Friday, April 30, 2010

Farm Report--Frugal Productivity or Productive Frugality?

This morning I decided we needed to get back out in the garden early to mulch the tomato/basil patch before the predicted storms and 8-10 inches of rain appeared.  Our little homestead is on a hill;  everything from the backdoor on is downhill.  I didn't want to watch my hard work find its slippery way down to the bottom of the hill and into the creek!

We've been trying to garden in a frugal way, but there is still a good bit of money invested when you need to buy good soil, manure, mulch, seeds and plants.   Last year we started composting veggie and table scraps and adding lawn clippings and leaves as well.  This has been fairly easy to do (meaning I don't do anything but put the scraps in a bucket!!) and results in a great supplement to our garden.  Jeff and the boys recently found a free source of a great gardening material that has a never-ending "free" supply.  All they have to do is hitch up the trailer and shovel for a while.  Lots of manure!!  They bring it home, shovel it off the trailer and add it to the compost.  It has to age before  you can use it and this first load was a little too fresh, but will be great to plow in next spring.

I had read about someone putting their raised beds on carpet remnant so they wouldn't have to combat the weeds.  A friend of ours does floors and saved me a  couple of rooms of carpet that he was replacing.  The wood for the beds was salvaged from a deck off our master bedroom.  We have four beds here that we planted seeds in earlier this spring.  We haven't had much luck with the seeds, so I have started putting in plants.

It may be too late, but I found strawberry plants on sale at Lowe's the other day.  Jeff has been wanting to plant some, so I thought it was time.  The kids and I built this bed for the strawberries using  landscaping blocks that we purchased years ago.  A flat of these blocks was only a hundred dollars.

Instead of putting verbena in our raised bed that has our bell in it, I decided to plant herbs.  I have pineapple sage, sage, oregano, and thyme here.  In another bed I have been transplanting mint that had grown out of its former place.  I love to make mint iced tea in the summer!

Because our home was in the woods when we moved here, Jeff has cut down or bulldozed down 100's of trees. Trees were literally right off the porch and even growing in the master bedroom deck.   We still have LOTS of woods, but we wanted a yard and to be able to see the sky for stargazing!  Because of all the wood around we decided to use some of it to make raised beds as well.  Much more rustic than anything else we have done, but if it works and it's free then that's great!  This bed has asparagus and sunflowers in one side and horseradish and sunflowers in the other.  Because we used our compost we also have some "volunteer" squash and tomatoes coming in here as well!! 

Our corn patch looks so little here next to the compost bin, but I planted over 100 seeds yesterday.  Last year we planted too late and either  the deer or coons ate what did grow in.  Praying for a better return on my time this year!  You can see Caedmon in his swing back behind the corn patch.

Yes, we were out in our pajamas!!  I wanted to get the mulching done and the green beans planted before the rains came.

Devin calls Caedmon her sweet little curly-haired blue-eyed blonde!

Sweet Jackson is still wearing winter pajamas.

Kaelan is taking a swinging break!  The big boys hadn't done their beauty routine yet this morning and didn't want their pictures taken.

Gardening is a family affair.  You have to start early if you want good workers!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's Wednesday Already??

-This week is flying by so very quickly!  I still have a little one who is having an occasional struggle with his breathing and is/can be very grumpy as a result of his medicines.  But after not being able to do much other than take care of him for the last several days, I needed to get busy.

