Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Dreaded Chore

The beans and corn are coming up nicely in our garden. So are the weeds. And you know what weeds do. They grow. Fast. Much faster than any good plant!

So, I went out tonight and got the tiller out of the barn. I adjusted the setting so the tiller would just loosen the top layer of soil and weeds. I followed that tiller, row by row, through our garden… Choking on exhaust.

Then I got out the good old fashioned garden hoe and went to work just like my Grandpa Tuck always did, pulling soil up around the good plants, choking off the little weed starts.

I threw countless rocks to the edge of the garden for the kids to collect later. I swatted mosquitoes. I got dirty, sweaty, tired, and sore.

Soon, the plants will be established enough to compete for their own nutrients and sunlight. Soon, they plants will grow big and tall. Because I have weeded them at this early stage in life, my plants will produce good food for my family. Soon, my garden will be worth all this hard work.

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The kids getting our corn ready to cook last summer.
They are very motivated to work when it means getting to eat  fresh sweet corn!

I usually end up thinking about life’s little problems while I work. Tonight, I was thinking about the hard job of disciplining my little ones. Though my oldest is quickly becoming very dependable and trustworthy, my youngest three are still at the stage where they need my attention and my correction throughout the day. I spend a lot of my time breaking up arguments, cleaning up messes made by the youngest, and praying that they will all soon have the “sense God gave a goose.”

It’s a lot of hard, hard work. It’s frustrating. It’s often exhausting. I’m praying it will soon be well worth the effort.

Somewhere between the bean plants and the zucchini, it all came together in my mind.

This early part of raising my babies is a lot like growing my garden. My babies are tender, unable to fend for themselves. They need me to keep them safe, provide for them, and help them know the good from the bad.

These early years are my chance to give them a good start. Just like my garden, my little ones need a rich environment. They also need me to do the hard work of weeding the things that will hold them back.

In due time, they will grow. As the years pass, they will become more and more independent.

But right now… Right now is my chance to make a difference in their lives.

It’s hard work. Some days, I wonder if I’m making a difference. I wonder if I’m doing the right things. Some days, I don’t see much progress.

Then suddenly, they grow. Just like my garden does, they grow.

And finally, I begin to see the good my labor has brought. And I know that the hard work I have done has been well worth it.

So, I’ll go on doing the hard work of weeding my garden and raising my little ones while praying they will thrive and go on to produce much good.


The Gardener/Momma


Friday, May 27, 2011

Flashback Friday

The seeds are planted in the garden, strawberries getting ripe on the vine. The children are playing outside in the woods and on our “meandering path.” There is laundry, ready to hang on the line. Things to do, places to go, fun memories to make…

In other words, life is getting busy around here. ;)

What a great time to take a walk down memory lane. I thought I’d take a minute on Fridays to link to a post from last year. A little Flashback Friday for you!

Today’s flashback is a great recipe to shake up the lunch menu a bit. It’s a twist on the classic grilled cheese… Check it out! It’s yummy!

A kid-friendly lunch that even mom will enjoy.


Grilled Pizza Dippers

Just click on the link or the picture for the complete recipe! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thankful Thursday

It’s been a long day, full of discipline issues. Yet, even in this frustrating moment of my crazy life…. I find that I am thankful.

Today, I’m thankful for…

Children who have unique personalities, strengths, and weaknesses all created within them by a loving God who knows them and loves them.

The strength of love that allows parents to discipline bad behavior and then to forgive and love without fail.

Getting to try again when a lesson isn’t learned the first time, knowing we may need to try many more times.

The hugs and understanding that follow the acquisition of knowledge…
In other words, loving them after the punishment and learning is over.

And, of course….       Chocolate for weary mommas.


A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline… Proverbs 13:1

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord… Ephesians 6:4

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Meandering Path

We quit mowing about half of our property.
We let it go to weeds and wildflowers.

And then…

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I asked Eric to mow a path.  When he asked where the path should be, I told him I’d like it to be a meandering path. He grinned and went to work on yet another of my crazy schemes.

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And now, the kids have a great adventure.

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Deciding which way to go is such fun!

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Soon, there will be berries to pick along the path.

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The magic of childhood adventure!

Next time, we may take the stick-horses on a trail ride!


Sharing today at…


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today, I’m thankful for…

Dan Ranger

The “Lone Ranger” in his favorite torn-up jeans…

handful of daisies

Handfuls of daisies…

Sarah smells the flowers

Taking time to smell the flowers…

Fresh Eggs

Fresh Eggs…

daisies in a creamer cup

Flowers for the table…


And sleeping little ones…


What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Fun Test for Reading Comprehension

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Never think that you have learned
All there is to know.
That’s the surest way of all
Ignorance to show.”
~The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad,
by Thornton W. Burgess


It started as a search for a great bird book for children. I was looking for The Burgess Bird Book for Children, by Thornton W. Burgess. My library didn’t have that book, but they did have The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad by the same author. Having heard such wonderful reviews of his bird book, I decided to check out the book about a toad. I’m so glad I did.

