Thursday, June 28, 2007

Selfish Attempt at Freebies

Life in a Shoe is hosting a giveaway of Vision Forum's exciting new adventure series, Ballantyne books.

It's a great blog, and I'm told they're great books. And posting this gets me an entry into said giveaway, so... :)

Here's hoping!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Why I Homeschool, Part 2

My first post on the subject dealt primarily with the biblical reasons that homeschooling is right for my family. And while that certainly should be enough (and it is), I'll go into some of the other reasons I mentioned were "piling up".

First, I love America. But more than that, I love the freedoms that America was based on. And today's America is daily eroding those freedoms. The less dominion the government has over my family, the better. If my child is in a public school, and there is some perceived threat (psycho with weaponry, bomb scare, polio outbreak, whatever), the school/state/government has every right to lock that place down and deal with the threat. Why? Because that is their dominion. They have a responsibility to steward that which they have dominion over. My values happen to be at odds with their ways of stewardship. Say some outbreak of a vaccine-preventable-illness breaks out; suddenly they have every right to keep my child under quarantine for as many days or weeks as necessary if their immunization record is even a day out-of-date. They try that and I become the psycho with weaponry. :)

I have come to the conclusion that godliness is more important than academics. I don't mean "character" that has come to have almost idol-status in some homeschooling circles, but true Christ-likeness. While it's not an either/or choice, I believe it would be better to see my son grow up to be a wage-earning ditch-digger who loves his family and pursues God wholeheartedly than a very successful engineer or something who is too caught up in his life to bother with pursuing God. That said, I think homeschool is the best place to foster that value. Please note, I am certainly not saying that public school is the place to learn academics. Certainly not, as the statistics prove. America's children fall further and further behind their foreign counterparts, and indeed, the younger children are when they are placed in school, the worse off they are in the long term, academically and otherwise. Academic and social success is actually greater when children's placement in schools is delayed. Hmm.. So they do better at home with Mama? What a shock. Public school curriculum is chosen to be essentially amoral. Not moral or immoral, but without any moral emphasis. There may be subjects taught with some leaning towards "citizenship," but that of course is something to benefit 'the community', i.e. the State. We can publicly educate about sex (after all, parents can't be trusted to inform their children!), but we dare not step on any toes and discuss the proper boundaries of such. And how could they ever become well-rounded adults without learning condom-application techniques on various fruits or vegetables! We won't even discuss the now-taught 'acceptable' lifestyle alternatives. I'm coming to the stance that there is no 'amoral'. Nothing is entirely neutral. Either it edifies or it doesn't. We have a limited amount of time on this earth, even more limited with what we put into (or allow to be put into) our children. At the very least, we will answer for the time spent in things which don't edify. And of course, we will have built that much less when the time is up.

What about public-education via computer? A reader wants to know. I wish I had more to say about it. I'm just really not sure. A year ago I thought it would be awesome: Free for one. Organized and put-together for another. For my family, for now, I choose not. Obviously it has the distinct advantage of avoiding many of the influences of peers and even teachers. The next hostage situation across the street from the local elementary school will not (hopefully) be a huge problem for your family or their safety. The disadvantages, in my mind, are in handing over that portion of dominion to the state. Because they are given dominion, they now have the responsibility to oversee and perhaps make decisions for your student. The conspiracy theorist in me doesn't want that. However, much the way I must now prayerfully evaluate and decide the style and all subject material for my children, each family must as prayerfully evaluate if God would have the public-at-home plan for them. Please don't think that because it's all organized and scheduled that the decision-making will be easier. For me, right now, that's one of the hardest things. It's much easier to sit down at a table and be served whatever the chef decides than to select from a menu, but don't for a minute believe that you don't have the responsibility of determining whether or not that meal is appropriate for your body! You will reap the benefits or problems, regardless.

Many Christians believe that once their child is a teen, they need to be in public school for both the more rigorous academics (which we already discussed the fallacy of) and because the 'foundation is laid' they can now be 'salt and light' in the world. Would anyone in their right mind classify a teenager as one who is mature, responsible, and spiritual enough to 'salt-ify and make bright' their public school classroom? Think for a moment how many stories you've heard (or someone you know) about an amazing Christian homeschooled teen totally transforming their classroom or school, bringing glory to God and leading their peers to Christ? Now think for a moment of the stories you've heard (or people you've known) of a christian homeschooled teen getting a little taste of what's out there and falling into it? Pretty soon you can't tell the difference between the "Christian" one and the "ungodly" ones. Just because my peppers had several sets of leaves didn't mean they could withstand the windstorm a while ago. They were demolished.

So why not Christian Education? Aside from what I see as the biblical mandates for me, a Christian school is often far from what one might truly want for one's children. Oftentimes (not always), parents use the Christian school as their easy-out for bringing up their kids 'the right way.' That results in a good portion of the Christian school students being from families that aren't taking the primary role in their children's lives. Too, you have the 'concerned, but not enough' parents thinking if they take their troubled child from the public school environment, and put him in one where prayer isn't illegal and skirts are knee-length, that he will somehow be changed. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, says Proverbs, and until the heart is dealt with, those troubles will persist. Even Christian schools aren't called to caretake our children's hearts. And if you let them, all the more shame on you.

