Friday, May 31, 2013

3 in 30: An Excellent Week!

Oh, boy!  Was this week a good one for our family!  Sunday was Sarah Beth's birthday, and we had a great time celebrating her turning seven.  She planned her special day for months:  she wanted strawberry muffins for breakfast, Ham and Spinach Pie for supper, and, of course, a cake.

We found the idea for this cake in Taste of Home, but I didn't use the recommended recipe since Sarah Beth wanted a strawberry cake.  Instead, I used a recipe out of Anne Byrn's The Cake Mix Doctor for the cake and another recipe from Taste of Home for the vanilla icing.  Regardless of all of that, Sarah Beth was pleased with her cake (as was I!), and that's all that matters, right?

Then on Wednesday, I took Rachel to her new doctor here for her second appointment, and we received excellent news:  Dr.  R doesn't want to see Rachel for three months with lab work in two months.  Hooray!  Since Rachel was diagnosed with JDM, we've driven over an hour each way every month for her appointments.  Three months off?  Yes, please!!

Since Monday was Memorial Day, we had an extra day this week with John, and that's always nice.  However, all of these good things weren't so good for my monthly goals.

  • Continue unpacking, sorting, and putting away.  Since I finished the unpacking last week, I only have the sorting and putting away to go.  I got a little bit done on Tuesday and yesterday.  Hopefully, I'll get some more done today because there's still a lot left to do!
  • Work on my laziness when it comes to getting out of bed and getting the laundry folded.  I feel like I did fairly well on this goal this week, especially with the laundry.  I think I got everything folded and put away the day I washed it or the day after.
  • Baking something new every week, trying the recipe out at church lunches.  The only new recipe I tried this week was for the vanilla icing for Sarah Beth's cake, and it was good!  But I didn't share it with our friends at church.  
What were you able to accomplish this week?  Did you receive any good news?

This post is linked up with Aurie at Welcome to Our Good Life 3in30.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thankful Thursday

This week, I am thankful for:
  • Memorial Day, what it means, and who it honors.
  • the excellent news we received yesterday about Rachel's JDM!
  • Sarah Beth's birthday; now we have a seven year old!
  • my new chicken coop...
  • and a husband who is willing and able to put it together!
  • science experiments that work.
  • my sweet Daniel, who waited patiently while his sisters shopped yesterday at Build-a-Bear.  He didn't get impatient, and he didn't ask for anything.
  • school being almost over for the summer.
  • the sweet compliment Rachel's doctor gave me when she said that I make having four children look easy.
  • three daughters who love to wear dresses, but who also like to wear boots with them.
What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stalagmites and Stalactites

Daniel stirs in the Epsom salts.

Two weeks ago, we studies stalagmites and stalactites in science using this book.  (By the way, I cannot recommend this science curriculum more highly.  It is excellent with wonderful information written at a child's learning level.)  Building your own stalagmites and stalactites is one of the included science projects, and I thought we could give it a try.  It didn't look too hard or messy.

We started with a thin string, but it didn't work.

So we tried a thicker one, and voila!

Now we have a column!

Have you tried anything like this?  What kinds of fun science experiments have you done?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Chicken Coop Post -- I Couldn't Think of a Better Title

My chicken coop came on Friday, and I was so excited when John put it together Saturday!  And the chickens were as excited as, well, chickens get to finally get out of their box.

The "before" picture.

Working hard.

Helping Daddy.

All of our little helpers.

The "after" picture.

The chickens enjoying their new home.

The coop took longer to get here than we thought it would, and the chickens were outgrowing their box.  I decided to get an exercise yard so they could get out of the hot barn and out of doors where they belong.  

They seemed to really enjoy being outside and having access to grass, especially clover.   They love clover.  Now I use the exercise yard to increase their area, to get them out of their coop.

