of School Treasure Hunt Clues

On Thursday of this week, we’ll embark on our 9th annual Treasure Hunt to kick off the first day of school! Normally I come up with around 10-15 clues that rhyme…but that felt quite daunting with three girls, each having their own tailor made hunt to conquer…which would be a total of 30-45 little ditties. Whew. I love to write, but you’ve gotta draw the line somewhere!

This year I decided to utilize the greatest treasure of all as the trove of clues for my students…the KJV Bible. Each girl will get 12 of their own clues, which involve looking up a scripture reference, and zeroing in on something in the verse that has to do with the next clue’s hiding place. And the treasure at the very end? Why, this year’s new school books, readers, and supplies, of course! For weeks now, we’ve had mysterious packages arriving in the mail only to be whisked away by “mommy”, contents unknown…so many surprises, the girls can’t WAIT for the great “reveal”! Sometimes along the clue route, I’ll leave surprises. Could be a stick of gum, an eraser, a fun pencil…once it was an alarm clock!

So here’s what this year’s clues look like for my 11 year old…I put some clarifying notes in parentheses for your benefit, not hers!, kind of a teacher’s edition, if you will! *wink*

One last tip, each girls’ clues are color coded, so if they trip across someone else’s clue, they know to ignore it if it’s not “their” color. I try to do a mix of clues both indoors and out. One year we had all outdoor clues, and did it in the pouring rain! (Soggy clues lend a bit of difficulty to a treasure hunt!)

Treasure Hunt Clues 2011, for 11 year old daughter

First Clue: Matthew 7:17. What is this verse about? (trees) Go out the back door, and take a right. Follow the driveway to the first one in sight. (on ground by tree at bottom of driveway)

Second Clue: Zechariah 14:21, third word. Where do we keep ours? (Pots)

Third Clue: Acts 19:19, the eighth word in this verse rhymes with darts. Find the word, and find our stash of supplies. Remember, they are not where they used to be! (Arts drawer, we reorganized!)

Fourth Clue: Genesis 3:12. You want words number 13 and 16. Put them together and think small, dark red and sweet—what a treat! Go look here quick as a wink! (Bing Cherry Tree)

Fifth clue: Look up Exodus 37:17: Count the words, count 22, where these things are stacked, you’ll find your next clue! (Bowls)

Sixth clue: Psalm 18:28. Hm, we have several of these in the living room! Happy hunting! Hint!! It’s under and out of sight! (Under a living room candle)

Seventh clue:  Judges 5:14, fourth word from the end of the verse. We have some in a drawer. (“pens” in phone book drawer)

Eighth clue:  Genesis 2:8, seventh word. Go there. Look everywhere. You’ll find a clue by something red. (In garden, by tomato plant)

Ninth clue:  Leviticus 14:6. 5th word.  Where do we sometimes feed these pretties? (taped to hummingbird feeder)

Tenth clue:  Daniel 4:15, 4th word. We don’t have too many of these, but one big one for sure! (by big stump near hammock)

Eleventh clue: You are so close. Time for a cloozy.  Isaiah 10:14. “Gathereth”what, exactly? Hope the one you find is not oozy! (near an egg in chicken nesting box)

Twelfth clue: Ding! Ding! Ding! FINAL clue!!!  Three different verses contain three different words, put the three words together, in order, and go a-hunting for your treasure!  1. Proverbs 26:11, 3rd word. 2. Job 39:12, last word. 3. Psalm 118:22, last word. Put them together and follow the clue! (dog barn corner)

Well, that’s it folks. Hope your first day of school is a blast like ours!

Proverbs 2: 1-5,

1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Remember, if you desire to tweak these for your homeschoolers, the words and their sequence found within the verses is tailored straight from the KJV Bible.

And MUMS the word, folks, till sometime Thursday! My 11 yo must not catch wind of this blog post!

Homemade Ice Cream, Anyone?

Finally.  After almost 18 years of marriage, we have become the happy consumers of our very own homemade ice cream! We were so excited about a month ago, to stumble upon a used-maybe-once White Mountain 6 quart ice cream maker–hand crank, even! JUST the machine we have always wanted, but could never afford! God is good, He must have realized how much we LOVE ice cream! *wink*

I don’t know what we love more. The fact that we’ve got such a terrific way to use up our raw organic milk, cream, and farm fresh eggs, or the satisfaction of yet another family pastime…sitting in the shade of a warm almost-summer evening taking turns at the crank. Or, the awe on my children’s faces after 23 minutes of cranking…as we all hold our breath and lift the cannister’s lid, can it be…YES, WOW, thick, perfect ice cream!