Yesterday we:
-Read our Proverbs for the day
-reviewed Bible memory
-reviewed our Greek and Latin roots
-read from Lives of the Signers (bios about the signers of the Declaration)
-read about the Boston Massacre
-did math
-worked with Jackson on phonics, Building Thinking Skills and sequencing
-sorted, washed, hung out and folded four loads of laundry
-had breakfast and lunch in there somewhere!
-health food store for soap, essential oils and a special tonic for STRESS
-library drop-off
-dropped Aaron and Kaelan off at piano
-took Caedmon and Jackson with me to the home health care store for 3 new nebulizers
-picked up A and K from piano
-shopped with all 4 at Kroger (found some great meal deals)
-ran into another local grocery for more meat deals
-stopped at daddy's office for a potty and soft drink break
-stopped at  Burleson's roadside nursery on McCollough Blvd. for tomatoes, peppers, watermelon and zucchini plants
-came home
-unloaded all of the above
-made sure dinner was in process
-ran to WalMart to get more basil, thyme, sage, onions and Miracle Gro
-back home to finish dinner prep to find Jeff weed-eating, Aaron mowing and Jordan tilling the corn patch
-made homemade laundry detergent
-put a large pork loin in the crock pot to make BBQ for the freezer
-had dinner
-to the garden to plant 30 various pepper plants, 3 zucchini plants, and six various herbs
-back to finish kitchen clean up while others helped the little boys with baths
-family worship
-computer time while getting Caedmon to sleep while Jeff was recording

Today is another marathon with school and house work this morning (hoping to get some bread on during the morning as well), dentist this afternoon followed by a trip to Lowe's and hopefully, Sam's and then home to plant tomatoes, basil, onions, watermelon, corn and more sunflowers.

I'll be glad to be at home all day Thursday and Friday!  Life is busy enough for me without leaving my house!  The other day as I was hanging out laundry I was I was struck with how thankful I was that I had all of these clothes to wash.  I know one day I won't have as many to do, so I became grateful that my work as a mom and wife is really never done.  And then I walked into the house and saw lots more work that needed to be done and my little time of gratefulness shifted to the shadows--for a little while.   LOL!!!

Piano and violins are going, Jordan is doing his school work at his computer, Jackson has laid back down on the couch for a quick after breakfast snooze and Little Bit is sitting in my lap eating his gluten, egg, dairy, taste free raisin cinnamon bagel and making funny faces at me.  Time for me to get the laundry going, put the bread on and let Aaron have the computer for his math  and typing lessons.  Wednesday is flying by!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

This Boy Again!!--Updated

 Jackson spent a couple of sick days on the couch and one of his favorite things to do was to watch old family movies from before he was born and to look through our family scrapbooks (also before he was born--I haven't worked on scrapbooks since he was born....sigh!)

Anyway, he asked me one day, "Why does everybody's face change when they get old?"    I wonder if he noticed it on his much older siblings or on his dad and me.  Probably the latter, right?  

Update!  Yesterday Jackson was feeling a good bit better, so Jeff took him along with Kaelan and Aaron on a LONG walk on the Natchez Trace.  I think Jeff said they walked three miles one way, so it was long.  Jackson apparently got tire (he wore his cowboy boots instead of his NB hiking shoes) and told Jeff his legs were getting hungry.  I think his body must have been playing tricks on him!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peekaboo Caedmon

This little man has been wheezing for the last several days.  He is taking oral steroids now and two medicines in his breathing treatment.  I have been treating asthmatic children for the last 23 years.  It doesn't get any easier to see your babies struggling to breathe.  One of the crazy things about treating these children is that the medicines make them slightly hyper.  Caedmon has now discovered he can climb on the dining room table, which is where I found him this morning getting ready to dig into a plate of biscuits and eggs.  He is extremely allergic to eggs and wheat, so I will have to watch him more carefully until he is trained not to climb on the table or everyone else is trained to clean their plates from the table, whichever comes first!!  Now to see if I can get him slowed down enough to take a nap.  I need one!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Playing with Photoshop.  I need to read directions, but I'm not that kind of person!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Look Around Chambleeville

I found a few interesting pictures on the camera today.  This particular picture of the laundry on the clothesline was taken by Kaelan.  She may become our second photographer of interesting objects.

Our azaleas in front of the porch are looking great this spring.  We haven't had blooms this big in a few years!  

I love the bokeh on this picture that Kaelan captured of the bridal wreath.

The last few blooms on a dogwood tree...We have several dogwoods around the property and it is always a treat to see them.


