Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy!!


Caleb with one of five baskets of produce from our garden.
You might also notice the mohawk on his head. I let Amanda take the two middle boys to her school so she could get credits for giving them haircuts. She thought a mohawk would be a fun joke to play on me and planned to later shave it down to the length she left the rest of his hair. I am a wise mother; I choose my battles very carefully. Faith, character, and safety are places I do not budge. A weird hairstyle doesn't even make me blink. I suggested he dyes it red, white, and blue for the Fourth. THAT raised THEIR eyebrows!
Today, Joshua, Caleb, and Bethany learned how to blanche and freeze squash for our garden as they worked beside me. We worked fast and hard for an hour and put up eleven gallons of squash together. Freezing after blanching for three minutes is the method preferred today since research has shown there is more risk with canning squash. I prefer canning produce when possible because it doesn't require the additional cost of electricity to store, but I also choose to be safe with my family's health.

I am also continuing to dehydrate kale to make "kale chips." Those were a huge hit! We are also drying the ends of the produce and scraps for winter chicken feed and horse treats. The dried veggie scraps will also feed the guinea pigs, birds, bearded dragons, and the iguana during the winter. (Yes, my boys came home with a baby iguana!)

Proverbs 6:6-8 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

D.C. Duck Tours


This is the Rubber Duck, the authentic World War II DUKW amphibious vehicle Clint and I took a tour on this past weekend in Washington D.C. Our captain was Captain Jim, who has captained all sorts of vessels. He has even worked in our area immediately after 911 and is familiar with our annual Daffodil Festival and local restaurants.

D.C. Duck Tours offers a unique method of transportation through Washington D.C. The live 90 minute narration by the tour guide is a bit tongue in cheek at times and downright silly in others. It was a fun trip. Our favorite parts were going from land to water and then water to land. We also liked his bold and brazen march across three lanes of highway. Horns were honking, but Captain Jim got us in the right lane! "Don't make me turn on my rudder!" he says loudly to all of the cars pushing at his bumper.

At the hotel, Clint was able to get us a room with a two person jacuzzi tub for an additional $10 on the regular room rate. It never hurts to ask, and you never know what kind of a deal you will be offered.

Monday, June 25, 2012

D.C. Metro

This is for the 20 year old man we met on the D.C. Metro. You can contact us through email at: contentmentacres @ yahoo dot com. You are more than welcome to come to the farm for some peaceful time away from the city. We will find a spot for you to sleep! May God bless you in your journeys.

Sleepwalking and Beauty College

On Friday, Clint swung by Amanda's beauty college on the way home from work. It was a real emergency!!! Amanda did not want her hair to get wet in the heavy rain! Clint moved her car closer to the door for her at my request. She had helped me earlier in the day by bringing home a gate key, so I was happy to enlist Clint to help her out.

Amanda's instructor made a point to talking to Clint while he was there. She told him Amanda is very intelligent and doing very well. She said Amanda has talent. She also said Amanda is not afraid of anything and that there was something different about her that she just couldn't put into words.

I am thankful the instructor sees the hard work and effort Amanda is putting into her classes. I am also thankful Amanda is doing so well. She went from a homeschool routine that allowed her to rest as needed into a fast paced 40 hour week in a new environment surrounded by new people and constant new challenges. She still comes home and cheerfully contributes to our family and then tackles homework. I have watched her carefully for signs of weariness. She has breezed through it with a great attitude.

Amanda is fairly fearless, and cosmetology isn't going to shake her up. Two and a half years ago, Amanda woke up in the middle of a the night to find herself lying on the ground in a forest. She did not know how she arrived there. She had no idea where she was or how she would find her way home. She was unaware she had been sleepwalking for nine hours while we desperately searched for her. When she woke up, she was bewildered and terrified beyond the comprehension of most people. She called upon the Lord. He answered her. He led her right to her home and into my arms. Since that time, she has written a lot of music about God's love and protection over His children. There is something very different about her; she is a young woman full of faith.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Commit Your Way Unto The Lord

     Brandon, 2011 homeschool graduate, is so far ahead of his peers in his college classes they have pulled him out of the classes & put him to work in real world settings for the school. He still gets attendance & 4.0 credit for the classes. His instructors love his work ethic & his ability to self teach. I am very proud of him! When he tells me college is a "piece of cake" compared to my homeschool lessons, I respond "College is a "piece of cake" BECAUSE of my homeschool lessons." :-)

      His instructor just obtained a part time job and has asked if Brandon can work there part time too. The job is a starter position at $16 per hour. It will look very good on his resume and will move him along in his chosen career. The only downside is that I will not get to see him for half a day each week day, but he will be home more on the weekends.

