Friday, July 31, 2015

Fairy Egg

Images copyrighted by Wendy Asbell

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Pictured first is a normal egg where the yolk is clearly visible. The second photo shows a small egg without a yolk. This is called a "fairy egg" among other names. It happens when a bird's reproductive system is out of synch and is mostly seen in new layer or older birds. This is the first one I've encountered one which led to some research and another learning opportunity...after I scratched my head and showed my gang!

You can see imagines and learn about other types of egg variations here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Higher Calling Than a Dress

After I gave Emily her Elsa dress mentioned in the previous sewing post, her siblings called her down to share some pizza. I gently reminded her not to get food on her dress and that changing would be a prudent choice. She acknowledged my suggestion and went straight down to the table to eat. 

Pride loudly called out, "BUT, I JUST made that dress and put over TWO hours into it!! That thing gave me a fit!!!" The Spirit quietly answered, "The dress is insignificant. Learning to make wise decisions about caring for her possessions will bless her all her life." I was gently reminded by my Father that my goal as a parent is higher than a clean dress.

I mentally gave the dress to the Lord to use as He saw fit. It turned out exactly as I expected with a reward I didn't expect.

Emily came to me later and had a small stain. I calmly told her, "I see you have a stain on your new dress. Changing your clothes before you ate would have been a better choice. I hope the stain comes out in the washer. If you give it to me, I will treat it and most of it should come out." She said, "OK," and ran off.

A few minutes later, she came back and sat down. My daughter looked me in the eyes and said, "Mom, I want you to know I dropped a WHOLE piece of pizza on my dress! The pizza was stuck UPSIDE DOWN to me and there was a HUGE stain!!! I was afraid I had ruined my dress, but I prayed and asked God to help me get the stain out. I kept praying as I went to the bathroom and wiped the stain, and you know what?!!! GOD HELPED ME get all of the stains out except this one little spot! It was amazing!"

If I had told Emily to change her clothes, she would have missed out on learning from her choices and interacting with her Creator. If I had lost control of my temper and fussed over the stained dress with pride boosting, "I knew it! I told you so!" she would not have felt it was safe to share her story with me. I would have denied Emily a learning exercise and experiencing God's help. I would have missed out on something else too.

I think God left that one little spot for me, so I'd see it and make a comment. That comment led to me learning my just turned 8-year-old daughter has learned from her father and I where to turn for help. Thank You, Lord, for your gifts!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Cheaper Way to Get Fabric for Children's Dress Up Play

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Most gowns are worn 1-3 times and then donated to charities who try to sell them. I found this one on sale for 50% off $6.99. I know first hand from my work in a clothing ministry that if they do not sell, they are often thrown into dumpsters. (You would not believe how many articles of clothing are thrown away in every week by a single private resale shop. Sometimes we were given 80 big trash bags full of good clothing in one week!)

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These are the sewing materials I was able to salvage from the dress.

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This is what I discarded after cutting it apart.

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I put a good deal of my $3.50 purchase right to use.

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Here is what I was able to reuse from a white gown I found for $2.

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Even after making Em's Elsa gown, I had enough fabric left over for another dress, a pair of shorts, and other small projects. I am trying to teach myself how to make a nice looking double bodice. I had a time and the dress has many flaws, so I shall swallow my pride and keep trying to learn. Emily was easy to please and saw the love I put into it and not the flaws.

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The best part is that I get to make memories and share a skill with my precious four daughters. Amanda can make her own dresses. Bethany is well on her way in learning. Emily and Hannah have a few basic hand sewing skills and have ran a machine for a few minutes.

A big thank you to Mrs. Dell, SCS Home Ec teacher, for teaching us how to sew by allowing the class to make quilted aprons.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Grow Bag System Finds

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I found a couple dozen canvas tote bags for my "kiddie pool grow bag" test run for 28 cents each. Then, I found and purchased 10 kiddie pools for $5. I plan to experiment with this system this fall. In fact, my fall corn seedlings are ready to go into it as soon as I can get the time to fill the bags.

The features of this system which make it appealing to me are: 
You do not have to turn up earth. 
It has a small footprint. 
Weeding is reduced. 
Fertilizer and water use is reduced. 
It's elevated off the ground. 
It is easily relocated if needed.

YouTube has many videos from Larry Hall who freely shares his gardening set ups.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Make It Count

A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated for eternity. The same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, will exhibit forever. Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness? It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us then each morning resolve to spend the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night, let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone indelibly marked. -Adoniram Judson

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Meet Magaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood

Margaret Sanger Founder of Planned Parenthood In Her Own Words has several quotes of Sanger to give you an idea of how she believed.