The preschool where I took my daughter for a few months was a really amazing school. They offer through 8th grade and have been there for 90 or 95 years, consistently. But even in my brief encounters picking her up or dropping her off, I saw things I don't want for my child. Again, that is subjective, I guess. One family will be happy if their kids just manage to stay out of jail. Others are satisfied if their kids don't do drugs, or don't get knocked up before marriage, or graduate from college. ...I gotta say, we haven't put together our goals for our children yet, but they're going to be pretty lofty. To me, it's "why settle?"

Yesterday we had some friends stop by for a few minutes. They were discussing their plan to put their 4 year old in a Christian school this fall. I wasn't in the room entirely, so I didn't hear all of it, but all 3 of the adults in the conversation shared about how they "were homeschooled and hated it." One didn't mind the early years, but being at home alone all through high school was terrible for her. Another hated it until high school, when her parents allowed her to join a youth group and get a job, thus making friends. I didn't hear the reasoning of the man in the group. This saddens me terribly. I firmly believe homeschool is by far the way God intended it. Obviously, though, it can be done poorly. I HATE seeing these things, because it then leads me to try to determine "why," and I fear stepping into judgment. However, I did NOT have the privilege of being homeschooled, so I can only look to others. In the first case I'd think perhaps the family, though homeschooling, wasn't involved with their student as much as she needed. Was the family building positive relationships with others? Were they serving their neighbors or community as a family unit? I really don't know. For me, I know that's something I'm working on; our extended-family is involved with each other, but most of us are not much involved with our neighbors or community at large. In the second situation, again it's too bad that relationships were lacking to the point that need was so acute.

I am a person that likes a 'checklist' to fulfill in order that the ultimate goal is reached. "If I just do x, y, z, then I will have 1, 2, 3." Homeschooling in itself is obviously not a cure-all. The cure-all is Christ, always seeking His will, working out our salvation daily. Homeschooling, discipline, character-education, even church - done without prayerfully submitting any of it to Him is building with the wrong materials. Wood, hay, and stubble will be burned to ash in the fire. Our job as parents (as Christians!) is to be building with gold, silver, and precious stones, that are not consumed in the end.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Why I Homeschool...

The reasons are piling up, really. And I quite hesitate to post this blog, because I tend to lean to the cautious side of such claims. I am utterly annoyed to hear of someone’s strong conviction on some issue, and then within a year or two (or less), that conviction has fallen by the wayside. I don’t mean that I don’t have respect for someone changing their mind; I have done that quite often! But I expect that strong convictions change with some considerable thought and effort and prayer, not because the convictions got uncomfortable or lost their novelty.

That said, I guess I still don’t feel any better about laying out something like this. I find I almost don’t want to back up my decisions with scripture, for fear that it will come across as a one-size-fits-all judgment, and that is not at ALL what this is about. I guess this is what has spoken to my heart lately as I’ve sought answers, studied and prayed.

First, as things stand (ooh, did you see that disclaimer?), I find no support in scripture for putting my children in public school. Public school is The State, and while I won’t go into the Marxist (or even some American publications’) plans and purposes for public education/indoctrination, I will note some scripture on the topic. Matthew 22:21 quotes Jesus as saying, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” This speaks loudly to me about my children. Whose are they? I don’t recall applying for a permit to acquire a child from the State Child Dispensary. And while some might argue that sending their children to school doesn’t equal ‘rendering’, I would beg to differ. What else could you call it when you turn such precious gifts over to the state to be led and guided for the major part of almost every day for the bigger part of their formative years?

Of course, that leaves Christian Education as an alternative to Homeschooling. I put my oldest into a Christian preschool for a few days a week over a year ago. I think I regret it. No, nothing bad happened. Primarily (but not solely) I regret not living up to another scripture I find. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7. Why did I put her in Preschool? Because I thought it would be “good for her”. Good how? Well, she would have more exposure to other kids. She would be taught about God and His ways. She’d have a chance to stretch her legs without Mama right there. Huh? HUH? Exposure to other kids? I now know that socialization is NOT helped by being in a class full of kids the same age. I’ll quote the research another time, and maybe the scripture too. Too, I daresay that exposing anything of value to ‘other kids’ has some serious drawbacks. We don’t like exposure to the flu, or to bad habits or ungodly tendencies. What good could be gained by ‘exposing’ our children to other random children? Taught about God and His ways? I’ll address that when I go over the scripture in Deuteronomy. And where did we get the idea that children will be better off apart from their parents? Those Communist ideals come to mind again, but seriously, it looks as though God intended for parents to be the ones to caretake and teach their children. How I could’ve thought that there would be benefit in her being apart from me boggles my mind at this point.

