Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Hint of Fall


Today’s bouquet.  A mix of wildflowers from our field, broom corn from my garden, and grasses.  There are hints of fall everywhere, from the acorns the kids gathered to sort and craft with to the flowers that grow in my yard.  After a summer without air conditioning, I might just be looking forward to fall. 

Mums and straw bales

Bonfires and hayrides

Falling leaves

Crisp, cool mornings

Pumpkin pie

Persimmon pudding

Apple cider

Blue jeans and sweaters


What is your favorite thing about fall?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Our Little Home School Classroom


Two weeks of school completed, I finally have our schoolroom ready.  It’s far from perfect, but we are so glad to have this special little classroom area in our basement.  Want a tour of our home school and play area?  Here goes.


Two of our desks came from my Grandma Belma’s garage.  I loved these desks when I was a kid.  I’d sit out there playing school, making up pretend students, taking attendance and preparing lesson plans.  I’d practice my speech for my first day as a teacher.  I really did. 

Seems funny that I’m using those same desks for my kiddos.  They were a bit rough (especially the writing surface), so I made some cool scrapbook paper mats, used contact paper to cover them and to attach them to the desks.  We have loved these mats.  They are in their second year and they really make the desks special to the kids.  I am told that they want their desks painted (pink for Sarah, orange for Danny and purple for Mary) before we start school next year.  The third desk came from my Mom’s house a few weeks ago so we could make room for our little “pretty-school” student.

We also added a big bookshelf.  It’s a “Gorilla Rack” from Sam’s Club.  It isn’t pretty, but it’s sturdy.  I don’t even want to try to count our books.  Our last bookshelf was only holding about half of our collection when it started to bend in the middle.  We love books.


Keeping the littles busy while we do school is made a bit easier by having our playroom in the next room.  The kids love the train table and that adorable play mat. 





This little kitchen area is a favorite of all the kiddos who visit our house.  Eric made the kitchen set for Mary when she was one year old.  It’s a great place for the kids to pretend. 




This old trunk was my mom’s toy box.  Then, it was my toy box.  Now, it holds all kinds of dress-up clothes for the kids.  It’s a little heavy on the princess dresses and a bit light on the knight in shining armor type stuff, but I’m working on that.  I usually just add their Halloween costumes to the pile, but Danny dresses as a cowboy just about every year.  That doesn’t make for much variety!




Displaying the kid’s art work is so easy!  I grab a piece of scrapbooking paper to tape the picture to and then tape it on the wall.  Not fancy, but the kids and I love to see the things they draw on display.  I always date the pieces I keep.  When these pictures come down, I’ll file them away for the kids to enjoy when they are older.



It’s not perfect or worthy of Better Homes and Gardens, but I feel so blessed to have such a great area for my kids to learn and play.  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cheating Our Kids?

Last year, Mary and I read a book based on the true story of an eight year old girl who went along with her father into new territory to build a house in colonial days.  The trip lasted months, during which the little girl prepared meals over an open fire.  The Courage of Sarah Noble was a great chapter book to read aloud. 

While I have no desire to send my kids out into the wilderness or to equip them with fire ;), I do think that children are quite capable of amazing things.  In all of our desire to provide for our children and to keep them safe, I must wonder…

Are we cheating our kids by not expecting them to do chores and pull their weight at home?  Do we excuse our children from helping out because they are too little or the job is easier if we just do it ourselves?  Are our kids too busy attending lessons and practices to learn basic household skills? 

I am glad my kids do not have to help around the house in order for us to survive, as children in days gone by may have.  Still, I know that doing chores is vital to a child’s development.  I want my children to know the value and satisfaction of a job well done.  I want my children to be equipped to care for themselves when adulthood arrives.  I want my children to be a vital and important part of the family. 

Each age groups is different, but at about 18 months of age a little one should be able to help clean up toys with a little encouragement and guidance.  It’s so much fun to throw toys into the box!  They should also be able to help wipe up small spills and take their clothes to the hamper.

At ages two and three, kids begin to gain much ability around the house.  This is a great time to get them helping in the kitchen.  Kids in this age group make great pancake stirrers.  They also are perfect for setting the napkins on the table and picking up the dropped Cheerios under the table.  Kids at this age can also help retrieve things like diapers and sippy cups for their younger sibling. 

