Friday, July 30, 2010



Except for moments of grocery shopping weakness (mommy, mommy please), we have ditched the cold cereal “breakfast” at our house.  Sorry General Mills and Kellogg's.  It’s not that I’ll never buy Rice Krispies or Apple Jacks again, but they are no longer a staple food in our household.  Dramatic and daring, huh?

It all started with a case of Gestational Diabetes.  I found that simply changing my breakfast made my numbers stay within range for the rest of the day.  I was no longer starving an hour later.  After Sam was born, I tried to return to my beloved cereal, but found I had been spoiled by real food and high, steady energy levels.  I’m pretty sure breakfast cereals are really a dessert. 

So, here are a few ideas for great breakfast meals that will last all morning long.  If you think I’m crazy, look it up.  It really does make a difference what you eat for the most important meal of the day.

We eat sausage and eggs most mornings.  It really doesn’t take too long once you get used to cooking them.  I love the pre-cut, frozen sausage.  I can take out just the amount I need and pop those patties into the pan while the coffee is brewing.  I prepare the eggs while the sausage is cooking.  If you can get them, real, farm fresh, yummy brown country eggs taste so much better than the anemic things you get at the grocery.  They cook up nicer, too.  When the sausage is done, I put it on a paper towel lined plate and slide those scrambled eggs into the same, hot pan.  Turn down the heat immediately after to reduce sticking.  I LOVE my iron skillet for this.  Sausage and eggs are the very best thing on the planet to eat for breakfast.  At least I think so. 

My second choice for a quick breakfast at home is oatmeal.  You don’t have to hate oatmeal.  You don’t have to load it up with tons of sugar, either.  Remember those frozen blueberries?  Pop a few into a bowl and add some cinnamon or nutmeg or cloves.  Maybe a dash of vanilla.


Cut up some bananas and add nutmeg.  Now, add that hot and wonderful oatmeal. 


Stir and serve.  Sweet, goodness that goes a lot further than Cocoa Pebbles and is much better for you.

Sometimes I don’t have time to cook at all.  I love to yard sale.  The early bird gets the worm.

On those crazy days, I replace the typical Pop Tart with a treat from my freezer and pantry.  I grab a small bowl with a lid or a sandwich bag and add a handful of nuts.  I buy pecans, almonds and walnuts in bulk and keep them in the freezer.  Then, I head to the pantry and grab a dab of chocolate chips (also bought in a huge bulk bag).  A girl’s gotta have a daily dose of chocolate, don’tcha'know?  Sometimes I grab some raisins as well.  I can easily eat this breakfast in the car between stops.  My kids love it, too.  The best part is that I feel good all morning long. 

It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s really not.  The difference in the way I feel (and the pounds that I have lost) is totally worth it.  It has also made a big difference in my grocery budget.  If anyone decides to take up the challenge and try it for a week, I’d love to hear about how it goes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday

A new baby cousin, safely arrived.  Welcome, baby Luella!

A play date at my house today with good friends.

Kids playing on a swing set, out in the yard.

Sleepy kids at nap time and a very quiet house.

A cooler, and rather cloudy day (for a change).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Slow Down

