Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Building a Homestead

We have been working on our garden beds these last few weeks.  Our soil is so poor that we started using raised beds last year and purchasing soil.  This year we have used a combination of peat moss, manure and our own compost.  We have planted broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, radishes, spinach and potatoes.  Tomato seeds are in cups and will be put out in several weeks.  Jeff and the boys planted 6 new blueberry bushes last night.  We have been cleaning out flower beds and adding fresh soil and weeding out the mint bed so I can transplant some more that has been growing in the yard.  We have seeds to start for several herbs and will be watching hopefully for a good yield.

Jordan is interested in developing a real homestead that could turn into a side business for him.  We will be looking at plans for building a greenhouse, trying to keep chickens again (if I can only get over the taste of fresh eggs....),  and we would love to learn about keeping bees.  I think I would like to have my own source for honey and it could provide some income for the boys.  I have plans to read Gene Stratton Porter's Laddie and The Keeper of the Bees to encourage the children (and myself) to work hard, become self-reliant and  to love working as a family.  There is just something about working together that either draws a family closer or breaks them up completely.  God created us to be workers and to take dominion over the land that He gave us.  We need to be more focused on doing the work that He has given us to do.  If you were to walk around our place you would see that there is a lot of work that needs to be done!!    Good thing we have a bunch of children who are willing to work (most of the time!)

Here are the three big boys getting ready to set out blueberry bushes on a little ridge behind the house.

Jeff gives them a little help with the tiller.

It's a big job for Jackson, but he loves to work.  They dug deep.  Aaron actually had water coming up in one of the holes he dug.  Not a burst pipe, just runoff from up the hill.  They planted the blueberry bushes in a mixture of our clay soil, sand, peat moss and compost.

Caedmon loves being out and "working" with the big guys.

Jordan looks like he is really preparing to tackle a hard job.

Some of our early crops are coming up!   I think these are radishes.

Kaelan took all of these pictures.  It was a beautiful spring day and you can finally see new leaves coming out on the trees.

The daffodils have bloomed and Kaelan can't resist picking one or two or a bunch!

One of the children's many hideouts around our property.  This one is fairly close to the house in a shady little glen.  The little boys play here with Kaelan.  She has a nice little set up!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


It's a beautiful spring day here and I was marveling at the sunshine and the birdsong when this hymn came to mind.  Thought I would share it with you.

Fairest Lord Jesus

Fairest Lord Jesus,  Ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son:
Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul's glory, joy, and crown.

Fair are the meadows, Fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, 
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, Fairer still the moonlight
And all the twinkling, starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav'n can boast.

Beautiful Savior, Lord of all nations, 
Son of god and Son of man!
Glory and honor,
Praise, adoration, Now and forevermore be thine!

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's A Blessing!!

The Homestead Blessings 9 pack is on sale at Vision Forum until midnight April 1 for only $99!!  These are some of our family's favorite dvd's and we learn so many practical skills from the West Ladies.  I know many of you would enjoy these as well.  Just click on the link here or  in my sidebar for more info!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Grandson Elisha's First Birthday

Last Thursday was Elisha's first birthday.  Lauren had a family celebration Sunday evening with the Phillips and Chamblee families and a couple of Elisha's great-grands.  

Devin went down to Lauren's the day before to help her prepare.  She decorated the cupcakes.  We also had lots of pizza and ice cream.

I think Elisha was enjoying his cupcake just a little too much!  It looks like he is winking in this picture!

Big Brother Chase, 2, covered in pizza sauce!

Uncle Jackson, 5, also covered in pizza sauce, but always ready for a picture!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Playing Catch Up

 Life, as usual, has been busy around here lately.  I am always amazed at how other moms can be involved in so many outside activities and maintain their sanity.  I learned a few years ago that I needed to say "NO" more often so that I could keep things going on the home front.  We are busy enough as a family with music lessons, work and travel schedules to add any other activities to our load at this time.

I just wrote that and  I now see how ridiculous that looks as these last few weeks have been filled with activities that I was involved in.  A couple of weeks ago we had our annual father/daughter banquet that I helped coordinate.  We were blessed to have Geoffrey, Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin join us and share with our fathers and daughters.   The next day I began baking over 400 rolls for a friend's daughter's wedding which is this Friday evening.  This family is extremely involved in fighting a culture war in our state and I felt so blessed to be able to help them in this small way.  I have also been coordinating a How Great Thou Art Seminar with Barry Stebbing which will be held this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.   The Stebbings will also be here through next week filming a nature study series for The Homeschool Channel.

