Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mama bears are some of my favorite creatures because of the lengths they will go to in order to protect their young. This video offers a great example!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spontaneous Helping

Emily begged me to let her help while we were cleaning over the weekend.
I was a little wary of letting her have the spray bottle* filled with homemade window cleaner, but did not want to hinder her helpful spirit.
Emily did manage to get some fingerprints off, but I had to go behind her.
The important thing at this stage is to take time to foster that sense of responsibility and team work in caring for our home.
If you work hard with your first two children, it is much, much easier to teach the rest.
*When I need new spray bottles, I buy the window cleaner from the Dollar Tree. I get a spray bottle and ready made cleaner for a buck. I use to buy nicer spray bottles, but they did not last any longer than the ones from the Dollar Tree.
Posted by Picasa

Large Family Dessert Tip

I love these custard cups I found at the Dollar Tree four for a dollar.
The cups are perfect for serving desserts and keep serving sizes down.
I also use them for condiments and sometimes vegetables.
This is the children's snack today.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 23, 2010

False Impersonation Phone Calls Harassing Homeschool Families

We received this in an e-mail:

Dear Homeschool Group Leaders:

It has come to our attention that multiple homeschool leaders have received phone calls from a person falsely saying he is from the Home School Foundation.

This caller, who is believed to be male but identifies himself as a woman, will often claim to be calling from the Home School Foundation and indicate that you have been nominated for a grant or award of some sort. This individual usually states that “she” has 10 children and a degree in psychology, before proceeding to ask questions about your family’s homeschool practices to follow up on the grant/award that you have been “nominated” for. The questions quickly get around to your disciplinary methods and practices. Please note, HSF has no need to ask you about your disciplinary methods with your children!

If you are ever on the phone with someone saying he or she is from HSF and you become even slightly suspicious, or if the questions don’t directly relate to the work of the Foundation (i.e. helping families homeschool through hard times), please ask for a name and number and offer to call back. The Foundation’s number is (540) 338-8688. If you are given a different number and/or receive a call from an individual who fits the above description, please alert us immediately!

We are trying our best to find out who this caller is and stop him from harassing homeschoolers in our name. This is not actually a new issue; we had a similar situation many years ago and came close to finding the caller before he went underground. This may be the same person.

If you receive such a phone call, write down the date, time and as much information as you can about the caller. Personal information disclosed by the caller and the questions he asked would be helpful. Also collect any information displayed on your caller ID or obtained from tracing the phone number (often by dialing *69). Contact HSLDA or HSF with this information and we will collect it to help authorities in their attempt to track this individual down.

If you have any details that may help us find out more about this caller, please email them to with “impersonator” in the subject line.

Also, please forward this email on to other homeschool leaders you know—if people are aware of the issue ahead of time, we are more likely to stop it.

Thank you,

Mike Smith, President

Monday, July 19, 2010

What Works for Me

I have tried many of the time management systems and none seemed to work well for me. I found many required more of my time to use than most of the entries! Some were complicated requiring multiple entries for one item. Others were pricey and required me to continue to purchase their product, which is good for their sales and bad for my wallet.

So I created my own system. I've used it successfully for many years. I have separate clipboards for each type of list that holds not only the list, but any instructions, recipes, charts, etc I need. I have different places in the house I hang them, but most are kept over my desk.

I have clipboards for: groceries/shopping/errands, livestock/pet care, homeschool, gardening, household to-do, goals, a daily school checklist for each child (slid into a page protector and marked off each day with a grease pencil), etc. Many of my clipboards have a note on the metal clip reminding whoever finds it to hang it. "Household To-DO List: Please hang over my desk~Love you, Mom." These little notes have helped me keep track of the clipboards, even when I can't keep track of them. :-D Hanging them up keeps the lists in sight as a reminder and also keeps them out of reach of the babies.

This is what works for me. It's cheap, simple to use and effective at reminding me of what needs to be done in each area of my life. It's easy to restart if I get off track for a little while.

Btw, I found clipboards for a $1 each at Roses.

We use for a family calendar and reminder service.

I hope this blesses someone!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Picture of Flor de Maria

Flor de maria showing us the items she bought with our financial gift.
In the bottom photo, she is shown with her grandmother who is her guardian.

She says in her last letter that she purchased "...milk, cereal, sugar, rice, soups, oil, cookies and a lot more. Also products for personal hygiene, clothes, blouses, skirts, underwear and shoes and sandals too. And a wardrobe to keep my clothes in too. Everything is very pretty. I will be praying for you and you pray for me. I love you. Sincerely, Flor"

Compassion International is a worthy organization to sponsor a child through. When Flor was learning her letters, we did not hear from her as often, but we would get a card or a note from her teacher at least twice a year. As she learned to write, we heard from her more often. Through the mail, we have been able to watch her grow, learn and develop her artistic ability. We have learned about her country's customs as well as the heavy rains and flooding they have had over the years.

