Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tidbits and Snippets for June 30th

Do You Really Believe It Will All Burn Someday? - "We spend too much of our time on this earth and short life on the stuff that's going to burn and not enough time and thought on things eternal." (Always Learning)

The Definitive Guide to Napping - We Americans can spend hours on the computer or TV without batting an eye, but napping has a definite social stigma. I nap every day, but have never been able to shed the American guilt-trip over it. This is a great post on the science of napping, and why it's GOOD for us! (Mark's Daily Apple)

"In most Western nations, napping is a sign of weakness. Those who do it — or, even worse, need it — are slothful wastes of resources who can’t hack it in the “real world.” They lack grit, determination, and stick-to-itiveness. They’re getting old. Why nap when you can put in more hours, be more productive, make (your employer) more money? ... 
"That’s a real mistake, because not only do humans have a long and storied tradition of snoozing in the middle of the day, there are also huge benefits to naps. Far from being anti-productivity wastes of time, a well-timed nap can boost cognitive function, improve work output, and make you healthier, happier, and a better employee (and person)."

What's at Stake? The Gospel Is at Stake - What's really going on when the issue of Adam's historicity is brought into question? Important stuff, and something I've lived personally (that is, running the gamut of beliefs on Adam and Genesis 1-3). (Challies.com)
"The teaching of God’s Word is at stake here. God’s character is at stake. The gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake. Accepting an Adam with evolutionary origins immediately impacts what it means to be human, created by God in His image. It opens a Pandora’s box of theological problems—from Adam’s relationship with his animal parents and surrounding community, to the doctrine of sin and the fall, to God’s holiness, goodness, and justice. It immediately impacts the doctrine of Christ as the One by whom all things were created, as well as His incarnation and work of salvation. It’s an issue that touches so many others: from soteriology to race relations to sexual ethics to the new creation at the second coming." 

I'm Not One to Say "I Told You So" - The best article I've seen by far on the topic of Friday's Supreme Court Decision. (Get Along Home)

* I have actually, dear readers, departed from my usual stay-away-from-controversial-topics habit and penned my own post on the subject of the Supreme Court decision. But since posting when I'm upset is always, always a bad idea, y'all will have to wait a few weeks or months while the article matures and I pare away at the overly emotional bits. In the meantime, make sure you also catch Auntie Leila's post with all of the pertinent links (I'm still working through them).

“When the weight of current events feels crushing, remember one thing that shouldn’t surprise you: The antidote to what is huge, overpowering, and violent is that which is small, meek, and humble. In this case, the remedy is found in the heart of your home. Your own prayer, the prayer of your family, the life you live in union with the Church — will save the world.”

- Auntie Leila, “Like Mother, Like Daughter,” June 2015

Have a wonderful week, dear readers!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Big Changes Ahead

In October of 2012, my husband's company laid off his entire division. In the space of one phone call, we went from stable, steady, and predictable to the land of unemployment.

At first, my husband did the usual job search. Emails, phone calls, employment agencies, the works. Nothing turned up.

After a while, he decided to pursue a long-time dream of owning his own computer repair business, and that has been his occupation for the past two years.

My husband has learned a lot, and he has had a wonderful experience of learning and growing in a way that only independent employment can generate. It's been a great growing experience.

But despite that, the business has not developed into a self-sustaining income. And over the past half-year, my prayers have degenerated into one disorganized mess of, "Lord, please get us out of this mess!" In other words, please make this business succeed, or please provide some other source of income.

This past week, God answered our prayers.

On Monday, my husband ran into a friend who mentioned that he was hiring for new positions with his company. On the spur of the moment, my husband asked, "How about me?"

On Wednesday he interviewed for the position. Twenty minutes later, he was hired. In thirty-six hours, we went from owning a struggling small business back to the corporate world.

I think I'm still in a state of shock.

When my husband was laid off, it took about a year to get used to having daddy home. It was honestly a very difficult adjustment. And I know that having daddy go back to the corporate world is going to be a similar shock, and mostly likely a much harder one. There are lots of perks to having daddy home, and we are going to lose those.

Additionally, the children hardly remember a world in which daddy has not been home. The littles, indeed, have never known anything different. And before we had daddy home full-time, he had a job that had two work-from-home days per week. So it's been many, many years since we were in the full-time corporate world.

