Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So, Do You, Umm, Sell Fur Lined Toilet Seats?

No.  And then I laugh out loud when people ask me this question!  So, just in case you were wondering….

I’ll re-post this little explanation for those of you who are new to FLTS along with my thanks to all who have dropped by my silly little blog.  I’m really enjoying this!  Thanks for making it such fun. 


Grandma’s house, way back when…

My grandmother lived simply, in an old farmhouse with no indoor plumbing. We had rain barrels, a cistern, and a very nice spring a few miles away. And yes, an outhouse. When my mother and I moved from grandma's house into a new home (with plumbing), Grandma teased my mom about her "fur lined toilet seats."

This phrase helps me focus on keeping my priorities in order. It's so hard to balance the wants and needs of family, home, school, church and work. Sometimes, we just need to consider whether something is needed (such as a toilet) or if it is just icing on the cake (or fur lining on the toilet seat).

This blog will be a place for me to share the joy of our family's life as well as the adventure of living life with and sometimes without the fur lining. Hope you'll stop by every so often and tell your friends as well.

**Also thought I’d share some old pictures this time, seeing as how I finally figured out that I can use my copier to scan photos.  :)

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Grandma and my momma                  My pretty momma in her 20’s    Little ole me, eating a chocolate bunny

Christmas card 2010

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Salt-Dough Decorations

I couldn’t resist the pull of the salt-dough recipe I saw on the web the other day.

2 cups of flour

2/3 cup of salt

Enough water to make a firm dough

So we mixed up a batch today.


And made some fun ornaments. 


I got right in there with the kids and enjoyed playing with the dough and the cookie cutters.  Being a SAHM has it’s advantages, you know.

We had a sticky, salty, messy time.


I highly recommend.

After they dry, we’ll either paint them or color them with markers.

Just don’t eat the dough.  Eeewww!



*I’m linking this post over at…


Pop over and see all the great links.

The Best Laid Plans

I always start the school year off with great plans.  This year, I even printed out a calendar and highlighted the days we would be in school.  Last year, I had a weekly theme planned for each week of the school year before we started homeschooling.  I always have these grand plans when I’m dreaming up our year in July and August.  It is now nearly December and all my planning is sitting in a pile somewhere, completely unheeded.  Somehow, that’s just fine.

I started out the year with a daily schedule that really worked for us.  That is, until Sam discovered he could jump like a high school track star over any gate or the side of the play-crib.  That was the end of doing school work first thing in the morning and spending part of nap-time working with the big kids on the big projects.  Up in smoke, I tell you. 

I did follow the school calendar for quite some time.  Then, we got sick.  Worst of all, the teacher got sick.  Did you know that they don’t really have substitute teachers for home school mommas.  We just have to “suck-it-up” and go on with life by somehow getting the oatmeal on the table for the kids to eat.  On days like that, we don’t have school. 

Then, Eric had a great opportunity to take a few days off from work.  For the first time in at least four years, he had a full week off work.  We celebrated.  We had fun.  We goofed off.  We did not do school. 

Still, we have managed to get 67 days of school completed so far this year.  Most of my curriculum plans have worked out, thanks in part to a wonderful library near our home and an awesome MIL who teaches a special lesson to the kids one day a week.  All in all, I think we’re doing alright.  Looking forward to that big 100th day of school celebration.  We will be spending the next few weeks preparing for Christmas, studying the Bible stories and doing all we can to share some joy with others.  A bit of the three “R’s” as well.

I suppose it all comes down to this.  Life is much more important than the plans I make.  Instead of beating myself up over the days that don’t go to plan, I’m going to be happy that my life affords the flexibility to change my plans to take advantage of great opportunities or to weather the storms.  I’m thinking this is a lesson I need to carry over to the other parts of my life as well.