One of my Barred Rocks (the black and white ones) seems to be a rooster.  His comb is bigger than the other one's, and he seems to be more aggressive.  He hasn't crowed yet, so I could be wrong.  I'm not sure what to do with him.  Daniel decided to name him Bob Tomato.  Why?  I don't know.  Sarah Beth named the other Barred Rock Alice, and I named the two Buff Orpingtons (the tan ones) Clover and Buttercup.  Since I can't tell them apart, it doesn't matter which one is which, and they'll probably both end up Clover.  The two little ones, the Araucanas,  don't have names...yet.  Any suggestions?

Monday, May 27, 2013


Today, let's remember the many men and women who gave their lives that we might be free, and that others might also be free.  Let's also remember the families who have lost their loved ones in freedom's cause.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sarah Beth!

Today is Sarah Beth's seventh birthday.  I can't believe that she's turning seven years old.  How exciting!  

She is such a sweet girl, and she loves helping me and her daddy with almost everything.

Sarah Beth is a great big sister...most of the time.

I think it's cute and wonderful that she and Rachel love to dress just alike.

Sarah Beth is an interesting contrast:  while she loves dressing up and looking girly, she also enjoys getting down and dirty.

It's been fun watching Sarah Beth grow and mature this year, and I look forward to seeing how she develops over the next one.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Links of Interest

Here are some things I read the past couple of weeks that I thought you might like, as well.

What have you been reading this week?

*The chicken coop came yesterday, and the goal for today is to get it set up.  If all goes as planned, I'll post pictures next week.  I can't wait!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

3 in 30: Another Good Week!

We got out more this week than last week which was nice; no sick children is always good!  We ran a few errands on Monday, and we went to story time at the library on Wednesday.  Other than that, we were home which was nice.  And we only have three more weeks of school left which makes me excited!  We've been taking advantage of the nice weather and playing outside.  But it's getting hot, so I made a change in our schedule.  Instead of starting school first, we go outside to take care of the chickens and play a little bit.  Then we come inside for school and the rest of the day while it's hot and head back outside when it cools off.  I know it's only going to get hotter.  Ugh!

Here's how I did with my goals this:
  • Continue unpacking, sorting, and putting away.  I realized at the start of this week that I only had seven boxes left to unpack, so I decided to work hard at getting those taken care of.  There are three boxes left right now:  two are crochet things that I need to find a place for and can wait until I do; and the last one should be easy, and I should get to it today.  Hooray!  Let me be frank, though; there is still a lot left for me to do, the things that got unpacked without being sorted and put away are sitting all over the house.  
  • Work on my laziness when it comes to getting out of bed and getting the laundry folded.  I'm doing better at folding the laundry than getting out of bed, but it's coming.
  • Bake something new every week, trying them out at church lunches.  While I didn't try them out at a church lunch, I did try a few new recipes this week.  First, I tried  Chicken and Cheese Calzones; I left out the broccoli because John doesn't care for it (I don't think any man really does), and I used ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese.  Yum!  Everyone ate it, even my pickiest eaters.  It was the first time I had made pizza dough, so I was excited about that, too.  I used this recipe, and I'll be making it again, too.  I also tried Slow Cooked Cheeseburger Casserole, and that was also a keeper.  Thanks, Tracey!  Instead of printing out recipes to try at some point, I'm making more of an effort to try them soon after finding them, and I'm proud of myself for this!
Hopefully, the chicken coop will come today so we will spend the afternoon/evening putting that together.  If so, I'll have pictures for you!

What did you accomplish this week?

This post is linked with Aurie at Welcome to Our Good Life.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: A Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer

Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer continues the story of Thomas that was started in The Orphan King.  Now the ruler of Magnus, an impregnable fortress, Thomas still has more questions than answers about who he is and what the "secret of Magnus" is.  Confusing matters even more, a friend turns out to be a foe, and another friend has disappeared.  And Thomas is caught between two sides, two sides which refuse even to identify who they are.  Will Thomas ever get answers to his growing number of questions?