For us, this is (at least temporarily) the end of a dream. When my husband first came home and we discovered how different it was to do life together, we decided that we infinitely preferred to have daddy home. Starting a small business was as much about having daddy home as it was about the desire to be independently employed.

That dream is on hold for now, and I know that it is going to be challenging for our family to adjust to having very little time with daddy at home. I think that both my husband and I have a long-term goal to have him back at home again, if it ever becomes possible.

But for now, this job is a godsend. We knew that something had to change, and we are so thankful for God's provision for our family.

The job makes about 75% of the salary that my husband made before he was laid off. Our family size has doubled in that time, so this is definitely not riches! But it is much better than we could have expected after nearly three years of unemployment, and we are very thankful for it.

In the few weeks that we have before my husband's start-date, we are scurrying to finish up several things:

* We're trying to work on household projects.

* We're trying to cross items off of our to-do list.

* We're rearranging our weekly schedule so that my husband's evenings are clear to be with his family (instead of running errands like he often does now).

* I am rearranging my schedule so that some daily items like children's baths can be done before daddy gets home in the evening (again, to clear daddy's evening schedule).

I am also trying to rearrange my head into the mindset of operating more independently again. Frankly, I'm spoiled. I'm used to the luxury of having my husband available for help. I need to get used to single parenting during the day, not having help during pregnancy (ack!), and running my own errands. (I am the world's laziest errand runner.)

Similarly, my husband is also used to having me around. And he will be getting reaccustomed to traffic, commuting, work politics, and set hours.

This is daily reality for most families, and we'll be rejoining that reality.

Some day, we hope to have another opportunity to have daddy working from home. For now, we'll be working on regaining some stability (health insurance, yay!) and rebuilding our finances.

In the meantime, I will most likely have even less time for this blog than I usually do! Thus, you'll know why I'm not around if I'm more than usually absent-minded with regard to keeping up this blog.

Mamas out there with work-outside-the-home husbands, any tips for keeping sane? I can use your advice!

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Thirty Seconds of Fame

Many of us, I think, have visions of grandeur when we start blogging.

Hey! I'm going to start a blog! Everyone will read it! Maybe I'll even make some money!

Then reality hits. A very few do make it big. Some make it into the middle-grade blogging levels. And many of us, myself included, realize that we're going to stay in the minor leagues. Fame and fortune ain't happenin' - at least via blogging.

But a few months ago, a big-time blogger contacted me to ask if she could share one of my posts on her blog's Facebook page. Of course, I said yes!

And the next morning, I awoke to... blogging fame. (At least temporarily.)

Now, for a normal post, I usually get between 25 and 75 clicks. For a super-popular post, an article might get upwards of several hundred clicks over the long-term.

But when I woke up the morning of my post being shared on Facebook, I watched in amazement as my click-recorder rose by something like a hundred clicks per hour.


In the end, the post leveled out at something like 2500 clicks. I'm pretty sure that this will be my lifetime record. Fame and fortune (or at least fame) indeed.

I drew several conclusions from the experience:

Firstly, social media is a powerful tool for networking - for blogging and for businesses in general. Extremely powerful. Harnessing this power is extremely useful for building readership (and clients) and spreading your internet presence.

Of course, this is bad news for me, as I just deleted my Facebook account, and I don't plan to join any other social networks. But for those who choose to stay, Facebook can really work to a blogger's advantage.

Secondly, I learned that people put an unwarranted amount of trust in unknown online sources.

I'm a blogger. I share about my life on my blog. I am not an expert in homemaking, home education, or anything else.

But having my article posted by a major blogger sent a whole bunch of people my way - people who instantly regarded me as an expert. And they started sending me questions, most of which I was completely unqualified to answer - and some of which had nothing to do with my areas of knowledge at all.

Blogger: Let me tell you about all of the ways you can season a roast chicken!
Commenter: So, can you tell me the best vacation spots in Vancouver?

Friends, just because someone has a blog does not mean that she's an expert. Choose your advice sources wisely.

Thirdly, I learned that I really don't want to achieve blogging fame.

Why not?

#1 - Big-time blogging takes a major amount of time. Answering oodles of comments and questions, writing articles, dealing with sponsors and give-aways and all of that stuff. It can amount to more than a full-time job. Even medium-grade blogging can eat up serious time. That's time that I don't have.