It is confusing to me why Christians are celebrating the life of Margaret Sanger. She had a very ugly heart towards many groups incuding families like mine (read the last quote on the page at the link). It is a tragedy this woman chose to ignore God's truth about the poor, different races, and children.* Her words call God a liar. Her actions were at war with God's revealed will in Scripture. I wonder how much wailing and weeping she will do when she and her followers stand before the Lord and realize the full weight of their legacy of death and destruction. 

"If you support Planned Parenthood, ask yourself what do you like about the organization? Do you look up to and praise the work of Margaret Sanger or does her eugenic and racist attitude sicken you? Is this the kind of organization that you want to be associated with? I don't ask these questions to condemn, but hopefully to get you to seriously consider these issues. Does "reproductive rights" improve a society or damage a society? What does "reproductive rights" really mean?"

Who Was Margaret Sanger?

*Proverbs 19:17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (Wendy's note: Wouldn't the opposite also hold true?) Galations 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Wendy's note: There is no superior race. We are all human beings in need of a Savior.) Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Wendy's note: Forfeiting, despising, and killing a heritage and reward does not show a belief in God's Word.)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Free Kindle Books on Farming/Homesteading/Gardening

Article: God Doesn’t Need My Kid To Beat the Odds

"But the testimonies of those who did not experience miraculous healing and power are just as important. Perhaps they show the alacrity of faith and God’s sustaining power even more; His “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). We imagine the rush of triumph from the deliverance of circumstances but God often makes faith triumph through the fire of trial. Think of Job, Paul’s thorn, the apostle John’s banishment, or Stephen’s stoning. God worked treasure through struggle and soul-refining rather than through remarkable deliverance. ... God doesn’t need Calvin to beat the odds in order to prove his goodness, faithfulness, power and salvation. Our weakness is precisely what he is using to show his power and presence." read more - God Doesn’t Need My Kid To Beat the Odds

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


My friend's son, Seth, does not need open heart surgery tomorrow! They were able to fix the shriveled valve with a balloon! According to the surgeon, this should give him another five years before surgery is needed. Please rejoice and thank the Lord with us! Thank you to those who were praying along!

Monday, July 20, 2015

4 Pounds

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of elderberries from our elderberry bush with about as much more to come when they finish ripening. We were so happy to discover this growing wild beside our driveway! I will be making syrup and jam from them. I am going to try to propagate it. Elderberries are good medicine and are worth learning how to identify and use. We also found about thirty more persimmon saplings. Right as I am able to start putting these things to use, God has put them into my hand.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wendy's Whole House Pick Up

We have a very busy life here at Contentment Acres. We have nine people with many interests and hobbies. Sometimes our den and dining room are filled with Legos, My Little Pony, circuit boards, computers, fabric and sewing machines, small engines under repairs, modeling clay, etc...all at the same time! The house can get messy fast! 

Many years ago, I started the "whole house pick up." When I noticed the house was getting messy, I'd call for everyone of a certain age* to help tidy the house. We'd spend 10 to 30 minutes putting the house back together. When you multiply 15 minutes by nine people, a lot can be accomplished in a short amount of time. There are days when I call for a pick up after every meal and others where I only implement it around 8 p.m. Then there are those Mondays where we start the day off with one!

At what age did my children start helping pick up after themselves? I've always figured that if they are old enough to walk and take toys out of the toy box, they are able to learn under loving instruction and grace to put toys back into the toy box. A three to four year old can help put things in the correct room, "Take these socks to my room and place them on my bed. I will put them in the dresser later." If Mom keeps her attitude right, putting the toys away can be as much fun as taking them out. 

If you teach your children that housework is a time for music, playfulness, and togetherness, it becomes something you do together. Storming around the house in a bad mood because you don't want to clean teaches them to dread it. Every minute you are with your children, you are teaching them either intentionally with purpose or unintentionally without direction.   

Remember you are given the task of home keeping because you have a HOME. Being physically able to clean it is another blessing. Having healthy children who are able to make a mess is another blessing. Having possessions that get used and scattered around is another. Please don't treat your God given blessings as a curse!

To keep it fun, I tickle my children, play "attack of the mommy monster," or spray water from the kitchen sink sprayer (Hey, the floor needs to be mopped anyway!), swat them on the butt with the broom as they walk past and play innocent when they look at me, or whatever makes them laugh! My efforts in instilling a good work ethic have paid off. 

My adult children are frequently praised  and have been rewarded for being hard working employees. My middle children are highly regarded by a neighbor, who says they worked better at 12 and 14, than his 17 year old nephew. He hires them to work for him and says they always exceed his expectations. My little girls are 6 and just turned 8. They are able to clean their own room and help with household chores. Emily can cook eggs for herself and Hannah and for our dogs. At this stage of life, if I am doing something, my children come over and give me a hand on their own. Sometimes, they take over!