Oh boy.

My mouth is watering.

It’s sure hot in here.

I’m so glad we picked up more ice at the grocery store the other day!

HUBBY???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are our two favorite recipes, so far. ;O) Care to share yours in comments? I’m looking for a fresh peach ice cream recipe if you have one!

Strawberry Ice Cream (one bowl of this is NOT enough)

  • (2) 3 oz strawberry jello dissolved in 2 c boiling water–cool
  • 4 eggs beaten**
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. cream
  • 1 qt milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • (2) 12 oz strawberries (or 3 cups chopped berries), thawed (add last)
  • milk to fill cannister to 3/4 full

Vanilla Ice Cream  

  • 4 eggs well beaten**
  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • Vanilla extract (may also add a little lemon juice or extract if desired)
  • 1 qt cream
  • 2 qt milk
  • May add 1 large box instant vanilla pudding for flavor

Again, add milk till your cannister is 3/4 full, crank and enjoy!

My only other tip, is that it is a lot cheaper to go to your local feedstore and pick up a 50 lb sack of livestock salt, rather than “rock salt” from the grocery store. Works just great!

I think ice cream is a must on these 96 degree days, don’t you?

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Bonnie, for sharing her recipes with me!

**Special note, we don’t cook our eggs…since they are fresh as can be from our own chicken gals, and no danger of salmonella…if you are using store eggs, you might need to find a recipe with cooked eggs…fair warning!

Love your family with Baked Oatmeal!

Joy fills my heart every morning, knowing my days have purpose. There is no more fulfilling job in this world, than that of wife and mother. God has been so gracious to allow us to raise our family 100% ourselves. What a blessing!

I love waking up before the kiddos, our open bedroom window carrying in a fresh breeze and birdsongs, the nanny goat’s merrily tingling bell, the happy neighing of baby colts–all beckoning me outside while it is still blessedly cool!  I check the indoor/outdoor temp, making sure it’s still cooler outside than it is inside, and leave the house with its billowing curtains, preferring instead, my great big tree-shaded hillside with its billowing leafy branches and the white rope hammock that has found its two tree stands for the summer.

But first things first…the laying hens need me to fling their barn door open so these gals can scritch-scratch and forage the day away, and hubby and I must amble down the driveway and beyond the grain bin to move the two field pens full of young chickens to fresh green pasture. Once fed and watered, the Cornish-cross broilers and little layer chicks release me to some quiet time in the hammock with God’s word and my handy Bible pen. I can rest easy for a while, knowing that one of my family’s favorite breakfasts is in the oven.

Baked Oatmeal w/dried Cherries

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries (we love dried cherries in this!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F (175*C)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries (or cherries). Spread in an ungreased 9×13″ pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve with milk in bowls.

We are a family of five, and can easily demolish three-fourths of this filling dish. But we have country life appetites going for us as well!

Do you love the life God has given you? He can fill your cup to the brim and over with love for your husband and children, and joy as you live for their well-being. Just ask Him.

According to Titus 2, we women are to be teachers of *good things*, keepers at home, loving our husbands and loving our children…obedience in these things m’dears, brings lasting joy!

The Biggest Snowman

Sometime in February, during one of the major “snow dumps”, my husband geared up to beat the previous year’s record for “the biggest snowman EVER”. Some years ago, he made an offhand remark to our girls, that we’d make a bigger snowman every year…note to self: offhand adult remarks are marked in RED forever by children who love to see challenged said adult squirm. So…after last year’s *big guy*, we all knew this year’s snowman would require more than human efforts. Enter my husband’s CAT Skid loader.

Just building the snowman took an entire evening. The sun went down on a “Frosty-in-limbo”–an armless, eyeless, scarfless, hatless wonder. The next day was a Sunday, so after church and lunch, we donned our winter apparel, and scoured our property for likely ornamentations for our over 10 foot tall snow friend. By the way, we measured the circumference of his base, it was just over 16 feet around.

Everyone took a ride in the bucket of the CAT to the top of Mr. Snowman, the only way to properly attach his hat, his pringle can eyes, red plastic cup nose, and charcoal smile! Eventually, we got ‘er done…

This picture is of me and my two youngest…they bestowed upon me, the honor and privilege of making our snowman’s happy smile! Cold job for bare fingers!

Finally he is finished…a sight to behold, visible from the country road about a half mile from our home…

When it was all said and done, Hubby dusted the snow off his coveralls and declared that we’d have to start over again on this “snowman spree” next year, staying closer to the ground. So it would seem that “Jolly Jake”, as my younger daughters officially christened this year’s snowman, will hold the record for biggest snowman ever, for at least a couple more years!