#2 - The internet can be an ugly place. Just drop in to any major article and watch people chew each other to pieces in the comments. (Common civility, where have you gone?) I do not want to deal with the dark side of the internet more than I have to - and unfortunately, any sort of major site draws toxic individuals who enjoy hurting people.

So there you have it. I've had my fifteen minutes of fame. It was fun. It's over. And it left me profoundly thankful that I am a small-time blogger who can share her heart in a small corner of the internet without creating huge waves of fame or notoriety.

Life as a small-time blogger is good.

Fellow bloggers, I'd love to hear from you. Do you like being a small-time blogger or medium or big-time blogger, whatever applies? Do you wish you could be at a different level?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Little o' This, Little o' That

I mentioned several weeks ago that I am working on honing my pie-making skills.

With my latest project, I think I've finally arrived.

Who's up for a slice of this beauty?

In all seriousness, this pie served as a demonstration of a simple law of physics: Glass pie plates on aluminum baking sheets are a slippery proposition.

The above picture was what the resultant mess looked like after I had scraped it off of the floor.

Cherry, too.

Well, crumbs.


In happier news, I am finally making progress on my project of decluttering our master bedroom closet to use as a children's-clothing-box storage space!

First up on the list has been to greatly pare down my clothing, a task that rejoices my minimalist heart. Here's how it looks right now:

My entire clothing collection is now down to 12 skirts (including maternity skirts) and 18 shirts. (Besides underclothing, two sweatshirts, and one pair of pajamas.) I love it. I'm itching to throw out more.

I dream of the days when one had one workday dress and one Sunday dress. Mmm.

My husband has likewise pared down his clothing collection, and we can now fit our clothing together on one rack.

On the short side we have our shoe boxes and some squished tablecloths. (Jen, if you're reading, yes - I still have those shoes. Both pairs. The love affair continues.)

And now, with all of this work, I have a long-desired goal - a clear lower half! This is where I am hoping to store clothing boxes.

Only problem - I am now absolutely in love with this beautiful clear space. I want to keep it! (*Sob*)

But the truth is also that clothing boxes are taking over our house. The girl boxes have eaten up my dresser, and the boy boxes are spilling out of every closet (and bookshelf, and rafter) in the house. Something has to give.

But when we start moving grown children out of the house, I want my clear closet space back!

The one obstacle left is my husband's dresser...

.... which is currently eating up much more than its fair share of space.

What to do with this critter?

Stay tuned.

My goal is to buy Christmas boxes on clearance after Christmas, and finish the project next winter. I'll report back with pictures when that happens (which will most likely be sometime in 2027).


In similar re-arranging news, I have discovered a new method of folding clothes, and I love it!!

Check it out! Simple, effective, and super-fast.

Also, check out the book - I am so enjoying this little treasure! (Yes, it has some odd parts, but work around those to find all the great content.)


May and June are one of my favorite seasons - used curriculum sale season! This year I was able to attend only one sale, but I found some lovely books.

Here the are!

Textbooks and Informational Books

Books for Younger Children

Books for Older Children

Books for Me!

I'd provide titles, authors, and links, but I am feeling particularly lazy today - so y'all will have to make do with the pictures. Hopefully the titles are pretty clear in the photos.

I had a great time and can't wait for next year's sale.

As a postscript, I also had an interesting experience at the sale.

I have lately wanted to buy a set of Hardy Boys books for our eldest's birthday gift. At the sale, a friend rushed up to me and said, "I know you've been wanting Hardy Boys books, and there's a lady over there who has a complete set of them!"

Oh, my goodness. Was this Providence, or was this not?

I rushed over, full of enthusiasm. There they were, in all their glory. Just what I wanted. How much did she want for the set?

Ninety-six dollars.

Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. Well, there went that. (She was not willing to sell any of the books individually.)

I left in a state of deep and profound disappointment.

But the first table I approached (rather blindly) had... Hardy Boys books. Twelve of them, for a dollar a piece. I took them on the spot, and they will be the 8yo's birthday present next week.

I was disappointed to lose the complete set. But I was also greatly blessed by something that was much more in my price range.

All in all, it was a great sale.