By ages four and five, children can do so many great things.  One of my five year olds favorite things to do is help plant the seeds in the garden and pick the produce.  He also spent much of the summer feeding the calf a bottle and helping to care for our chickens.  His least favorite job is taking out the compost, but we have made it an adventure that he gets to go on by being on the lookout for bugs and animals along the way.  Children this age are old enough to set the table by themselves.  They are also great sock matchers!  Kids this age can begin to help measure ingredients in the kitchen.  They can also put away their own clothing.


At six and seven, a child is old enough to entertain a younger sibling in another room while you finish supper.  They are capable helpers in weeding flower beds, folding towels, and getting clothes off the line (if they can reach, Mary is tall!).  Kids this age can put away the food after supper and scrape and stack the plates.  They can load the dishwasher with a little help and training.  Children this age can do some of the bathroom cleaning jobs (if you provide a simple vinegar water solution and a cloth it is very safe for them to clean the mirrors, counter and sink).  Kids this age should be able to keep their rooms pretty clean without much help from adults.

We’ll have to wait for the rest of the list, as this is as far as my children’s ages have allowed me to progress.  But needless to say, the jobs they can do well will increase with each year.  I hope that all of my children will have enough skill and knowledge that they could do anything that must be done around the house by age 16, including changing the car’s oil (and even I don’t know how to do that). 

I’m pretty sure it’s a good thing, this teaching our kids and making them do chores.  So I’m wondering, what kind of chores do your kiddos do?  What do you think about making kids do chores around home?  How much is too much?  How do you motivate your kids to help?  Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today, I’m thankful for…

A picnic lunch

The sun warming my back

The cool of the shade

The sound of kids laughing

The breeze that is making my curtains dance


Hope you have much to be thankful for today.  You are welcome to “count your many blessings” in the comments.  I count your comments among my many blessings.   :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



My sweet giving girl.


She let her hair grow long.


With one purpose in mind…


Donating her hair to Locks of Love,

100_3942 100_3969

(These pictures are from donating her hair about a year and a half ago.)


Great job, sweetie.  I am so proud of you for being such a caring and giving young lady.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Panic Attack


This is just about enough to send me into a panic attack.  Truly.  And behind those boxes are two big laundry baskets full of assorted toys.  The thought of cleaning it all up intimidates me!  So, how can I expect my five year old to jump in and take care of all this?

Lately, we’ve been struggling to get the toys cleaned up each day.  He doesn’t want to clean and makes it known.  Last week, I decided it is time to reduce the number of toys in his room to a manageable number.  I’m so tired of the fight and stepping on toy tractors when I go in to check on the boys at night.  I finally found time to sort toys and clean the boys’ room.  I found most of the toys pushed under the bed.  Devious.  I suppose all kids try that trick at least once.

So, I’m going to prove a point.  It’s not pretty.  I took all of his toys.  ALL of them.  They are now in a pile downstairs (see above picture), waiting for me to sort them and store them somewhere.  Now I know how he feels.  I do not, Not, NOT want to clean up those toys.  I am almost ready to have a temper tantrum over it.  But, I suppose I should be the grown up and “suck it up.” 

As I look around my house, I am convicted.  I find piles of things everywhere.  So much stuff!  I’ve actually been working to sort, purge and store things for a few months now.  I’ve spent so much of the last 8 years pregnant, nursing or planning to move that it has all gotten away from me.  I have to make a change.  All this stuff is nice, but I’m tired of the mess it makes when it doesn’t have a place to go or when it is something we can’t use anymore. 

We are all jaded.  Satiated.  Our vocabulary lesson for the day… To provide with more than enough, so as to weary or disgust.  We are definitely there.  We have come to the point where it’s hard to appreciate all that we have.  It’s hard to use all that we have.  I bet we are not alone.

So we are working to sort things.  We are throwing away what is of no use.  We are giving away those things that are no longer useful to us.  We are looking for ways to store the things we do use.  We are working to take care of the blessings we have been given.  We are struggling to understand just how blessed we have been.  We are fighting to keep it from making us jaded and unappreciative.  The Lord has blessed us greatly.  We are looking at our “stuff” in a new way, as blessings to us and blessings to share.

Anybody need some “stuff?”

I’d love to hear back from you.  How do you keep abundance from making you unappreciative?  How do you teach your kiddos to appreciate and care for their toys (when they have soooo much)?  How do you teach the lesson of caring for others who have less?  Leave me a comment.  :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

We Made It.

Our first week back to school was tough, but we made it! 

People ask me all the time, “How on earth do you manage to home school with so many little kids in the house.”  Well, first I should let it be know that it’s not perfect or even close.  Homeschooling is also very different from what most people think of when they think of school.  So for those of you who wonder, this is how we do it.