For 23 very fun-filled chapters, my little ones have been held captivated by this story, spun with poetry and lots of science information about animals and nature. From singing in the smiling pool to hopping away from a very hungry black snake, the book was packed with excitement that made my littles ask for “one more chapter.” Originally copyrighted in 1916, the book remains fresh for today’s audience, filled with great lessons in science, nature, and treating others with dignity and respect. That’s a lot to pack into a book. To put it simply, we all loved this book and I’m ready to become the author’s biggest fan.

In case you can’t tell, I love to read and I want to pass that on to my children. I don’t want to make reading become a chore, tested and dissected to the point of zapping all joy. But I do want to know what they understand. I do want to test their comprehension.

So, I got a little sneaky.

I found ways to check their understanding of the book, chapter by chapter. They never knew what I was up to.

Home-school mommas… Listen up.

Here are some ideas for reading comprehension that don’t involve tedious work or frustrated kids.

  1. Ask kids to make predictions.
    As you read along in the book, stop at key points, look at your little ones with a look of wonder, and ask them what they think is going to happen. Some answers will be right and some wrong, but it will become clear just how well they are following the story.
  2. Ask questions about the characters in the story.
    Ask kids to describe what they think a character looks like or tell why they like/dislike a character. Let kids trade places with the character and tell what they would do in the situation.
  3. Let dad read a chapter at bedtime and then let kids give you a summary before you begin to read the next chapter (so not to miss anything, of course). Ask for details as they go along and pull as much information as possible. They’ll never even know it’s a test. ;)
  4. Don’t fear books without pictures.
    Letting kids draw pictures of what they think a scene or character looks like is a great way to see what they are understanding in the story.
  5. Take advantage of the opportunities to have kids share the story with another family member or friend.
    It’s amazing what kids remember and share with grandma.
  6. Put on a play of a favorite scene. Help kids dress-up or make stick puppets. Then, leave them to play it out while you observe the details they include in their play.

Bottom line, get creative and sneaky about testing comprehension so that reading will be a fun thing you do together and never become “school.”

Here are my little ones, creating a giant map of the place Old Mr. Toad calls home, from the smiling pool to the purple hills…

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Tomorrow, I think we will make puppets to go with our giant map.

And in case you want to find out more about "Old Mr. Toad,”
Amazon offers a Kindle edition of this book (and many others) at no charge.
Check it out!

Have fun reading together.

Mrs. S.


Like this? Hope you’ll leave a comment and take time to share with your mom or teacher friends. :) Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Father’s Day Photo Frame

The kids and I made this for Eric last year.

A link to last year’s post about it is here.


Thought I’d share, just in case you are looking for some good gift ideas for dad…

Father’s day will be here before you know it!

Have fun!


Goodness, they have grown…


Sharing this today over at…


Thirty Hand Made Days    monogram


Piles of laundry…

Sticky apple juice on the kitchen floor…

Bathrooms need cleaning, beds are unmade.


This morning, I didn’t see the blessings…

Lost in things undone…

Sitting here now, I see.




My baby boy falling asleep in my arms…

His little arms holding a little stuffed owl…

Long dark eyelashes touching chubby little cheeks.


My big kids playing back in their rooms…

Baby dolls, house, and tractors, too…

Voices quiet to benefit  little brother.



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Easy As Pie

This recipe brings back sweet memories each time I see it.

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Agnes lived in the farmhouse next door and ran a small dairy. I remember watching her go about the business of milking while we visited one day. She was probably in her seventies at the time. Looking back, I wish I would have walked up the road to help her. I could have learned so much from visiting with her, had I taken a bit more time for such things.

Agnes was a great cook. She made the most delicious pies to share with us. Delivered in one of her many pie pans, the coconut cream pies disappeared fast. Her kitchen was an amazing place to visit. I’m so glad she shared this recipe and a bit of pie advice with me. I’ve kept a copy of her pie crust recipe in my cookbook since high school. It’s a treasure to me and I thought I’d share it with my friends. I think Agnes would be pleased.

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Measure your dry ingredients into a big mixing bowl.

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Use a pastry blender to mix the shortening into the dry ingredients.

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Mix your wet ingredients together before adding them to the flour.

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Pour the water, egg, and vinegar mixture into a well in the center of the flour. Reserve a small amount of the liquid and add if needed during the mixing.