We finished our unit study on Oregon this past week. We had a ton o' fun with the Oregon Trail and pioneer life (plus forestry, ducks, otters, and beavers), and finished up our time by making homemade strawberry ice cream - the hard way!

The recipe was so good that I have to share it:

1 pint strawberries, cleaned
1 1/2 cups cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt

Puree everything with a stick blender or in a regular blender. Churn in a small ice cream freezer, or do it the long way.

(The long way: Put mixture in a small sealed round container and the small container inside a coffee can filled with salt and ice. Roll back and forth, stopping every 5 minutes to add more ice and salt. We did five or six five-minute sessions, though the recipe said 11-13.)

Next up in our state studies... Texas!

This week we're enjoying our first break of the school year. I must admit... I'm tired. But most of that is just family life, not school. Mamas don't really get a break!


We've been keeping super-busy this summer season with swimming at our local pool and attending children's special events at the library.

A few pictures:

Magic show at the library:

Church June birthday celebrations. The 8yo dressed appropriately for the occasion (our church has dress-up costumes for after-service play):

And during a recent visit from Grandma and Grandpa (who always bring Krispy Kreme donuts):

With Grandma's glasses.

Have a wonderful summer season, dear readers!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Where Did That DECADE Go?

Several weeks ago my husband and I completed our first decade of parenthood. On May 31, 2005 (or thereabouts), our first child was conceived, and our journey into the adventure of parenting began.

Of course, we didn't really see it as an adventure. Or even much of a challenge. My idea of parenthood, at the time, was "Hey, you have a kid or two, they pretty much raise themselves and behave well because you want them to, and then they leave the house and you get on with your real life."

Naïve, much? Shallow, much? Yes.

I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. It has flown. And it has been the most challenging venture of my life.

And I cannot believe how much I have changed and grown over these ten years. In beliefs, in theology and worldview, in lifestyle and practice. My ten-years-ago self would probably be horrified if she could see me now, and I am likewise horrified when I look back at my former self.

I cannot believe that - way back then - I thought that abortion was sometimes justified. I cannot believe that I thought that militant use of birth control was the duty of every responsible couple. I cannot believe that I saw children with special needs as more of a burden than a blessing.

Dear Lord, forgive me.

My ideas and philosophies about parenting have also changed - greatly. I have learned how difficult parenting is, and I have learned to give grace to others who, like myself, find themselves struggling to do a good job in this most important of jobs. I have also gained a whole new respect for my own parents. When I was in my early twenties,  I sometimes viewed their parenting of me with more criticism than grace, seeing all of their mistakes. Now that I've tried my own hand at it (and fallen on my face numerous times), I am astounded at how well they handled parenting me. Bravo, Mom and Dad!

On a lighter note, my ideas on family size have also changed. Here is how I viewed family size a decade ago:

1 child = Normal family size, as much as anyone needs.
2 children = Ridiculously large family. Did you really need that many?
3 or more children = Hopelessly over the brink of insanity. These people need help.

Here is how I now view family size:

1-5 children = Small family
6-8 children = Medium family
9-12 children = A bit bigger than medium
13 or more children = Larger family

Boy, has my worldview changed.

However, seeing how much I've changed in a decade helps me to give grace to others. I realize that I once held views that I now see as absolutely repugnant and abhorrent - and I realize that others need grace as they grow and mature. We are all at different stages, and as the Lord wills, we are all maturing.


I am constantly looking for cool math-y patterns in life, so here are some other fun numbers and stats from my life:

* I am about to turn 34 years old - the definition (right?) of middle-aged. This means that any child the Lord gives us after I reach 34 years, 3 months of age will label me as an "elderly multip." Wow, old age hit me early! (In the obstetrical world, any mother age 35 and older is labeled as "elderly.")
Also, if the Lord blesses us with another baby, I will - at long last! - gain that coveted status of grand multipara - by United States terms, at least. (The definition varies by country.) Fun!

* Our eldest child is about to turn nine years old. This means, by legal standards, that we are half-way done with parenting him through childhood. Have we done a good job? How will he turn out? While I depend on the grace of God for the future of our children, those questions are still enough to leave me nervously biting my nails.

* I have spent 38 months pregnant, or a little over three years.