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Post Turkey-Day Grumble

I had high hopes for the day after Thanksgiving.  I always do.  In my mind, it’s a day filled with Christmas carols, homemade cookies, candle light and decorating the tree.  You know, the stuff of memory making and family traditions.  In my mind, it’s all beautiful and perfect with perfectly dressed, rosy cheeked kiddos, me wearing an apron and high-heels like some 1950’s sitcom mom, and Eric carrying in logs for the fireplace.   You know that’s not what happened, right? 

Reality was four kiddos, tired from two Thanksgiving celebrations the day before, needing baths I was too tired to give.  We spent the morning in our jammies, piddling around the house.  Eric worked on our computer, backing things up since it’s getting old and starting to show it’s age and I don’t want to lose the thousands of pictures I take of my littles if it goes down.  I spent the morning in the kitchen, cleaning up the breakfast mess we left in our haste to get to grandma’s house the day before.  Gross.  I know.  But, it’s life. 

Thankfully, I had managed to get the tree put up and the lights strung one night while the kids were in bed.  Eric had carried the decorations up from the basement.  I managed to get the kitchen clean and threw together a half-batch of cinnamon rolls and let them rise while I put the littles in bed for a nap.  I spent nap-time finishing my cinnamon rolls and making the side dishes to go with the turkey my MIL was bringing for supper.  Totally off the subject, but I decided to fry a few of the cinnamon rolls like donuts and I am so totally ruined to any donut or cinnamon roll in the future.  They were warm, with crispy outsides and soft, sweet, cinnamony (is that a word… probably not) insides.  Oh my!  You must try this.  Ahem…  Anyway…  Where was I?

After nap, we ate those unbelievable donut creations and got the happy little tradition going.  Sarah was wearing a beautiful, red dress from our dress-up clothes.  She looked like Mrs. Claus.  We decorated the tree, trying our best to take turns getting ornaments.  As usual, it was a test of patience as the kids are very excited to put up the ornaments.  I unpacked ornaments with great speed (so hard to keep up with four sets of decorating hands) while Eric supervised Sam’s decorating/un-decorating efforts.  I feel like I missed the whole thing.  It was over so quickly that I didn’t snap a single picture.

We enjoyed the evening with Eric’s folks, eating our third and last Thanksgiving meal for the year.  The turkey was delicious and the angel food cake my MIL brought was amazing.  I was able to sit and visit and finish the scarf I started crocheting the day before.  It was nice.  I even enjoyed a cup of tea and got the kitchen cleaned up before bed last night.

So, it’s not a Norman Rockwell painting.  It’s nowhere near what I imagine in my head.  Martha Stewart would be so ashamed.  But you know what?  I’m not disappointed.  In the past, I have been.  I feel like I have failed to pull it all together and make a perfect celebration.  All they little things left undone stare accusingly at me.  I tear myself down for my inadequacy. 

I wonder what my kids will remember of our “Black Friday” tradition.  Will they remember that mom’s kitchen floor was sticky or will they remember that mom made some seriously awesome donuts out of cinnamon rolls?  Will they remember that bare spot where there were no ornaments on my tree or will they remember the fact that we all worked together to decorate that tree?  Will they remember me stewing over all the hopes I had built in my head that didn’t work out or will they remember how much their momma and daddy love them? 

So, I won’t grumble today about the way things went yesterday.  It wasn’t some perfect fairytale story set in a perfectly clean and decorated home.  It was real life.  It was real love.  I hope they remember.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I started this blog as a sort of birthday present to myself, way back in April.  From the beginning, I have counted my blessings each (well, most…) Thursday and shared them here.  I don’t know why I decided to do this, but it’s been so amazing.  Most of the things I’m thankful for are simple.  The fresh asparagus in the spring, the planting of flowers in May, the silly antics of my littles.  You get the idea.  I guess it’s not always enough to know that you are thankful for these things.  Somehow, sitting down and putting those thoughts on paper makes the thankfulness different.  Deeper.  Before I knew it, the thankfulness began creeping into other week days.  Something so simple, but it has changed my attitude bit by bit.  Contentment has always been hard for me.  Some days it is still a struggle.  I still want.  I want, I want, I want.  But when I take this time to reflect on the many blessing that have showered down on me, I find strength to fight the selfishness.  I find greatness in the little things that are easy to miss.  I find joy, too.