This doesn't mean the house is always clean, because we don't serve the house. God gave the house to serve our needs as we work to serve Him. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Life Hack

Over the last 20+ years, I have had scores of people tell me they want the blessings I have in my life...a loving, godly husband, well behaved children, needs abundantly met, and my inner joy, strength and peace. 

None of them ever say they want my heartaches: abuse, abandonment, rejection, losses from natural disasters, thirteen rounds of severe hyperemesis gravidarum, nine pregnancy losses, death of good friends, and etc. The good often results from the bad, so they can't be separated. To have one, you must go through the other. Once a grade school teacher pointed out that concept, I no longer struggled with envy or jealousy. 

Very, very few of the people who have said they want my life want it badly enough to do what I did though...surrender my life (my way of doing things) for Christ's. 

Any good you see in me or my life is Jesus. I know Him. I love Him. I try the best I can to obey Him. My efforts are weak and very flawed. I mess up and have to crawl back on my knees asking for help. Still, He sees my heart and blesses me anyway. 

What you see in my life, I did not earn it. I am not that worthy. It's called God's grace. 


You know how you discover somewhere good to eat, and you tell your friends so they can go too. That's how I am about Jesus. He is good! He even says, "Try me and see how beneficial I am to your life."

Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Homeschool: Free Food Preservation Curriculum

One of our very large freezers froze up again as it does every year around this time. I own three of the same model, and this was the only one that kept having issues. It is now destined to become an egg incubator. Thanks to my awesome adult children, no food was lost. What Brandon and Amanda could not move into the other freezers filled a huge cooler. You know the kind that is about as wide as a truck tailgate? I worked nonstop for three days preparing and pressure canning meat. While reviewing times for my pressure canner, I came across this nice curriculum.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation's curriculum is a pdf with printable posters for teaching food preservation techniques. It covers different techniques of preservation

Put It Up! Food Preservation for Youth

How do I get a copy of the lessons?
To access pdf files of the curriculum, please click the link below and complete the request form. Once you submit the request form you will receive a username, password, and webpage address with the curriculum files. PLEASE DO NOT SHARE THIS USERNAME/PASSWORD/WEBSITE INFORMATION WITH ANYONE ELSE. In order to continue to be able to offer the curriculum at no cost, we must gather information about who is using it and how it is being used. Thank you very much for honoring our request.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Should a Christian's Response Be to Troubling Times?

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commands.

It is the same as we have been doing. Love God by obeying the commands found in His Word. Love others as ourselves. 
Father, help me love you more deeply by obeying You in all areas of my life. Give me a heart to love others as You would have me to love them. Help me to speak Truth boldy with great love. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


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Linda, a former teacher, good friend, and mentor, passed along 2 two hour Patriot Segway History Tours for Amanda and Bethany to use. The girls are very thankful and enjoyed their tours! Thank you so much, Linda! It gave the girls a new experience and some fun memories they made together!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Please pray for Seth

Seth is a young man our family has been praying for since he was a young boy. He is a heart patient and is currently having serious issues. This is from his mama: "Seth has cardiac testing Mon. the 20th, heart Cath Tuesday, and probable open heart on Wednesday. Please ask everyone you know to pray for him. We absolutely need to be completely covered in prayer. Seth doesn't feel well physically and he is scared. Not a happy combination! We wanted to do some fun things before we leave, but he doesn't feel like it. We are talking about a vacation in the fall if we can swing it so he is PLANNING on being a part of that future! He knows what he is facing and the risks that come with it. He also knows WHO holds his future. Please pray for us. This is just hard!" Please cover this family in prayer.

Edgar Allan Poe's Gravesite

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his wife and mother in law are buried beside him

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Sometime between when we arrived and before we left, 
someone placed a rose on his grave.

Anyone who has studied American Literature has studied the life of Poe. He had a most tragic life. Even in death, his memory was shrouded in the mysterious way he was found, cause of death, and then his reputation was insulted. It is thought that the stories of drugs and alcohol in Poe's life were invented and spread by a rival. His family and closest friends strongly contested these stories and no evidence was brought forward to support the claims. The man who gave us stories that stick in our heads left us with another in the story of his tragic life and death.

Visiting Poe's grave in March 2015 was an "experience." If you plan to go, I highly recommend you go after the morning commuter traffic. There were policemen stationed on every corner for good reason. A virtual tour with some Poe props would be a great classroom experience!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Article: The One Question that Can Also Be an Answer

The One Question that Can Also Be an Answer "Asking, “How can I help?” acknowledges someone’s struggle and lightens the load without pushing for further details or explanation. But there is more …The help you offer has a way of coming back to you when you most need it and least expect it."

