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School is just around the corner. We are planning on starting August 19, which is next Monday. My children are excited. I am apprehensive. I do not feel organized enough. I feel like I am barely keeping up with the work that is on my plate now and what will happen when I add school. And my 1 year old has been extremely fussy and clingy lately. Hopefully that will soon resolve because I noticed one of her molars is through. So hoping. . .

Things that need to happen before school starts on Monday: a daily/weekly schedule made for the school days, chores need to be re-worked to fit into a school day (i.e. which chores need to be done before the school day begins, which chores will be done afterwards and which chores will be dropped from their lists), would love to make menus, more charts, timelines, maps, need to be hung on the walls, school book shelves need to be organized, a list of things made that I can grab to keep baby dear happy for a while, and on and on and on. But by God’s grace, I can do it. He has called and he will enable. THAT is what I am clinging to.

Curriculum is soo much fun. I love looking at curriculum and choosing what will best suit our needs. I am excited about our choices for this year, especially our history.

Bible & Bible Memory: Not entirely decided yet. I have a few ideas, but I don’t have a curriculum per se.
Math: Math-U-see Beta
Reading, phonics, spelling: Eastern Mennonite Publications 2nd grade reading
History: Faith Builder’s Living History Threads level 12
Science: Sonlight Science from Core B
Music: not entirely decided. Cassandra is taking Piano lessons, but I want to give them all an introduction to music
Art: Artpac 1 from Christian Light Publications

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We have some fun filled times in the last few weeks. Because of Eliana’s close call with choking on a lego, I have:

1. Called and signed up Titus and I for a Basic First Aid and CPR class. Titus has never taken a class before and I took one 10 years ago, so I really need to brush up again. 

2. Stopped to laugh with my children.

3. Gone geocaching with my children

4. Initiated “fun project time” in the afternoon

5. Started my children on some string art, the “project” we are dong right now in number 4.

6. Took time to enjoy my children playing in the sprinkler and in their “swimming pools” aka tubs.

7. OK and yes I also Panic every time I see Eliana with something in her mouth. She is a fast moving vacuum cleaner. 

8. We also took a trip to PA last weekend and on the way home we took the time to go a “beach”, it was really just along a river and also went to George Washington’s Birth Place National Monument. They had a farm set up with gardens and animals like back in the day of George Washington. Also you could go into some of the buildings (kitchen and blacksmith shop) and see the tools that they would have worked with. (no pictures)

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Andre’s lego city!ImageShe’s WALKING. Her looks are changing. SHE is changing from a baby to a toddler before my very eyes. She is soo cute. ImageImage

The string art the children are working on. Cassandra’s will be a 3 leaf clover when she is finished. I think it will be beautiful when she is finished. Andre’s is a very intricate and complicated. Thankfully Hadassah picked a fairly easy design because it was still much complicated for her to do on her own. 🙂 ImageImage

My first post to try to post pictures in my new blog format. So I am hoping that it works!!

I have been wanting a cast iron skillet for a long time, but just couldn’t find any nice ones for a cheap enough price. When I did find a cheap one, it was way to ugly and gunky and whatever else that makes them sell cheap. But then came Pinterest. . . awe. . . you can re-condition and re-season them! You can clean all that gunk and ugly stuff off! Seriously?

Well I was just a little skeptical, but I decided if I found one for the right price I would try it. Finally the other week I was at an Estate Sale and it was the final day and they had all the items marked 50% off. They had a cast iron pan in horrible condition marked for $10. Well everything was 50% off, so it was $5. I decided now is my time to try it. I bought it and brought it home. My husband took one look at it and say it is worthless. He did not believe that I could do anything to save that skillet. I found the pin on Pinterest and set out to clean it. I coated it with oven cleaner, put it in a garbage bag and left it sit for a couple of days. Got it out sprayed it with water and scrubbed. I was AMAZED!!! First of all, the grime was thick! 2nd the grime was actually coming off! I sprayed again and waited a couple of days, scrubbed and resprayed and waited, probably about 4 times, till all the grime was off. After I was satisfied it was all off, I soaked it in 2:1 ratio of water and vinegar to neutralize something (the pin explains all the techincal stuff) about the oven cleaner. After it was finished soaking it got scrubbed with steel wool. Lots of gross stuff still came off with that scrubbing. After the steel wool did it’s job, then came the re-seasoning. Heat it in the oven and give it several coats of Crisco or olive oil or lard. I believe I can fry is the blog  that gave me full instructions on how to re-condition and re-season my cast iron pan.

Here is the pan after one coat of oven cleaner!

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This is after a few more coats of oven cleaner

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This is after I was satisfied that it was clean and had all the prior seasonings off. It was still a dark color! Image

 This after the vinear and water soak and then the steel wool treatment.

