Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Morning on the Homestead: Where to Start.....

Life here the last few weeks has been nothing short of chaotic.  I feel like I have barely had time to sit still, yet somehow have managed to read a couple really good books (which you will find out about tonight or tomorrow sometime!).

I last posted about our adventures with an unplanned Saturday.  Two days later I went to my moms' homeschool meeting, and came home late with a little tickle in my throat.  By 2 a.m. my throat was on fire, tonsils huge, I was feverish and achy all over.  I laid in bed for a few hours praying a)to be healed and b) that the Lord would show me how to re-arrange all the "life" I had on my schedule.

Healing came after a few days, and the Lord did reveal a new arrangement for me.  I re-scheduled our dinner plans for the evening (a family of 13 was joining us for homemade pizza).  Then I re-scheduled our science class for Thursday.  Nevin took time out of his workday and took Ben into town for his guitar lesson.  I re-scheduled all four boys' haircuts.

After staying in bed for two days (unheard of) and consuming massive quantities of Alka Seltzer Cold Plus we managed to have a delayed science, a re-scheduled pizza party and then I hauled myself out on Friday and Saturday for the Greater St. Louis Homeschool Expo.  THAT was a not-to-be-missed weekend.  Two other ladies rode with me both days, we packed lunches to eat in the car (so fun, we opened up the back of the Suburban and put down the seats and it was like going to the drive-in), and spent two full days there.  We even went out for a grown-up dinner Friday night.  I will elaborate more about what I learned in another post on planning for next year's school, but for now - let me just say it was the boost and refreshment and encouragement I needed to finish this year well.

Sunday was the last of our birthday bonanza season - my Joe seems to have gone from a little guy to a big guy suddenly.  He is nine.  He is the first of my boys to be fashion-conscious.  Everyone else dresses for comfort, but Joe has style.  He likes flat-billed hats and shirts with cartoon characters.  Joe requested Angel Food Cake with Chocolate Icing, so I made an easy chocolate buttercream, and it was delish.
That was really a good cake.

An Air Soft Warrior is born

Note any resemblance?  What a handsome pair.

The guys

This past week has also been a bit of a whirlwind - took a day off to stay home, and spend HOURS switching out closets and drawers, then on Tuesday I had my Ladies' Discipleship group here, followed immediately by out-of-town relatives popping by (Michelle, if you read this - I was SO GLAD to see you guys and wish you could have stayed longer!).  Wednesday was back to our regular routine of science-guitar lessons-small group Bible study.  We'd missed our group for two weeks because of sickness and it was so good to see everyone again.  When we got home, we found that Daisy had had her kittens,
Daisy and babies
so now we have baby kitties again.Thursday the boys and I and my friend Faith ran all day - they FINALLY got their haircuts, bought new tennis shoes for all four of them, lunched at Chik-Fil-A, bought chicken feed, went to Walmart, hit the butcher shop, oil change, bank, etc.  Came home exhausted.  Yesterday was geography club.

Doing a report at Geography club.  The topic was North America.  Ben chose Area 51 for his report.  Let's just say that we are an eclectic bunch in our group!
Today we are hosting a huge air soft war in our woods (so far I think we have two dozen boys participating, not to mention the parents and siblings who will be hanging out).  Tomorrow is church, fellowship dinner and AWANA.....and next week I have STAY HOME written on the calendar!

Some weeks are just like this - life gets busy, lots of fun opportunities start crowding the calendar.  It is hard to know what to do, what to pitch.  Our "spring break" from school work was sort of taken in bits and pieces the last few weeks.  Monday, back to regular schedule.  I like all the busyness at times, but it makes me appreciate my home so much more.  I am making a list of all the home projects that need to be done around here, and can't wait to get started!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Have NOT Dropped Off the Face of the Earth

Hello - I know it has been almost two weeks without a post.  I promise, it is not for lack of anything interesting.  Actually, there has been almost TOO MUCH interesting around here!  At least interesting to me.  But I am running out of steam, and by next week I should be ready to crash.