* When you combine pregnancy nausea and postpartum nausea, I have spent eight years of my life nauseated. That's a little less than a quarter of my life with some level of nausea. Wow, that's a lot.

* I have just passed the 100-month mark with breastfeeding (102 months, to be specific). That's pretty neat!

* For two months this fall, we will have children whose ages are perfect multiples of three - 9, 6, 3, 0. Isn't that fun? Whether it will ever happen again depends on the spacing of our next child (if, indeed, the Lord ever gives us another child).

Here's to our first decade of parenthood, looking forward to the second!

God is good.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Tidbits and Snippets for June 8th

The Atmosphere of Your Home - Printing this one to keep! (Raising Homemakers)

Who to Blame for Abuse? - Excellent material on how to keep churches safe from child predators. (The Common Room)

When "Christian Parenting" Isn't Christian - So much truth in this. (Not the Former Things, hat tip to Contentment Acres)
^ This blog also has tons of other great articles, especially concerning special needs parenting. Check it out!

Stage Two Exile: Are You Ready For It? - A fascinating examination of the past fifty-or-so years of church history, with an evaluation of where current trends are headed. (The Gospel Coalition Australia)

A Human Life's Worth - "Bringing children into the world and raising them to know Jesus pleases the Lord. This is what He has asked us to do. Yes, there is pain and suffering in the process, but we do it as an act of obedience and love for Him." (Always Learning)

Stay on the Nest"Be faithful in the things that no one sees, no one notices -- read the extra book, pick up the clutter, use every opportunity to talk to your children about the Lord, to relate everything back to Him. Be faithful in the drudgery, in the tedious, in the unpleasant and difficult.  Be faithful, because Someone does see; and He will be your Reward." (Ready to Be Offered)

Dear Mark: Nutrient Deficiencies and Fatigue - Having always had issues with fatigue, I found this interesting. (Mark's Daily Apple)

"Sometimes God allows us to experience deep wounds that bring a lot of anguish to our hearts. Through His grace and mercy, we are wounded right where we need to be in order to grow closer to Him. Refinement hurts. God says we are made strong when we are weak."

Recipe Corner

It is rare that I find a recipe that is low-carb, gluten-free, popular with the whole family, AND fast and easy to make. (Rare as in it never happens.) Thus, this recipe for Unburgers was a huge success. I am so excited to have another recipe to add to my regular repertoire! (My Joy-Filled Life)

Southern Fried Chicken - This was great! I followed commenters' advice to (1) soak the chicken in salted ice water for 20 minutes first, and (2) do a first flour-coat, wait 20 minutes, and then do another coat before frying. (Allrecipes.com)

This recipe for Chicken Louisiana looks great! I am planning to make it in a crockpot for church lunch. (Raising Homemakers)

From the Bookshelf

Love Another Child: Children. They're blessings. Always.

There's only one thing to say about this book:

Go order it on Amazon right now.

Seriously. It's that good. It's a read-it-or-ELSE kind of book.

The Jeubs examine many issues concerning childbearing from the perspective of biblical Christianity, contrasted against the modern anti-child culture of the secular world. There will be a lot of eye-opening moments, especially for those of us in Protestant churches.

I cannot speak highly enough of this book. And while I borrowed it from a friend to read, I cannot wait to have a copy of my own. I also hope to buy the authors' other book, Love in the House.

Check out the authors' website here.

The Moffats

I am so enjoying this little series. Gentle, sweet, slow-paced accounts of childhood from a little girl's perspective. Also great for learning about bits and pieces of life in earlier times that are no more - dancing school, parlourmaids, and other fun stuff. I wish that I had been able to enjoy this sweet series when I was young!

Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life

A thorough and precise explanation of the intimate link between gut health and brain disorders of all types (migraines, ADHD, autism, ALS, multiple sclerosis, anxiety and depression, Alzheimer's, Tourette's, etc.).

Again, I have to say... read this book. Go order it on Amazon or your library. Right now. This is priceless knowledge for anyone. Even if you don't suffer from a brain disorder right now, such a condition will make its way into your life sometime or other - either in an affliction that will affect you, or in the life of a loved one. And regardless, gut health is an important topic for each of us, aside from the issue of brain disorders. This is powerful and helpful information.