Summer makes me miss being young.  Last night, we rode home from the fair with the windows down and it really took me back to the days when we cruised town.  Days when we took the time to just hang out with friends.  Driving down to the river for a pig roast.  Sitting around in someone’s backyard, just wasting the day.  Youth. 
But is it my youth I’m missing?  Honestly, I don’t want to go back to that time.  It had it’s hassles and frustrations.  Youth was bad choices and uncertainty.   Youth was life lived on hold, waiting to be recognized as adults.  No, I don’t want to return to those years.
So what is it that I miss.  With a life so full, how could I be missing anything? 
Somewhere in the craziness of raising all the babies and making a home, I’ve let myself get too busy doing all the things that need to be done.  The weight of all the undone things on my list fills me with anxiety.  I rush around, trying to keep up while the world keeps spinning.  Somehow, I just don’t get around to doing the really important things, like playing tag in the yard and spending time visiting the people we love. 
There is so much pressure to stay busy.  We have church programs we like to attend and help with.  We have activities we want the kids to be involved in.  We have a to-do list about a half a mile long on the side of the refrigerator.  There is always something I can’t say no to.  Before I know it, my calendar has something on every day of the week and I am feeling overwhelmed.
So, I’m going to give myself permission to slow down the pace a little bit.  I want to be able to spread a blanket in the yard and look at the stars.  I want to catch fireflies with my kids.  I want to make grilled pizza for friends.  I want to drop by mom’s house more often.  I want to sit on the porch swing and read a good book.  I want to go see a movie at the drive-in-theater with my honey and act like we are 20 again. 
I want less stuff (also known as worthless crap) to take care of and fewer things on the schedule.  I still want to work and work hard, because I like it.  I just want to get the priorities in line so that we also have time that isn’t programmed or taken by the to-do list. 
Slow down. 
My little brother told me the other day that he’s in the sweet tea sippin’ part of his life.  Sounds pretty good to me.  No, I don’t want to be young again.  I just want to work hard and then have the time left over to do the things that really matter.
How ‘bout you?  What do you think?  How do you slow down?  What are you missing?  What’s on your “un-to-do list?” 
Feel free to share in the comments.  :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Life Without AC

Today was so hot that we almost looked up the number for an HVAC guy.  Really.  How long do you suppose it would take them to get here and replace our system? 

Since starting our crazy air conditioning free experiment, we’ve learned a lot.  Using those lessons, we can stay cool enough on most days.  We open the windows at night and pull in that fresh, cool air along with the sounds of frogs and crickets.  Quite lovely, really.  Well, most of the time…

Mother nature let us down on the free AC last night.  When I woke up this morning, it was still 80 degrees in here!  I was breaking a sweat just making breakfast.  By late afternoon, it was 86+ degrees in my kitchen.  I don’t mind temperatures of 82-83, but 86 is a bit much.  Maybe, we’re not ready for this.  Maybe, I’m a wimp.

I’m definitely ready to plant some shade trees.  I am also wishing we would have taken the time and effort to get the pool up this year.  Those two things would make this much more bearable, but as it is we have no escape except the library.  Those poor librarians.  

Still, we survived a very hot night and day with no real or serious complaints.  We played in the kids’ little wading pool this afternoon and spent a bit of time down in the basement watching a movie.  I went out at nap time to pick some veggies in the garden and came in to take a very, very cool shower. 

I won’t say today was easy.  We knew there would be some hot summer days to survive and some uncomfortable nights.  Today definitely qualified.  I think a cooler stretch of weather is in the forecast.  C’mon, mid 80’s and breezes.  

Stay cool, y’all!  Think I’ll go pour a glass of iced tea.


By the way, and just to be fair…  You should know that we do have a window a/c unit in our kitchen so that we can have guests and they don’t pass out.  We don’t use it at all on most days, but I was glad to crank that thing up while we were eating dinner, tonight.  It doesn’t cool the house, but it does make the kitchen a comfortable escape when needed (I think it got down to about 83).  I wish we could do without it, but we just aren’t there yet.  Our visitors are certainly not ready for the higher temps because their bodies have not been conditioned for it.  Hopefully I’ll keep learning ways to keep everyone comfortable.  That, or I’ll just throw in the towel and call the HVAC guys.  ;)

So, what do you think?  Could you live without AC?  Do you remember life before AC?  How do/did you stay cool? 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thankful Thursday

A Play date at the park with college friends and our 12 kiddos.

A neighbor with a farm stand, selling the produce my garden doesn’t supply.

2 bushels of corn, bagged and frozen with help from a friend.

Kids who play nicely when work must be done.

A cookout to attend tonight. 


Count your many blessings…  I love reading your comments.

Saturday, July 17, 2010



The teacher part of me hates to admit it, but I really dislike worksheets.  Don’t tell anyone. okay?  Remember dittos?  You know, those bluish worksheets we had in grade school.  Did you ever have a teacher who would make packets so full of dittos that the staples could hardly hold them all?  So began my feelings of animosity toward worksheets

That being said, worksheets are a part of school whether public, private or home.  I can’t deny their usefulness, their necessity or the great help they are to those of us who teach.  I use them and will likely continue to do so.  I still dislike them.  A lot. 