In the midst of all of this we have had our normal piano and violin lessons, Devin's teaching schedule and Jordan's work schedule.  We also had a short visit by Lauren and the boys on Saturday.  The boys are growing so quickly and now, Lauren is expecting baby number three!  Devin went home with them and helped Lauren clean her house and get ready for Elisha's first birthday party.  Jeff's parents were able to attend along with our son-in-law's family.  With just family there were about 27 people there!

Please remember Jeff's step-father, Earl, in your prayers.  He has recently found out that he may have lung cancer and will be finding out from the surgeon today when surgery will be scheduled.  He and Jeff's mom, Erma,  have both been fighting pneumonia these last few weeks and, of course, he is very anxious about the cancer prognosis.  Please keep both of them in your prayers.

After the Congressional vote in Washington on Sunday I found it a little ironic that we were beginning a study of the Revolutionary War on Monday.  We are continuing to study the character trait of responsibility and will soon begin a study on courage.  Can I just say that it would so amazing if all of our elected officials would take some time off and do a little study on these topics as well?  I am so very grateful that I can point my young men to the examples of responsible and courageous men from our country's past history.  I can only pray that they will be men who will stand in the gap, speak truth, and follow God in all they do.  No, I can do more than that!!  I can teach them God's Word and point them to Godly examples who have done great things in the past!

It is so very easy for Christians to become discouraged and dismayed in today's world.  We have had many discussions around our  dinner table about what this legislation means and how we can respond.  Jeff has shared this portion of scripture with us and it is so very appropriate.  The LORD tells us here specifically what we are to do!   This is a letter written by the prophet Jeremiah in Jerusalem to the Jews who were  captive in Babylon.

                   Jeremiah 29:  4-14  Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried                away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and dwell in them;  plant gardens and eat their fruit.  Take wives and beget sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters--that you may be increased there, and not diminished.  And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it;  for in its peace you will have peace.  For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:  Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed.  For they prophesy falsely to you in My name;  I have not sent them, says the LORD.

                   For thus says the LORD:  After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me will all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity;  I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

Notice that God caused them to be taken captive.  He also tells them to build homes, plant gardens, marry, have children SO THAT YOU MAY INCREASE AND NOT DECREASE!  Seek the peace of the city, town, county, state and country that you live in.  Pray to the LORD for it.  If there is peace in the city, town, county, state and country then you will have peace.  Search for the LORD will all your heart.  He will be found!

Friday, March 5, 2010


A Bag of Tools
R. L. Sharpe

Isn't it strange 
That princes and kings,
And clowns that caper
In sawdust rings,
And common people
Like you and me
Are builders of eternity?

Each is given a bag of tools
A shapeless mass,
A book of rules;
And each must make-
Ere life is flown-
A stumbling block
Or a stepping stone.

I first heard this poem as it was shared by an evangelist many years ago.  It "spoke" to me then and I asked the evangelist for a copy.  A few years later I was delighted to find it in the second volume of KONOS under the character trait of responsibility.  I found myself this morning looking back over the responsibility unit that we were completing....seeing what I missed before going on to the next unit.  And boy, did I miss a lot.  I have been very discombobulated in the last few years trying to balance all of my children from the oldest to the very youngest, having a daughter marry and make me a grandmother. It has been a season of change and, once the changes started, there is no going back.  I lost my focus on our homeschool....lost direction and the fortitude to stick it out.  I have become a slacker mom!!  We are still doing and learning, but we are not really enjoying it  and I am not seeing the character development that I would like.  The character training got lost in the struggle to get the academics done and my children have become a reflection of their mother.

This morning I had somewhat of an awakening as I looked over all the Bible verses that we should have covered during our time on the responsibility unit, but didn't.  We will spend the next two weeks doing some in-depth Bible study in this area while starting our study of the Revolutionary War.  There has been a good bit of discussion at about young men who have been homeschooled, but are not being trained to be "real men".  I also was told how young some of the leaders of our Revolutionary War were....young men in their late teens and early twenties who did incredible acts to bring about  a free country.  They had to have been given lots of responsibilities early in their lives to give them the gumption to start a new country.

So, what does it mean to be responsible?  It means doing a job in the way and within the time that it is expected.  I want my children to understand why it is important  to be responsible
--to get the job done
--to help others who are dependent upon us
--to have extra time for other things
--to avoid the consequences of being irresponsible

I want them to learn how to be responsible and to whom to be responsible.  To learn the truth, to practice skills and to please God and their parents are their primary responsibilities but they also have to be taught to do what is assigned or expected right and efficiently and to do more than is expected.  (Taken from KONOS, vol. 2)

I have an opportunity to go back and re-focus on the character training in myself and in my children.  I want to be a stepping stone, not a stumbling block.  How are you doing?  Are your children reflecting any of your bad habits?  Children are mirrors, reflecting what they see in the lives of their parents.  Sometimes it hurts!
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