Thursday, July 30, 2009

In Which I Make a Homemade Tonic and We All Get Sick

And no, we didn't get sick from the tonic!

A couple of years ago this tonic recipe would come up repeatedly for discussion on an e-loop that I belong to. Everyone sang its praises as being a natural antibiotic and, in general, just good for what ails you. I finally broke down last week and bought ingredients to make up a batch. The recipe is as follows:

1 part fresh grated ginger
1 part fresh grated horseradish
1 part fresh chopped white onions
1 part fresh minced garlic
1 part fresh chopped peppers--the hotter the better. I used habernero and jalepeno peppers.
Put all into a glass jar and then cover with organic apple cider vinegar.

If you use all organic ingredients it is supposed to be better for you. I made a lot! A gallon! And no, I didn't wind up with equal you know how long it would take to grate ginger and horseradish to make two cups....or even one cup? I didn't measure, so I don't know exactly how much of anything is in there. I just hope it's enough to do us some good. This tonic mixture needs to sit for two weeks and you must shake it everyday to get it mixed up. After two weeks you strain all the veggies out and bottle up the liquid. Take 1-2 tbs when a cold or other illness hits you.

Some of the ladies mentioned that the veggies make a great relish after being separated from the vinegar. Jeff didn't wait. He has already been eating it straight out of the TONIC jar. He declares it especially good on tomato sandwiches.

Now, I made this up on Friday. We've been having some strange weather for July in MS, so Saturday we started getting sick... sore throats, sinus headaches, drainage, croup. Monday I took four of the children and myself to the chiropractor to get some relief. We did! All of the head junk moved down to our chests. Now we are all coughing and wheezing. My tonic won't be ready for another week, but guess what? The only one of us who is not or has not been sick is Jeff. And he had several helpings of the tonic relish! Hmmm...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Funny Faces


Gimme that camera!!

Although Chase is crying here in this picture, I thought it looked about as funny as the other two boys.

Curriculum Advice by Victoria Botkin

Victoria Botkin is the wife of Geoffry Botkin, the maker of The League of Grateful Sons. A couple of years ago we were able to meet the Botkin family and I was struck with how articulate their children were and at how much they had done in their young lives. While I thought I knew what their educational philosophy must be before asking, I just had to ask Victoria any way. I asked her what curriculum they used in their homeschool. I am sure now that she has had many people ask that same question, but she was gracious enough to talk with me briefly. The only curriculum they use is Saxon math. Nothing else. No other curriculum, but lots of reading, writing and one-on-one discussion time with each other and as a family. Knowing this was so very freeing for me. We struggle between wanting to educate our children according to their individual bents and focusing on Scripture or educating to the world's standards with a college degree being the goal.

We recently met up with the Botkins again and, to my mortification, Jeff shared with them that I was experiencing some homeschool burnout (oh, the shame!) A few weeks later we received a package including all of the Botkin family cd and dvd products. We already had everything with the exception of the Curriculum Advice by Victoria. Jeff and I were both convicted as we listened to this two cd set on our recent trip. The Lord has been showing us a better way for our family to live and learn together in the last few weeks and this was just one more glimpse into what that could be.

Producers or Consumers? part two

In my last post I mentioned our notebooks. In this post I would like to tell you a little more about our notebooks. When we are studying a particular subject the children make a notebook that will contain all of their “paperwork” which may include copywork, vocabulary, Bible verses, coloring pages, diagrams, maps, drawings, stories or reports. The bulk of our school day may be spent adding to these notebooks. However, our purpose is not just to fill the notebooks but to encourage the children to make the information on the topic their own.

In past years I found it easy to print out encyclopedia entries on people, places and events to add to these notebooks and also used lots of other online printables. I soon realized that doing this was not adding to the children’s knowledge and was defeating the purpose of teaching them to produce their own books and becoming “experts” on the topic through their study. If you look at what we now include you can see how easily we can cover so many subject areas just through our time spent in notebooking. Handwriting, vocabulary, reading, history or science, writing, research, art, Bible and so much more go into producing these notebooks which become treasures in time.