I’ve started planning for home school year number two.  I’ll have one in second grade, one in kindergarten and one in “pretty school.”  I must admit, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by our little one room nuthouse, er schoolhouse.  Helping my kids learn in a house with a toddler and a three year old will be hard.  I know, because I did it last year with a baby and a two year old.  Somehow, I have to find a way to fit in all the needed learning, make it exciting, and keep up with the littles who are tearing my house apart and climbing on everything.  No big deal…

So, this is the plan.  After we finish getting ready for the day and doing chores in the morning, the kids will spend an hour or two doing the necessary seatwork.  Some things just need worksheets.  Math, handwriting, some grammar work and spelling will be done during this time.  I also hope to spend a bit of time working with my kindergartener on his reading skills.  He is beginning to read simple words and is wanting more.  We’ll read some simple stories together and do some word building games.  We’ll have a word wall, as well.

The fun stuff will come in the afternoon while the littles are napping.  We are going to do topic studies that will last 6 weeks.  Our first topic is trees.  We will read books about trees and make posters and charts to share what we learn.  We will make tree crafts and we will do cooking projects with foods from trees.  We will take a field trip to a state park nature center and/or the woods at my momma’s house and learn to identify common trees.  We may even plant a tree. 

It almost sounds like too much fun, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, we’ll be learning some great science along the way, studying art, measuring and calculating, and learning a bit of history.  Much better than worksheets, I think.  Hopefully the kids will think so, too. 

Most importantly, I hope the kids will continue in their love of learning for the sake of learning.  I pray that they will see this wonderful world we live in and be filled with curiosity.  I hope they will recognize God’s amazing handiwork.  May the be intrigued by the intricacies of math, science, literature and art. 

Looking forward to a great year of learning with my kiddos…  light on the worksheets.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Sorority sisters with friendships true,

Sharing our joys and our sorrows.

Loving our babies, holding them close.

Thankful to help them grow.

Mourning the ones the angels hold for us.

My heart is heavy today.


Praying for my friend.  Remembering, too. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On days like that…

Ever had one of those days when your kiddos lose their minds and seem to forget everything you ever taught them? 

You know the days I’m talking about.  The baby is playing in the potty, while the little one is pulling out every single piece of clothing from the dresser.  Meanwhile, the older ones are arguing over something in another room.  By the time you wash the baby’s hands (three times, yuck!), put the clothes away and break up the arguing, you find the little ones in the kitchen taking all the cookbooks off the shelves and hear the older ones jumping on the bed!  Of course, it usually happens when you are trying to finish some project, make dinner, or get somewhere on time. 

It usually happens when we are recovering from a late night or a very busy day.  It happens when we have missed nap time or we are late getting a meal on the table.  Sometimes, it happens for no apparent reason.  Nevertheless, it happens.

Yeah.  You know just what I’m talking about, don’t you?  Please tell me that it’s not just me…

So, what’s a momma to do?  The first impulse I have is to yell, scream, cry, throw things and run out the front door.  I’m a grown-up now, though.  I must at least try to act like one.  So, here are a few ideas to add to your “bag of tricks.”  Hope you’ll read them and then add a few ideas of your own for taming the wild beasties.

1.  Drop whatever you are doing.  Turn the stove burners off, put the project on hold, call whoever is expecting you and tell them you will be late.  This isn’t always practical, but even a 5 minute break can help.  Sometimes the kids just need me more than the work needs me, and that’s fine.