Hopefully, I will get an update on life here on the homestead tomorrow or Saturday morning.

Until then.....

Something nice to look at.  My friend Dakota Lynch took this, and added the wording. His nature photography can be viewed at Dakota's Nature Photos

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Morning on the Homestead

Another Saturday here.  I am starting to like Saturdays.  I never did, you know.  Too unstructured.  No idea what could happen.  No plans for the kids (ie, no school).  No telling what Nevin may be up to.  Always a possibility that whatever fragile, tentative plans I have made for my day (note the selfish "my day" - part of the problem, perhaps????) could be upended at any second.

I am getting over this, though.  Remember, I am flexible now!  So, what is going on here today...

One of the families at church had a baby yesterday, so this afternoon I am taking a drive to deliver homemade pizza and Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake.  All just an excuse to hold the new baby, of course!  Nevin and the big guys are at our church monthly Mens' Breakfast, and then going to go do some guy stuff.  The littles are watching a movie in their jammies.  I got up and did the school schedule for this week (most of it) and now am taking a break.  I am fully caught up in "preparing for high school".  Last night I was printing up college admission requirements for a few schools, reading up on how to do transcripts, what "counts" as high school level credit, SAT and Bright Flight scholarships......okay, had to stop!  That is why I am going to the Greater St. Louis Homeschool Expo this week.  Woohoo - five more days!!!!!

Happy Anniversary!  Three months ago today I deleted my Facebook account.  And how has this affected my life?  For the better, on the most part.  I have found that I have more time to accomplish things around the house, for one thing.  There are two really incredible benefits.  First off - now that I do not "check" (check means "hang around reading for an hour) Facebook in the morning I have time to do my Bible reading first thing, have time to spend reading a "book that requires highlighting" and time to organize my morning.  Since I do not "check" my Facebook before bedtime I manage to get my plans/thoughts sorted for the next days' school.

As a result - we are now doing regular, consistent Bible study in the morning.  First thing after breakfast.  The most incredible blessing of this is that on the days that Nevin is home he participates and we get to start our day singing worship songs, praying, studying the Bible and reading a devotional from VOM Jesus Freaks (martyrs of the Church).  All six of us, together.  This has radically changed how our day goes around here.

Another benefit of no Facebook is - no drama for Mama!  I used to get so caught up in what other people were doing, what they thought, sucked into judging people by their posts, and setting myself up to be criticized by others.  It was also way too easy to fire off remarks via the messaging without giving them enough thought, and not always recognizing how "tone of voice" does not translate in a FB message, and then having that to deal with.  When I think of the days - literally DAYS - of school I lost, and even more, the peace of mind that was gone - well, let's just say it is good-bye and good riddance for now.  There are certainly some aspects that I miss- good friends who have moved away, relatives that I don't see that often, old friends from school that I made contact with through FB.  That is kind of a drag.  But it is interesting, too, the friends that I didn't have "time" for before that I am having to make more effort to see.    There is a joy in the effort of texting a note, planning a visit, writing a letter.

One other drawback- I have found that I don't take as many pictures of my kids now that I cannot instantly share them on Facebook!  So, for those of you who are just plain missing the pictures of my family, I give to you...... the first three of the four birthdays we celebrate in February and March!

#2 Son, Ben, twelve years old.  I cannot believe how much he is starting to resemble my dad.  That is a chocolate cake (Easy and Elegant Devil's Food).

Everyone is fascinated with the presents

Dad and the guys.  Ben is wearing his coonskin cap, pretty much a permanent fixture during the cooler months.

Me and them.  Look how much taller Tony is than me.  I am not short, either, I am 5'6".

Tony's 14th birthday.  The candles on the cake are footballs.  He requested Red Velvet cake.

When I started to take the picture I told Nevin to stand up straight and he said he was...yep, Tony has passed up Dad.  Nevin is 6', so we have a really tall 14 year old!

And Nevin, with his Snickerdoodle cake on his 46th birthday!  