We’ve sure had a wonderful winter, several beautiful snowfalls and plenty of cozy fireside evenings…but I’m more than ready to welcome spring!

Graham Cracker Gingerbread House Traditions

generalstoreEvery so often there are blog articles that deserve being reposted. This one qualifies! Hopefully it will inspire some fun times for your family!

(The following was originally posted in December of 2006…)

Yesterday the girls and I spent from 8:30 AM-5:30 PM making graham cracker gingerbread houses. We do this each year with homeschooling friends…one of our favorite Christmas traditions!

This is a craft that can be as detailed and intricate as you want it to be. Using graham crackers instead of gingerbread takes a lot of the headache out of the process, making it very “mom” friendly!

northpolebiblechurchOver the years I’ve made these fun little houses in many sizes and themes. If you want a fun and easy version go here or here. For this version, you can use as few as 3 full graham crackers per child. Here’s another cute site with several to look at.

For a more impressive version, you’d have to get Traditional Christmas Cooking, Crafts & Gifts by Cy DeCosse. There’s a several page spread in there with diagrams to help you make a fancy town…

We start by combining our efforts with another family or two. We decide which candies each family will buy, and then we pool all of them together for the maximum effect!

Here are some of our favorites:

  • miniature candy canes (for stair rails up into churches or for “props” to hold up a 1/4 graham cracker door overhang)
  • normal sized candy canes (these are cute stuck in snow icing with a gumdrop stuck to the curved end–ta-da: a lamp-post!)
  • wafer cookies–the rectangular kind (we make benches out of them–to put under the lamp-posts. Use sugar cubes for the bench “feet”. You can also use wafers to make shutters for your windows, or to line the roof of store-front type buildings such as the General Store in the the book I linked above)
  • Gumdrops (flattened and cut to fit, these make great window panes. Cut them in different shapes/sizes and make stained glass windows for your town’s church)
  • Sugar cones (steeple for the church, or frost with green icing and decorate for Christmas trees)
  • Red and Green M&M’s
  • Red hot cinnamon candies
  • Peppermint hard candies (great stepping stones to your bench)
  • Hershey Kisses
  • Cereals: Grape nuts for gravel pathways, Shredded Wheat for hay bales, Chex for shutters
  • Pretzels–straight ones for porch railings, miniature rounded ones for fences around the yard, simply stick them in snow frosting
  • Marshmallows–use toothpicks to make snowmen out of these, or cut them into small pieces and pile in the yard for snowballs
  • Red and Green sugar, or candy sprinkles to shake on snowy rooftops

You get the idea…

MsgingerbreadhouseEach family also needs to bring cardboard bases to be covered with tin foil. We like to use Cinnamon Graham Crackers because the darker cracker looks more authentic for buildings. Plan on one box per house, if you’re tackling a large one.

For icing, you can buy meringue powder at any cake decorating store or in that section at Wal-Mart and follow the instructions inside for Royal Icing. Or, an easier and quicker way, is to use white Almond Bark. Melt it in the microwave and pipe it, or spread it with a knife to “caulk” your house seams together.

Yesterday we made the house w/yard, the church and the general store pictured above. On Saturday we’ll be taking them to our local rest home for their visual enjoyment!

I Love Homeschooling!

The old-fashioned way of doing things grabs me. Not that I don’t appreciate modern conveniences, but yeah, you just might catch me utilizing a washboard for kicks. And I’d absolutely adore an outdoor kitchen fitted with an enormous antique white stove like great-grandma’s.

I was thinking that about myself this morning–my tendency of appreciating the old and reliable things of my life–as I scrubbed my stove-top with comet. We’re one of the few families left still cooking on a stove with four detachable burners. I still have a phone with a cord on the wall. We don’t do TV, video games, etc. Obviously, we have internet, but even at that, it’s dial-up!

Is there something wrong with that? *Wink*

Maybe that’s why homeschooling brings me such joy. It’s the way things used to be, back when our country was a youngun’, before women went out for careers, before the government mandated preschool. (Okay so maybe it’s not mandated, but the age of compulsory school attendance is getting lower and lower.)

We’re getting our first full week under our belt and I’m increasingly thankful for the freedom I have in this country to choose how to educate my child. What a gift! It’s right up there with the best of God’s blessings. No material comforts we’ve sacrificed compares to what I’m getting back in terms of relationships with my girls.