The first thing that struck me about the scripture in Deuteronomy is that first verse. How many times have you heard or even said that, about loving the Lord with all of ourselves? That doesn’t leave much wiggle room. We are to fully embrace him with all that we are, regardless of circumstance, discomfort, economic situation or family size! Hm.. Before studying this I never realized that that verse led into the next parts. I always took it ala carte. It doesn’t hurt to read the previous chapter or two, either, to see how serious God is in encouraging Israel to HEED His words, turning not to the right or left. Again, not much wiggle room.

And all His commands, His statutes, His ways we are to DILIGENTLY teach our children. Look that word up if you want to. DILIGENCE. Another tall order. And a word I overlooked the first time or two I read this. Who should do this? We teach our children. It doesn’t say, “You shall hire an expert to teach them diligently…” (and really, can the expert sit in your house, or lie, or rise, with your family? That might get expensive). And when should we be teaching these things diligently? When we sit in the house, when we walk, when we lie, when we rise… That pretty much covers every minute (perhaps outhouse-trips were exempt?) it seems. Diligence requires that we not cease from this training, that we not ‘take a break’ by letting someone else take over the job. But how about things not God-oriented, you say? Reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, etc…? Oh please… First, you cannot know the statutes of God until you have mastered language. You cannot study them for yourself if you cannot read that language. You cannot record or communicate them without writing. Math and science are the building blocks which God made to create our very world. He admonishes us to be good stewards – our children must understand arithmetic to meet this calling. There is no sphere of education that is apart from God and His ways.

Is it a daunting task? Oh yeah. Impossible even? Likely. Which would bring me to the “I can do all things..” verse and the “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” one.

What about circumstances? What if Mama needs to work, or is single, or the parents are the kind that even I would hope spend as little time with their kids as possible? I can’t answer those questions. I would say that if you have children, you’re called to meet the challenge. What does that say for those who can’t or won’t meet the challenge? I just don’t know for sure.

Now, does that mean that every parent who doesn’t homeschool is in sin??? Wow, for fear of lightning from On High I dare not answer that either way! We’re all in sin to some extent, homeschooling or not. And I am certainly the last person to judge the decisions other families make for their kids. I will only go so far as to hope and pray that each family evaluates their situation and their children in light of Scripture and after much prayer. I wish I had earlier, but I am grateful to have done so now.

Again, there IS enough time in a day to accomplish ALL that God has called us to…

I need more oomph. Where can you get that?

Another scorcher, but my late load of laundry should dry on the line before bedtime. I hope, anyway.

We retrieved Trudy today, in a somewhat different state than last we dealt with her. An enjoyable state (for us), I'm sure, but definitely different. We had her hams cured this time, nitrates and all because my get-up-and-brine-and-smoke just isn't in gear yet. In fact, not much was in gear today. I did manage to do 4 or 5 loads of laundry, including BOTH tablecloths that had been spilled on. I haven't yet managed to find the clear finish to put the final layer on the table, so have been somewhat paranoid and very careful of it. If the girls spill milk, the tablecloth gets replaced. We were using a quilt for a tablecloth before the wash dried today... I also washed some dishes and swept and spot-cleaned the kitchen and dining room - even enlisted the girls with windexed-rags to find spots on the floor to mop up. We have lots of spots. And we spot-cleaned some of the lower cupboard doors, which always seem to need it.

What else? Little Monkey napped, Big Sister had quiet time, and I'm afraid I only managed to lie down for 6 minutes. The yogurt needed attending, there were eggs in the heat that needed collected, laundry to change on the line, things like that. I am grateful for enough leftover spaghetti and mashed-sweet-potatoes that dinner wasn't too difficult. I spent that prep time assembling a potato salad I started 2 days ago. At least the potatoes were sufficiently cooled so as to not mess up the mayo. God bless the Spare Fridge.

We continued reading the first book in the Moody Family series; I really do like and recommend those if you want read-aloud books (or even independent reading if your child can) that really exhibit things worthy of mimic. And mimic my kids will.

Little Monkey opened the rabbit cage at an untold hour earlier today. When it was discovered we had a merry chase to get her back in. Although, truth be told, I'm not sure how merrily a very-pregnant lady can chase a rabbit in 90+ degree weather. I'm just glad we don't have neighbors near enough to observe our antics sometimes.

I am glad to say that I have consistently been reading the bible lately. Every day, several times. The girls have memorized a few verses, most notably; "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Col. 3:20". I am hoping at some point to have a very consistent family bible time, for little scripture memorization is great, but if they don't see the importance of the Word in their parents' lives, children will not regard it as highly. Another habit I've changed is my listening tastes. For some time I've had the local talk radio station on during the day, and I've stopped that for a while. I enjoy it, I like the mental challenge and experience it offers, but for now I'm finding more fruit in laying that down and focusing entirely on my obvious callings. My peace is increased, and my focus is more on the eternal things (amindst the mundane, of course). The Preschoolers and Peace Blog has a great post today about joy, especially in the midst of parenting and home management challenges.

Speaking about other blogs, Large Family Logistics posted a picture of their most recent miracle. And miracle he is. I'm sure they would be grateful for any prayers offered up on their behalf as well. What a story, too! If you have time, read their last few blogs, in reverse order. They already had 8 children and this last one came upon them suddenly, to say the least.