This year my oldest son has been increasingly interested in learning about photography and videography. God sometimes provides wonderful opportunities for His children and my son is now working with his father on The Homeschool Channel which is providing him a wonderful opportunity for hands-on learning all about photography and videography. For the next couple of years this son will be working on notebooks on these two topics as he encounters opportunities to learn from others and as he learns on his own. My hope is that he will be able to turn his notebook into an e-book and share what he learns with others. We are very excited to see how this endeavor turns out!

Raising children can be a messy job, but even more so if you are raising producers. If you can imagine 4-5 children spread out with notebooks, drawing supplies, papers, books, scissors, glue and whatever else they may need to work on their notebooks. You know the old adage, “A messy desk is the sign of a genius”? Well, sometimes a messy house can be the sign of many producers at work. Not only can our “school” time be messy, but so can all of our other activities. Some of my children play the piano and the violin which results in music scattered over the piano, violins out and the music that is being produced can sometimes create an audio “mess”, especially if there is more than one musician playing at a time. My children love to draw, paint, build, and create with the many items stored in our arts and crafts cabinet. A daughter may decide to make homemade bread, cookies or dessert when the mood strikes (and thankfully that is often!)

I have been encouraged to teach my children this way through the writings of Marilyn Howshall, Ruth Beechick, Cindy Rushton, Tina Farewell and Jessica Hulcy. What are some ways that you are raising your children to be producers? I would love to see some of your ideas.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Producers or Consumers? part one

These terms have been on my mind a lot this past year as I contemplate how we spend our time learning here in our home and how we live our lives on a daily basis. With the economy as it is and our future path somewhat uncertain I have been trying to teach my children to be producers and not consumers.

What does that mean in our learning? On the consumer side, we do purchase MANY good books each year to add to our home library. We love reading and all of us spend many hours involved with a good book. Most of our learning in science and history comes from reading “living books”, books that are not textbooks and that can maintain our interest while teaching us about God’s world or about His story. We use very few textbooks in our home. The few we have are for math and a handful of science and history texts used as references.

So how do my children learn anything about science and history if we don’t use a textbook? We read, dramatize, look up vocabulary, write stories and reports about the topic which we include in notebooks, take field trips, draw maps or diagrams, draw pictures, watch movies and documentaries, do experiments, make a timeline, learn to cook dishes from different cultures and time periods and have many opportunities to dialogue along the way. Instead of consuming pre-digested textbooks and workbooks we are DOING and CREATING and making memories along the way.

How does this relate to language arts? If we are studying the mid-1800s the children may write a first person story about a young man who is a rider for The Pony Express and describe a day or a week as he rides along from one station to the next. They may spend a week writing the story, but they have lots of knowledge to pull from because they have been reading books about the topic and I have, most likely, been reading aloud to them as well. When they have finished their stories I will type them up on the computer leaving out all punctuation and paragraph spacing and will include any misspelled words and incorrect grammar.

The next week the misspelled words become their spelling words for the week and we will correct all punctuation and grammar as well. We look at using more descriptive language to make our stories more colorful. This occurs over several days. When we are all satisfied with the results I type the papers up again with all corrections and they are included in the children’s notebooks.

This is a little more time and teacher intensive, but the rewards are reflected in the smiles on the children’ faces when others enjoy the finished product. They have become producers and learn to enjoy the work involved!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Training Manly Men

A few weeks ago Jeff and Scott B. cut down several trees that were casting shadows on my garden and growing over my clothes line. Jackson loves to do "real work" and cut down some trees (saplings) on his own. Not only did he cut them down, but he hauled them to the burn pile as well. I hope he continues to love hard work as he grows up. Manly men are so few these days.

BTW, you can click on each picture on my blog to enlarge. Then you can really see how cute (and dirty) my little man is!! Oh, and that construction site behind him? One day that will be Jeff's office, a music studio, guest rooms, storage rooms and workshop. One day.....

Getting started.

It's a big job!



Farewell to Iowa

Our family with the Paul B. family. Farewell to Iowa! We hope to return next year!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More from Iowa

We were in Iowa in order to attend and film the Fathers of Vision Conference held each year in the Des Moines area. this year's speakers were Scott Brown, Peter Bradrick and Kevin Swanson. While I didn't get to hear everything (having a ninth-month old in tow prevented my listening in on each session), I was able to hear Swanson's final session and it was convicting...and I am the mother...this conference was for FATHERS! Jeff also interviewed two sweet families who are living life for the Lord and raising their families with a multi-generational view. Most of the pictures here and below were taken on their farms. There are also several from the road. I think Jordan was bored on the 13 hour drive!!