     Amanda is doing great in her cosmetology college. In less than two months, she has already completed 1/3 of her required manicures, pedicures, and hair cuts. Having a large family is a blessing to her in her course, because she has plenty of people to ask to come in to help her meet her requirements. In fact, she plans to loan some of us out to other students so we can help them meet theirs. Amanda has done so well, her instructor let her cut and color her hair. She did such a great job of it, the instructor gave her a $5 tip! She is also ahead in filling out her workbooks which is required for graduation and certification.

     I am very thankful for Brandon's and Amanda's successes. Each of my pregnancies had me on bedrest for 6-8 months, so I often worried about how I'd manage to teach them well. Being the oldest, Brandon's and Amanda's education suffered the most, but they are 4.0 students and well liked by their instructors. I can clearly see where God multiplied my efforts.

     I'd often grow very frustrated with my limitations. I'd pray, "Lord, You have given me these children and led me to homeschool, so I am trusting you to work this out." I learned so much about herbs, compassion, accepting help, etc through the difficult pregnancies; I know there was a purpose for all of it.

Psalm 37:5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Family Road Trip Tips

Yesterday's post concluded our stops on our trip. We left one Thursday evening after Clint arrived home from work and returned that Sunday afternoon. It was a very full few days, and we had so much fun! There are many things we did to make the trip easier. Brandon and Amanda had to attend classes, so we only had five children ages 12 down to 3. I have put down some of the things I do to make trips easier and less costly for our family here in case they can bless someone else.

Our family drinks water most of the time. It is very rare for us to have a soda. Not only are sodas bad for you, but they also seem to necessitate more frequent bathroom stops. We use the very large insulated mugs to hold water and ice for the day for everyone except Emily and Hannah. It is much like having your own thermos. Emily and Hannah have smaller insulated cups that they can handle easier. It cuts down on washing and ice usage in our household. We took these on our trip, so cold water was available at all times. One bag of ice filled all of them with a little left over for the cooler. A gallon jug of water refilled them as needed.

For most meals, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up sandwich fixings or a rotisserie chicken, fruit, healthy crackers, and a small treat like cookies. Not only was it a healthier choice over fast food restaurants, but it was easier on the wallet. I made use of coupons and in store specials and saved $16 in one stop on $30 worth of food.

We ate breakfast at the hotels. We ate protein (eggs, ham, sausage, bacon) and complex carbohydrates (fruit, whole grain toast) choosing to skip the simple carbs (waffles, muffins, danishes) because we knew those would make us hungry again sooner and were full of empty calories. Once, per permisson from the desk clerk of the hotel, we let them hold onto a danish for after lunch.

I kept on board the suburban a first aid kit. I packed it from items we already had on hand at home into a large zipper freezer bag. This packs flat and is easy to tuck into a duffel bag or under my seat.

I also pack a large freezer bag with napkins, plastic cutlery, condiments, and spices to make "moving meals" easier. I also keep hand sanitizer on board.

Plastic cups are the easiest way I have found to serve some foods inside of a moving vehicle. I often fill a cup up with whole grain cereal for breakfast on the go, as a side item, or a snack. When possible, I layer their meal in the cup: steamed broccoli in the bottom, chicken breast in the middle, and half a wheat roll on top.

We planned ahead for stops at places the children could get out and burn off energy. If we happened upon a place, like an open field beside a fast food place, we let them run for 15-20 minutes. Making sure they had fun, I kept them moving fast and hard the entire time because I knew they'd be cooped up for another stretch of time. We'd chase Clint, or hop in a line, or let them run in circles. I do this away from areas people are congregating, but we usually have someone walk over to talk to us or the children.

We do not time our driving time, and our schedule is kept flexible. We go for a no stress, fun for everyone adventure. If your goal is reaching a destination in a certain time limit, you are racing a clock. If your goal is to provide a relaxed and enjoyable experience for every single member of your family, you are on a family vacation. What good is it to get to a destination in record time, if everyone is miserable, uncomfortable, and grumpy? The ride is the best time to bond with your family on the trip because you are all in one place without many distractions, so you can really talk and enjoy one another if you choose to do so.