Well, the girls reported to me a bit ago that a broiler chick (as yet not butchered) had escaped. I'm sure they got it replaced in it's home, but now it is my turn to replace my escaped children to their home.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Burnin' up.

Well, it's hot here. Too hot. But not near as hot as it will be.

Tuesday was a good day, overall. Big Sister maintained a great attitude and helpful spirit the entire day, and we all enjoyed working together and were blessed. Yesterday Little Monkey made up for it by getting into the (expensive) arrowroot powder and putting it on the kitchen floor, family room floor, treadmill belt, and all over herself. Her gray patterned dress was white. It was partly my fault; I was tired and worn out and didn't find something constructive for her to do (and she always chooses something destructive when it's up to her) and she had some 'free time.' This morning she climbed the cupboards and found the sundrops (organic, expensive M&Ms) which we save for when she has a dry pullup or diaper in the morning. She didn't wait for Mama to check the pullup and distribute the sundrops - in fact, she didn't even wait for Mama to wake up! She was sitting quietly at her place at the table eating sundrops from the bottom of a small gravy pitcher.

The garden is a two-steps-forward,-one-step-back proposition it seems. Possibly the other way around. My windproof cabbages and broccoli are succumbing to some sort of nasty critter that likes to eat them. I don't think it's cabbage caterpillars, unless they're very tiny... whatever it is leaves the veins of the leaf like a skeleton. I went to a greenhouse the other day and bought some beefsteak-style tomato plants; I have 2 in the ground, and the rest might've had heat stroke today while I was gone. I also got thyme, a nice bushy oregano (if the heat stroke didn't kill it too), some cukes (mine died), some yellow crookneck squash (my seeds haven't made it into the ground yet), a "sweet chocolate" pepper plant, and some flowers for the girls. The baby boo, watermelon, and zucchini seeds haven't sprouted yet, and I'm starting to worry.

We butchered 11 dumb chickens last Saturday. Like any wimpy prisoner-of-war, one committed suicide that very morning. I guess it wanted it on it's own terms. I had asked Wonderful Husband to set things up and ready everything to get going early in the morning. My idea of such things and his are far different, apparently. He set things up right in the kids play area! Right by the trampoline, no less! He didn't bother to pull the galvanized tub from the jungle of weeds (where it was tossed after serving the last of last year's turkeys), so didn't realize it had been dented and had sprung a leak. Thankfully he used his amazing talents at metalwork and soldered the hole mostly shut. That was after he decided he needed to fix the hole in the hose (that the duck enjoys far too much and thus wrecks the lawn). Of course, the coupler I had bought for the hose was NOT the right size, and he had to make a run to the place we always run to for such things. So my 'early morning' plan didn't exactly work out. I didn't want to risk my fancy (ok, limited amount of) maternity clothing to the viscera of the day, so I found an old pair of jeans. I don't know why I keep this stuff. But I'm glad I do. They're from about 10 years ago; Hubby's cousin (a big guy) gave them to me because he didn't want them and I loved them. Each leg could probably fit a non-pregnant me. The 38 waist fit around my middle ok, but the black color was terrible in the sun! Amazingly though, I had an epiphany, or something of that nature. Last year with the turkeys, I could pluck them, but I really couldn't take any part of the killing or butchering. This time I came to the realization that I have not bought chicken in a year or more, and can't bring myself to do so, so I better get used to this idea. I still don't want to kill anything, and I had hubby remove their heads, and from there I didn't have too much problem. Hopefully the remaining 14 will go as smoothly. The girls were a great help picking out "the fat ones" and lovingly bringing them to their last moments. I'm amazed they're so 'un-squeamish'. In fact, when I make ham sandwiches for lunch, it's "ooOOoo, Piggy! My favorite!" I'm sure they'll do this in some fine dining place before too long.

We bought 5 turkey poults on Tuesday. So far so good with them. I've read that turkeys look for ways to die, at least for the first little while; then they're virtually indestructible. I haven't had any drown by looking up into a rainstorm, though. My father-in-law claims they'll starve to death in a corner; that is, they get there face in there and don't see their way out. I mentioned that wild turkeys seem to thrive in the wild, and he pointed out that there weren't too many corners in the wild. Hm. Good point.