We did make new friends while in Iowa and they live right here in Tupelo! Paul B. and his family moved to Tupelo the Friday before the Iowa trip, started work on Monday and was road tripping along with us on Wednesday. Welcome to The Homeschool Channel Crew, Paul!! Two of his daughters are in the last picture with Kaelan and Jackson. Kaelan really enjoyed spending time with Evelyn and Joel. Evelyn had her 10th birthday on the trip so she and Kaelan are the same age and are looking forward to many more road trips with their dads and time together visiting here. More pictures to come! Can you tell that I am enjoying Jordan's pictures? This is a new skill that he is developing and as we have only had the Canon Rebel for a few weeks I think he is doing great. Some of these shots will be included in the film version of our trip.

More Views from Iowa

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scenes from Iowa--Jordan style

Rub-a-Dub-Dub Caedmon's in the Tub

I am finally getting the camera, Photoshop and blog thing lined long as someone is here to do it for me, that is!! Things are still busy around here...we had a great trip to Iowa that I will post about soon and since returning I have been canning and freezing tomatoes and squash. I am beat!!

Caedmon is really growing. At nine months old he is wearing 24 month clothes!! He is crawling everywhere and is pulling up on everything. He loves to play peek-a-boo, clap his hands and take a bath. Don't ask about sleep! He doesn't! Unless he is in the bed with us. He is so very precious and we are so thankful that the Lord gave us another blessing even in our OLD age!

Jeff was the photographer and Jordan worked this photo over on Photoshop Elements. Jordan is taking some great pictures as you will see when I post about our trip.

Monday, July 13, 2009

And the Winner Is.....!

Tina Whitehurst!! Tina please contact me asap at with your mailing address so that I can send you your dvd. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Review and A Give-Away...Because I'm Back!

Update! Because it's the weekend and I want as many people to enter the give away as possible, I will wait to draw the winner's name until Monday night. Then we will get your package in the mail on Tuesday before we head off to Iowa.

Jeff has been bringing home tons of dvd's for us to preview as content for The Homeschool Channel and some of them have been great. The children really enjoyed all of the Drive-Thru History series and the two or three that I watched were quite entertaining while sharing historical facts. I have personally enjoyed The Homestead Blessings series produced by Franklin Springs media. We have watched three dvd's showing candle-making, soap-making and bread baking. While we have done some of each I was really impressed with the candle making and have been inspired to get my hands on some beeswax and make up some glow lamps for myself. These were quite beautiful and didn't seem too difficult, but get the dvd and see for yourself. This week we have watched the breadbaking dvd a couple of times and Kaelan has decided that she wants to start handling our bread baking. Kaelan has been my "helper" in making bread, but today she asked to do it by herself. I did supervise and probably will for a little while longer but she made a great loaf of cinnamon bread and we also made three loaves of plain bread, two pans of cinnamon rolls and a double batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Aaron even got in the kitchen and made his own batch of cookies (he is allergic to eggs). I have been teaching him to write down recipes and make his own pancakes and now cookies this summer so that he doesn't always have to depend on me or Devin to do it for him. Can I write that up as a life skills course?

The Homestead Blessings series has just recently doubled in size to include three more dvd's on canning, gardening and herbs. This series is hosted by the West ladies--mom Vickie and three daughters who are very down-to-earth and very Southern ; ) . To get you started on your own set of The Homestead Blessings dvd's I am giving away one copy of your choice of either candle-making, soap-making or bread baking. Just leave a comment telling me which one you would like and why. Have you ever done any of these activities before? Are you a pro or do you have no idea how to even get started? The dvd's will interest you no matter your level of expertise. These dvd's also make great gifts! I have already given one to a sweet young friend who celebrated her 14th birthday just this week. Each entry will be placed in Jackson's cowboy hat and I will let him draw the name of the winner. The contest closes at 5 Sunday night and I will have Jackson draw later that evening and will post the winner's name asap.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Long Time No Post