Please join us in prayer for Flor de Maria's spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well being.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Miss Hannah

My little girl did not make getting this picture easy, but here you go!
Her hair curls after a bath and we wanted to remember that, so we didn't comb it out.
Posted by Picasa

Last Night at Yorktown Beach

She spoke to everyone. Nearly everyone looked away or hurried by her. A few muttered "Hi." Maybe it was too painful for them. It was her big, beautiful, brown eyes that stopped me. "Hello!" she said with a loud and cheery voice. Her quarterback sized daddy watched my reaction carefully. Loving a child is something I know how to do. "I have this covered!" I said to him with my eyes. I kneeled down and asked her "Are you enjoying this beautiful night?" She nodded tiredly. I rubbed her hand. It was under-developed and slightly twisted from the defect having its way with her body. "It's so beautiful out here, but I see someone more beautiful than this beach and the river." She tried to move her head to look around. "It's you! You are more beautiful than this night!" She smiled big. Her daddy nodded at me and whispered "Thank you!"

Fifteeen years ago on this day, I lost a child.

When I went to the doctor for some light spotting, he could not find a heartbeat. The doctor had not turned the screen away for the ultrasound so when I saw the lifeless form, I told him what we both knew. "My baby is dead."

While we don't always share it with others, Clint and I remember our three miscarried children every year. We think of them every day. We speak of them often. Time and the promise of Heaven has made most of the sadness fade, but there is still a touch there. A tear still leaks now and then. We would rather be tender to it than calloused. We'd rather be sad for a brief moment as we remember and reflect than to forget our children existed.

If you lost a child, I am praying for God to give you peace and comfort today.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Inexpensive School Supplies

I use to make most of my own school things like flashcards, posters, tapes, etc. With five students of different levels and two babies, I do not have that kind of time any more.
Last night, I stopped in Dollar Tree and found many school supplies that are not usually on the shelves.
For many of these, I would have to visit a teacher's supply store where the prices are much higher.
I could not fit everything I purchased into the picture, but I found over 40 items I can use over the next year with my children.
Most of them are nonconsummable so I will get my money's worth out of them and hopefully be able to pass them along to another family one day.
If you need homeschool supplies, it is a good time to check the dollar priced stores.
Update: I checked two other Dollar Tree's in my area. At each store, I found items not carried by the others.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Miss Bethany

Bethany just lost two teeth! Our family celebrates lost teeth with a box of donuts!
Her brothers were asking her to work that last one out. :-)

Posted by Picasa

Cleaning Motor Oil Out of Car Upholstery

Posted by Picasa

The truck we recently purchased was a work truck and it looked like it inside. Today, you can not even tell how bad it was. The carpet was nearly black with motor oil in most places. It was filthy. Clint said he'd pull it out and replace it with new if I didn't want to bother with cleaning it. As a mother with seven rough and tumble children and one hard working man, I have tackled my fair share of stains so I saw this carpet as a challenge!

I wish I had taken some before pictures because the results are truly amazing!!!

Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) took the light and the very heavy oil stains out of the truck carpet very easily. In the second picture, the entire area was the dark color you see at the top. A little more elbow grease and alcohol took care of the rest of it. The carpet looks very close to new in that spot now.

For the lighter stains, I poured the alcohol on a cloth and just rubbed/blotted.

For the many, many, many heavier stains, I just poured the alcohol on heavy and blotted it up. The center console area of the carpet to the right of the 4WD stick looked like they had poured dirty motor oil onto it. It was BLACK and sticky to the touch.
See the yellow stains left? As the alcohol evaporated and pulled more oil to the surface, I had to keep blotting/rubbing. After it dried, that yellowish staining was left. Applying the alcohol to the cloth removed the rest.

This technique also removed some stubborn coffee staining in another vehicle. I had steam cleaned it and the yellow color kept coming up to the surface as the area dried. It has worked on almost every stain I have tried it on so far.

Do not get the alcohol on the molded plastic door panels; it will leave stain marks. Use the tips in our blog at your own risk.

Jake,the former owner, if you are seeing this, you probably don't recognize the truck!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Little May Still Kicking

This is Little May watching the activity as we move chickens to their new, larger pen.

After years of battling predator birds, raccoons, opossums, weasels, foxes, feral cats, neighbors dogs and etc, we found a way to stop predators from getting our poultry.

We have three 10 x 10 dog pens. The middle pen has a solid top on it. We keep dogs on either side of the chickens and that has stopped all problems with predators. Our dogs initially chase the fowl through the fence, but grow bored of them after a few days. The predators do not like the smell or noise of the dogs.
Posted by Picasa

Barn Swallow Babies

For the past 15 years, we have been delighted with the acrobatic flying routines of the barn swallows who nest every year in our big barn. These babies started flying not too long after I took these pictures.
Posted by Picasa

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

4th Weekend

Our 4th didn't happen as planned but we had a good weekend anyway. After working on it for a while, Clint discovered my pickup had a blown head gasket. We need a truck to haul things for our farm and so I will have a vehicle during the day. The shuttle bus (picts: 1, 2, 3.) is still in the shop waiting on the needed parts to arrive. So, we took a trip and bought another truck. It's a 4x4, but I am not even sure I will need it. Although, I can probably find a reason to use it. :-)

Please say a prayer for Jake, who sold us this truck. He lost his job when International Paper in Franklin folded due to the economy. Like many of our friends, he's having a hard go with things.