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The flour should be wet, not soggy.

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Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it a few times.

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Roll it nice and flat, a bit bigger that your pie pan.

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Folding it in half makes it easier to move to the pie pan.

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Cut the extra dough off, leaving just a bit to hang over the sides. Then, tuck the dough under to make a pretty edge.

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You can easily pinch the dough to make a pretty, fluted edge.

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Or use a measuring spoon to make pretty scallops.

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Or use a pretty little cookie cutter and attach the pie dough using the left over egg/water/vinegar as glue.

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So pretty!

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And your littles will love using the extra dough to make their own “cookies.”

Have fun!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Christianity in the Real World

I once heard someone say that all sin amounts to one thing… Selfishness.

It’s true, too. Think of any sin and you will see someone putting their own needs first.

Christianity is the opposite. Selflessness. Putting others first and then putting yourself in a position to serve them.

It all sounds wonderfully beautiful, getting to be the selfless one who cares for the poor, the hungry, or the sick and minister to the lost.

But in reality, this is messy. It is uncomfortable. Giving in this way can even be dangerous.

It’s so much easier to go to church and promote programs, hoping the lost will find us.

We spent last night in the emergency room of the local children’s hospital.

***Sam decided to eat a bite of a cedar tree branch and it became stuck in his throat near his tonsils. Seems that area is very close to the carotid artery. We spent a lot of time waiting for test results from a cat scan to be sure that removal wouldn’t cause dire harm. All ended well and my little one is on a soft, bland diet for a few days and laying off eating any more trees. ;)

Big city emergency rooms are filled with people in crisis. There were babies crying and toddlers running off while their mommas were attending to a sick little one. There were worried faces. We heard the quick work of the staff when the ambulances arrived carrying some little ones who had been in a car wreck.

We weren’t being nosey. It’s just that in a place like that, you see folks who are hurting. It’s impossible not to care.

We were touched deeply by the pain of one patient’s family member who had followed an ambulance, arriving to find what was, apparently, devastating news. My heart broke for her. I think many hearts did.

The emergency room is a hard place to be.

And yet…

It was also beautiful.

There was this fellow there. We got to know him, as he checked on us regularly. He wasn’t a nurse or a doctor. He was just there to make sure our needs were cared for. He brought me coffee and some graham crackers. He kept us up to date on wait times. He shared smiles and concern. He made a difference for a lot of folks who were in difficult situations, including the heartbroken lady.

I don’t know how I knew he was a Christian, but I did. There was no mistaking from where his strength came. There was no mistaking the Love he was sharing. He was ministering in the very best way possible.

As we talked, he shared that he had been a successful business man and able to retire early and live a comfortable lifestyle. He began volunteering at the hospital and has gone on to work in the ER, touching many lives.

His job is hard. It is heartbreaking. It is messy. It is also selfless and beautiful.

He is an example of what Christianity can be in the real world, but is all too seldom.



** Like what you read here? Hope you’ll take time to share my silly little blog with a friend. :)

Thankful Thursday

Today, I’m thankful for…

Newly tilled soil, pretty and brown.

Pretty little seeds and a garden hoe.

Tomato plants, grown locally.

Forty sweet little fingers that love to help.

Bubble baths for kids and a cool shower for me…
after our gardening is done.


Last year’s green beans….
Looking forward to planting more this evening.

Count your many blessings…

Friday, May 13, 2011

Milk Paint and an Old Wooden Box

Remember this?

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Yeah, I know. It’s an old wooden box. My mom brought it to me to use as a step up onto my too high front porch. Turned flat, it would have served very well for a time.

But I just couldn’t do that to this old, serviceable box. It looked like it could be something more.

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A good scrub got rid of the grime and the dead bugs.

And then… It sat around and waited for me to get a few free hours.

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I was so glad when my handsome honey brought this lovely Milk Paint home. Those are my two favorite colors, a deep red and an old fashioned green similar to the paint on my potting bench.


The paint comes in a powder form. Just add water. It really is that simple. I mixed up a small batch to test it out.

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I wiped the dust away with a damp cloth and got busy painting.

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I love how the grain of the wood shows through the paint.

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The paint dries a bit lighter and looks a bit dull, but we’re not finished yet.

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A block of wood and a bit of sandpaper helped me to rough up the edges, true to it’s found in the barn past.

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Pretty but still not done.

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An old rag and some linseed oil added a bit of shine.

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Now imagine this 5 inch deep box, hung on my kitchen wall (it will be soon). The dividers will serve as shelves, just deep enough for a photo frame or some pint jars of apple butter or strawberry jam.

Not too bad for an old box.