Two of the cutest little guys in the world!!

Aaron and Kaelan have been assigned the big job of painting the fence down by the road.  They have a lot more work to do before the job is done!

And just because they are so cute!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cooking for a Crowd or the Freezer

Yesterday I shared a great recipe for BBQ pork loin made in the crock pot.  That recipe feeds a crowd and/or the freezer.  In fact, I didn't freeze any of that BBQ and we have been eating it for lunch all week.    I love to cook in large batches and have several meals prepared ahead of time!  It makes my life a lot easier.   Today I'll share a couple of other tricks and recipes that will feed either a crowd or a freezer.

 Monday, just after lunch, I browned two roasts in a little olive oil then placed them in my large stoneware cooker. Many times I use my slowcooker, but I was late getting started this day.   I added one sliced onion, two minced cloves of garlic, several potatoes cut into large chunks and carrots.  I added about 1/2 a cup of beef broth that I just happened to have left over in my fridge. Salt and black pepper were used liberally.  I baked this in the oven, covered at 300 degrees for about 4 1/2 hours.  I have cooked much larger roasts at 250 degrees for about 8 hours and they turn out wonderfully tender.  My family ate one of the roasts and all of the veggies for dinner Monday night and I bagged the other roast with the pan drippings and put it in the freezer for another day.  When I serve this frozen roast, I will simply thaw it out, put it in a baking dish and add about 2 cups of water.  This will blend with the drippings to make a delicious sauce to serve over rice.

Yesterday I baked two whole chickens side by side in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  After washing the chickens I put a little olive oil over them then sprinkled with a mixture of black pepper, salt, crushed red pepper, tumeric, parsley and oregano.  Really I was just pulling things out of the spice cabinet that looked as if they would work together.  I then baked at 350 degrees for just under 2 hours.  We ate most of one chicken and I bagged the other along with some pan drippings to freeze for another day.  We served this with a rice dish that we have concocted and the huge can of green beans that I purchase from Sam's.  We eat one can of these green beans each week!  I cook them up for a couple of hours with a little chopped ham fat, salt and pepper.  One son eats them by the bowlful!!  They feed a crowd or my family for 2-3 meals.

Another crowd pleasing/ freezer filling recipe that is a staple at my house is spaghetti sauce.  I used this recipe for years when I was in a freezer food co-op and we tripled it for that group.  When I make it at home for my family I double it.  A single recipe makes a lot, but I like to make even more!  This recipe is from Once-A-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg.

Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound bulk Italian sausage  
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 12-can tomato paste
3 28-ounce cans Italian-style or plain crushed tomatoes in puree (I buy the big cans at Sam's)
2 cups water
4 teaspoons minced garlic
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley ( I use dried)
2 teaspoons salt

In a large pot, cook and stir the bulk Italian sausage with onions until the meat is brown;  drain fat.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring sauce to a boil;  reduce heat.  Partly cover, and simmer for 2  hours, stirring occasionally.  Makes 12 cups of sauce.  I then freeze 4 cups of sauce in gallon bags and lie flat on a cookie sheet placed in the freezer.  When frozen I can stack them on top of each other and use my cookie sheet for cookies!!

For many more crowd-pleasing recipes check out the 4 Moms 35 Kids post at Raising Olives.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slow Cooker BBQ

This recipe is so very easy and makes a ton of BBQ.  My mom made this BBQ when I was growing up and it makes a lot.  She often made it to feed a youth group or choir.    I make it often to feed my large family and bag up leftovers for the freezer.  Taking it out from the freezer turns it into a fast food for those days when we are too busy to cook.

Take a whole pork loin, rinse and place in large slow cooker.  Cook on low overnight or all day.  Drain fat.  Shred meat with forks (yes, it will be that tender).  Add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes if desired.  We also add a little vinegar.  Then add your own homemade BBQ sauce or a purchased sauce.  Stir well.