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Essence of Forgiveness Quote

The essence of forgiveness is absorbing pain instead of giving it.
-Timothy Keller 

Forgiveness is giving up the right to extract vengeance. We accept the loss and get on with loving the person because that is what Christ did for us.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Our Buddy

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Amanda and I left a few sunflower seeds out for a bird that was visiting our balcony in Wintergreen. The bird didn't get to eat many of them before this chipmunk appeared and took them over.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Homeschool for Free Online

July is when most homeschooling mothers finalize their curriculum and plan out their schedule. It is when I get the most "How to homeschool" or "What do you use for homeschool" questions. 

I am using this website to teach Emily and Hannah from preK to 3rd. It is so easy to use. Even a new homeschooling mother can do this program with no problem. 

Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool worked better for us than ReadingEggs and another paid program I tried. Neither of those programs were very effective, and we lost months trying them. Easy Peasy is fun for the girls! I wish it had been around with my oldest two because I would have likely used it with all seven. 

I believe in teaching phonics for the many advantages it gives students, and I taught phonics with my oldest five children. This program teaches sight words first and then phonics, and I like this approach better. This method lets children start to read from a book much sooner and boosts confidence levels. That translates into fun and interest for the student which makes teaching easier and more fulfilling.

I recommend you read through all of this mom's opening pages, but here are some of the main points. She is also the mother of a large family, so busy moms, she GETS what we need...short, simple, effective, inexpensive.

"This site holds preschool (getting ready 1), kindergarten (getting ready 2), and first through eighth. (We have a separate high school site.) Grade levels include all of the English, math, computer and logic. The other subjects are combined into “program years” so that all of your children can study the same topic at the same time. Year 1’s theme is ancient history and biology. Year 2 has early American history and zoology for the theme. Year 3 is earth science and geography and cultures as  the theme. Year 4’s theme is modern history, physics and chemistry.

Your child just goes to Day 1 on his or her level (found in the sidebar) and starts clicking through the assignments! That’s all!
And yes, it’s all free. You’ll need paper, pencil, etc. and some minor supplies if you choose to do the experiments and art projects, but all of the reading materials, etc. are all free and online."
"Your children will need access to a computer and the internet and to you! The children are often instructed to tell a parent or older sibling about what they just read. Be available or assign an older child to be available. Occasionally they may come to you and say they earned a high five or a hug. Please oblige! About once a week the kids also get a little something extra, just for fun, tucked into their school day.
This school is intended to be college preparatory. They will read challenging books and will always be reading something. Most of the books are chosen from the Robinson and Ambleside curricula. You can read the book lists and specific course descriptions on the individual course pages.
I have sought to make this curriculum comprehensive, but not intensive. The lessons are short, intended to keep the school day short. At one point I had three children doing school on one computer and they were able to take turns and finish before dinner without a problem. Also, children in the same age bracket (first through fourth -L- and fifth through eighth -M-) can work at the same time on half of their school day. My children spend their extra time reading, writing, exploring, experimenting, programming, drawing, creating, working, doing chores, helping others, and PLAYING!
This is a Christian curriculum. Not everything is overtly Christian, but I do point to the Bible from time to time in literature, science, history, etc. and seek to promote a biblical worldview. I also believe in a literal six day creation. I do choose to use materials that talk about millions of years because it is what’s available, and it’s useful for our children to know what’s taught out there so they can be intelligent in a response to it. I do address it to varying degrees when it comes up.
The school year lasts 180 days because that is my state’s requirement. Beyond that I believe children should continue schooling the rest of the year with reading, experimenting, exploring their interests and passions and the world."

Sunday, July 05, 2015

When You've Just Turned 8...

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is how you eat your cake!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Article: 21 Ways to Raise a Daughter to Rebel and Despise You

21 Ways to Raise a Daughter to Rebel and Despise You

19. Let her keep her music, friends, phone, computer, game console, TV, etc. because those are rights, not privileges.

20. Let her hear you tell other people that you can’t wait till she is on her own and out of the house, because then she will no longer be your responsibility, and you can finally do what you want to do.

21. Just give up, because there is simply nothing you can do.

Harper's Ferry National Historical Park: Jefferson's Rock

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While no one is allowed to get on Jefferson's rock today, I imagine the view is quite spectacular from that vantage point. This shot was taken much further back.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Big Fella!

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This black snake was eating rabbits for months.
I don't like killing wildlife, but this one kept causing big losses over a few months.
Amanda measured it three times...6'3".
Clint can tell gender on snakes and said this one was a male.
We found him eating a bunny. Clint had to tug the five week old kit out of the snake's grip. The bunny appeared lifeless but still had pink tissues under its lips. So, we resucitated it with quick CPR puffs and ten minutes of vigorous rubbing to stimulate breathing and circulation. It survived but has a limp.