2.  Do something absolutely silly and uncalled for. 

  • Turn up the music as loud as it can go and dance with your kiddos. 
  • Get the kids pretending to be different animals.
  • Go outside and jump around like crazy.
  • Go climb into your bed with the kids and use the sheet like a parachute.
  • Fill the bathtub with bubble bath and pile the kids in for a good soak and playtime.
  • Grab some veggies, raisins, marshmallows, etc. from the cabinets and let the kids use them (along with some toothpicks for the older kids) to make all sorts of strange creatures.
  • Start dishing out some ice cream cones.
  • Sing into a box fan and listen to your strange sounding voices.
  • Build a crazy-big fort in the living room.
  • Make silly faces at each other.
  • Blow up some balloons.
  • Blow bubbles in the kitchen.
  • Let the kids help scrub the floor after you blow bubbles, messy fun!
  • Paint the picnic table with shaving cream.
  • Get wet playing in the hose while you clean off the above mentioned shaving cream.
  • Don’t blame me if your picnic table is never the same…
  • Go on a bug hunt.
  • Go on a (pretend) bear hunt.  Or moose, deer, alien, dinosaur, zebra, etc…

2.  Do something relaxing.

  • Take turns brushing each other’s hair.
  • Take turns giving back rubs.
  • Listen to some soothing music in a dark room.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Play a board game.
  • Sing bedtime songs together in middle of the day.
  • Take a drive in the country.  Bring along some relaxing music.

3.  Do something productive.

  • Break out the coloring books and sit down with the kids.  Be sure you color a picture too, or at least help one of the little ones to color.
  • Drag out that lovely Play Doh.  Help the kids make a giant pizza, a horse, a mountain, bugs, etc.
  • Make cookies and let the kids decorate them.
  • Put the kids to work on some fun, but needed project.  I bet your deck needs to be cleaned up.  A few old sponges and a bucket of water and you’re in business.
  • Ask for help with dinner.  One kiddo can set the table while another helps by getting napkins and another is helping stir the food.

So, what do you do when the kids are out of sorts?  Hope you’ll add to the list by leaving a comment.  I need all the help I can get.  Besides, my kids know all of my tricks already.  ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lessons Learned Cleaning the Toilet

Every kid does it.  They make a dumb choice, realize just how stupid it was and how likely they will be getting into trouble, and then they come and tell a lie that one of their siblings did it.  Usually, it’s the younger sibling who takes the blame.  Well, we’ve dealt with this problem on a grand scale twice, now.  Here’s how we handled it this time, as seasoned parents.

“Mom, little sister put silly putty on the remote control and it won’t come off.”

“Really?  That’s odd, seeing how she’s in bed taking a nap.”

“No, she did it.  She snuck down here and picked up the silly putty and did it.”

“I don’t think so.  I was sitting at the top of the stairs working on the computer.”

“She must have done it yesterday.”

“Nope.  I picked that same silly putty up off the carpet right before nap time.”

“I’m telling the truth.”

“I don’t think you are.  You know, lies just get you into more trouble.  Whoever put the silly putty on the remote didn’t know it would stick and never want to come off the buttons.  I' don’t get upset at kids who do something like that.  We would just spend some time cleaning the remote.  I do get upset at kids who lie to me.  Lies make me sad because they mess up the trust.  When you lie to me, I don’t know if you are telling the truth next time.  Lies are ugly.  What really happened?”

“I lied to you.  She didn’t do it.  I did it.  I didn’t know it would do that.”

“I’m glad you told the truth.  Your little sister would have been so sad if she got into trouble for something she didn’t do.  What do you think your punishment should be?”

“I could have to clean my room.”

“That’s already your job.”


“I want you to remember how ugly lies are.  I think you are going to clean the toilet, so you can see something that looks as dirty and ugly as lies do.  It will help you remember.”



So, it wasn’t quite that simple and it never is.  Still, I have a clean toilet and my child has a clear picture of the ugliness of lies.  He also has a new skill, toilet cleaning.  Win, win, I say.  We’ll have to reinforce the lesson over time, but it will likely be a simple reminder next time of a dirty toilet.  It’s so important to teach kids honesty and the effect lies have on relationships.  I’m hoping this lesson will be well remembered.

Saturday, July 10, 2010



A trip to my new favorite fabric store inspired some really cool party invitations this weekend.  They are adorable and almost too simple.  Here’s how.



I started by printing the wording of the invitation on plain paper and using some fun scrapbooking scissors around the edges.