Hi! It's been a long time since I have posted, but hopefully I will be here a little more frequently in the future. Several things have been keeping me busy around here namely Jeff, Lauren, Devin, Jordan, Aaron, Kaelan, Jackson, Caedmon , Chase and Eli! In addition to being busy with family matters--you know, cooking, cleaning, laundry, discipline, shopping, etc. we have had a busy time working on a couple of projects for The Homeschool Channel. Jeff and Jordan went to the Alabama homeschool conference where they conducted lots of interviews and filmed several speakers and then they came back home with Bob and Tina Farewell with their son James. Bob and Tina are the former owners of Lifetime Books and Gifts and we meet them several years back when they came in their big bus and parked in our yard for two days for visiting and conducting a "Have Books Will Travel" meeting. We had a great time back then and it looks like we will have many more opportunities for visiting in the future. Bob is now working with Jeff on The Homeschool Channel and we are so excited to have him and Tina joining the team. They know most everybody in the homeschool world and have made some great contacts. Anyway, they came home with Jeff and Jordan where we enjoyed a couple of meals and fellowship together along with Ken Carpenter and his son Cole from Franklin Springs Films. Why were they all here? Well,Tina conducted two workshops that were filmed and Bob conducted his Gettysburg monologue which was also filmed. All will be presented at a future time on The Homeschool Channel.

In other news... I have a new Canon Rebel something something camera that is all fancy and such that is taking great pictures...and I have a new iMac computer of my very own (ok, some of the kids will use it as well). I have a lot to learn about how to operate it as all I have used before was a Dell PC, but I think I am about ready to delve into the vast unknown and at least figure out the word processing program. Jeff is still uploading or downloading or installing or whatever it is that you do to get all of the "stuff" that I "need" on here in order to conduct business and school for the next year. Hopefully we will have all of that taken care of in the next few weeks and I can actually blog more frequently and include pictures taken with the new camera.

All of the girls' birthdays have now past. Lauren had her 25th in April. Kaelan turned 10 in May and Devin turned 21 in June. We now begin the boys birthdays starting next week with Chase who will be 2. He was just here the last two days with his mom and baby brother. I had been working on his "preschool in a box" for the last couple of months and was able to add a couple of Melissa and Doug puzzles and some board books for them to take home with them yesterday. I didn't get all the file folder games done that I wanted to, but I was able to include 16 activity bags that they can look forward to using for the next few years. Lauren was really excited to look through everything...or maybe she was just making me feel good about it!

I have actually planned out our yearly overview for school and have our first 8 weeks loosely planned. Now that I have a computer again, I can soon get our weekly lessons typed out (yes, I do that) and can get Jordan's study guides typed out as well. Jordan officially has 2 years of homeschooling left and we are trying to plan a course of action. He is really interested in photography and videography and is interested in a career in that area. Ok, it's no coincidence that he is learning and getting paid to learn how to do these things as he works with his dad on The Homeschool Channel. I think instead of us planning the course we are looking to see the course that God has planned. Jordan has no desire to go to college (math is a hindrance) and Ken Carpenter last week mentioned that he doesn't look for a college degree when he is hiring for his film companies. He looks for experience and that is what Jordan is now getting...and some of that is training with Ken Carpenter himself...How cool is that?

I am hesitant to put more time in school planning as Jeff is determined that we will be traveling together whenever he travels. That will generally mean leaving home on Wednesdays and returning at the earliest on Sundays. God's plans will definitely overrule my plans. Please pray with us that we can get a 12-15 passenger van soon so that we can travel in one vehicle and that we may be able to secure an RV which will make traveling much more enjoyable. It will help us car school if we can all be in the same vehicle!

Devin returned from Iowa Monday and was full of talk about the Amish stores that she visited while there. She impressed us so much that we are all going up next week. Ok, we were already going there but it just so happens that she was in the same area that we are going to be visiting next week. Jeff and Jordan will be filming and conducting interviews at the Fathers of Vision conference just outside of De Moines next week. The conference speakers include Scott Brown, Kevin Swanson and Peter Bradrick. If you are going, we would love to meet you. We will be the family lugging huge pieces of video equipment and pushing a baby stroller!

We are finally enjoying some peppers and tomatoes from our own garden. I haven't had enough to do any major canning yet, but hope to have some in the next few weeks.

Caedmon is now calling for mommy, so this long post will close. Hope to be back soon!!
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