Today we went to town for a few mild errands. A handful of things from Costco, a receipt to have adjusted at a place I shopped last week (7.50 for a little pentec eraser thingy??), and an appointment with the midwife. Before I left, Hubby requested that the Japanese God of Speed required a sacrifice, and would I please take the dead battery from his big Kawasaki Police Motorcycle to the auto store and get a new one? Of course I acquiesced. My first stop was to get my money back from the office/school supply place, followed by a jaunt through one of those fancy science/educational/toy/hobby shops (maybe watercolors will keep Little Monkey from squeezing all the toothpaste into the sink?), and then to costco. By the time I got to the auto store, the battery had tipped over in my trunk. I held onto it with the plastic grocery bag I'd had with it and (those things are pretty heavy!) quickly hurried it into the store and plopped it onto the counter. Amid a mild splash. I'd wiped some water off my hand after turning the battery upright in the trunk, and wondered briefly if that was a good idea. The gal (yes, gal) behind the counter said, "wow, is that acid?" "I don't know, I got some on me. It looks like water." "Acid does look like water." She called to the other gal (yes, 2 youngish girls who definitely knew their way around the auto parts store) to bring some baking soda. "We'll see in a minute if it's acid or not." The other girl brought the soda, and the first gal tossed a pile of it on the puddle I'd made on the counter. There was a fine hiss and a lot of bubbling. And my hand was starting to feel a cool tingle. They pointed me to the back where I ushered my rowdy monkeys so I could use some of their specialty "acid-neutralizer for idiot women" product. I asked if said acid might not be good for the trunk of my car, and they recommended rinsing the rug off very well and using baking soda, which I could buy across the street at the dollar store. I had 25 minutes to get to my appointment, and that just didn't fit into my schedule very well. The manager guy (yes, gray hair even) came out and witnessed my messy trunk, and we did one of those houdini tricks and pulled the rug out from beneath the groceries. Well, not that slick, but we did get the rug out. There was one small area that looked like it was suffering. Bless his heart, he offered to rinse it out and let it drip dry and I could pick it back up after my appointment. The girls at the counter were busy rehashing high school chemistry, trying to get the battery and their counter free of all the hazardous material I so nicely spread around. And they don't stock the battery either. They can order it, for $81 plus tax, but they recommended I go to the temple of the Japanese God of Speed directly. The manager carefully wrapped my hazmat in some plastic bags, carefully placed in a box lined with several layers of cardboard and packed with newspaper around the edges. They don't want to take any chances of me repeating the drama, I guess. He admonished me to get some water and baking soda on anything else that might've come into contact with the stuff (the edge of my trunk did). I drove to my midwife's and asked for some baking soda. The office gal (midwife's daughter) gave me some to wash my hand (it was feeling odd again) and I rubbed it on my leg that was feeling suspicious. She took the baking powder so I used damp paper towels to wipe it from my leg and took it out to my trunk. So far the trunk doesn't have holes, but I haven't checked it this evening. Seems to me my dad knew a guy that got water in his trunk. He removed the water by shooting several holes in the bottom of the trunk. Why am I not surprised? Anyways, this evening has been exhausting (I 'chose' to make pizza from scratch after such a day - I guess I deserve it). And I am going to show hubby the scripture that says, "thou shalt have no other god's before me, lest I burn your wife with battery acid." I'm sure that's in there somewhere.

Friday, June 15, 2007

MOTH stuff

Not the flighty, addicted-to-flame kind, but the acronym for Managers of Their Homes. It's a book I got at a recent homeschool convention. It's a really good book. I mean really. Maybe even necessary. Ok, maybe not necessary for everyone, but probably beneficial for everyone. It's a scheduling how-to geared toward the Christian, homeschooling family. If you're single, or have no kids, you don't need it. And you have no idea how crazy life can get trying to manage a home, educate your children, and raise them up in Christ. And I only have two kids! Well, 2.6, really. There are moms whose schedules were put into the book as examples that have like 8 kids (and the oldest is 9) or something. Whew! It's not just about keeping them dressed and fed (though that is not a simple task either). It's about seeking God's heart for the training up of those he's entrusted to you. And then carrying that out.

Something I love from this book is a line that goes something like, "There IS enough time in the day for you to accomplish all God has called you to." How many of us say so often that there 'just aren't enough hours' in a day? Seems like it, sometimes, huh? I guess that's a lack of faith (and/or a lack of discipline) then. Realizing that God doesn't ask us to do the impossible is very encouraging. So I didn't get the hallway painted today. I DID set out the broccoli and cabbage and plant seeds of zucchini, baby boo pumpkin, and watermelon. And made the area look extra-redneck-y by guarding my seed-spots with old milk crates. So chic. And the windstorm slated for tomorrow can blow right through milk crates.

Anyways, I've read through the book, and started working on the schedule. I actually made one. The book comes with a kit. Sounds silly, I know, but have you ever read something about home organization or time management and come away with, "yeah, wow, that's great! ... Now how do I apply that to MY home/life/family?" I don't think you can come away from this book, having spent time in prayer, without some serious tools at your disposal for accomplishing that which God has called you to. I have my 'first draft' of a schedule done. We'll see how it goes. The first draft is never what works for you in the end, but you can't get to what works without starting somewhere. I think this one is very doable. Shortly we'll begin to implement it, a bit at a time.