Ending with a wonderful announcement (and great article) from Cindy at Get Along Home!

Dear readers, have a wonderful week!


"What is there to appreciate about conformity, anyway? Do any of us really think we'll lie back on our deathbeds and ponder, 'So glad we were just like the neighbors'?"
- Chris and Wendy Jeub, "Love Another Child"

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hope for Extreme Morning Sickness

The following is reprinted from the comment section on Mommypotamus's The REAL Cause of Morning Sickness:

"I am pregnant with baby #5.  I have always been very healthy.  However, as soon as I can get a positive pregnancy test, I had been sick in bed and barely able to function.  I could not keep any fruits and vegetables down and lived on Sprite and french fries among other unhealthy choices.  After 4 kids I decided to be done having kids despite my husband's and my choice to have a large family.  I had so many negative pregnancy symptoms that I couldn't hardly function and I was a horrible mom while I was pregnant.  My throat was tore up from morning sickness, I threw up as much blood as anything.  I had restless leg syndrome so bad I could never rest.  After I discovered your website and others and learned to change a few things in my diet I found out I was pregnant again.  I cried for two days straight.  But then I realized I wasn't sick and had to keep taking pregnancy tests.  I am almost due and have thrown up less in 7.5 months than I would in a typical week before.  Mostly that was due to having a cold, exhaustion, (I do have four kiddos after all) and eating wrong.  Thank you for what you do.  I find it very informative and helps to open up so many different views I hadn't thought of before.  I can finally be excited to be pregnant and be excited for this little one, instead of just surviving."

Mamas, there is hope. We don't have to assume that extreme pregnancy nausea is our fate. There are answers out there. There are women who have successfully healed underlying health issues and gone on to have healthy pregnancies.

Keep reading. Keep researching. Keep trying.

Don't give up.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Texas Chocolate Pie (Printable)

I wanted to share my husband's family recipe for Texas Chocolate Pie, and I also wanted to try out Google Documents for making printable documents.

This is the best of both worlds!

I will paste the recipe below, but please try the printable version too to see if it works:

Texas Chocolate Pie

Yay! Printable! Get this, it's..... printable!!

Yes, possibly a bit excited.

And now, the non-printable version for viewing. And while I may be a tad over-excited about finally having printables, I should also mention that this is one of the best pies ever. People will fight to the death over it before your eyes. While that might be a bit messy (and socially embarrassing), it's probably worth it.


Texas Chocolate Pie
6 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 ½ cups sugar
⅛ tsp. salt
¼ cup water
2 egg yolks
1 ¾ cups milk
½ cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 baked pie shell
Mix cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt together in a medium pan. Add water
and egg yolks to make a paste.
Scald milk. Add slowly to above.
Cook until boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla until combined. (You can use a cold water bath  after the butter has melted in to cool more quickly when you’re in a hurry.)

Pour into pie shell. Let cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

But wait! Before you go, why not check out the printable version!
(Yes! Yes! Yes!)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Little o' This, Little o' That

Hello, dear friends!

Happy summer! It's definitely that time of year. The house is closed up, the air conditioning is on, and the children are outside only in the early morning and late evening. (We're going crepuscular yet again.) Palo verde trees are finishing their beautiful blooms, it's birthday season for our family, and we're busy working through the first term of our school year.

Life is full and very, very busy.


Speaking of busyness:

I am convinced that the one skill necessary for motherhood is the ability to stealth-eat. To eat without making one tiny sound. Because the moment that tell-tale clink is heard...

That's right. A herd o' young varmints immediately gathers to get in on whatever mama is eating. The above picture is what happened when I tried to do something crazy like "eat breakfast" a few mornings ago.

Unfortunately it's really hard to make eggs on the sly. The low-carb lifestyle was definitely not created for the convenience of homeschool mamas.


We finished up our unit study on the state of Alabama a few days back. It was a great success. We celebrated by making a down-home southern dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cream gravy (using Smockity's video to learn how to make the gravy - see her left sidebar for the video).

Here is my first-ever fried chicken! Barring the piece that we charred to a cinder (forgot about it till we smelled burning oil), it came out beautifully.

Next up in our state studies is Oregon. So far the only big subject I've turned up is the Oregon Trail and pioneer life, but that's good enough for a start. We're spending three weeks per state, so we'll finish next week before our first break.