We may not be the skinny, cute little things from the wedding pictures, but that is okay - we may be a bit weathered, but that is because of the storms the Lord has sailed us through together.  There are definite benefits to getting older.  I wouldn't trade the experiences we've had for all the facelifts and tummy tucks in the world.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An Unplanned Day, That Has Accounting

Is that just the combination for restlessness or what?  I have sick folks again - 3 out of 4 boys and a husband.  Nothing series, all various stages of colds and coughs.  Just enough to be miserable and not want to do anything but sleep and watch cartoons.

Okay, my husband is not watching cartoons, just for the record!

So, I had to cancel the science co-op, guitar lessons and our community group fellowship.  And find something to do with myself.

I have been tired all day, because I was awake listening to coughing all night.  Then I got up at 6 and started getting ready for science.  Which didn't happen.

What to do, what to do.  Too tired to work up any enthusiasm for fun.

I have a green folder that says, "Paula Do This".  It is all the loose pieces of paper that I don't feel like dealing with, or I need to look up information for, I need to file, etc.  All business-related.  So, I tackled the green folder.  Then I did some accounting work and updated some business "stuff".  Then I managed to read both my new National Review AND World Magazine.  And take a nap.  Played with the cats.  Messed with the chickens.  Re-filled glasses of ice water.  Watched Toy Story.

You get the picture.

Tomorrow I promise to be more productive.  But at least I made a big dent in that green folder.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Golden Cauliflower Bake

Susan In The Boonies posted a recipe for Roasted Broccoli that looks wonderful - paying it forward, I am going to share a veggie side dish of my own.

Golden Cauliflower Bake

I have made it per the recipe and made minor modifications - I will note the modifications to the side.

Cooking spray
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs (I used Panko crumbs this week and like them best)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4tsp black pepper
2 (10 oz) packages of frozen cauliflower florets (note - I have made this with fresh, steamed cauliflower and a large bag of frozen. Personally, I liked the frozen because it was one less step, and there was no difference that I could tell in the taste.)

Preheat oven to 400. Coat 8" square baking dish with cooking spray (I have used a variety of sizes of dish, whatever works, so that the cauliflower is all together, touching). In another small bowl, blend bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Dip each cauliflower floret in oil, then in bread crumb mixture (note - the first few times I did in oil. The other night I put the cauliflower in a larger bowl and drizzled the olive oil, kind of tossed it to coat, then tossed the pieces a few at a time in the crumbs. That was easier.), then place the breaded florets in the prepared cooking dish. Coat the florets with cooking spray (I did not do this, they are already drizzled with oil. When they were done with the baking time I stuck the pan under the broiler and toasted up the top a bit.)

Bake20-25 minutes, until golden.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday on the Homestead: What Is Your Passion?

This topic came up on a homeschooling forum this week.  One of the moms asked us what our passion is.  There were a lot of responses, many of them in the form of different arts, crafts, scrapbooking, that sort of thing.

I like those things (okay, not scrapbooking).  I enjoy making beaded jewelry, I like to take pictures, I like to make cards and bookmarks, I used to (B.C. - before children) enjoy counted cross stitch.  But these are not passions.

Even reading, believe it or not, is not truly a passion.  It is a relaxation, often it is a resource for my passion, but in and of itself, it is not the passion.

My passion is serving.  Followed closely by home educating.

Now, lest you think I am all holier-than-thou-or-anyone-else, please hear me out.  I don't mean servitude.  I mean serving and being able to minister and be hospitable to those around me.  It starts with my family, and flows to my church and homeschool group and friends from there.  I love to have the kids' friends over, to have other families gather with us, to host a group of ladies for a book discussion or Bible study, or just to hang out.   I look forward to fellowships and bringing food, or taking a meal to a family with a new baby.  This particular season of life has brought the blessing of having a flexible schedule, to be able to take the time to talk to my boys, to spend time with my husband, to be an ear and heart to other women.  My joy is in organizing events for our homeschool group, getting together with the other families, and especially this year, and there is a special love (love, love. love) for our science co-op.

