Monday, June 20, 2011

A Taste of Summer

This weekend we took our family blueberry picking.  The blueberry farm was a sweet reminder to slow down and cherish where our food comes from.  Real food.  Pure food.

After driving down a dusty, winding road you are welcomed by a sweet little lady wrapped in an apron.  She stands on the front porch of her old farmhouse and instantly makes you feel at home, offering ice cold water and homemade cinnamon bread to the new harvesters.

We grabbed our buckets and went to work.  As we weaved through the rows or blueberry bushes a quiet peace blows in on the warm summer breeze.  As my hands are busily searching for the perfect berries, my mind was set free from the weight of the week.

With full buckets we walked the steps of that old front porch.  There she sells fresh brown eggs and local honey.  Our harvest is weighed, over 12 lbs!

Now that we are home, the kids have already eaten a bucketful, and there are a few pounds tucked away in the freezer.  I've made blueberry popsicles and I'm sure there will be many batches of blueberry muffins and pancakes.

It was the perfect, simple day to enjoy a little taste of Summer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Power of a Storybook


One of my favorite memories with my mother was that she would read to us everyday.  We would snuggle up in her bed with a stack of books and she would read to me until I fell asleep.  It didn't matter how many times we had read those books before, or that I had them memorized, it was always exciting to hear them again.  She had a way of bringing the stories to life.

When I had children of my own, this was the first tradition that I couldn't wait to carry on.  All of my childhood books had been lost in a fire, but I have found a few of my favorites again at yard sales and in thrift stores.  It is amazing to me when I flip through these old books that the pictures can instantly take me back and I still have them memorized, though it's been over 25 years since my mother read to me.

The power of a storybook can calm an energetic toddler and ignite imaginations.

I thought that when my older children learned to read for themselves, that they wouldn't want to curl up on the couch with me for a story.  But they love it more than ever and it has opened up a whole new world of stories.

We have been reading the Little House series, which I never read as a child, and we are discovering the joys of the simple prairie life together.  I love that when I close the book they beg, "Just one more chapter, please?!"

When we read to our children we are giving them a beautiful gift.  We are making memories and instilling a love for literature that will last a lifetime.  We are also giving a gift to ourselves.  We slow down and enjoy our children and bring life back to where it should be.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life and Death on the Farm

This morning as I went out to feed the chickens, I saw white feathers scattered all over the ground.  One of our chickens had been attacked during the night.  Something had reached in through the wire fence and tried to eat it.  What was left of it was laying in the dirt, covered in flies.
Another one, which we think is a rooster, is pretty scratched up.  There is dried blood matted into the feathers around his neck.

I just stood there, shaking, staring at the crime scene.

I know this animal was just looking for a meal.  I know this is a natural part of life and death.  It was just unsettling to see it in my backyard.

I called my husband.  "It was probably a coyote."  His words did not bring me any comfort.  I know there are many animals in these woods that are capable of this, but I have not wanted to think of them wandering around and hunting where my children play.

I am scared.  I don't feel safe.  I am saddened because we have raised these chickens since they were tiny balls of fluff.  They are my babies, and I couldn't protect them.

But God is good.  We had made plans for our neice to spend the night, but then our two oldest decided to sleep over her house instead.  If they had been here I know they all would have run out there first thing in the morning and been the ones to discover it.

I am not going to hide the reality of life and death from my children.  I can't lie to them.  But I am so thankful that God protected their little eyes.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Just the mention of the word brings out a sigh, doesn't it?

I have yet to meet a mother who hasn't complained about laundry.  But why is that?  Laundry really is one of our easiest chores.  Most of us are blessed to have a washer and dryer right in our homes.  We do not have to drag the laundry basket down to the creek.  We just throw the clothes in and walk away.

But maybe that's the problem.  Maybe it's too easy to do the laundry and not so easy to finish the laundry.  We wash and dry load after load, but then we end up with piles that never get put away.

I think I've finally found a system that works for me. 