I also got most every other book or cd put out by these great folks. And lest I sound too twitterpated: I have my concerns sometimes. I had run across their site and other references to the MOTH system, and while I was somewhat intrigued, I certainly wasn't sold. God forgive my judgments. I saw their large family, the girls all in matching jumpers and long hair, and wondered about their motivations or how legalistic they were. I don't want to be swayed by any 'fad' of faith, or anyone's version of walking their faith out. Had I not heard them speak at length in several sessions and workshops, maybe I would still wonder. However, I DID get to hear them speak and 'judge the spirit', if you will. I was very blessed. I never felt judged or even pitied for my maternity blue-jeans. Every session was punctuated with 'Christ is the power behind this. Seek Him first - without Him it's our own strength and pride'. And from the descriptions they gave of beginning their journey with homeschooling and Christianity, I feel like even *I* can do it!

I haven't read the corresponding books yet, but I so enjoyed the workshops on Managers of Their Chores, Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit, Keeping Our Children's Hearts, and Family Devotions. And since I bought the big discount package, I even got "Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family". Since I only MIGHT have .6 sons, that book probably doesn't apply yet. But the title fills me with hope, somehow, that there IS good and righteous people in this world. Hopefully my girls will marry men whose parents were familiar with the concept. :)

If nothing else, my first experience with a "homeschool convention" was reassuring. No, I didn't come away with sudden inspiration regarding curriculum or even philosophy, but I came away encouraged to start with 'the basics' - spending time daily in the Word, managing my home, training my kids in the character of Christ.

And killing the broilers tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Amazing Hubby

Hubby called me from work today. It was an interesting conversation. It's a good thing I'm pretty anonymous on here, because People Eating Tastey Animals would have me (well, hubby anyway) on it's watchlist. It went something like this:
"Hey, guess what I just saw by the pivot I was working on, right by my foot?"
"A rattlesnake."
"A rattlesnake? My goodness, what did you do?"
"I held it down with a shovel and pulled it's rattler off."
"It's rattler?!? You didn't pull it's head off?!? [or walk/run the other way??]"
"Nah, it was a little one. Hardly any meat at all."

How do you argue with that?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Big Red's Therapy

Big Red is our rooster. He's big, and red, surprisingly. He's not the only rooster on the property in need of an attitude-adjustment, but he's the topic of this post. Yes, he's the one who was kicked back into the pen. Roosters don't herd like hens. You can more-or-less chase/walk a hen and she will walk away from you. If you approach a rooster with intent to make him go in a direction (sometimes without the intent), he will face towards you with a threatening stance, fluff up his neck feathers (which would probably make nice jewelry if he doesn't watch it), and try to jump up to your leg to scratch you. They don't seem to use their beaks for violence (again, I'm not comfortable testing that out, so...).
Hubby is very concerned for the attitude of Big Red. Hubby wants Big Red to be nice. Nice and compliant, and maybe even learn to make espresso. He has tried a few things (no espresso-training yet, though). Red was threatening Hubby through the chicken wire one morning, and Hubby isn't about to back down from something shorter than his knee, so he got in Red's face as well. He leaned over the fence, and with several expressions of "oh yeah? You think you're the big man? You want summa this?" smacked Big Red in the face repeatedly. Backhand and forehand, so as not to worsen the carpal tunnel I'm sure. That treatment hasn't completely cured Red, however. I don't blame him; his head is pretty small, so I imagine his brain is too. Compromised learning ability, see.
As a child, hubby was diagnosed with various forms of things that cause compromised learning ability, but God has done some amazing work in him, and there is no sign of attention-deficit, especially if there is a motorcycle within view. I think this might've been the impetus for Hubby's most recent therapy-attempt. Perhaps it would help if Big Red would learn to ride the motorcycle?
Red didn't understand holding onto the handlebars with his feet. He probably also didn't understand the sound and vibration of the event. Hubby clutched him to his chest, but found it complicated to use the clutch and throttle with one hand (especially since they're on different sides, for those of you like me, who aren't terribly familiar with the Parts-of-Cycle).
Red did agree to pose for a lovely picture with Hubby, however.
He doesn't know that the next attempt will be to use the bungee cords on the rear of the bike...

Nuclear Holocaust

Ouch. Yeah, that wind did a job on my hard work. This was probably (maybe) the most effort I've put into a garden, and to see it go up in smoke (wind?) is really hard. I don't know how farmers and others dealt with such hardships before crop insurance and such. Early in their marriage my great-grandparents had to pack up and leave an area after an early frost destroyed the apple harvest that year. Thankfully I don't have to pack up and leave. Though I'm tempted to aim for a less windy climate...

I took some pictures a day or two before the wind hit. Wasn't my garden coming along beautifully?

Notice the happy little chicken house behind the garden.

So nice...

Here are some larger pictures of some of the plants I was so proud of.

In the foreground is a row of gourds, then my heirloom tomatoes, then varieties of peppers. All carefully planted and soaker-hoses added carefully! I wish I had stock in that company...

The miniature indian popcorn! How exciting!

The fancy beets.

A sunflower sprout; "Infrared Mix" from Burpee, I think.

The chickens now have a ... patio? Breezeway? I'm not sure what the point is in having this structure at all now...
The chicken house wasn't the only house that suffered damage!