So, thanks to all of you who take the time to read my silly little blog and indulge me by reading the crazy things that have made my week wonderful.  Thanks to those of you who have left a comment from time to time, sharing the things that you count as blessings.  You’ve made Thankful Thursday one of my favorite days of the week.

So this week, I’m thankful for…

Bowling with my family.

Enjoying our first full week of vacation with my handsome honey in years (except for vacation time taken when we had babies…that doesn’t count).

The Christmas tree is set up in the living room, ready for decorating this weekend.

Spending the night out with my sweet little girls, painting pottery and getting crafty.  I’m told this should be a yearly tradition.

That the Grandmothers of the family are so graciously hosting Thanksgiving, preparing yummy foods, opening their warm homes, and expecting no more from me than that I bring my sweet kiddos and a big appetite. 


So, now it’s your turn.  What blessings are you counting today?  Thanks so much for stopping by. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


We’ve entered a new phase of parenting and family life.  As of today, and maybe a bit before, but definitely today we are no longer parents of a baby.  Truth is, he’s barely a toddler.  Tonight, he was a little boy.  (I’m still trying to work out my feelings about that!) 


Sam rocked the “Rock and Bowl.”  Really, he did!  He got the highest score, including the adults!


The king of the lanes.


Bowling is worth it if you get to eat pepperoni pizza and drink soda!


You want me to throw this ball as hard as I can and knock stuff over?!  I can do that!


Does life get any better than this?

Roast Beef and Yummy Gravy

This is my favorite, busy momma way to make a beef roast.  The roast will turn out so delicious and tender that you won’t even need teeth to eat it, and that’s a pretty handy thing around here between the baby and the 7 year old with loose teeth!


*For the bread recipe, click on this link.

I love chuck roast.  It’s my favorite cut, and always the first to get used up when we buy a beef from mom.


Get your iron skillet nice and hot.  Sear the outside of the roast to lock in some of the juices.


This is what crock pots were made for.  Plop that yummy smelling, seared roast into the pot.  Add a peeled onion, a couple cloves of garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Add just enough water.  You want the top of the roast to remain uncovered.  Go ahead and add any veggies you like, such as carrots or potatoes, maybe some mushrooms, too!

Set the crock pot on high and don’t worry about it for the rest of the day (about 6 hours).  Seriously.  Don’t even think of taking that lid off.  Go fold some laundry.  Play with the kiddos.  Whatever.  Just DON’T touch that lid.


You’ll need some mashed potatoes.  Yum.  These are red, homegrown, skins on potatoes with real butter!  Oh, man! 

Notice the pan in the background?


That’s gonna be the gravy.  When the roast is done, just pour that yummy juice through a strainer, making sure to include that super yummy stuff at the bottom of the crock pot.  Get that broth boiling on the stove while you mix a couple teaspoons of corn starch in about 1/2 cup of COLD water.  Make sure that it’s stirred up very well, no lumps or bumps.  Pour the starch into the boiling broth while you whisk.  Watch the broth magically turn into gravy.  Heavenly gravy.  If the gravy isn’t thick enough, add a few more teaspoons of corn starch.  Just don’t forget to mix the corn starch in COLD water first. 


This stuff is much better than anything you can buy in a jar or a mix.  Trust me, it’s worth the time and effort.


Tell the kids that it’s time to wash their hands and set the table.  Get a spoon while they are out of the kitchen and taste test those taters by dipping them right into the gravy.  Oh, yum!  Hide the evidence before they get back or they’ll want some, too!


Are you drooling?