I wash and dry one load at a time.  I sort, fold and put it away before starting another.  It goes against everything I feel like I should be doing.  It is surprisingly hard to walk by the empty washer and resist the urge to just throw another load in.  But, if I can get one load fully finished and away before I start another, I am actually being much more productive.

I fold them right on top of the washer.  It is a 15 minute chore, not a mountain of laundry.  I still do about 3 loads a day, but it doesn't feel like it.  For the first time ever, I have empty hampers...that have stayed empty. 

Before, I would have a load in the washer, one in the dryer...and then forget about them until my husband would come home and need his work uniforms washed.

He would take the clothes out of the dryer, dump them somewhere, switch over the wet clothes, put in his load and go to bed.  In the morning, more clothes were piled up and his were in the dryer. 

So I would wake up to 3 loads to put away.  This, of course, was too big of a job to tackle while I'm trying to feed the little ones breakfast and start our school day, so I would throw another load in the wash.  At least I was doing something

But really, it wasn't helping at all.  Does this sound like your life?  I would encourage you to be a little lazy and just do one load at a time. 

Laundry is a part of life, but it doesn't have to take over your life.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Homeschooling with Little Ones

Of friend of mine recently decided to homeschool and asked me for ideas of what to do with her younger children.  Oh, I feel like I am in the thick of it!  This year I taught our 1st and 2nd graders and had our busy little ones, who are now ages 4, 2 and 11 months.  I am being pulled in 5 different directions and it can be very frustrating.  There are many days where I just can't think straight.  Here are some of my tips for homeschooling with little ones:

  • Keep them close.
When my little guys are out of my sight, they are usually getting into trouble. If I can keep them in sight while I am teaching it saves me from cleaning up a bigger mess later. 

While we are schooling I have them work on some quiet activities.  You can check out some that I've made here.  Most of these were made during desperate moments when I had to find something to keep them busy.  I'm planning on making more this summer.  We also have a supply of educational toys and activities that they can play with during this time.
  • Keep them close...but not too close.
Sometimes when they are at the kitchen table with us, they are trying to color on someone's math book or making a distracting mess.  So I set them up on a blanket on the floor (which they have to stay on) or have the older ones sit at the counter instead.  This way everyone has their own space.

  • Naptime is your friend
If you are blessed to have toddlers that take a nap (or 2!), use this time to your advantage.  Naptime used to be my "me time", but now that I have older ones to teach we use this time for our more involved subjects, science experiments, and projects.

  • But, if your little guys decides to protest his naps, all is not lost!
We went through this transition with our 4 year old this year.  I panicked a little because we really loved this quiet time, but he has actually done really well and just tags along with us.  I was so surprised at how much he actually learned. 

We use the "Bus Stop" approach.  While we were studying magnets, we did an experiment together.  Then, while the older ones were writing in their journals about what they observed, he would play with the magnets.  He could learn with us, but at his own level.  And then I moved on with the older ones.

  • You are a Home, not a school.
Homeschooling does not need to be from 9am-3pm.  You can make it fit your life.  Some states require your kids to work for a certain number of hours, but that doesn't mean that they have to be in a row.

We like to start our day with Bible, but I know a lot of families who save this for family devotions when Daddy is home.  Reading time might work best before bed, when your house is calming down for the night.

Work around naps and take advantage of mealtimes.  When they are all sitting still and busy eating lunch I read to them our read-aloud for the week.

I have really struggled with frustration with my little ones.  They have a way of making all our plans so much harder!  But God has been working on my heart.

When I am really overwhelmed I try to think of this verse.

"...(Jesus said) "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."  And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them."  Mark 10:13-16

Jesus wants us to welcome and cherish these little ones, not shoo them away (or just park them in front of the TV).  They are only little for a short time.  I don't want to miss this time because of my agenda.  Nothing is more important...especially not schoolwork.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm Featured!

I just saw that my grocery bag dispenser was featured on!  I am blown away by the response!  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thanks also to Finds For Friends , Frugal Living NW , Chrystal's Corner , $Clippin 4 a Cause$ , and Coupon Closet  for posting it as well! 
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