We follow a schedule.  Things just don’t happen in a house with four kiddos unless you have a plan.  Our schedule is not rigid, but it is a great routine that makes life much easier.  On a perfect day (few and far between), I get up and get dressed and then get the kids up and they get dressed while I make breakfast.  We eat real breakfast food, too, ‘cause it’s the most important meal of the day, don’t you know?!  After breakfast, the kids do a few chores and get ready for school.  I try to start the school day at 8:30 and never after 9:00 each morning. 

When the kids get to our “classroom,” they get their desks ready for learning, we spend a little time working on the calendar and singing the ABC’s and skip counting just like a regular classroom, and we read a story together.  Then, the kids get out their seatwork.  Yes, seatwork.  I don’t like it either, but I haven’t found a better way to teach handwriting, spelling and math.  It’s just the easiest way to make sure that we have all the bases covered.  I start out by helping the youngest and move up the line.  The older two know how to read their assignment sheets and get started on their own.  My oldest helps the littles as needed, too.  I try to spend a bit of time each morning working with my kindergartener on reading, too.

My goal each morning, is to be done with seatwork by 10:00.  It’s still nice outside and the kids go out to play while I get some house work done.  We eat at 11:30 and the little ones head to bed for nap at 12:30.  Naptime is the best time for fun school projects like painting, science projects, and serious reading.  I get the kids started and often leave them to their learning.  When they are finished, they are free to play quiet until the little ones are up. 

It doesn’t sound like much “learning time,” but we don’t limit our learning to traditional settings.  The kids ask questions and explore all day.  We involve them in all sorts of activities around home to teach them real skills and help them develop problem solving.  We expect much from them and also provide lots of time for just being kids.  At any rate, it’s working for us.

The greatest challenge is in keeping my youngest busy while I help the others.  I’m well aware that my tricks for entertaining him are running a bit thin.  That will be my challenge in coming weeks.  I’m looking for ideas to keep my toddler busy and will share my ideas as soon as I can get a list made.  I’ll have to get busy on this, because the counting bears that thrilled him this week are now “so last week.”

That’s how we do it, this home school thing.  It’s messy and complicated and sometimes falls apart.  When it does, we just pick up the pieces and try again later.  Just like in the traditional classroom, lessons sometimes don’t work and life sometimes presents lessons we are ill-equipped to teach.  But, we keep on teaching and learning and giving our best to the kiddos. 

We have chosen a difficult path, but it is so rewarding.  I love watching them learn and grow and thrive.  I love their enthusiasm for learning and curiosity.  We are having a blast!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today, I’m thankful for…

Healthy and happy kiddos.

A nap on the couch.

Nifty shelves in my sewing room.

Thursday play date get-togethers.

Our first school week, almost done.


Count your many blessings here by leaving a comment.  :)  You’d be surprised how many blessings you will think of once you get started!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to School

The “Scott Academy” is back in session. 


With one in second grade…


And one in kindergarten…


One in “pretty” school…


And one in diapers…


Yes, he’s sitting in a storage tub.  It made him happy, so why fight it?


We’re off to a great start and looking forward to sharing our progress from time to time.  We’re loving our crazy little home school! 

(Oh, and please kindly ignore the mess in the background.  I’m in the process of cleaning out the clutter in my basement and was just unable to finish before school began…  Oh, well.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sweet Hymns on a Dusty Gravel Road

I loved riding around in that old yellow Nova with him, my grandfather by choice though not by blood.  I don’t know how old I was when I met him, but he officially became my step-grandfather when I was 9.  He didn’t have to accept me so totally as a granddaughter, but he did and I’ve never doubted his sincerity in this inclusion and acceptance. 

Life was pretty crazy for me at the time.  My world as I knew it had been pulled out from beneath me with the death of my beloved grandmother.  Add to that the changes that came from meeting my real dad and his family, the addition of a step-family and new baby brother, and a move to a new school… I was so confused. 

Maybe that’s why those little trips to town or church, riding in that old car down dusty gravel roads meant so much to me.  Maybe it was his cheerful ways.  Perhaps it was that he listened to what I had to say when others were so busy.  He helped me to gradually make sense of it all.  He gave me good advice based on his love of the Lord and helped see me through many difficulties.  He also sang the sweetest old hymns as we would drive.  When I learned the words, I’d join in.

When my step-grandmother passed away, the church members came to sing the old hymns at her funeral.  As hard as it may be to understand, I wanted to sing along through the tears, in worship and thanksgiving to our Lord, but also as an honor to her.  I wanted to sing in memory of all those beautiful Sundays I spent sitting next to the two of them singing those songs.  I have to wonder how my grandfather felt hearing those same hymns that day.