Even when we go away for two weeks, I only pack 3 days worth of clothing for most of us. That make four total outfits per person because they are wearing one. I add an extra shirt for each of us just in case. I make sure everyone also haves a jacket or long sleeved shirt when there might be a chill in the evenings. For the younger children I packed two extra shirts and an extra pair of pants. This cuts down on space needed for luggage. We threw all of our dirty clothes into one washing machine twice and came home with clean clothes.

I packed pint sized canning jars with laundry detergent and fabric softener. This took up little space, but also cut costs...especially since I make my own laundry detergent and fabric softener.

We made sure every one's needs were met. A trip is about making memories, bonding, exploring, and getting some down time from the hectic pace of life. Within reason, if someone is not enjoying themselves, we try to remedy it. However, we do not cater to our children's whims or bad behavior. We do not tolerate whining or bad attitudes...

As a general rule: If there is a bad attitude, I think first on the child's physical needs. Have they had a proper diet and meals on time? Did they sleep well last night? Have they had too much excitement? If it isn't physical, I address the emotional and spiritual issues. What has made you upset? Why? What is a godly response to this situation? How can I restore peace? With warring siblings, we seek to establish mutual understanding, forgiveness and peace.

When someone does get out of line, for whatever reason, we do our best to respond patiently with love. Self-control means we keep in control of ourselves...our attitudes, our voices, our thoughts, our words, and our body language. To lose control compounds the problem. We end up having two misbehaving people to deal with: them and ourselves! You know it's bad when Mom needs to put herself in time out!!

We planned ahead for bathroom breaks. If everyone knows when you start that you are going to stop in one hour, they are more willing to wait patiently. I explain time to my younger children in TV show increments. "Do you remember how long it takes for Daddy to get home once I tell you he has left work? Well, it will take twice as long as that to finish driving tonight." or "It will take the same amount of time it takes for you to watch three (favorite half hour cartoon)." If they can relate it to something they CAN do, they know they can do it.

I pack books, small hand held games, small dolls, sandwich bags of Lego pieces, notepads and pencils, small coloring books and crayons, etc. I sometimes combine sets (like a doll with brush and clothing) in zippered pencil bags I picked up on sale during back to school sales. These make the perfect size for stowing on board a vehicle and for opening for use in car seats or laps.

Parents have needs too. We made sure we took time for ourselves and each other each day as best we could. We put the children in their beds and talked quietly. We laid down on the grass together while we watched them play. We held hands and walked alone while watching them run together up a trail. We rubbed each other's backs in the evenings. I massaged Clint's neck with my left hand on the drive. We took turns soaking in the tub. Little things add up to a nice experience.

Clint and I kept an eye out for travel brochures and hotel coupon guides books. This allowed us to know which hotel chains were in the area and compare rates and amenities without using a computer.

Clint negotiated with the hotel desk clerks. He was able to book two large adjoining suites for two nights at a very nice hotel much cheaper than he could get one room for two nights at another hotel. We expected the price at the nicer hotel to be much higher than the first one we checked. Due to the nature of an event in town, they knew the larger rooms would probably be unused, but the smaller rooms were booked up at nearly every hotel for miles. So, they offered us a deal to take the larger rooms together so they could put us in there and save their smaller rooms for the people they KNEW were coming into town. You never know what circumstances will affect what kind of deal you can get until you ask! I believe it also helped to mention we checked prices with their competitor across the street before we went to them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Prayer Request for Steve Saint

Steve Saint, is the son of Nate Saint, the missionary that was brutally killed by the people he went to help. Steve lived with them years later and became close friends with the man who killed his father. Steve told the story in the book and movie End of the Spear. He was recently seriously injured working on an experimental aircraft (wing fell on him) and is paralyzed. There is hope in an upcoming surgery to relieve pressure on his spine. Please lift this beautiful man in your prayers.

Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Farm Museum



This gate is weighted with rocks to help it swing open.
Actual log home of a family with seven children.
The kitchen, living area, and parent's bedroom were on the first floor.
Caleb has climbed the ladder in the picture to see where the children slept.

bee gums
root cellar and plunder storage room
Clint "locked" our children in there. :-)
This is the barn and rock fencing.
inside the barn
This is a hog pen. The farmers had razorback hogs that would run wild until the fall.
Then, they would round up the best hogs and put them in this pen.
The top and log held in place by the "x" supports were not to keep the hogs in.
It was to keep the bears out!
This is inside the spring house. They would keep their butter and other cold storage items on the rocks.
The tour made for a nice walk.
gorgeous tree

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wade's Mill

Our next stop was at Wade's Mill.
The internet page we looked at to find it said it would be open, but when we arrived, it was closed.
That was OK. We just walked around the outside and saw what we could of the historical mill.
From the website: "Wade's Mill is a working flour mill, c. 1750, built by Captain Joseph Kennedy. Captain Kennedy was a Scotsman who was one of the earlier settlers in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He settled in the area between Staunton and Lexington Virginia. This was the frontier of the United States between 1740 and 1770. The Kennedy family owned the flour mill in the Shenandoah Valley for about 100 years.

In 1882, James F. Wade bought the flour mill and his family operated it for the next four generations. The interior and workings of the flour mill are much like they were when Mr. Wade bought it.

How Wade's Mill OperatesThe mill is powered by a 21-foot water wheel that is fed by a nearby stream (known originally as Captain Joseph Kennedy's Mill Creek). Wade's Mill is one of the few remaining flour mills that still produces a wide variety of flours exclusively on mill stones. The Shenandoah Valley flour mill is on the National Register of Historic Places."
Thanks to technology, you can try this historical mill's products in your home.

I found a nice video on YouTube of the inside of the mill:

If for some reason that doesn't work, you can find the video here.

In August 2012, we tried to go back to Wade's Mill. We checked the hours posted on their website. Then, we made the long drive there with the hopes of buying quite a bit of their merchandise after a tour of the inside of the mill. It took us three hours out of our way. They were closed. The note on the door said they had changed their hours for the summer. They should have noted this on their website out of consideration for their customers. Time is precious, and gas is expensive. We will not make a third attempt.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cyrus McCormick Farm

On our fourth day, we drove home. We decided to take our time and make stops as we went.
One of the stops was Walnut Grove which is more widely known as the Cyrus McCormick Farm.
If you enlarge the photo, you should be able to read the sign.
The free tour is self guided. This is the first successful reaper.
This is a photo of a reaper in use.
 These are the two buildings we toured. There is also a bathroom in the area the spring house use to be.
The open areas make a lovely place for children to burn off some energy.
If the rocks are wet, beware! They are very slippery. Joshua thought he could run over them.
He slipped and cut quite a gash in his knee. I had first aid supplies packed so we bandaged him on the spot.
There is a grist mill, workshop, blacksmith shop, and museum to walk through.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Birthplace of Sam Houston

 As we were searching for food, we came across The Birthplace of Sam Houston
If you enlarge this, you should be able to read the marker.
Clint giving a history lesson to the middles.
The baby girls were asleep in the suburban.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Article: Breast milk kills HIV and blocks oral transmission

The article is found here.

CHAPEL HILL — More than 15 percent of new HIV infections occur in children. Without treatment, only 65 percent of HIV-infected children will live until their first birthday, and fewer than half will make it to the age of two. Although breastfeeding is attributed to a significant number of these infections, most breastfed infants are not infected with HIV, despite prolonged and repeated exposure.

HIV researchers have been left with a conundrum: does breast milk transmit the virus or protect against it?

New research from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine explores this paradox in a humanized mouse model, demonstrating that breast milk has a strong virus killing effect and protects against oral transmission of HIV.

“This study provides significant insight into the amazing ability of breast milk to destroy HIV and prevent its transmission,” said J. Victor Garcia, PhD, senior author on the study and professor of medicine in the UNC Center for Infectious Diseases and the UNC Center for AIDS Research. “It also provides new leads for the isolation of natural products that could be used to combat the virus.”

Garcia and colleagues pioneered the humanized “BLT” mouse model, which is created by introducing human bone marrow, liver and thymus tissues into animals without an immune system of their own. Humanized BLT mice have a fully functioning human immune system and can be infected with HIV in the same manner as humans.

In the study, the researchers first determined that the oral cavity and upper digestive tract of BLT mice have the same cells that affect oral transmission of HIV in humans and then successfully transmitted the virus to the mice through these pathways. When the mice were given virus in whole breast milk from HIV-negative women, however, the virus could not be transmitted.