This story takes place during the Middle Ages and it pits the druids against the Christians.  It seems that Thomas has to choose a side, but all of the information he needs to make a decision is kept from him.

The reader wonders the same thing, "Will I ever get answers to all of my questions?"  Thomas isn't the only one kept in the dark, and I had hoped that this novel would have answered more questions than it did.  I find it frustrating to be ignorant of so much while reading a book.  I don't know if I will continue this series because of the lack of information, but I also can't help but wonder who Hawkwood and Katherine are, and more so, who the Immortals are.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday's Quote: Who Does Your Time Really Belong To?

Last week, I gave you a quote from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis about how easily domestic hatred can be caused by family members just by the tone of voice or timing of a simple question.

In this one, Screwtape advises his nephew to encourage his "patient" to think of time as belonging to him -- that when someone wastes his time, he should be affronted.  "It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend's talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tete-a-tete with the friend), that throws him out of gear."
And all the time the joke is that the word "mine" in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything.  In the long run either Our Father or the Enemy will say "mine" of each thing that exists, and specially of each man.  They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong -- certainly not to them, whatever happens.  
I know that I am guilty of feeling like things, especially time, belong to me.  I get upset when someone, usually one of my children, wastes my time with frivolous requests.  I need to remember to treat this time as a gift from God, one that He wants me to use for His Kingdom not my desires.  When my children ask me to read them a book, listen to a story, or play a game, it is as if the request comes from Him since that is the job He has give me right now.  Oh, how I need this reminder daily!

More than that, everything that I have comes from my gracious, heavenly Father.  I need to treasure His gifts and use them for His glory.

What do you think?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Finished Object Friday: A Doily and a Blanket

When I told you a while ago that I hadn't done anything except unpack boxes as my home improvement project, I wasn't quite being honest.  I didn't mean to be deceptive, but I hadn't finished this flowery doily yet, so I didn't think it counted.  But it's done now, and I plan to get it framed.  I've seen things like this framed, and I like the way it looks.  Hopefully, I'll be able to take it tomorrow; it's what I told John that I wanted for Mother's Day.

I also finished this blanket last week after the doily.  I plan to donate it to the local pregnancy center.  The variegation is prettier in real life than the picture shows.

What have you been working on lately?

This post is lined at Fresh from the Chari Tree Finished Object Friday.

3 in 30: A Successful, Homebound Week

Trying on Daddy's shoe.

This week was a little quieter than I meant it to be, or even than I wanted it.  Daniel came down with a fever, which was his only symptom, on Tuesday.  He still had it Wednesday so we couldn't go to story time at the library.  That's okay; there's another story time at a different library on Thursday (where I really wanted to go anyway because the other mothers were friendlier there).  But Daniel still had that pesky fever yesterday.  So we were home all week instead of getting out at least once.  Believe it or not, my car hasn't been driven since Sunday when we went to church.  I must admit that we're getting a little stir crazy.  Hopefully, Daniel is better today so we can get out and do something.  Except that the termite people are coming this morning.  *Sigh*

Anyway, Wednesday was National Chocolate Chip Day, and we had to celebrate.  With Daniel being sick, we couldn't do everything I had planned.  I didn't think it would be good to make cookies and not let Daniel help.  And I really didn't want him to help, with him being sick and everything.  But we did have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.  Yum!

Since we were home so much, I was able to get a bunch unpacked and put away.  One of the things we found was a combination game that includes checkers and Chinese checkers.  I taught Sarah Beth and Daniel how to play, and we've had great fun with those games.

And we received a fun package from my mother.  She made Sarah Beth and Rachel new dresses that are adorable!  They love them and were so excited to wear them yesterday.