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And HERE is my completely re-seasoned cast iron skillet!!!!!!!!!!! Beautiful!!!!!!! It turned a slightly brown color when it was re-seasoned. My skeptical husband has turned believer. I do believe that I will now be able to buy any cast iron skillet I want. 🙂 It is beautiful, right? You agree, right??Image

Our Lord is so gracious!

Ps. 107:1, 21, 22, & 43- “O, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and declare his works with rejoicing. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.”

Our God is so gracious! Again and again through the years I have been impressed how gracious and loving God is toward me when I am failing or falling. When I am not being all the I could be. When I am not being the mother or wife that he wants me to be. When I am not obeying his commands. He is ever gracious in bringing me back to himself, ever gracious and merciful in reminding me where I have failed him.

I had so many plans for this summer. And they were GOOD plans. Plans to spend time with those who mean the most to me. Plans to let people know that I care about them. Plans to show my children more of God’s creation and to do fun stuff with them. Just to have fun with my family. BUT. . . somewhere soon after school left out, those plans went flying out the window. My own stuff got in the way. Things that really have very little meaning in the larger picture of life. Things that won’t matter in 100 years from now. Things. . . things. . . are you noticing a theme or rather a lack of a theme. A theme of THINGS rather than PEOPLE. I was letting the URGENT take precedent over the IMPORTANT. I was allowing life to dictate what I do rather than me direct what, where, how and when. I know there are things that NEED to be done, but I am not talking about those things now. I don’t want to get side tracked talking about how to know when I need to let my house get messy to spend time with the children, etc. I know in my heart I was putting things above my children, and that is where God put his finger the other day.

The finger of God came in the middle of a Monday morning. My children were either doing chores or had finished their morning chores by that time and where just playing. Eliana, my youngest, is 11 months old. She was playing back in the girls’ room with their dishes or so I thought. But I later learned that she had also been in her brother’s room and got into his legos. I was sewing. Eliana had just came out to me by the sewing machine and was there for less than a minute when I looked down at her and realized that she is choking. I quickly reach down and pick up her arms expecting her to spit something out of her mouth immediately. BUT. . . it didn’t happen. I quickly realized she is really in distress. I pick her up and do the hiemlich on her, but nothing happens. I start hitting her on the back. Nothing… her lips are turning blue. . . she gasps. . . I do a finger sweep, but it comes up empty. . .she somehow draws a very small breath. . . her lips return to normal color. . . but she is still fighting for her life. . . I run for the phone. . . carrying her with me. . . in the background I hear an older sibling cry out, “Jesus, save my baby sister”, echoing my own heart. . . I gently shake her, trying to dislodge whatever is in her throat. . . I do another finger sweep. . . Nothing. . . I see her eyes roll. . . I thought “oh no she is losing consciousness”. . .”Lord, show me what to do, save her”. . . desperate prayers. . . I dial 911 and as I was dialing I hear her brother yell, it is something red. Oh, relief. I immediately hang up the phone to retreive the red thing out of her mouth. . . It was a lego. . .She is breathing, struggling to cry. She has phlegm in her throat. The phone rings. . . I thought I can’t talk to anyone right now, but then I thought that it acutally is probably 911 calling back because I had called them and hung up before they answered. Yes, it was them. I was soo thankful that I could tell the operator that my baby is fine. She is crying. . . She is breathing. . . Praise the Lord!!!

I was shaking. . . Eliana still had a gurgle in her throat as she was breathing. She immediately started to fall asleep. She was exhausted from her fight for life. I woke her up, because I wanted that phlegm cleared out before she fell asleep. She cried enough to clear it and then slept. I held her and held her. Her siblings were begging to hold her and love on her. They had all seen it happen and were as terrified as I was. I didn’t want to let go of her. They all kissed her and touched her as she lay sleeping in my arms. We had a praise/worship service right there around the rocking chair.

God brought thoughts to my mind about the important things in my life. What would my regrets be if she or any of my children would die? My most poignant regret would be that I didn’t spend enough time with them. Oh, Lord, all my plans for the summer? Oh, I need to get back on track, incorporate some of those things into our schedule that I wanted to do with my children this summer. Oh, God how gracious you are!! You only gave me a good scare. You didn’t actually take her from me. You are soo good and so kind. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his loving kindness!! He is good!!! He is kind!!!

Psalm 107 verse 43 says “Whoso is wise. . . will understand the loving kindness of the Lord.” Am I wise? Do I understand the loving kindness of the Lord? I think the Lord is ever loving in showing me his loving kindness. He is so merciful and gracious!! Thank you Lord for your mercy, goodness, graciousness, loving kindnesses!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for this reminder in putting my children above the things of this life.