Jake, I hope you drop by the blog and know we are praying and hoping things get better for you! That carpet you left in the back of the truck for us is going to become a rug for dirty little feet. We really do have seven homeschooled children and rugs are useful tools in keeping the dirt out! I'll take good care of the truck and appreciate the deal you gave us.

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Posted by Picasa
Oh yeah, the good thing about this truck is that many parts from my old truck match it, so we should save money on repairs.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Prayer Please

While I was nursing Hannah, Emily climbed over the baby gate, snuck upstairs, climbed the toilet and got into the child lock on the medicine cabinet. She opened a bottle of aspirin. She says she didn't take any. There are less than 10 pills unaccounted for and Clint and I are pretty certain we took those. I feel 98% certain she didn't take any. Because aspirin toxicity is so serious, we called poison control and she is going to the hospital for observation. Clint is going to take her while I care for Hannah. Please keep Em and our family in your prayers.

UPDATE: Emily's blood results showed no aspirin. PTL! The doctor, nurses and an EMT agreed with our line of thinking that she probably did not ingest any, but it was better to be safe than sorry in this kind of situation. The doctor said her age group is very determined to get into things and had some hair raising stories to tell of determined preschoolers! The ability to thwart child safety measures is quite common among her peers. We are going to buy or construct a better "child proof lock" for the medicine cabinet because the Safety First one we have isn't cutting it.

Thank you for your prayers!!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Emily Turned 3!!!

The moment she first saw her cake!

When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she said "Um, Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, Clifford and my cake!" Hello Kitty and My Little Pony were easy requests to fill. We looked in Target, Walmart, 2 Kmarts, Dollar General, Toys R Us and a few thrift stores for Clifford.....nuttin'!! Clint checked another thrift store on his way home and found a like new Clifford storybook for .25! She was tickled with it! Good thinking Daddy!

Daddy helped her blow out the candles. I can not tell you how many times she asked me if I was going to bake her a cake for her birthday! Little ones are so much fun!

Emily is wirling in her favorite dress after her party.

The cake was simple enough to make, but turned out to be very difficult. My middle's fingers found my cake decorating supplies and I was missing bags, tips and etc. On top of that, we had a hard time locating the cake pan Emily requested for her birthday. Thanks to Brandon and Clint, it arrived at the house around noon yesterday (the day of her party)! Brandon and Clint had to make trips to the store to get the tips I needed. Amanda mixed up the frosting. It was a comedy of errors, but our Family Team conquered each obstacle to reach our goal. Emily LOVED her party and her gifts. Thank you to everyone who made it a special day!!!
Posted by Picasa

A New Way to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Hannah 18 months
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Heapin’ helping dose of educational legalism

Heapin’ helping dose of educational legalism
Written by Megan Dunham

I walked out of a homeschool conference last month. I didn’t intend to, but I did.

I went to the conference with a friend of mine who, in addition to homeschooling two of her kids, sends another to a nearby public charter school. When the speaker at the conference made the comment that she couldn’t understand why anyone would even consider sending his or her kids to a pagan institution run by a pagan government, my friend got angry.

When the message later turned into one in which the speaker couldn’t believe any caring parent would send his or her kids off to even a Christian school as they are no better than the pagan government ones, I got angry. We left, having been there a total of one hour.

As we were leaving, I called my husband to tell him I was on my way home. Somewhat surprised (we had, after all, driven five hours to get there the day before), he said, “You need to go back and get time with the speaker. You have to talk to her.” Umm, what?

I can tell you this: Talking to her was about the last thing I wanted to do that day. But I did. And as much as I’d like to tell you I was able to make her see where I was coming from—namely that God can and does use all means of education to bring about His own purposes and that we believe in His restoration and redemption of all things—I never got the chance. The speaker had no desire to answer the questions I asked, instead turning our time into an inquisition in which all burden was on me to supply the reasons for my position. When we left for the second time that day, it was with more of a sense of retreat than resolve.

It could very well be that in light of some of my past experiences I have a more keenly developed legalism sensor than your average homeschooling mom. But regardless of how (or how often) the sensor goes off, it burdens my heart every time it does.

Homeschooling gets a bad enough rap as it is, and those of us in the trenches certainly don’t need to dig the hole any deeper. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The goal in Christian parenting isn’t just to raise smart kids; it’s to raise a godly generation of people who love the Lord and desire to serve Him all the days of their lives. (emphasis Clint & Wendy's)

I have friends who are homeschooling to achieve this end, and I have friends who have chosen Christian schools to help meet this goal. I have friends who are called and comfortable with their kids in the public school system and who are doing all they can to ensure that their kids are learning to love Jesus just like mine are.

When it’s all said and done, yes, education is as much about the means as the ends. I may choose homeschooling and you may choose a different educational track. But if we both cross the same finish line–that of raising kids into adults who love and serve the Lord–then it would seem God will be well-pleased.