Center the invite face down on a color printer.  Layer some really delicious fabric around the edges






I experimented with different sizes, and ended up reducing the final project to about 75%.  Too cute!







Double stick tape or upside down packing tape works great for holding things down while you use a hot glue gun.  In this case, I used some buttons that were in a button jar found at a yard sale.  And yes, that ribbon was leftover from my wedding… 10 years ago!




Roll up your invitations and slide the ribbon around them.  The final result is quite adorable and the process was so easy!  Mary will have so much fun handing these out to her friends, inviting them to her birthday brunch!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Sausage and “Betty” eggs (home grown eggs from a friend at church).

Kiddos who worked and played as good friends.

A clean kitchen.

My friend, Jama, is home from vacation.

Supper made from garden veggies, still warm from the sun.


Count your many blessings right here, in the comments. ;)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An Update from the Homestead

100_6773 100_6796 100_6778

My children have turned into well tanned, summer lovin’ monkeys.

Mary is enjoying our newly opened local library.

Danny is riding his bike without training wheels.

Sarah is cute as can be, turning into a big girl quite suddenly.

Sam is climbing and jumping, dancing and giggling, getting into everything except his toys and keeping us all in smiles.

The garden is producing yummy foods, carrots, green beans, peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers and eggplant.  No ripe tomatoes, yet.  My zucchini is giving out due to some twisted little bugs that want to ruin my summer cooking plans.  Is it too late to plant more?

Cheeseburger is growing and enjoying her pasture more every day.  We like this, because giving a calf a bottle every day is starting to get old.  Moo.

Our chickens are doing well.  We still have 15 out of the 16 we started with.  They are growing, no longer resembling little fur balls of chick cuteness.  Eric built a super chicken coop that we can move with the tractor.  They love it.  Well, actually they hate the moving part.  They love the eating fresh grass and bugs part.  They aren’t big enough to fend off the cats yet, so they aren’t running loose during the day.  Looking forward to yummy eggs.

The great experiment of going a/c free is going well despite the heat wave of 90 plus temps.  I messed up today and didn’t turn off the kid’s window fans, allowing hot air to be pulled into the house most of the day.  Still, we lived.  It only hit 85 degrees in here today.  Totally survivable.  It really didn’t even bother me except when I was standing over the sink washing dishes in hot water.  That was a bit much, but I turned on a fan in the kitchen and all was groovy.  I’ve been resisting the window a/c unit, just trying to see how well we can do without it.

Supper tonight was sweet corn from a roadside stand, green beans from our garden, sour dough bread from the local Amish bakery and lunchmeat and cheese from another local store.  Yum. 

The kids enjoyed a tractor ride before bed.  Most people just read stories…

I learned the importance of checking (very cautiously, mind you) the pockets of little boy pants before throwing them in the washer.  Acorns and apples look funny after a wash and spin.

Starting to plan and freak out over next year’s homeschooling.  A second grader, a kindergartener and a little one who wants to go to “pretty” school.  Going to be a lot of work, but I think my wonderful MIL is going to pitch in a bit.  We are going to study 6 week long units, starting with trees.  Then, we’ll take a week off before starting the next 6 week study.  It’ll be fun! 

That’s our life.  We are enjoying the simple stuff.  We are working and playing, laughing and crying.  It’s good.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Counting the cost

It’s a beautiful place with steep hills, valleys, waterfalls and hiking trails nestled on the banks of the Ohio River.  We took our first family camping trip there when Mary was barely walking, and have returned to celebrate our fifth and tenth wedding anniversaries.  We love Clifty Falls State Park.

clifty falls waterfall

We took time for a visit just a few weeks ago to celebrate our tenth.  Since we rarely get away for an evening without the kiddos, we lived it up and stayed at the very nice state park inn.  It’s beautiful!  The inn is set on the top of the ridge, overlooking the Ohio River and the cute little town of Madison, Indiana.  Looking from the ridge to the east, the view is simply gorgeous. 