“These results are highly significant because they show that breast milk can completely block oral transmission of both forms of HIV that are found in the breast milk of HIV-infected mothers: virus particles and virus-infected cells,” said Angela Wahl, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher in Garcia’s lab and lead author on the paper. “This refutes the ‘Trojan horse’ hypothesis which says that HIV in cells is more stubborn against the body’s own innate defenses than HIV in virus particles.”

Finally, the researchers studied the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with antiretroviral medication for oral transmission of HIV. Garcia and his team have previously shown that PrEP is effective against intravenous, vaginal and rectal transmission of HIV in humanized BLT mice. In this study, they gave the mice antiretroviral drugs for seven days (3 days before and 4 days after exposing them to the virus) and found 100 percent protection against virus transmission.

These latest findings provide important leads to alternative treatments that could be used to prevent transmission.

“No child should ever be infected with HIV because it is breastfed. Breastfeeding provides critical nutrition and protection from other infections, especially where clean water for infant formula is scarce,” Garcia said. “Understanding how HIV is transmitted to infants and children despite the protective effects of milk will help us close this important door to the spread of AIDS.”

The study appears in the June 14, 2012 issue of the online journal PLoS Pathogens.

The research was supported by funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and the UNC Center for AIDS Research.

Timber Ridge Church and Hull Drive In

After seeing the Sam Houston monument, we saw the Timber Ridge Church.

As drove onward in our search for food, we passed Hull's Drive In Theatre and made a note to try it out if we ever headed that way again. Families were already tailgating and playing football waiting for the movie. It looks like a great time for a family! It is distinctive because it is the "nation's first community owned, non profit drive in." With children under 11 being free, it is a great way for a large family to have some inexpensive fun.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Homeschooled students better socialized, peform better in college, study shows

The following article is found here:

by Joel McDurmon on Jun 14, 2012 reports,

More than 2 million U.S. students in grades K-12 were home-schooled in 2010, accounting for nearly 4 percent of all school-aged children, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. Studies suggest that those who go on to college will outperform their peers.

an author and parenting expert who home-schooled his twin daughters.

“I know that sounds counterintuitive because they’re not around dozens or hundreds of other kids every day, but I would argue that’s why they’re better socialized,” Kelly says. “Many home-schoolers play on athletic teams, but they’re also interactive with students of different ages.”

Home-schooled students often spend less time in class, Kelly says, giving them more opportunity to get out into the world and engage with adults and teens alike.

“The socialization thing is really a nonissue for most home schoolers,” he says. “They’re getting a lot of it.”

Virginia Safari Park

After we left Foamhenge, we still had some hours in our day left, so we chose to go to Virginia Safari Park. This is a drive through park where you can feed several different kinds of animals up close from your car.
As you can tell, it was a big hit!
Hannah is a girl. I appreciate the concern. No, she is not undergoing treatments.
Her older sister, Emily, cut her hair down to the scalp.
You can laugh. It's OK. It's just hair. :-)

My personal favorite was the camels. There was a sign warning you the camels would take your feed bucket. I held on tightly to the bucket and managed to pull it back the first time they tugged hard. My family cheered! I was so proud of myself! Then...
I lost the bucket to the scoundrel on the second round! While the one directly in front of me was fooling me by eating peacefully, the one behind him sneakily grabbed the edge of the bucket and yanked it from me. What a clever camel!
We kept passing ostriches, but they were not interested in feeding. I think early morning is a better time to go than late afternoon. The animals are hungrier in the morning! Clint finally found this one who was willing to peck a few grains from his bucket.
I am 2 for 3 at bucket wrestling with camels. She tugged. I pulled back hard and scolded her. She pulled her huge head up and blinked at me. Then she decided, "OK, I'll just eat it while you hold it." We got along great.
I fell so hard for these beautiful creatures that I came home and priced camels for our farm.
At $5k to $22k, we put that on the "Maybe Someday, But Not Now" list!
It is amazing how much of his snout can fit inside the feed bucket! 

Our family was lagging in energy by time we completed the drive through tour, so we opted out of the walk through area. We still felt we got our money's worth and had a wonderful time!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Another link is HERE.





Emily and Hannah made believe there were sharks in the "water" around the rocks.
We all played along for some exercise and good fun!
Hannah was hanging on my legs as I took the picture saying "Save me from the sharks, Mom!"

The best part of the trip is coming next!!