Here's how I did with my goals this week:

  • Continue unpacking, sorting, and putting away.  As I said above, I got a bunch done.  I got five boxes unpacked, sorted, and put away.  Writing it like that, it doesn't sound like that much, but it certainly felt like it!  I think I have less than five boxes left to go.  Whoohoo!  Then I will need to go back through the house, looking for places for everything that got unpacked without being put away.  
  • Work on my laziness when it comes to getting out of bed and getting the laundry folded.  I've done pretty well with this goal this week.  I'm pleased.
  • Bake something new every week, trying them out at the lunches after church.  I tried this Cookie Stuffed Brownie recipe, and it was okay.  John and I agreed that we prefer our chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, and brownies separate.  I also tried this recipe for Crescent Chicken but not for the church potluck.  It was really good, a keeper for sure!  Thanks, Tracey, for finding and sharing the recipe!
How did you do this week?

This post is linked with Aurie at Welcome to Our Good Life 3in30.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day!

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day, and it's a day that I just can't let slip by us without celebrating.  I thought it could be one of our "Fun School Days."  I tried to think of ways to incorporate chocolate chips into every meal, but I'm just not sure if I can.  Here are my thoughts:
  • chocolate chip oatmeal for breakfast:  The kids didn't want chocolate chip pancakes.
  • peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwiches for lunch:  Why not?
  • chocolate chip cookies for snack:  We'll have to make some first.
  • supper?  I can't think of anything, but the kids think chocolate chip pancakes would be good.  John doesn't, though, and I have to agree.
I sure am glad that I bought a big bag of chocolate chips last week at the grocery store.  Maybe we'll even find some books about chocolate chips on our trip to the library later today.

How are you celebrating National Chocolate Chip Day?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday's Quote: Domestic Hatred

I'm currently reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, and I thought I would share with you a little of it.  If you haven't read it, this book is a series of letters supposedly written by a senior devil to his nephew giving him advice on how best to tempt his "patient," the man he is assigned to.  Of course, everything is reversed:  the Enemy is Jesus Christ, vices are good things, and virtues are bad.

In this quote, Screwtape tells Wormwood how to take advantage of our natural proclivities to take offense at meaningless trifles, specifically comments between two people who live together such as a man and his mother, in this case.
In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying things which would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face.  To keep this game up you and Glubose [the devil assigned to the "patient's" mother] must see to it that each of these two fools has a sort of double standard.  Your patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual words, while at the same time judging all his mother's utterances with the fullest and most oversensitive interpretation of the tone and the context and the suspected intention.  She must be encouraged to do the same to him.  Hence from every quarrel they can both go away convinced, or very nearly convinced, that they are quite innocent.  You know the kind of thing:  "I simply ask her what time dinner will be and she flies into a temper."  Once this habit is well established you have the delightful situation of a human saying things with the express purpose of offending and yet having a grievance when offence is taken.
Have you ever had a fight or "discussion" like this one?  I know that I have with John, where he said something that I immediately took offense at, even though he didn't mean it that way.  Reading this passage reminds me to be careful even with little comments because the little things can turn into big ones.  May we turn this passage around and strive to take the other's words at face value while judging our own tones and contexts.

Friday, May 10, 2013

3 in 30: Some Progress

After dispatching the baby, Mary is looking for her next victim.

We spent another quiet week at home, for the most part.  Sarah Beth and Rachel ran a low grade fever early in the week, but we were able to go to the library yesterday for story time.  Priorities!

And she spots her next target.

Another foe appeared to steal Mary's attention!

But here's how I did with my goals:

  • Continue unpacking, sorting, and putting away.  I did fairly well with unpacking this week.  There's still a good bit left to do, but most of it is done.  The big thing I did was go through the boxes in the girls' room.  I have a bunch of stuff to take to the pregnancy center.
  • Work on my laziness when it comes to getting out of bed and getting the laundry folded.  I'm getting better about getting out of bed when my alarm goes off, although it's still taking longer than it should.  I guess I could say the same thing about the laundry:  I'm getting better, but it's still taking longer than it should.
  • Bake something new every week, trying them out at the lunches after church.  When I really went through my untried recipes, I discovered why I haven't tried them yet.  They're too involved or take too long or are just too difficult.  So I didn't take anything new to church last week.  However, I pinned this recipe today, and I plan to try it this weekend.  What could be better than a chocolate chip cookie topped by an Oreo topped by a brownie?  Unless you put ice cream on top.  Yum!
Now she's coming for you!