Serve on buns with sides of baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, etc.  This is what we had for dinner last night and it is so easy and delicious!  I always look for pork loins on sale and stock my freezer with them.  One large pork loin would probably make 40 or more sandwiches.

Friday, April 16, 2010

If You Fail to Plan

You know the old adage, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!"   That little tidbit of wisdom is so very true. I haven't been planning our school days very well lately and our school work has been suffering.  Jeff was at home today and I was able to get a good bit of school time in this morning and got lots of planning done this afternoon.  I still have more to do, but it is such a good feeling to know where we are going and how we are going to get there!!

I have gone back to making daily folders for all the children but my high schooler.  In the folder go Calculadder sheets, Daily Grams, Building Thinking Skills, paper for copywork and a sticky note with other assignments like McGuffey readers, history reading, writing assignments and others.  On the front of each folder I list the assignments that need to be done on that day.  This gives me a reminder of what I need to put in each folder and lets the child know what else he should do (we are using Teaching Textbooks this year and I can't put that in their folders).  It takes a little more time for me to do my planning this way, but I think we  get more accomplished and in a shorter amount of time.

My high schooler has an assignment sheet of daily lessons which include Carson's A Basic History of the US, MUS Stewardship, Daily Grams, Calculadder, McGuffey, Learning Language Arts through Literature: British, reading and writing assignments.  He works three afternoons a week editing programs at The Homeschool Channel unless he is out of town at a conference.  Last week he missed three days of "school" while filming at the Cincinnati conference.  We just have to "school" around his work schedule.  I am so thankful for all he is learning with his job.  I did ask him the other day if he learned anything at the conference.  His reply, "No, not really.  I think I've heard it all now."  Oh, have you, my son!!  In his defense, I was a KONOS rep for a few years and he traveled with me and he has filmed and edited several homeschool speakers this past year.  I said, "Tell me something that you heard."  He began telling me about someone speaking on notebooking (which we have done) and about how she was talking about the three types of learners:  kinesthetic, visual and auditory.   I was impressed.  He is learning much about filming and editing, but also lots about homeschooling methods and lifestyles.  I wonder how I can "label" the info he is learning about homeschooling on a transcript?    So much of our school cannot be planned, but it helps me so much to plan what I can.

Now I am off to rock Caedmon and watch a Netflix movie with the middle children.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sick and Tired

I have had sick children for over a week and now I am sick as well.  It is mostly allergy related, although Jackson had several days of vomiting as well.   Everything is blooming and the trees are almost in full leaf now, so I am hoping that the pollen will clear out soon.   Every week I think, "Next week we will be able to get so much school accomplished!"  and then we are sick or some of the crew goes out of town or.....

I did, however, make up a huge batch of strawberry jam.....8 pint jars and 11 half-pints.  I can't wait to try it out on some fresh baked bread!  I have to admit that I did eat a spoonful or two while it was still warm.  YUMMY!!  I hope to get some more strawberries and make more jam in the next week or two.

Well, Caedmon is jibber jabbering at me and trying to pull me away from the computer, so I guess I need to take care of him.  Hope you are all doing well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Art Lessons, Anyone?

Do you need a great art curriculum?  Jeff has been working for the last several months with Barry Stebbing of How Great Thou Art in filming and editing a great how-to art DVD.   Because of the huge crowds and terrific interest at the Cincinnati conference, The Homeschool Channel is making the DVD set available this week only at a reduced price of $19.95.  It generally sales for $49.95.   There are six lessons on 3 DVDs, so this is a great bargain. Mr. Stebbing thinks this is his greatest film curriculum ever.   Another new series with Mr. Stebbing will be coming out later this year on nature journaling.  Check it at the following link.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Coming Home!

It's been a long five days!!  Jeff and Jordan left home Wednesday morning for Cincinnati to film at the GIANT homeschool conference up there.  They were kept quite busy the entire time and didn't have time for any meals other than fast food.  So I have a rotisserie chicken planned for dinner tonight with green beans, corn, rice, corn bread, and homemade bread.  That should revive them somewhat!