We don't really get tornados here. I don't know what it would be like to wake up to the kind of destruction that can tear your house up and throw your cars away. But even so, tossing the carpet I had so carefully laid was no small feat. There were even soaker-hoses whose u-shaped clips had been yanked from the soil. Some of the carpet was tossed up onto the (not-electrified) poultry netting, making a wonderful avenue for lots of chickens to maraud the seedlings that had survived the wind. Big Red didn't want to cooperate in going back over the fence, and with bare arms and legs I was reluctant to get too close. I ended up using my slippered foot to kick and launch him back up and over. Obnoxious rooster.
Below is one of my fancy, heirloom, started-from-seed tomatoes I have been so careful to nurture. This is one of the hardest things; you can't just go find Mortgage Lifter starts at the local greenhouse.

A (formerly) beautiful tall pepper plant. Not sure which breed these were, but 80% of what is out there is "exclusively" bred for whatever seed company; also not sure you can buy those at the local greenhouse. And peppers need an exorbitant amount of time from germination to harvest, so there will be no trying again from seed.

To my Anonymous and Unknown Commenter...

Hi! I am so glad you enjoy my blog. And so glad you enjoy real cream in your coffee. I wish I could publish your comment so others might know that. But if I do, they will also know my real name (but not yours - who are you?), and while that would probably not make much difference, I am still very anonymous on here. I don't know how or if I can 'edit' your comment to delete the "Hi ****" part. But feel free to post again without that little detail...

And I would SO love to know your identity, since you obviously know mine! :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Sometimes things just don't work out. Spring is notorious for being windy (and ruining my early garden attempts), and this time is no different. is telling me the high will be 51 today, with winds "occasionally gusting over 40 mph". Occasionally? Over 40? Please don't make me laugh. Yesterday evening the wind blew our tight-fitting window screen 6 feet into the bedroom. I have been up half the night wondering if the house will ever stop moving, and whether all the thumps and bumps I hear are slabs being blown off the house, or debris smacking into it. If the chickens spread their wings to fly out of their pen, I'm sure they'll be laying eggs in the next county. I'm surprised the tarp over the broiler chicks is even hanging on (though only by a thread). There is a 60% chance of rain. This is supposed to continue into tomorrow. I'm not much for this. My balance is already getting haywire with this huge belly (and not even 6 months yet!!), and this wind will knock me head over teakettle for sure.

On the upside, if I do manage to get anything else in the ground today, I can get through the weekend without worrying about watering through the heat. I could put off the irrigation stuff until I get back. If there's anything left to water. I'm mostly worried about the plants; I started from seed types that I can't just go pick up at the local greenhouse, so if they're gone, they're gone. I've been praying for mercy upon them.

Maybe I'll get a toilet or two scrubbed, anyway.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Well, it's not ALL done yet... I have one more day to work on the garden before I have to leave town for a few days. I MUST do it. I planted a row of borage/sunflowers, the started gourds, tomatoes, and all the peppers that would fit. Oddly enough, I had the hardest time getting the pepper seeds to start (and had to do a few rounds of trying), but I've ended up with more plants than I have room for. I have 30 in the ground; 2 jalapeno, 4 cayenne, 3 California Wonder, a Pepperoncini, 7 Great Stuff, 8 Bananrama, and I'm missing a few. Good thing I have a map of the garden. Somewhere. I bought another 100 feet of soaker hose, but I've yet to put the brassicas in. I have a drip system (ok, more like a spider web of tiny hose with drippy things attached randomly) that I could use for squash hills, but the way squash cross-pollinate, I don't know if I should just plant one type or let them all become varied mutants. That could be fun. Or not. I tore up a room's-worth of carpet today and put the strips between more rows. Just in time for a windstorm to come up and toss it all over. At least one pepper lost it's upper half, and the beets, carrots, and corn are messed up. Luckily those are still tiny and probably salvageable. The wind has done a job on the tomatoes, too, though the carpet missed most of them by an inch or two. The leaves are wind-burnt on several.

The 28.5 broiler chicks are looking almost edible. We had 30 the other day, but one died the other night and another is in quarantine. He's eating and drinking, and might make it. At least he's not laying on his side looking dead.

While I was in the garden this morning, Little Monkey managed to find 2 paint cans (stashed in the dining room) and a paint-can-opener. She also managed to access the paint, and carefully dipped my fancy new paintbrush and went to work. First (I think it was first anyway) she got some old computer paper to do her art on. Apparently white semi-gloss and beige satin don't show too well on paper. And a 2" brush gets the job done too quickly, I suppose. By the time I came in to check on her she'd painted a good portion of the seat and back of Big Sister's special Pink Chair. A dolly had also caught some paint upside her head. I was thankful it hadn't dried and was able to take things outdoors for a good hose-off. Little Monkey spent the rest of the day within my sight, certainly.

I have yet to put the final clear stuff on the dining table, but the antiquing is done. I long to have a table back! One is still covered with greenhouse-paraphenelia so the kids eat using stools as individual tables. THAT is getting pretty old, and a tipped cup or bumped fork manages to do a lot more damage from 3' up.