How did you do this week?

This post is linked up with Aurie at Welcome to Our Good Life 3in30.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: The Ollie Chandler Collection by Randy Alcorn

The Ollie Chandler Collection by Randy Alcorn actually is three books bound into one -- Deadline, Dominion, and Deception.  Ollie Chandler is a police detective tasked to solve several murders, although he is the main character only in the last novel.

Deadline.  When newspaper writer Jake is involved in a car accident, which leaves him injured and two of his friends dead, he teams up with Chandler to find out who caused the "accident."  Along the way, he discovers that there is more to life than he thought, and that one of his friends had been correct about it while the other was self-deceived.  I think this was Alcorn's first novel, and you can tell.  The writing and plot are kind of sticky sometimes, but the message is a wonderful one.  

Dominion.  When a drive by shooting kills newspaper writer (and Jake's friend) Clarence Abernathy's sister and niece, Abernathy teams up with Chandler to solve the murder.  This book deals a lot with racial tensions which was a point.  Then it got to be too preachy.  And this story was loooong, too long.

Deception.  This book was a nice change of pace as it was written in the first person by Ollie Chandler who is quite a character.  One of his sayings is that messing with him is like wearing cheese underwear down rat alley.  He always has something quick and witty (and infuriating) to say.  But he's smart, and you figure he'll catch the real killer eventually.

The way Alcorn depicts heaven makes one yearn for it which, as Christians, is something we should be doing.  I read Safely Home last year, and I think it's better written with a better story.  But if you prefer mysteries, you might like these better.   These books are worth reading just for their portrayal of heaven; of course, Alcorn hasn't been there and doesn't really know what heaven is like, but what he imagines is simply amazing.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my (kindle) copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: What to Do with a Toddler During School Time

At the first of the year, Mary started driving me nuts.  Yes, I realize that sounds really bad for a mother to say.  But when we started school back in January, Mary gave up her morning nap which is when we had been doing school.

Since Mary wasn't napping, she had free reign around the house.  Usually, she would end up at my knee, screaming for me to pick her up.  When I did, she would start messing with our school books.  So I would put her down, and she would scream for me to pick her up.  It was a miserable way to try to teach Sarah Beth and Daniel.

I complained mentioned the problem to my mother, and she suggested something that one of her homeschooling friends does:  use a pack-n-play to contain her.

I resisted because it sounded like too much trouble, and I figured that Mary would scream the whole time, making everyone miserable.  But since I was miserable already (and misery loves company), I finally gave in decided to give it a try.

My mother even went to a consignment shop, bought toys, and shipped them to me.

Genius!  Have I told you how smart my mother is?

I'm not trying to say that Mary is perfectly happy the whole time that we do school, but she's much happier than she was.  And now we're all happier and more productive.

Here's what we do:  when we start school for the morning, I wheel the pack-n-play out.  There are toys that I keep in it for when we do school, and only when we do school.  I take a few out before I put her in so that I have something to give her when she gets bored with the ones already in there.  As long as she's playing relatively happily, she stays with us in the kitchen.

But when she gets tired of being confined, I take her upstairs to play in her room.  I have it babyproofed so she can't hurt herself, and there are a few more toys in her closet which I get out for her.  Then I put a baby gate in the doorway so she can't get out.  Usually, Rachel is tired of sitting at the table as well and heads upstairs, too, which is fine.  Sometimes, Daniel even goes, if he's done with his schooling.

School is so much more enjoyable for all of us now.  And when I wheel out the pack-n-play, Mary brings over her blanket and "asks" me to put her in.  She knows the routine now, and she's fine with it. Hooray!