Speaking of southern cooking, I've also been working on my pie-making skills. As you can see, they could use some improvement. However, it tasted good. I made an extra for church, and I had to fight like a wild hyena to snag the last piece away from a herd of angry parishioners.

Okay, not really. But it was delicious. Sometime I'll post the recipe.

Speaking of super-healthy foods, I have started back on the VLC diet. Again. For the third time this week.

But in all seriousness, I have had to reinstate my N.O.B. policy - Not One Bite. No matter what, I stick to the diet. Not One Bite of anything else.

You see, when I try "just one tiny bite" of whatever-it-is, I am suddenly overwhelmed with a wave of "Well, I just blew it, so I might as well...." [insert wave of cheat-eating] Not good.

Not One Bite it is.

Along the same lines, I am working on re-incorporating lacto-fermented foods and various supplements back into my diet. Capitalizing on my dislike of clutter, I am intentionally using clutter to force myself to take my supplements. Here is my latest:

When I take the supplement listed on the top of the spice bottle, I get to put that bottle away. Bam! OCD tendencies to the rescue. This really works for me.

In case you're wondering, the supplement label-tabs stand for...
  • Kefir
  • Magnesium
  • Liver
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Kombucha
  • Raw pickles
  • (I've since added one for coconut oil)
This isn't all I need to do, but it's a start.


We started our science experiments with a perennial favorite - soda bottle rockets! These are a treat for the whole family. My husband is now using his air compressor instead of a hand-operated bicycle pump, meaning that we can work through a huge amount of these critters in twenty minutes.

Speaking of children, I have of late wondered who this hulking teenager is who is walking around our house - you know, the child who is about to turn nine. He has lately been stealing my shoes (see above), and now he is actively pirating my sock drawer. And the socks fit him. Good grief. Can we say "growth spurt"?

I'm definitely seeing physical growth that is more along the lines of tween-teen rather than child, and that is... intimidating. Yes, rather intimidating. I've feared having teenagers since before we even had children, and that challenge has loomed large in my mind for a good decade.

Ready or not, that challenge is on its way.


Over the past few weeks, I've wondered why on earth I've been so tired. Tired, and possibly a bit overwhelmed. It's just school time, and we've only added one subject this year. Right?

Well, not really. *Officially* we just added English to our schedule, but in reality we're in a whole new phase of school life. This year we've added:
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Composition in the form of notebooking
  • Bible study
  • Character studies
  • Copywork
  • History studies with lapbooking

Not to mention having a preschooler in the depths of the terrible threes, a new baby, and all of that.

But one way or the other, I am feeling stretched. Like butter scraped over too much bread. Except that it's not the One Ring sapping my strength, but just whole lotta family life and homeschooling.

Right now my day feels like this: Get up, work unendingly, finish the day with a hundred undone items on my to-do list, fall into bed. Repeat.

It's good. But it's definitely stretching.

However, I find that family life is a constant stretching experience. The Lord forces me to grow, and grow, and grow. Each bit of growth is painful. But thankfully, I can look back at former times and say, "Wow! I've actually made progress!" That's encouraging, even though growth is so challenging.

Each time of growth reveals more weak areas that need (and receive) work. My temper, my patience (or lack thereof), my self-discipline - God uses this family of mine to show me my weaknesses and work, slowly, to correct them.

Right now I'm experiencing a lot of growth in the areas of homemaking and cheerful parenting (by which I mean disciplining with love and cheerfulness instead of impatience and ill-temper).

I am so thankful for my family. Without them, I would have been left in a pit of selfishness and uncorrected character faults - and not even known it. With my family, I am forced daily to confront my (many) weaknesses as they are revealed in my family interactions, and to work on them. God really knew what he was doing when he placed human beings in the context of the family. (Surprise, surprise.)

Dear readers, I hope that you all are well! I can't guarantee that this blog is going to be too active. Most likely it won't. But I'll check in when I can.

Here are a few pictures to finish up:

In a family-heirloom baby gown (100+ years old) :

Engaged in his favorite activity - finding a toy and sitting on it. This time it's the monkey that falls prey to his rapacity for squishing:

In her usual wardrobe of boy hand-me-downs.

Have a wonderful week, dear readers!