Next post I will share about some of things we have done since that dreadful Monday morning!! We have had some fun! We have done some projects together. And I want to continue making memories together.

Odds and Ends

I have so many posts swirling around in my head. Many are sentence thoughts at this point. Oh, i would love to blog about that or this or THIS!! Now I just need to get that sentence thought into a couple paragraphs of thought. 

My days fill up so fast.

1. I have made my own body wash recently. I tried 2 different recipes. The first recipe, I probably won’t share because I don’t like it. It has left my skin feeling somewhat dry after a shower. The 2nd recipe, I haven’t tried yet. It is still sitting in the bottle waiting to be tried. I am excited about this one, because it has the inclusion of coconut oil in it. 

2. I have stopped using shampoo for my hair. For the wash I use a mixture of water and baking soda. Yes just 2 ingredients. For the rinse I have a mixture of vinegar, aloe vera gel, tea tree oil, peppermint oil and water. The recipe calls for honey, but I am just a little scared to put honey on my hair. I am worried that my hair will be too greasy! I am still trying to decide if I like this way of washing my hair. 

3. I have also been making my own baby wipes. I LOVE, LOVE them. They feels so clean and pure. I am not putting chemicals on my baby’s bum. My husband even likes the feel of them. But there are a few downsides, 1. they don’t easily pull apart like store wipes. 2. they will turn rancid so it is important to only make about a week’s worth at a time. 

4. I am also making some of my own cleaning products. Jury is still out on these also. Do I like my own toilet bowel cleaner. Still wanting to try a homemade bathroom cleaner, an all-purpose cleaner and a kitchen stain remover. 

5. I am sewing for someone else. I enjoy sewing WHEN it goes well. 

6. I am sewing sheet sets for my girls beds. They have custom sized bunk beds. The real downside of this is that no sheets fit right. Since we got them 7 months ago, the girls have just been using regular size twin sheets and putting the extra underneath the mattress. I am trying to downsize a few of the sheets to fit. I am still working on the first set. So jury is still out whether I am capable of doing that also. 

7. I have so many dreams of things that I want to do. Dreams, dreams, dreams at this point. My children and their schooling comes first at this point yet. I homeschool and love it. But it is something that takes a lot of time. My husband talks with someone that is passionate about education. And this friend is very concerned that homeschooled children get a good education. He finds it hard to understand how a mother can homeschool effectively and give her children the education that they deserve, plus do all the chores that need to be done to run a house effectively. For me I want to take this as a challenge and give my children an education that will prepare them for life and that will give them all the tools they need to effectively handle like. So because of the stage of life that I am in right now, those dreams are on hold. I am loving my summer vacation right now from school, but I also have already gotten most everything around for school in August and I am getting very excited about starting 2nd grade with my 2 oldest and pre-k with my 3rd child. She is actually at the moment standing bedside my chair begging me to teach her to read. So I just promised her that I would start teaching her to read in the fall. So something else to think about. How do I start to teach a 4 year old how to read. 🙂 I love the adventure. 

Hopefully more will be coming soon. . . 

Sick Days

WE have been battling the sickness, colds, congestion, runny noses, goopy eyes, ear infections and more since Christmas. And this mommy is sick and tired of it all.

Last week I took my 8 month old to the doctor because she was soo fussy and pulling at her ears. So what did they do, but the normal, put her on antibiotics for an ear infection. But now her cold is sooo much worse. Yes, I think the antibiotics wore down her natural immune system and so her body can’t fight her cold as well.

Vit C, Elderberry, Garlic, Echinaicea, Silver Sheild and even VS-C. Which shall I use? I want to use 2 or 3 consisitently till this sickness is GONE. What have you found to be the MOST effective?

Valentine’s Day

Around here we celebrated Valentine’s Day a week late. We just celebrated it last evening, Feb. 21.

For the last several years, I have been wanting to make it a family affair instead of a couples night out. So with several eager children that wanted to do all they could to help make a special supper, I embarked on that adventure.

We put Valentine’s decals on our windows, made fondant for a cake, made red jello hearts.

The menu was pretzel covered Chicken breasts served with homemade Honey Mustard Sauce, baked corn, Valentine jello hearts, and Pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting with pink fondant overlay with pinker hearts on it.

I had each of the children write notes to each other person in the family. Titus and I also wrote notes to each one. We said 2 or 3 things that we like about that person. Then each person read their notes and then gave that note to the appropriate person. We did this after the main course and before dessert. It was really really special. I think it will become a Valentines Tradition for us.

We all love to be loved. We love when others tell us what they like about us. And this can be an organized way of affirming our love for each member of the family and affirming their strong points. May God be glorified in all that we do.