This is really an easy way to complete a very yummy meal.  I spend about 20 minutes (including clean-up time) getting the roast into the crock pot in the morning.  Then, it just takes me a few minutes to wash the taters and throw them into a pot in the afternoon.  Once everything is ready, I can get the gravy going and mash the potatoes and finish out the meal in about 10 minutes.  Use the same pan you cook the potatoes in to make your gravy to save a bit of clean up time. 

If you’ve never made a roast using your crock pot, I hope this will make you want to try it.  If you’ve never been brave enough to make your own gravy, it’s the perfect time to learn.  This works for turkey gravy, too.  Just strain the broth that’s left in your roasting pan, add a bit of water if needed, and follow the same procedure using the corn starch.  Flour works, too.  If you use flour, you’ll need a few tablespoons of it mixed well with cold water. 

Try something new in the kitchen.  It’s so much fun! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today, I’m thankful for…

Dust-bunnies and muddy footprints.

Mount Wash-More down in the laundry room.

My messy kitchen, dirty dishes, and very sticky floors.

The toys that litter each room in the house.

Most of all, the ones who make the mess!


What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Three Little Monkeys…

Jumpin’ on the bed.

Bed crashed down

And Daddy said..

What were you thinking?

Momma just groaned.

The kids all cried,

Wailed and moaned.

The bunk-bed’s broken,

A mattress on the floor.

Don’t wanna look

Beyond that door!

What a lesson

We learned today,

‘Bout the right and

Wrong way to play!


*No children were harmed in the breaking of the bed, the anger of the parents, or the writing of this rather goofy poem. 

**Oh, and I feel better now.  :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rebellious Chickens

As you may remember, Eric, Danny and Poppi made some super nesting boxes for our chickens.


We either have dysfunctional chickens or they are going through a bit of a rebellion.


Note the eggs on the floor right next to the nesting box!



Still, I won’t complain.  My rebellious little chickens are feeding us breakfast!








It wouldn’t hurt our rooster, Mr Bugle, to take note… The hens are earning their keep.  Best not attack the hand that feeds you, Mr. Bugle.


We may change his name to Stew.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One of the Many Reasons…

 Dad and Sam

Why I love him so much…

Dad holding Sam

What a wonderful Dad.


~To my handsome honey with love! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Free-Play Day

The lack of free-play time first came to my attention while I was student teaching.  **Free-play is the kind of play that happens when kids come up with their own fun.**  I expected something similar to my own elementary school experience when it came to recess.  I was shocked by the fact that the 6-7 year old kiddos in my class were only given about 15 minutes near the end of each day on the playground.  Those little sweeties slaved away in the classroom all morning long.  It seemed a bit wrong to me at the time.

Now that I have kids of my own running around, I feel nearly enraged at the thought of kids getting so little time to play their own games.  Now, to all my teacher friends…  This is not an attack on teachers who are doing all they can to teach a lot of stuff and go along with school policies.  Just thought I’d get that out of the way.  The thing is, these little guys are getting up to catch the bus by 7:00 in the morning, working hard at school all day long, going from school to a child-care center or some kind of sporting activity, grabbing a bite to eat, doing homework, and getting a bath so they can head to bed before they do it all again.  That’s a lot of stress on our sweet kiddos.  The need some time to unwind.  They need to get outside.  They need to play their own games.  If you don’t believe me, check out the research on the health, educational and emotional benefits of kids getting enough time for free-play.  It’ll knock you flat. 

To that end, I’m going to do some sharing here on the silly little blog.  I’m really hoping you’ll join me.  Keep reading to the end for details on that.  ;)

Today was beautiful here.  November weather in the high 70’s doesn’t come around very often in this neck of the woods.  We’ve enjoyed several days of it and look forward to about two more before reality and cold weather gets here.  To that end, we ditched school today.  That’s one great benefit of homeschooling.  Doesn’t really matter which days we use, as long as we get in 180 of them!  The kids took it easy today.  They played.  They built a fort in my living room which is still there and might remain there until Saturday if the kids have their way.