I have had 4 sick children on my hands for most of the week.  I think the pollen has gotten to some of them, but Jackson seems to have a virus with a headache, fever and vomiting.  He is pretty pathetic!  Caedmon and I are the only ones who haven't been sick.  The older ones are resting most of the time, but are helping some to keep things picked up and in order.

I was really hoping to have a good well-planned school week starting tomorrow, but with this sickness, I will just have to do the best I can.  I am giving a short talk on the best books for children this Saturday at a mothers' brunch for our local homeschool support group.  Do you have any books that you would recommend?  What are some of your favorite books about books?  I would love to hear about books that you have enjoyed sharing with your children.   Some of my current favorites are from Lamplighter.  What are yours?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In the Garden--Wit by Jackson

Jackson has been full of himself lately and coming up with some doozies!!  Recently he emptied a small fluoride bottle that he received at the dentist and filled it with water.  He told Jordan, "It's really water, but I'm pretending it's moonshine!"  Maybe too many cowboy and frontier movies, you think?

For years he has cuddled with me and told me that I am "comforble" (comfortable).  I do have a little extra padding, but if my boy likes me this way...well!!  However, he recently told Jordan he is not going to marry a fat wife.  Jordan replied, "What kind of woman are you going to marry? "   Jackson's response?  "A supple woman."  What?!!

I have been going over the book of Genesis with Jackson using The Child's Story Bible by Vos.   We had finished the first few chapters and I asked him for a narration.  It went something like this:
God made Adam and Eve and told them not to eat from the tree of good and evil.  The devil made them eat the apple and then they got n*ked!

Upon completing a recent visit to our parts, a certain national homeschool/family discipleship leader told my husband, "My, we have some work to do!"  Yes, sir, we do!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Night Time Routine

Every night Jeff gathers the family together for a time of worship.  Usually we sing a hymn or two and Jeff leads us in a Bible study while everyone takes turns reading.  Lately our worship time is lasting an hour or so and the little boys just crash.  This particular evening was longer than usual.  Jeff's mom was visiting and we sang a few more songs and spent time in prayer for Earl.  BTW, they removed half of his cancerous lung and have now declared him cancer free!!  We are so thankful for that!!

I couldn't move without waking one of them, so there I sat until Jeff was able to put Jackson in the bed.  And you notice how the boys are in patriotic pj's?  I, however, was modeling the new Answers in Genesis t-shirt they recently sent.  We are enjoying the little perks of Jeff's job and his association with wonderful organizations like AiG.  I am also suffering from allergy eyes.  The pollen has been terrible the last couple of weeks!!

Jeff and Jordan have headed up to the mega-homeschool conference in Cincinnati this week.  Aaron is in charge of our evening worship for the next 5 nights.  I am sure it will be much shorter than usual!!  What great training, though, for our 13 year old son!!

Caedmon at 18 Months

Easter Sunday afternoon we spent the day outside.  The little boys received some bubbles that had a fan that would blow them.  They created a ton of bubbles and we enjoyed watching Caedmon enjoy the bubbles.
I think he had some pop in his face in this picture.

I don't think he was too happy here.  You can see that Aaron in the background confiscated the bubbles!

My sweet boy!  It's hard to believe he will be two in just 6 months!
To find out how Caedmon got his name, check out this post from 2008!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Low in the Grave He Lay
Robert Lowry

Low in the grave he lay, 
Jesus my Savior!
Waiting the coming day, 
Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain, 
And he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah!  Christ arose!

Vainly they watch his bed,
 Jesus my Savior!
Vainly they seal the dead, 
Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain, 
And he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah!  Christ arose!

Death cannot keep his prey,
Jesus my Savior!
He tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain, 
And he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah!  Christ arose!

Friday, April 2, 2010


At the Cross

Isaac Watts, 1707

Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sin in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When Christ the mighty Maker died
For man, the creature's sin.

But drops of grief can never repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do.

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
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