Tonight I made Beerocks, and they were pretty good. I forgot to put the egg in the bread dough (like I couldn't have spared a few) and it took forever, but they turned out well. And I made mine with fresh-ground whole wheat, so the pictures in the link are definitely 'whiter' than mine. I also doubled the recipe, which made it take even longer. I think start-to-finish was about 2 hours, but I have lots of freezeable leftovers and they'll be great for hubby's lunches/dinners. And I either made too much of the meat/cabbage mixture or didn't spread the dough thinly enough, because I had LOTS of it leftover. Which is okay; it was tastey alone. :)

Big Sister was a great help to me during dinner prep. Little Monkey fell asleep about 5 p.m. (after screaming at me that she wasn't tired) and Big Sister helped put away dishes, take some scraps to the chickens and mix the dough with me. For once she was consistently obedient (without delay, challenge, or excuse). It was a blessing, and I told her how grateful I was. I hope it continues, though it being 10:30 p.m. and my children are just now settling into bed tells me that we need to continue working on it.

With much to do tomorrow, I must close this.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

It's June!

I can't believe how it sneaks up on you... February and March each have about 90 days, I think, but May has 15. Yesterday evening we were out of town and it was over 100 degrees! A week ago I was wearing a sweatshirt, I think.

My list of Important Things to Do only grows, though I swear I'm always working on it. I've been trying for a week to get the garden in completely, and I don't think I'm half done yet. I've done a few rows of seeds, and put my started herbs in back, but my tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, broccoli, and such are still in pots. Still. I can't put them in the ground until I have a way to water them. We've torn the property apart looking for my fancy little laser-perforated soaker/drip hose, and have come to the conclusion that it was among the casualties in the out-of-hand weed burning episode I had a year ago or so. Now to decide if I should spend the $$ for a new one, or figure out something else. I hate broadcast-watering; you'll never find your produce here if you do that. I think instead of soil we have a layer of weed seeds. One drop of water in the hard-baked driveway each day will grow a 5-foot kochia weed before summer's end. That is not an anology. I try to water only where I have something I want to grow, and that is sometimes complicated. Always complicated.

We had Trudy slaughtered on Friday morning. The girls watched with interest, though Little Monkey watched the winch haul her carcass vertical and declared, "Ope! Trudy's a boy now, Trudy's a boy..." while shaking her head. I tried to explain otherwise, but I think she misunderstood Zeke's demise; with him we were "only killing the boy one" and now that's a hard, fast rule.

I am worried about the chicken/garden combination. The chickens are penned in, but a half-dozen or more are out each morning, with a few to escape during the day. I think they simply fly over the electrified netting. I don't like it when they dig dust-holes in the garden, and now that the seeds have sprouted we'll be in real trouble. Is there such thing as a Scarechicken? Aside from posting my hubby eternally in the garden, I don't know that there is. A fence would be handy, but I long for a big, square-ish garden, instead of the long, skinny plot that we have, so I don't want to fence the long thin one. And we can't change the shape or location until we change the sprinkler/irrigation layout. And THAT will be a lot of work that I can't do by myself.

One broiler chick died on Friday. Down to 29. I think these critters are suicidal.

We've been out of bread for 2 weeks, I think. I must be lazy and/or covetous; I just haven't been able to turn out the 2 loaves I usually do. I really want that beautiful Electrolux Mixer. With that (and a few more bread pans) I could do a few weeks' worth at a time. Yet the price is SOOOO prohibitive! And there is still homeschool curriculum/reading books to be purchasing, possibly a new printer, a tractor tire, midwife bill, fence posts... And I'm not sure what I'll be wearing if this heat continues (of course it will) and my growth continues (of course it will). I can't remember what I wore while pregnant with my first September Baby - but then I lived in a house with air conditioning, too... In any case, a $500 mixer is just absurd, when I look at this list.

I need to spend some more time in prayer/the Word; I'm feeling overwhelmed and under-graced, and that is my own fault. I'm noticing more and more where I lack as a wife and a mother, where my husband lacks, where my kids lack, and it circles back to myself in one way or another. I don't know if that makes sense. When I find negative traits in my kids, I feel responsible (but handicapped). Things like that. I KNOW I'm not anything special, in that many, many women have done as much and infinitely more. They ARE doing as much and more. My situation is not unique, and I must realize that "I can do all things through Christ..." I must realize it and live it.

Daddy took the girls around the field on his honda this evening. I cringe, but I know he is careful with them (though I don't know how our 5-year-old can hold on so well through those bumps!). They love it, and I cherish any minute they spend with their daddy. He is so quiet, and then when he speaks, it's often a law-laid-down, and I fear that he will not have their hearts as they grow. Another thing to pray about and put in God's hands!

Tomorrow I will try to:
Make bread
Situate water - buy hose?
Plant potted plants
Plant squash/cuke seeds
Plant herb seeds
Clean Bathrooms
Mop Floors
Get eggs to a customer, maybe.
Find inspiration in dealing with the girls - they are having attitude and selfishness issues that need trained-out quickly! If only I knew how...!

Tonight; more bible and prayer...