As the weather warmed a bit, the kids ventured outside dressed up in some really cool super hero gear.



This is superhero “Rain.”  She’s super-cool with her pink-camouflage scarf of power.  She can shoo chickens and rescue little brothers like nobody else. 










This is “Kubota.”  Yeah.  As in the tractor.  He is super strong and very fast on his super-bike.








This darling little superhero is “Wah, wah.”  As in the sound babies make when they are crying.  She can scare away the worst villain with her cries.  Funny how that works.  :)






Sam didn’t care about all the drama as long as he could play in our sandbox that is filled with pebbles.  Life is so easy when you are 21 months old…




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I’m happy to report that the cat was cool with being “rescued.”  He’s such a good cat that-a-way!

So.  Now, it’s your turn.  Wanna share?  Someday, I’ll figure out how to let you link-up your blog.  That day is not today.  Laundry pile is way too big for that! 

Leave me a comment and share some of your kiddos fun story lines that go along with their free-play.  Pirates in the bathtub?  Climbing up a volcanic mountain on an unknown planet? 

Let ‘em get bored and share the fun with us.  I’m looking forward to hearing about the drama and even the mess that goes along with free-play. 


Oh, and for this post… I’ll allow anonymous comments.  I usually don’t because it kind of weirds me out.  But today, I’m cool with it as long as you post something relevant.  I really want to hear your stories about how your kids play when they are left with some boring, unstructured time. 

Hope you’ll join us for free-play day and share how your kiddos play. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where Play Meets Work and Work Meets Play

I love watching my kids play, but I also love watching them work.  Truth be told, working and playing aren’t really that much different to them.

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Sam loves feeding the chickens corn.  The chickens love it when Sam feeds them corn. 

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Sam also loves to help move the  chicken’s portable coop with his dad.  It involves hooking the coop to the tractor using a chain.  You can see Sam helping his dad in the first picture and then him playing at moving his own pretend coop in the second picture.  In the case of the pretend chicken coop, he uses his sister’s jump rope for a chain.


Sarah loves to help with the animals, too.  She’s my little love-bug and pays a lot of attention to our cats.  She also loves to help set the table and rinse the clean dishes.  I wish I had a picture of her at the sink rinsing, but such is life.





DSC_0134  Danny loves to get out and help his dad work on stuff, fix our cars, plant trees, build things and do maintenance around the house.  In this picture, he’s so happy to be helping his dad and grandpa build some nesting boxes for our newly laying chickens. 




Eric set up an area for Danny to do some work on his own while he’s helping.  Here, he’s measuring and cutting small pieces of wood.  The teacher in me wants to sing and dance when I see all this measuring…

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Mary started helping in the kitchen as soon as she was old enough to stand on a chair.  She made pancakes for us tonight with very little help from her momma.  I helped her pour the vegetable oil (I buy in bulk and it’s too heavy for her) and I hovered around somewhat nervously and obnoxiously while she used the griddle…  She did the rest.  Truly. 

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It doesn’t come without a bit of risk and mess, but the skills and attitudes they are gaining are pretty wonderful.

Crazy as it may sound, our goal for the kids is for them to be capable of everyday tasks and chores by the time they are 12 and pretty much able to be self-sufficient by the time they are 16.  This will give them a few years to practice with a net before they go out into the big-bad world and try to make a go of it. 

Working isn’t all bad.  I think my kids would tell you that they love the challenge of doing hard jobs and the praise they earn when they succeed.  I think they would also tell you that many jobs are also very fun!  What are your kids’ favorite jobs?


**By the way… If you enjoyed seeing how my kiddos work, be sure to check out this post to see how they play!  Hope you’ll play along on my “Free-Play Day” post by leaving a comment about how your kiddos play.