I guess I am passionate about Apologia General Science this year.  Thank you, Dr. Wile!

I love getting to talk to the kids, and to try to help reinforce what their moms are doing, to give them a spot to do the "fun" part of science (ie, mix stuff together and see what happens) with each other.

Yesterday I was at the skating rink with all the homeschoolers.  I think this is our 8th year of monthly skating at the local rink.  The first few years it wasn't hardly worth the owner's time and gas money to open for us - some months only three families showed up!  But now, there is a big crowd most months.  I get out and skate with the kids, and see all ages, from little guys being pushed around in strollers to high schoolers, watch them all interacting and having fun......and I think, "I did this."  And I get such a rush of joy from it.  I am not getting into some wild back-patting, but I organized this years ago, it is my baby.  And now, it is a well-established monthly event.  It did not take much effort, but it took a commitment to be there every.single.month for a few years to help get it going.  I think I have maybe missed one or two in the last eight years.

To have a bunch of little guys high-five you at the skating rink, this is joy.  To sit on the couch in the morning with my husband and sons, and study God's word together, this is joy.  To have four boys have FUN writing crazy stories together, or see them in deep strategic conference as they plan their next air soft war, this is joy.  To gather with a bunch of ladies who know each others' hearts so well that we can laugh and cry together, this is joy.

To see a family come walking through our front door carrying a mixing bowl full of cookie dough, and ask if they can bake the cookies here, that was some joy!

So, it would be nice, I suppose, if I could find some great artistic ability, or political cause, or intellectual pursuit.  And maybe someday I will.  But for now, my passion is here, in my home, in my family, in this community.

And I have found joy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Good News Bad News

When I was a child, I had a book titled Good News Bad News or something like that.  It was a tale of ups and downs - bad news, I fell out of a plane, good news there was a haystack below me, bad news there is a pitchfork in the haystack, good news I missed the pitchfork, bad news I missed the haystack.

That sort of thing.

That is how my morning is going.

Bad news - the man of the house is sick. Again.  That poor man has had a rough winter.  I think he picks up every bug that floats around church.  More bad news - the boys and I were supposed to go to the symphony and zoo today, but I am not comfortable leaving him all day, so we cancelled.

Good news - my friend Angel took the ticket and will take care of herding our crew.  Other good news, Grandma and Ben got to go on an outing today that they'd had to cancel yesterday (when Grandma was sick).

Bad news - we are supposed to have our science co-op at my house tomorrow, so if he is still sick, we can't have all those kids here.  Good news, one of the other moms said we can have it at her house.

Really good news - my friend Angel (who is a REALLY good friend!) just called and said they won a year family membership to the Creation Museum, but they just went this year.  So.....they are blessing us with it.  How is that for cool!

Other really good news, actually the very best news of all - The Lord is sovereign.  He is in control.  I can rest in this.  He has provided me a whole, unplanned day to take care of Nevin, and to get some things done around the house. He provides sisters in Christ to step in and help out.  He has provided for us that I AM home, so that there is no huge conflict of having to be at work somewhere instead of being able to be here.

Would I prefer that Nevin was not sick, that all our plans for the day (and he had plenty for today, too - one drawback of being self-employed, no calling in sick and someone else taking the work!) were not changed, that I didn't have to erase the list in my planner (it is always in pencil)?  Absolutely - especially the part about him being sick.  But can I rest knowing that God has it all in the palm of His hand?  Yes, most gloriously yes.  There is such a peace in knowing this sovereign Lord.

Edited, later that same day....
I wanted to add this text from my friend Cyndi.  She said the things I meant to say about God being sovereign, in response to a whiny text from me.

"Concerning joy - I have to constantly remind myself that our omniscient God predetermined all that takes place would happen exactly when it did, as it did and NOTHING could have changed it!  And your omnipotent Father will no doubt empower you with all you need for this day!  He always does - I know you know that, but it's nice to be reminded!!"