Here’s a few things I’ve loved this first week back…

First Day’s Treasure Hunt

treasurehunt2We ALWAYS do a treasure hunt to kick-off school. Here the girls are at 7 a.m. raring to go. This year’s hunt was complete with a total of 27 clues, split 3 ways for 3 girls. Each girl found treats along the “trail” of clues with their names attached…things ranging from mini-candy bars to alarm clocks and each girl’s hunt ended at the horse barn, in the tack room…at a big box of this year’s new school books. True treasure, we remind them every year, is what you keep stored in your heart and mind. And, yes, they do get extreasurehunt4cited to see what new books mom’s ordered for their learning enjoyment!

Here is my oldest trying to find the yellow clue taped in the top right-most roosting box.

We had clues in the garden beneath a cherry tomato plant, beneath the stone walkway to the garden, under a shovel in the sandbox, in the “dog barn” on a pet’s gate, on a post by the horse pen, in the play house, down the hill in the barrel of chick feed, in one of the sheds on the seat of the four-wheeler, and so on.

Memorable note about this year’s hunt–we did it in pouring rain! Yup, soggy clues, wind-misplaced clues. What an adventure under blackening skies! And hot chocolate all around once we arrived back in the house for breakfast!

Making Bubble Snakes

bubblesnakes1FUN! While waiting at an orthodontic appointment last week, my oldest and I both read the same Family Fun magazine at different times, and don’t you know, we both zeroed in on the same fun activity to try at home later.  I’d determined to gather the things necessary w/o telling any of the girls, and my oldest daughter pulled it off before I could. We cracked up once we realized we’d both intended on doing the same activity without any consultation whatsoever. And that’s another fun thing about homeschooling. My older girls are all about putting fun things together for their sibs to enjoy.

Bubblesnakes4Here’s what you need for some Bubble Snake fun of your own!

  • recycled plastic water bottle with the bottom half cut off
  • a square of toweling
  • a rubber band
  • blowing bubble solution, dishsoap or best of all, bubble bath

bubblesnakes2To assemble, rubber band the piece of towel to the bottom of the plastic bottle. Get the towel damp-to-wet. Put a thin layer of dishsoap or bubble bath in the bottom of a small bowl and dip the toweled end of the plastic bottle in it. Blow through the drinking hole and you get these lovely snakes! Magical fun for an hour at the very least! And then again when Dad gets home to see!

More of a recess activity, but we counted it as Kindergarten science because we experimented with all of the above soaps to see which worked best! Mr. Bubble!

Such fun catching the floating bubble snakes…you should have seen our lawn afterward…bubble snakes galore!

Other Highlights

For the first time ever, thanks to a generous homeschool-mom friend loaning me her FIAR books Vol. 1-3, I’m using Five In A Row with my Kindergartner, a wonderful many-faceted approach to all school subjects via the premise of reading the same classic literature for “five days in a row”.  This week, we’re reading The Story About Ping. Each day, after reading, we tackle a unit study about some theme in the book, whether it be ducks (Ping is a duckling that gets lost in the Yangtze River in China), China, the beautiful crayon and colored pencil drawings of Kurt Wiese, etc.

Yesterday we were discussing the copyright page, and what makes a book a classic. The Story About Ping was written and published in 1933. A classic is a book read by many generations, so I tried to home in on that fact by asking my 5 year old if she knew who was born in 1934, the year after Ping was written. (her grandpa)

She leaned forward, eyes huge and completely serious. “God?”

Obviously I’ve failed to impart the eternal aspect of God to this girl.

But giggles aside, we have been having so much fun with Ping. Found all sorts of neat helps at homeschoolshare.com for a lapbook on the study, and youngest and I were having such a great time that her older sisters had to come to the table and get involved as well.

Last but not least, my oldest and I are enjoying such a cool friendship. Yesterday after school was done, after we’d helped out at the CSA farm for a couple hours, when we were back home and I had a messy house to deal with for company coming the next day…my younger two vamoosed outside to escape me putting them to work, but my oldest volunteered herself for duty. Her only request? Christian music. Loud.

So while we were cleaning the DJ comes on and tells about how Maria Chapman’s “House of Hope” opened in China recently, and how 700 orphans are living there now…and of course, anyone who knows about the tragic death of little Maria (Steven Curtis Chapman’s little adopted girl from China) would be moved to tears to hear the story behind why this orphanage is called “Maria’s House of Hope”. My daughter and I paused with our dustcloths and bawled happy tears together.

Moral of this happy ramble…

If you love having fun and spending time with your kids, if you want to be there when they learn to read-when they lovingly and patiently help their younger siblings learn to read, if you want to impart what’s most important to you (God, morals, character, family), there’s no easier way to do it than homeschooling.

I pray we have many more years of freedom to parent our children the way we choose in America.

And long live homeschooling!