It was their example and those beautiful words in the hymns that helped to make room in my heart for a strong foundation.  Their lives taught me so much about love and joy and faith.  My grandfather has moved a plane trip away, but he is still a vital rock for our family.

I guess that is why I still love it when we sing an old hymn at church.  Many of the songs we sing are newer, more current.  They are nice, but…  Somehow, those old hymns are so sweet to my ears.  They bring me to deeper worship and sometimes to tears.  From time to time, I find myself singing one of “his” songs as I work around the house.  Then, I see the enormous impact of their lives upon mine.  Thank you, Grandma Belma and Grandpa Tuck.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rays of Sunshine

Life has been pretty cloudy around here this week.  I bet you know what I mean.  I make a very conscious effort to remain positive about being a mom.  There’s enough mom-negativity out there to go around already!  Still, some weeks are just plain hard. 

This week we are cleaning  up from a big birthday party, getting ready to start homeschooling and fighting off a mean tummy-bug.  My reserves are running low, the house is a mess, we’re all getting stir crazy and we are sick and tired of the “brat” diet!  No, motherhood isn’t always bouquets and sunshine.

Still, the clouds are parting and the blue skies are peeking through.  I’ve been through these difficult weeks enough to know that “this too shall pass.”  I know that with our return to health, my sweeties will be sweet again!  My house will eventually be clean enough to invite friends over.  We’ll be back to the park and play dates and church.  Someday, I’ll even make it out to my very neglected garden to pick tomatoes and peppers. 

In some ways, these tough weeks are good.  We cleared our schedule and spent whole days cuddling and watching cartoons.  Our pace has slowed, reminding me how great it is to have unplanned, agenda-free days.  We’ve read books and taken naps.  We’ve weathered the storm and came out stronger and wiser. 

Hope you are enjoying blue skies and sunshine today.  If you’re weathering a storm, take cover and hold on tight.  No storm lasts forever.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today, I’m thankful that…

~Tummy bugs don’t last very long.

~Ibuprofen is a wonderful thing.

~Old ice cream buckets make great barf bags.

~I have a washing machine that holds many sheets.

~My wonderful husband allowed me to sleep last night and spared me from the gag-creating job of cleaning carpet vomit.  Bleh.

Four out of six family members have made it through the virus.  That leaves me and little Sarah.  Pray that we’ll somehow be spared.  I have too many fun things to do to get sick!

Take care, everyone.  Oh, and please share your blessing here in the comments.  It sure brightens my day, and I need all the smiles I can get!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

House Rules


Do you have rules at your house?  We don’t always follow these perfectly, but they are an excellent reminder to us of what we should be striving towards.  Hopefully this sign is as much an encouragement to the kids as it is to me! 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thankful Thursday

My sweet girl is turning seven tomorrow.


She brings such joy to us all.

She is gifted with generosity, kindness and love.

Happy Birthday, Mary.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Building Blocks


I found these cool crates on sale at Target last night and just knew they’d be perfect.  I need a place to store things in my laundry/craft room.  One (way up high) for birthday gifts, one for  extra sets of sheets, one for beach towels…  You get the idea.

This afternoon, my kiddos had a different and better idea. 


What if we stack these thing up?


And another tower right here…


Add a roof.


Work together.


Well.  If that’s how you’re gonna be…  I’ll just take my boxes elsewhere!


So, that’s how you take ‘em apart.




A great time was had by all!

Come play at the Childhood 101 We Play link up


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Canning Tomatoes


It’s so nice to have more produce in the garden than I can use.  It’s also nice to have a little red wagon to haul the stuff back up to the house (thank you, my sweet kiddos).


Start by dropping your tomatoes into to hot water for about 45 seconds. 







Cool the tomatoes down by dumping them into some icy-cold water.  Now, they will peel like magic. 





Pretty roma tomatoes.








Bring them to a good, rolling boil.







Sterilize your jars and lids.







In go the tomatoes.  Fill the jars so that the liquid reaches an inch from the top.









Don’t forget to wipe the rim with a clean cloth.









Add a lid.









Into the hot tub, boiling water bath. ;)







Listen for the jar to seal.  Such a lovely popping sound.

A little summer to enjoy this winter.










It’s really that easy!  Do be sure to follow the instructions in your canning book, as this post is meant to inspire and provide an overview of the process. 

Happy canning!