What do you do with your toddler(s) during school time?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Writing Letters as a Form of Ministry

I have written posts about using letters to encourage others and express gratitude.  Today I want to tell you about using letters as a form of ministry.

I'm busy, and I know that you are, too.  There are many things that we need to accomplish each and every day, usually mundane things, but they are important, nevertheless.  Somehow, though, we need to find a way to help others in the midst of our busy-ness.

I would like to volunteer at our local pregnancy center; I even took classes years ago so that I could do that.  But I don't have the time.  I have four young children who need me, and in order to volunteer, I would have to pay someone to keep them for me.  That's just not a good option.

So what should I do?  Wait until my children are older and more independent before trying to help others?


I get frequent emails from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and the Voice of the Martyrs.  Routinely, they ask for letters to be written or emails to be sent on the behalf of people they are trying to help.  These letters are something that I can do.

I can whip off a quick email to my senators about an upcoming vote.  I can send an encouraging letter to a persecuted Christian in another country.  These things I can do without leaving my home, and these things are important.

Maybe you already write letters like these, but if you don't, I would like to encourage you to think about it.  You could make a bigger difference than you realize.

VOM has a neat way to write letters to people who don't speak English.  They have phrases already picked out, and you choose a few.  Then the site translates them into the person's language, so all you have to do is mail it!

By the way, if you homeschool and are not a member of HSLDA, I wish you would rethink your decision.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I Know that You Have Been Waiting on the Edge of Your Chair for this Update

I have had my chicks for three weeks now.  I think I was told incorrectly the age of the bigger ones; I think they were at least four weeks old, if not five, instead of the three I was told.  Not that it makes much difference.  For comparison, here are pictures of my chicks when I brought them home.

These two girls have really grown! You may not be able to tell how much by the pictures, though.  And they've gotten much prettier; they are my and John's favorite chicks based on coloration.

Look at those little fingers!  Mary is still fascinated by the chicks.

We ordered a coop a couple of weeks ago, but it hasn't arrived yet.  The chicks are getting old enough, I think, to go outside in a coop.  I would definitely like to take them outside for a "field trip," but I don't have any way to keep them corralled, and I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to catch them.

Now, tell the truth:  have you been lying awake at night wondering about my chicks?

Friday, May 3, 2013

3 in 30: More Fun in Rain Boots

Rachel would not stand still for the camera.

We had a nice, relatively quiet week at home.  It rained a good bit, though, so we've been thankful for our rain boots.  We got school done four days with another morning spent running errands and at the library for story time.  Do your children love going to the library as much as mine do?

Sarah Beth is like her mother:  she likes to walk in the mud puddles without getting dirty and messy.

But with a new month comes new goals, at least two new goals.

Daniel likes the mud puddles, too, but not as much as Rachel. 
  • Continue unpacking, sorting, and putting away.  I knew that I wouldn't get done unpacking last month, so I figured I would carry that goal over to this one.  There are days when I think, "Wow!  I got a bunch done!"  And there are days when I think, "Did I unpack a single thing?"  My goal for this month is to spend at least 15 minutes, five days a week toward this goal.  I will take Sunday off because it's a day of rest, and I'm giving myself another day when I'm just too busy with other stuff.  I think I've done well with this goal this week.
  • Work on my laziness.  It's taking me 20 to 25 minutes to get out of bed in the morning after my alarm goes off, and it's taking me three or four days sometimes to get the laundry folded.  I've got to do better.  I did pretty well with the laundry this week but not getting up.
  • Bake something new every week.  I accumulate dessert recipes, but I rarely try them.  So I've got a bunch that look really good, but that I haven't made to see if they're actually any good.  Well, the church we've been attending has lunch every Sunday after the service, so I thought that might be a good time to try new recipes.  I mean, that way we're not stuck eating all of it, and if it's not any good, well, there should be other desserts there.  Does that sound bad?  
Mary is more like Sarah Beth.  I was thrilled that they had boots in her (almost) size.

What do you have in store for the month?