That was what I meant to say.  Good news - that the Lord has blessed me with such friends today.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Can I Say That I REALLY Hate Accounting?

This is my third, count'em THIRD Saturday in a row that I have spent hours getting my accounting "stuff" all up-to-date and ready for the accountant to do our taxes.  At least today it was only a few hours (like three!). And now it is done (doobie doo dun dun) and ready to be dropped off.  I hope she does her usual magic and we don't end up owing.

Oh well, this is part of being a business owner.  And really, I have got it good.  Our cabinet shop is in our front yard.  Nevin just has to commute 100 feet or so to work.  He can have breakfast, lunch and dinner with us.  I can do most of my work in bits and pieces as I have time at home, instead of having to leave the kids and go into town to work (like I did when we had a shop in town).

So, now that THAT is over, what are the happenings here on the homestead?  We've had a great week - lots of friends hanging around, chess club, our science co-op, my ladies' discipleship group (and lunch out with one of my friends!), our small group fellowship......we have been some fellowshippin' fools this week.  But hey, there is nothing better than spending time with the saints.  It makes me see how incredibly   blessed we are with the friends and family the Lord has provided to us.

I read an excellent book, Hannah Fowler, by Janice Holt Giles.  I will review it next month, but all I can say is that if you liked Mrs. Mike, O Pioneer, My Antonia, A Lantern In Her Hand, The Tall Woman, et al, then you will love this book.  And if you DIDN'T like any of those books.......well, what is wrong with you, anyway??

Now that all the accounting is done, I am cooking for fellowship tomorrow after church (I told you, it has been a fellowshippin' week).  I am making a big pot of venison stew and a lemon cake.  I may toss together something else, too.  Tonight I am going to make venison nuggets (tasty fried pieces of venison steak, splashed with hot sauce, sooooo gooooood!) and some form of potato and veggie for dinner.  Probably mashed potatoes and green beans.  I also got the menu all made up for the week, and the corresponding grocery list.  I feel like I have been very productive.  Very soon I am going to put the food for tomorrow aside, and finish up laundry.  Then tonight, we can all hang out and watch a movie together.  

And that is it for today!  Nothing earth-shattering, but really, do you want the earth to be shattered?  Me neither.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reading Log for February, 2012


Stuart Little - 4 - E.B. White - read aloud with the younger boys, one of my favorite stories.

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - 2 - Ree Drummond - Not as great as I expected.  If she took out all the references to kissing and his biceps, she' lose 100 pages of the book. I know it is a love story but I get it already.  Like to kiss, love his biceps.  

The book overall was interesting, but only because I was already familiar with The Pioneer Woman from her blog and her cookbook(one of my faves, btw). The constant ongoing kissing, kissing, all they do all the time is kiss, along with the ongoing discussion of his biceps, did nothing but distract from what could have been a much more interesting story.

I would have liked her to plumb more emotionally what it meant to give up her lifestyle and career dreams to be with this man.  It seemed like she was going for a Green Acres/fish out of water approach, and maybe that is all that this book was supposed to be.  She goes on and on about not having access to lattes and sushi, and that really sounds so surface and trivial.  There is a lot more involved in what she did.  That is what I would have liked to have read about, about the deep changes she was making for this man and how she grew as a person through it.  I know there was some of that, but overall, I think she could have maintained the humor (loved the story about taking the cow's temperature) and made it a much more compelling book.

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay - 4 - Suzanne Collins - I know these are YA, but I would not give them to a YA to read. I found them interesting in the originality of the story, but the writing was definitely YA level. I gave them a 4 because they gave me a lot to think about in terms of the use of propaganda, how the media can be used by the government for control, etc.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - 4 - JK Rowling - read aloud with the older boys. They love the series, so I know what we are reading before bedtime for the next several months!

Pippi Longstocking - 4 - Astrid Lindgren - read aloud with the younger boys. They really liked it. Then we watched the 1973 movie. Now THAT was creepy!