Looking to the west, it’s another story altogether.  This doesn’t diminish our love of the inn or the park, it’s just a reality that most of us don’t see every day.  To the west of this God created beauty, sit three very large towers of a coal powered electric plant.  A reality that we can pretend away, if it isn’t located near our home or a place we love.

On every previous visit to Clifty Falls, I have found the contrast between the beauty of nature and the reality of electricity production to be unsettling but easily dismissed as the power plant is not visible from most of the places we enjoy in the park.  On this visit, the many signs that lined the highways protesting a planned biomass incinerator kept me pondering the placement of the power plant near my beloved state park.

My first reaction is indignation.  Why!  Who would be so dumb as to put that ugly thing near one of my favorite nature spots.  The inn was built in the 1920’s, so I’m pretty sure it pre-dates the power plant.  Surely there were folks who protested!  Perhaps they had signs in their yards, begging that the monstrosity be placed elsewhere. 

Further thought on the subject makes me question my first assumption.  You know, life before electricity was very different.  Perhaps folks were not so opposed to having the plant there if it meant they could have a radio, a few light bulbs and a refrigerator.  Somehow, I am not so angry at the folks who let the plant be built when I consider the pull of rural electric and the improvements it meant for their lives.  Maybe I shouldn’t judge their decision so harshly.  (By the way, I have no idea when the plant was built or under what circumstances.  Stay with me folks, and I’ll attempt to share my line of thinking.)

So these thoughts nagged at me until we were driving home.  Again, I saw sign after sign protesting the planned biomass incinerator.  Then, it struck me with force.  Regardless of their reasons for not wanting the biomass incinerator in their neighborhood (who could blame them), protesting the placement will make little or no difference in the long run.  The demand is high and the electricity must come from somewhere.  Someone is going to have a biomass incinerator or a coal fired electric plant or a nuclear reactor or a bunch of wind turbines in their back yard.  Plain and simple.

What makes me angry isn’t the fact that folks don’t want those things, but the fact that so many of us take the electricity for granted.  We see our bill, but never see the true cost.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Turn on the switch, crank up the air conditioning.  Leave that TV on all night long.  Who cares!?!  It won’t make that much difference on the bill.

Thing is, it does make a difference.  Our usage and our wasting of electricity means that there will be more power plants.  Whether they end up in your back yard or next to your favorite state park, more plants will be built to keep up with demand.  All the yard signs in the world won’t change that.

How selfish I am.  I was so angry that someone was so thoughtless as to put a power plant next to my favorite place to camp.  Now I realize that I am as much to blame as anyone.  Dang.  It’s so much easier being mad at some unknown, pompous, rich old man.  Turn off the LIGHTS, people! 

So that leads me to even further thinking.  How many other things do we take for granted?  How many other things do we purchase for the sale price without ever seeing the real price that goes into producing the item?  Who made that cheap shirt I bought the other day?  Who produced the cotton?  What were the conditions they worked under?  Who took care of their kids while they made my shirt?  Was my shirt made by a child?  Yikes.

So, here I am, encouraging you to put a little extra thought into what you consume, be it electricity, food, clothing or anything else.  I can’t go without electricity, but I can use less and help my neighbor’s cause.  I need clothes, but I can make do with what I have a little longer or pick things up at yard sales out of respect for the true cost that went into making those items.  I can shop for food at local farm stands and seek to purchase meat from folks who give their animals a decent life (or I can grow my own cheeseburgers ;)).  I can’t change overnight, but I can take steps towards consuming with the real cost in mind. 

Turn out the light, y’all!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pulling their own weight…



… Not that they weigh much.  They took over this job yesterday without being asked.  The corn was sweet, and so was their satisfaction in knowing the part they played in preparing it.

Ages 6, 5 and 3, but not too little to help.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Waking up to a house that’s so cool, I had to dig out my slippers.

Finding out that the cool house was 69 degrees!  Amazed at how our bodies get used to higher temps.

A garden that is producing fast or faster than I can keep up.

A good friend who shared a great home school idea (Heather).

Waking up to snuggles from my kiddos and kisses from my honey.


How ‘bout you?  Leave me a comment and share what you are most thankful for.